Journey Blog with John
For several reasons, Monday is the most unpopular day of the week. It could be one or a combination of:
The passion that fuels a life worth living is all used up.
This does not have to be permanent. Remember the first day of work in the new job when you actually anticipated getting to work? Good news!
You can look forward to Monday again. How would it change your life if you felt positive about your job again?
It all starts with a conversation.
Let’s Talk -- www.greatmondays.work
I love boxes! They make our lives simpler by creating compartments for things to fit into. Each piece separated and in its own place…tidy.
Just like our physical world can be fit into boxes, I also like to keep my internal world sliced up and compartmentalized.
We are thinking, emotional, physical beings who have:
Separating our lives into mental boxes is helpful because we can keep going when one part of life is not functioning at its best. It is a safety mechanism that prevents our entire life from crashing when things don't go well in one area. We simply put that "box" on the shelf and go on with our life. Because of this, we can continue to have success even in those times when all areas of life are not as we want them to be.
As great as this ability is, it offers only a short-term benefit because we are integrated beings. In our minds, we think we can disconnect one part of life from the others, but in reality we don't work this way. It is an artificial segmentation. It reminds me of a time when I was not feeling well but decided to "power through it". I simply disregarded my physical health by putting it back into the box and up on the shelf. Although there was some performance loss, I did not think about my health because I was so focused on the task at hand. This was a benefit of having this box or compartment of my life sealed up. The problem was the next day when the sickness won the fight. It didn’t matter how hard I tried or how much I wanted it, my health wouldn’t stay separated in its “box". I had neglected it too long, so now it seeped into ALL the other areas of my life, leaving me laying on the couch moaning…or sleeping.
Have you done this?
Whether it’s a crisis at work that bleeds into our ability to sleep well, or a lack of sleep that impacts our emotional fuse with the family, we can only live separated for so long. Eventually the walls of the boxes in our minds disintegrate. The parts we want to keep away from each other will eventually come together, and usually when one of the areas is out of sorts.
We can head off the crisis by proactively caring for ourselves before one of the boxes in our lives falls apart. It all begins with becoming aware of how the parts of our life affect each other. Here are a few questions to consider as you think about the categories of your life:
I know it is overwhelming to look at everything at once, so to simplify, focus on prioritizing activities that are kind to yourself. We are integrated beings, so as you care for one compartment, others share the benefit.
The starting place is to bring awareness to our lives so that we can determine what we need to re-prioritize. Any process of self-reflection will help highlight something that may need digging deeper into. For example, try journaling each day (morning or evening) for a month. This can be as simple as answering one question, "What is my high and low for today, and why?” It is intentionally open-ended so that you can dig into the thoughts about your life that are meaningful to you. As you take note of your thoughts over the month, you will start noticing themes that may have been locked away inside your mental boxes. You will begin to re-integrate, and as the ancient philosophers said, "Know Thyself".
It doesn’t cost much and has a potential great upside. Set your intention to know yourself better these next few weeks and give it a try. Write me back in a month to tell me how this experiment went.
My daddy said something that really stuck with me, “whatever defines you, also has the power to devastate you.” That is really powerful especially when talking about my two least favorite F words - Fear of Failure.
Procrastination can be a great indicator to one of the biggest, hidden obstacles in our life - Fear. When I notice this pattern of hesitation in my life, I follow a four-step progressive process to get momentum again. Although some of these steps are faster than others, it all comes down to a DECISION.
Here is how it works, awareness of hesitation in my life (Fear) gives me the opportunity to #1 Declare "I am ready for change”. Then I can #2 Discover the root of the fear and #3 Diagnose the secret of why it has such a grip on me. At this point I am ready for the final and most empowering step - to #4 Decide something new.
As we introduced the question last week, “what does failure mean about me?” reveals my self-definition. If it is based on my behavior or outcome, then my sense of identity is constantly moving as I perform better or worse which is an exhausting rollercoaster.
