Avoiding Negative Drivers

Just to clarify, by “negative drivers,” I don’t mean people with road rage or people who tailgate.

“Drivers” are best thought of as models for inner patterns that influence our thinking, feeling and therefore the behavior we will do. Since they begin when we’re small children, one can say they are the voices of external authorities such as our parents. When we’re very young, we need our parents to direct us. However, as we age, we must take a look at what “drives” our behaviors and decide whether they’re still helping us or harming us. (For a great overview of drivers, follow this link.)

The five main drivers are:

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I Think Therefore I Become

Next to my bed is a nightstand.

man-in-bed-in-bedroom

I presume that is a common arrangement in many bedrooms. Upon the shelf of the nightstand are many books; this too I assume is widespread.

Like me, I take for granted that many people have three categories of books populating their nightstands:

Some wait to be read. While at a bookstore, the concept between its covers was so striking that I plunked down money, thinking, “I will read that someday.” Alas, “someday” has yet to make its appearance. Being optimistic, I’m sure it will (probably about the same time as when “I get my act together”).

The second classification is books started but still unfinished. Maybe I lost interest, the story was not as expected, or simply “life kicked in.” I could give them away but feel like I betrayed them, (does co-dependence apply to books?) so I pledge to finish reading them in the future. Until that fateful moment, they too shall gather dust.

Finally comes the definitive category: Books completed. Residing here include authors such as Robert B. Parker, Dean Koonz, and Roger McBride Allen. Most are novels because I like to “escape.” However, there is one self-help book I have read over and over again. Although I do not buy into everything she says, You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay is infused with 210 pages of brilliantly simple wisdom (usually the best kind).

Hay’s philosophy, outlined in the foreword, includes:

  • We are each responsible for our experiences
  • Resentment, criticism, and guilt are damaging, and
  • It’s only a thought, which can be changed.

Furthermore, says Hay, feelings are “thoughts that stick.”

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You Don’t Know Who You’re Messing With

I conduct a monthly seminar, Marketing 101, for the Northern California Small Business Development Center, known as the “SBDC.” I am fortunate to have piloted this session for the better part of a decade. One of the relevant factoids I’ve uncovered over that time is that a satisfied customer will tell five of his friends that he had great service, while his unhappy counterpart will spread forcefully the message of his discontent to 13.

The exact numbers might be debated but that would miss the broader point:

When someone wrongs us with dreadful service, our first thought is, “You don’t know who you just messed with!”

Come on, be honest, isn’t that the truth? Bad service has happened to you, right? And your reaction is to launch forth — sometimes with quixotic zeal — on a “mission” to bring down the offending business and correct the travesty of this injustice, while informing all you meet to steer clear of that worthless enterprise. I know I’ve done it. I’m sure you have too.

That caused me to ponder why in situations like that, we consider ourselves powerful and important; while in other circumstances, we give away that same influence.

It’s because of adjectives.

(Huh?)

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The First Step in Feeling Better

I take pride in this column.

Every Wednesday for eight years, I plant myself at my computer and conjure up what I hope is the best way to utilize the power of 600 words. Sometimes, ideas explode forth with volcanic fury and I cannot keep up. Oft times, I rearrange the pixels on my screen for the better part of a day. However, I trudge on until I am satisfied enough to forward it with pride to the editors who so graciously publish and post it.

What astounds me is which pieces get the most, or least, feedback.

Articles I’m convinced will generate a firestorm sometimes barely ignite a spark, whereby those I presumed would simply cause quiet contemplation will produce a flood of reactions via email, phone calls, and strangers approaching me to continue the discussion. Last week’s column (Practical, simple advice to feel better quickly) was of the latter category. I was pleasantly stunned with the number of comments about its practicality and helpfulness. Therefore, I will take it deeper.

What I did not have room for in that piece was the preliminary step, even prior to changing one’s ideas and behaviors. Preceding the rearrangement of one’s routines, one must query of himself: “Why am I going to change this?” Whether the topic is diet, relationships, finance, or attitude; this question is essential as it establishes motive, which affects the likelihood of success — or failure.

The answer will fall into one of three main categories:

  1. I want to live a better, happier, or healthier life
  2. I need to change or things will get worse
  3. I should do it (or I’ve been told I should do it)

With dedication, planning, and patience, the odds of success from number one or two is strong. This is so because the drive is internally motivated. Contrarily, if the inner voice replies with should, the results — if any — will be short-lived.

“Should” is the word used by the invisible committee of “they” to run our lives.

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