There is a scruffy, hand written sign blue tacked up on my wall in the office, which is the fancy name we’ve given our remodelled dining room. It reads –
Start it Now
Trouble is I think it may need to be more specific –
Start something useful now…
would be more to the point or
Oi you! No! Put that down and FOCUS…
If I’m honest, I can lose hours just staring at that sign. Without inspiration and without action. What?! What should I start now?
I put the sign up to create impetus, to give me a small nudge to action when I start to drift, but mostly all it does is mock me from the wall. “Nyargh Nyargh. You haven’t done anything yet – you’re rubbish …”
So there I was, not starting it now, when it struck me that I should change my bossy little sign to a solicitous question.
Hey Luli! Why haven’t you started it yet lovelyone?
This question holds the key to unlocking the action – there’ll be a reason I haven’t started it yet. If I ask this question and go further and dig under my first few answers – I will discover it!
Introducing The FEAR Monster
It’s likely what I will uncover is The Fear – in all its snivelling, shrinking, procrastinating quiver.
Behind almost every act of distraction, over complication and apparent state of lethargy lies The FEAR. I know this is true. I’ve discovered it in myself many times and in countless conversations with friends and colleagues – when the chores are all done, the challenges removed and the thing remains resolutely, stubbornly unstarted – you will encounter The FEAR Monster – idly playing with his procrastination yoyo! (What!? It’s a thing…)
Distraction is one of the biggest clues that you are the plaything of your own FEAR Monster. While we’re on the subject… We can dial in over-complication to this conference call too.
Baroque excuses, layers of activities that are all cross referenced and inter linked by a set of dependencies so involved even your to-do list needs therapy… These things are yet more clues that old, hairy, fear chops has settled into your psyche and he’s messing with ya and preventing you from starting the thing!
If by now you are tutting with annoyance at my excuses & bone idle lazyossity then I take my hat off to you – but I’m not sure you can help us on our quest to get past The scary FEAR Monster and down to action.
You my friend are one of life’s bold doers... We aspire to your unfailing self belief & refusal to let self doubt & old patterns of hurt and failure get in your way. Have a squizz at The Happifesto and bump your joy up to the maximum on your way to starting and finishing something really, REALLY BIG. Go you good thing.
The rest of us have a bit of work to do:
The Question |Tracking The FEAR monster
Loveliest of ones, why haven’t you begun it?
I am going to suggest you use a pretty simple questioning technique that forces you to dig deeper and deeper until you answer the WHY?
The Doing | Taking Action
You could keep a little note book for your explorations in thinky–doing or you can just potter off to your local café and ask yourself the question over a cup of good java and a bit of cake!
The trick is to ask yourself the Why? question up to five times. So writing your responses and follow up questions is useful.
Wait! What? Five times?!
Hyup five times. The technique was ‘invented’ by Sakichi Toyoda the Japanese inventor, industrialist and founder of the great power house Toyota – it’s been observed that by the fifth time – you’ll get to the nub of the matter – for our exercise – you’ll have found The FEAR Monster’s lair.
What you need to do is to keep digging until you find him/her (Your monster could be a girl – I just think of mine as a him).
Here’s the gist of one of my recent sessions:
Why haven’t I started it?
Because I’m tired and fed up.
Why am I tired?
Because I’m old and fractious and hormonal.
Ok but why haven’t you started it?
Because I don’t want to!
Seriously! That isn’t the reason so tell me – why haven’t you started it?
Because I’m a bit scared no-one will be interested.
Ok and why wouldn’t they be?
Because I’m not good enough…
Bingo! Norbert the Not Good Enough Monster wheels around the corner and now I know what I’m dealing with. My deep seated fear that I’m not good enough!
So if I don’t start, I won’t fail and I won’t risk affirmation of my fear that I’m rubbish. Right?
Except all I’m actually doing is affirming that fear and blocking my one path to conquering it. ACTION.
Ai ai ai!
Knowledge is power so now I can see The FEAR Monster I can deal with him. In fact me and Norbert are old adversaries and I have strategies to deal with him effectively when I find him – he’s really, really good at lurking in the shadows of distraction.
I’ve met him there so many times – these days as soon as I spot myself using the distraction tactic – I call him out from the darker recesses and go hand to hand right where we stand.
Maybe my sign should read
Oi Norbert! No…!
Whatever it is that you are putting off starting – instead of beating yourself up about it – try asking yourself gentle, firm Why? questions to get to the bottom of your inaction. Use the five question technique and let me know how you got on.