Do you ever find yourself in a place where, despite your best efforts, nothing seems to be working out the way you want it to?
Maybe you have an amazing idea that you just can’t seem to get off the ground. Perhaps you have made progress toward a goal and suddenly feel stymied and blocked or unable to gain the resources or support you need to move forward. You might be navigating some kind of transition that has left you wondering whether that next thing for you is ever going to materialize.
When obstacles seem to be coming from all directions and you just keep running into walls, it’s easy to lose hope and become consumed with frustration.
Sometimes it seems that the only options are to throw in the towel or buckle down and try harder. We are conditioned as a society to do the latter, and sometimes that is what it takes to bust through the barriers that confront us. But when we continue to run into setback after setback, it may serve us better to stop for awhile and survey the territory before we take action again — as we may find that what we thought was a frustrating delay is actually integral to getting us where we want to go.
Have you ever had a customer that wanted something that required a great deal of preparation but didn’t want to take the time to build the necessary foundation? If you proceeded as directed, in time the solution could go up in smoke leaving that customer worse off than they were before — or in the very best case, less than satisfied. But the customer wasn’t interested in hearing about why the delays were necessary and instead kept pushing and pushing for results.
Sometimes when we force things to happen, we are like that customer who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and insists on powering up the engines before they are finished being built. He creates so much noise and distraction that it makes it difficult to focus on what truly needs to happen in order to get back on course. That’s what our frustration and anxiety does to us when we get caught up in it.
There is a part of you that knows exactly what you need to do to succeed in any given area – a part of you that has knowledge of a bigger picture and all the moving parts necessary to bring your grandest goals and visions to fruition.
While the part of you that is like the impatient customer that wants what he wants, this bigger part of you knows intuitively that things are happening in just the right way to yield the best results. The bigger part of you can only communicate to you in nonlinear ways — through feelings and flashes of insight that leave your logical mind wanting more details. And it only communicates in the present moment.
To tap this bigger part of yourself, you must learn to become attuned to what is going on in this moment, trusting that in the midst of frustrating delays and setbacks there may be something right in front of you that needs your attention. If you do not give it your attention you may continue to experience even more resistance and frustration. But if you move into it, you will find exactly what you need in order to move forward.
When I was writing my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader, I hit a wall and experienced the dreaded writer’s block. I powered through it, forcing myself to write in spite of my lack of inspiration. Before long I realized that I simply couldn’t continue and put the manuscript away for awhile. In the months that followed, I had a number of experiences that were critical to writing the book. When my inspiration was renewed and it was time to return to my writing, I ended up throwing away everything I made myself write under my own duress, as it was flat, mechanical and uninspired. I replaced it with stories about the previous months’ experiences. As I wrote, the words seemed to fly onto the page and I was back in my flow again.
You too may be in a state where before you are ready to move onto the next phase of your greatest vision, goal or initiative, you must experience something that will give you just what you need to succeed. So when you feel that frustration, see if you can look at your situation with eyes that see beyond what appears to be limitation and perceive the gifts it is bringing you. It could be the very springboard you need to get you back in your game.
And if you’d like to learn more about how to ride the waves of life’s challenges and setbacks with greater effectiveness and less stress, consider enrolling for the fall session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, kicking off the week of September 23rd.
This 13-week leadership development program is designed to help high achieving professionals bring out their very best performance in such a way that fills them up rather than depleting them – and allows them to make a bigger impact doing meaningful, inspiring work while leading others to do the same.
There is something magical about being at the threshold of a new year.
It is like climbing to the top long staircase to find ourselves on a landing, standing before a large glimmering door just waiting to be opened. As we look down, we realize how far we have climbed to get here. Yet, we cannot help but wonder what lies behind the door.
Often, we underestimate the amount of growth we have achieved.
It’s important to take some time to reflect on the unique combination of experiences that have led to both successes and disappointments and what we have learned from them. When we do, we often gain the insight that helps us become aware of what we most need to do from this point forward.
I often work with people who feel they are ready for a change, but aren’t sure what that change should be. They aren’t necessarily miserable in their jobs or other areas of their lives – they just long for something that will fill them up in ways they haven’t been fulfilled in the past.
When I coach people who feel this way, at times they want me to tell them what the next best step is – give them the answer, or perhaps a step-by-step process that will lead them to find what they seek. Of course, no person has these answers for another. Our greatest challenge and opportunity is to find them for ourselves.
Each of our lives has a story with perfect order and meaning.
As within a novel or screenplay, each character has a specific relationship to the main character and every scene has some relevance to his growth and evolution. There will be victories and disappointments, as well as twists and turns that transition us from one to another and back again.
We will have occasion to laugh, cry, and experience a myriad of other emotions that are somewhere in between. And as a result of this perfect combination of events and mini-plots, we discover ourselves to be better people.
When we are reading a book or watching a movie, the perfect order is often easier for us to see than it is for the characters enmeshed in the stories we are watching. Yet, the mystery and intrigue, the humor over each misstep, and the courage we see the characters exude to find their way give substance to the story and allow us to leave the book or the theatre feeling moved or inspired in some way.
As you reflect on 2017, can you identify your story’s most pivotal turns? What did you learn from them? Think about your character sketch. What are the endearing qualities you have that make you unique and special? How can you leverage them to build on the previous events to create a story worth telling?
