You Can’t Make Me!

“You can’t make me!” Sometimes you hear this verbally (think toddlers and teenagers) and sometimes you see it in the eyes, or even in someone’s actions (or lack of action). Have you ever wondered why we hear, or say, this? Hang on because I’m going to tell you…

There are two main reasons that I personally have the “you can’t make me” reaction to something or someone. This month I will share the first of the two and keep you waiting in suspense for the second.

woman standing ambroThe first reason I have a moment of “you can’t make me” is that I am having a hard time seeing my way through an obstacle so I dig my heels in and decide not to move forward, and you can’t make me. For one of my clients, that conversation came into play when it was time to set a goal. As we had the conversation I could visualize her standing with her hands on her hips telling me that she didn’t need to have a goal, she would just keep chugging along and it would eventually all come together, and I couldn’t make her have a goal because she didn’t want one! Well, of course I can’t make her. This is her life, her career, and if she wanted to throw spaghetti at a wall to see what would stick then I could let it ride for a month to see how that worked out – or, I could see what was really getting in the way.

I decided to dig a little deeper and found that it was fear of failure that was keeping her from setting goals … now that makes sense! When some people commit to a goal, there is a chance that they won’t hit the mark, so they won’t to set themselves up for failure. There are others who set goals but don’t take any action toward achieving them. In this case there is a strong likelihood that by not taking clear, coherent action, we won’t hit the mark. Either way, the “mark” is a moving target that we aren’t likely to hit.

The success factor is this simple equation: Intention (what you want to create) + Action (focused movement) = Coherence. When we are Coherent we get to experience meaning and satisfaction. When there is Coherence, there isn’t “failure.” There may be changes to the original plan, but not failure.

Now think back to the toddler or teenager saying “You can’t make me!” Fear of failure! As humans, we want to succeed in life; we want to experience survival gracefully. If we are looking at something ahead of us and we don’t know what action to take or what course to follow, it sometimes feels easier to not do anything at all.

If you are experiencing “you can’t make me” either for yourself or with someone around you – step back and ask if there are tools needed, information to be gained or support required so that you (they) can take that first, coherent, small action. If we only keep our eye on the big picture it will remain too large and unattainable; failure will seem inevitable. Allow each action to be bite-size so you (they) can experience success.

Intention (what you want to create) + Action (focused movement) = Coherence (meaning and satisfaction)*

*2007 Mastering Life’s Energies, Maria Nemeth, PhD

(Image credit Ambro)