As Thomas Jefferson said: “If you want something that you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
The gap between getting from point A to B is one of personal fortitude. A key attribute between meeting your intentions by following through is related to how much ownership you possess.
Jefferson appears to imply that getting a result is inherent on how much you desire to follow through.
Sadly, good intentions miss the mark when our desire is based on something other than having clear ownership for the goal.
Closing the Saying and Doing Gap
What are the qualities needed to follow through?
- Explore how much you want something. Know what it means to you, and why. Failure to answer the why…you need to question whether you have the right objective.
- Does your heart (beliefs, feelings) tell you that you’re on the right track?
- Make a ‘graded task assignment’ – break the follow through into manageable chunks.
- Create an accountability structure. Who is going to keep you accountable for getting there. Set up reporting periods.
- Examine what failing would be like. What are the consequences of inaction? What are the costs and benefits?
- What do successes look like? What is the payoff to follow through?
Develop the spirit to stretch beyond what you think is your capability. Do something you’ve never done.
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Like the flower that blooms in the Spring, it takes the right conditions to break through the ground. Breaking through personal obstacles is really no different.
The Rut: Anything that is keeping you stuck from where you’re desiring to go.
Other ways that describe being stuck:
- I’m in a job I dislike
- I’m not moving forward in my role
- I can’t get ahead of the bills
- My boss doesn’t seem to recognize the contribution I make
- I feel blah all the time
Recognizing you’re stuck is 50% toward the solution. Some don’t even see they’re stuck until a crisis hits. Being stuck wasn’t something that happened once or twice, it’s something that progressed over time.
10 Ways to move beyond stuck
- Look at what is actually not stuck: Leverage those resources
- Identify your supports – or seek out support
- Look at self sabotage – ways your choices are making it harder to succeed
- Ask yourself: What does being stuck really mean…what does it require me to do?
- What one tipping point do you need that would make the difference?
- Are your expectations holding you back? Are they the right ones?
- Are you doing more, or expecting more?
- What do I need to do less of, and more of?
- Learn, expand.
- Understand that struggle is making you stronger
Not moving down a desired path doesn’t mean you aren’t moving. It means something is taking a different direction unintended.
Moving beyond a challenge requires concerted effort to understand the patterns around you, many of which need discovered.
Work through being stuck by identifying the pattern in operation, then choose a set of new patterns that may lead to different results.
Photo: By the Author
When you have a lot of demands, it is inevitable that “self delaying” or procrastination creeps in. It seems the more you do, the more things are still there. Remaining focused on important things becomes quite a chore when you’re so busy being busy. How do you make things better when it seems all you’re doing is chasing your tail?
- Reflect on why things are not better. It may your mindset. Things may actually be OK, but you are simply unsatisfied with the repetitive patterns in your life. A lack of satisfaction and reasons for it, is the first path to explore to make things better.
- Look at what is sapping your energy. How you are managing your energy on a daily basis is another key answer in making things better. Are poor habits, overeating, lack of activity, avoidance behaviors or sleeping impacting you? These are valuable clues to self improvement.
- Engage a improvement plan, act on something everyday. Making things better may require you to implement one courageous act everyday. Just that one deliberate act puts you on the path to better results.
- Adjust your mindset. Be faithful to yourself and act. Self-talk, personal affirmations and rewarding yourself for making a piece of your life better, is important for keeping motivation high.
- Generate everyday change by documenting what is better. Just a 15 minutes at the end of your day noting your personal victories creates the mindset for the next day. Keeping these accomplishments in front of you gives you the momentum for the next day.
Making something better is a daily adventure. Resolve in 2016 to make a daily effort to improve something small everyday.
(Photo by the Author)
Change is seen as the enemy and something that must be dealt a response, often reactively. Creating change is a lofty topic to be sure, but the intent should always to create the change you want to prevent unwanted change, and also to make things better.
Examine change everyday. Your heart knows what needs to change.
