Do you have an important goal, but you can’t seem to complete it? The secret behind highly successful people is that they know how to overcome procrastination. It’s not usually laziness, but instead a fear of failure.
A fear of failure is very common, even in highly successful people. This form of self-sabotage that can be sneaky. It’s usually going on below your conscious awareness. In other words, it’s stopping you and you don’t even realize it.
Here are 3 steps to help you transform this fear:
STEP 1 – Admit to yourself that you fear failure. Many people pretend they are not afraid, when they are. If that fear is lurking in the background it will sabotage your forward movement. The first step to transform it, is to accept it, and have compassion for yourself. That’s what high achievers do. They know how to overcome procrastination because they know the true cause.
STEP 2 – Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen if you fail? Writing that out is important. For example, a coaching client of ours was not finishing her resume, for fear of getting rejected if she put it out in the world. By thinking through the worst case scenario, she realized she’d been rejected many times before and survived. It wasn’t that big a deal.
STEP 3 – Allow yourself to be imperfect. The first time I ever led a seminar, it was not well done. I’d give myself just a C+. It was my first time, so I didn’t know what I was doing. I beat myself up for days thinking of all the things I did wrong. Then I got an email from an attendee that said the seminar changed her life for the better in a huge way. It reminded me that it’s better to show up and be imperfect than to sit on the sidelines and not even try. Even at C+, it made a big difference.
That may be true for you, too. What will you and others be missing out on if you don’t go after your goal? Even if it’s imperfect, you’ll be much further along than if you never try.
THE OVERCOMING FEAR OF FAILURE PROCESS
For a more in depth solution, you can also check out
How agile are YOU as a leader? In our research, agile leaders can easily innovate under pressure and think outside the box. Non agile leaders tend to only think of solutions they’ve heard of before. Habit #3, therefore, is the ability to choose your capacity instead of letting it choose you. The three habits are cascading, meaning one affects the next one. In other words, once you’ve chosen your state, it changes your perception and THEN it dials up in your capacity to be innovative.
Do You Remember How to Solve this Puzzle?
Do you remember how to solve this puzzle from the 1940s, where you must draw four straight lines through all nine dots? You have to draw outside the box. That’s where the term “Think outside the box” came from. When they first offered this puzzle to the public in the 1940s, what percentage of the population actually could do it? It was only about 2.3% of the population. The problem is that our education system teaches you to comply, to draw inside the lines and NOT to think outside the box. That’s why so often you’ll ask a group of people to be innovative, and hardly anyone can do it. People draw a blank. It’s simply bad subconscious programming, because it’s a natural human ability. That’s why you need to trick people to come up with ingenious solutions to problems. If you can do it quickly, that’s even better. Here’s a way to do that.
Try the Paper Clip Test
Try this test right now, just for fun. See if you can make a list of at least 10 things you could do with a paperclip, other than clipping paper together. There’s just one rule, any idea goes, no editing yourself or others if you’re doing this in a group. You can start with the simple and obvious, such as you can clip paper. Then go slightly outside the box: you could replace a lost zipper puller. Then go more outside the box: you could make an egg holder. Then, go WAY outside the box: you could use it to buy a house, which actually happened many years ago in Alberta. Go for a volume. Try it now.
What Conditions Help People Think Outside the Box?
How did that test go? Was it hard? Easy? Energizing? People get energized by being creative, if they’re allowed to think outside the box. Most people have a subconscious phobia about truly being creative. There are certain conditions, however, that help people do it, such as no bad ideas, put aside your job role, brainstorm in a group, have a time limit and a specific focus. It also helps to precede the problem solving by doing something fun like a paper clip brainstorm. Why these conditions? Sometimes people in a front line role won’t offer ideas because they haven’t been asked. Yet, they may see things that a manager doesn’t see. Any idea goes, helps them feel safe to share their ideas without repercussion. Two heads are better than one, and eight heads are even better, so involving others in the problem solving is very helpful. A specific time limit and topic helps the mind focus. You don’t want to ask people to come back to you some day with a good idea for your business. You’ll never hear back from them.
That Idea Won’t Work
I’m sure you’ve been in a meeting where one person shares an idea, and somebody else says, “We tried that last year. It didn’t work.” Even if they’re not trying to be rude, happens is that it dampens innovative thinking. In fact, if you could watch a brain scan of the person who shared the idea, you’d see their survival brain get triggered, which cuts them off from their creativity. Others watching the interaction may also get triggered and clam up.
