If you were to tell me you’re having some challenges letting go, I’d understand. For, in all honesty, I don’t enjoy practicing new behaviours – at first. Several reasons account for this resistance. One ties to how adults learn.
In my field of training and development – along one axis of a four-part grid – we’re either “Competent” or “Incompetent” in terms of skills, abilities and knowledge. The other axis refers to being either “Conscious” or “Unconscious”. We’re Consciously Competent when aware of what we do well (and why) and Unconsciously Competent when we don’t realize these things. Competence is comfortable.
Yet, when it comes time to step out of old zones, you need to move from Competent to Incompetent. As feelings of frustration arise over how difficult new behaviours are, you wonder, “Can I pull this off?” Then doubt kicks into overdrive and you start thinking, “What if I mess up?” Ah, the unsettling pangs of what if, what if, what if…
Ready to take the plunge, you must not lose faith in yourself. For when you do, you open the door to a downward spiral. If you constantly give in and give up, you’ll never conquer your demons. Remember what we said some time ago about the Gremlin? Doubt is one of its most common manifestations. It mustn’t be paid heed.
If anything, doubtful feelings are a good sign you’re attempting to stretch. Slowly, you will turn from Conscious Incompetent to Conscious Competent and return to Unconscious Competent. This is when you’re no longer even aware you’ve crossed the line. You know how to step out but don’t even realize what’s contributing to your success. Walking away from comfort zones has become a ‘natural’ behaviour.
And, the more you exercise these “muscles”, the more wins you’ll have. Then, you can use those breakthroughs to give “oomph” to more risks. In the end, you just have to do it. While I intensely dislike this phrase, it makes a lot of sense when stepping out of stale energies in the form of people or situations.
The Top Ten List
As Oprah’s “What I Know For Sure” (March 2009) encourages, allow the new life of spring to awaken in you. And, whatever your challenge let it be an open door to your most significant revelations about yourself – an invitation to your best life. To both entice you to step into a world of possibilities and to clear out what no longer serves, here are this month’s reflective inquiry questions mixed with some tangible action items for those of you who like “practical assignments”:
- What options have you been cutting off by staying stuck?
- What are you ready to do to overcome fears about forging into unfamiliar territory so as to increase the number of new possibilities you allow yourself?
- How can you shift those places in your life where you’re Consciously Incompetent?
- In what areas are you Consciously Competent? How can you strengthen these?
- How can you keep at your efforts even if you fail at first? Said another way, what can you do to ensure you don’t lose faith as you take the plunge?
- What critical factors contribute to your best learning? What strategies can you use from successful situations so you’re not stopped by self-questioning?
- Recycle by going through old magazines, books or catalogues and getting rid of them. Bring the magazines to a doctor’s office, hair salon or health club. Donate books to your local library or place of worship for an upcoming sale.
- Trade your treasures by hosting a “give-away” party where attendees bring clothes, jewelry, household items, etc. to swap with one another. Each person should find a treasure in others’ lots and it could make for a fun social to boot!
- Donate by going through your old clothes or household items with an eye for sharing the wealth with those in need. Your old suits or dresses could give someone a new outfit for a job interview.
- Recycle by going through your office files and contact list – letting go of outdated resources, emails, information or old ideas. Make space for great opportunities or more creative ideas that make sense for who you are now.
For your Action Exercise, let’s see what happens if you commit over the next 30 days to “doing the opposite”. This means, in every area of your life, do the opposite of your typical actions and emotions. If you’re apt to get angry in any given situation, stay calm. If you’re frustrated by certain people, see them in their essence and stay unfrazzled. Remain open, looking for as many instances as you can to practice these new behaviours. At month’s end, check in and ask yourself what it felt like to do the opposite. Where was it easy to do this exercise and where was it hard? Are there any ways-of-being you would like to maintain, going forward?
To return to Cherie Carter-Scott, I hope this quote will leave you intrigued until we next meet: “Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.”