Unless you’re spending a great deal of time in denial, avoidance or procrastination, your heart informs your mind about what should be different or better. Many if not all of us stay in this zone of self-denial. Examining and checking in with yourself daily is the first step toward an honest appraisal.
Five “first steps” toward driving change:
- Just start opening yourself up to the things you automatically feel are wrong. They may be big or small, but they are there. Just write them down and define them. Pick one word that defines the area for change.
- Work toward a plan. Use a personal journal. The more you write about something, the more your heart informs the mind, and enables your ability to problem solve. We are often what we think.
- Use imaging. Use your capacity to imagine what desired change looks like everyday. Do this in conjunction with walking exercise, or quiet time.
- Work your plan slowly, with small steps. Realize it will take time. The secret is actively doing something. Getting imperfect results is a sign that change is happening. You’re building momentum.
- Reevaluate weekly, or daily if necessary. Become a “tweaker” that makes small adjustments. Learn more and get more skills or feedback if you need to.
After a while your heart will tell your mind whether your on the right track.
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Like the constant pounding of the surf, we may find ourselves being “pounded”. Numerous demands, and pressures may take their toll. For many, the solution is to engage in “personal drift.” The results of this can lead to more problems than the original pressures that created it.
The precursors to “drift” –
- We’re too over-involved in things that don’t really matter
- We’re being confronted by things that overwhelm us, or scare us emotionally (we’re in over our heads)
- Lack of skill – we don’t know what we’re doing
- We have lost our passion
The “drift” – What happens:
- Engaging in easy, but inconsequential activities or projects
- Falling short on our requirements of our job
- Engaging in destructive personal behaviors
- “Emotional Amnesia” – we disconnect
The drift is subtle, slow and happens without much fanfare or notice. Co-workers, family members, and others around us notice our tendency to be distant, irritable, insensitive, and not at our best. Our workplace may notice a slow drift away from the standards of practice that we were accustomed. Our emotional amnesia becomes a constant defense against the outside world of the pounding surf. It is hard to extract ourselves from this pattern.
With many the results are:
- Poor health, constant illness, and emotional resentment
- Missed opportunities in life
Ways of recognizing when you’re drifting: Ongoing self assessment. There are countless ways to self assess, and many of them are basic. Journaling, using a Moleskine, obtaining regular feedback, and exercise are just the common approaches. Others can include the following simple self assessment:
- What standards do I subscribe to?
- How do I feel?
- Where am I, in respect to where I want to be?
In other words, the solution is right in front of you. Pulling up the blinders periodically is a great place to start. The questions are really internal. We already have the answers inside us, but are sometimes too afraid to ask them.
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Knowing you can reach farther, requires higher expectations. Those with mediocre aspirations, never really find out how far they can succeed. Being scripted to expect less, gets less. Early experiences, negative messages, and unhealthy relationships can all contribute to thinking that you deserve less, which means that you pursue less.
Having higher expectations imply that you believe you deserve more. Believing you are worth more, opens up your awareness of more opportunity, and the desire and willingness to reach farther.
Believing you are worth more, opens up your awareness of more opportunity, and the desire and willingness to reach farther.
Developing your way to reach farther – The basic building blocks:
- Examine the scripts (beliefs and values) that you experienced through your life. Do those scripts have a tendency to expand or limit what you are, and what you have become up to this point? Were they negative, or did they empower you to become more than you thought you could do?
- Awareness: Are you aware of your capacities? Knowing as much as you can about you, precedes your next steps to take next steps. Those that do not know themselves, lack the ability to know how far they can go.
- Skill: Any prerequisite in knowing what path to take, will be influenced by existing skill.
- Determination: Having a ‘stubborn determination’ means you have the resiliency and the courage to take the next steps, going farther and higher than you have before.
Those that do not know themselves, lack the ability to know how far they can go
Knowing you deserve better – is a script for success. When you know you deserve more, can do more, or want to do more, you are positioned to find out how far you can go.
Taking Action: If you want more, then you know you will have to stretch. Personal leadership requires the willingness to –
- Fail – knowing that there is a risk for failure.
