Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Why the Gap?

I'm very interested in questions ... I'm not as interested in what the answers are, but more in the process of coming to the answers. My question today is, "Why don't we do what we know?"

I remember a couple of years ago when I actually started writing this blog that I just KNEW this was going to be called "You Already Know This Stuff." I had people tell me that if I ever wanted to write a book, that title would never sell, because why would people buy a book of stuff they already know?

That's also a good question, but I have another question for that one: why aren't we doing something with all that knowledge? Why is it that we ask the same questions over and over and hope that somehow we'll find an answer that says we don't really have to do anything differently - that if we just keep doing what we're doing, we'll automatically get different results?

You might recognize that logic as a definition of insanity sometimes attributed to Einstein: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
I think the main reason we don't do the things we know all comes down to some form of fear: fear of failure, fear of what other people will think - even fear of success. We sabotage ourselves all the time when it comes to growth opportunities because we have this need to be right. We'd rather tell ourselves over and over that we're not good enough or not pretty enough or not smart enough - even though that new friend or new boss or new co-worker sees something else in us. We tell ourselves enough times that we're not enough of something and pretty soon the other people around us will begin to believe us and will leave us alone. Then we'll get to be right about not being enough of whatever we think someone else wants us to be.

I'm learning that the first step when we determine that things might not be working exactly the way we might like in our lives - the first inkling that doing the same thing over and over might not be the best solution to a new avenue of understanding - is to change our minds. The way we think determines what we become, what we produce, what we create, how we listen, and really what and who we are.

Seth Godin's book "Survival is Not Enough" has some good ideas for what he calls zooming - moving off dead center without rocking our foundations and triggering our change-avoidance mechanism. Here is a summary of that book you might find interesting.

It's really simple ... but it's not necessarily easy. It's about setting your mind on a new idea and then committing to it for, say, a week. Once you notice the effects of the shift, you can determine whether it's worth the effort to commit for another week, and so on.

Another thing to remember is that people around you who have known you in the other mindset might not know how to support you in your new thought pattern. So ask a few trusted friends to hold you to what you say you want to do differently. Trust that they may see things in you before you see them in yourself, so be willing to hear their comments as supporting steps in the new direction you want to go.

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. - Lao Tzu

What are you doing to shift directions? What challenges are you facing? What's working for you? I'd love to hear!

2 Comments:

At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Alexander Kjerulf said...

Two things came to my mind as I read your excellent post. First of all: Timing.

Sometimes people tell themselves "I really ought to X". Insert diet, exercise, find a job, quit my job, write a book - whatever - for X. They agonize over the fact that they really should do it but haven't yet done it and wonder what's wrong with them.

Well, maybe it just isn't time yet. I've noticed that trying to achieve X can be an endless struggle or a piece of cake depending on WHEN I do it. At the right time, it almost seems to happen by itself. So if you haven't yet done X, then maybe it simply isn't time yet.

Secondly, fear can certainly hold people back, but so can the very thought of "Why haven't I done X already?" Inherent in that notion is the very idea that I must be lazy or spineless or a coward. Those thoughts don't exactly inspire confidence.

What do I do to change course? I unplug. I've written a little about my own story at my blog, and I've twice unplugged completely from the business world, to give some new venture a chance to find me.

To me, unplugging is not a matter of searching for something new - it means NOT searching for it. Which may be the best way to find it.

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger Jodee said...

Alexander:

This is brilliant! I absolutely love your ideas! I can't wait to visit your blog. Let's keep this dialogue going. You're onto something and I'm happy to be a part of it! Thanks for visiting!

Jodee

 

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