Monday, January 22, 2007

Why Don't We DO What We KNOW?

Better yet, why don't we be what we are?

These are questions that have been rattling around in my brain for many years - going back to my days as a corporate communicator who was very interested in what wasn't working in people's careers (including my own). I often found myself a square peg trying desperately to fit into the round hole of my job, and really believing the only way to do that was to shave off the corners that made me me.

It should have been easy. It was a great job with great benefits and a pension and a great road to retirement. It should have been easy to follow the status quo. After all, isn't that what so many people in Corporate America are doing? Why should we go against that easy rut? When we can start to realize that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimension, we might be ready to have a new conversation about how our lives are really working.

I think we've become so conditioned to the familiar zone - we used to know it as a "comfort zone," but if we're honest, it's not so comfortable anymore - that we forget there might be another way to look at our own lives.

I think the greatest distance in our whole lives is the distance between our head and our hands - or the distance between what we KNOW and what we DO. And I'm very committed to discovering - and allowing - some answers to shortening that gap. I think the first step is to ask ourselves several questions, and to be committed to being honest with ourselves about the answers.

Here are the four questions I ask myself all the time - and give to each of my clients, whether individuals or teams.

1) What do you want?
2) What are you doing to get it?
3) How is it working?
4) What might you do differently?

The first question seems rather simple on the surface. But if we get really serious about finding the answer, it may not be that simple. We can be rather passive about that question if we choose - sitting on the couch with feet up on the coffee table, we could want a million dollars. When we ask the second question, and we're honest about the answer, we might find that we're not really doing much to actually get what we want. So Question #3 is an objective way to check in with our results. If we're finding that what we're doing isn't working to get what we want, we can ask others in our lives to help us with the answer to Question #4. It's not so easy to find that answer on our own, because we're in the story and can't be objective.

The way to really jumpstart results is to go back to Question #1 and reframe it by asking not "What do I want?" but "What do I intend?" That question kind of makes us sit up straighter - and maybe even get off the couch altogether. When we can set an intention, the results are much more likely to be achieved. But even more effective, in my experience, is to reframe the question again by asking "What do I commit to?" Now we're talking about what Napoleon Hill calls "a burning desire," in his 1937 classic Think And Grow Rich.

How might those questions allow us a different way to look at the effects our lives are showing us? In order to alter the effects, we need to get to the root cause. And asking Question #3 is a great way to start.

Taking the judgment out and asking these questions objectively offers a really straightforward opportunity to shift from what's not working to a new perspective. As we start noticing what works and what doesn't - instead of what's "right" and what's "wrong" - we can start allowing ourselves to accept what we already are, instead of what we might someday become.

And that's a much more happy place to be.

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At 2:31 PM, Blogger Nneka said...

Hi Jodee, I think this is my first comment on your blog. Congratulations on becoming an SOB :-)

Those questions are thought provoking indeed. I want to become a public speaker, I've known for years. This year I decided to do something about it. So I volunteered to speak once a month at church. I was petrified until the words started coming out.

I find that we have so many conditions to living the life that we want to live. Interestingly, the conditions aren't met before we start doing it, they are met AS we do it. But how could anyone convince you of that without you having experienced it first hand?

In Spirit,

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Jodee said...

Nneka: What insight you share in this comment! Standing on the shore doesn't give you the view from the ship. You need to launch and then look at what you're seeing and learning. Funny, because I think parents and teachers and mentors sometimes want young people to learn lessons through them so they won't have to "make the same mistakes I made" when that appears to be the best way - and maybe the only way - to learn them.

Thanks for adding another layer of depth to this conversation! I hope you visit (and comment) again!

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Robyn McMaster said...

Jodee, you ask some deep questions here... some that others in many fields have sought to answer. Why do we keep doing the things that don't work especially well? It takes a lot of focus and determination to change a whole lifetime of habits we've developed. And, it ain't easy to mmake these changes and "do" it differently. That's why there are very few pathfinders and change agents out there in the firing lines! I sense you are one and I like what I see you developing here on your blog. Thanks for sharing.

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Jodee said...

Robyn: Thanks so much for your feedback! I know they are almost unanswerable questions, but I think I'm finally starting to understand that it really doesn't have much to do with anyone else - as I think about the questions for myself and really dedicate myself to listening and allowing for the answers, I can make the most profound change in the world one person can make. It's much more important to me to realize how much we are alike rather than my old way, which would have been to point out ways we are different so I could be right about it.

Thanks for visiting and for sharing your ideas!


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