Home » Classics, Get Focused, Motivation, Psychology, Uncategorized


21 October 2010 No Comment


Here’s a concept I learned from Niel Fiore’s book The Now Habit with some great “background harmonics” to go with it…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

———- I Want You To Imagine Something ———

(Scenario A) Imagine I put wooden plank on the ground – let’s say a board about 10 feet long, 4 or 5 inches wide and 1 inch thick – and asked you to walk across it…

What would be your response? You’d probably do it without hesitation right? You might laugh at the whole idea and think something funny was going on, but check this:

(Scenario B) Now imagine I took that same wooden plank, suspended it between two city buildings 100 feet tall over concrete pavement, and THEN asked you to walk across it…

What’s your response now? What are you saying to yourself this time?

“Nah, chill…” right???

“I might fall,” or “The wind might knock me over…”

In this instance, your feelings about it are different because the THE CONSEQUENCES of it are different (i.e. failing), so you’ve now lost sight of how simple the task really is.

Now, it’s no longer a simple test or a task, it’s risking your life: adrenaline rushes through you as you visualize yourself falling 100 feet down…you’re not calm anymore and there’s nothing to laugh at.

Notice how the thought, “If I make a mistake I could die,” makes it impossible for you to take action.

Now peep this:

(Situation C) Same situation as before, with the plank in between the buildings sky high, but as you’re there shook frozen at the idea of walking across, you realize that the building your currently standing on has caught on fire

Now what’s your response? Your focus changed, didn’t it? Now you’re going to find a way to get across no matter what, and the thought of falling or not doing it perfectly doesn’t even cross your mind, does it? You probably got creative and thought something like:

“I’d sit my behind down on that board and scoot over to the other side,” or

“I’d crawl on my hands and knees if I had to.”

But what happened??? Why did your feelings change so quickly? You just went from worry, ambivalence and hesitation to productive action and creative problem solving IN SECONDS, but how???

It’s like before, but the possibility or fear of pain and death became the certainty of pain and death, and that motivated you to take action.


———- Let’s Break It Down ———

In our minds, we act out scenario B when we falsely associate our goals with our own self-worth, and in reality, we create scenario C as a result of that initial procrastination…

Underlying our physical procrastination is a mistaken, mental connotation between what we do and what our value is as a human being.

black man sad because of procrastination

On a deeper level, you raise the plank off the ground by turning a task into a measurement of who you are – into evidence of whether or not you’re acceptable and into a forecast of who you’ll be in the future…

Once you confuse your performance with your self-worth, “getting this job,” “passing this final,” “starting this business,” and “dating this person” get inflated and injected with a level of meaning that makes failure or (even slight mistakes) feel like the end of the world.

This leads to perfectionism, where error, criticism and rejection become equivalent to death: you demand yourself to do things perfectly so that your audience will accept you completely, and this expectation is what freezes you up with anxiety and procrastination.

black woman depressed about procrastinationAnxiety comes from the perceived threat to your survival. It comes from visualizing failure and projecting it in domino effect, i.e. imagining overblown catastrophes like:

>> losing your position,
>> never finding another job,
>> destroying your social image,
>> separating your family,

…etc. etc., and then you escape that anxiety through procrastination.

Procrastination is deep because it’s actually a coping mechanism that accomplishes a series of things:

1) It allows you to escape the dilemma and feel a sense of relief.

2) It brings the deadline closer (creating the urgent “fire” of scenario C) which relieves you of the responsibility for making a decision and then scares you into action.

Since procrastination motivates you, makes decisions for you, gets you to take action and overrides your perfectionism and fear of failure, it actually reinforces the subconscious belief that procrastination makes sense and has rewards (“I work best under pressure,” etc.).

3) Also, by delaying things long enough, the task no longer becomes a measurement of your true ability…what you “could of done” if you “had enough time.” Always remember:

Human beings have an infinite capacity for self-deception…
~ Tony Schwartz

Deep, huh? lol :) So instead, imagine this:

(Scenario D): You’re back on the board once more, 100 feet above ground. There’s no fire this time, but there is a net – a strong, supportive safety net right under the plank

How do you feel about it now? “Oh, that’s nothing,” right? “I can do that – if anything happened, I’d just fall into the net. It might even be fun…”

So that’s what I’m going to ask you do: let go of your perfectionist urge, and know that making a mistake does not mean death. Know that you can recover from any fall, and if need to, create alternatives that’ll allow you to bounce back…

Repeat after me:

Whatever happens, I will survive and find a way to carry on.
This WILL NOT be the end of the world for me…I will find a way to lessen
the pain in my life and maximize the joy.

“In order to maximize your performance in a stressful world, you must create a protected and indisputable sense of worth for yourself. Until you do, energy and concentration gets drained from your work and put into preparing for imagined threats to your survival, and then into procrastination as a means of coping…(so) Regardless of how you do it, PROVIDE A SAFE PLACE where you make yourself free of judgment: a place and time where you can stop trying to perform…” ~ Neil Fiore, Ph. D.

Hope this helps. More coming soon…


Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.