Just Do It Versus Just Rethink It

Have you ever really, really wanted to accomplish something in your life, but just can’t make it happen?  Did you think to yourself, “If I just try harder and do more I’ll get there!” This was the premise of Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan coined in 1988 and it continues to be a focus of the company’s advertising strategy.  

This basic theory of more effort = better results is also prominently on display in Malcom Gladwell’s book OutliersMr. Gladwell cites, “the 10,000 hour rule” to explain why elite violin players, Bill Gates and The Beatles were able to achieve the highest levels of success.  He argues that it is not because of their natural ability; but because of their willingness to Just Do It over and over and over again for a minimum of 10,000 hours to truly master their respective fields    

So, if you’re in that group of people that’s been Just Doing It for years, but still haven’t reached your goals, I’m offering a different approach that may be a key piece to finally unlock this puzzle for yourself.

Does Practice Always Make Perfect?

I’ve talked about Brooke Castillo’s coaching model in two previous posts here and here.  If you didn’t hyperlink over to either of those articles, Ms. Castillo’s “CTFAR” model is:

  • Each of the Circumstances you have in your life leads to Thoughts;
  • These Thoughts lead to Feelings;
  • Feelings often cause us to take certain Actions;
  • And finally, these Actions create our Results.

Now when I think about the Just Do It approach or the 10,000 hour approach, I see that these two concepts only address how actions relate to results.  And while it’s true that practice and effort are a component of success, we know either from personal experience or observation that there are many people who try mightily but never achieve their goals.  Why?

Try to Just Rethink It Instead

Today I watched a video from Stacey Boehman, another one of my favorite coaches.  Rather than being related to actions, she discussed how results for many people are more related to their thoughts and feelings, specifically:

  • Results feel the way we think about them;
  • When we step away from our feelings, results are just information.  They are only good or bad when we decide how to feel about them;
  • Thoughts about your current result create your next result.

Now, it would be awesome if it were as easy to rethink our results as it was for this boy in this commercial; but the essence of this kind of approach is revealed.  He makes a change in the thought associated with a result, immediately feels better about it and will probably be much more willing to take action in the future to achieve his true goal of hitting the ball.

In real life, this type of immediate, massive shift in thinking is difficult to pull off.  Instead, reach for moderately better thoughts when you’re feeling deeply frustrated or depressed with your results.  For me, one of the best mindsets to approach any result with is a sense of curiosity rather than a sense of judging it as “good” or “bad.”  

Allowing time and space for yourself to be curious rather than judgemental can shift you away from thoughts like:

“I’m a complete failure. I’ve tried this like a million times and I just can’t make it happen.” (One of my actual past thoughts.)

“I always do this wrong.  No matter what I try, I screw it up every time.” (Another winner of a past thought for me – really setting myself up for success, right?)

To thoughts that will serve you better, such as:

“I wonder why I’m writing all these blog posts but not getting any new clients?  Is it because I’m writing about the wrong topics or is it because nobody’s finding my website?”

“It’s interesting to me that people in this business school have tripled their business since starting and I’ve gotten diddly-squat in terms of results.  What are they doing different? I’m going to invite some of them out for a drink after today’s session to see if I can get some ideas.” 

Are you happy with your results right now in terms of business or career success, money in general or other areas of your life?  If not consider spending at least as much time contemplating and being willing to shift your thinking about your results rather than only focusing on the actions you’re taking.