“Would you give me a chance?” God replies. “Could you at least buy a ticket?”
I love this joke, largely because it is often so true. How often do we see others (or ourselves) engage in wishing for a certain outcome without taking the steps necessary for it to come to fruition?
- We want a new job, but we don’t apply to opportunities.
- We want to lose weight, but we don’t go to the gym.
- We want to start a business, but we don’t tell people we are in business.
- We want to meet someone, but we don’t go on dates.
I think there are two parts to avoiding this trap. The first is belief that the outcome will happen and the second is engaging actively in making it happen. I’d like to discuss these in reverse order.
Making Things Happen
90% of life is showing up. – Woody Allen
I used this expression with my kids many times as they were growing up, probably to the point where they rolled their eyes and wondered when I would stop. I still believe it – if you want something to happen, then show up and make it happen! The trick isn’t in knowing this is a truth … it is knowing how to do it. There are two parts to that:
1. What strengths can you draw on?
We all have strengths to draw on, but they are often more visible to others than they are to us, because our strengths appear to us simply as who we are. When coaching I love to ask the question “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” If we remove risk from the equation and then start to plan we will base that plan on our strengths.
Pay attention to what you come up with when you answer this question. Sort through looking for both skills and assets. For example, the person starting a business may include in their plan, among other things, “tell my contacts about what is unique about my new business” and “design a prototype of my new product to show to prospects”. The first quote is an example of an asset – she has an extensive list of contacts that respect her for what she has done so far in her career. The second quote is an example of a skill in product design.
Knowing your strengths gives you energy to mobilize. Sometimes you do just that and zoom forward. Other times you start to move and bump up against something that makes you stop … an obstacle.
2. What obstacles are getting in your way?
Things that get in our way can be external roadblocks or internal self-doubt. Without diminishing the difficulty of any roadblock we might face along the way, I find it much easier to face something outside of me than the challenges I create for myself. External roadblocks are a cry for us to apply our skills and use our assets to remove it. Once we clearly see the obstacle, we just get at it and get it done.
It’s the internal obstacles that prove more challenging. It can be hard to for us to independently see our self-limiting beliefs as they have likely been with us all our lives – they are a part of our being. This is an area where life or leadership coaching can help.
A past client who I will call Alex comes to mind. Alex was very dissatisfied with his job and engaged me to help him build a plan to find a new one. When we talked about strengths Alex could list a few things, but not enough to justify the success he had in his career to date. When we probed a little deeper, Alex found that he had a deep-seated fear of being in front of new people, as he was afraid they wouldn’t like him. When we explored this inner “gremlin” it became clear to Alex that it was an “old tape” that he kept playing. He had plenty of evidence that he was likable and that when relationships didn’t work out it was because he didn’t give them a chance.
Discovering our “old tapes” and “gremlins” is half the battle. The other half is learning to spot them in action and consciously substituting a new belief or reality.
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right. – Henry Ford
Belief is a very broad topic. Towards the extreme end of it, we will find elements of new age spirituality such as that written by Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind or as espoused by Rhonda Byrne in her DVD and book The Secret, where both would say that we can have what we want merely by fully believing it is ours to have.
I don’t think we need to go that far in order to get the benefit of belief. Perhaps it’s more the opposite – if we don’t believe in what we are doing, where are we going to get the confidence to go for it? I think that is pretty simple and obvious. So the trick is how to continually affirm that we believe in ourselves and the value of our pursuit.
I don’t know if there are any tricks or truths here. It’s really about holding a positive mindset for yourself – create a positive talk track!
The person who doesn’t buy a lottery ticket doesn’t really believe they have a chance to win. They look at the odds and say I’ll never win so they don’t even buy a ticket. My guess is that a great percentage of people who win the lottery started with a simple question.
Why not me?