Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

The Disquiet in Men

Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

Don’t die like the frog

Graphic_black_and_white.gif“Time for Change” focuses on different issues about the Disquiet. It’s like a coaching conversation in which I will work on a particular aspect and provide steps you can take to work with your own Disquiet. You can ask questions or share you experiences here in the comments below. The newsletter will also introduce a relevant resource to help you in your work with your Disquiet.Please note that these quarterly newsletter editions are not available on the Feed. So if you want to receive your own issue when it’s published, you can subscribe by filling out the form box on any sidebar on this site or by clicking here. You will also get a copy of the report from my ongoing study based on interviews with men around the world who discuss their Disquiet.

First, an announcement:

As most of you who have been with me for a while and subscribe to the newsletter have noticed it’s been a while since you heard from me via a newsletter. First, I apologize for the absence. My work life changed last summer as I accepted a position with a global consulting firm that allows me to make a difference with my work within organizations on a larger scale with greater impact.

I decided on this move while working with my own Disquiet. I am very happy with this new adventure. One of the consequences has been a steep learning/acclimation curve that I didn’t anticipate. Thus the slow down in the blog and the newsletter.

I am still very committed to my work with the Disquiet. And my new employer fully supports it as well. I see my work with the Disquiet as a life-long vocation.

To adjust to this new period of my life, I will be sending editions of the newsletter 4 times a year. It will continue to act as a conduit providing personal coaching around aspects of the Disquiet.

My goal with Blog is to provide a way for dialogue, share specific and timely resources and to answer questions. The rate of new entries has been variable as I am learning to find a new rhythm. Based on analysis of readership statistics as well as my own energy, I am looking at having an average of 2 posts per month.

And of course, I will continue to maintain my coaching practice with clients working their Disquiet. And the Study continues!

I am very interested in your reactions and how this meets your needs, so please let me know. As we try this new rhythm out together, please send me your thoughts, reactions and questions to dave@thedisquiet.com. Thanks!

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This edition’s article: Don’t die like the frog

Each year, I follow a long standing New Year’s tradition of reviewing what I have written in my journal from the year that’s ending. Kind of a personal year in review that coincides with my annul review of my business as I close the books. In recent years I have been surprised at how much has happened and how far I have traveled in my personal growth. It wasn’t always like that.

Several years ago, I had taken a lot of leadership courses as part of my job. Many of those classes required some sort of reflective writing and journaling. One rainy afternoon, I was cleaning out my desk and I read through about 2 years worth of writing. I was stunned. The themes of feeling dead in the water in my career and life were easy to see. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, how to change it or what steps to take. I just wrote how miserable I was. As the months passed, the comments and entries became less interesting and more monotonous – like the life had drained from my writing. Looking back at the whole period, I felt like I was reading the diary of a zombie. Eventually, the complaining stopped, what remained was an occasional comment that revealed no new course had been taken, just a slow acceptance of hopelessness.

Reading those writings reminded me of the story about slowly killing a frog. The story goes like this: if you were to drop a frog into boiling water, it would immediately jump out. But if you placed a frog into a pot of cool water and very slowly turned up the heat over time, the frog would eventually die, failing to detect the subtle increase in heat that was reaching lethal levels.

What I saw looking back on those writings was that I slowly numbed out to my unhappiness. Ultimately, it took a series of life changing jolts to wake me up and into action. So the steady hum of Disquiet can be in the background, slowly getting louder. But if you aren’t listening and don’t take action, you might end up like that frog – metaphorically dying from a slow acceptance of your dissatisfaction. It happened to me and I see it with my clients all of the time. And some don’t ever get out of the water, even when there is a jolt like a firing or a divorce.

What can you do to avoid the frog’s fate?
Here is a 3-part process that can help.

1. Take stock of where you are at his moment.

You need to orient yourself – just like one of those “You Are Here” markers on a shopping mall map. Here are some ideas how you can do this. See if any of these trigger other ideas for you:

  • Review any reflective writing, journals, even emails.
  • Take a walk and think back over the previous year. What are the highlights and low-lights that stand out? Looking back now, what are the themes and possible learnings?
  • How have you grown and progressed this year?
  • Focus on those long nights where you couldn’t sleep. What kept you up? What worried you?
  • Interview your spouse, significant other or one who knows you best. Ask them what they have witnessed in you over the year. Ask them where you seemed to be at your best, worst and struggling.
  • What do you wish for? Do you ever secretly play fantasies out like when you were a kid? You know, like “If I had a genie, what would I wish for?” What are your dreams? And if you have none, what happened to the old ones? Blow the dust off them and see if they still mean anything.

2. Get some long-range goals on the “map”.

You need a point on the horizon to steer towards. Don’t worry – you can always adjust it; you are not locking yourself in. Some of my long time goals: I want to have saved a specific amount of money for my retirement. I want to write a book about the Disquiet. I want my work with the Disquiet to be my post retirement career. I want to live in a particular environment for the next phase of my life. I have specific goals for the physical, spiritual and emotional parts of me.

Where do you get ideas for these goals? From step one. It takes some detective work as you sift through the “evidence” from what you learned. But it’s there. Keep sifting

3. Create some “good” tension in your life.

Once you have steps one and two completed, you now have a gap between where you are now and what you want for your future. Notice, it doesn’t have to be this huge, heavily detailed vision statement. Just some markers for you to navigate towards. Now, like stretching a rubber band between where you are today and where you want to be going, you have “creative tension”. This stretched rubber band generates energy for action.

This slightly uncomfortable tension is not something to ignore or sedate. It is something to stay aware of, because it tells you where to focus your attention next. Once you create the tension by identifying your goals, then you take steps in that direction. With each small step toward your goals, you ease the tension.

The daily question becomes: “What is the very next action I need to take and when will I take it?” I mean the actual next thing – what phone call, what meeting, what piece of information you need next. And be very specific about when you’ll take each step. Make a commitment to yourself to take that action by that time. That is how to build momentum for change – by taking one small step at a time toward the future you want. That is how to avoid the frog’s fate, dying from a slow, unintentional acclimation to an unsatisfactory life.

A few words about “creative tension.” This term is used by Robert Fritz in his book, “The Path of Least Resistance”, you can read more about here.

As you start moving out and easing some of that creative tension, you will need to review and adjust your “map.” As you get into action, you will uncover new or more specific goals. These will produce new creative tensions. This will keep you moving. Moving purposefully is very important in working with your Disquiet. Many of you will remember the old cars we learned to drive on: the kind without power steering. Remember how hard it was to turn the wheel when sitting still at the curb? But once you get moving, even at a very low speed, turning becomes very easy. You can change your course often and most easily when you are in motion.

The New Year is a natural time to start this work. In these dark hibernating nights of winter, there is almost a primitive call to stake stock of where you’ve been and where you’re going. Just acting on your Disquiet will start to change your life. You are becoming aware. You are no longer slugging through your life unaware of the rising temperature.

May 2008 be a year of awakening and action for you. I wish you good health, prosperity of the heart and a growing awareness of your life.


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One Response to “Don’t die like the frog”

  1. Charles Says:

    Dave,

    I didn’t know that you knew me. I’m sure you must though, for you’ve just perfectly described me. Where and when did we meet?

    Charles

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