Archive for March 2016

Scared of succeeding?

Most people would feel fine admitting that they have a fear of failure. It’s natural. Fewer would admit to having a fear of success, though. Both having a fear of failure and a fear of success come from us being too worried about what other people think about us.

You can speak either from your strengths or from your struggles. When someone speaks from their strengths, you might be impressed by how great they are, but you probably won’t like them well enough to ask them out to lunch.

Typically, you respect someone when they speak from their struggles. They are open about places where they’ve failed. When someone has identified their struggles and shares them with others, it builds a connection. There are people in that very room sharing the same struggle. It’s an honest way to talk about where you’ve been and where you’re going.

Speaking from your struggles opens up the way for respect and communication. It creates a welcoming environment that reminds me of a quote I read recently: “I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and that’s okay.”

The reason that kind of environment matters is that everywhere else in the world, you’ll probably be criticized, fairly or not. Elbert Hubbard wrote, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” And that’s not really any way to live.

In Gay Hendricks’s book, The Big Leap, he talks about the Upper Limit Challenge. What that boils down to is the idea that we are afraid of failing, but we’re also afraid of succeeding, so we will self-sabotage sometimes.

We think, what if I succeed? Will people figure out I don’t have it all together? Will I be able to keep it up?

The reason we’re afraid of both success and failure is the fear of criticism from others. Whether someone thinks you’re terrible or amazing, both things can scare the snot out of you.

That shouldn’t keep you from trying, but remind you that everyone else has those questions too. And even when you aren’t perfect, it’s still worth your time to try. It’s like when I golf. If I golf 90 strokes, and 75 of them are terrible, that leaves 15 strokes that make me want to come back next week. Hopefully those 15 will become 20, and that’s how we grow.

Strive for success, and remember that when you speak out of your struggles it doesn’t undermine your success. It just helps other people dream of success too.

A mirror, a window, and 3 P’s

Are you looking in the mirror or out the window?

What I love about that question is how versatile it is. Depending on where you are in your life, it can lead your thoughts in different directions. At its most basic though, the question helps you figure out if you are reflecting on yourself or on the people or circumstances outside of you.

This makes me think of a term you may or may not be familiar with: energy vampires. They’re people who suck the life out of you but don’t give you anything back. Thinking about the mirror and the window, you could find an energy vampire in either place.

Maybe you’re so concerned with yourself and your own needs that you become your own energy vampire. Or maybe you’re spending so much time looking out the window to compare yourself to your neighbor that you make them into an energy vampire in your mind.

Of course, there are some people who are simply energy vampires to anyone, anywhere. We don’t need to spend any more time on them.

Another way to think about the mirror and the window is to remember the 3 P’s. I use these in my family and in my office because I think they’re really helpful for understanding a situation.

Everything in life brings us one of these 3 P’s:

Pleasure: These are the experiences we want to recreate, or the things we want to do as much as we can.

Pressure: This is a warning system. It tells us to be careful and that we might need to make adjustments.

Pain: This is something we need to fix. It’s like the pain that tells you to take a rock out of your shoe.

It’s important to identify the things that are bringing you pain and eliminate or change them, so all you’re left with are pressure and pleasure. We can manage those. Pain is a signal saying that there is something wrong, and you need to deal with it.

But that’s not what we do, is it?

Usually, we try to avoid pain. I may push it away or ignore it until I’m left with metaphorical blisters on my foot because I never dealt with that rock in my shoe.

Let’s go back to the mirror and window question, now thinking about the 3 P’s.

Ask yourself if you’re looking in the mirror or out the window, and figure out which one it is for wherever you are in your life right now. If you don’t want to, it might be because it’s painful and you don’t want to consider either. That means there’s something that needs to be fixed.

If there are painful things you can’t avoid, like getting a shot or working long hours over the busy season, then you can find ways to adapt so they aren’t so painful. But if something brings you pain and you don’t remove it or adapt your behavior, it will continue to be painful.

Whether you’re focusing on the mirror or the window, you’ll need to know if something is bringing you pain, pressure, or pleasure in order to find balance in your life.