Growth. Bigger. More. Faster…..the list of what were being told we need and need to be doing could go on. That message seems to be an incessant drum beat from the media and culture. What we don’t recognize is that the message for most continues to reverberate in our head and echo long after the noise outside stops.
Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I’m all about growth and getting better. Early on that meant taking on more and saying yes. Later on I realized I needed to let go of some stuff and say “no” more. What I am finding out as the years have gone on is that a simple binary response to decision making doesn’t suffice. Life is not that simple. The good news is that it’s not that complicated either. The other news is that it still isn’t easy.
As I began thinking more about the person I ultimately want to become, a few things became very clear: there are some things I need to add, several I definitely need to take away, some I want to keep and others I realize that I’m just going to have to accept (and so is everyone else). My guess is that this probably resonates with you as well.
What Is Maturity?
Marshall Goldsmith beautifully lays out a model for maturity in his book Triggers and calls it the “Wheel of Change”. It reminds me that growth alone isn’t the object; maximizing potential and effectiveness is. We’re kind of like fruit: best when mature. The closer we get to maturity the more able we are to operate effectively in our sweet spot and do so in a state of flow.
Maturity provides the context for considering our strengths and acknowledging our limitations, which keeps unhealthy comparisons at bay. Yes, its true: there are some things you and I just aren’t good at and never will be, even if we try to make ourselves feel better by calling them “challenges”.
The Wheel Of Change
Marshall Goldsmith’s “Wheel of Change” represents the interchange of two dimensions we need to sort out in order to become the person we want to be. On the positive side are the things that help, on the negative side are things that hold us back. The element that’s different in this model is that instead of always adding or taking away, there are things we intentionally decide to keep, or at least not try to change……even when we know they hold us back.
A 4-fold decision making framework:
Regarding what holds us back, ask-
- What do I need to Eliminate?
- While this is probably the most liberating and freeing thing we can do, it’s also the hardest kind of decision to make. There are many reasons it’s hard, not the least of which is that losing something is always more painful than the pleasure we get from gaining something (known as loss aversion bias). What we don’t realize is how much not doing this costs us.
- What do I need to Accept?
- This is probably the one we are most uncomfortable with and have the least amount of experience doing…intentionally, that is. In fact, admitting the fact that some things just “are” can feel like defeat and giving in. However, it can be extremely valuable when we are truly powerless to make a difference in things, whether they be inherent to us or are external circumstances. Make peace with it.
Regarding what helps us, ask-
- What do I need to Create?
- Most everyone loves this part and it’s almost always the easiest to do. Creating gives us a sense of self-direction and control. It’s important to not get faked-out with this one: are you creating what you really want or are you only reacting to external forces and pressure instead?
- What do I need to Preserve?
- It goes without saying that familiarity breeds contempt, and that can include our own accomplishments and what we’ve become. This choice isn’t as adrenaline charged as Creating and may even seem boring; after all, you’ve already been there/done that, right? The key is being self-aware enough to know what serves you well and then the discipline to stick to it, refine it and maximize it. New and shiny isn’t better….it’s just new and shiny. I think it’s safe to say most of us don’t do enough preserving.
This model is a reminder that more is not better; better is better.
Which element of this model do you need to focus on most to get where you want to go?
Please leave a comment I’d love to hear.