Better Choices Bring Bigger Rewards
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Posted by: Dr. Alan Zimmerman
Dr. Zimmerman's TUESDAY
"It is almost impossible
for anyone, even the most ineffective among us, to continue to choose misery
after becoming aware that it is a choice.”
therapist and author
Dr. Alan Zimmerman's
In "Life's Healing Choices”, author John Baker shares the following story. Imagine that you're in a boat and
the autopilot is set for east, but you decide you want to change directions and
go west. You take hold of the wheel and using all your might, you force the
boat west. As long as you hold the wheel steady, the boat keeps on going west.
But pretty soon, you get tired of fighting the boat's inclination and let go of
the wheel. And once again, you're heading east — because that's the direction
the boat is programmed to go.
As Baker notes, "That's how it
is when you try to fight against your own internal autopilot. By your own
willpower, you try to force new behavior. You try and you try, but pretty soon
you get tired … and you let go … You revert back to the way you've always
Of course, that's a very
frustrating way to live, but it characterizes the way many people live. They
feel burdened, challenged, defeated, and ineffective. That's why I created my
keynote and seminar on "The Payoff Principle: How To Motivate Yourself To Win Every
Time In Every Situation.” To read about it in more detail, click here or call me at 1-800-621-7881.
You see … if you don't know HOW
to reset your autopilot … if you don't know HOW to program yourself for the
results you want … you will revert to any one of a hundred non-productive
behaviors. Gossip, sarcasm, jealousy, tardiness, laziness, negativity,
procrastination, or whatever you've been programmed to do. Of course, you may
be wondering WHERE all your non-productive behaviors came from and WHY they
continue to be in your life, getting in the way of your goals, your health,
your career, your relationships, and everything else. I'll answer that question
in today's "Tuesday Tip,” and then next week I'll give you a step-by-step
process for eliminating those nonproductive behaviors.
So WHERE DID YOUR
NON-PRODUCTIVE BEHAVIORS COME FROM? Three sources actually.
1. Your biology
You inherited some of your
parents' strengths and weaknesses. You inherited some of their physical defects
as well as some of their mental and emotional shortcomings. It's one of the
reasons you have a "tendency” to fall into certain problems.
However, your tendencies do not
give you an excuse to act inappropriately. For instance, you may have a
controlling tendency, but that doesn't give you the right to order people
around. You may have a laziness tendency, but that doesn't mean that it's okay
for you to do less than your fair share at work. And you may have a genetic
tendency toward drug addiction, but that doesn't let you off the hook when you
choose to use drugs and end up addicted.
Your biology can push you
towards certain non-productive behaviors, but don't ever forget … YOU are still
responsible for your own behavior.
In addition to your biology
giving you certain tendencies, you were also shaped by …
2. Your environment
When you were young, you
observed your parents, your peers, and your teachers. You listened to what they
said and you observed what they did … and all of that contributed to who you
are today. For example, if your mother treated other people with rudeness when
she was upset, you may be rude to others when you don't get your way. In fact
much of how you behave today can be traced to what you observed in others
Of course, your environment
continues to shape you throughout your present life. If one of your bosses …
who is well-liked and highly competent … works seventy hours a week, you may
unconsciously conclude that you have to work seventy hours a week to keep your
job or to get ahead.
As I often tell people in my
seminars, choose your friends and acquaintances carefully. After all, they're a
part of your environment and they will rub off on you. That's why it's no
accident that the poorest performing salespeople in a company tend to hang
together. That's why the most negative people in an organization tend to find
each other, share lunches, and gripe in unison. And it's no accident that
couples who have troubled relationships tend to socialize with other couples
who have troubled relationships.
Finally, your non-productive
behaviors come from…
3. Your choices
The choices you make are the
MOST significant source of your character, because they are the one thing you
can always do something about. You can't change your biology. Your parents are
your parents, whether you like it or not. You can't go back and change the
environment in which you grew up. That's passed. That's why we call it the
"past.” But you can change the choices you make.
As Baker says, "You develop
your hang-ups because you repeat negative choices. And if you choose to do
something long enough, it becomes a habit. Once it becomes a habit, you're
When you make a choice to "cut
a few corners at work” … the first time … you never even think about the
possibility of ending up as a person who does just enough to get by. When you
make the choice to tell a "little white lie” to cover your behind, you never
even think about the possibility of becoming an untrustworthy person overall.
Bottom line, your choices may
have been influenced by your biology or your circumstances, but ultimately YOU
are responsible for the choices you make.
The problem is most people find
it very difficult to shake off their non-productive behaviors. Even though they
know that certain behaviors don't work, they keep on doing them.
WHY IS THAT? Again there are
Simply put, it's human nature
to keep on doing what you've always done. You just "naturally” cling to what's
familiar, even when the familiar things do not work. It's like an old pair of
shoes. There may be holes in the soles and they allow your feet to get wet, but
you hang on to them because you're used to them and you feel comfortable in
Many people confuse their
non-productive behaviors with their identities. Maybe you do too. You may say,
"That's just the way I am … or … It's just like me to be a workaholic or a
worrier.” After a while, your words and thoughts become self-fulfilling
prophecies. If you say "I'm always nervous when I give a speech,” guess what's
going to happen the next time you give a speech? You're going to be nervous.
Don't confuse who you are with
a few problems you have.
We have a hard time letting go
of the non-productive areas in our lives because each one of them has a very
real payoff. Your yelling may pay off in getting someone's attention. Your
excuse-making may pay off in letting you off the hook instead of taking
responsibility for making the changes you need to make. If you keep on
repeating a negative behavior, you can be sure there's a payoff. The payoff may
be self-destructive, but it brings you some sort of perceived benefit.
As you look at yourself, your
life, your work, and your relationships, I'm sure you can see several things
you would like to change. But some of the things you want to change aren't
changing because your autopilot is heading you in the wrong direction. That's
the bad news.
The good news is you CAN change
your autopilot. You can reprogram yourself. As noted in "Beautiful Darkness”, author Kami Garcia says, "We don't get to choose what is true. We only get to
choose what we do about it.” I'll show you how to do that in the next issue of
the "Tuesday Tip.”
List two non-productive
behaviors you have. How have you allowed them to continue? Perhaps by excusing
them with a reference to your biology or environment. What better choices do
you need to make?
About the author:
As a best-selling author and
Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman is focused on
"transforming the people side of business.” His keynotes and seminars are noted
for high content, high energy, and high involvement that transform people's
lives and the companies where they work. Click here to learn more about his programs and products,
or to receive a free subscription to his weekly Internet newsletter.
Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman's Internet
newsletter, the 'Tuesday Tip.' For your own personal, free subscription to the
'Tuesday Tip' ... along with several other complimentary gifts, go to http://www.DrZimmerman.com.