A friend recently heard me say I needed to do more of something, and she busted me. She pointed out that "need to" is a sign of someone else's agenda.
Since then, I've been listening more closely to the way executive leaders describe what's urgent or getting in their way. There are a lot of “shoulds”, “need tos” and “have tos” in their vocabulary, too. Sometimes they're directed at others, but in large part, they are referring to what they need to accomplish.
These are phrases filled with resistance (resistance meaning a refusal to comply with or accept.) We all resist. Our brains are hardwired to keep old habits and to seek instant gratification instead of delayed gratification. Beyond the shoulds and have-tos, there's a desire to do something different, to have control over our time. The have-tos are a clue to things you'd rather not be doing.
If this seems obvious, then try asking yourself — what DO I want to do? That could mean launching a new start-up, transforming a company, taking a vacation, or letting go of talent that's not the right match for the future. It can be a desire to have more time to think strategically, workout more often, eat healthier, or spend more time with friends and family.
As George Addair said, "Everything you've ever wanted is on the other side of fear."
What's getting in our way? Fear. Resistance is a sign that fear has emerged and is currently winning over what it is you truly want to create. And it does happen to all of us.
"What we fear — what we are resisting most — is being wildly successful at what we say we want to do."
Need another clue? What we resist persists. Annoying, I know. And true. So take a moment and think of those recurring dreams, thoughts, ideas, or desires. You're resisting doing them because you're afraid — not of failing, but of succeeding. Authors Marianne Williamson and Steven Pressfield both speak to this in their writings. What we fear — what we are resisting most — is being wildly successful at what we say we want to do.
What might happen if you didn’t resist?
The executive leader who isn't the right fit for the team or the future is finally let go.
The side venture/company you've been dreaming about becomes real.
The strained relationship with the board chair gets addressed by spending time together and investing in understanding one another to build an alliance.
The little things that eat at your time get delegated to free you up for the things that make the best use of your strengths.
You confront what you've been avoiding and get to a resolution.
Working out gets worked into the day because you know it makes you a better leader.
The best elixir to fear/resistance is action. Take these steps today:
Think of one thing you’ve wanted to accomplish and haven’t moved forward on.
Find a business partner, peer, partner, coach — tell them what you want to accomplish... today.
Ask for their help in holding you accountable.
Complete it in the next week or if a longer-term vision, identify the next three steps to take towards it.