One of my main take-aways from Jack Canfield's The Success Principles workshop is,

"Everything we want (to have, do, or be) is on the other side of awkward."

If it weren't, we'd already have, do, or be it.

The warm-up slides already had me sitting up a little straighter when they proclaimed:

"It's time to stop waiting for perfection - permission - someone else to change."

That spoke to me, because I love things to be perfect, tend to ask other people's opinions and wish for their approval, and yeah, if other people just changed, that'd be much easier for me, thankyouverymuch. So, what, now I paid good money to be told to stop doing all three? Huh!

I had read his big white book about the 64 success principles that can be applied for any goal, so I knew what he was talking about when he started with Principle #1: E+R=O. We can't change the event, we can only change our response, and in the end that's what makes the difference to the outcome. You can get mad at the traffic jam and have your day ruined, or you can see it as a chance to listen to a couple extra chapters on your audio-book and continue to have a nice day. Your choice.

Jack also refers to this as taking responsibility for your life, and many people - myself included - have one or more issues with that, for mainly this one reason:

Taking full responsibility means we either attract, promote, or allow everything that happens to us. Including cancer, robberies, and the holocaust. Everything. I don't know how to feel about that one, but it is true that some people were able to extract meaning even from the holocaust, see Victor E. Frankl's book, "Man's Search for Meaning" (I wrote about that one before, here).

In other words, taking complete responsibility for your response to any event is something nobody can take away from you. Even if they put a gun to your head and the choice seems awful, you always have a choice. This is where we did an exercise replacing the word "can't" by "won't." For example, "I can't be a millionaire while my kids are still in school" becomes "I won't be a millionaire while my kids are still in school."

Getting awkward yet?

The subtitle of Jack's big white book is, "How to get from where you are to where you want to be." If you like where you are, read no further. If you have a goal or something's not working for you, better get ready to

dealing with awkward.

Think about what it is that you want to have, do, or be.

  • What's keeping you from it?
  • Which steps do you have to take?
  • Can you break them down into tiny little non-scary baby steps?

Chances are you can, but there'll still be one little action that scares the bejeezus out of you. It might be the very first one, it might happen somewhere down the line.

First, think about past successes. Remind yourself how awesome you are and what you've achieved in your life already.

Then, visualize you doing the step you need to do. What's the worst that could happen? I want you to visualize that, too. The absolute worst. Go to the most extreme, and then the most absurd, "if I tell him I want a raise, he'll spontaneously combust into a gorilla and fart bananas!"

Did that ease the tension? You're still alive, you've taken the step, you've done it!

Now, deal with it. Find a mental picture to overlay the worst reaction and practice staying in the moment and calmly finishing what you need to do. If you can stay calm and cheerful in the face of a banana-farting gorilla, surely you can take on a raised eye-brow or questions from your boss / spouse / sister. Don't forget to celebrate this event, too, because wouldn't you know it - you've successfully managed and surpassed another stage of awkward.

Keeping the eye on the prize throughout has been helpful for keeping up motivation during longer projects. Remember why it is that you want to get away from where you are and towards where you want to be. Let the allure pull you. More tips on goal setting here, here, and here.

Thank you for sharing your awkward and how you overcame it below - your story will inspire others!

Image by Tambako The Jaguar, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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