Last week I took a break from the discussion we’ve been having over the four previous weeks regarding the Five Truths that I believe play a significant role in every decision we make and every subsequent action we take. These truths have brought us to where we are today and will forevermore directly influence where our lives go.
Today I would like to discuss the last of these truths.
The first truth, the foundation upon which the other four rest tells us that “Everything we believe to be true, is true until it isn’t.” This truth reminds us that very often our viewpoints shift and our opinions change which means that much of what we believe to be true is rooted in opinion, not in fact.
The second truth, “We get what we tolerate” does not address right from wrong or good from bad. It merely highlights how willing we are to consistently put up with the very things we constantly complain about. The simple, yet harsh, reality is that seldom will much, if anything, change in our lives until we reach the point where we will no longer accept the status quo, the point at which we silently or outwardly scream “I’ve had enough and I just won’t take it anymore.”
The third truth “You can’t fix what you won’t acknowledge” guides us to understand that healing and change can never precede confession and that no problem has ever been solved prior to the acknowledgment of the existence of that problem.
Number four, “When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences” shines a light on the truth that we are the owners of, and responsible for, anything and everything resulting from what we do regardless of our intention.
And finally, “When something is important, we will always find a way, and when it is not, we will always find a reason, an explanation or an excuse.” All too often we point fingers away from ourselves in our attempts to rationalize why we have not honoured our commitments or stayed the course in pursuit of our goals. Many years ago a colleague said to me – we are not rational beings, we are rationalizing beings. Smart lady.
In more than 25 years of working with hundreds of coaching clients, I have heard every imaginable reason for not doing the things they have acknowledged will lead them to achieving their goals and have committed to do. Countless clients have told me they will do “whatever it takes” to reach their goals only to hear them, several days or weeks later, explain why they didn’t or couldn’t.
I cannot think of one single example of the real reason being anything other than, when faced with the difficulty of doing what they had committed to do, they chose to elevate a different activity to higher importance, and do that instead. In other words, they chose to lie on the couch and watch TV rather than workout in the gym (except during COVID-19, but even that is changing!), they chose to order pizza in the restaurant rather than a salad, or they chose to spend an hour having coffee with a colleague rather than subjecting themselves to the gut-grind of making sales calls.
We only ever do one thing: we do what in the moment is most important to us. And we constantly are shuffling the deck to rearrange the order of importance for the things we should or should not be doing.
There is only one reason why we fail to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. We choose to not finish what we have started, and this truth serves as a reality check to remind us that excuses are always plentiful and available whenever we wish to use them.
As I examine the (too many) times in my life when I have allowed excuses to guide my decisions I have come to learn that the only true reason for all my failures has been me and my uncanny talent for convincing myself not to do the very things I know I need to do to achieve the results I want.
As I have gotten older, I have learned to keep the important things important because experience has repeatedly taught me that the long-term rewards we enjoy from enduring short-term pain and discomfort to get there will always be more enduring than the temporary relief we feel when we convince ourselves that it’s “ok to have pizza instead of salad.”
And that’s the truth.
Till we read again.