There are a lot of things in life that are truly complicated and challenging to solve – a long-term solution for peace in the Middle East, calculus, mapping the human genome, or deciphering if my wife is really ‘fine’ or if I’m actually in trouble.
On the other hand, there are things that seem more difficult than they are – breaking bad habits, living healthier, being happy, the proper usage of “there” “their” and “they’re.”
I’m not going to attempt to unravel the mysteries of the former set of truly challenging things to solve – but, I will certainly address the latter set of things that seem difficult to get a grip on.
Want to break a bad habit? It’s simple – commit to it. Whether it’s to stop biting your nails or quit smoking, it can be done. Millions have accomplished it. And, there are many great support systems out there.
Want to live healthier? Start with your grocery list. If you don’t buy chips, you can’t eat chips. Can’t get to the gym? Do push-ups, crunches, dips, and lunges while watching TV. Just get active.
Want to be happy? Make the conscious decision to be happy. Do things that make you happy. How’s that for simplicity?
Listen, I know time and money are finite resources, but it should never stop you from filling up your life with valuable and worthwhile experiences. If traveling is your passion and the budget is tight, do day trips while you save up for your big excursion. If you enjoy painting or writing or dancing, go do them.
If something is important to you, you will make the time. If it’s not, you’ll likely find an excuse.
Unfortunately, some folks pontificate on the big problems in the world (which is noble), yet may tend to ignore what they can improve upon on a daily basis. It can be scary to confront ourselves. I implore you, don’t be that person. Learn to be vulnerable, to communicate, to be honest with yourself. In this approach to simplicity, you will grow, you will enhance your relationships, and you will champion a much more vibrant and successful life.
And, in case you were wondering, “There” is a location. “Their” is a possessive. “They’re” is a contraction of a noun and a verb. For example, “Their house is being remodeled so they’re staying over there until the work is done.”
It’s an age old question. In fact, it’s frequently asked in job interviews as aspiring managers are queried about what they think of the topic. Before you continue on and read my opinion, stop for a minute. Think about how you, as a leader, would answer this question. Take all the time you need and then keep reading onward when you’re ready.
Okay, glad to have you back! What did you pick? Being liked or respected? Why? Let me pose another question: is the answer that black and white? From personal experience, I can tell you, that I don’t ever recall liking someone I didn’t also respect.
However, if we’re always focused on being liked that won’t necessarily make us truly effective leaders. A good sense of humor, displaying empathy, working as part of a team, and being agreeable are all excellent qualities that draw people to like us.
Inevitably though, as leaders, we sometimes need to make decisions that aren’t “popular” to elevate performance. Issuing edicts, making threats, and instilling fear into others, may lead to bottom line results in the short term, but that certainly is not leadership and definitely won’t make us likeable. Fear, though often misconstrued, is not associated with respect either.
Instead, what if we communicate the reasons behind why these sometimes tough decisions are being made? Wouldn’t it go a long way in not only securing “buy-in” from the team, but also earn their respect? Dare I say, “they may even like us.”
So, if you were to ask me, “Would I rather be liked or respected?” My response is always, “Are those options mutually exclusive? No? Then, I choose to be both!”
Think about how others react and respond to you. How are you ‘showing up’ every day and leading with intention? When you do, “respect” and “like” are always sure to follow…
Having the vision of where you want to be is one thing. Having the confidence and commitment to reach your goals are often areas where we fall short.
Ask yourself these questions:
A) In terms of confidence, ten being supremely confident, on a scale of one to ten, where are you?
B) In terms of commitment, ten being absolutely committed, where are you?
Many times people will be committed, but they will not be confident. Other times they may be confident, but not fully committed. Why is that?
If your commitment isn’t at a ten, you need to look for what is holding you back. Being committed comes down to the old “buy-in” question. What’s in it for me? Sometimes people even create goals and visions for themselves, but they’re not fully committed to it because they’re not fully bought in. They don’t fully see themselves in it. That’s the importance of the envision process I’ve talked about previously.
Make sure your goals and vision are truly yours. Make sure you’re expressing them as part of your motivation, as part of your values, as part of your purpose, and as part of what you stand for. The more of these there are, the more the commitment will be there.
What are you afraid of?
Confidence can be equated with fear. What might be an internal block, in terms of how you see yourself? Where may that doubt come from? Who or what are those inner “naysayers?” Answering these questions will help us discover what may be contributing to this lack of confidence.
We need to transform the naysaying that diminishes confidence into what it is that creates confidence. Sometimes it’s not a disbelief in energy and ability to do something but a lack of clarity. We just tangibly, at this moment, can’t see exactly what it is that we need to do. By understanding and exploring these blocks to confidence, we begin to see the steps that lead us to our goal.
Once we remove the blocks of fear or lack of clarity and stare into the face of uncertainty, then we can see and understand what’s in it for ourselves. When we’re confident and committed, then we’re ready to go full out.
I find it interesting how frequently living creatures tolerate discomfort and pain. I include myself in this group. Many years ago, I suffered a fairly severe injury to my rotator cuff. It still bothers me to this day.
Some days I forget about it, some days it’s fairly painful, but the injury lingers. I’ve consulted doctors whose prognoses for surgical improvement span from mildly better range of movement and decrease of pain to good improvement in both areas.
I’ve decided to deal with the occasional discomfort of the injury rather than have surgery. Hey, my baseball days are long behind me anyway. I know I’m not alone in this decision. How many times have you had a toothache or tennis elbow and not gone to the doctor until it got to a point where you couldn’t tolerate it any longer? Right. We’ve all been there. Many of us have also been in that situation with our behaviors, too.
Perhaps you’ve had a job that was unfulfilling, or had a bad habit you wanted to ditch, or were in a relationship that wasn’t healthy. Often, we remain in these places way longer than we should. We tolerate the pain and trudge along miserably or wait until it becomes unbearable to finally make a change. It doesn’t need to be that way.
GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND
One of the first steps to making a change is to stop ignoring the problem. Pretending things will just get better is a sure way to ensure that they won’t. In fact, not only is time being wasted in a painful place, things will probably get worse.
We need to stare our problems in the eye if we’re going to combat them. Major changes don’t occur in one monumental stroke. It takes time. You’re not going to go from a sedentary, out-of-shape routine to running a marathon just because you’ve finally decided to change. But maybe, instead of grabbing fast food for dinner, you make a healthy meal instead. That’s a small step down the path.
GET SOME HELP
I guarantee you others have been exactly where you are and made a change. Seek them out. If you’re looking to make a career change, seek out others who have done it. If they aren’t in your immediate social circle, then look for them online. There is a wealth of free resources available that are only a click away.
Some of the greatest life changes have been accomplished by average folks who simply committed to making a change and believed, in their core, that they would. You don’t realize how strong you are and how much you can achieve when you refuse to let doubt derail you. Get that negative self-talk out of your head and out of your life. All it does is hold you back.
You’re going to face some obstacles that may trip you up. That’s OK. Get up. Dust yourself off. And, get back on track. You can do this!