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The Illusion of Certainty When I think about the opposite of the perfectionist, I imagine the great risk-taking adventurers When Thomas Leonard said that the present is always perfect, he was thinking of the adventure that s always available It doesn t mean that things won t, or shouldn t, change He knew that everything changes all the time, but he also understood that the perfection of the moment opens us to tremendous opportunities for new adventures in the next moment Thomas was a constant creator Knowing that the present was perfect gave him the freedom to create his future He wasn t concerned about xing the past or even xing the present Since the present is perfect, all we have is the adventure of the moment Again, it may not be perfect in the way that we want it to be or expect it to be It is ideal in the opportunity it presents to us
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Adventurism is characterized by the ability to take educated risks and embrace the adventure and uncertainty of life
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Sure, I m a bit of a perfectionist myself I can really get down on myself for not doing things just right I used to wish that everything was perfect all the time, but I ve learned that none of the wonderful opportunities I ve come across in the past few years would have happened if I d stuck to my Perfectionism It s only because I ve taken some risks to jump into the adventure (of coaching, and of writing) that I m having these successes It s really the adventure that s given me life and helped me to Live into my Greatness Perfectionism kills It kills dreams, goals, happiness, spontaneity, and wonder It kept me in a satin-lined cof n of safe living I didn t have to risk because I had to have things perfect before I did anything I don t want to live that way any more I like the perfection of the moment and the freedom it gives me to open myself to new adventures The perfection is in life showing us the way We don t have to gure it out ahead of time That is what s so great about this perfect adventure Trust is a big part of the equation with perfection We trust that we can t miss out on what s coming for us we re already creating it, attracting it, and manifesting it Trust comes from not being able to see it in tangible form yet, but believing it is coming 229
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COACHING INTO GREATNESS
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THE FOUR-STEP PROCESS APPLIED TO THE ILLUSION OF CERTAINTY
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Everyone has talent What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads ERICA JONG
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I asked the question earlier if Matt was a hopeless case What do you think now Is he hopeless Can he change More importantly, how would you work with Matt to help him shift from Certainty to Inquiry The following sections will apply the Coaching into Greatness fourstep process to Matt s situation AWARENESS Awareness is the most critical step for someone like Matt His certainty about himself, his situation, and his habits are tough nuts to crack The only way to break the cycle is to start with an awareness of his current results You can t simply put Matt through a series of consistent actions and hope for the best His lifelong thinking, beliefs, and behavior patterns will prevail every time The rst step is to help him review his current circumstances The goal is to keep him very far away from judgment, criticism, or blackand-white thinking For now, he has to stay out of action, which will be both crucial and challenging He feels like he has to do something and will push for suggestions on what he should do to change his situation He ll balk at the suggestion that he change his beliefs, saying that his beliefs have nothing to do with what s happening You have to carefully go through his current situation, layer by layer, simply pointing to what is, without getting into the details of how he got there He has to rst understand and accept his situation for what it is He s lost three jobs in ve years, all for very similar reasons He gets into work at 10 AM, spends an hour or more reviewing e-mails, and then takes lunch He s late on his current project See how we re just listing the facts about his life and work situation There s no judgment or rationalization, or even any suggestions as to why these things are happening They just are That s the rst stage of awareness The second stage of awareness is for Matt to understand that it s what he does that creates his results You 230
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The Illusion of Certainty have to take each piece and break it down into steps Ask, When you spend ten hours researching a situation before starting your work, what do you think happens to your project schedule He has to understand rst that he s responsible for the results he gets The third stage of awareness is to tie habits to beliefs What belief makes Matt take three times longer to research a situation than his peers Does he think he s not as smart Not likely More likely, he believes that he s simply more thorough, and if only they d give him more time, he d do a much better job than his peers This process will take some digging, but the key is to keep up with the investigation until you can nd the underlying beliefs that hold his habit patterns in place ACCEPTANCE Acceptance is often dif cult It s perhaps hardest with people under the Illusion of Certainty Can Matt really accept that his way of thinking and his beliefs about himself aren t accurate He has to if he wants his situation to improve For some time, Matt has to express a willingness to change, and to act as if his new beliefs are right You have to take the time to lay the foundation for these new beliefs What might Matt change about his beliefs He might decide to believe that he doesn t have to get all the details in place before proceeding He can change his beliefs about his family, his TV watching, or his habits at work He can change his belief that his problems are simply the result of bad management and decide to take responsibility for creating his own future In fact, he can change his belief from I m a victim to I can create my own future Then, acceptance of these beliefs will take time and will come only as a matter of cycling through the four-step process several times He has to experience different results before he ll really believe that it s possible for him to change himself and his situation CONSISTENT ACTION For Matt, consistent action must be strategic, not tactical His tendency will be to lay out a tactical plan and try to follow it without understanding why he s doing what he s doing He ll want to simply revert to the old patterns and blame his failure on the plan You ll have to develop a 231
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COACHING INTO GREATNESS thorough strategy with Matt, carefully describing the objective goals, the purpose, the intention, and the values that are maintained Your strategy will identify the speci c points of failure the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that will most likely cause Matt to become complacent in his actions And you should devise strategies to help Matt reinforce new beliefs and behaviors These are strategies, and not tactics For example, you might develop a strategy to help Matt take more risks with his work The strategy might consist of having Matt act rst and think second He ll have to let go of any concept of what might happen The strategy would also consist of ideas of how Matt will deal with the inevitable mistakes that will be made Again, these aren t speci c tactics, but strategies that leave room for adaptation It s important for Matt to follow through with these consistent strategic actions If the strategy, for example, is to limit research time to two hours, he should follow through, and report back on what happened as a result No hedging can be allowed, because Matt will easily shift back to old patterns AUTHENTICITY What is authentic for someone like Matt, who s so certain about everything You ll know you re getting close to authenticity when Matt can say something like, I m not sure what s going to happen when I try this, but I m excited about the possibilities Matt s typical, nonauthentic response would have been more like, Yeah I ll try it But I can t see how it s going to make a difference Not much willingness or openness in that statement, is there Authentic action admits that there s uncertainty in the results Yet, Living into Greatness means reveling in this uncertainty Sure, there s fear involved But the fear becomes a signal that you are on track instead of a sign to stop It will take time with certain people like Matt Matt is still working hard on moving through the four-step process He s at it daily, in fact He s catching himself when he slips back into certainty, sometimes before he acts on the certainty, but mostly still after the fact That s okay Over time, he ll learn more how to question his certainty and develop the aptitude of Inquiry Soon, I think, his bosses will appreciate Matt s skills, but not because his skills have changed 232
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