The Greatest Enemy of Decision Making – Inertia!

Inertial

By Bill Mason, WeAlign Certified Coach

Have you ever wanted to move to a new stage of life, a new career, get into shape, lose a few pounds, have a better relationship with a friend, spouse, or loved one? What is holding you back? I believe our greatest enemy is: Inertia!

This inertia comes in many forms: the status quo, almost good enough, I will wait till the perfect timing, I am not smart enough, I am not talented enough, if only. These are all excuses and lies that we all believe and tell ourselves daily. What if we could overcome this inertia and move forward with our decisions with one simple new one-/hour monthly thing we do?

Sounds too good to be true?  It could be, but I have found that having an Executive Coach has been a key to overcoming this problem in my life. Here are some examples of how my coach has helped me in practical ways.

In many decisions I let fear keep me from moving. An acronym for fear that I like is FEAR: False, Evidence, Appearing, Real. When I become anxious or fearful, my mind starts to race 100 miles an hour, and I struggle to shut it off. It runs towards the cliffs that are imaginary in my mind! At least 90 percent of the fears that I have never come to pass. So most of that emotional energy is wasted on nothing! Fear also kills my desire for fulfillment. We have a bias that causes us to fear loss more than we want fulfillment. If I focus on fear, I will not reach fulfillment in my life. My coach has helped me by allowing me to voice these fears, hit them head-on, and replace my fears with my long term desires. My goals become my compass and true north for my brain’s activities, allowing my mind a positive fuel to move me forward, rather than the negative fears that keep me afraid and overwhelmed by the negative outcome possibilities.

Another truth I have come to realize is that living reactively does not meet our deepest needs. As we go about our daily lives, we rush from one thing to another and look back after yet another week and think, “Have I really accomplished anything this week?!” This can lead a deep-seated dissonance between what I am doing, what I value, and what I want out of life long term.

As I process these feelings with my coach, simple questions, without judgement, have been very helpful. Questions like: What makes this worth pursuing? What is causing you to feel stuck? How does this align with who you are, and who you want to be? If you look back in 20 years, what advice would you give yourself? Who are you becoming through this decision? These questions help me to process why I feel this dissonance and how to say “No” to the urgent activities that pop up every day.” This allows me margin to say “Yes” to what I value most, health, fitness, relationships, and other deep-seated life-bringing values.

Sometimes I get stuck because I try to make a decision through one frame of reference or decision-making strategy. Since I cannot find a path using this strategy, I stay immobilized by it. Having another person asking me questions from another strategy has been of great value to me as well. A few examples of strategies that we use are:

  1. Rationale: “What are the pros and cons of pursuing each option?”
  2. Relational: “How will this course of action affect those around me? Family, Co-workers, friends?
  3. Alignment: “How well does this decision align with my passions, values, calling?
  4. Spiritual: “What decision would best align with my faith? What is God saying to me on this?
  5. Cost: “What would it cost you in terms of time and resources to do this? What would it cost me if I do NOT do this? What cost is there to me if I do nothing and make no choice?
  6. Risk/Reward: “What is the payoff for each opportunity? What is the opportunity cost of each? What is the risk? What steps could minimize the risk involved?

In many decisions, we face fears, both known and unknown. To overcome this inertia we feel (which causes us to avoid people, places, decisions, or actions) hiring a coach that you can trust and act as a sounding board is one of the greatest investments in your life you can make!  Hire a coach today!

For more articles like this check out my online profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-mason-81015811/, www.wealigncoaching.com, www.billmasoncoaching.com, If you would like to try coaching, contact me and mention this article to receive one free 30 minute coaching session.   Email bill@wealigncoaching.com, cell 850-855-3430,

Comfort: Your One-Way Ticket to a Life Half-Lived

By Jonathan Woolridge, WeAlign Certified Coach

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Image by tookapic from Pixabay

Who doesn’t love being comfortable? Hopping on the couch and turning on Netflix, is probably one of my favorite things to do. The pursuit of living comfortable lives drives most of our career and family decisions and we all can benefit from relaxation. But comfort, or at least making comfort and being comfortable our chief aim, can be detrimental. Like a slow-acting poison, if left unchecked, it can cripple your ability to pursue your passions and get in the way of good decision-making.

I live in Colorado and our weather can be very unpredictable. A few weeks back, as I was driving home from work, a cold front was moving in and brought with it freezing rain. I really didn’t want to turn the heat up on the defroster because I was bundled up and preferred that it didn’t feel like I was driving a sauna on wheels. Instead I chose to keep my windshield wipers working feverishly. After a few minutes, my windshield was becoming more and more obscured and I had to say goodbye to being comfortable so I wouldn’t die in a fiery car crash.