- Taking incremental steps – Doing something more, creates momentum toward larger things.
- Keeping at it: Change and growth is not an overnight process. Keeping the momentum and action going – will make your reach potentially more possible.
Doing something more, creates momentum toward larger things.
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The saying goes: “You don’t know what you don’t know…” means that people don’t have enough awareness to know how they are making mistakes. This may be true in some instances, but many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do. Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.
Many repeated mistakes occur because we are avoiding what we need to do.
Pattern Recognition – Many mistakes are repeated cycles or patterns of problem behavior. The problem behavior often happens over and over as if it is a sequence of actions made up of faulty thinking. We can’t help ourselves, we use the same faulty logic, and repeat the same behaviors – hoping things will change.
Rather than an intellectual or skill deficit, repeated error is an attempt to solve a problem using the same mistaken approach.
The solution lies in recognition – Much like the patchwork of buildings in the photo above, there is a pattern. Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers. Obviously, if we can begin to realize we’re not getting the results we want, then we begin the journey of correcting our mistakes.
Recognizing where you’re falling short in your results requires a willingness to look for more answers.
The ‘pain’ of mistakes increases your ability to recognize a different path can lie ahead.
4 Ways to recognize your mistakes
- Self-Reflection: Write or journal about the ‘repeated’ sequences and poor outcomes you’re receiving – there is purpose and a reason behind the mistakes.
There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are given to us to learn from.
- Exercise Humility: Ask someone close to you if they see a problem pattern – what do they see?
- Ask Yourself: What am I doing repeatedly to get the same result?
- What do others do to get different results?
Repeated sequences create similar results. What behaviors in your life may be repeated mistakes?
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Personal conflict impacts everyone. There are competing concerns, dilemmas, and contradictory thoughts that create stress and doubt.
Conflict is essentially a ‘Wish’ and a ‘Fear’. What we wish for has a corresponding fear.
Stress and doubt can be enduring and stifle productivity and healthy choices. The ways conflict impacts us can lead to:
- Missed opportunities
- Unhealthy coping behaviors
- Not fulfilling our capacity
Moving beyond doubt – Realize that your strength is that you can name the fear that drives your conflict. The fear keeps our capacity to act at a standstill.
Learn to confront your fear – is your fear based on the past or failure? Is it a realistic fear, or are you simply avoiding something that you need to move ahead on?
Many ‘wishes’ to move ahead are squelched by the fears we create.
Refusing to acknowledge our fears, or doing something about them will result in a self-perpetuating cycle of indecision and doubt.
Moving through doubt-
- Identify what you really want
- Write down the fears that led to conflict with what you want
- Write down the reasons why you think what you want is so important
- Consider whether the fear is worth the time you’re putting it it
- Identify what evidence you have for the fear
The fear you have means something, and explains more about your perceived weaknesses, or about unmet needs
When is too much, too much?
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Complexity is often a function of a number of things:
1. ) Obscuring the message.
2.) Creating an air of superiority
3.) A lack of knowledge
4.) Not knowing what to look for
Developing a simplicity approach is often desirable and presents more information and insight than communicating a complex message. It may seem a paradox, but the shorter, and more focused a message is, the more the message carries.
Knowing what to look for
Knowing what to look for is an important precursor to knowing what to communicate in a simplified and targeted way. Inexperience in knowing what is important, leads to the need to communicate more information than what is needed, and likely an uncertainty in the communication.
Ways to build brevity into your life
1. Avoid constant second guessing. Learn to trust your intuition.
2. Build skills where you identify your weaknesses.
3. Learn more about what you’re working with. Increased knowledge brings with it increased ability to simplify what you are saying.
4. Where further information is needed, you can expand the message.
When working with new employees, and individuals learning in an area for the first time, be patient, and teach the skill of brevity. Anxiety about a situation needs to be managed. Keeping in mind that having all the information is not necessarily desirable, and that follow up can be a regular and routine part of the communication process.>