Separate Brainstorming from Choosing
It’s important to have a period of time where any ideas goes first. It’s a small habit that makes a huge difference, whether you’re problem solving by yourself or in a group. For example, we worked witha manufacturing team and they had a huge order that they didn’t have time to fill. The first thing they did was a paper clip brainstorm, which put people in a fun and creative mood. Then, they switched the focus to – how do we make the deadline on time? They made a big list, any idea goes, for 10-20 minutes. Each person was encouraged to offer the dumbest idea, the most politically incorrect idea, the weirdest idea that they would never do in a million years. Once they got that all out of the way, it opened the doors to just outside the box ideas. These are often the unusual ideas, but that are actually going to work. Then, and only then, do you vote on the best idea – depending on your decision making style. If you allow people to vote on the idea they most support, you tend to get more buy in. Then, you just assign who, what and when.
New Solutions Brainstorm Worksheet
If you think this might work for you, you can download the New Solutions Brainstorm Worksheet HERE. It just helps you structure the process for getting the most ingenious ideas from people. You state the issue, the ideal outcome, then brainstorm, then choose and actionize. Literally I’ve seen people come up with brilliant solutions in 10 minutes, if you use a structure like this. If you try sharing an idea then discussing its merits right away, it will take forever and people will get frustrated. It’s a little habit with a big result. Feel free to try it or give it to an emerging leader for them to try, and they’ll thank you profusely.
In Part 3 of How to Install the Top 3 Habits of Agile leaders, we explore the Reframing Your Challenges Worksheet. In Part 1, you got clear on your ideal outcome. In Part 2, you turned around concerns. Now, in Part 3, you turn challenges into wins. These are leadership habits to enhance communication and personal development.
HABIT #2 of Agile Leaders is the Ability to CHOOSE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Think about that for yourself. Do you only see the “glass as half empty” in challenging situations? Do you sweat the small stuff and drive yourself crazy? Agile leaders look for and attract the hidden benefits in challenging situations. They don’t always see the glass as half full. They switch perspective depending on the situation. The most important skill they have is to go into neutral, which allows them to assign the most beneficial meaning to a challenge. If you have studied meditation, you may have learned about developing the “neutral compassionate witness.”
What Meaning Do You Give Challenges?
When you go into neutral, you can assign a meaning that’s going to give you what you want. Non agile people just let subconscious programs dictate their response. For example, two business partners just found out they didn’t get approved for a business loan. One complained about how all banks are crooks. The other called the bank manager to find out how to be more loan worthy next time. Both assigned a different meaning to the same situation. The first partner cast himself as a victim and the bank as a villain. The second cast himself as a student and the bank as a teacher. It’s about you taking back control of the meaning that you give situations.
Reframing Your Challenges worksheet
Download the worksheet HERE. It’s incredibly helpful for people who may not realize they are assigning an “unhelpful” meaning to a challenge. It highlights what’s called “TheStory phenomenon”. People speak in narrative form most of the time. In other words, they cast characters, give them motivations and assign meaning to the story. That story can either help them reach their goals, and feel better; or it can block their goals and make them feel worse. Think of the last time you told a story about a challenge. Did you feel better or worse afterwards?
Tell Me About a Time You Overcame a Big Challenge
I had a client who loved his job but feared the public speaking aspect of his role. He would worry for days beforehand. He looked awkward at the front of the room. One time I happened to be at one of his events. About 15 minutes before he was going to speak, I could tell he was nervous. I knew he played soccer and had scored the winning goal on the weekend. I said “I heard your team won. Tell me about the game.” He gave me a few brief details, but I egged him on. “I want to hear in detail what happened. How did you manage to score the winning goal? Take me through it step by step”. He goes onto describe how tired they were, and how it looked like they would lose, what the coach said that boosted their spirits, how he got the ball away from the defenseman and made a long shot goal. After he finished the story he was beaming. Then, it was his time to go on stage. He looked so much more confident and at ease. Afterwards he came over to me and says, “You tricked me. Telling that story really worked. Thank you. Feel free to trick me like that again.”
Try it for yourself. The Reframing Your Challenges Worksheet can help you find the silver lining in past challenges which give you what we call “The MindStory” to prevail in your present day challenge. Look for Part 4 4.
In Part 2 of How to Install the Top 3 Habits of Agile leaders, we explore the What If Worksheet to help switch your state of mind in an instant In Part 1, we identified your issue and ideal outcome. Now we have something to work with for the 3 habits.
HABIT #1 of Agile Leaders is the Ability to Choose Your State
Can YOU switch your state of mind instantly when needed? Or do you let your state choose you? There are days it’s hard to switch out of a negative state of mind. The problem is, if you try to go through your day in a bad state, you tend to attract more of what you don’t want.
