It Feels Like I’d be a Failure
Everyone knows what they don’t want.
Who we want to become is nearly unimaginable when “not wanting” dominates our thinking.
An aspiring leader:
He confessed he steps on people’s toes. That’s a nice way of saying he hurts people.
It’s easy to sacrifice people’s feelings when tasks outweigh people. But, trampling is a short-term strategy that gets you fired.
I asked, “If you weren’t stepping on people’s toes, what would you be like?”
He fumbled for a bit and finally said, “I don’t know.”
I said, “Imagine you did know.”
Still, language failed him.
A friend is troubled by his constant striving. Life without striving is unimaginable. But, he also strives for contentment.
I asked, “If you weren’t always striving, what would you be like?”
He said, “It feels like I’d be a failure.”
I asked, “But, what would you be like?”
“I’m not sure.”
The woman who cuts my hair wants to stand up for herself. She doesn’t like being a people pleaser.
“If you weren’t a people pleaser, what would you be like?”
She said, “I wouldn’t care what people think.”
She described what she wouldn’t do. Positive language escaped her.
- Profound growth is, at first, unimaginable.
- Explaining what you don’t want is the easy part.
- Everything begins with imagination.
- Either/or thinking blocks imagination. “If I didn’t constantly strive for more, I’d be a failure.”
- Describe it before you become it. I don’t mean to say that if you describe it, you will become it. But, positive language always precedes positive change. If you can’t imagine it, you can’t become it.
- Behave your way into becoming.
- An imperfect step in a positive direction is always better than circling the darkness.
Everyone knows what they don’t want. Leaders imagine who to become.
What role does imagination play in growth, leadership, or success?
Do you aspire to become a coaching leader?
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Dan, I bet you would love to talk to “Da Vinci”?
“Imagination” the building block of the world as i see it, just look around you and see!
Thanks Tim. The centrality of imagination really hit me this morning. If I’m in Da Vinci’s camp, I’m fortunate. 🙂
“Failure” seems like a harsh word in conjunction with “imagination’! Reality is how many failures happened till succession was achieved? Everyone of us has failure moments in life, we just need the fortitude, perseverance, hind sight, to try and try again till we succeed at whatever we are doing!
What an excellent post: a simple and powerful perspective shift. Thank you!
Thanks Jan. Best wishes.
I think a very important step is to define success. It isn’t the same for everyone. Maybe the people pleaser sees success as making people happy.
Thanks April. So true. It’s amazing how frequently people feel frustrated or exhausted and when asked what they are trying to accomplish, they aren’t sure. Define the win.
Thanks for the post Dan. I appreciate the reminder about how important it is to be specific about what we DO want out of our interactions, relationships, and self. The follow-up questions you pose are reassuring, supportive, AND challenging. I will be ‘borrowing’ them for sure!
Thanks David. The simple question, “What do I/you/we want,” is deceptive. It sounds simple and easy.
Glad to be of service.
Very Zen but I’m not sure what to do with it. In the first case, the correct answer was “If I didn’t micromanage, (my group and ) I would be a failure”. Assuming that is in fact true, now what? Yes, we should elevate the group’s capacity do they don’t have to be micromanaged, but in the short term the job has to get done. Everybody knows that. The real trick is how to open up some space and time to do that elevation, otherwise the short term continues on indefinitely.
Thanks Doug. It seems like you figured out what to do with it. ?? I like to include both being and doing in this conversation. Having said that, it’s not an easy question to answer. But, I believe it’s worth while to take the time to find some language that describes who we want to become.
I never thought of this as being zen-like.
A very difficult (but important) lesson this morning, Dan. Thanks.
Hi Steven. Thanks for stopping in. I’ve missed you.
Nothing happens for a reason! Hence I am reading your articles for a while and I am also engaged on coaching sessions for the past 3 months… One of my “core” beliefs is that “if I don´t strive I don´t deserve it”… nowadays I am working my way to replace, or better, update this belief since it brought me where I am but I am working and looking forward to improve and grow my better behaviors so I can go further! Positive thinking/wording really change mind sets! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Gus. Glad to give you something to think about. Best for the journey and come back soon.
this is profound Dan – I’m printing it up and posting it where I can see it. One of the drawbacks to be totally driven by work is that if you lose your position or your health – who are you.
Dan, great post – without vision, without watching it happen before it happens, it is so easy to end up like Samson (blind and walking in circles) – appreciate you!
I love the imagination, Dan and your wonderful pulse.
I love the truth. <3
I got some thought about the difficulties between an imagination
and the line which make the creative way (Imagination): work!
Try to see things, which can be truely work?
