The other day I was having a conversation with a client of mine. We were discussing their business and the progress towards the goals they were trying to achieve. They said to me “Elena, I haven’t gotten as far down the path towards my goal as I would have liked since we last spoke. I wasn’t even sure how to tell you. It’s hard for me to share this with you because you are one of the most disciplined people that I know.”
When I heard them say this it really surprised me – I almost wanted to laugh. While I’ve worked to prioritize the most important values in my life. I am not as disciplined as I would like to be.
It was brought up again in my conversation with my mentor Doug at Think2Perform. He said to me “Elena, the things that you do to drive results, others know they should also do. But, there is a big difference between knowing what to do to drive results and actually doing those things.”
My response to Doug and my client were very similar responses. For me, when I feel the most stressed, when I feel the most tension, it’s during the time and space between knowing I have to do something and actually doing the thing. Doing something hard is not the most stressful thing for me. The most stressful thing is the time between knowing I need to do something hard and when I actually go do the hard thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tough conversation letting an employee go, if it’s making sales calls for work, if it’s setting a new boundary with a friend, if it’s breaking up with a boyfriend (back in the day), if it’s going to do a tough workout, or if it’s waking up early to do my morning routine. These are all things that can be hard me to do. But, when I know these are things that must happen to live in alignment or drive a specific result that’s important to me, and I don’t do them, I feel like crap. It’s when I’m the hardest on myself. It’s when I feel the most stress.
I’m not the most disciplined person I know. I just don’t want to feel stress, anxiety, and shame. I will do the hard things to avoid those bad feelings. When I do those hard things sooner than later, I feel peace, calm and self-respect sooner than later. I’m a very simple person in one way – I want to feel good more than I want to feel bad. I wish I could say it’s discipline, it’s not.
Several years ago, I had to let an employee go. It was an extremely stressful situation that was out of my wheelhouse. I needed to work with external partners outside of my team to get to the right way forward. It was an extremely hard season for everyone involved. For reasons that I could not control, that conversation had to be delayed for months. At the point I made the decision to let them go, the stress related to the situation increased. The time between knowing I needed to have that conversation and the time I had the conversation was one of the most stressful times for me professionally. The hardest part wasn’t the actual tough conversation. The hardest part was waiting to have the tough conversation. It was then when I realized the connection between stress that accumulates during the time between the knowing and the doing.
It was after that situation that I really started noticing more about my general feelings of discontent related to the hard things I needed to do. While the difficult situation I shared was the situation that made me notice this phenomenon, I started learning a lot more after that. Guess what? Most of the time I was feeling stress or discomfort, it typically wasn’t because someone was delaying me from doing the hard thing like in the example above. More often than not, it was ME that was delaying the hard thing, and avoiding the ‘doing.’ I learned that if I could reduce the amount of time between the “knowing and the doing,” I could reduce the stress, anxiety and potentially the shame that creeps in when I’m in a state of avoidance. While staying committed to sales calls, working out, or having tough conversations aren’t things that I always love doing, I like doing them more that the way I feel when I don’t do those things. I’m not the most disciplined person I know, I just like feeling content versus discontent. I will do the things to avoid feeling bad.
I told my client; you don’t have to be the most disciplined person you know. Just notice how you feel when you’re doing the work that aligns to what’s most important to you. Notice how you feel when you’re avoiding that work. Then reduce the time between the knowing and the doing, it’s a simple way to reduce stress and feel better about yourself. You’ll feel peace, calm and contentment more often.
I’d love to hear and learn from you. What are the things that you’re noticing about the space between the knowing and the doing? How might you feel if you reduce the time between the knowing and doing?
If this served you in any way, share it with a friend!
I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!