How To Get What You Want

Posted by on Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 with 2 Comments

how to get what you want

To get what you want, you have to want what you get.

This is a discussion about reality versus expectations. Many of us in the CEO community are overachievers who have been taught to always aim high. By pushing ourselves, we get far more than we would have if we had accepted whatever came our way. However, pushing ourselves also has the unintended consequence of ensuring that we are never quite happy with anything we do.

Let’s take a quick trip down the rabbit hole. If, in our pursuit of greatness, we are never satisfied with the status quo, then we very well may achieve great things. Our companies will prosper, even if the road is bumpy. Our kids will excel at their pursuits. We will be recognized for our leadership at some point in our careers. Many people will depend on us. This is all very good.

But when do we stop to appreciate what we’ve earned for ourselves? Is there some sabbatical that occurs mid-career? Some daily meditation on our lives that we’ve been saving all this time to infuse into our weekly schedule? Or have we boarded a non-stop train to Happiness long ago, only to find that the train never actually lets us off and we must be content with just a glance out the window as we zoom by?

If we don’t pause sometimes to appreciate what we’ve created, we risk a life unexamined.

“But,” you might object, “I don’t always want to examine my life that closely. There’s a lot of stress, rejection, unfulfillment, and awkwardness. I prefer to just press forward.”

And that’s the point. All that stuff, which you might call bad, is actually normal. Every person on earth feels it, even the most accomplished ones. We need to feel it. Can you imagine being happy from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed every day for weeks on end? It’s chemically impossible. Our brains require balance. Feeling bad sometimes isn’t just an option; it’s a necessity. So we may as well come to peace with it.

Even more to the point, if we don’t accept the entire range of our feelings and instead focus only on the positive, we don’t just forget about the other stuff. We unconsciously store it away for later and are surprised when it pops up in a conversation with a family member or an employee weeks later.

The only healthy way to deal with the less-desirable parts of our lives is to acknowledge their right to exist and hear them out.

A nagging doubt? Listen to it, respect it, and then choose not to follow it. A feeling of anger? Think about it, let it flow through you, and choose to talk it out with someone later. A sudden sadness? Be in it. Mope a bit. And then, when you’re ready, move past it. When you acknowledge negative emotions, it gives them permission to go away.

The same rule applies to your business. If you aren’t ready to accept, and even embrace, your down cycles, you aren’t ready to welcome your up cycles. The CEO that only permits himself to believe that his business can be a little down only permits his business to be a little up. Ignoring the negative end of the spectrum causes us to miss out on data and repeat mistakes from the past. Embracing the full range of possibilities – the awful, the “eh”, the pretty good, and the fantastic, and everything in between – gives our businesses the opportunity to thrive.

And now let’s return to the first thing I told you: to get what you want, you have to want what you get. If you can accept that the graph of your life is more like this

chart-1

than this

chart-2

you can begin to acknowledge, and even appreciate, the natural ups and downs of human existence. You’ll find that you can enjoy the good moments far more than ever before, and when tough times need to pass through, you’ll be okay with them. It is only then that you will finally have what you want.

Getting into this frame of mind may take a while. But you can start today by giving it some thought.

2 responses to “How To Get What You Want”

  1. Lana says:

    This made me think of Abraham Hicks – Contrast sharpens focus. The concept of no longer reaching new highs when the lows aren’t pushing. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  2. Susie says:

    This post got me thinking about the ups and downs of a life well lived. As well as living life in its completeness.
    Some call it the circle of life, usually in good times. While discussing with a friend a few years ago this “circle”. We came to the conclusion that it would be better to refer to it as a “triangle”.
    For those living with the circle. Life is rather predictable. Bills are paid, job goes well, happy events that make one smile. Sad, hard, or stressful events that cause some sadness, grouchiness, and a few tiring days.
    Then there are those riding the triangle.
    There’s the top of the triangle. Life is wonderful up there. It’s as if the stars have all aligned themselves just for you. Goals are being achieved, obstacles fall away. You’re so happy you wonder if you’ve been unknowingly drugged because life is going so good.
    The tip of the triangle is small. It doesn’t last long. You know hard times will come again. So life happens and down the side you go. The car breaks down or you get sick somehow. So very easy this happens to everyone. After life fills itself with problems, you have reached the bottom of the triangle. Life seems to hold itself in hard times. I figure it’s simply because it takes a person time to recover from disapointment. To first realize it, then feel it. Then to finally decide to get up from being down. To decide what to do to get out of being down.
    Time to go up the other side. Every little accomplishment, support from others, and possibly good fortune propels you up to the little tip of that triangle.
    Life lived on the triangle is still good. If you know you’re on the triangle, all the ups and downs of life are more manageable simply for the knowing that when the good times come. It truly is good times. Also for knowing the bad times come. It’s knowing that they come and you survived before, it’s not so shocking or debilitating.
    The circle with its gentle flow through good and bad, may be wonderful for some. I prefer the triangle. It’s like a really intense roller coaster ride through life. Looking forward to the high points, yet okay with low ones.

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