I am reading “The Expeditionary Man” by Rich Wagner and towards the end of the book, Rich writes the following:
“But I offer no formulas or blueprints. I simply encourage every Christian man to surrender his claim to his life, be directed by the Holy Spirit, seek wise counsel from godly men, be accountable to others, and persevere no matter what happens.”
When I read this, I almost placed on the book on the table and began clapping for his honesty and candidness. While I agree with his message literally, my focus for the purpose of this posting is Rich’s willingness to say he does not have “the answer”. He acknowledges that he has not really figured it out himself yet but that it is certainly worth figuring out.
This is where I take issue with consultants and self-help gurus that we see/hear/read about constantly. We see hundreds of people each week who “have the answer we are looking for”. For a small fee they can share this incredible secret with you and you will:
- lose 35 pounds in 45 days
- cut your credit card debt in half in 15 minutes
- make $15,000 in 10 days on by running ads on the Internet
At what point did we actually start to believe that there is an easy way to do anything and everything? The real scary part is that this belief has so infiltrated our society that we now spend more time figuring out an easier way to do things which ends up taking more time than doing the work required as well as producing a sub standard result. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for “working smarter, not harder” but I still believe that work is required!
The problem is not the people writing the books or making the sales pitches, it rests with those on the other side willing to believe that all we have to do is follow their system and we will get the same result they did. This is a fundamentally flawed assumption because we are not the same person they are. We have different skills, experiences, abilities, commitments, & metabolism rates so past performance does not guarantee future performance! I am in favor of seeking out new ideas, thoughts, systems, etc. but once you find these, you have to adapt them to your particular situation. This is where the work comes into play. It is really just like when businesses try to copy strategy from a competitor and find out (sometimes too late) that it does not produce the same result for them.
To be honest, coming up with the system or idea is the easy part. The hardest part is the application of that idea or “executing the strategy”. Figuring out how to adapt the idea or system to your situation and then actually doing it is not quite as easy as it sounds. That is evident when you imagine how many people have a piece of exercise equipment in their home that is either dusty or clothes rack (or both).
The main reason that we fail at things is because it is HARD to change our behavior. It really does not matter what it is, we are just not that good at changing our actions. Doesn’t matter if we are at work or at home, change is not something that human beings are inherently adept at.
Here are some reasons:
- by nature, we seek continuity because it gives us a sense of control
- we fear that we will fail
- it is work and we don’t really like work
- changing means that we were “wrong” before and we don’t like that either
- it takes too long to see a result and we are impatient and lose interest
Believe it or not, I am confident that people can actually make changes in their lives. I just believe we must accept the fact that it is work and that it must be an organized effort. Here are some ideas:
- write up your plan that includes current state, future state, and proposed action steps with completion dates
- recognize that deadlines can be missed and plans can be changed and that does not require scrapping the plan
- commit to effort and recognize that it will take some time to accomplish
- create realistic goals that reflect incremental improvement and not drastic change that cannot be sustained
- cut yourself some slack and recognize that you may need to re-start a few times and you strengthen your “change muscles”
The key to successful change is “intestinal fortitude”. You must possess the will to overcome obstacles and stick to the plan even when it is no longer fun. In order to that to happen, you have to have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) so that it will be worth the pain required to achieve it.
I will leave you with this unattributed quote,
“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”