“The Universe is not made of Atoms, It’s made of Tiny Stories” – Muriel Rukeyser. This is one of my favorite quotes. It really speaks to my heart and confirms what I know. Words have meaning beyond what’s written or spoken. They drive our belief’s about what’s possible.
Another favorite quote is from Donald Rumsfeld:
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
I love that.
There is so much I want to tell you today… I wish we were sitting at my kitchen table… all of us, drinking coffee and chatting. Talking about the challenges we face, the exciting possibilities we recognize… Because we are so small in this vast universe but very powerful. Yes, I think powerful, once we get past the training we’ve received to keep ourselves small. We have big ideas.
If you were sitting here with me, we’d be having conversations about integrity and character, we’d be talking about our big ideas and the possibilities and paths and the journey. We’d encourage each other and share ideas of how things work, and how things don’t work. You and I would join forces and forge our path towards success in anything… in relationships, in our jobs, in parenting, in business building, in spiritual awakening… no judgement just positive energy juice!
But alas, you’re not here. We can connect in this blog and exchange ideas but we have to choose our words carefully, because words mean different things to different people. Two people can say the same words but they can feel different. Without the benefit of conversation, and facial expressions and voice modulation, we are left to interpret words with our own tiny stories. The meaning of everything we hear is based on our narrative… the stories we tell ourselves about what’s possible… FOR US.
You see, there’s a funny little quirk in human nature and it’s the tendency to SEE POSSIBILITIES but to believe they are only possible for other people. Weird right?
- Anytime you’ve ever said, “If only…” You’re recognizing something is possible… but not for you.
- Anytime you’ve ever thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice…” You’re recognizing possibilities, but telling yourself it’s not possible for you.
- Anytime you’ve ever joked with friends about, “Never going to find a …” You’re reinforcing the impossibility of something by saying it’s only possible for other people.
Today I want to help you tell a different story. Today I want to share with you a quick process for getting to the REAL TRUTH about any matter and helping you change your narrative.
This technique is so simple that you may read it and discard it as complete nonsense, but I assure you… this method works. It’s been used for years to get to the root of any issue, challenge, attitude, belief, problem and is a well documented business tool. It’s called The 5 Why’s Technique. And just like it sounds, you state your problem and ask WHY 5 times to get to the root. Here’s fictional (but believeable) example:
Issue: Someone commented very negatively on Facebook and it really bothered me.
Why #1: Why did it the negative comment bother me so much?
Answer: It bothered me because it was unexpected and it was negative, no one likes negative comments
Why #2: Why did it bother me so much?
Answer: because the negative comment made me feel bad
Why #3: Why did it make me feel bad?
Answer: because it made me think that person didn’t value my opinion or input
Why #4: Why would I feel bad if that person doesn’t value my opinion or input?
Answer: because I want people to value my opinion
Why #5: Why do I want people to value my opinion or input?
Answer: because I judge my value based on how I think other people judge my value
In our lives, we usually stop at the first or second “why”. We’re trained that way. You can see, there is a big difference between the Answer to #2 and the Answer to #5. Knowing the answer to #5 can be life changing. At the very least, it will start a different path of thought.
This exercise never fails to bring me to the root of the matter.
Mostly, I use this exercise to fight my unending will to procrastinate.
I used to have a FAVORITE story. I’d tell anyone that would listen that I don’t have time.
My internal narrative was : I’m a single parent, raising 3 kids, between driving the kids around, taking care of the house, the yard and my full-time job to pays the bills, it’s hard to carve out the time I need for my online business. To make this narrative even easier for me to digest, meaning friends, family, co-workers… everyone seemed to support that narrative. They’d say things like, “I don’t know how you do it” or “don’t you ever get tired”. They’d all shake their heads knowingly as I used the *EXCUSE of the label “single parent” to put off finishing my new online business projects.
*(I use the word EXCUSE now, but back then I would have resisted that word in my “story”)
Using the 5 Why’s method I realized that I’m actually the classic… never-quite-finish-anything-because-it’s-really-scary-to-invest-time-in-something-that-might-fail person.
As a coach, I knew I needed help overcoming my resistance to success. I knew I needed help removing the self imposed road blocks. I was filling my life with activities and “de-prioritizing” my business by intentionally ignoring the action steps required to move forward. Happily I hired Melissa Person-Ashforth from www.melissaintl.com and with her coaching, encouragement and tools I’ve been able to complete several online products. (which are pretty successful I might say)
Oh, and how did I “find the time”? That was easy: Clarity, Courage & Commitment.
So yes, this process really works! Understanding how you limit your idea of what’s possible is the first step to changing the story you tell yourself. Changing that story will help you find the evidence you’ll need to overcome the beliefs that limit you and break through the self imposed road blocks.
Let me know how this process works for you in the comments below!