You Cannot Change the External Until the Internal Changes
There’s a famous Einstein quote “You cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.” Sports psychologists regularly remind their pro athletes of this. If their athlete is on a losing streak, they work on changing the “inner game” first. Sometimes we forget that as a leader or as a mentor to leaders. You have to change it inside first or it will not change out there.
The Problem is that it’s Not an Intellectual Switch
The problem is, it’s not an intellectual switch over. Throughout every day of our lives, we come to a fork in the road where we can take the stormy road or the high road. That said, have you ever had a well-meaning friend notice you seem to be having a bad day, and try to break you out of it? They say something like – just lighten up already, get over it. Don’t worry be happy. Does this help? No, it can just make it worse. You have to actually “trick” your mind, or hypnotize yourself out of it.
You Need to Re-wire Your Neuro-Pathways Through Regular Habits.
Habits of mind are in the subconscious, and that’s why sometimes they seem so hard to change. You can’t just change them through conscious will. Repeated actions become habits which become subconscious programs. For example, tying your shoes is a subconscious habit of mind. Your subconscious mind is full of good and useful programs like that. If you didn’t have them, you’d have to relearn tying your shoes every time you wanted to do it.
Your Subconscious Has Programs that Block Your Success
For example many leaders have a fear of public speaking that usually came from a bad experience as a child. I’ve taught public speaking for 15 years, and almost everyone who fears it, had a bad experience in a school play, or reading their essay at the front of the class. Someone said or did something that undermined their confidence. These habits of mind we’re exploring her, can override a bad program like that so it doesn’t get in your way anymore.
You Hypnotize Yourself All the Time
You hypnotize yourself all the time by what you say to yourself. Two people will be saying completely different things to themselves in the face of a similar stressor. That’s why one person can be excited to get on a stage and speak to a group, and another person can be terrified. It’s that old adage that – stress is not an event. It’s not an external thing. It’s always our reaction to and our relationship to it. You may know that intellectually, but the minute you’re hit with an intense stressor, it’s easy to think, “It’s out there. It’s got nothing to do with me.”
A Tool to Shift Mindset Quickly.
If you find you or anyone you serve tends to get undermined by worrying try this. Again, very simple, but very effective. It’s called, The What If Worksheet.Download it HERE. You know how when you’re worried about something you tend to say, “What if we can’t make the deadline? What if I get laid off?”
Most People Don’t Realize They are Worrying
Most people don’t even know that they’re worrying. Instead they notice a physical symptom, like a tension headache or a knot in the stomach. This process helps you investigate. Then, you realize, “Oh, I’m looping in this negative way about what I don’t want.” Again, you have to trick the mind. If you try to WILL yourself to stop worrying, it actually makes it worse.
Positive What If’s
You write out the worry starting with the words “What if…” Then you write:
“What if we CAN make the deadline?”
“What if I get to keep my job?”
It seems very, very simple but I find people will do an activity if it’s quick and simple. It changes your whole neuro chemistry as soon as you say the positive one. A calm descends. The good news is that a calm state of mind changes how the brain works. It dials things up.
Negative OK What If’s
Now, if you’re in a situation where it’s likely not going to work, here’s an alternative. You can write out the negative okay version. You write:
“What if we can’t make the deadline and It’s okay, we learn from it, and we move on?”
“What if I get laid off and it’s okay, I learn from the situation, and move on to something better?”
Now, maybe you think like that anyways, which is good, but some people they don’t naturally think that way. This is like training wheels on a bike to start thinking that way by default.
Example of Using the What If Worksheet in a Cash Flow Crunch
I had a client who was trying to shift her market niche and used this. She was a consultant helping people create better workflow systems, but she wanted to switch to conflict resolution training instead. Immediately after she made the decision, without telling anyone but me, three of her top clients cancelled their contract. She started worrying about cash flow and decided it was a bad idea.
She agreed to do the worksheet for 11 days in a row. Then she contacted me and said, “I finally realized this is going to give me time to focus on the new market niche.” It opened up her creative energy to do what she wanted to do instead of wasting it on worrying. In retrospect she was happy that those 3 time consuming clients canceled. It meant she could make the switch over more quickly and was much happier with the new direction.
That’s just an example of how it works, so feel free to share that with anyone who is a big worrier. In fact, it literally takes 3 minutes, so try one right now on your favorite worry.
Are you an agile leader? Agile leaders are what we call Artists of Change. They can adapt and innovate quickly and easily, making them indispensable in business. Here are the top habits of agile leaders. See whether you have them or not. If not, they’re easy to install in your daily life, and can make a HUGE difference to your success.
