It’s midnight, December 31st. While those around me are carelessly carousing and chanting and singing and falling asleep, I’m honing my list of things I’ll do better starting the next day. No craft beers. Work out every day. No sleeping past 6 a.m. Train for and run two half marathons… the list goes on. They’re called New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all done them.
At this moment, I feel every bit like Superman. I’ve visualized success on all fronts and made the decision that my life will change in these specific ways. Truth be told, I’ve done this at times other than New Year’s Eve. Sometimes I just come to the realization that for some part of my life to dramatically improve, something has to change now. “I just gotta….”
The “Superman” mantel comes into play when I really, really, really WANT to make the change specified. Sometimes my level of want is lower case… sometimes upper case. Sometimes in letters so big I’m not the only one who sees them… my WANT is huge and public. That state of mind actually seems to enlist others in my quest and perhaps even karma.
We’ve all seen and heard the coach of the 10th-ranked team in the tournament that actually WON the tournament. When asked how, coach responds, “My boys just WANTED it more.” It’s THAT level of want.
A great example is the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, who were almost statistically eliminated from contention on Labor Day that year and went on to win the World Series in October. Supermen. (I see the same thing happening again this season. We’ll see!).
In situations where I haven’t developed THAT level of want, then success for me, I suppose, is optional, but desired.
A couple of years ago, Author/Coach/Consultant Marshall Goldsmith published his book Triggers. Cover art contained the words,
“Creating behavior that lasts. Becoming the person you want to be.”
There’s that word “want” again.
Goldsmith’s triggers are the kryptonite to my lower-than-upper-case wants. We all have experienced it. Make a promise to yourself. Stay true to the path for a period of time, then WHAM! Something knocks you off your game and you go right back to the behavior you were trying to escape. Kryptonite. Superman weakened.
Superman could not escape kryptonite. In its presence he became virtually helpless, at the whim of the proximity of the weakening agent. His only tack was to hang on and hope the kryptonite moved away or some knowledgeable mortal soul (usually Jimmy Olsen) pulled him away.
So what’s my kryptonite? What are my triggers? Depends on the change I’m looking to make. In the “I want to eat better” world, it’s bar snacks and hors d’oeuvres. I can go all week on the straight and narrow, avoiding all carbs, even leaving ketchup off my burgers (sugar in ketchup). Then I’ll walk into my favorite pub… order a Scotch (no carbs there) and that bowl of kryptonite Gardettos magically appears. I’m toast. There are myriad others in other arenas. Promising myself to handle an individual with calm and no ego involvement, and something he or she says sounds kryptonic, and BAM! I’m defensive and critical.
The evidence is that I don’t WANT the change I profess enough to avoid the trigger. If I WANTED the result that the change produced enough, then that WANT becomes my Jimmy Olsen and drags me away from my failure.
I believe we’re all Supermen (or women). We all have the ability to make any internal behavior change we want so long as we WANT it enough to keep the triggers ineffectual. In these cases, kryptonite is all around us. Triggers are waiting in the weeds to knock us off our game. There’s hope. WANT can be your Jimmy Olsen.