Early in my career, I learned about human motivation from my mentor, Joe Yeager. He had a simple, but surprisingly profound, model of achievement. To get what you want, you must:
- Want to do it
- Know How to get it
- Have the chance to pursue it
It’s the “Want to, How to, Chance to” model. It applies to organizations that aren’t finishing important initiatives, as well as people. Give it a shot.
What’s something that isn’t getting done in your life or business? Is the problem you don’t want it to get done, you don’t know how to do it, or you don’t have the chance to do it?
If you’re stalled, check your “Want to”
Here’s a secret: if you’re stuck, it’s almost always because of your “want to.” When you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to learn how, and you’ll find a way to make the chance.
But even if you’re a high-achiever, even if you have complete mastery in your life, your “want to” can sabotage you every time.
Why? Because “want to” is all emotion. Emotion is powerful. Emotion is irrational. Emotion comes from the hindbrain and can override your logic and common sense. And your emotions can contradict your conscious desires and make you flame out.
Emotion drives excuses
When we somehow aren’t taking action, we have reasons. Indeed, the smarter we are, the more plausible the excuses. But dig deeper. Beneath the excuses is emotion:
- The programming class that would let me change careers doesn’t fit my schedule. (Truth: I was scared I couldn’t hack it.)
- It’s OK if my business partner doesn’t fit into the business any more. He can be a good will ambassador. (Truth: I’m avoiding a hard conversation.)
- Once the kids leave home, then I’ll lose weight. (Truth: I’ve always been big. If I lose weight, who am I? I don’t know how to be thin.)
Fear kills “want to”
Notice a pattern? The emotion behind our excuses is almost always fear. Not big, traumatic fear. Tiny, lurking fear. I call these “microfears.”
- … the fear of failure
- … the fear of hurting a friend
- … the fear of being someone new
Fear triggers our fight/flight/freeze response. So it hijacks our ability to do the things we know we need to do.
Little fears make us avoid
The things we stall, we stall from fear. Why will the mail pile never get sorted?
… because we’re afraid of confronting those bank statements that need to be reconciled
… because we’re afraid the itemized credit card bill will force us to confront the real cost of our six-week volcano-chasing holiday
… because we’re afraid that notice from the tax authorities means we’re about to be audited (if you never see the notice, it didn’t happen, right? Sadly, no. The tax authorities show up in person at 7 am. True story.)
Fears are findable!
Over my years as a coach, I’ve discovered that:
- you can identify the fears that are driving (or not driving) you
- there are techniques that are consistently effective at breaking through fear and getting you moving
In part 2, I’ll explore the structure of fear & how it works.