The Heart of the matter
The Heart of the Matter
Non-stop worry is a killer. Most of us spend too much time worrying, anxious about the future, concerned about whether we are getting our fair share of life. The pain in the faces of the core group of worriers, those aged 40 to 60, is frightening. The wrinkles appear, the frown seems permanent, all sense of humour – assuming there was one in the first place – is lost. The day becomes a mad rush to get to the evening and some usually artificial entertainment.
This is not what life should be about. If yours is even remotely like this please pay attention. You are killing yourself. There are no circumstances in which I would advocate that – but there are some where I think it is understandable and permitted. However, your life must go on, must get better, must become happier. To achieve this you need to get to the heart of the matter. Few people ever do, That is why they die young. Let’s look at two scenarios, one today (the work scenario) and one in a later Daily Paradox (the home scenario).
[A] You are unhappy at work. Ask yourself: Why am I unhappy at work?
Can’t do the work itself? Boss’s behaviour? Not up to the job? Peers despising you? Subordinates undermining your authority? One colleague (or more) making life hell? KPIs unattainable? Physical surroundings unbearable? Too much travel? What else?
Think it through thoroughly. Make the list as long as you like. Write it down.
[B] Now ask yourself: How much of each of these things is my fault, wholly or partly?
Don’t justify your behaviour, don’t be defensive. If possible get a friend or colleague who you trust to help you with the answers. Tell them you don’t want their answers, just the right questions. Your purpose at the moment is to see what you can do to make things happier just by changing your attitude or behaviour. No good blaming others for what you can right yourself.
Ask yourself: Is correcting any of these things going to make you happier?
[C] Now ask yourself: What are the external forces that make you unhappy? These are things that won’t respond to your change of attitude or behaviour. They should already be listed under [A] above. For each of these things write alongside what would change your degree of happiness if (whatever) were to happen to (whoever). Be sensible. Murder is not on the menu, nor is violence. Most other weapons are. When you have completed the list and written all the possible scenarios that would relieve you of your stress, ask yourself to rate the importance of each distress by putting the most serious at the top, the least serious at the bottom.
[D] Now pick the ONE factor that rates highest in your lists of agitations. Ask yourself: If I correct this single concern how much happier will I be? If the answer is below 40% you have got the wrong issue. Go back and rate all the issues you have listed as to how much happier you will be solving any ONE of them. If two closely related issues together would exceed 40% happier, consider handling both of them together. Don’t let this indulgence make you forget that you are seeking the heart of the matter. If no issues combined rate above 40% happier, prepare to move.
[E] You have now decided on your purpose, a purpose that will make your life happier. It may look somewhat unattainable. Don’t worry, they always do at this stage. Now consider the strategy you will employ to achieve the chosen ONE thing you have got to change. Ask yourself: Who has to be influenced and how? There may be more than one person, Show the most senior one that realistically matters. No good saying Donald Trump; you won’t get an audience.
[F] Your strategy must be practical but brave and adventurous. If it involves complaining ask yourself: What do I want to happen as a result of this meeting? You need good judgment – and probably help to make it. You are planning the tricky negotiating stage. It has to be strategically possible and tactically adaptive. You can’t get ten things changed, mostly only one or possibly, at the very most, two. Try for more and you will fail.
[G] You are ready for the battle. Make sure your negotiating skills are right up to date. You may have to be both IQ and EQ better than you normally are, You certainly have to have as much guts as you’ve ever had in your working life. So rehearse your negotiations with someone very sensible. Ask yourself: What is the other person’s situation? What are his problems? What could be other problems outside work? Is s/he up to the job? How can you pitch your request in such a way that it sounds like a compliment to him or her? How can you do that with questions and only questions?
Tell yourself: The best won battles never become battles.
Get what you want without firing a shot and you will be among the great successes in the world.
And you will have got what you want.