“I’ve tried everything,” Eric told me. “I’ve read all the books, gone to the seminars, talked to the coaches. And though I like your stuff, I would like to know why you think you’ll be different?”
I took a moment to reflect on the question. It occurred to me that usually when someone says they’ve tried “everything”, it’s not the “everything” that is the problem.
“I probably won’t be,” I could see a sudden flash of confusion in his eyes, “but perhaps this time you will be?”
Looking even more confused, he asked me what I meant.
“Well,” I continued, “I don’t know exactly. But tell me this, when you’ve studied this everything – what have you been doing besides studying?”
“I’ve been living my life. Going to work. Spending time with friends. The normal stuff.”
“And how many hours a day do you usually set aside to work on the things you’re learning, besides the studying itself? Whether that time is used to reflect or to actually go out and practice things?”
He paused. He paused long enough that it became obvious that he was trying to think of an answer that sounded better than reality. He started speaking. Then stopped. Shook his head and smiled, “probably not enough?”
“Well, that’s another thing I don’t know,” I told him, “but if you’re willing, we can certainly figure that out together.
But it’s not (just) their fault.
The self-development industry is gigantic. And this is both good and bad. It’s good because there is basically nothing that you can’t find help and advice on. And bad because there is SO much help and advice out there that it’s easy to get so hypnotized by the next thing to watch or read that we forget to do.
In my now fairly long career, I’ve noticed that I’m meeting more and more “knowledge junkies”. People who study and study and study – and hardly take action.
They read the books, they listen to the podcasts, they watch the seminars and they go to the training.
And then they go to work, hang out with their friends, and the usual stuff.
After a certain amount of time, the knowledge junkies tend to get frustrated. They get frustrated because the things they’re learning “isn’t working”.
“I’ve spent thousands of dollars!” They cry. “Read tons of books! Talked to all the people!”
“Yes,” I reply, “but what have you done?”
How Einstein was wrong.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” One of my new clients said, somewhat smugly quoting Einstein to me when I suggested that he couldn’t expect something to work instantly in practice just because he understood it fully in theory.
“And repetition is the mother of learning,” I said, quoting the old Latin proverb. “Or in this case skill,” I added, making the quote an amalgamation between the proverb and one of Tony Robbins’ quotes.
Continued, repeated action is necessary for lasting change in most cases. But most people are so busy acquiring more knowledge that they are left with no time or energy to apply that knowledge.
So, my question to you is simple:
How much time do you set aside every day to work on your goals? Not to learn about them. Not to talk about them. Not to think about them. But to work on them?
My clients must do the work, day after day, week after week, month after month. In fact, I’ve fired clients in the past because they weren’t doing the work.
Because after over a decade as a coach there’s no doubt in my mind: The only way to master a new part of your life is to work on it daily. Do you?