James* is a client and the CEO of a successful medium-sized consulting firm in Vancouver, B.C. He is in his 50s and has done quite a bit of personal growth work in the past, including working with several executive coaches. Despite this, he still finds himself stuck on the same topic.
“I know exactly what to do. I’ve known it for a long time. I’ve had the same vision and plan in front of me before, but for some reason I just can’t execute.”
He looked at me with deep concern in his face.
“What’s going to be different this time?!”
He was clear on the result he wanted.
He knew the strategy, system and processes needed to get there.
He had the skills and competencies, and could easily level up to bridge the gap created by anything that might be missing.
He had the work ethic. When he really wanted to, he could work 18 consecutive hours without eating.
When he really wanted to.
What was going on here? Why didn’t James really want to achieve his deeply meaningful and personally inspirational vision?
The truth is he really did want to. But he wanted something else even more.
Most of all James wanted to avoid feelings of failure.
Deep down he was terrified.
This fear would sap the joy out of the work for James, and until now largely on an unconscious level. A sense of feeling overwhelmed would creep in, and anxiety would surface in the day-to-day work he was required to do to achieve his goal. So much so that he would become inconsistent in his delivery and find other, “more important work” to do (read: distractions).
As we investigated this fear more deeply, James saw that if he wholeheartedly committed himself, if he did all the right things (which he knew how to do) and was totally sincere in his effort (authenticity is one of his core values), it would really hurt if he still didn’t get there. In short, he wasn’t truly willing to fail and face the inner pain that he thought must always come with the experience of failure.
The truth is that there are no guarantees for outer success in life. It’s possible to play your best game, do everything right and give it your all, and life still doesn’t comply.
But I guarantee you this, WHEN YOU CHOOSE to play all out with a sincere willingness to face a painful defeat, THEN you are maximizing your chances of success.
And equally important, the process of playing the game will be much more relaxed, effective and enjoyable.
In reaching that extraordinary result, it is the quality of the effort that matters the most.
It is from the quality of the effort that a sense of genuine pride and self-respect grows.
What is your extraordinary achievement going to be?