Try to see things did not are not there – and do not fail to
did see things are …
Imagination is a kind of truth – inner truth,
if we believe – we can make it's possible
– we can imagine and realize it.
Truth and Imagination?
One does not have to exclude the other!
It´s like if you say, you love the truth,
their are 2 result and you will have two more options
– the truth and non-truth-likelihood!
The understanding of the objective truth includes,
the contrast between desires and beliefs.
And the imagination depends on what we can imagine
and whether we want to believe on it!
"The value of the imagination is to win by intuition and intensity
profound insights, as they seem to be on the surface of things."
The controlling background?
Intention in the case of belief – can be described as the intention
not to believe …
Chisholm (1977) writes:
"Each person, then, is subject to two quite different
requirements in connection with any proposition he considers:
(1) He should try his best to bring it about that if a proposition is true
then he believe it;
and (2) he should try his best to bring it about that proposition
is false, if did then he not believe it."
Falsehood avoidance goal and Imagination, what´s close to
and fix them together?
If you don´t think, it´s possible – you can´t imagine it
– you can´t built it, because it is not possible !?
I hope I can give an inspiration for those who lose the power of imagination,
because the one thought, if you don´t belief it, you can´t imagine
and realize something. Is it realy true?
I think in order to be able to imagine anything,
may we want to believe in something …
better in the constructive way and behaviors …
… that's the easiest way!
There are of course imaginations that appear ludicrous
and are still useable feasible, this includes not just fantasy
– but also courage and a lot of power!
The power of the imagination to venture beyond what is known
"Who can open – can receive!
In order to survive the reality that you need before positive imagination,
to influence the reality is positive 😉
but we also need the power of the imagination!"
Best greetings Beate
"Again, to be motivated by the truth on a question is to be motivated
to believe the correct answer; let the chips fall where they may“.
Ernest Sosa (2002)
Dan, I see your post today with two themes: 1) As an introspective device for us to specifically determine want we want and who we wish to become; and 2) To understand and believe how our imagination can be a significant driving force in our success and happiness professionally and personally.
People of history through modern time continue to tell us “imagination” was at the heart of their contributions, achievements, success and fulfillment:
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination: Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. –Albert Einstein
I saw the angel in the marble and I just chiseled until I set it free.–Michelangelo
Imagination equips us to perceive reality before it’s really reality!–Winston Churchill
Imagination plus motivation equals realization!–Abraham Maslow
We must imagine something to be true, before knowing it is true.—Dr. Oswald Avery
The impossible is often the untried.—John Lennon
Unheard-of means it’s only unimagined yet; Impossible means it’s just not yet done.—Dolly Parton
However, in my personal estimation, the one person who most defined imagination and influenced how “life could imitate art” is Rod Serling of Twlight Zone back in the 60s. His worked was ultimately called the Imagination Dimension, and his imagination influenced medicine (the heart-lung machine), science (the laser), NASA (the space suit), and “first person” literature.
And Serling tells us today:
You’re traveling to another dimension; a dimension of not only sight and sound, but of mind…a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries is that of imagination. There’s a sign-post up ahead. Your next stop: The Twilight Zone.
There’s a dimension beyond that known to man. It is dimension as vast as space, and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition. And it lies between the pit of man’s fear, and a summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which is a reality–the Twilight Zone.
Throughout fear, our destination is quite unknown. Some fear is not vague. Terror is not formless: It has form. It beckons us. It wants us. It wants to have us. We see it. We see fear everywhere. We don’t know what to do. We exist, but we don’t seem to live. For example, we eat but nothing is filling. The routine goes on. Time goes by without accomplishment. People go by without names. Places go by without reason. They are landscapes without form. Roads are not ways, but escape routes. We’ve got to get where we’re going, and we can’t let life close in on us…or should we?
We’re numb. We have no feelings. It’s as if someone had pulled some kind of a plug in us. Everything–emotion, fear, feeling–has drained out of us. And now we are a cold shell. We are conscious of things around us. The vast day is upon us. Somewhere—someone is waiting for us. Someday, somehow we’ll find out who it is. For the first time—looking out at the day–we think we know who we are, what we are, and where we’re going. We’re going that way. We want to live. We are not dead. We are driving to life. There is a detour…through the Twilight Zone.
Imagination: For Rod Serling, he created art. For us, imagination can create life.
The mind is a powerful thing, and I believe that thinking positively about the future and imagining that one has some control over it can contribute even to physical health, healing, and longevity. Nothing good ever comes of assuming powerlessness.
“Behave your way into becoming.”-Isn’t it like the toughest part?
This is a good post. However, I am sure we all step on someone’s toes at some point