A Lack of Agility is Part of the Human Condition
The problem is that most people aren’t like that. The human mind has a strong bias for resisting change and seeing the world from a mainly negative perspective. But the good news is that through small habits of mind you can retrain how your mind operates under pressure, much like an athlete trains their body and mind to perform well under pressure.
Try this 1-Minute Activity for 21 Days
As part of this series you’ll be introduced to four quick and easy to use worksheets that you can use as a self coaching tool or to help others. We found if somebody did these quick activities for 21 days straight, it became default. Its like when you first started driving a car, it was slow. You had to pay attention and focus on every move. Now it’s default, it’s gone into the subconscious. You can drive, talk on the phone, drink coffee, put your makeup on. Not recommended, but its possible. So, that’s what we want to get to with these habits, you just naturally think this way…and then it opens life possibilities up in a huge way. And believe me you’ll use these habits every single day of your life, for the rest of your life, at work and in your personal life.
Leadership Skills that are Quick and Easy to Learn
The idea here is keeping it quick and simple, like brushing your teeth. All of these are small, easy things to do, because over the years of teaching the mindset of a good leader, if you keep it conceptual, non practical and complicated…the majority of people will not implement anything and therefore will not get any good results. On the other hand, by turning a concept into a small, quick habit and testing it to ensure it’s tried-and-true habit in the real world…then people do it, and get the excellent results. That’s what I want for you.
Choose One Issue to Focus On Right Now
Just think about one issue right now. We all have issues, tons of them every day, of course, and how you approach your issues can make or break your agility, resiliency and innovation. Just for fun in your own head, I’d love you to just think about what’s one issue that maybe you loop on lately. You know, the one that maybe you wake up in the morning thinking about, we all have at least one and I want you to just think about applying something like this to it. Now, this is a great way to tell is you’re an agile leader or not…
Do you know your Ideal Outcome?
In all our studies, we found that agile leaders knew their ideal outcome as well as their issue. Non agile leaders only focused on the issue It’s an interesting phenomenon. They just could only think of what wasn’t working and what they didn’t like. Now, here’s the interesting thing. Let’s use the metaphor of climbing a peak. Down at the bottom of the mountain you have your issue. Your ideal outcome is at the top of the mountain. It instantly creates this magnetic draw, even if you don’t know how to get there yet.
The problem is, that many people who know this, still don’t practice it. In our company, we found that if we keep things very simple and easy to do, people are more likely to implement and then they get the results. Especially if you’re influencing emerging leaders, keep it really small and simple; those one-stop-shop habits that make a big difference. This is one of them.
Non Agile Leaders Stay Focused on the Issue
In our research, non-agile leaders stayed focused on the issue. You probably know people like that. They just want to talk about the problem and it’s hard to get them to talk about what they want instead.
Agile Leaders Create and Focus on their Ideal Outcome
On the other hand, agile leaders, they not only can identify their ideal outcome, they focus on it over and over again, even in the face of nothing’s changing. It’s like Thomas Edison and the invention of the light bulb. It took him over 1000 tries. Everyone else who was trying to invent a light source at the time, gave up at 50.
Ideal Outcome Worksheet
Download this Ideal Outcome worksheet. Try it right now on something in your life. Either download and print out the handout, or use a pad of paper or type into your phone. Say, your issue is I feel overwhelmed by the amount of email I have to deal with. You’d write out, as your ideal outcome I somehow find a way to manage email well this week. It needs to be a specific ideal outcome using the words “I somehow, or we somehow”. You don’t know HOW yet, but you’ve identified your direction, and so the subconscious mind gets to work on creating that outcome. If NOT given that direction it will create more of the problem. What you focus on grows. When we used this example with a team, all of a sudden people were developing email habits that lessened overwhelm dramatically.
A CEO Who Spent All His Time Solving Other People’s Problems
I worked with a CEO of a company, and he told me that he spent his entire time putting out fires, helping other people solve all their problems. He couldn’t focus at all on any of his big important tasks. He just tried this activity with them. He just said, “Okay, before you come to me with an issue, you have to have the ideal outcome written out.” So he taught people how to do it and then what do you think happened? Far less people started to come to him with issues, because as soon as they created their ideal outcome. They came up with their own solution, and then he had more time for other things. Try that one. It’s very, very popular, it works amazingly well.
A practice like this is like training wheels on a bike to help people make those default changes in how they think. Eventually you don’t need the worksheet, you’ll do it automatically. Now, you can’t just know this conceptually it won’t change it your behavior. You need to DO something and then it will re-write the subconscious neuropathways over time.
Look for part 2
In Part 1 you’re just identifying your issue and your ideal outcome so we have something to work with for the 3 habits in parts 2, 3, and 4, so look for Part 2.