181. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

The pain of his loss was clearly written across his face.

His grief was palpable as he shared with me the unbearable agony we feel when we are forced to bury a loved one struck down by a cruel illness in the prime of life.

Prostate cancer had claimed another victim in Mike’s brother and he was recounting the daily difficulties of living his life without the presence of his lifelong best friend.

As obvious as Mike’s pain was, it was not sufficient to mask the seething anger that was gnawing away at his very being.

Mike’s anger was directed at his brother and the perceived role he played in his own demise.

Paul, Mike’s brother, was one of those folks who lived in a world of self-deception in which the prevailing and naïve belief was that if a problem was ignored long enough it would simply disappear.

Mike explained to me that Paul’s life had been made difficult and challenging by his reluctance to face issues in his life. His aversion to dealing with difficulties and stresses, problems and conflicts had caused him years of misery and yet, despite Mike’s constant intervention, Paul consistently held fast to his belief that if he chose to ignore the challenges in his life they would eventually self-correct.

And Paul took that approach to his health as well. He had not seen a doctor in more than 15 years and stoically refused to participate in a discussion with Mike that involved topics as simple as a routine physical.

In fact, he repeatedly told Mike that he would rather not know if he had a serious health challenge because he would not want to have to deal with it.

With this philosophy, Paul naturally ignored the originating symptoms of his disease by joking with Mike about his increased frequency of bathroom visits. When Mike implored him to visit a doctor he naturally resisted with his usual “I don’t want to know” flippant response.

Even as his symptoms increased Paul continued his “if I ignore it, it will go away” approach.

Sadly, Paul’s unwillingness to consider The Habit of Facing It To Fix It allowed the cancer in his prostate to metastasize to the point where chronic back and hip pain forced him to seek medical intervention.

And when he did so he received a diagnosis that can only be described as everyone’s worst nightmare.

The only treatment option available was palliative care and Paul passed away three months after his first reluctant visit to a doctor.

He left behind a loving wife, two adoring young children and a brother whose grief was tempered with frustration at Paul’s unwillingness to address issues in his life.

While there is no way of knowing with absolute certainty that early detection would have kept Paul alive, Mike is absolutely furious that he didn’t make the effort.

Mike has lived his life with The Habit of Facing It To Fix It constantly at his side and shared with me that he feels he failed his brother by not forcing this same habit upon him.

If there is a lesson to be learned from Paul’s unwillingness to even consider this habit it is that nothing can ever be solved without first being acknowledged and running and hiding from the truth may at best, buy a little time, but in the long run will almost always result in far greater pain, embarrassment, despair and desperation then facing it, owning it and working to fix it every day.

Time will heal the wound in Mike’s soul and we can all prevent similar pain from entering our lives by simply making The Habit of Facing It To Fix It a way of life.

It will beat the alternative every time.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

 

 

180. Not always easy, but necessary.

Last week’s introduction of The Habit of Facing It To Fix It must have resonated with a number of folks because the phone started ringing shortly after the blog was posted and has continued to do so ever since.

Many of those who called did so to share with me the years of their lives they spent with their heads deeply buried in sand, vehemently denying to themselves, and others, the existence of challenges and difficulties in their lives.

Several callers told of their immense feelings of shame at the situations they found themselves in and that choosing to ignore The Habit of Facing It To Fix It was preferable to having to stare into a mirror and admit to having problems larger than their ability to mend them.

The old adage “we can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge” is a powerful truism that serves to remind us that pretending gravity does not exist will never prevent us from being struck on the head by objects we throw into the air.

As I listened to several of the callers sharing their years of anguish caused by them resolutely choosing to continuously suffer the stress, pain, hardship and often, embarrassment caused by their unique situation, they all acknowledged they did so for the sole reason of not wanting the world to know that behind the façade they presented to the universe each day, resided a fearful, weak and desperate soul frantically wishing for a miracle.

If it is true that we do what we do either to gain pleasure or to avoid pain then each of these folks admitted that as painful as their individual challenges were, they all felt that the pain of facing these challenges in order to fix them, would be even greater.

Consequently, they selected the long-term pain of ongoing struggle over the short-term pain of facing the demons head on in order to stare them down and rid themselves of further anguish.

Today, each of those callers has adopted The Habit of Facing It To Fix It and in so doing are enjoying happiness and abundance.

They shared with me the wonderfully cathartic feelings of freedom they experienced the very moment they came to understand that you truly can’t fix what you want to acknowledge and faced up to their challenges, thereby taking the first steps to fixing and overcoming them.

The Habit of Facing It To Fix It is not easy to adopt. Most things that are worthwhile seldom are easy, but every person I spoke with was united in their conviction that The Habit of Facing It To Fix It must reside within each of us if we are to have any hope of slaying the dragons that breathe their fire of misery into our very souls.

These sharing folks assured me shame and embarrassment are simply symbols of false pride and that there is no weakness in admitting weakness. Instead there is great weakness in denying it.

If regret is in any way a worthwhile emotion, each of these folks expressed regret that the time and amount of pain and discomfort they subjected themselves to before gathering the courage to face up to the demons, and then finally rid themselves of these demons completely.