What gives us a sense of meaning, purpose, value? Some of the big ones for most of us are things like:
- The good opinion of others/ parents/ spouse or even myself.
- Success in business/status/ job title at work / $$$ in the bank.
- Winning/ accomplishment/ comparing ourselves to others.
These can all be good things, but why is evaluating ourselves this way a problem?
When “I am what I do” (or produce, accomplish), then it defines me. When "who I am" is derived from things that can change, then how I feel is tied to them. That means I will constantly be in flux, like the weather in Texas. So when things are going good (as I want them to go), then I am happy. But when those things are going poorly, then I am certainly not.
If this is the only way you have lived, then you may think that “this is normal” - this feeling of struggle to be worth…exhaustion to be enough. But what if there is another way? What if a person’s sense of validation were stable? If it was affixed to something solid, even permanent? What if we were not held back by threats to our performance?
A seaworthy vessel does not fear the waves.
Here is the question for our final step, to Decide... "Where do I want my sense of validation come from?” I know, I know it sounds easy, but don’t dismiss this. If it were that simple, we would all have done it by now. Sometimes we just need the awareness to change our mind, and it's done.
But more often, the answer is deeper and takes work. We need to re-center by revisiting our core beliefs, then plugging into a new power source - one that is foundational, unchanging, transcendent, a True North. We need a new belief that empowers us.
Here is how it works for me. It is inevitable that I will get stuck at some point, so I began by walking through this 4-step process which leads me to awareness that what is holding me back is a core belief rooted in fear. This is not what I want, so I think about a story I love in the Bible, where Jesus talks about two houses, one that is built on sand and another that is built on rock. As you can probably imagine, the foundation (sand or rock) is the key to this moral. Jesus says that when the storm comes, only the house built on the rock will remain standing. I like the imagery of this story because I can relate.
Metaphorical storms of life happen, and a solid foundation changes everything. It doesn't mean that I like the storm, but the foundation I choose effects my sense of being in the storm. So I ask myself, "what is the rock in my life?" What is something transcendent, not changing, something that I can really build my life on?
This is difficult, but finding a solid foundation is worth more than gold! This Decision started me on the path to becoming who I really wanted to be, so when you are ready to make a new Decision, I would love to help. If you are on this path, you are closer than you may think to your true self.
I know sharing is vulnerable, but I would love to hear from you…what has power in your life that you are ready to make a new decision about?
We have been looking at my two least favorite F words - Fear of Failure and the four steps that I use to dig to an awareness that can actually help me grow and move forward.
After realizing that fear is keeping me from moving towards my goals, and I finally Declare "I am ready for change”, then I get to Discover what is really going on (in my previous example, it was “fear of failure”). Now I am ready for step three, to Diagnose the reason why this fear has such a grip on me.
I have read a lot of the science about positive thought, willpower, and developing habits, so when I need to do something difficult, I typically start by reminding myself of things I have heard before, like:
- No risk, no reward.
- Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.
- You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.
- 99 percent of success is built on failure.
- You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Even though I believe these, I often find that I love these ideas more than actually doing risky things! So when faced with the opportunity to actually try something and fail, I don’t feel so motivated by these sayings.
How about you? Whether it’s putting yourself out there in a sales meeting, pulling the trigger on a new marketing campaign, presenting before a new group of people, or leading the business/department in a new direction when failure is high probability, do you too find these sayings only goes so far to get you over your fears?
Even though I know all of these sayings and concepts, and I really want to move forward, I shared before that I find myself hesitating because of a Fear of Failure. But now I want to know why that Fear is so strong.
The Diagnose step begins with the transcendental question, "What does failure say about me?” This is the critical question because it looks into the core, the deepest part, my identity. What do I really believe gives my life meaning, purpose, value? This is a question men have been asking themselves for thousands of years. It is a very personal and requires vulnerability, but the answer is empowering and will prepare you to walk in freedom.
