Once upon a time, there was a monkey. He was sitting on a banana tree. The bananas hanging to his left and his right looked both so yummy that he could not decide which one to grab. After two days, the monkey fell from the tree. Dead. A tragic death by starvation.
I will admit that I made this up. Here is an example that I read about in a newspaper today:
A wife called the police on her husband. He was driving drunk. When the police caught him, his blood alcohol was over 1.0 mg/ml. The husband is in trouble now.
The first thought that might cross our minds could be: "How could she".
Well, we don´t know the whole story and how many times she tried to influence him to change. The 6-year-old daughter was in the car and that was the last straw that broke the camels back.
I am sure the decision to call the police was not easy on the woman. It was a classic Catch 22.
What is a dilemma?
A dilemma is a situation where you have to make a decision for one of two options of which both seem to lead to undesired results.
No matter which way I go I will not get what I want.
A classic example from Paul Wathlawich:
A mother gifts two ties to her son. No matter which one he wears first the mother will ask: "Why did you not chose the other one first?"
Most of the time we get into dilemmas through other people, within relationships. Catch 22 situations can be found in all walks of life. Often we feel that we are forced to make a decision regarding a meaningful situation or important need. Or in other words: We feel that the decision has existential consequences so that it is not easy for us to let go of either option.
Consequences of dilemma
When people are in a dilemma they often alternate between
denial (it´s not all bad)
try and fight (I just have to try harder, next time with more xy it will work)
resignation, feeling helpless (I failed again. Whatever I try I keep failing...)
If you get into a dilemma too often, it can lower your self-esteem. You will question and doubt yourself faster and faster. Naturally, the fear of failure will increase.
The worst thing about a dilemma is that attempts to get out of it are taking place in the problem loop. As if the tires of your car got stuck and you try to hit the gas, change the gear but whatever you try - the car is just sinking in deeper.
Way out of dilemma
Stress is where you allow it to be
Catch 22 situations rarely go away by sitting them out. It will be on your mind until you make a decision. A dilemma is an energy thief. The sooner you make a decision, the better for you.
It´s in the nature of a dilemma that there is no ideal solution.
Analyze the situation. Is there a middle way you might have overlooked?
Analyze your emotions regarding option a) and b) Maybe one option is more harmful to you while the negative emotions towards the alternative are based on your fear to let another person down.
Ask your heart
Be proactive and try to eliminate negative consequences
Do it NOW
If you still need help: Contact me or go to my website and schedule a session.
Often it is difficult to decide if the goals we pursue reflect our desires or those of others. The expectations of society for instance. Or you are told to do things in a certain way because "we´ve always done it like this".
Everyone who expects something from you has an agenda. And the selfless ones have a past. In this past, they have failed. They have been hurt. Pain changes the brain. Even the ones that love you and mean well might try to push you further than it´s good for you or limit you as a result of their own "brain scars" and life experience.
To make one thing clear: My aim is to help people to achieve greatness. But my aim is also to help people to discover what they truly aspire to be and uncover manipulation.
Social Media and Leadership
Latest when you are a grown-up and create your profile on LinkedIn you´re like in a constant shower of expectations and unsolicited lectures.
All day long we read quotes that imply we have to be super successful leaders - or else we are losers. Being average sounds like having a nasty STD.
Can you feel how you shrink after reading that quote? .... How you feel a little bit smaller and incompetent because you know you do not live up to the quote? A tad sad and humbled. As if someone sucked the enthusiasm out of you.
Well, the poster of the quote probably also did not live up to it. In my experience, successful leaders do not post memes that imply that "average" people are "losers".
A real leader helps people to grow, lifts them up. Leaders are enablers. Not bullies.
Leadership is one of the most commonly misused words (just like Entrepreneur, which does not mean to sign up to an affiliate program and replicate what someone else did successfully. It means to take on a significant risk; either financially or as an innovator).
What is success
Here is my definition:
Success is happiness. What makes a person happy is individual. Success is what makes you happy.
Fulfilling expectations of society might give you a feeling of temporary relief, but if they do not comply with your vision of achievement they will not make you happy in the long run.
For some people, success will mean to climb a corporate ladder to the very top. Others might want to live a simple life on a farm, have twenty kids or become the best painter around.
There is no such thing as free dinner. Every form of success has a price. Career success might cost a bit of your personal freedom, the currency to pay for outing yourself as gay is reputation. And so on ... It´s not a burden to pay the price for something you are passionate about.
Some did what society or their parents expected them to do without questioning it. They were married by the age of 21, two kids, nice house, good job - but they are not happy. Others are housewives and happy, but they are bothered because all of their friends work, and often they get questioned why they lack ambition.
Maybe after careful consideration, you will decide that complying with what people expect from you is more important to you than following your desires. If you make the active and conscious decision of setting back your wishes it will not make you as unhappy.
Personally, I recommend that everyone lives in the way that makes him most happy. If we drop dead after an unfulfilled life, nobody will hand out free beer vouchers for every time we fulfilled the expectations of others.
Tip: Dig deep into yourself and find your real dreams and desire. Separate the expectations and definitions of others from your own.
Then pursue whatever success means to you and do not let others manipulate you into becoming something you are not. You might find that you can achieve more than what is expected from you - or less.
Success and self-worth
Your level of success has to be in accordance to your feeling of self-worth. Getting 10 % more or less of what you feel you are worth will lead to unhappiness or unhealthy behavior.
Did you ever wonder why so many lottery winners and Hollywood stars engage in self-destructive behavior and often fall into addiction or loose all of their money in no time?