I am grateful to each of these wonderful people who took time to call for with every conversation came a lesson that will stand me in good stead for many years.

Perhaps the most important lesson of all was this: Challenges will seldom go away by themselves and the quickest, least painful and most practical way to move them from our present into our past is to face up to them and then fix them.

It is no wonder The Habit of Facing It To Fix It has such a large fan club.

This truly is a life-changing habit.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

179. Face it, fix it.

Emily shared with me recently her story of going to work day after day in an environment in which she felt increasingly uncomfortable. Yet she chose to stay and do nothing for several years. She somehow had convinced herself that by ignoring this untenable situation it would, over time, correct itself.

I don’t believe Emily’s story is all that uncommon. Over the years I have spoken with many who shared similar experiences of ignoring events or experiences that were unpleasant to deal with.

Rather than face them head on – regardless of the consequences of so doing – they chose instead to pretend that the situations were not as bad as they seemed or that, by simply disregarding them, they would self-remedy.

It often takes a great deal of courage to face reality. The discomfort in dealing with adversity – or sometimes outright denial – is, for many, much easier than facing these challenges head on.

The Habit of Facing It To Fix It is a very difficult one to take on and yet, when faced with the inevitable challenges that life throws at all of us, our willingness to implement this habit will always prove to be a sound decision.

Disregarding adversity and challenge in the naïve hope that it will miraculously disappear does nothing other than prolong uncertainty and, over time, can lead to near paralysis in our abilities to find resources for solutions to the curves life sometimes throws our way.

In these challenging times for many in Alberta, several friends and clients have shared with me examples of how stress, fear and desperation have led them to this level of paralysis.

They have acknowledged that these very feelings have led them to a point where just thinking of the problems became unbearable and they sought solace in pretending that ignoring their plight would somehow, magically, cause it to go away.

And they all learned the bitter lesson to be learned by all who choose this method of ignoring adversity.

The day arrived when each of them was forced to confront their reality and, by virtue of having spent no time seeking resourceful solutions, they were ill-prepared to do so.

They all admitted regret at not having assumed The Habit of Facing It To Fix It much earlier as this would have gone a long way to alleviate the anguish they all experienced when forced to deal with their situation.

Rarely do problems solve themselves and experience has taught me that early intervention is always the best and fastest method of finding resolution to challenges.

As unpleasant and unwanted as adverse situations can be, The Habit of Facing It To Fix It affords us the greatest opportunity of discovering creative solutions and, most importantly, moving the situations from our present reality into our past history where, with the passage of time, they become nothing more than distant memories.

Deluding ourselves into thinking that problems will solve themselves does little other than delay the pain of dealing with them and, as many of us have learned, delayed pain is increased pain.

And that’s something that none of us need.

The Habit of Facing It To Fix It. It is not a way of dealing with challenges, it is the only way.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

 

 

178. This is the way to go.

Embracing The Habit of Being Decisive sometimes comes with a price.

Saying yes invariably comes with the risk of a decision proving to be the wrong one and, along with making a wrong decision comes the possibility of remorse, anguish, regret, facing those who love to say “I told you so” and all the various and sundry emotions that accompany wrong decisions.

And with the fear of having to deal with all of the above emotions comes the potential to develop the habit of avoidance rather than embrace The Habit of Being Decisive.

There is little risk involved in saying no. The status quo remains as it was, nothing changes and life continues in its same direction.

For many, this is the desired pathway to a happy life, and yet I struggle to understand how avoiding The Habit of Being Decisive can still the feeling of restlessness, and the willingness to risk losing it all in the belief that you will gain it all, that resides in many of us.

Learned helplessness is a learned response that comes about after repeated painful or otherwise aversive experiences. After these experiences some folks simply come to the conclusion that their desired result is nothing more than an illusion, that success is impossible, and commit themselves to never trying.

Imagine for a moment, when faced with a decision which, if successful, will forever change your life in ways you always dreamed of, and which, if unsuccessful, will bring pain and despair of an unimaginable intensity, you are able to set aside all those emotions that play such a role in influencing our decisions, and objectively assess the pros and cons of success and failure.

Now imagine how magnificent your life will be if the promises of this decision all came true and then imagine how you will feel if you never achieve those things you most desire.

Will the day come when you will look back at the opportunity fear prevented you from grabbing and be regretful of your decision or look back with glee at the best choice of your life?

The Habit of Being Decisive is not intended to turn the most risk-averse of us into wild and careless risk-takers, but rather it serves as a reminder that our objective evaluation of pros and cons is a far better decision making strategy to employ then to take the easy way out and simply say no, just because saying yes causes those butterflies in your stomach to break formation and fly in every which direction.

More than 150 years ago Alfred Lord Tennyson told us, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

What he was really saying is that we can never experience pleasure if we remain unwilling to risk pain and that the pleasure we do experience is always that much greater by virtue of the amount of pain we had to endure in order to get there.

