Choosing between being hard on yourself, and being hard on yourself

7155138495_a100b01e45_b The choice I've outlined above is one of the most common and automatic choices we make.  Since the title by itself does nothing to help you understand what I'm getting at, let's delve a little deeper.

Here's how this all looks.  I want to create something different.  I've spent some time thinking about it, and I know that there is something new around the bend.  I've even gone as far as to identified what is next; what I have to do to take that next step.  I know why I want to take this action, and yet ... I don't.

This happened roughly every 30 seconds when I was a kid and thought a girl was cute.  Everyone told me that the trick was to just go up to them and say "Hi".  But that was impossible.  I couldn't do it.  It was just too scary.  They might laugh at me, or tell everyone that I had talked to them, or I might get embarrassed.

You've probably experienced this too.  If you're an entrepreneur, it might be in approaching that venture capitalist to ask them for money.  If you're a CEO, you might experience it every time that one person on your team consistently under-performs, but you just can't seem to have the difficult conversation with him.

So, instead, you let the opportunity pass you by, and then you beat yourself up.  You're hard on yourself.

See, the choice is really this: You can either do the scary thing (be hard on yourself), or you can beat yourself up after you haven't done it.  By beating ourselves up, we don't have to look at what is missing or do anything differently.  We feel bad about it, we punish ourselves, and hold the mistaken belief that next time will be different.  (Thank goodness e-mail came along or I probably never would have gotten up the nerve to ask my wife out on our first date).

That second option really ends the conversation.  It stops us from looking back with any introspection and moving forward with anything different.  It creates a cycle that keeps everything so damn significant, and paralyzes us with fear.

Steve Chandler put it brilliantly when he said:

The harder I am on myself, the easier life is on me.

The easier I am on myself, the harder life is on me.

IMG_2321Steve isn't referring to being critical of yourself (the second option).  He is speaking about doing hard work, hard exercise, and tackling the hard things.

If I had gone ahead and asked those girls out, they very well may have laughed at me.  But sooner or later, someone is going to anyhow, and if they had, they probably weren't the girl for me.

I've come to realize that life isn't about not screwing up and staying safe - it's about discovering who we are and what we are here to do.  The sooner we start being hard on ourselves, the sooner we can create the breakdowns and breakthroughs that help align us on our journey.

For the first year I was working as a coach, I would avoid asking people questions about what they were up to, because I was worried that they would think I was coaching them.  The funny thing is, I'm just genuinely curious about their lives, and want to hear more.  The sort of people that are taken aback by those kind of questions are probably not going to really resonate with me anyhow.  My kind of people are those that are interested in looking deeply and seeing what is lying in the shadows.  The sooner I get over that fear and just allow myself to be, the sooner I can find my clients, and they, me.

Stop avoiding the breakdowns.  Expect, welcome, and create them.  Be hard on yourself.

Where are you currently being easy on yourself?  What is it that you're avoiding confronting?  What might happen if, next time, instead of beating yourself up, you just immediately took on the thing you were holding over yourself?