That’s Easier Said Than Done

September 2010 – This month, let’s explore the phenomenon of excuses and rationalizations relied on to avoid making changes in our lives, changes designed to help us achieve our goals. Such excuses can be responses to any of the four inner blocks (the “GAIL’s” – Gremlins, Assumptions, Interpretations or Limiting Beliefs) we discussed previously. Specifically, let’s look at the rationalization of excusing not taking action because it’s easier said than done.

The words are simple enough, and on face value, judgmentally neutral. But in the vernacular, the phrase is judgmental and dismissive, suggesting that the thing said is of no practical value.

  • How valid is that judgment?
  • How often do we hear this excuse?
  • How often have we ourselves rationalized not taking action based on this excuse?

Not long ago, while talking with a lawyer friend about the coaching process — specifically the process of shifting perspectives and changing the way we think — my friend mentioned colleagues of his who would benefit from coaching and whom he could hear saying, “That’s easier said than done.””Exactly so,” I replied. It IS easier said than done. So is walking. Consider the complex sequence of signals from the brain, and the muscular coordination, required for us to simply walk.For that matter so too is becoming a lawyer. It’s easy to become a lawyer. All you have to do is graduate college. Take the LSAT exam and do well. Then apply and be accepted to law school. Graduate. Sit for the Bar Exam, pass, and be admitted to practice. Land a job and begin work. Voila, you’re a lawyer.

Easy, no?

‘Tis easier said than done.

Now consider, why is it easier said than done? Well, for starters, some of the outcomes we seek in life are dependent on the actions of others. One of the most difficult lessons to truly learn is that we are only responsible for our own actions. Our actions are the only ones we can control: We cannot control the actions of others. For example, while we may do fantastically well on an interview, we may still not get the job offer. How exactly do we make that shift in thinking — in perspective — to fully understand that the lack of an offer, notwithstanding our stellar interview, was due to some other action or event having nothing to do with our performance?

Subjective Reality

In more general terms, how do we shift our thoughts and perspectives in a meaningful way? That is the $64,000 question. Here is where the real work begins. For to make that shift in perspective meaningful, we must recognize the dichotomy between objective and subjective versions of reality. We were all raised with the empirical/scientific paradigm as the basis of our understanding of reality. The underlying notion is that we deduce the nature of reality from our observations. From those observations, truth – objective reality – is deduced. And yet the scientific method teaches us that truth is not absolute, and is subject to change as new information is discovered. Such a vision of reality is based on uncertainty. Moreover, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle posits that the mere act of observing and measuring a thing affects the thing itself. Different observations yield different realities. Therefore, we have no way of knowing anything with absolute certitude. The hurdle for many people is to accept a version of reality that allows for uncertainty. For how are we to take meaningful action in an uncertain, changing, world? The concept of transformational change notwithstanding the perception of permanence (discussed in the March newsletter) allows us to create a workable life within the framework of a subjective reality. Once we create our subjective reality based on our observations and perceptions we can set our goals and devise plans to achieve those goals. Making a new observation, creating a new perception, results in a modification of our version of subjective reality and we then modify our goals and plans accordingly. The beauty of subjective reality is that through our observations, perceptions and thoughts, our reality can be whatever we wish it to be. In the words of Marcus Aurelius: “Your life is what your thoughts make it.” We are then free to shift our perceptions and adopt a rationale which suits us and motivates us to take action towards achieving our goals.

Monthly Challenge

Like most worthwhile things in life, the shifting of perspectives and ways of thinking are much easier said than done. And that is precisely what makes their actualization so gratifying and worthwhile. Through hard work and persistence, we effect real, positive change in our lives. This month’s challenge comes to play the next time you hear or think the excuse, “It’s easier said than done.” The challenge: First, consider which of your inner blocks gave rise to the excuse; Second, rejoice in the opportunity to create a new subjective reality through adopting broader perspectives and thoughts thereby expanding your horizons and achieving greater success.

Have a great month.

Consider the possibilities.

Adam J. Krim                                                                                          

About Adam J. Krim

Adam works as a Certified Professional Coach, delivering soft skills training seminars on a variety of topics, including Time Management, Harnessing Stress, Decision Making, Problem Solving and more.
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