When things aren’t going as well as you’d like in your business, chances are that your natural inclination is to “try harder,” as in work harder and work longer hours.
Otherwise known as the “brute force” approach to success, the problem is that this approach doesn’t typically work. The only guarantee with this approach is that you’ll end up working harder and longer hours. But it doesn’t guarantee success, no matter how you define success.
When one “tries harder,” the predictable outcome is tension – inner tension of the mind and body and outer tension in how your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes get expressed in your daily life. No freedom here.
I’ve found that principles of success in sports apply equally well to the world of entrepreneurship. One of my friends, David Ranney (www.MaxTennis.com) writes in his book, Tennis: Play the Mental Game: “Although trying harder may seem to work in the short term, you will find that when the match gets tight or when it comes time to win, your game may break down.”
If “grinding it out” and working harder isn’t likely to win the day for you, what’s the alternative?
Relaxation means different things to different people. It may be meditation. Reading a good book. Going for a run. Maybe singing or playing a musical instrument. Or, if you’re me: hitting tennis balls.
Diverting your attention away from your private mountain of projects and tasks gives you a valuable opportunity to see solutions and opportunities from a different and unique perspective.
Most people don’t realize that Dr. Albert Einstein was an accomplished violinist. In fact, he attributes his experience with musical improvisation as contributing to some of his greatest insights.
Whatever you do, it’s vital to schedule regular, consistent times away from work. Of course this makes good common sense, but common sense isn’t commonly practiced!
To avoid the “I know this already” trap, I recommend that you schedule times for relaxation, “scheduled relaxation.” Go ahead, do it right now.
Put in your schedule the times for you to practice singing or playing an instrument, times for running or working out. And if you really want to stay on track, get a relaxation accountability partner, that is, someone who will help you make sure you both take regular relaxation time throughout the week.
One of my dedicated readers, Dave, has graciously and generously expressed his fears and concerns about taking the leap toward setting up his coaching/consulting practice.
In a comment on my post about “The Gift of Forgiveness,” Dave wrote that he’s “still struggling to break through what sometimes feels like a Saran wrap of low self-confidence and reach out to prospective clients with what I have to offer them.”
Well, Dave is not alone.
Below is how I replied to Dave; see if you see yourself in Dave…
Dave, while we could spend the rest of this lifetime (and the next several!) analyzing and dissecting the root of those fears and concerns, the fact is, it’s all made up. Not that whatever is stopping you isn’t real or valid. It’s just that as human beings, we’re constantly in search of meaning. You might say that we’re “meaning making machines.”
Something or things occurred in your life. Based on your level of maturity, mood, environment, and self-awareness, you then interpreted those events a certain way and assigned a meaning to it (i.e., “not good enough,” “not smart enough,” “not skilled enough,” “not accomplished enough,”“ not whatever enough”, and so on). Conversely, you could have assigned more constructive meanings to those events, like “I’m really great,” “I’m super-competent,” “I am bright,” “I am capable,” etc. But if that were the case, we would be having a different dialogue!)
In essence, you made up a story about what that event meant. And you and the people in your life continue to perpetuate that story.
The beauty is that, as long as you are breathing and your heart is pumping, you get to make up a new story about what those events mean and about who you are, at any time along the way.
Great in concept, but the really payoff comes from working this out in real life. I’d suggest you lay out a “life plan,’ a vision for your life and your self-defined purpose for being alive. Based on this “life plan,” you then write out a game plan for moving forward. You don’t need to know all the steps and answers about the “how-to” right now. For now, trust that the people, places, things, knowledge, and fortuitous happenstances will come when the time is right.
Start telling a different story about who you are, what you stand for, and the value you offer as a citizen of the planet. I’ve always said, “If you want to play a bigger game, you need to tell a bigger story.” As your story expands, your limiting beliefs, thoughts, and feelings will fall by the wayside, as a natural consequence of you owning your value and worth, along with your generosity and willingness to share that with others and the planet.
All this talk is great, but you do need to take proactive steps moving forward. Take small steps. Gain small victories over your limiting beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about who you are. Then build on those small victories.
In the absence of a written plan of strategy AND action, you’ll predictably get stuck, mire in the mud of self-doubt, self-criticism, and perpetual frustration. And that serves no one.
Be courageous. Be willing to shine your brilliance upon the world, even if it’s a small corner!
Except for the masters and avatars who have and do grace our planet, the rest of us have a “Dave” inside us that pops up from time to time. When “Dave” shows up, it can be a confusing and paralyzing experience and yet, it’s also an opportunity to grow and expand ourselves, beyond where we are today.
Just remember, that when Fear comes knocking on your door, send Courage to answer it. And allow Courage to embrace the Fear. If you are willing to take this on, you’re bound to experience expanding degrees of freedom, power, and fulfillment.