Dear Why Team,
Why choose adversity?
One of my favorite book titles is “The Obstacle is the Way”. The title alone serves whether you read the book or not. It’s natural that we would not choose the obstacle, but why?
I believe we’re afraid of what the obstacle will require of us. And putting ourselves out there is getting out of our comfort zone, and that creates anxiety and fear. Ironically, fear of failure is why most people fail. But like the authors of Think like a Freak suggest. “look at failure through the eyes of a scientist. If someone already tried and failed, that’s great news because no one has to lose any more time to try that avenue.” Consider dropping the word “failure” and replacing it with the word “feedback.”
What if you knew you could not fail? What is possible for you if failure is not possible?
For several years now I have been asking my audiences, “How many of you, by a show of hands, set a New Year’s resolution?” Consistently it is only about 5 or 10% of the audience.
I then ask those who didn’t raise their hands if they are familiar with the tradition. This always gets a laugh. Why are so few people today setting New Year’s resolutions? I believe it’s because our culture has changed the definition of success from process to results - and because of that change, so many are succeeding less, or worse, driving for a destination, but not enjoying the drive.
Here we are in early November with almost two full months to consider our resolutions for 2019. In this month of Thanksgiving, be sure to invest time recognizing the abundance around you and invest some time considering what obstacles you may be avoiding. The holidays are certainly an opportune time to go deep into the present moment with family and friends but note the distractions, how many of them are obstacles you don’t want to face. I love the line: That what we don’t face stays in our face. Consider jotting down those distractions and asking why they encroach upon your life in the present moment.
At the top of a sheet of paper or in notes on your smartphone, write New Year’s Resolutions and for the rest of this year, when the thought arises, make a note.
The classic question is: If money was not an obstacle and you had all the time in the world, where would you go and what would you do?
It’s interesting how we have to think beyond all the reasons we think we can’t do something to entertain the thoughts of what we could do.
It’s difficult to move beyond the bars of our self-created prisons if we are not willing to admit the bars’ presence.
When the idea of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was proposed to me, I immediately thought of all the responsibilities of my life and how full my schedule always seems to be. But with why questions we can dig deep into seeing our own self-imposed obstacles.
Why would anyone construct a cage in which to live?
These cages built to keep us safe can also serve to trap us.
Why do we construct our lives as such to limit rather than propel?
Do you serve your work or does your work serve you and your highest aspirations? What are your highest aspirations? Why not write them down?
The moment I heard myself say I can’t leave to climb Kilimanjaro, I knew it wasn’t true. It’s not “I can’t,” it’s “I choose.” “I can’t” implies that it’s impossible. “I choose” is to own my choices and through ownership, I am empowered to make different choices. Saying yes to the journey put in motion all that was needed to make it possible. Worry less about the way and focus more on the Will and the Why - for they will show you the Way.
And your Why may be to simply remind you that it is your life and you have the power to choose.
Most people would agree that they stopped making New Year’s Resolutions because they ultimately didn’t adhere to them.
Research has revealed that February 26th is the most depressing day of the year.
Because by that day, about 85% of New Year’s Resolutions have been broken.
Well, the answer is multifaceted.
Biologically we burn a lot of glucose when we think. Thus, thinking can exhaust us. When we set too many Resolutions and consider all the work that will be necessary, we can exhaust ourselves to the point of inaction - hence the thought “I can’t.” Just like I did here, take your obstacles and ask why do you see them as such and what it may take to overcome them. Paulo Coelho noted that “We won’t love what we don’t know and we won’t work for what we don’t love.” Know the obstacles and projects in your way, and you may learn that they’re not so hard to complete.
As you consider all the potential adventures and projects you might want to complete and experience in the New Year - it will be helpful to choose your top three or four and to assign a specific quarter or season for you to apply singular focus.
I have yet to decide when and what mountain I will climb in 2019, but I am already excited about the adventure and the challenge. I climbed a lot as a kid; I was always in a tree or on the roof of our house. But for over 40 years I never climbed more than the occasional indoor climbing wall - then in October of 2016, with the help of a great guide, I climbed a route called Geronimo in Red Rocks Canyon outside of Las Vegas. It was absolutely among the most amazing days of my life. Nothing like being on a rock face hundreds of feet off the ground to bring you fully into the present moment. That experience led to climbing the glacier Mt. Baker in 2017 and Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2018.
What did you absolutely love doing as a kid and how could you bring those activities more into your life now and in the approaching New Year?
Everything is possible to those who believe in the possibilities. No harm in writing down your wildest dreams. I hope you will begin your list this week.
“Live until you Die.”
Bessie Fensler - age 90
Make it a great week!