Unconsciously Adding Rules
Have you ever witnessed someone making a simple task difficult? I have, and it is painful to watch.
For many years, I have facilitated team building and leadership development activities with groups of all types and ages. For each activity, I verbalize the directions and guidelines, then I give them an opportunity to repeat what they heard, and to ask questions before they begin.
The directions may sound something like:
“The goal of the activity is to transport the ball through the tubes to the bucket across the field. Only the tube can touch the ball, and once the ball is in your tube you cannot move your feet. You can only have your hands on one tube at a time. You must work as a team, and if you drop the ball you start all over.”
The group excitedly begins the activity—sometimes strategizing, sometimes coming to a consensus on the goal, sometimes working together as a team, and so forth. It is inevitable that while the team is in motion, someone will turn to me and ask, "Can we use our voices to speak?"
Where in the directions did not using their voices come into play? Why did they choose to hear another rule that would make achieving the goal harder? This happens frequently enough that it made me stop and question how often we make things harder than they need to be.
How often have we heard someone say, “This is going to be difficult,” before they even get started?
How often have we looked at a new challenge and thought, “I am not sure I can do this?”
How often have we chosen out of something new before we even considered what it entailed?
Changing "I can't" to "Yes I can"
I have also facilitated high ropes course activities, where the participant attached to the other end of my rope is forty feet in the air.
Yes, I appreciate the commonly perceived risk of this kind of activity. What I don’t understand is when, after they have already made the decision to climb, they keep saying, “I can’t do this.” What truly amazes me is that they keep taking one more step up—not even realizing they are shaking their head “NO,” all the way to the top!
Once the climber reaches the top, that perceived risk then turns into an exhilarating accomplishment, complete with a big smile plastered on their face. When they come back down to earth, the conversation we have usually sounds something like:
Q: Was it really as hard as you thought it would be?
Q: Did you think you could do it?
Q: Was it fun?
A: YES! I want to do it again!
And then the big question: “What did you learn about yourself?”
The most common answer? They discovered they are made of much more than they believed. They now realize they can accomplish anything they put their mind to.
So my really big question to all of us is this: what is available if we let go of seeing life as hard, and stop adding rules that make things more difficult?
What if we consciously change “I can’t do this,” to, “Of course I can do this.” What if we start believing we can accomplish anything we put our mind to?
If you could only see me right now, shaking my head “YES” with a big fat smile on my face! I am having a blast blogging because I chose to believe, “OF COURSE I CAN DO THIS!”