“A new year is unfolding – like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the [leader] within
Many people begin the New Year with hope, anticipation, and a set of resolutions. Various studies show resolution failure rates ranging between 80-90%. These rates provide a glimpse into the struggles of human nature throughout the ages.
First, I gleaned from these studies six “common sense” strategies used by those few who were successful:
- Focus on the benefits of success
- Work on one goal at a time
- Break each goal into small steps
- Reward yourself when you achieve a step
- Enlist the help of family and friends
- Keep a record of your progress
But the question remains. Why such high failure rates? One researcher ascribed too many people follow “spurious advice” of self-help gurus. In some ways, I agree that setting goals and visualization are not enough. You must take action on your plan.
However, I propose failure has more to do with how quickly human resolve vanishes in the face of challenges, setbacks, or unexpected circumstances. When these things happen, it is easy to become distracted, emotionally distraught, or give up - even if you start with a solid intention and thorough plan.
How do you COPE when well laid plans are uprooted by life circumstances?
Ironically, willpower is your weakest device. Willpower is a cognitive function of the conscious mind; often cluttered with emotional weeds germinating beneath the surface. Unconscious emotional reactions with deep taproots will overpower newly planted resolutions every time.
Cultivation is a natural process for each new planting season, whether in a physical or human garden. We will begin this process by examining the dictionary meaning of *cope:
- to struggle, especially on fairly even terms or with some degree of success
- to face and deal with responsibilities or problems, especially calmly or adequately
I offer these human gardening tips to help you maintain resolve and powerfully COPE:
: Dig deep into the source of your leadership: heart, mind, and spirit.
: Fertilize appropriate actions that will create favorable conditions for growth.
: Deadhead emotional barriers so your true inspiration and motivation will emerge.
: Propagate your unique qualities and integrity to bring you final resolution.
Let’s put this into practice using one of the annual top 10 resolutions – lose weight. For most people, losing weight entails a bit of struggle, due to the fact you need to face up to your personal responsibility to achieve this goal and deal with your problems calmly and adequately.
What can you do to take the struggle out of coping?
Begin to cultivate that which inspires you. Not just cognitively, but emotionally and spiritually. The words you use to frame your goals do matter to your conscious and unconscious mind.
No doubt losing weight is a desirable goal and a stepping stone to vitality and health. But remember - if knowing about the virtues of weight loss or vowing to lose weight were enough to inspire appropriate action, the country would not be facing an obesity epidemic. There are both the internal struggles and environmental factors that you will have to contend with to achieve success.
Weight loss, like many human problems, is a classic example of when knowing what you should do makes no difference. This is when a focus on the benefits of success comes into play. What would your life be like if you felt vital and healthy?
Somewhere deep in your imagination is the benefit waiting to sprout that will inspire and motivate you into action. Grab the opportunity create favorable conditions to promote growth and least resistance. Use any failure you face as an opportunity to remove the emotional barriers thwarting your true inspiration and motivation.
Inspiration and motivation are blooms of passion. Yet, there are two sides to everything, including passion. Bestselling author Barbara DeAngelis says it best, “anger is passion turned inside out.” Think about it. Rarely do you express anger, frustration, concern, or even resignation about matters that don’t impact you negatively or you don’t care about and are not passionate.
As the one constant leader of your life, passion is your guide to your true inspiration and desires, even if you sprout a passionate weed or two along the way. The key is to determine which passion to grow and weeds to pull that will empower you.
Discovering the true passion seeding your desire allows you to sow the qualities and integrity you need that will sprout the excellence
only you can achieve.
Your ability to choose personal leadership and use human gardening tools to empower and blossom all that you truly desire is nature’s gift.
* Source: Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, Random House, Inc., 1991.
Debra J. Slover is an award winning author and founder of the Leadership Garden® Legacy. Her goal is to seed and nurture 11 million Leadership Gardens by 11/11/11 through the U.N.I.Q.U.E. series of youth and adult leadership empowerment books. An educator, speaker, and advocate for creating positive home and school climates, her expertise stems from seven years as a classroom teacher, 20 years directing a statewide youth leadership in prevention program in schools, and organizing 20 state and national youth-led conferences. A mother of five/grandmother of seven, she resides with her husband in Albany, Oregon. To learn more visit: www.LeadershipGardenLegacy.com