As the next week rolled around, I was very motivated to meet with my boss and find out what the missing ingredient to performance was. I had spent a few weeks identifying all the things I could do – that I had the ability and potential to do – if I choose to. And during the last week, I explored many areas where I had a lot more knowledge, and even training, than my results in those areas showed. I now had a strong desire to learn what was holding me back, and, as I said, I was motivated to finally learn how to use more of what I had.
This led me to think I knew what was missing: motivation. I obviously had lacked the proper motivation or a strong enough desire to put my ability and knowledge to use. I couldn’t wait to meet with him again, and that meeting took place on the following Monday. As usual, he asked me how my week’s experiment had gone. I told him I’d found that I knew a lot more about things than I was using. He smiled that smile again, and this time I smiled back. He asked me what I was thinking and I told him:
“What’s missing,” I announced proudly, “Was motivation! Obviously I just don’t want it badly enough, and so I lack the necessary desire to make it happen.” I rested my case and waited for his response. As usual, he started by asking me a question.
He asked, “Mike, do you now believe that you have the ability, the potential, that if you wanted to, you could get into good enough shape whereby you could complete a marathon?”
“Absolutely!” I said.
“And do you believe you know more about good fitness and proper diet than what your current weight, exercise, and eating habits would show?”
“Unfortunately, yes again,” I answered.
“Okay. Now let me ask you this. Have you ever joined a gym with the desire to get into top physical shape before?”
“Ah, yeah. I belong to a gym right now,” I said.
“And why do you belong to a gym?” he asked.
“Because I want to be in good shape and take care of myself,” I said.
“So in other words, you already have a desire to be fit?”
“Well sure. I think about eating better each time I order a meal, and I’m always thinking about getting back to the gym and starting working out again. In fact, each time my belt feels tighter, I’m really motivated to start working out again,” I said.
“And last question. Are you at your peak physical fitness level right now?” he asked me.
“Far from it, I’m afraid,” came my sorry answer.
“So, here we are,” he continued. “You have the ability, you have the knowledge, in other words you know what to do and even belong to a gym, and you have the desire to be in good physical shape. Am I right?”
He had me there. “Right,” I agreed.
“So the real question, Mike, is where is the follow through, the effectiveness? Why aren’t the results there in your life if you seem to have everything you need? What’s stopping you from achieving the performance and the result you truly want?”
We then went over a few other areas in my life where I seemed to have everything I needed as well. The biggest area was my performance in sales. I had to admit that, again, I had the ability, and I certainly had the training and I knew more than I was using. On top of that, each month I set a goal with my sales manager to achieve my numbers. We laid out how many calls I needed to make, and how many leads and presentations I needed to schedule.
Next, my sales manager laid out the compensation plan and we went over what achieving each additional level would mean to me. My manager even went so far as to show me what I could buy with the extra commission money I would make. After each goal planning session, I was pumped! But then the month began, and the calls got tough, and soon I was back where I secretly knew I would end up: in the bottom 25% of the sales team.
At this point, I threw up my hands and surrendered. I actually felt pretty down because I was convinced that I had everything I needed to perform better in my life, but for some unknown reason, I seemed destined to mediocrity. I started thinking about my family and wondered if underperformance was genetic…
My boss, sensing my despair, came to my rescue. He told me, “Mike, what I’m going to teach you over the next few weeks is not only why you haven’t reached more of your potential, training, and desire, but I’m going to show you exactly what you can start doing to change that. I’m going to give you proven methods and techniques for releasing more of what you have, more of what you know, and more of what you want.
“In fact,” he continued, “What you are going to learn is that it is actually easy to increase your effectiveness in any area of your life if you just understand the laws governing behavior and performance. And I guarantee that once you get in alignment with these laws of performance, you will be able to set and achieve any goal that has meaning to you. And you’ll be able to achieve it easily and enjoyably.”