It looks like this in my life. After the Discovery Step exposes that I am procrastinating due to Fear of Failure, I continue to the third step to Diagnose why that fear has power in my life. The question I ask myself at this point is “IF I were to fail at this endeavor, what would that mean about me?" You will probably need to ask yourself the question a few times to get to bottom of the excuses, and I often add “Hypothetically” to the front of the question (to soften the blow). This time, my very first thought was, “If I start this project and fail, then I am a failure.”
Hum…now I see why this is a problem. Did you catch it? When I believe my identity is based on my performance (behavior, actions, success), then the outcome of whatever I do defines me. This step reveals the power of fear. It is because in this situation, I had attached my identity to my performance and therefore, the outcome.
No wonder this fear had paralyzed me! It felt like a life and death situation in which I was not prepared, so I froze. This belief guarantees that I will only try things in which I feel confident I can succeed, or I will do anything to win.
This step of Diagnosis started me on the path to clarify my identity so that I could become who I really wanted to be. For example, now I can be authentic with others because my identity is resting securely…not on a slippery slope of my success/abilities. If you are on this journey with me, you are closer to finding hope than you may think. Keep in mind that this is a process that will take time, so cut yourself some slack, and holler at me. I would love to help you find your identity too!
If you are willing to share, I would love to hear from you. When you ask yourself the Diagnosis question, what do you find?
We have been talking about Fear of Failure which are my two least favorite F words. In this post, I will share how I use awareness of fear as an opportunity to grow and move towards freedom.
Here are the four steps of my framework:
With my Declaration powerfully made, I am ready for Discovery.
The question I ask myself now, the thing I’m trying to Discover is, “What am I really afraid of?” and the keyword is really which will require some digging. This is the step to get to the heart to the matter. I want to discover why fear has this power in my life. The initial feeling of hesitation is usually a smoke screen that keeps me from looking deeper, so to clear it away and move closer to what’s really going on, I ask myself “Why?” three times. This helps uncover what is at the bottom of this fear. It may not take three tries, but it’s almost always more than one.
Example, recently it was time for me to work on a new marketing idea. After talking about it with a friend, he pointed out that I had talked about this before...in fact I brought it up months ago, and I still had not done anything about it. Then he asked me a piercing question, “So why are you procrastinating?” Uh oh, busted!
Later as I reflected on this, I realized he was right. I had been hesitating to move forward with this idea, so I began the Discovery Step and asked myself “Why am I hesitating?” My first answer was “I just don’t have time.” That’s my go-to smoke screen excuse because I almost always have time for what is most important to me. So I asked myself again, “why am I really hesitating?” The second answer came to me as “I don’t know what to do.” In reality though, that was just another excuse. I actually had a framework for what I wanted to do laid out already. I asked the final, “Why?” which led to the breakthrough. “Because everyone will see….” Marketing is very public, and I had been worried (afraid) that my plans wouldn’t work, making this a public fail. The real reason I have been hesitating is because of Fear of Failure.
No wonder I had procrastinated for so long. This wasn’t really about knowledge, or time, or priorities, it was about success. Or failure.
Simple, right? Not really, but worth the effort because now I can do something about it.
Discovering what is behind my fear was the beginning of the process of becoming who I really wanted to be. The next steps dig further into why and how to step into freedom, so if you are also on this journey too, be encouraged; you are closer than you think.
If you are willing to share, I would love to hear from you. What do you find when you dig to the bottom of your fear? (ask “Why?” three times)
Someone once said that the first step on the road to recovery is admitting there’s a problem. This makes sense...how can I do anything about my situation if I am unwilling to admit something needs to change?
Admitting my problem has been the easy part. My challenge has always been after that. What do I do next? In this post, I will unpack the first step of the 4-step framework that I use when I am stuck.
