Tell a better story
By Sandy Schussel
Sandy Schussel, LLC
You have free will. You have unlimited choices. But you don’t have unlimited time. So you can do anything, just not everything. You must choose.
Brad, a financial representative with a major broker-dealer, was complaining about email and phone interruptions. He knew he was getting so caught up in playing with his smart phone — trying to figure out how it could alert him only for certain contacts — that he was sacrificing hours of real work.
“You make choices about how you want to spend your time," I told him. “If you think you’ve made the wrong choices, don’t beat yourself up. Just make choices you like better going forward.”
"But I just get distracted and can’t help myself,” he responded.
“Well, now you’re creating a story about yourself that you can use to continue being distracted,” I admonished. “We all create stories, but does this particular story — that you can’t help yourself — serve you at all?”
Brad mumbled something else about not being able to help it, but he knew that he was caught.
As author and coach Steve Chandler points out in his book, "Reinventing Yourself," the things we say about ourselves — the “stories” that describe our personalities — are made up and can be altered at any time.
David Ward, a colleague whose coaching and consulting work is targeted on lawyer marketing, recently wrote these words: "You can do anything you want to do in life; you just can’t do everything."
You have free will. You have unlimited choices. But you don’t have unlimited time. So you can do anything, just not everything. You must choose. As you choose what to do, you also choose what not to do. The word “decide” means to “kill the other option." When you chose to go to law school, you also chose not to go to medical school.
If you want to accomplish great things, you must focus on great things and let go of things that are merely good. Give up good to go for great.
What is important to you? Family, faith, career, community? It’s probably not a long list. What’s important to you is where you will find your greatness.
Get those things right, and you’ll have a happy and fulfilling life.
Brad and I discussed what he wanted to do about his attention issue: He wanted to power down his smart phone and get away from his email for an hour or two every day. He acknowledged that it would be beneficial to simply shut off his devices, rather than spending hours trying to modify them to be less distracting.
He replaced his story about losing focus with a more powerful one: “I used to get sidetracked and then end the day without having finished the things that were most important to me, but I’ve taken steps to make sure that I don’t do that any more.”
Some of us allow distractions into our lives as a way of avoiding the parts of our work we’re not totally comfortable with. And often, we don’t change our behaviors because we’re afraid to change our stories about them — the stories we’ve been accustomed to for so long.
If you’ve been choosing to reorganize your files instead of calling that long list of prospects to whom you were referred last month, you probably regret it now. This time, however, don’t be hard on yourself — but do let that behavior go. Make a better choice tomorrow. And let your story be that up until now, you were making poor decisions, but from now on, you won’t be. Choose to focus on what really matters.