Take Charge of Yourself

A problem for the busy professional is the ability to work through the “noise” of everything demanding your time.  No matter how much you plan, work on productivity or “work smarter”, not harder, the surf keeps pounding, and you’re wondering whether what you do counts.

The Problem

The problem is not that people are (not) good at what they do. It is that they don’t feel they own enough of themselves to make things happen that they believe are important.  The outside forces work on them, demand them, and ask of them for many things.  The more capable, and better result driven person you are, the more likely that others will come to see you as someone they need assistance from.  

The Reversal

It’s good that your good at something, and that people believe in you.  If you’re a leader, it makes it even more critical that the subtle forces of everything else don’t drown out the following things:

  • Your ability to think about what you are doing.
  • Your ability to institute changes and developments that prove helpful to yourself and others.  
  • The ability to tap into your desire to be effective, and do what is needed.

The Solution

The solution is not a cookbook.  It is about having the resolve to realign what you already know is important, in a more centered way of your life.  Remember, you are the solution, but looking at external resources may be important to address the demands, and ensure you are able to institute what you need to maintain good balance.

  • Say no to certain things.
  • Stay connected with what gets shoved underneath the rug.
  • Decide the importance of things.
  • Change the impact of certain demands, reassign others, schedule the important.
  • Get to the key root causes of the problem.  Look for ways you have addressed these issues in the past.

Only you can change you.  A lot of fine things and people can push how and what you do. It’s never too late to re-evaluate and make course corrections.  Chances are, you may need to do this on a regular basis, to ensure you are staying true to your mission.

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Knowing-Saying-Doing – Follow Through

Knowing you need to do something, does not necessarily mean it will happen…Saying it needs done, does not mean it will happen. The space between knowing and saying can be expansive, without a clear path to “the doing.”

Faulty Assumptions:
Follow through is the the Gold Standard for progress. Being a “do-er” requires a special subset to one’s personality. Often making the transition from the plan to the result requires a set of actions to actually perform the doing. Why is it so hard to follow through?

1. The belief that “it’s someone else’s responsibility.”

2. We don’t know how. It’s going to require too much effort.

3. A clear path to the finish line is not well defined.

4. There is too much confusion about what it is to do.

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Photo: Brian Dick

Somewhere there needs to be a path between knowing something needs to be done, and the actual doing. Becoming a problem solver and a “do-er” means that you’re willing to risk the effort, and time to get closure. The difference being do-ers and non-do-ers can include the following:

1. Do-ers can see opportunities and ways to follow through – “path clarity”

2. Non-do-ers are dependent on others and the outside world.

3. Do-ers practice ways and institute problem solving – they enjoy accomplishment.

4. Non-do-ers are happy with others showing the way.

In Summary:
Doing = Activity and Engagement

To obtain Follow Through means that there has to be a desire.

Doing = Activity + Engagement + Desire

What are you not accomplishing? What component is holding you back?

Healthy Discomfort and Change

Change is a constant, but I’m sure that comfort with change will never change…it will continue to be uncomfortable.

Much has been written on a daily basis about change, making changes, personal growth, and adapting to change. It is popular fodder for discussion, but in real life making changes – if done well, is down right uncomfortable for some. It’s easy to discuss and think making change. If change is real, it can be uncomfortable.

A View to Consider:
“Making improvements and change should be uncomfortable in a healthy way. If we’re not comfortable with it, then it may just be window dressing. Real changes require us to be uncomforble (at least cognitively and behaviorally) in order for them to stick.”

The concept:
Cognitive Dissonance: The idea that what we think-feel-behave, is at some kind of mismatch with other known circumstances. Just because we know what needs to be done, doesn’t always lead to the change. Instead, the gap is closed by denial, procrastination, and self-defeating behaviors.

The reasons why some people don’t change:
1. Change requires choice and follow though. Some people don’t possess either.
2. Discomfort means we have to confront our beliefs about the world, and our shortcomings.
3. People like to hold on to old ways. The problem is not immediate or urgent.
4. Weaknesses are not a popular topic.

If a change is needed, there has to be a clear payoff. No payoff, then there is little desire to institute a change. For some, delaying what we think we need to do, will eventually ACT on us, and something will need to be done.

