My top ten reasons why I believe we do not change.
1) We don’t have guarantees of a certain outcome.
2) Our current reality isn’t painful enough.
3) The devil I know is better than the devil I don’t.
4) A template was installed in us long ago that runs on repeat.
5) It’s easier to bitch and complain than to do something about it.
6) We convince ourselves that everyone else must have won the golden ticket, found a shortcut, has a rich uncle and bypass all the pain, the risk, and the uncertainty. Or we tell ourselves we’re too old, beyond repair.
7) We’ve believed a story that isn’t true.
8) We’re so busy managing our lives that we don’t realize there’s a problem. We ignore the warning signs.
9) We refuse to allow transformation-we fold -our arms and say, “this is how I am. This is how it will always be”. And we get busy dying.
10) We fail to see that LIFE is an invitation to be on a journey and remain under construction until the end.
BONUS #11 We ignore the mythic as irrational, childish, lacking proof, and entirely fiction and miss all of the nuance, beauty, and mystery available to us.
Friends, welcome to Work Life Play. I'm your host, Aaron McHugh. I'm here to help you find work you love, learn to play and live adventurously, become curious, and live your life with joy and purpose. Ready, Set, Go.
Friends, welcome to another episode of Work Life and Play. I'm going to give you a riff manifesto, an idea download, and I'm going to skip all of the squishy-ishy stuff, and I'm just going to give it to you straight. I've been on this journey of my career renovation transformation of getting centered and true to what's most true about me. And I've been interacting with many people from all over the globe, from people to Moscow, to Istanbul, to Denver, to Virginia, to London, and many places. And what I'm seeing now clearly is what I'll call my David Letterman. Top 10 reasons we don't change. So I want to give them to you one at a time.
The only difference between David Letterman and me is that he's hilarious, < Laugh>,-drum roll-
The top 10 reasons why we do not change. Number #1, there are no guarantees of an outcome. If we knew there was an outcome and believed there was a guarantee, most of us would at least contemplate change. But because there's not one, because the invitation is actually for a journey, maybe difficulty or discomfort. We have no outcomes, guarantees, or linear equations to equal our comfort. So we refuse. And so we say the same.
Number #2, we're not yet in enough pain, our present discomfort, the everyday aches, chafing, discontent, malaise. We choose it; we choose it continually because it's not as painful. And so we stay in it.
Number #3 is the devil I know is better than the devil I don't. What's ahead I perceive to be worse than what I'm currently faced with. So another way of saying it is I might be in current discomfort, pain, and misery, but it's less scary than choosing to go on my own.
I'll tell you a brief story about this. For years and years, I had a friend who tolerated an abusive husband for a million reasons. And one of them was the fear of the devil-she didn't know the unknown, so she stayed and endured recurring abuse in her case. She eventually chose the unknown, and she got more acquainted with the pain that she, the pain that she was in became so great that the fear of the unknown of the devil she didn't know became more enticing and more inviting.
Number #4, a template, was installed in each of us long ago. That's difficult to refute. And so we live primarily on repeat templates like a piece of software. It's like a default program. You wake up to it every day, and it just auto-runs.
It's just what's natural. It's just what's true. When I went to onsite workshops years ago, it was incredibly helpful that their lead clinical Ph.D. sit up at the front 50 of us. There were people in the room from the cast of the television show Friends, senior record company executives from Hollywood, single moms and teachers preachers, and me. He talked about how the templates, these default programs, are installed in our family, as origin in our life, upbringing, and circumstances. They inform us how to interpret the world and see what we see. There are a set of lenses that we put on every day, and they're challenging for us to believe they're not true. Or is there an alternative? There's an alternative way, an alternative reality, a different color set of glasses we could wear. And so we continue. We do not change.
Number #5, complaining is easier than doing something different. Can I get an amen? How much easier is it to sit, complain, bellyache, wallow, fuss, cuss, and feel sorry for yourself and me? Come on.
And so it's just another repeat. It's just a broken record. It's our greatest hits. You know, I love that song. Why don't you put that on again? Let's play that one more time.
Number #6, We convince ourselves that everyone else must have won the golden ticket, found the shortcut, Has a rich uncle got a free VIP pass, skipped the pain, all the risk, and a hundred percent of the uncertainty. Or we're just too old, too young, broke, broke to this, to that too, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so we stay the same.
Number #7, we've believed a story that isn't true, that only we think and everyone else around us sees past our myth. I had a remarkable series of conversations the last couple of weeks about the myths, myths, legends, stories, and narratives we tell ourselves that everyone else around us don't understand. And I'm like, What? I don't know what you're talking about. You're incredible. You're super positive. You're, you're going to do great. You could do that. I'd put my money on you. And yet this story that we've rehearsed over and over and over and over goes back to this template previously installed in us. But it's a narrative that we remind ourselves of every day. We live in that framework of that narrative. But it's a myth. It's not true.
