Know exactly what your problem is…

Before we explore the personal transformation theme, I want to introduce my approach.  On my post on Toyota (here), you may have noticed that I included “12 steps” as a tag.   That’s because I plan to use the 12 Steps — the original steps as laid out in the book Alcoholics Anonymous (aka, the “Big Book) — to frame some of the challenges in personal change.

Commonly, people refer to the first step in recovery as “knowing one has a problem.” Well, that’s a start, but many of us have difficulty admitting exactly what our problem is.  For example, according to the Big Book, the definition of an alcoholic is straightforward:

We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control their drinking.  (Chapter 3, page 30).

Admitting this loss of control is a huge barrier, for if it is a really tough problem, then we likely can’t fully control it. How many of us share the alcoholic’s delusion that control is in reach?  How many times do we try to tweak our circumstances — work more, work less, change companies — instead smashing through that delusion?  Do we see any of our tactics in the litany of methods alcoholics use to try to drink like other people?

Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums… (Chapter 3, page 31)

PM Quote of the Day — Henry Ford

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you’re right.

I’m not exactly the biggest fan of Henry Ford — he had some unsavory sides and associations (here and here) — but this quote is spot on.  I remembered it as I was writing my comments on yesterday’s  quote from Colette (here).

When I am obsessed with control, I often consciously or unconsciously sabotage myself and others. This happens when my desire to ensure the dominance of my role becomes more important than my desire to ensure the quality of the results.

If I’m not getting my way, I must carefully check my motives when challenging decisions or directions.  To do so, I ask myself these simple, but not easy, questions:

  • Am I acting in such a way that will benefit my project or team, or am I simply trying to assert control?
  • Am I sabotaging work by being more concerned about confiming my belief that “we cannot do a thing”?
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