So What’s Stopping You?

I don’t know about you but I find it very easy to put things off. One of my favourite authors, Tom Peters, once said, “Intelligent people can always come up with intelligent reasons to do nothing.” Our minds are very powerful and are constantly working to maintain some sort of status quo. One of the ways that we grow is to dream, but our dreams have to be strong. This then creates tension, as the mind battles between our vision and current reality. In the end it will move us in the direction of whichever is the strongest. So if your dreams are not big and powerful the mind will always come up with reasons why you should maintain current reality.

Those comfort zones that we all occupy are often just that – too comfortable. I have recently set myself a deadline for the end of this month to finish one of my stories and enter it into a competition. My comfort zone however is sitting in my Studio and writing posts for this blog – nice and safe.

How many times do you hear people say, “Well I need a career change and as soon as I’ve finished this project I’m going to start looking. I can’t go yet, it wouldn’t be fair on my colleagues.” or “I want a job with more responsibility, but I’m not sure I’m quite ready yet. I’ll just carry on as I am for a while until I’ve learnt a bit more.” In other words that part of your mind that Seth Godin calls ‘The Resistance’ is winning, it’s keeping you safe and secure in your comfort zone – and the chances are that you will still be there 10 years from now.

Seth Godin in his book ‘Linchpin’ writes, “In every corporation in every country in the world, people are waiting to be told what to do. Sure, many of us pretend that we’d love to have control and authority and to bring our humanity to work/ But given half a chance, we give it up, in a heartbeat. Like scared civilians eager to do whatever a despot tells them, we give up our freedoms and responsibilities in exchange for the certainty that comes from being told what to do.”

So what are you waiting to do?  What are you putting off? Seth Godin’s idea of ‘The Resistance’ will already be kicking in if you are reading this and planning a little trip outside your comfort zone. The Resistance, your mind, is afraid …. “Afraid what will happen to you (and to it) if the ideas get out, if your gifts are received, if the magic happens.” I plan to write a short story and enter it into a competition by the end of the month – what are you going to do?

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About Mike

Now that I'm retired I have more time to devote to writing my blog and creating short stories.
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10 Responses to So What’s Stopping You?

  1. aisachi says:

    be in a business.
    thanks, you just gave me the right words to start with.
    God bless you & hope you really get into that competition!

  2. Rindo says:

    “But given half a chance, we give it up, in a heartbeat. Like scared civilians eager to do whatever a despot tells them, we give up our freedoms and responsibilities in exchange for the certainty that comes from being told what to do.”

    Goodness. This scared me. It’s true, and it’s vaguely unsettling. I suddenly see myself 50 years hence, stooping and trying to figure out why I didn’t take that step out of the shell I imposed myself in.

  3. Mike says:

    Thanks for the comment Rindo.
    A lot of what Seth Godin writes can be a bit scary – often because he is nearly always so close to the truth that we don’t want to acknowledge. If you’ve not read any of his stuff then it’s well worth giving it a go.

  4. Jane says:

    You knew I’d be commenting on this post! It’s taken me a while to respond but here it is. Read it from a different perspective, an open mind.

    Your comments are so true for lots of situations. Being comfortable is wrong… isn’t it? Lack of ambition is to be shunned. Leading a life where you have balance is being complacent, as there is always the next battle for you to overcome. After all, I know I wrote on one of your earlier blogs, ‘It is easy to be the person you have always been, for it requires no change, no self reflection and no growth’.

    I’ve just shared the Harry Potter experience with Lucy again as she has been reading the first book and one particular chapter resonated with me; The Mirror of Erised. I will share Dumbledore’s explanation of what the mirror does:

    ‘It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible’.

    The knowledge and truth could be seen as what you describe as our current reality – the mirror of Erised being our dreams. Sometimes, I believe it’s not that our dreams are not big enough, but that there are real, ‘intelligent’ (!) reasons why you should, at times, not pursue them. For now. Or maybe never. I think the word perception is so important here. For what one believes is a ‘comfort zone’, another knows differently. How many times have we passed comment on someone’s life, a neighbour with another new flash car, the person who seems to have the best job ever…? For every reality is a perception. Or is it for every perception, there is a reality.

    Don’t get me wrong, we should all have dreams, and be lucky enough to have people i our lives to encourage our dreams, to move us forward, to develop and grow. But sometimes, ‘you alone are your wisest teacher’.

    Sometimes, your comfort zone may be just what you need right now. Because your comfort zone may not be your comfort zone. It’s your current reality, which isn’t as soft and squishy and comfortable as other people’s perceptions of your comfort zone.

    And for an intelligent person, it’s taken me quite a long time to realise this!

  5. Mike says:

    Hi Jane.

    Some things are well worth waiting for and your comment fits into that bracket. It was a pleasure to read and, as usual, got me thinking. I agree with everything that you say & particularly love the Dumbledore quote. It can drive us mad not knowing if what we dream about is ever going to be real or even possible. It is the threat of that madness that can lead many people down the road of not dreaming, of not venturing outside their comfort zone.

    We will all have a different perception of what a comfort zone looks like to us. What someone else may view as my comfort zone I might think is far from comforting. Each of us will have a different perception, but to each person that perception is their reality. The problem sometimes arises when we convince ourselves that our comfort zone is not comforting, it may look like it to others, but they are wrong. Who says they are wrong? Is their being wrong merely our perception of their belief?

    In reality none of us have the ability to judge what another person should or should not be doing. We can always encourage but you are right when you say, “You alone are your wisest teacher.” There may be good reasons for not pursuing one’s dreams, though I do feel that if someone always finds reasons (and they will always perceive them to be good reasons) then there is the possibility that the dreams making process will dry up.

    We should all enjoy our comfort zones, for many of us it’s taken a lot of hard work to create them. But we mustn’t stop dreaming and if we are going to keep on dreaming then sometimes we have to make our dreams come true and that will inevitably mean being brave, taking risks and moving away from what we feel comfortable with. Sometimes we may need to hold the hand of someone who has already made the journey because they can often see beyond our comfort zone the things that we may be missing.

    I will leave you with this quote – “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

    • Gary says:

      Sometimes we may need to hold the hand of someone who has already made the journey, but when does that journey need to be made? Is it as commonly said 3 years into their first job, or alternatively 5 years into their first job or is it some more opportune time?
      I’m thinking of retirement Mike, give us a hand!

      • Mike says:

        I don’t think that you can put a time limit on how long you should stay in a job. In terms of running a school I don’t think that you ever get to a point where you can sit back and think, “Well I’ve completed all that I set out to do, now it’s time to move on.” If you do find yourself in that position then you’ve probably stopped looking & have lost sight of what needs to be done next.
        I think that the time to move on is much more opportune. In my case it was either when I was given a challenge by someone else or noticed one myself. Sometimes you need someone else to point out that challenge & encourage you to move out of your present ‘comfort zone’.
        As for retirement – dream on!

  6. Pingback: The Thoughts Of Jane And Albus | Random Thoughts

  7. Jane says:

    Mike, I like how you are now putting comfort zone in inverted commas!! Here here! Still thinking about that other quote and will respond in due course…when I have lots of time to post comments, that’s when I know I’m in my comfort zone(no inverted commas!!) 😉

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