Well, that sounded too good to be true. I had set goals before – especially at the beginning of each year (New Year’s resolutions). And while I continued them for a month or so, I soon gave up and went back to the old me. I even brought this up in terms of setting goals around getting into physical shape. I told him my willpower would last for a few weeks, but then I would falter, stop going to the gym, and then I would beat myself up each time I slipped and had a donut at the office.
He raised his eyebrows and said, “That’s actually a good example. In fact, did you ever notice that in January and February the parking lots of gyms around the city are full?” I agreed they were. “But by March and April, they go back to where were in November and December, and they stay that way the rest of year.” It was true, I had to agree.
He asked me how that dieting process was for me in the beginning of the year. I told him I had to gather all my willpower and determination and that for the first couple of weeks it worked. But after a while, I felt denied the tasty foods, and that despite how much I wanted to stay on my diet, soon I was back in the break room in the morning gorging on bagels and cream cheese. Soon I wondered where all my good intentions and willpower had gone to.
He said, “Mike, you’re not alone. Making changes by using lots and lots of willpower is how most people do it, but it rarely works for long. In fact, willpower is essentially useless for making long term changes. Trying hard never works for long. It just exhausts you, and it usually makes those around you annoyed.
“What you are going to learn is that trying hard to overcome your abiding, subconscious picture will never work for long term changes. There is a better way to make easier, life-long changes that are in alignment with the potential and ability you already have.”
He paused and let that sink in. He could see the many questions I was thinking and he continued, “Here’s the thing. Think of your subconscious mind, and all of your ability and potential, as an iceberg. Your current performance and results are simply the tip of the iceberg, but your potential, of course, is immense.
“I like to compare the human mind to a computer. A computer has lots and lots of programs and potential, but we use only a very small portion of them. Even the word processing program, Microsoft Word, has thousands of features, but most of us just know how to open a new document, type some copy, and then save it. But there are endless editing features, amazing templates and document options, even language translation features we don’t use or know much about. The totality of the program is the iceberg, and what we use is just the tip.
“So how do we expose more of that iceberg? How do we use more of what we already have in abundance? The answer is that we must find out what is holding us back, what is limiting our natural ability and potential. What are the limiting attitudes, and habits and blocks that keep much of that iceberg underwater?
“And, more importantly, how can we release more of our potential? How can we do it in a natural, easy, and empowering way? A way that doesn’t cause stress, and doesn’t require constant willpower and energy? In other words, how can we creatively, enjoyably, and consistently produce the results we’ve already acknowledged we are capable of? How do we achieve performance we see others enjoying regularly, easily, naturally?
“And, most importantly, how can we make these changes permanent?”
He paused and let that sink in. I said, ‘I don’t know, how do we?”
“That’s what I’m going to teach you. And once you learn it, it will change your life, just as it has mine and countless others. And we’re going to start next week by exploring the concept of awareness. We’re going to begin looking at your habits, your unconscious ways of thinking and feeling, and the default actions you take as a result. We’re going to look at where you have unconsciously placed limits on yourself, and, through your awareness, we’re going to begin challenging and changing them.
“What you’ll soon learn is that although you have immense potential, you’ll never be able to use all of it. Instead, you’ll only be able raise or lower the limits – that are self-imposed – on your potential and ability. And that’s why athletes and top producers realize that they are never competing against anyone else except their own, current, best versions of themselves.”
He paused briefly and continued, “Mike, you’re about to go on a journey of self-discovery, one that will forever change how you think about yourself, the world, and what’s possible for you and others. And if you follow the truth I’m about to lay out for you, you will achieve things you never imagined possible for yourself. Your life will keep changing, evolving, and expanding. You’ll begin achieving more and more, and as you do, you’ll keep raising the bar for your performance and exposing more of that iceberg of potential.
“Your life will become a self-fulfilling prophesy – as it always was – but the dreams you will begin to dream will go far beyond what you’ve ever imagined possible.”
Needless to say, I was inspired and excited to learn more. I hope you are, too.
Until next week….