They were not ready for the level of success they achieved, and it did not comply with their feeling of self-worth.
It´s not enough to set your goals high. You also have to honestly believe you are worth of achieving them.
And you have to have a positive attitude towards what you want to achieve. Let´s say that it includes money (it´s better to have a non-material higher goal, but that´s also a topic for a different article); you have to love money. If deep inside you believe that money is dirty and bad, you´ll probably never get a lot of it.
Tip:Visualize your ultimate higher goal. Align your feeling of self-worth with your goal.
Agenda and Motivation
The first rule when someone shares his expectations, feedback, demands or opinion with you:
Everyone has an agenda. And everyone has a motivation.
You should aim to find both out right away.
My agenda is to a) help and support you and b) get word about my services out. My motivation is a) to empower you and make the little change I can on this world and b) if you trust me and consider my advice helpful make you an offer.
Once you understand the motivation and agenda of a person, you can decide how you should handle and value feedback, advice, and expectations from that person.
Everyone has a motivation at all times.
Follower or Leader
The first thing to understand: A follower is not worth more or less than a leader. No matter what social media posts seem to imply. A real leader might be harder to find. And most of the self-proclaimed leaders we find on social media ... well, you know.
It´s not important if you are a follower or leader. It is important that you follow your true desire. A leader needs strong followers to help him and produce results.
Don´t force yourself to leadership when you do not feel the wish to lead and don´t limit yourself to following when you have the ambition to lead.
I followed great leaders and mentors and was glad that I had them. They helped me grow, they took the shots when I messed up - and they were happy that they had me.
Being average is another .. hmm what is it? It´s neither a trait nor a skill it´s just a description of the norm.
If the majority of people would be able to swim 40 miles it would become the new norm. What "motivational" posts imply (that everyone has to "swim 40 miles") does not even make sense.
There is nothing wrong with being average. Unless you are destined for greatness and limit yourself. Average can be a great and proud achievement is someone upgraded his skills that were below average to "average".
A long, long time ago I met a girl. I can´t remember where. She had a very slow processor and a learning disability. Hardly could she do the simplest additions. Her dream was to become a waitress. She worked very hard on herself, harder than I ever saw anyone work for his goal until she finally had the math skills to become a waitress.
Do I have respect for this achievement? Hell, yes! Would I be happy as a waitress with the income of a waitress? Hell, no! Is one worth more than the other?Definitely not. Both used their potential to create a life that makes them happy.
Keep in mind: Your potential is a gift. It´s not something you earned or worked for.
I care about being happy, and I care about being me. And so should you.
The term leadership is often misunderstood. Leader built people up. If someone puts you down he´s probably not a leader.
It´s important to understand the agenda and motivation of someone before deciding if you take the advice/demand etc. to heart.
Happiness is the ultimate measurement scale for success.
Success is individual, what makes someone happy, and therefore successful, differs from person to person.
Measure people based on their potential - not yours.
Set your own standards.
Being average is perfect if it´s the best you can be.
Yes, you can achieve nearly everything you set your mind to. Relevant is: What do YOU want to achieve.
Break your limits, reach to the stars if YOU desire it.
Do you remember how your stomach tickled when you bought your first house? Went out with the Lady of your Heart/Prince for the first time?
Our hearts beat faster when something we have been longing for finally becomes reality. Nothing stands between you and ultimate happiness anymore.
The extraordinary becomes commonness
There comes a point where dreams lose its glamor. The new house or friend are still important - but not the priority anymore. The special becomes commonness. It does not happen overnight. It is a creeping development.
Why does happiness not last?
As soon as a need has been fulfilled, it´s importance changes. If we are hungry, a good meal is the highest priority. Until we ate. Repetition also kills the appeal of novelty. After a few weeks, the new car of our dreams becomes a commodity.
Wishes come and go. It´s part of life. The more relaxed we go about it, the more effortless our life becomes. As soon as we stop believing our happiness depends on the fulfillment of this or that wish our lives change dramatically. For the better.
Taking your wishes less serious does not mean you get rid of them. It is about looking at the desire and reflecting its importance for your happiness.
After all, once you fulfilled a wish - the next one is already lurking behind the corner.
Perfectly happy does not just happen
For me, happiness includes being grateful for what you have. If you still long for something that is missing you continue the hunt. The art is to focus on the substantial events in our lives.
With a bit of mindfulness, I start seeing more and more beautiful things in my everyday life. The happiness about a great conversation weights heavier than the anger about heavy traffic on my way home.
The fewer expectations and wishes you hunt, the more you can appreciate what is there. Happiness is great wealth. That might feel weird at times - after all, we think something is missing for us to be happy.
Do not get me wrong. This is not a pledge to not pursue goals or create the life of your dreams. It is a vow to be self-aware and in the know about what is your dream and what you need to be happy. And guess what? Once you reflect and become aware of your true needs you will likely strike a lot of material wishes from your list.
What do you need for happiness?
We invest a lot of time and energy to achieve our goals. Over time, we feel that what we have accomplished does not make us happy for an extended period. The hunt for happiness can become a neverending cycle.
But we can break the pattern. First of all, we have to choose consciously that we do not want to be trapped any longer, like a hamster in a wheel of desires.
Happiness is a source of power that grows from the inside. It takes patience and self-reflexion to find it. We need answers to the following questions:
What do I hope to achieve by fulfilling one wish after the other?
How does it make me feel to do nothing for two hours?
What is missing for me to be perfectly happy?
Again: Do set goals and due pursue and achieve goals. Just make sure you spend your energy on those that matter for your happiness.