Act On Inspiration, Not Desperation

Inspiration or Desperation: the two reasons you’ll choose to change.

Some years ago I was speaking to the managers and the employees at the hospital in Worthington, Minnesota. I was urging them to get out of their comfort zones, take a risk, and go for it. I was trying to get them to be more open to change by showing them how positive and beneficial change can be.

One participant decided to “go for it,” and she later wrote to me about her experience. And it was obvious to me that she “got it.”

She said she would never drive to the Twin Cities alone. She always waited for her husband or a friend to drive her there. After all, the Twin Cities were large cities, and what if the car broke down, or what would she do if she got lost.

But she was inspired by my program. She was tired of living in fear, and was tired of waiting on others. So she got in her car, drove the 200 miles, got a little lost, but she said, “I did find my shopping mall, got back home, and I FEEL SO GOOD ABOUT MYSELF.”

She learned how empowering and positive change can be. She was no longer bound by her fears. She could drive with someone, or she could go alone. She developed courage, got some freedom, and built her self-esteem. She changed because she was INSPIRED to change.

What about you? Are you driven by INSPIRATION? Or do you wait for DESPERATION to set in before you make any changes?

Or do you fall somewhere in between? Former presidential advisor John Gardner said, “One of the reasons mature people stop growing is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.” Does that sound like you?

I’ve found that people make several changes when one of three conditions is present.

=> 1. They HURT So Much That They’re Forced To Change.

Perhaps you remember the story of the Prodigal Son. He pushed his father to give him his inheritance now — so he could go out into the world and really live it up. Of course, the son squandered away every bit of his inheritance. And it wasn’t too much later that he came back to his father, broke and begging for help. He was ready to change his ways.

Of course there’s good news and bad news in that story. The bad news is that some people wait until their hurt becomes so unbearable before they make any changes. They wait until their customers complain before they take a customer service course. They wait until their marriage is just about over before they read a book on marital communication. And they wait until their health falls apart before they go on a serious diet. That’s just plain stupid.

There’s some good news, however. If you’re really desperate, if you really know you’ve got to change, you’re a candidate for a miracle. You’re ready to take some new steps in a new direction. Marnie Giese found that out. She wrote: “All the damage we can go through in life can really wear a person down. But then I started to listen to your 6-pack CD ‘TAKE CHARGE’ album, and I feel more like myself than I have in a very, very long time. I am absolutely AMAZED as to how much they are helping. Thank you so much and God Bless your work !!!”

Other people put off change until a second condition is present.

=> 2. They’re So BORED With Their Lives That They Get Restless.

It may be the person who plateaus on the job. There’s no where else to go, and there’s nothing more to learn. So he loses interest in his job. Or it may be the mother who feels like she’s got too much time on her hands when the children are all grown and gone. There’s nothing more to do.

You can see signs of boredom in lots of people in lots of situations. I saw one person wearing a T-shirt that said, “Been there, done that. Don’t remember.” Doesn’t sound too exciting to me.

The famous poet Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” Again, that doesn’t sound too exciting.

I don’t know about you, but I’m never bored. I’m always excited about my life and my work. I take Yogi Berra’s approach, who said, “90% of it is mental; the other half is physical.” In other words, you’ve got to have the right attitude. (That’s why I just wrote a new book called “The Attitude Factor.” It’s at the publisher and should be out in September. Look for it. It’s a winner. It truly is.)

If you’re not changing and growing, remember this. Only dead fish go with the flow. Don’t wait for boredom to set in before you do something about your life, your job, or your relationships.

A better way to change, a less painful time to change is when the third condition is present.

=> 3. People change when they realize they CAN change.

In fact, awareness and understanding are very strong motivators. When you truly, truly realize you don’t have to stay the same, when you believe change is possible, you open the flood gates of energy. Motivation swirls in, and change is on its way.

You need to realize you CAN change and SHOULD change once in a while. I like the way Susan Crandell, former editor of “More” magazine puts it. She says, “We all should do something scary at least once a year, because when you pop out the other side, intact and invigorated, the afterglow can carry you through the other parts of your life.”

Susan calls it her “Hey-I-can-do-this” theory of life enhancement. And it has led her to such adventures as race car driving, rock climbing, and white-water rafting — despite the fact she’s a member of the older AARP generation.

Of course, realizing you CAN change, and going for it, is so much better than waiting for huge amounts of pain or heavy doses of boredom to bring about change. Inspiration is always better than desperation. So remind yourself, tell yourself, “Yes you can.”

You can even use this strategy to motivate change in others. Just tell them “Yes, you can,” and watch what happens. Their doubt disappears. They realize they can change, and new action comes into play. I’ve seen it happen dozens of times.

I remember, for example, picking out a new suit at a department store. But I wanted my wife’s opinion before I made the final purchase. So I asked the clerk to put the suit on hold for three hours.

In a worried look, she replied, “Sir, I don’t think we can do that here.” I just smiled at her, and in a warm, reassuring voice, said, “Yes, you can.” Her face brightened up, her head nodded, and she put the suit on hold.

Action:  Look at your personal life, and look at your professional life. Are you in the process of change and continual improvement? Or are you waiting until it really HURTS before you change? Are you waiting until you’re BORED out of your mind before you try to make things better? If it’s the latter, it’s time to change your game plan.

Whenever you doubt your ability to change, whenever you feel stuck in a bad situation, tell yourself “Yes, you can” every time you think of that situation. You’ll gradually build the belief…that leads to courage…that moves you to new and better behavior.