Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville

July 2011

Do you ever feel like you’re running in molasses? No matter how hard you push you can’t seem to move a project or projects forward? Well, I’m in one of those times.

I usually blame it on Mercury. When Mercury is in retrograde, communications often go haywire. Mercury is not in retrograde, however.

Rather than ask “why,” I’ve decided to consider “how”—how am I going to approach this stuckness? The old Randy would have fought his way through the thicket, but that usually didn’t turn out so well.

I’m going to try something different and sit with what’s stuck. It won’t be easy. At times I’ll become impatient, and angst will rear its ugly head. When it does, I’ll breathe deeply and remember one of my favorite mantras: “Patience, Trust, and Surrender.” I’ll choose to trust in divine timing, trusting all will open up in its perfect time.

Will my new attitude move these projects forward faster? I’m not sure, but I am sure that I’ll be more peaceful—and that in itself is progress.

This month, we’ll examine The Power of Underlying Commitments.


The Power of Underlying Commitments

I want more balance in my life.

I need to lose thirty pounds.

I want to find someone I enjoy dating.

I need to find a job I truly love.

All of us have missing pieces in our lives; unfortunately, many of us will never complete the puzzle. Why? Because as much as we think we want those things, unconsciously we want something else even more.

Bestselling author Debbie Ford calls these “underlying commitments,” and unless we bring them to light, we will never realize our deepest wants and needs.

“Bill” came to me looking to make a career change. “I’ve been an accountant for twenty-five years,” he wailed, “and I’m miserable.” Over the next few weeks, Bill and I began exploring career options. Bill met each choice we discussed with resistance. Soon it became apparent that even though Bill said he wanted to make a career change, he wanted something else more.

Bill wanted safety; he was unconsciously committed to feeling safe. He was afraid that if he changed careers he might fail. Fear of failure was holding Bill in place.

Making unconscious underlying commitments conscious is the first step to regaining your power. “Saying we want things without acknowledging our first commitments in the these areas leaves us powerless,” writes Ford in her book The Right Questions: Ten Essential Questions to Guide You to an Extraordinary Life.

To uncover your underlying commitment, Ford recommends writing down your goal or desire, and then making a list of all the actions you have taken that are directly opposed to reaching that goal. Review the list, she guides, and you’ll discover your underlying commitment.

While this process may work for a fortunate few, I have found that uncovering unconscious commitments can be complicated. Many times they are tied to false belief systems such as “I don’t belong,” “I am not loving and lovable,” or  “I don’t deserve success.” Additionally, multiple underlying commitments can be at play. In these cases, finding a reliable coach or therapist can be helpful.

Bill’s choice was simple. As the Nike slogan says, he could “just do it” and move forward despite the fear, or he could continue to seek safety and be unfulfilled in his current job. While the right decision seemed obvious, the underlying commitment was so strong that it wasn’t easy for him to make that decision. Deeply rooted underlying commitments can stall out our lives.

Bill decided to suspend coaching to address his fear of failure. To succeed, Bill will have to stick with the process despite his discomfort, and he may need to solicit professional help. Bill will need commitment, patience, courage, and perseverance. Change is not for sissies.

Will Bill eventually make a career change? Time will tell. The strongest commitment always wins out.

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