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4. Dealing with the doubts (III)

In this blog we are continuing to look at the ways to get more enthusiastic about taking on a tough challenge. Then we’re going to see if we can use the power of that enthusiasm to flip our doubts.

3. Understanding ALL the benefits and when you’re going to get them

 The third way to get emotionally engaged with your challenge is to fully understand the reasons WHY you might want to take it on. To think hard about ALL the benefits you could get. The type of person that you will become. The skills you will learn. The opportunities that you might have. What doors might open, what people you will meet, the networks that you might build.

And not just you. Could your success mean benefits for others? That would be great because we’ll do much more for others then we’ll do for ourselves.

This is Andre Agassi. Who after years of training and slogging his way up the rankings, winning grand slams, suddenly started losing. He had been pressured into tennis as a child by his very controlling father, and only realised, after he had become successful, that he really didn’t like playing. He fell into a desperate slump. His rank dropped from #1 to # 141.

 His turnaround began when he found a purpose larger than himself – helping disadvantaged kids get an education. He’s really taken on that cause, and been able to raise millions for schools. Two years after realising the more he won matches the more he could help he was back to #1 in the world!

 Recruits in the US Marines are taught that – whenever things get really miserable, when they’re digging fox holes in the rain, when they are crawling through the mud under barbed wire, when they really feel like quitting – they should ask each other WHY they are doing this. For many of them the answer is to build a better life for their family. And by reminding themselves of that, they see that their temporary struggle is worthwhile.

4. Reduce the pain (Motivational interviewing)

The final technique is about making the challenge less painful. It’s really simple. Ask yourself these three questions.

1. How excited are you about taking on your challenge? Out of 10, with 0 being no pulse and 10 being super enthusiastic.

2. Why didn’t you choose a lower number? (That gets you thinking about the benefits.)

3. What could you do to increase your level of enthusiasm just one point?

 For example you’re not looking forward to getting up at 6am to go for a run. You rate your enthusiasm at about a 3. It’s not 2, because let’s say you do feel quite good when you’re finished. You know it sets you up for the day. So how could you make getting up and getting out of the house just a little bit less painful? Well, maybe have your clothes all ready by the door? Maybe run with a friend? Maybe run listening to podcasts? There will be something you can do.

Pros and Cons 2.0

Ok, so now you’re a little bit more enthusiastic you can go back to your list of concerns and see if you can deal with them. Here’s what happened to me when I was thinking of taking part in the trans-Atlantic rowing race. (We first saw this list back in this blog)

I could die.” Yes, I could die out there, but you know what, the boats are always found again afterwards. All I have to do is to stay tied onto the boat.

 “I’m not into pain”. That’s true, but I’ve got two years before the next race. Why don’t I just build the most comfortable boat in the fleet? I could bolt a La-z-y boy on if I wanted to!

 “I don’t want to get out of bed 6x a day.” Well that’s just changing my focus, because in that same race, I get to go to bed 6x a day.

 “I don’t know how to row.” That’s true, but whenever you take on a big challenge you’re not going to know all the steps from the start to the end, you have to back yourself that you can learn or work with people who have the skills you don’t have. I figured it didn’t matter how bad I was at rowing when I started this adventure, I was going to be an expert by the time I got to the end!

 Now it’s your turn! Try using one or more of these methods to get enthusiastic about the possibilities of taking on your challenge, and then go back to your list of concerns and see how you can either avoid them, or mitigate them.

It’s not going to change you into a raving fan, it doesn’t need to, nor should it – some challenges aren’t worthwhile! What it should do is help you give your challenge a second look, to asses it in a more balanced and clear-eyed way.

 But there’s one thing that we DO need to address, one of your biggest concerns that you might have, and that’s “What if I fail!?”. It’s a fascinating issue that we need to deal with head on. And that’s just what we’ll be doing in the upcoming blogs.

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