I challenge both of those premises. First, nothing is ever accomplished or obtained if you don’t try to do so. So, following that logic, “do or do not” can’t even happen without someone first trying. Furthermore, I simply believe no aspiration is ever accomplished unless a significant amount of want is invested.
It’s our human dilemma. Our parents, teachers, ministers, villages, and experiences all teach us valuable lessons about what to do in certain situations. Over time these lessons define us. These experiences write our “life script,” and we play our “roles” in that script. Locked in stone. Unchangeable. But are they? Can we move out of the role and into the soul?
I write constantly about how we operate in one of two distinct states. We’re either operating from our Knower/Judger persona (interacting with our environment based on past experiences and feelings) or our Learner/Researcher persona (accepting new data without judgment and feeling comfortable about what we want). I’ve frequently named these states our Role and our Soul.
Our K/J (Role) persona is what pops out on our DISC or Myers-Briggs (or any other) predictive behavior assessment. These assessments are frequently used to help organizations understand “where you’re coming from” in terms of predicting your behavior and reactions so they can fit you in the right team roles.
Your DISC profile, for example, will tell us what degree of Dominance, Influence, Sensitivity, and Compliance, you’ll use with teammates. A person with a high “D” component will take charge. One with a high “I” will tend to tell you what you want to hear, with a high “S” will be the peacemaker, and with a high “C” will almost always color between the lines.
But these profiles only define our roles in society. The lessons we’ve learned from past experiences and feelings condition us to repeat certain behaviors over and over again until they actually define us. In classic psych jargon, it’s operant conditioning. We’ve been positively reinforced for certain behaviors and negatively reinforced for others. Even The New Oxford American Dictionary’s definition of role helps us understand our K/Js:
- An actor’s part in a play, movie, etc.
- The function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation.
Do you yearn to ditch some of the Role behaviors you’re known for?
- Your direct reports fear you and so won’t contribute ideas and creativity in the workplace.
- You don’t play and romp with the family because it’s not one of your K/J “rules.”
- You can sell ice to Inuit, but you’re not sure if your customers (or friends, or lovers) are buying because they want to or because you’re just that damned good.
- You’re a peacemaker, and after doing it at home in the morning, all day at work, and all evening before bed, you’re just exhausted.
These are all shout-outs from your Soul. They come from that part of you that can actually see the data for what it is and wants change. But alas. That Role can be too powerful. And you do what you’ve always done. Still getting what you’ve always gotten.
The piece of the Soul I want you to remember is the part that wants.
Athletic coaches are always declaring that their team won or lost because they wanted it more, or didn’t want it enough. I totally believe that. Take the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. Underdogs in both rounds of the playoffs and the Super Bowl, luck just seemed to flop their way.
I see evidence of this every day. As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, I can’t forget the 2011 team who, in late August, was 10½ games out of the division lead, yet somehow conquered challenge after challenge through September and October to be the World Champions just eight weeks later. How much did each man on that team want it?
I bet you have stories of overcoming odds when the want piece of your Soul kicked in. I just want the clear data part of your Soul to see that it happens. That it can happen. And that it can happen as often as you want it to.
Now apply that to your Role issues.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ~ Viktor Frankel
When your Role is telling you to do what you’ve always done, can you insert your Soul in Frankel’s space? Ask yourself, “Is this producing what my Soul wants?” and choose your response. Your life will change—if your Soul wants it to enough.