Sometimes it takes real courage to be honest with yourself.
For over 20 years now, I’ve been spreading the Get Out of B.E.D.(Blame, Excuses and Denial) message, encouraging people to take Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility for their thoughts, words and actions..
And for over 20 years, I’ve had to look myself in the mirror to see if I’m really taking ownership of my own thoughts, words and actions. Most of the time, I can hear the blame and excuses in my head, but I don’t always recognize the denial that sneaks in there.
A lot of times we fool ourselves thinking that we want something, when in fact, if we pull away the veil and look closely, we’re telling ourselves little falsehoods. Here’s a funny, but true, example of one of my recent revelations of how I had been in denial about something that I said I wanted.
Over 10 years ago, I heard about a colleague’s experience of walking the Camino de Santiago and was enthralled with the idea. Since then, I’ve been saying that I wanted to hike the 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain. Several friends have experienced the pilgrimage, some taking 30 days to do the complete journey, others by doing it in segments. Most have stayed in the albergues along the way. I’ve heard and read the stories of their pilgrimages – the blisters, the large dorm-like sleeping quarters with bunk beds, the cold showers, the grueling 20 mile-a-day hikes and the humility and exhilaration that comes with the path of self-discovery and spiritual awareness.
“Someday” I will do this. Afterall, I am geeky about self-discovery and spiritual awareness.
Then came the day of reckoning. My sister, probably tired of hearing me talk about it…sent me a link to a 14-day guided tour/experience of the Camino where people stay in nice hotels, walk 2 – 8 miles a day and eat 3 great meals a day.
My first thought was: She doesn’t get it. That not how you do the Camino! You have to suffer and sacrifice!
That’s when I realized: Who am I kidding? I will never do the Camino…at least the “traditional way.”
I have no interest in sleeping in a giant smelly dorm with snoring men and women who haven’t showered for days and making odd noises in the middle of the night or hiking to the point that my toenails fall off. Why ruin a good pedicure?
My family and friends were not surprised when I shared my revelation. In fact one said: “You don’t even like to go “glamping!” (Which isn’t really true – I will sleep in a yurt!)
Once I took ownership of realizing that I will never do the thing that I’d been saying for 10 years that I wanted to do… I signed up to do what I call “Camino-lite.” The cushier 14-day trek across parts of Spain, eating good food and staying in nice hotels and experiencing the history and architecture along The Way.
I think once you realize that you’ve been in denial about something, it gives you more freedom to make other choices.
Getting Real – Do I have the GWC?
Here’s a more dramatic example of a client of mine and her experience of taking ownership of her career after taking a hard look in the mirror. She had participated in discussions about the Leader of the Future and realized that she had to be honest with herself about her career. She dug deep to see if she had the “GWC” (Get it, Want it, have the Capacity to do it) to up her game in her current position.
She understood the company was shifting direction and focus. She “got it.” But she realized that she may not have the capacity or know-how to take 20 years of experience to really lead the future changes. She knew she had valuable knowledge, skills and experience that could be used in different ways, so she applied for an internal non-management position in a totally different department and function. Some people were shocked that she would take “3 steps back,” but she was willing to step back to grow in a new direction. Her new manager valued her knowledge and experience; she could learn and be a contribution in a new way and was creating a new path for growth, personally and professionally. After making this decision she said she felt free. Free from her past and free to create a new future.
Courage to Get Off Auto-Pilot
That takes courage.
So many times, we get caught up in our own auto-pilot thinking, our own auto-pilot expectations or our own auto-pilot concerns about what others think, that we forget to look in the mirror and ask: What do I really want? And will it make me happy?
When you: Take ownership, take accountability and take responsibility for your choices, life gets easier.
It doesn’t mean that the process of making those choices is easy or you’re taking the easy way out. On the contrary, the process of self-reflection and being honest with yourself requires giving up old beliefs. By letting go of outdated ideas or impossible dreams, you have the freedom to create new possibilities and new opportunities.
Marty Stanley, CSP, is a national speaker, executive coach and consultant on personal and organizational change. 816-695-5453 or 858-432-6764 www.alteringoutcomes.com firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.linkedin.com/in/martystanley