Somedays I look up and realize that Fear of Failure is at play in my life (again). I have dealt with fear before in my life, so I want to think it will never bother me again, but instead I am tempted to remain a victim. Inertia is working powerfully against me taking a step. When I discover that I am circling in paralysis from being overwhelmed, or have a sense of fake comfort of self-pity, or a feeling of false safety from indecision, I know it is time for change. These are just symptoms of Fear playing out in my life.
Here is the process that helps me get back on the road to freedom when my two least-favorite F words (Fear, Failure) gang up on me. Each step in the process leads closer to my favorite F word, freedom.
The first step is to Declare by wrestling with a question. I know it sounds like an easy step, but this is a really difficult question to answer honestly. I struggle with this one even though I know it is the beginning of the path to freedom. When I decide that I want the change bad enough, I am willing to answer the first powerful question:
Q: Am I really ready to do what is necessary to step out of fear? Really?
This question gets to the root of my willingness to take responsibility for my life. It is one of the single greatest steps I can take, and I know it will be a huge first step for you to take as well. There are at least four good things that happen when I make a Declaration Step:
- The answer reveals if I am really ready to step out of the victim role and move forward as an agent of change in my life.
- There is a powerful sense of empowerment (taking my life back) that comes with setting this intention.
- Making this Declaration sets me on a trajectory which carries success into the next steps that I will describe later.
- I find a sense of freedom from fear when I realize that I am the only one who can take this step for me.
Stepping out of fear starts with a Declaration like "I am willing to do whatever it takes because I am responsible for my life”. This is a powerful step out of a victim mindset. And bonus points when it is shared with others.
The next three steps build on a solid Declaration. They serve as a guide back to the path to freedom. So make this foundation solid! If you have noticed yourself "putting up with fear” or you just "feel stuck", perhaps it is time to take an empowering step by making your Declaration today.
This step launched me on my journey. I am closer to the man I really want to be because I responded to the question with a meaningful, “YES! I am willing to do anything.”
How about you? I would love to hear from you.
What is one thing that you are stalling to make a declaration about?
At a core level what is failure really all about? Lately I have run across assertions that failing can actually be a good thing. It sure doesn't feel that way!
I’m sure you have seen similar facts in books, scientific findings, and motivation articles boasting that:
- Risk is the growth pathway…
- Nothing is achieved without trying...
- Failure is where learning happens...
I actually love these kinds of statements because I believe they are true. Also, since I think of myself as a person who is willing to take risks, these make me feel good about myself. I even think about examples of how adventurous I am to validate my feelings.
But lately as I have seen these articles, the realization of how much fear of failure grips me. Although I would like to quickly try new things, I find myself hesitating. Even when it is not complicated, I hesitate. So what is holding me back? In a moment of honesty, I confessed to myself that I am worried about looking foolish. I don’t want to look dumb, but for new things to go perfect as if it was easy.
Anybody else with me on this?
This fear of failure is a theme that rolls through my life periodically. Over the decades after conquering it in one area, I look up months or years later and realize that I am playing it safe again. I am hesitating (again) to take the steps I want or need to. I feel the anxiety that gives me pause. Eventually, awareness of what is going on sets in, and I think, “Dang! I am doing it again!” It seems that no matter what I do to overcome fear, at a core level it keeps showing up. Maybe I will always be working on it.
So instead of beating myself down for feeling fear or accepting feelings of failure, I am considering this awareness as an opportunity to grow. What if fear itself prompts growth?
Over the next three posts I am sharing the process that I use to manage my fear to actually grow. These four steps are the framework that help move me back into freedom. I ask myself these questions.
Simple, right? Discovering this truth started me on the path to becoming who I really wanted to be. If you are also on this journey, be encouraged; you are closer to your true self than you may think.
If you are like me, what area of fear seems to show up repeatedly in your life?
You may have noticed this week after we talked about acceptance. If you decided to accept reality and stop speaking negativity, in a short time you would have noticed that the others around you did not join you in this decision. Sometimes navigating others is the most difficult part of change!Shortly after deciding to do something different in your life, you are faced with the first obstacle - others who do not share your conviction…or enthusiasm.
