Magician Criss Angel’s catchphrase is “Are you Ready?” So lets ask ourselves? Are we ready? Are we ready for the time in our life when we are up, down or sideways? No matter where we’re at in our lives right now, whether we’re riding high or swimming in the depths, are we ready for the next step? Because if we are, we can make the most of that experience – but only if we’re ready.
Author Mark Sanborn in his book, Up, Down or Sideways: How to Succeed when times are Good, Bad and in Between, tells us that rather than focusing on what might happen, focus on what you can do now to ensure you’ll be successful regardless of what happens (Sanborn 17). Don’t try to predict the future but prepare for the future. And when bad times come, and you’ve already prepared for them but you’re still overcome by events, Clint Eastwood had a great quote in the movie Heartbreak Ridge that captures your response: improvise, overcome and adapt. When you’ve prepared ahead of time, you’re in a much better position to improvise, overcome and adapt.
Have you ever noticed that common sense is not too common? I heard another great line the other day, I cannot remember the reference, I think it was a movie preview, but one of the individuals was telling the other that they are not supposed to smoke. The smoker retorted back immediately, “really who is supposed to smoke?” As a society, particularly with access to the Internet, we seem to know a lot of things. We know that we should exercise and eat right in order to maintain our physical health. We know that we should take vacations and periodic breaks to take care of her mental health and we should spend time with family and friends to take care of our emotional health. We know that we should hold a belief in a higher power and that life has some sort of meaning in order to take care of our spiritual health. So how is it that can we know everything but we rarely act on it?
Sanborn believes that barriers are what keeps us from doing what we know needs to be done? (Sanborn 21). Barriers are obstacles that keep us from consistently acting on what we know (Sanborn 21). He further goes on to say that there are 7 stages we may find ourselves in whenever we face a call to action:
- You don’t know. Simply, you don’t know what you don’t know. Even the brightest among us don’t learn everything in school or from books or from our parents (Sanborn 22). I recently counseled a student who has completed two college degrees and may soon be hired to start with a firm yet he was concerned that they would expect him to have more knowledge than he already has. I told him that academia can only take you so far. Some stuff you have to learn on the job and they will teach him. He expressed that he was concerned about his technical writing skills and I told him that was good because now he knows where he needs to improve. It is our responsibility to either unlearn the wrong things and to improve upon our weaknesses (Sanborn 22-23).
- You know but don’t believe (Sanborn 24). I find it fascinating how often I relearn the same life lessons. If I could just retain in my memory all of the lessons I’ve learned over the course of time I would probably be the smartest person alive. Sanborn quotes Samuel Johnson, the 18th century British author who said that “people need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Dr. Phil called this getting real. You need to accept the reality of the situation you are in or else you will be ill prepared when the bad time comes.
- You know and believe but don’t do (Sanborn 24). We may lack conviction – beliefs are things you hold whereas convictions are things that hold you. We typically know but don’t do because it’s inconvenient, unnecessary, or difficult (Sanborn 24).
- You know and believe but can’t do. (Sanborn 26). We may lack the skills or training to do the things we need to do to manage our up, down or sideways times. Get some training. Take a class. Go learn or contact someone who can do it for you.
- You know, but do inconsistently (Sanborn 26). This speaks to a lack of commitment or getting distracted by things that are urgent but not important (with a nod to Dr. Covey’s 3rd Habit, First Things First).
- You know and do consistently (Sanborn 27). Getting to this stage requires knowledge, understanding, commitment and discipline, plus the ability to maintain these consistently whether you are up, down or sideways (Sanborn 27-28).
- You know and make it second nature (Sanborn 28). When you know something and believe in it and do it consistently you reach a point where living the principle becomes as natural as breathing (Sanborn 28). It is like driving a car or any other habit. When you first begin to do it you have to do it consciously and think about every step. After you get good at it and you’ve done it consistently, it becomes second nature.
When you’re operating at stage seven (above) you’re operating a level where not only are you thriving in any situation, but you are always preparing for the next stage whether its up or down or sideways. You are always ready.
Sanborn, Mark. Up, Down or Sideways: How to Succeed when times are Good, Bad and in Between. 1. Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011. Print.