This perfectly normal, everyday experience actually led me to a somewhat profound conclusion; making the right decision often requires accepting some level of discomfort. While I was fixated on being comfortable, the only solution that made sense was the ineffective use of my wiper-blades. No matter how fast they moved, they couldn’t keep the ice at bay, and for a few moments, I felt like there wasn’t another solution.

While the idea of being comfortable sat on the throne of my decision making, I was temporarily paralyzed. This realization happened in a split second, but it made me think, “What other areas of my life had I abdicated control to the allure of living comfortably?” As I kept driving, a little warmer than I wanted to be but finally with a perfectly clear windshield, I started thinking about the territories in my life that comfort was threatening to overcome. I quickly realized that over-prioritizing comfort was negatively impacting some of my parenting, professional development, hobbies, chores, and relationships.

Whether we admit it or not, comfort keeps us on the couch when we could be running. Comfort keeps us scrolling through our phones when we could have been reading. Now I’m not saying that being comfortable is wrong (all things in moderation right?), but I am saying that if you only ever make decisions with comfort as your chief aim, then you’ll probably experience life at half (or a lot less) of what it could be. The problem is when we spend too much time protecting our comfort.

Making lasting change in your life will be uncomfortable. In fact, all good things in life come with challenges. The dream job you finally landed will have its fair share of frustrations. Your soulmate won’t always understand you. The beauty and joy of a newborn child will also bring sleep deprivation and poopy diapers. The best things in life require effort and so will making positive change.

I would venture to guess that most of us (if not all of us) have areas in our lives that we want to change or improve. And since you’re human, I bet comfort gets the better of you from time to time. Comfort gets the better of me more than I care to admit (does this count as admitting it?). But if you recognize the issue, you can start to change your response.

So, if you aren’t satisfied with some area of your life, or you’re not reaching your goals, I want you to ask yourself a couple of questions. First, “Am I unsatisfied with ______ because I’m prioritizing comfort over taking action? If the answer is yes, then ask, “What realistic step can I take today that will move me in the right direction?”. You might find that you couldn’t imagine a different way of approaching the problem all because you were too focused on being comfortable. Making progress and good decisions will bring with it discomfort, but it’s through discomfort that exponential growth occurs!

Practical Insight to Keep Pursuing Your Passions

By Jonathan Woolridge, WeAlign Certified Coach

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Photo by Michael Descharles on Unsplash

Have you ever had an “aha” moment? When, for a split second, you had perfect clarity and you knew what direction your life should take. Like a spark landing in dry grass, your passion seemed to roar into existence, and you knew that your life would never be the same because of­­_________. With your heart racing, head filling with ideas, and a completely new outlook, you set out on a journey to pursue this new passion. But as days, weeks, months, or years crept by, the excitement of that initial spark faded, and the fire went out.

If you look back and wonder why, you’ll probably find a number of reasons. You might have relied solely on the initial spark to keep you going. Maybe you made such drastic changes in pursuit of your passion that you overwhelmed yourself and gave up. Maybe you believed a lie that you’d never be able to get where you want to be and so you never truly took steps towards it. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t have to be this way.

If we treated pursuing our passions like keeping a campfire lit, we’d have a much higher chance of succeeding. Keeping a campfire going is simple but requires effort and a little discernment. You have to continuously collect wood and you have to know how much you can add without smothering it. You can’t expect a fire to burn forever if you aren’t intentionally feeding it and you also can’t expect it to stay lit if you feed it too much. Now I know this sounds obvious, and it is, but so many people either don’t feed their passions or they smother them. Keeping the fire burning is probably one of the most important aspects of achieving goals and I believe this analogy gives a great picture as to what it takes to keep pursuing your passions. Here’s some practical wisdom that’s helped me.

1: Just because the fire exists, doesn’t mean it will stay lit on its own

You’ve got to keep your fire burning. So often people set out on the journey of becoming better and expect the emotions of that initial spark turned inferno to carry us the rest of our lives, when in reality, our passions and dreams are fragile and need to be fed if we want to be successful in our pursuits. No matter what your goal is, you’ve got to build in repeatable habits that will keep you on track.

If you’re an aspiring bodybuilder and you’re only going to the gym on days that you feel motivated, chances are you’re going to have a hard time making significant gains. If you’re setting out to write a book and expect to be taken by a wave of inspiration every time you sit down if front of your computer, then chances are you’ll spend the rest of your life working on the same book.

