One possible source of the state of Missouri's unofficial motto cites a speech made in 1899 by Congressman Willard Vandiver: "I come from a country that raises corn and cotton, cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I'm from Missouri, and you have got to show me." In other words: saying so does not make it so.
I'm an entrepreneur and work as an executive coach, as well as a life coach. I get a lot of people telling me what they're going to do and what they're working on. A lot of people. Unfortunately, I only have a few people actually showing me what they accomplished. That used to bug me but not so much anymore.
"I'm writing a book"; "I'm opening a new center for studies"; "I'm leaving my job and opening a new business"; "I'm finally going to get in shape"; or the absolute favorite of all time; "I'm quitting smoking".
I hear these things a lot and love to believe everyone and what they say but months later when I optimistically ask them, "How's that going. . ." the answer most often is a long explanation of all the circumstances that got in the way, the reasons why it needed to get put 'on hold' or some other series of excuses that substitute for the truth. The truth, by the way, is usually closer to 'because I didn't do a damn thing about it!' or 'I started but didn't have the commitment to follow through'.
I like that last answer for its honesty and as the New Year approaches I encourage a look back at the past year with that type of precise honesty. What did you say would happen in these past 11 plus months that never materialized? Write out all of the things you committed to and write the 'reason' they didn't happen next to the incomplete items on the list.
Once you're done with the list and the 'reasons why not' you should go down the list and cross off all of the excuses and just write: 'I was more committed to my comfort than to having this happen'. Let that realization sit for a while and above all, don't make this activity about proving yourself wrong or bad. You can spend time in self loathing but, like spending time in most of New Jersey, it's a visit best skipped.
Like I said, this inability to be true to your word used to bug me but now it doesn't. Working daily with people who are 'up to something' and helping them really accomplish things has taught me how difficult it is for most of us to really do what we say we'll do by when we say we'll do it. Not only that, like the old commercial says, "I'm not only the owner, I'm a customer". Not a few of my best intentions stay on the shelf of 'maybe someday' too or even fall short of their original design when they are completed.
But it's not a dire predicament to be in. The opportunity now is for all of us to look back at this past year and see what we created and what we failed to create. The list can include the farfetched ideas as well as the simple desires to spend more time with family and friends or to meditate or pray more often.
Each year provides us a new opportunity to take stock, make plans and enter into a new possibility. This kind of renewal can engender some wonderful change in not just things we do but also in the ways we 'be'. Right now we can learn from what didn't work and from what did and we can create, powerfully, the world we want and that we all deserve.
Here's my challenge to you: In this coming year let's light this world up with positive energy and a life of joy and possibility. But don't just tell me. Show me.
Please also refer to last week's column for more insight on New Year's Resolutions: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-m-lynch/new-years-resolutions-and_b_392068.html
Peace on Earth, and goodwill toward mankind . . .
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