In this series I have been writing about some of the major breakthroughs that my mentoring clients have managed. While it is true that most of my mentoring work involves slow and steady efforts towards major successes, it’s those successes that make the efforts truly worthwhile. The truth is that you cannot have one without the other. No matter what somebody tries to tell you, there are no shortcuts to epiphanies – no magic bullet that will solve all your problems. There is no such thing as a panacea. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can start on a meaningful journey that will substantially change your life.
There is one experience that frequently repeats itself in minor variation. It involves my initial interview with a potential client. Many of these people are referred to me. Some come after reading something I wrote or after visiting my website. They are often in distress. Their world doesn’t seem to work for them. Most have been struggling with the same challenge for a number of years. Over those years, they have tried several approaches – none of which worked.
These initial interviews surface behaviors which have been limiting the possibility of making significant progress. Here are three of them:
- Seeking the simple solution: You live a busy life. It is full of things to do and obligations to meet. What you don’t need is another major distraction. Working on yourself seems like one. Can’t somebody come up with a salve that you can rub on and have it all go away? The true answer is no, they can’t. Because there is no such a thing as a simple answer to a complex challenge. You don’t learn – you don’t change – you don’t advance in power and understanding because someone whispers a few magic words in your ear. Moving away from this tendency begins with the discovery that it is the complexity of living with all its details, currents and colors that makes it worth living.
- Avoiding the issues: I see this behavior a lot. Mostly it seems to arise from a suspicion of self bad faith or inadequacy. Sometimes the person simply doesn’t have the personal courage to address the behaviors that are limiting their potential. It becomes easier for you to talk about some non-threatening issue. An old joke comes to mind. A man is describing his relationship with his wife. “We have divided up the responsibilities. She decides the little things and I decide the big ones. She decides how to spend our money, where we will live and who we will be friends with. I decide who our country will go to war with, who will be the next president and what the Supreme court will decide.” Avoiding the issues often involves talking incessantly about things that don’t matter. Breaking this pattern begins with a decision to break the pattern.
- No time: I meet people who are so busy driving that they have no time to stop for gas. By the time they come to me, they are running on empty. The good news is that this is one of the easier problems to fix. The bad news is that they need a tow truck to get them to the nearest gas station.That’s where I come in. Frenetic lives seldom produce the kinds of satisfactions that most people are looking for in theirs. The truth is that there is plenty of time if you just stop the frenetic activity and put aside part of your day for you and your journey.