On the day his Jersey was retired, Kobe Bryant, in his speech, said this to his daughters, “those times when you don’t feel like working, you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself but you do it anyway: that is the actual dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And if you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see happen is that you won’t accomplish your dreams. Your dreams won’t come true. Something greater will.”

Keeping the fire lit everyday takes grit. It takes determination. But most of us focus our motivation in trying to replicate the initial spark rather than just adding another log to the fire. When you apply grit and determination to building life giving habits, your goals can be bigger than you ever imagined.

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2: Keeping the fire lit is simple but will take effort

You’ve got to gather the wood and feed the fire if you’re going to keep it lit. It really is that simple, but it will require continuous effort. My coach, Kim Avery, once told me, “all success rises and falls on the level of our habits.” This is where we have to put in the work, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we tend to make it. In a previous blog post, I mentioned taking small attainable steps towards your goals. If you know where you want to be in life, then think about what habits you need to form or which bad habits you need to dismantle, that will get you closer to your goal.

For me, I wanted to read more books. My reading list seemed to be growing longer and longer and I was barely making any progress. In 2020, I decided to start reading 45 minutes a day no matter what. I knew this was realistic for me and it’s already paying off. In the first 9 days of January I had finished my first book and I ended the month having read 3! In 2019, I read 7.

I’ve also noticed an interesting shift in perspective. Whereas before, the thought of reading and how long my reading list was felt overwhelming, now I find it exciting to get those 45 minutes in each day. It’s also led to me looking for opportunities throughout the day when I could be reading. I even had a moment the other day when the kids were in bed and I normally would have just grabbed my phone, but thought to myself, “I want to read!” I know it probably sounds funny, but this was a huge moment for me. Now I’m probably reading on average 1-1.5 hours a day. I’m thrilled to think about how many books I’m going to get through this year!

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Whatever change you want to make in life will take effort, but there are simple ways to establish good habits that can be scaled up as they become ingrained in your everyday life. A two-hour gym routine might start out as 30 minutes a day in your basement with dumbbells. Writing a book, might start out with the habit of writing one page a day. Meaningful change rarely happens fast and often starts small. Don’t despise small beginnings! It doesn’t have to be monumental. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. All it has to do is keep the fire burning so that on the days when you don’t feel like it, there you are doing it anyway.

How will you feed your fire today?

THE POWER OF AFFIRMATION

Affirmation…so powerful yet so underestimated.

I remember the day when my daughter made a dramatic change, all because of three short words. We were living in France, and she was going to the Maternelle (kindergarten).   At a parent-teacher meeting, the teacher smiled as she exclaimed, “Elle est vite!” (she is fast). Our daughter heard and immediately embraced this affirmation. For the next two years she ran everywhere as fast as she could! “I am fast. I am fast. I am fast…just watch me!” as those words of truth propelled each step forward.

My daughter didn’t realize that her teacher was affirming her mental agility (quickly learning the French language and culture), not her physical prowess. Yet, a compliment put wings on her shoes.

Affirmation turned on a switch in my daughter, just like how Clark Kent taking off his glasses and ripping open his shirt reveals the “S”—his true identity as Superman. We all have “Super” within us, but it usually takes something external to draw it out of us. Many times we may have a hunch or a feeling that something is true about us, but it’s confirmed and brought alive when others call it out. It’s the power of affirmation!

Affirming someone is simply calling out a truth of their authentic design. It’s truly who they are at their core identity. “I appreciate that you have enduring, rock-solid values” or “I love how you always love to learn” are great examples of calling out an identity truth in someone. Complimenting others is a great start too, but slightly different. A compliment is a positive statement referring to a task done or trait possessed. “Thank you for cleaning up the dishes tonight” or “that shirt looks great on you”. They both trigger the production of oxytocin, the “happy” hormone in our brains which results in smiles and warmth.

Here’s a little experiment for you this week: It’ll be easy, simple, and free. Do you want to dramatically change a relationship or your work environment? Start affirming others, and often. Find those characteristics in others that you can call out and affirm in them.  If that seems too difficult to start with, then begin with a smile and a compliment. But flattery is different, and doesn’t count. Flattery is actually focused on elevating the speaker, not the receiver. It highlights a situational non-truth about the other. For example, “I loved your keynote speech” (but you weren’t there and didn’t hear it) or “I’m grateful for your leadership” (but secretly you neither respect nor trust the leader). Affirmation and compliments are a gift to the receiver, because it can produce change in the person’s self-esteem.

Affirmation will put an “S” on your chest…because we all have Super within!  Let WeAlign help you discover your greatness- your true authentic design.

(By the way, we affirm a lot)!