If it is true that time does indeed heal all, then the pain we may experience from poor decisions will lessen and pass as the clock keeps ticking whereas the wonderful memories resulting from right to decisions are everlasting.

Life is too short to look back at opportunities lost through the fear of saying yes and by absorbing The Habit of Being Decisive into our very being, we increase enormously the likelihood of living life to the fullest and, when the day comes, dying with a smile on our face.

It sounds like too good a deal to pass up.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

177. Decide to make good decisions?

The Habit of Being Decisive, as we discussed last week, is not about throwing caution to the wind, being impulsive with a devil-may-care attitude and indulging every will without thought to the consequences.

Rather, it is about a willingness to take small risks in exchange for the possibility of great rewards. It is about disengaging ourselves from the comfortable excuses of “I want to think it over,” or “I need to talk to my…” and instead, give ourselves permission to say yes to something we believe will benefit us in some way, and yet, because the benefit comes with a price, we focus on the cost and allow it to become the immovable barrier to what we really want.

A powerful question to ask ourselves at times of indecision is whether we would say yes to the proposition if it came with no cost or risk. If the answer is a resounding yes then we owe it to ourselves to examine thoroughly the benefits before tamely offering up the weak, “I want to think it over,” line.

It is long been known that the only assured, guaranteed and certain way to avoid failure is to never try, and never trying comes with the awful price of never knowing.

All too often we allow deeply entrenched biases like our confirmation bias or overconfidence bias or good-money-after-bad bias to cloud our judgment, obscure, our vision and rob us of the objectivity needed to make good, sound decisions.

The Habit of Being Decisive is an inclusionary one. When applied properly, it enables us to set these emotional biases side, objectively evaluate known data and make decisions that balance risk against reward in a purely mathematical method so as to arrive at the best possible conclusion.

My friend Alastair explained it best when he said that when we make a no decision simply because it is easier, less stressful and less risky than making a yes decision, we are failing to be true to ourselves and potentially denying ourselves the very things we claim to want.

It is neither always easy nor comfortable to make a decision when peppered with fear, and the temptation to take the easy way out – to avoid making any decision by making a no decision – can be quite overwhelming.

I would be lying if I said I have never used the cop-out lines mentioned above, but each time I have done so I have felt the tinge of guilt that comes from knowing that my decision was guided more by fear than by certainty.

Not for a nanosecond am I suggesting that those two lines aren’t, at times, appropriate, and serve a powerful purpose. I am suggesting that using them as our default rather than going through a complete and thorough cost-benefit analysis and then making a decision, will leave us feeling good about our decisiveness.

The Habit of Being Decisive is a compelling confidence builder and the more we apply it the more we learn to trust our decision-making abilities which in turn opens wide the door through which opportunities flow into our lives.

It seems like only good things can come of this, doesn’t it?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

The Habit of Being Decisive, as we discussed last week, is not about throwing caution to the wind, being impulsive with a devil-may-care attitude and indulging every will without thought to the consequences.

Rather, it is about a willingness to take small risks in exchange for the possibility of great rewards. It is about disengaging ourselves from the comfortable excuses of “I want to think it over,” or “I need to talk to my…” and instead, give ourselves permission to say yes to something we believe will benefit us in some way, and yet, because the benefit comes with a price, we focus on the cost and allow it to become the immovable barrier to what we really want.

A powerful question to ask ourselves at times of indecision is whether we would say yes to the proposition if it came with no cost or risk. If the answer is a resounding yes then we owe it to ourselves to examine thoroughly the benefits before tamely offering up the weak, “I want to think it over,” line.

It is long been known that the only assured, guaranteed and certain way to avoid failure is to never try, and never trying comes with the awful price of never knowing.

All too often we allow deeply entrenched biases like our confirmation bias or overconfidence bias or good-money-after-bad bias to cloud our judgment, obscure, our vision and rob us of the objectivity needed to make good, sound decisions.

The Habit of Being Decisive is an inclusionary one. When applied properly, it enables us to set these emotional biases side, objectively evaluate known data and make decisions that balance risk against reward in a purely mathematical method so as to arrive at the best possible conclusion.

My friend Alastair explained it best when he said that when we make a no decision simply because it is easier, less stressful and less risky than making a yes decision, we are failing to be true to ourselves and potentially denying ourselves the very things we claim to want.

It is neither always easy nor comfortable to make a decision when peppered with fear, and the temptation to take the easy way out – to avoid making any decision by making a no decision – can be quite overwhelming.

I would be lying if I said I have never used the cop-out lines mentioned above, but each time I have done so I have felt the tinge of guilt that comes from knowing that my decision was guided more by fear than by certainty.

Not for a nanosecond am I suggesting that those two lines aren’t, at times, appropriate, and serve a powerful purpose. I am suggesting that using them as our default rather than going through a complete and thorough cost-benefit analysis and then making a decision, will leave us feeling good about our decisiveness.

The Habit of Being Decisive is a compelling confidence builder and the more we apply it the more we learn to trust our decision-making abilities which in turn opens wide the door through which opportunities flow into our lives.

It seems like only good things can come of this, doesn’t it?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.