Top 3 Reasons Agile Self-Leadership beats Self-Control as a Peak Performance Strategy

If you are like most people today, daily living is full of unpredictable events requiring you to constantly rethink, replan, and reprioritize.

One of the most commonly recommended strategies for getting things done today is to cultivate more “self-control.” The idea is that if you had more self-control you could get more done — and operate at “peak performance” level more often — because after all “normal” successful people have a lot of self-control, right?    That’s the common working assumption in our culture.  Rarely do you hear anyone talking about self-leadership or leading yourself to get things done.

But when you really think about it…what is self-control? Every one has their own definition, and many usually say something like “we don’t really mean “control.”  Are we just too lazy to find a more accurate way to describe how we get ourselves to do things?  I propose that Agile Self-Leadership is a much more precise, meaningful and inspiring way to think about how we cultivate and optimize our own performance.

I love the way NYU Professor and author of the excellent book Ungifted: Intelligence RedefinedScott Barry Kaufman  defines self-control.

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Chronic Procrastination and Resistance: How we Learn to Procrastinate.

 How do we learn to procrastinate?

We are waging a cultural war against procrastination and inner resistance as if they were evil itself. I believe it is time to STOP the War and START negotiating a peace treaty with yourself.  Persistent patterns of procrastination are the outer manifestations or signposts of inner conflict and resistance.  

Procrastination is the result you get when one part of you is trying to get the rest of you to do something using tactics like: ordering, coercing, pressuring, tricking, or even bullying yourself to do it.

Resistance can only exist when there is some kind of pushing, pressure, or force trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do, or aren’t ready or willing to do at this time for some reason.    Continue reading

Agilizing, Resistance and the Art of War



 

agile-goals-habits-small-changes-can-make-big-differences

I learned a lot about how to AVOID inner war by reading the “Art of War” by SunTzu.  I read the book because I wanted to better understand why “war” is so commonly used as in our culture as a metaphor for personal growth.  In my opinion, gardening and cultivation is a far more accurate metaphor for how personal growth really works.


To my surprise I found that Sun Tzu actually teaches that war should be used only as a last resort.  How interesting that so many people have misinterpreted or distorted his work or perhaps haven’t actually read the book in it’s entirety.

How unfortunate for us that war metaphors as so commonly used to teach self-development.  Teaching people to use war as a primary way of interacting with themselves, like “Conquering Your Inner Critic” or “Battling your Inner Demons” is a recipe for fostering chronic frustration, insecurity, depression and anxiety.

Another popular example of using war as a metaphor for engaging with the parts of ourselves we don’t understand is the book, “The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He refers constantly to our inner resistance as “our inner enemy.”   This is not just a word problem.  It’s NOT TRUE.

In fact it’s worse than not true, believing you have an enemy inside you feeds and worsens the problem you are trying to solve.  The truth is that you have inner opposition and you NEED that part of you so that you can learn and grow.

rp_Agilizen-think-you-know-250x228.pngEnemies tend to hate you and not have your best interest at heart.  Opponents may challenge you but may also be your friend who cares about you deeply and wants you to succeed.  It is FAR more helpful to your personal relationship with yourself (and to your personal growth) to view your inner resistance as a challenging friend who is trying to give you difficult feedback but doesn’t have the right words.

Listening to that friend instead of fighting or trying to silence it is far more valuable to your personal growth, don’t you think? Even if you disagree with it, there is value in being challenged to fine-tune your thinking, and to become more creative and agile in your problem-solving, isn’t there?

Sun Tzu teaches that the most effective way of winning is never going to war.  It is a far superior strategy to avoid war and to turn your opponents into allies.

Another common myth is that The Art of War is about how to deal with enemies.  Interestingly, I found that he used the term “oppositional forces” and “opponents” rather than enemies. According to Sun Tzu, hate or disrespect for your opposition actually makes YOU weak…not them.

starting overThinking of your inner resistance as your natural opposition to “over-controlling” or “over-pressuring” makes a lot more sense.  When someone doesn’t listen to you and just tries to order you around, you resist, right?

If you are not listening to the part of yourself that isn’t “READY” to do what you are telling it to do, naturally you will resist yourself.  Wouldn’t it be more effective to engage in a conversation with your resistance than to start a fight? 

When you are resisting doing something you think you “should” be doing, try asking yourself one of more of these questions that help you “agilize” potential solutions instead of fighting a war you can’t win.

– What would help me feel more “ready” to do this?
– What time of day might I more naturally be inclined to do this?
– What’ would make this feel easier?
– What is the really value of doing this?
– What will the impact be? in the short term?
– How little of this could I do and call it good enough?
– What assumptions am I making about when, where, how, how much, how long, with who, how perfect, how many?
– What could I redesign to make this more attractive?

Focusing on readiness to do things rather than “pushing” or coercing yourself is much more effective and satisfying in the long run. Try it a couple times.

See how your resistance changes when your creative brain kicks in. : )

http://www.artofwarsuntzu.com/SunTzuEBook.htm

 

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