One of the key differences that set professional coaching apart from the rest of the disciplines (like counseling or therapy) which work on helping individuals who make the decision of improving their personal situation, is that coaching focuses on action.
And this is the point that makes people get stopped on their tracks. Sometimes the action that we have to take to improve our current situation, or to get where we want to be, looks so big, so massive for us to consider it, that only thinking about it makes us believe that it’s impossible even to start.
So, why even try it?
Henry Ford, when once asked about how he approached problems, said “when facing any situation there are many things that you cannot do anything about, but, if you analyze the situation well, you will discover that there is always one thing that you can do. I always focus on what I can do and I do it”.
This approach helped Mr. Ford to create an industry and become a multimillionaire.
What a fresh perspective, even it was brought over a century ago!
So why don’t we apply that basic rule and prefer to focus on things we cannot do anything about?
We usually prefer to complain, to argue and to talk about all the things we do not have any control over. And, since almost everybody does the same, we even do not realize how extended this innocuous, hopeless and ineffective strategy is.
I propose a quick exercise to be done during the course of your day. It’s meant to have some fun and, at the same time, to realize how far we can be (or not) from the vast majority of people that are unhappy, frustrated, disappointed or intimidated with what is happening to them or around them.
Are you with me?
Let’s start a normal day for you. A day where you interact with people soon after you jump off the bed and run your daily activities, whatever they are.
For the entire day, try to focus your attention on what people around you say that put themselves as ‘victims’ of what happens to them. Expressions like:
If taxes were not so high…
The public transport in this city is so bad!
If I would not waste one hour a day commuting…
The problem is that very few people can afford to go to University…
There are no good jobs available in this region…verage when we will retire…
If there would only be less bureaucracy involved in opening a business…
We all have heard about Newton’s Law of Action and Reaction, and we are able to sketch a simple explanation of how this Law works on the physical world. But this is a Universal Law, that also works on the ‘non-physical’ world.
You get the idea.
And you will hear this on the radio, in the bus, at the office, in the restaurant, at the coffee break…everywhere.
Don’t do anything. I just want you to be aware of the expressions you hear. And, why not, you may be one of the people who will ‘say’ some of these expressions.
Be also aware of this. You will be amazed by how many ‘blaming’ you find in one day. With practice, you will be able to find even more.
The exercise will finish at the end of your day. Take some quiet time and reflect. How will blaming all those external factors help you personally?
As rational beings, we should do what helps us to achieve an objective or goal.
If we are hungry, we take action to get food and eat
If we are cold, we take action to cover ourselves or go into a warmer place
If we want to attract somebody, we improve our appearance or attitude
We take action because we know that only with 'action' we can achieve our objectives, whatever they are.
Taking responsibility means that we know what we want, we identify the action(s) we have to take and, we make the decision to take them; because we know that making excuses and blaming external circumstances will not move us an inch from where we are.
And, surprisingly, many people (including, why not, ourselves) keep wasting time and energy blaming external factors, and making excuses that try to justify why we are where we are.
And the smarter the person is, the smarter the excuse she will bring to justify why she is where she is.
Finally, it's your decision.
We all have heard about the Newton’s Law of Action and Reaction, and we are able to sketch a simple explanation on how this Law works on the physical world. But this is a Universal Law, that also works on the ‘non-physical’ world.
What does it mean in our case? It means that we cannot achieve anything if we do not pay the price. And what is the price?
The price is identifying what we need, assessing the gap between where we are and what we want to achieve, and taking deliberate action towards it until we get it.
Same as a doctor has to pay a price of long years of study and dedication to become a good doctor, we have to pay the price to be or have what we want. Complaining, blaming others, making excuses will not make us become what we want.
And this is the reflection part of the exercise today:
Think about it at the end of the day and decide for tomorrow:
Am I going to run the day as the previous day, participating in all these complains, collecting blaming and making excuses? or
Am I going to decide what I specifically need to do during my day to move closer to where I want to be and take action?
The decision is yours. Nobody can make it for you.
And, whatever decision you will make, day after day, it will inevitably make you a professional of what you do, a champion in your domain: it can be a professional writer, salesperson, athlete, teacher, musician, father or mother; or, it can be a professional victim, blamer, excuse-maker or depressing companion.
It all depends on you and what you decide to do…every day.
So, what are you going to do tomorrow when you will wake up? Which will be your decision?