Number #8, we do not change because we are so busy managing our lives. We don't realize or acknowledge or choose to see that there's a problem. We ignore all the warning signs, and We hold other priorities. We're aiming at some other thing. And so we keep going. And unbeknownst to us, our life happens. We can look away from our life, we can take blink, we can turn our head, we can put our head in the sand, and life still goes on.
Number #9 reasons we do not change. We refuse to allow transformation. We fold our arms. We say This is how I am, how I've always been, and how I will always be. And we get busy dying. It's like red in Shawshank redemption and says, Hope hope's a dangerous thing, man. There's no room for that in here. Andray says, Well, I better get busy living or get busy dying. Most of the guys in that story in Shahan just folded their arms and said, This is the way I am,
And this is the way it will always be. And so they got busy dying, and Andy Defray bought Red a harmonica for his birthday. And after 30 years of being incarcerated, Red remembered what he once loved when he was a young man playing the harmonica. And hope entered the story 30 years later. And Red took that harmonica, and Andy asked, Do you want to play it now? And he said, No, I think not. And it had to take it away. And he had to wrestle with this posture of folding our arms and saying, This is how I am. This is how it is, and this is how it will always be. So I better get busy dying.
I believe this is Number #10. We fail to see that life is an invitation to be on a journey and remain under construction until the end. I believe most of us, including me, viewed life as a series of obstacles I needed to get out of my way to start my life. And once I accomplished this Spartan race, like obstacles that came my way, I developed enough athleticism, dynamic ability, wherewithal, grit, fortitude, trueness, and happiness, Okay? If I can overcome enough of these and get past them, then we'll get on to the happy, good life.
Things will be easy, and things will go back to normal. And yet we fail to see that the invitation for the life that we're in, the life that we're living, is a journey. And the best part of the offer is to be like a highway that's never finished. Or, like the Golden Gate Bridge, that's never finished being painted. It's painted from one end to the other, and they begin repainting it by the time it's finished. The Golden Gate Bridge will never be completed being painted until, in their case, they invent something that doesn't require paint on this iconic bridge in one of the foggiest, wet, windy, cold places in North America. But things change once you accept that the Golden Gate bridge will always be under renovation and construction. It's okay. It's just a reality. It's a truth. There isn't a finality to painting. The Golden Gate Bridge in the bonus round is.
Number #11. We ignore the mythic as irrational, childish, lacking proof, and full of fiction. See, we want our lives to be void of any mystery, void of story, narrative, nuance, or drama. We want it to be this zippity, doda happy-go-lucky, guaranteed linear pattern. If I do enough of the right things and pull the right levers in the right way, if I'm just enough of a commander-in-chief, I'm just enough of a diplomat. If I'm just enough, I can architect this thing so that it'll all go my way.
Or maybe, just maybe. Maybe there's more going on here.
Maybe there is a story that's concurrent to our story, and maybe there's an author who's entirely mythic, childish, fictional, whimsical, and loving. It may even feel irrational to us, but maybe it's both. And perhaps if we were willing to be brave, believing there's more than the transformation, the offer for life, maybe we'd find more of it. Perhaps as we lean in more to the faint whisper of hope that still is alive in you, that place in you, you cannot turn off that most days. You found a way to live at a pace in your life that can elude that drum beat, that heartbeat, that bright spot that beckons you forward. But then, other days, other moments, you see something in the edges of your smile that you know is not the fullness of you. And maybe the invitation for more life and more connection and more adventure and more intimacy and more wholeness and more balance, and more joy and more play, and more and more and more and more and more and more are in the offer to embrace change. I had a story told to me once recently about a caterpillar and a butterfly,
And that a caterpillar, once in the cocoon that transforms into a butterfly, can never return to being a caterpillar. I don't know if every caterpillar becomes a butterfly,
But I know the offer. The offer is to become a butterfly. And any butterfly that's offered assistance in the cocoon, moving from the process of being a caterpillar to the beauty of a butterfly, that butterfly eventually dies. When scientists would help attempt to cut the butterfly out of the cocoon. The butterfly not only could not fly but also eventually died. But it was by the very nature of the process of the caterpillar going through the change and the transformation of the challenge of becoming a butterfly that the butterfly developed wings strong enough, a heart, a resolve, strong enough to fly to become the fullness of what they were intended to be. So I think that's like us.
I think that's the offer. I hope you'll try this on. It will help you ask yourself these brave questions. Why do I find change? The offer to change, to allude me? Why do I refuse it home? My list of David Letterman is top 10 plus a bonus round 11.
Which of those, if not all, have you chosen? This is good for us. I believe this is the narrow road, the path to sustainable living. I hope you'll find it for yourself. Join me. There's more of us out here than you think. You can do this. Keep going.
You've been listening to Work Life Play. If you like what you've heard, please do us a favor and rate us on iTunes. It does help. You can get more information about this at aaronmchugh.com. Thanks for listening. Thanks for being part of this adventure, for being part of braving the pioneering work of discovering sustainable work life. Play rhythms, love your work, live your life, and play much more.
I'm Aaron McHugh. -Keep going.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.