No matter how much we may dislike the fact that the attitude of others affects us, as the saying goes “No man is an island.” It has happened to us all…it was a perfectly fine day when all of the sudden someone dumped their negativity, bringing us down too. Whether it was someone we knew (a coworker or neighbor) or someone we didn’t (the checker at a store or another driver on the road) the effect on us was the same.
It can feel as if we are “soaking up” the energy of the people around us, and this is almost true. There is fascinating research about the affect at an unconscious level. Quick summary: negativity is transmitted to others nearby, spreading from person to person like an Emotional Contagion (interesting phrase they chose to describe this phenomenon). We do NOT JUST recognize the fear, anger, stress of others, we adopt it too.
If this has happened to you, you are perfectly normal. But what can you do about it?
First off, knowledge is a huge step forward. We are unable to change what we are unaware of, so celebrate your progress of awareness.
Then when you are able plan in advance for a potentially negative encounter, take the opportunity to “gear up”. Think about how you want the conversation to go and consider your response if it turns to whining.
Maybe most importantly, take advantage of the power of Emotional Contagion by choosing to surround yourself with people who you want to become like. They will share their attitude with you, and this positivity will help you move in the direction you want to go.
Choose your company wisely.
This realization started me on the path towards the positive me that I had always wanted to be. It started as a mental shift that affected everything else. It is not easy, but it’s simple. You are closer than you think! Join the journey to the life you always wanted.
"It is what it is." One of my first bosses out of college would say it often. I know that people say it all the time now, but he was an early adopter of the phrase and the first person who I heard it from. He always said it often very matter-of-factly, and then he would move on to the next item on the agenda. I, on the other hand, would then go back to working on the problem I had brought to his attention.
What a contrast. Looking back, I see what he was trying to do. He was intending to help me accept and move past the situation. I'm sure I was frustrating to him because I didn’t get it. He was trying to teach me about something I didn’t learn for many more years - acceptance.
I completely missed his point because I was stuck. What do you do when you get stuck?
From an early age, most of us learn to make noise to help us get unstuck. We continue in childhood in the form of whining when things don’t go our way. Then into adulthood complaining. This was how I learned to get my problems fixed. Sound familiar?
It worked great'ish, until one day I was challenged to stop complaining. I was told that all my whining does is dump my problems on someone else...and that doesn’t actually improve my situation at all.
Undoubtedly, I had heard this before (probably from Mr. It-Is-What-It-Is), but this time I actually heard it.
I first thought, "Wow! This is going to be hard. What will I talk about?" My daddy's words came to mind, If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. I made it my goal to go one entire day without complaining. I know it sounds easy, but it is not. If you don’t believe me, just try it. Sometimes I just didn’t talk at all.
This challenge started me on the journey to become the me I really want to be. It was difficult, but it was worth it because I discovered a lot about myself.
Not only did I realize how often I complain, I learned that I don’t want to be that kind of person. I saw how much energy I was spending on situations that I could not change instead of the ones that I could. I saw how many times I was dumping on others and how ineffective it really was. And I finally discovered the picture of the person who I actually wanted to be.
Kind of amazing... All of this from an experiment to stop adult whining.
What about you, have you tried a similar challenge? What did it do for you?
I am excited to announce my transition to full-time professional coaching. The past ten (amazing) years of pastoring at Bent Tree has taught me a lot about myself and positioned me for this next phase of my career. I believe that everyone can move towards their best and truest self, and I love sitting across from others to help them find that next step.
As this new coaching business begins, I am working towards the certification of Certified Professional Coach. And I am so grateful to have wonderful clients who are on the path to reach the dreams that they never thought possible.
If you or someone you know is ready to start the journey, I greatly appreciate your referrals. More info about what I am doing is online johnpaine.coach. And to all my friends who have encouraged and championed me in this process, thank you for your support.