Why It’s Not Your Fault You’re Stuck

In my view, there are two types of people in the world: those who are resigned to staying where they are, thinking it’s not possible or would take too much effort to make significant changes in their lives. (They’re probably not reading this.)

The second type – hi there! – is always striving to improve and continuously looking for ways to become better in their personal and professional lives.

Unfortunately, the first type is right about one thing: it’s devilishly hard to make the changes that will lead to the desired results, and there are a couple of very valid reasons why:

Reason #1: Not knowing what or how to change.

As Albert Einstein famously said, “We can’t solve problems on the same level we created them.”

Most of us are very good – brilliant, actually — at identifying the problem. What we’re not as good at is shifting to a different level of thinking to solve them. As Mr. Einstein also pointed out: that’s because it’s our best thinking that got us where we are now.

For sure, it’s hard by ourselves to pinpoint exactly what we need to change. Instead, we try the same things we’ve always tried. Or, we try lots of different things without sticking with any of them and, when we don’t see much improvement, we get frustrated and give up.

Reason #2: Lack of objectivity.

To get better, you have to work at what you’re not good at. But homing in on exactly what those flaws are is easier said than done: our brains are specifically designed to defend against exposure and critique. If new information doesn’t jive with a current belief, it won’t even register on our radar. So between the loud clamor of ego, swirling emotions and chattering of the inner critic, it’s pretty much impossible to recognize our own blind spots.

As opera diva Renee Fleming says: “What we hear as we are singing is not what the audience hears.

Reason #3: Lack of motivation or accountability.

Let’s be real, it’s not enough just knowing what you need to do differently. Without a sense of urgency or external pressure, it’s tough to break through the inertia and initiate a change. Whether you start today or tomorrow, who’s going to notice? Humans are social creatures and, sadly enough, making a change solely for our own benefit or awareness, sometimes isn’t enough motivation.

So it’s not you. Even the most disciplined or well-trained person finds it challenging to sustain, much less improve, their best performance on their own.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow, I’ll provide some ways to get around these obstacles on your own.

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