Since you are reading this post, chances are you’re on the lookout for ways to enhance your experience of leadership and life, and because of that, you’re better off than most. That makes you just the right person for me to have this “conversation” with because you and I both know deep down there is more fulfillment and significance to be experienced.
As I mention in my writing from time to time, knowledge is often not the missing element in us getting in action toward achieving our goals. It is helpful to learn new concepts, or be reminded of what we already know, but it is almost always the inspiration and inclination to be straight with ourselves about what is holding us back from acting on our insights that is the culprit. My hope is that you read this post, not looking for new knowledge, but instead personal insights that might show up for you. I’m talking about an “a-ha” moment that will rock your world and cause you to see everything differently. Just one of these insights could give you access to super powers you didn’t know you had.
I have intentionally written this post on habits that are holding you back, rather than “7 Habits of Transformative Leaders.” This way, you can think of any area of your career or life that is not going as well as you would like it and do an honest to goodness assessment of yourself against the habits listed below to determine which apply to you. We all know the theory behind what it takes to be successful and fulfilled, and it all sounds great but we rarely take a hard look at ourselves to see why we don’t actually operate that way. So, let’s do that right now.
If you are not as successful and/or fulfilled as you would like to be, chances are that…
1. You are pretending to be 100% committed when you’re not – We are not really committed to most of the things we complain about or say we are committed to. If you think of the real meaning of the word, you’re not 100% committed if you're not willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Most of our commitments are partial and conditional, and the worst part is that we are not straight about it, with others or ourselves for that matter. That being the case, we find ways to justify lack of progress and blame the situation or other people when it is our lack of conviction that is the real issue.
Pick a challenge that you are 100% committed to and go through the rest of the habits looking for insight. If you can’t find anything you are unconditionally and 100% committed to, you may want to stop here. The rest of this post won’t be nearly as helpful if you are not willing to confront your lack of commitment.
2. You think you have to know how to accomplish a goal before you declare it – Most of us have had glimpses of something extraordinary in our mind's eye, even if it was just for a second or two. It could be a great vacation we want to take, the partner of our dreams, a particular career, or a certain amount of wealth we want to have. The trouble is that we immediately dismiss that extraordinary future simply because we don’t know how to get there. We don’t want to get our hopes up and we certainly don’t want to declare anything big to others for the fear that we will be disappointed, or worse yet, that we will be ridiculed if it doesn't materialize. If you look back at history, you will see that no worthwhile transformation was declared along with a specific plan on how it would be achieved. It is the essence of declaring a bold future that unleashes the power that has been harnessed in you.
What dreams did you once have that you have put on the back burner? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what audacious goal would you set and go for at your workplace? Are you willing to take the chance to declare something big into existence and have faith that it will come about even if you can't see it? By when will you complete this?
3. You’re not acting on what you already know – How many of us want to lose a few pounds and already know what we could do to get started, but are waiting for that big piece of information or insight, or that gym membership? We could be doing a few sit-ups and push-ups right where we are since it only requires two elements: Us and the floor we are standing on! There is nothing wrong with seeking more information and creating better conditions in which we can act more efficiently or effectively, but if you are not in action on what you already know, you won’t be in action on what you will learn in the future.
What is the one step you know you should take in the direction of creating the outcome that you are committed to? By when will you complete it?
4. You wait until you feel like doing something before you get in action – How many times have you had the same, familiar, conversation with yourself – yes we all know you talk to yourself – about what you know you should do, but don’t feel like doing? What if you completely shifted how you relate to that dialogue? What if instead of waiting for the voices in your head to reach consensus and agree to move forward, you got in action while that conversation was going on, as if you didn’t need to consult your feelings. I have tried this with my workout routine and have found that when I engage in that dialogue, the lazy guy in me always wins, but when I go ahead and put on my work out clothes and get in action while that conversation is going on, I end up behaving my way into a new way of thinking and soon actually feel good that I got in action.
What is it that you need to do but don’t feel like doing? Listen to your internal dialogue about it as if you are a third party, not involved in the conversation. What small action can you take while that dialogue is still going on? Get started now! If you absolutely can’t do it now, then schedule a specific time, independent of how you are feeling about doing it.
5. You’re waiting for someone else to go first – Years ago I saw a Dilbert cartoon where one of the characters said, “Change is good, you go first!” This is the normal state of how we operate. There is safety in numbers and we don’t want to be out there by ourselves. As a result, everybody is waiting for someone else to go first. What if you were willing to be the person in front and create the movement that you are waiting for?
Is there something you know you should be initiating that you wish someone else would? Are you willing to be the one who goes first? By when will you take that first step?
6. You mix up fact and fiction and treat it all as the truth – We tell ourselves stories about what’s happening around us all the time. We have happy stories, sad stories, encouraging stories, and so on that we’ve made up throughout our lives. Some of these stories are fact-based and can be corroborated by others, and some of them not so much. The first time I experienced that fire was hot, I made up a story to that effect and figured I’d better bring that insight with me as it would serve me well. Unfortunately, I have also brought with me all kinds of other limiting thoughts and beliefs about myself that I consider to be equally valid and valuable. You can clearly see the effects of this if you compare a bunch of 4 year olds who have no concept of what’s impossible, to people in their 30’s and 40’s who have learned a lesson or two about “how the world is,” and “what’s not possible!”
What basic assumptions are you making about yourself and others and your circumstances? Are these assumptions rooted in facts or the stories you made up, possibly in a moment of trauma? Are you willing to engage the help of an objective coach or confidant to separate facts from fiction?
7. You are avoiding the conversation you know you need to have – We all have a few of those conversations we don’t look forward to having and hope we won’t have to have. We push them aside as we would position a rock in our running shoes in just the right spot so we don’t have to stop and shake it out. The trouble is that the rock always comes back with a vengeance, sticking you in the ball of your foot, and the conversation you are avoiding holds the key to extraordinary relationships and results. Avoiding these conversations may be the easy way out but it is what keeps us in the mode of regretting the past or worrying about the future and robs us of the joy of being present and fully alive now.
What conversation have you been avoiding? What is it costing you to continue to try to ignore it? What would be in it for you if you engaged in that conversation with courage and consideration? By when will you have that conversation? Why not right now?
You may not have any of these habits. If that is the case, I would love to hear what your secret is to avoiding these pitfalls that many of us struggle with. However, if 1-2 of these apply to you, I’d urge you to get in action and take the steps you can take to eliminate these habits and reap the benefits. May you Boldly Declare, Courageously Pursue, and Abundantly Achieve the Extraordinary!
Have a great week! As always, I would love to hear about your victories and/or challenges. Please leave your comments below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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