I like when themes show up with my clients; it means something similar is happening for a lot of people at this snapshot in time. Recently, every client I worked with had the similar theme of “how hard do I have to work to make IT happen?”
That’s such a great question and the simple answer is that it’s NOT about working harder, rather, it’s about slowing down and thinking about the action you keep taking. If the actions you keep taking don’t yield the results you want, why do you keep doing them? Well, you do them because when under stress it is your default or knee-jerk behavior. It’s what you know how to do best. It worked at some point in the past but is no longer effective. Like an outdated software program that is not responding, so are your outdated behaviors and beliefs.
In one of my previous careers I was a corporate paralegal (this is so counter to who I am, but that’s another story). I worked with another legal assistant who worked in the litigation department. Litigation is a whole different kettle of fish because it is often driven by statutory filing deadlines. Talk about hard work and pressure. I’d often watch Sahara (not her real name) run around like the house was on fire. She’d photocopy, fax, sign documents, call the courier service and talk to me all at the same time. It was simultaneously scary and amazing to watch. When the crisis was over I would ask, “how do you do it all”? Her reply was, simple: “the busier I get the slower I go” (I guess that was slow in her world). That was over 20 years ago and It has stuck with me ever since.
Here are 4 of my favorite secrets for making “IT” happen:
Secret #1: S-L-O-W down and deliberate before taking action!
Action is only good if it’s the CORRECT action and yields you the results yo u want. If you are not getting the results you want the answer is NOT more action, it is less action and more introspection. Any time you want to take MORE action ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the purpose of this action?
- How does the action impact me (and/or others)?
- Am I getting the outcome I want?
Then you can discern if you need to change up your action plan and how.
Secret #2: Be humble and coachable.
Consult a wise and knowledgeable coach, mentor or therapist. You don’t need to do this forever, just long enough to identify the old outdated “software” you are using and replace it with a modernized useful program (new thoughts, beliefs and actions). Brief coaching interludes with my clients helps them to slow down and focus on the correct actions so long term work is not usually necessary. That doesn’t mean ongoing work is not important. It is!
Just remember: If you want a different outcome, you need to do something different to achieve it.
Secret #3: STOP working so hard at what DOES NOT work.
When someone doesn’t speak the same language as you do communicating is a challenge. Have you ever watched two people who speak a different language try to have a conversation? Sometimes people will speak slower or louder, while saying exactly the same thing, thinking this will get through to the other person. It usually doesn’t work. What would work is to pull out a bi-lingual language dictionary and look up key words and phrases in the other person’s language.
STOP doing the same same. Gain a completely and entirely different approach or perspective (just one of the benefits of coaching). Be flexible like Gumby!
Secret #4: Stay FOCUSED!
This can be a challenge, especially when all hell is breaking loose. Contrary to your urge, you do NOT need to do everything at once! Here are some easy reminders to get centered.
- Breathe…differently. Paced breathing is centering. Find a type that works for you. I recommend “HA” breathing.
- Remember and connect to a really GOOD feeling, one you’ve had in the past of something BIG that you accomplished.
- Slow down and prioritize your tasks and actions. Do the first or top priority item on your desk or list – ONLY. Don’t even think about looking at the rest of the list!
- Turn off your phone and close your email just for 15 minutes. Before you know it, that illusive project is done.
By the time you’re done with 1-4 above, your fear, panic, overwhelm, frustration or other immobilizing feelings will have passed and you can then move on to the NEXT item on your list.
Take a break between tasks to acknowledge your accomplishment (this also reinforces your new skill).
Implementing these 4 secrets will be sure to start you on the path to getting the outcomes you want.