Did that title grab your attention?
Who isn’t after that elusive fix, that one tip or idea for happiness. Wouldn’t it be great if you could wave a magic wand and have the life you really want? How can I be happier? How can my business be more successful? How can I find love or fulfilment etc etc. How often have we all asked these questions?
Yet perhaps these actually aren’t the real questions we really should be asking. After all, let’s be honest for a moment. I’m sure you’ll agree that we often do know exactly what we want. In fact we can be really great at giving advice to others about what they should or shouldn’t do to be successful or happy.
What we aren’t so good at is being really honest with ourselves about what’s holding us back from having the life we really truly want and deserve. Maybe it’s time to change that?
Are you driving whilst pressing down on the brakes?
A few days ago I listened to a very interesting podcast by the journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell. You may have heard of Gladwell or read one of his books. In this particular podcast episode, Gladwell discusses a curious episode in 2009. Toyota had to recall 10 million cars. Why did they need to do such a dramatic recall? Something strange was going on. Drivers were finding that their cars were uncontrollably accelerating. There were claims, lawsuits, even deaths attributed to these faulty cars. Gladwell was certain that there was more to this incident than met the eye. So, he took some car experts to a racetrack and simulated the problem at hand. However they scratched their heads in bewilderment. It made no logical sense. The simple facts of the tests, when carried out, showed that in all cases, if an accelerator pedal is pressed and kept pressed down, and that’s even if you ‘floor it’, keeping the pedal on the floor, an accident should be avoided.
How can an accelerating car not result in an accident, you ask? They found that in 100% of the tests they carried out, tests including Toyotas recalled in 2009, that in all cases, even with the accelerator fully engaged, you just simply press down on the brake pedal and the car will, always, in every single instance, come to a complete stop. In other words, put an accelerator up against a brake and the brake wins out every single time. It’s a great podcast, it’s episode eight of season one of Gladwell’s Revisionist History series.
My biggest tip for happiness and success is to notice where and how you are driving with YOUR brake pedal pressed down.
You can drive a powerful sports car, pressing the throttle, but press the brakes and in 100% of times the car will come to a complete standstill. The brakes wins out every single time. Maybe you run a business, maybe you are striving for something in your career or relationships, maybe you want to train for a sporting event or reach a certain goal. I’m sure you know what you need to do, the steps to take. Often we do know exactly what to do. You might even be going for it, pressing the accelerator, pressing your accelerator. If you aren’t as successful as you had wished or hoped for, consider that maybe you have some brakes on too? Now ask yourself, ‘what are they’?
Creating success in any endeavour will involve noticing and overcoming barriers. A client told me about regrets he has of not making it big in the music business. He spends his days in a recording studio and supports others to live their dreams but he has the brakes on his. What’s holding him back? For him it was some limiting beliefs about deserving success and internalising some predictions from childhood caregivers about him not having the resources to succeed. Though now in his 60s, it is the critical voice of his father, from childhood, which is pressing the brakes for him. His father didn’t think music was a ’real’ profession. A hobby, yes, but not a serious way to make a living. In our work together, we identified these brakes and there were a few. Together we removed them one by one. He then felt freer, happier, excited and hopeful that he could actually feel the success and fulfilment from those things he truly loved to do.
Take a pen and some paper and answer the following:
=What’s your passion?
=What do you want to achieve or have in your life over the next few months or years?
=Then ask yourself that question – what are the ‘brakes’ you have on?
=What is holding you back from simply jumping in headfirst and going for it?
We all want happiness and success.
Most of us know roughly how to get there.
Get your brakes sorted and fixed and your journey will be smoother and quicker.