There was a popular movie in the 90’s called “What about Bob?” where the egotistical psychotherapist, played by Richard Dreyfuss, wrote a book entitled “Baby Steps”.
The title represents a brilliantly simple idea, that in order to succeed we need to take baby steps.
And importantly, we need to take those steps with ‘baby mind’. When babies are learning to walk they aren’t thinking about themselves, only the goal.
Want this. Oops fell over.
Want this. Oops fell over.
Want this. Ahh, did it.
We continue this success pattern until we succeed in walking. And then we learn to run. Or ride a bike. Or write a book.
Somewhere along the line we learn to think about what we are doing. And our style of thinking has a big impact on what we decide to do.
Instead of the observation “oops fell over”, we learn to make judgments about the action.
Is it good, or not good enough?
And we may pick up messages that mistakes are bad. That only 100% is acceptable. That smart people don’t make mistakes.
So our success pattern changes:
I want this. I think I can. Oops mistake.
I want this. I think I can. Oops another mistake.
I want this. I don’t know if I can do it (perfectly). Oops another mistake you dummy.
I want this. I don’t think I can. I’m not good enough. Argghh, I give up.
For example, I embarked on a goal to write a book in the space of a year.
My first four months went like this:
I want this. I think I can. Oops my writing is nothing special.
I want this. I’m not sure if I can. Oops, I don’t think I have anything original to say.
I want this. I don’t think I can. I’m not good enough…
But luckily, I am with a group of amazing women attempting the same goal. Some are making good progress, writing regularly. Others are struggling with similar thoughts to me.
So this month I delved back into the literature on what makes the difference in learning and achievement, what is the secret to success.
And I’m reminded that a lot of it is about baby steps. Breaking the goal down into baby steps and taking action again and again. Writing as often as possible. Preferably every day. Even if it doesn’t seem good enough…yet.
I don’t necessarily like this message, but I now know that that if I write often enough I can finish my book this year.
I don’t yet know how well it will turn out, or whether it will sell.
I’m not expecting it to be on the bestseller list, but I am aiming to benefit the people who read it.
If I do so, I will be satisfied. It will be a year well spent.
Have a look at a great video clip from NLP master trainer Steve Andreas about guilt.
He gives us some really good reframing: If I’m feeling guilty about something rude I said, I can ask myself “in the moment what was more important – speaking up or being nice? If I acknowledge that I’ve chosen speaking up for myself as more important, then I must be a person who lives my values.”
So I’ve reframed the thought of violating a value in order to satisfy another value to mean I am a person who lives my values. Nice. It’s counterintuitive – an interesting benefit of guilt.
If I”m feeling really guilty about not “being nice” then that means that value is also really important to me. So a values clash can help to clarify what’s important to me. Another benefit of guilt.
Maybe I haven’t learned how to achieve both together yet, but by knowing that both values are important, I can choose to make amends, to show that I’m also ‘nice’. And using ‘intelligent regret’, I can reflect on my behaviour and choose to do something different in the future that combines both values. This gives me problem to solve rather than wallowing in embarrassment. That’s a third benefit of guilt.
In conclusion, guilt is good. Especially if you do something different as a result of it.
Thanks Steve – very helpful.