Think also about the people that surround you. In what ways are they helping you grow? What are they teaching you about yourself – whether in joyful or painful ways? And what are the qualities they possess that are similar to and different than yours? How do you complement each other, and what might it be that you can create together?
You now sit at the threshold of another chapter in your story.
Contemplate what you have already experienced and ask yourself how you might build upon it to add a bit of intrigue and adventure. Identify the ways that you could add a little lightness and humor. Think about the interplay between the characters and how you could spice things up a little.
We have each been given the makings of a beautiful tale. Open your eyes and survey them the way you would the perfectly planned detail of your favorite movie or novel. Give yourself completely to the adventure, the possibilities, and the humor in your life.
Then find a way to revel in the joy of living it.
For more on reveling in the adventure that is your life, check out The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader, available in both paperback and Kindle formats.
Though the Halloween parties and trick or treaters have come and gone, as I wrote in my last post, you don’t need to leave the fun and intrigue of stepping into the version of yourself you most want to explore behind. Every day brings with it a fresh opportunity to transform in ways that allow you to create, achieve or experience a new way of living and leading – and become more of who you truly are.
But how do you get from here to there? Last week’s article was about how to overcome the mental barriers that can keep you from even entertaining the idea of dressing up to become a better you. This week we’ll explore what you can do to play in this new arena once you’ve made that critical decision to step into a whole new level of possibility.
(1) GET CLARITY ON WHAT YOU ARE MOVING TOWARD AND WHY
Creating a compelling vision can be daunting to some because it often leads people to think they need to know exactly what everything will look like and all (or many) of the steps they need to take to get there. But the beauty of having a vision is that you don’t need to have it all figured out. You just have to want it. And getting clarity on your vision is more a matter of tuning in than crafting something that doesn’t yet exist.
When you want to move toward something, whatever it is you desire already lives and breathes in your mind. While you may not be able to describe every nuance of what it will look or feel like, chances are there are aspects of it that are quite vivid in your imagination. The more time you spend and the more freedom you give yourself to play with that vision, the more it will flesh itself out.
Just as important as tuning into what the vision looks and feels like is strengthening your connection to WHY you want it. The more it speaks to your values and deepest desires, the more meaning your vision will have and the more it will fuel you with the energy necessary to bring it into reality. This leads us to the next step.
(2) LET YOUR VISION INFORM YOUR ACTIONS
Vision provides the guiding principle around which actions organize themselves. When you start from a powerful and compelling vision, the act of planning becomes much more organic and natural. You can start by asking yourself a few simple questions:
- What major milestones would I need to accomplish to make my vision a reality?
- What steps would I need to take to achieve each of these milestones?
- What actions or habits could I institute to enhance or speed my progress?
- What would I need to learn that I don’t already know, and how could I gain that knowledge?
- What, if anything, do I need to stop doing that could impede or derail my progress?
The answers to these questions may come like a downpour in a brainstorming session you have with yourself. They could also continue to drop in and reveal themselves slowly, over time. Your ability to receive and discern these answers will be greatly enhanced with the third vital step to personal and professional transformation.
(3) CREATE SPACE TO RECEIVE ONGOING INSIGHT
Often we are so busy moving from one thing to the next, and so preoccupied by thought that we fail to notice critical pieces of information, creative ideas and solutions that land softly in the corners of our minds. The noise in our heads has a way of drowning them out and the multitude of things in our line of sight obstructs our view.
There will never be a shortage of things competing for our attention. It is important for us to realize that just as we need not answer the phone every time it rings, we also do not need to allow our attention to be hijacked by everything that demands it. We must be intentional about what we allow to occupy our minds and consume our vital energy.
Creating space happens on both the physical and mental realms. Physical space is created when you block time on your calendar to work toward your vision and treat it with the same regard you would time with a client or other vital stakeholder. Mental space is created when you refuse to engage with thoughts that are bringing you down or clouding your optimism.
It is easy to believe that to make progress, you must quell your anxiety, overcome your resistance and turn negativity into positivity. But when your thinking is in a low state, no amount of additional thinking will help. It only adds to the problem and blocks your innate creativity, ingenuity and resilience. You’ll likely feel bad about feeling bad, and throw yourself into an unnecessary (and easily avoided) downward thought spiral.
As I addressed in a previous video, you don’t have to feel well to perform well. Thoughts come and go. When you resist the temptation to engage with thoughts that bring you down, they eventually pass in the same way water becomes clear when it settles. Sometimes the very act of doing things without thinking too much about them opens up new insights and leads you to do the very thing you worried you couldn’t – much more proficiently than you ever imagined.
Personal and professional transformation doesn’t need to be a heavy, serious endeavor. The most powerful visions are those that have us moving toward something we desire because we want it, but know that even if it didn’t come to pass, our innate well-being is not at stake.
There is nothing to fix and nothing to fear. So have some fun exploring the possibilities. The more you play at it, in much the same way you play at dressing up for Halloween, the less pressure you’ll put on yourself – and the more space you create for your transformation to occur.
For more on how to bring your grandest dreams and visions into reality, download my special report Why Real Leaders Don’t Set Goals (and what they do instead) and stay tuned for more tools, techniques and tips to come.
Implications for Real Leaders
The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.
To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.