Change is both Uncomfortable and Process:
If you’re not uncomfortable making a change, then what you’re doing is not change. If you think change is a matter of a task list, you’re into self-deception. Change is also not about someone doing something to you. It is about doing something different yourself.

The Change Process:
1. Knowing you have to make a change.
2. Identifying the personal sacrifices that have to be made.
3. Making and keeping promises….repeatedly. And, then again.
4. The payoff – Why are you doing this?

What is keeping you from real change?

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Does Your Personal Investment Inspire You?

“If it (whatever it may be) isn’t inspiring you, what is the purpose of your investment in it?”

This is the question that we should all ask ourselves on a regular basis. It is very easy to fall into the trap of what we think we should do compared to what we would prefer to do.

Reasons Why We Fail to Look at What Inspires Us
1. A change appears to require too much effort.
2. We are worried about what people might think
3. Avoidance
4. The gravity pull is too great.
5. We are in survival mode.

Too often, do we not settle for what we have rather than evaluating whether we are really happy? The “co-dependence distortion” can tell us that any change may not matter or we fear that a change to something more inspiring is not something we deserve or can even consider.

Evaluate Whether You are Inspired
Here’s three questions you can use to evaluate whether what you are doing is inspiring and meaningful:

– do you feel excited about it everyday, does it captivate you?

– do you feel your activity enhances your enjoyment of other critical relationships?

– Are you lagging or contributing?

You’re the one that has to live with the experience. Why not make it something that inspires you. (Photo by Brian Dick)

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Moving Beyond Barriers: Open Up Clarity

One of the most frustrating aspects of barriers is that they are perpetuated by the person experiencing them.

Let me explain:

The Self-Perpetuation Cycle
1. An external barrier is seen as too overwhelming
2. We are too obtuse to solutions.
3. We’re too busy trying to get “validated” for our victim thinking about the barrier
4. We actively create a road sign on our back that says “barrier.”

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Seeing Something as Too Overwhelming
What you see is not necessarily what is true or accurate. In the field of psychotherapy, a prominent evidenced based treatment (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) takes on the whole notion that what we automatically see, is not necessarily based on actual reality. The problem is that humans don’t often consider alternatives or evaluating the problem in the first place, thus leading to an automatic overwhelming feeling that fuels the barrier. No clarity on what/how to proceed is the outcome.

Being Obtuse
When barriers are taken for face value, sometimes we close off meaningful reflection on what our role is to do something about it. Instead we obsess, complain, and seek being validated for our erroneous way of looking at the problem. This is like giving up the ship. Creative intention is stymied. We settle for the concrete, instead of seeking other possibilities.

We’re into Validation Victim Thinking
Because we have abdicated any meaningful reflection of our role in the barrier, or what we are going to do about it, we develop a toxic and dead end road mentality. Instead of seeking solutions, we seek sympathy. We say to others, that the issue is outside us. Sympathy is the slow killer to doing something and moving beyond the barrier.

The “Road Sign” on Our Back
The worse aspect, is that we carry around our victim status on our back for everyone to see. We live our barrier, keep our rigid thinking, and exist in misery. Our capacities are dulled, and no movement beyond the barrier is evident. Actually others start distancing themselves from us, because they are uncomfortable with the stance we have taken. Our emotional road sign steals all the air in the room.

Moving Toward Clarity
Clarity and movement around the barrier is only brought about if we can restore the following:
1.Look at our role in the barrier
…is it merely the way we are thinking
about it?

2.Open up ourselves
– Honestly, and deeply reflect on the problem. Face the harsh music of what role you played in your response, or the original barrier.

3. Open up Time to Explore:
Explore more about, and evaluate the barrier. Was it a “boiling frog” that has been going on a long time, or just a bad choice, or a change in the conditions that we didn’t see.

4. Think Ahead.
One of my leadership mentors has preached this principle for many years. By thinking ahead, you gradually own more of your future, rather than becoming a victim.

5. Road Signs Eventually Wear Out.
Ultimately, your job is to create action oriented behaviors, rather than road signs that tell others your problems.

Ultimately, we are the “self perpetuators” of the barrier, not necessarily the barrier itself. Think about your role in problems, even if you didn’t create them. It may be just a matter of thinking and acting differently about the problem.