When what you’re doing isn’t working…
We all have this experience in life: what you’re doing isn’t working. Like most people, your impulse in those moments is to “double down”—to do what you’ve been doing, but do it harder, faster, more strenuously, more diligently.
And, most of the time, you end up in the same place, just more exhausted.
About a decade ago, a friend taught me: When what I’m doing isn’t working, I’ll try anything else.
Any thing else.
And, while this might make intuitive sense, we almost never do it.
In a recent coaching session, Pastor Clay lamented that his sermon prep habits left him drained, embittered, and isolated from his family. The family from whom he disappeared every Saturday morning and to whom he reappeared days later. He thrived “in the zone” with God for 48 contiguous hours. And, he’d crash so hard after Sunday night’s service he’d be nearly comatose ‘til Tuesday. Every single week.
Kirk: Great! What else have you tried?
Clay: I’ve been doing it this way as long as I’ve had a church.
Kirk: When did you first notice it wasn’t working?
Clay: The very first week.
We spent the next several minutes imagining completely new ways to organize his work week. He began developing a plan to move from the intense concentration of sermon-prep-and-ministry of the past several years to a way that wouldn’t brutalize him and those he loves. One ground rule: never again will he do the three-day disappearing act.
And many are resigned to less-than-satisfactory experiences across great swaths of life.
Einstein is credited with having said: “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” What must change, is not who is thinking, but how you are thinking your solutions.
Bring to mind an area of life where you’re unhappy and don’t see a way out.
What if you’ve given yourself permission to stay right where you’re stuck?
What if you’ve unknowingly negotiated this exact situation with yourself?
What if you’re the architect of this disquieting compromise?
I invite you to ponder these questions carefully. How might they be true?
When you realize that you’re powerful enough to have chosen your way into the conundrum, it’s possible to recognize that you also have the power to get yourself out.
Determine to do what you’ve not done before. Consider all kinds of possibilities. Experiment with alternatives. As many as necessary ’til you find something that works. Stay open to being surprised.