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When Tarah was 12, it was common to see her writing down specific water skiing goals on colored paper with an artistic flair. Some goals were short-term performance targets, while others looked much further out at specific outcomes like making the U.S. team. She was competitive and determined to win a national title.
The family awoke one particular Saturday morning to find the weather windy, overcast and nasty. The lake was rough, but not too rough to ski. Tarah’s father knew it wouldn’t be pleasant, but they were planning on a good day of practice. He announced that he’d go down to the lake and get the boat ready. Tarah replied, “Dad, I don’t really feel like skiing today.” He said, “I understand. I’ll go get the boat ready.” She looked surprised and said again, “It’s nasty out there, and I really don’t feel like practicing.” To which he again replied, “I know, you’re right. I’ll go get the boat ready.” By then she was really frustrated. “Dad! Don’t you get it? I don’t feel like it!” Finally it was time to make the point. “Tarah, it’s perfectly fine that you don’t feel like skiing, but what does that have to do with it? Let’s do it anyway.”
In business and in life, you commonly state your goals and plot your course for reaching them. However, there will be many days when you don’t feel like doing the work, but go ahead and do it anyway … “feeling like it” is not a pre-requisite. In Tarah’s case, it’s theoretically possible to “not feel like” it all the way to a national title, if she’s willing to do the work!
Doing the hard things is often accompanied by “not feeling like it.” However, true champions and those successful in the business world are willing to do the hard things despite their feelings at the moment. Digging down deep within yourself to do the things that must be done is the essence of self-discipline. The alternative looks easier, and therefore attractive, but actually includes a heavier price in the long run. Author Jim Rohn wrote, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”
If you’re serious about taking your performance at work to the next level, examine your average day or week and identify the situations or opportunities that require you to do the hard things. What are the uncomfortable items for you? Here are some possible examples.
The secret to not feeling like it, yet doing it anyway, is to discover the “psychic income” you receive when you overcome the urge to avoid the unpleasant tasks. Those who are good at doing the painful, distasteful tasks will tell you they experience an internal pay-off. It is a satisfaction on a psychological level that feels rewarding and fulfilling. Be prepared for the natural tug-of-war that will rage within you as you face the hard things you’d rather avoid. Part of you wants to find something easier to do, but the part of you that says, “I don’t feel like it, but I still have to do it” is the one worth listening to.
President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to the students at Rice University on September 12, 1962. At the time, many people were asking why it was important for the U.S. space program to go to the moon. Kennedy answered his critics by posing another question the students of the relatively small private school would understand: “Why does Rice play Texas? Because it is the hard thing!” It is also the reason he gave for our commitment to go to the moon; because it’s the hard thing we must do.
The four steps to overcome the “don’t feel like it” sensation can best be described as mental gymnastics:
The gains from the pain are positive sensations for having done the hard thing, rather than hiding from it. Fear and discomfort have been overcome. Your psychic income is earned, and with it a reinforcement for doing it again. The long-term gains are best described not by what you get, but by what you become in the process.
Remember, it is more likely for you to act your way into a feeling than it is to feel your way into an action! Will yourself to do the things others won’t do and you’ll have the things others won’t have.
About the author:
David Benzel is a speaker in leadership and creating peak performance, and the author of, “Chump to Champ: How Individuals Go From Good to Great” (Advantage Media). As the founder of Winning Ways, he has worked with organizations including Allstate Insurance, Sprint/Nextel and The Villages. His experience includes six national water-skiing titles and five records, coach of the U.S. water-ski team and founder/coach of an international training center. To learn more, call 800-616-1193 or visit www.davidbenzel.com.