Do you ever feel like making excuses is you secret superpower? Are you able to shoot down a creative idea with rapid-fire reasons why it will never work? I don’t know about you but, it’s a power I’d love to get rid of. I’d much rather be Idea Girl, able to fling an infinite number of ideas at the wall until something sticks.
So, why do we make excuses?
There’s a perceived security in making excuses, because you’re preventing change and change can be scary. But, change is also necessary. Some even say change is a Universal Law. Think about it: if the universe is constantly expanding, (and most scientists agree that it is,) then it is constantly changing. Changing in an expansive way. Expansion = Growth. Most of us can agree that growth is good (unless we’re talking about a tumor.)
What is the opposite of Growth? Stagnation. Who wants to stagnate, really? You might be adverse to change but when you think about the alternative… is that really what you want? NO. Of course not! So, since we can all agree that our excuse-making power is hurting rather than helping, let’s dive in to how to rid ourselves of this unwanted power.
The 333 Story
I recently read the inspirational 333 Story about one of Bob Proctor’s students. (If you’ve read the original Chicken Soup for the Soul, this might sound familiar because it’s one of the most popular stories in the book.) I’m going to sum it up but, if you’d like to read the story in its entirety, it’s right here.
To make a long story shorter…
A tornado swept through the town of Barrie in Ontario, Canada, killing dozens and doing millions of dollars worth of damage. Bob Templeton, the VP of Telemedia Communications, a company that owned radio stations in Ontario and Quebec, felt compelled to do something to help his fellow Canadians who had been affected by this disaster. Templeton had just attended a Bob Proctor seminar so his mind was bubbling with goal achieving strategies and universal laws.
He kept thinking about the Law of Polarity or Law of Opposites, which states that everything has an opposite: you can’t have Up without Down, Hot without Cold, Light without Dark… This law also means that if you can figure out a reason why something can’t be done, by law, you should also be able to figure out why it can be done!
With this in mind…
Bob Templeton called a meeting of all his Telemedia executives. When they were all gathered in his office, he wrote 333 at the top of an easel pad and asked, “How would you like to raise 3 million dollars, 3 days from now, in just 3 hours, and give the money to the people in Barrie?”
Of course, the immediate reaction was that he was crazy. No matter how much they wanted to help the people in Barrie, his execs just didn’t think what he was proposing was possible. Bob’s answer to their reaction: “Wait a minute, I didn’t ask you if we could or even if we should. I just asked you if you would like to.” Their response? “Sure, we’d like to…”
Now for the fun part…
Bob underlined the 333 and drew a vertical line down the center of the paper below. On one side he wrote “Why We Can’t” and on the other side he wrote “How We Can.” He then drew a large X to cross out the entire space of the “Why We Can’t” column. Now there was no place to put the reasons why they couldn’t raise 3 million dollars in just 3 hours, within a mere 3 business days.
Bob instructed his execs to call out “NEXT!” whenever a negative idea was given, no matter how valid the reasoning behind it, since that would not get them closer to their goal. He said, “Ideas are like cars on a train, one always follows the other. We will keep saying ‘Next!’ until a positive idea arrives.” Oh, by the way, no one was allowed to leave the room until they figured out how to execute the idea that would achieve this 333 goal.
It took a little while but…
Eventually everyone was yelling “Next!” at the “why we can’t” ideas and the creative “how we can” ideas started to flow. This Friday night brainstorming session produced results on the following Tuesday: 50 radio stations from across the country came together for a 3 hour radiothon hosted by two popular Canadian tv anchors, and they succeeded in raising 3 million dollars for the people of Barrie!
If Bob had allowed his idea to die when an exec said “We can’t host a radiothon across the country! We only have stations in Quebec and Ontario.” or when another said “You’ll never get the biggest names in Canadian broadcasting to host a radio show!” Barrie would never have received that 3 million dollars. Yet, when he got his execs to focus on the “how we can” rather than the “why we can’t” they got it done!
That’s what we have to do.
Instead of saying “oh, okay, you’re right,” whenever your mind gives you a reason something can’t be done, say “Next! Now tell me how it can be done.” And if you’re working on a big idea, try following Bob’s example: pull out a piece of paper, write your idea at the top and divide it down the middle, then X out the negative space and give that thought train some fuel. Eventually the positive thought cars will start coming and you’re on your way to achieving your goal!
Don’t stop with just the idea either, once you’ve figured out how, execute it!
I’ll leave you with one last thought:
One of my favorite Wayne Dyer quotes that seems incredibly appropriate right now: “The law of flotation was not discovered by the contemplation of the sinking of things.” Now, grab a piece of paper and a pen and figure out how to float! 🙂
Now it’s your turn…
Have you already tried this method? Or are you going to try it right now? I’d love for you to share your results in the comment section to ramp up the inspiration for anyone reading this! <3