Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – The Enemy is On Our Shoulders

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

The Enemy Resides on Top of Our Shoulders

The enemy to achieving what we truly want and ultimately, our happiness, rests squarely on the top of our shoulders and at the end of our neck.

It will be challenging to combat an enemy that has an outpost between our ears.

Our limitations are self-imposed. Yes, we made them up. Sometimes, they can be evidence based, but most likely, they are the result of our own thoughts that converted to actions and those actions that became habits.

The first challenge will be to identify which of our habits and behaviors and thought patterns serve us well, and we want to keep, and then to actively and intentionally dispose of the ones that are limiting or destructive. This doesn’t sound particularly daunting but many limiting behaviors and beliefs masquerade as being useful. Some have been useful either at a point in time or situationally but the utility of them has long since passed.

Another challenge for us will be to confront our unwillingness to change. Not everyone is highly change resistant but all of us have some resistance to the new and different. That lack of motivation to change is explained and detailed further in the next section.

The Elephant in the Room and 800 Pound Gorilla

Success is a powerful intoxicant. Comfort is even more addictive and stupefying.

When we begin experiencing success, especially in the workplace, we start losing our desire to grow and change. Consider this example:

After 90 days of employment, Emily receives a glowing review for her work. After a full year, she receives another review with near-perfect scores and great comments about her work. This cycle repeats for three years and after that, she is offered a supervisory position because of her great work.

And again, after another couple of years, Emily is offered a management position after receiving great reviews and even bonuses.

Now, at her five-year anniversary, after experiencing unbridled success and being praised for all her work, what is her motivation to change and grow her skills?

And another example:

Susan and Ed have been married for ten years and have two beautiful children. They live in a home that by their parents’ standards would be a mansion. They possess all the creature comforts that any family would ever need. They have savings, retirement money and can travel when and where they choose.

Motivation to change anything? Any desire to do things differently?

In both examples, the drive and desire to change and grow is greatly diminished by the current level of success.

Now consider this:

Todd is struggling at work. He doesn’t think his boss likes him and his last several performance reviews have not been good. A person in human resources openly smirked when he asked about growth and promotional opportunities. He has heard that there may be layoffs and that he may be targeted in that move.

Do you think Todd would be willing to challenge how is has been doing things? Do you think Todd would be open to a change that may facilitate some positive outcomes?

And an example from family life:

Macy and Chris are struggling. Every interaction is tense and there is a heaviness in the home that is easily felt and sensed. The finances of the family are not horrible but certainly could be better. The kids, and even the dogs, know that something is not right. Stupid little things become arguments, there is limited and fragmented communication.

If there were a couple of things that this couple could change, do you think they would jump at the opportunity?

Challenges and failure make us pliable and eager to learn new ways and lose old habits that created this path. Conversely, success often blinds us to some behaviors and attitudes that hold us back and prevent additional success and greater happiness.

That is not to say that you should avoid comfort and not celebrate when you are comfortable or successful, but that should never be the stopping point. Temporary comfort should yield quickly to ongoing growth and challenge. The cycle should look like:

Comfort and Celebration
Comfort and Celebration

And not look like:

Comfort and Celebration
Continuation of Comfort

Blame, Excuses, and Justifications

To get the most from the guidance in this book, and others like it, we must own our behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. What will not work is blaming, excuse making, denials, or justifications. You will never conquer your self-limiting or self-defeating behaviors if you can’t first acknowledge that they are yours and you created them. Blame is an especially dangerous roll of the roulette wheel.

My friend Kim is the GOAT for behavioral ownership. She has and is going through a lot of things, some of which would buckle a lesser person. But the separation piece with Kim is that she owns each situation that she has and is dealing with currently. No blaming of others, although some of that would certainly be justified, no excuse making, no denying her ownership of the issues, even if it’s minor. She owns her part and is open about it. She is a model of the ability to grow and overcome because she first chose to own her behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. She thoughtfully and intentionally analyzes her behavior and approach.

Conversely, my ex-wife has not as much as stepped on a sidewalk crack. All her issues, and there are quite a few, are the fault of husband 1, husband 2, husband 3 (that’s me), her bosses, her parents, her children, ad nauseam. The reason she remains stuck and unable to move forward is primarily due to her lack of ownership of any of her behaviors that created or contributed to her issues. To her, each person and relationship is disposable upon the first opportunity to blame. Do you remember the circa 2000 song from Shaggy, “It Wasn’t Me”?

Excuses and justifications have the same impact as blame. When we create an excuse for why we have a particular behavior, we fail to take ownership in that behavior. When we credit one of our attitudes or beliefs for our environment, we are failing to own it. And as a small side note, a justification, no matter how valid in your mind, sounds like an excuse to even the most empathetic listener. So, your behavior is not because of where you work, where you were born, or any societal customs. Your attitudes are not a creation of work volume, stress at home, or your choice of religious affiliation.

In practicum this means that your behavior is not because you were in law enforcement for 20 years. Your attitude is not because you were raised by Depression Era parents. Your beliefs are not because you were a lifelong banker. You chose them and, in some cases, chose to perpetuate them long after their shelf life.

Before you go much farther, take a few moments to reflect on your ownership of behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs and subordinate the desire to blame, justify or make excuses.

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