Can you avoid making painful choices?
One of my biggest learning curves was a time when I crashed financially and lost everything, well everything of a material nature anyway. The year I faced up to my increasing debt levels and the fact my house had been repossessed was a catalyst for significant change. From that time I stopped running on autopilot and began the slow journey of consciously taking responsibility, and working my way out of making painful choices. When everything is going wrong, that is when you learn the most.
When I was in that downward spiral everyone had an opinion or some sage advice to help me rise out of the negative direction of travel I was headed, but I really wasn’t hearing anything except my own inner denial and fear. If you have kids or are a trainer or coach you know that giving advice is the least effective way to change behaviours. Knowledge in itself does not make changes. There have been many situations in my life when I really did know what to do but I just wasn’t galvanised into action.
In some respects I know I had to go through the painful consequences of those automatic reactions and choices I was making to understand that a) I had created that situation through my thoughts, beliefs and self-talk and b) feeling the pain motivated me to change my behaviours so that situation never arose again.
One of my biggest frustrations is seeing teams and leaders in a downward spiral in some shape or form, and not being galvanised into action until it becomes the consequences of painful choices is becoming reality. Sometimes the outcomes are so predictable and preventable, but like me in the above situation, no-one is hearing that the pain can be minimised or even avoided.
We learn through the consequences of painful choices because we don’t understand we are able to change our programming. Once you are aware of this, it’s possible to switch to a different way of thinking or overcome limiting beliefs through visualising and believing in a different outcome.
A simple way to think of this is to understand “Away and Toward” motivation. We are either moving away from something “Not Wanted” or moving toward something “Wanted”. The trick here is to not get into a situation where “Away” motivation is even triggered. However, like me, you may need to experience the consequences of painful choices first to understand you have a choice.