Many people are afraid to face the inconsistency of their words. The notion of ironing it out can be tiring or make them feel embarrassed, inferior, even scared.
Others are determined to face their inconsistent thoughts and deal with them.
Such a person was Darrell. Like most people I know, he was afraid to believe in an optimum future because he didn’t consider himself worthy. Fear of disappointment is another term for that.
As a result, his thinking in various areas of his competencies always stopped short of what he hoped for down deep. He was surprised and flattered again and again when I made obvious observations about his skill set and how it could be put to further use.
My job was to draw information out of Darrell that would make all of this obvious to him.
Otherwise, he couldn’t move forward. If he could see the good stuff coming out of him, he would know it was indeed his own.
The method would require surprising him with certain kinds of questions — hit him broadside when he least suspected it and break his rhythm of giving stale answers to important issues.
This could work only because he agreed to be interrupted.
People who aren’t comfortable with success put roadblocks in front of their progress. They invent justifications for avoiding success by cunningly undersizing their potential and tearing themselves down. The more they fear failure, the more passionately they defend their self-destruction.
Darrell’s cherished goal was an unusually complex community goal that only people of his caliber will accomplish.
I began asking questions that he answered with cliches. Then I showed him how those responses compared to what a person of his competence might say when actually thinking like an expert.
The point sunk in. Darrell began talking at a level of expertise that matched his experience, and from there on out, I was feasting on one insight after another — from him.
His brain went wild. One night, he texted me and said, “Man, you have really uncorked me!”
Within weeks, he was in a new groove, and everyone around him was confirming it. His progress continues increasing. He’s an exceptional resource to local and overseas communities.
How did I uncork him? By interrupting his conversations and thoughts with unexpected questions. Not everyone needs this tactic, but he did, and when I revealed the trick to him, he put himself on constant guard of my questions and made a habit of thinking more creatively and thoroughly than ever before.
Darrell succeeded in answering the two big questions almost all of us ask during the seasons of life: Who am I at this point, and what do I want to do?
He’s still getting comfortable with his increasing success and the clarity and courage to be himself.
I’ve known since I was a young man what I wanted to do, and I’ve done much of it. For instance, I accomplished all my career goals as a classroom teacher — while making headway with other, intricate, longitudinal goals simultaneously.
With them came plenty of times when I was dizzy with confusion about the next step. I still get lost in the fog sometimes.
Sorting our thoughts is easier when we use good questions. I’ve conducted interviews most of my life with all kinds of people, mostly to portray their identities. But I’m like anyone else — asking good questions is easier to do on other people than on myself.
To discover or confirm who you are at this point in life and what you really, really want to do requires looking reality in the eye, no matter how frightful your inconsistent thinking may look to you.
Max Russell is owner of Max and Max Communications and formerly taught Spanish in Southern Hancock schools. You can contact him via his website, maxtrussell.com.