I recently had a chance to consult a friend in the Northeast who was struggling with her results in a particular area of her life. I asked her a few questions and I could tell that she had clearly defined the results she wanted and that she had already made progress towards her goal. However, she was stuck, and had been for quite some time, between where she was and where she really wanted to be.
One of the things I’ve learned over time is that the ways we’ve always thought, and the comfort zones we have created in our lives over time, are tougher to change than we typically think they are. That’s because whether we know it or not, the way we do things and the results we have always achieved create certain “payoffs” for us that we like. Sure, we know what the payoffs are for our successes. Money, confidence, joy, attention, notoriety, popularity, the thrill of victory, status and/or a personal sense of satisfaction are just some of the payoffs that achieving goals and succeeding at things give us. But what about the payoffs that we get from keeping things the same or even falling short of what we truly want? They can be different than those listed above, as well as different versions of the same thing. Attention,
But what about the payoffs that we get from keeping things the same or even falling short of what we truly want? They can be different than those listed above, as well as different versions of the same thing. Attention, comfort of the known versus the unknown, popularity and/or fitting in with those who have similar results, or just knowing that we’ve figured out how to justify our own mediocrity are just some of the payoffs that come to mind. In fact, the payoffs create a lack of alignment between what we truly know to be true for ourselves and what version of the truth we tell others. And until we can find a way to create true alignment between these two messages, it will be very hard to overcome the results we have learned to create for ourselves over time.
Let’s face it. All of us have learned to “put our best foot forward” in the world. We clean up, dress up and straighten up enough to impress the world and to remind ourselves that “we can if we want to.” We build a fortress of logic around our own mediocrity so that others understand our results and applaud our constant, although not particularly real, efforts to change them. They buy into to the notion that we are striving for greatness, when, in fact, we are only fighting for our limitations. And the worst part is that we tend to buy into our own BS, too. “Fake it ‘til you make it” has become a runaway train of thought for too many people, and their actions and their lack of results would suggest that, “Fake it ‘til you die” might be a more honest way to say it.
So, when I spoke to my friend in the Northeast, I asked her to imagine that her children had the same problem she had, and that her children were giving her the same lame reasons for their lack of results.
“Would that be okay with you?” I asked her. “Knowing what you know, would you buy into that BS?”
“Wow. No. I wouldn’t. No way.” She replied.
“Why would it be okay for you and not for your kids?” I asked.
I’ve always believed in the power of asking, “Is what I’m doing right now helping me become the best version of myself or something less?” However, this interaction made me re-visit this question and ask it other ways, and I hope you find them helpful.
“Is what I’m thinking and what I’m doing right now helping me keep the life I’ve got or get the life I want?”
“Is what I’m thinking and what I’m doing going to give me the same old results or the results I truly want?”
“Is what I’m thinking and what I’m doing justifying my own mediocrity or allowing me to be vulnerable enough to reach for something more?”
“If my children were thinking what I am thinking and doing what I am doing, would I be proud of them or would I be disappointed and/or sad?”
I could go on and on. But I think, no, I HOPE that you get the point. The payoffs we are attached to will either set us free or tie us to our very own tree. The choice is ours.
Remember, “What we do speaks so loudly that (smart) people can’t hear what we say.”