-Dave

Align with Your Design

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Q: At WeAlign, you talk about being my authentic self, but I’ve been so programmed by other people’s expectations that I no longer know who I really am.  How can I recover the real me?

A: That’s a great question, and you’re not alone.  I’ve been going through this journey to “re-humanize” myself as well.  Here are five helpful sources that I’ve discovered along the way.

1) ASK THOSE WHO KNOW YOU

Ask close family members, coworkers, and friends to honestly tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are. They can point out your good and bad blind spots, and be a great “mirror” for you. Note: pay special attention if more than one person points out the same thing.

2) ASK YOUR HISTORY

Take some time to reflect on the accomplishments in your life and note the times you felt successful, fully alive, or in your “zone.”  It’s a big help if you write these down. For each scenario, ask yourself:

  • What was the setting?

  • What skills and talents did you use?

  • What roles did you serve?

Do you see patterns of traits that show up multiple times?  Those are aspects of your core design shining through. When you align with your design, you get the best results.

3) ASK SCIENCE

We live in a time where the science of personality development is exploding. It’s worth your time and expense to take an assessment or two to better understand how you’re wired.

I’ve seen huge results as I’ve coached clients through the WeAlign Strengths Alignment Package. I also like gifttest.org, and DISC, and I know people who prefer MBTI, the Enneagram, Colors, and many others. The key is to know what the assessment is attempting to measure as well as its limitations.

4) ASK A PROFESSIONAL

A qualified coach is trained to help you get clarity on your life purpose and calling.  As an objective sounding board, your coach can often accelerate the process and get you results much faster than going it on your own.

5) ASK YOUR CREATOR

Last, but certainly not least, if you want to know your design it makes sense to consult The Designer.

You may have heard it said that your talents are God’s gift to you, but what you do with them is your gift to God.  So it’s logical that God is biased toward helping you understand your design so that you can make a difference in the world. Ask for guidance and understanding in your prayers, and try some spiritual journaling. Ephesians 2:10

SUMMARY

Each of these factors contribute a part of the whole – the bigger picture of your unique design. Be intentional in your discovery, but remember it’s a process that never completely ends, so be patient with yourself.

Do you need help sorting things out? Let’s have a no-obligation call and see if we can move you forward.

How Comparison Steals Your Joy

By Pete Cafarchio, ACC.

compare mirrorPhoto by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash

I was reflecting about how I tend to despise my natural limitations instead of accepting them, and this graphic representation came to mind.  I hope you can gain some personal insights from it.

How it works

When I accurately see myself the way I am, with a realistic view of my strengths and limitations, I can have self-respect and a healthy appreciation for myself.

The problem comes when I get fixated on a fantasy version of who I think I should be.  In that version, my strengths are exaggerated, and my weaknesses are ignored or hidden.  It’s unrealistic, but I’m more attracted to that version.  And then when I see my Real Self in comparison to my Fantasy Self, I wind up disliking myself because I don’t measure up.  The result is deep-seated unhappiness with my core identity.

Entire industries spend multiple billions of dollars each year to convince you that you don’t yet measure up to the Fantasy Self.  They don’t mind damaging your self-esteem just so you’ll buy their products to improve yourself.  Pretty sick, huh?

Social media makes it even worse by broadcasting images that only show our best moments and hide our real struggles.

And if you’re a high-achiever, you might be naturally prone to setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and others.

What can you do?

One plan of attack is to identify the sources that contribute to your Fantasy Self.  A short list might include: entertainment, advertisements, past messages from your family of origin, condescending friends, certain corporate cultures, and your social media feed.

Ask yourself if these influencers are making you feel better or worse about your Real Self, and then manage or eliminate them. It’s not easy because we’re barraged every day, but a few key choices can make a big difference.

The second approach is to get a good understanding of who you really are – self-awareness.  Do the work using the Strengths Alignment, a coach, and feedback from friends and coworkers to get an accurate view of your strengths and limitations.  And then learn to love and accept yourself for who you are.

What’s interesting is that the better you know your Real Self, the easier it becomes to see (and reject) your Fantasy Self.

I’ve heard it said that when currency experts are trained to identify counterfeit money, they don’t study the infinite ways the money can be imitated. Instead, they study the unique characteristics (paper type, colors, inks, images, etc.) of legitimate currency. Then if they see that one aspect is altered, they know the bill in question isn’t authentic.

The same principle applies here.  Get to know the real, legitimate you, and it becomes easier to spot the voices trying to make you into a phony.

How about you? What’s one comparison you can eliminate to increase your joy level?

Pete Cafarchio, ACC, is a WeAlign Executive Coach and partner.  

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