Welcome back! Day 4 is all about Perseverance and this one is my favorite because everything I know about perseverance I learned from a 4 and 6 year old.
Anytime you are trying to make a change or create a new habit you will encounter roadblocks. There will be times you will want to give up. So I have to ask, why are some people so driven that they will face great adversity to overcome any level of difficulty and others quit?
I think the answer is because the WANT it! I’m not saying you don’t “think” you want something but deep down, psychologically, if you aren’t willing to do what it takes to persevere it’s just because you want something else more or there is some other need that is being met. Let me give you and example of “WANTING IT!”
I may have messed up with my kids because both of them have the most determination in the whole world. One morning my 4 year old comes in our room dressed in a dance tutu and says “Look I’m ready for school, I got ready all by myself.” Our immediate reaction was you can’t wear a tutu to school. She puts her hands on her hips and demands that she can and will. So the morning drama ensues! Completely convinced that she is going to get her way, she is willing to fight, cry, negotiate, give us a persuasive speech, offer to clean her room and give us hugs and kisses saying “pretty please with sugar on top”. Notice what she did… she didn’t accept our “No”. How many times are you letting the “fear of no” stop you, or how often are you giving your power to someone else?
Notice she didn’t blame us and stomp off. She tried tactic after tactic after tactic, until she found one that worked (negotiation- I am a sucker for a well thought out argument that leads to a win win). Most of the time as adults we try 1, maybe 2, things to get what we want and then we resign ourselves to the status quo because we either don’t think we are worthy or it’s too hard. Sometimes by throwing in the towel we get to be right about not being enough. We want to be right more than we want the thing we say we want. I know, hard pill to swallow.
The other thing that happened that crystallized this concept of perseverance for me was when my 6 year old needed new socks. We let him pick out any socks he wanted and he selected these horrendous long neon green and black socks. The next morning he excitedly wanted to wear them but he soon found out they were going to be really hard to get on. Does he give up though? No! He gets them on his toes all bunched up and he grabs the top of the sock with both hands and he tugs and pulls and tugs some more. The harder he pulls the tighter the sock seems to get and soon overwhelmed sets in. He comes to me in tears, “Mom, I can’t do it!” He screams. I said, ” If you really want to wear them then I am sure you’ll figure it out”. He balls, “Just do it for me” and again I respond, “I’m not going to do it for you. If you really want to wear them you can figure it out”. He proceeds to tug and tug. At this point he is using sure willpower and determination. Willing to pull as hard as he can, for as long as he has to, to accomplish his desire of wearing these ugly socks, I stop him and gently say, “You are really trying hard but it looks like you are really struggling, maybe you should try a different way because doing what you are doing isn’t getting you what you want.” He is super frustrated now and can’t see any other way.
Sound familiar? You want something, you know you are willing to do anything but no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to get traction. That is when you have to have a pattern interrupt- Something to switch you from your left brain, detail oriented, get it done brain over to your creative brain. Feelings of frustration and anger are simply signs to back up and switch sides in your brain. I helped my son facilitate this switch by shifting the focus and asking 1 question: “You said you can’t, if I asked you to come up with all the creative ways you could, what would you say?” He thought briefly and caught himself focusing on all the reasons he couldn’t think of any alternative options. I threw him a bone and said, “You keep pulling from the top, what if you started with the bottom”. The light went off, there was another way to try and so he started slowly pulling each piece of the long sock over his heel, little by little, and the next time he tugged on the top they slid up. Beaming with pride he looked at me and said “I did it!” Almost as if he was in a state of disbelief. I tell you all of this because if you are stuck, ready to give up, you may need someone to help you see the other side (a coach, a consultant, a friend) or you may need to just hear it doesn’t have to be hard. Change is only hard because we make it hard. We resist instead of thinking creatively about all the other ways we can do something. When you see a roadblock in reaching your goals today, I wonder what creative alternatives you’ll come up with?