“Most people spend the majority—if not the entirety—of their lives putting off the things that matter most,” write Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy in Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork.
1: This week, we’ve been exploring the power of asking “Who” not “How” when faced with an issue, an opportunity, or a problem. One sign that it’s time to look for a Who is when we procrastinate.
The research shows that procrastination “diminishes well-being,” Dan and Ben write, “increases feelings of shame and guilt, increases symptoms of major mental health problems such as depression, and leads to other health risks due to poor decision-making, such as failure to seek medical treatment when ill.”
“Personal confidence comes from making progress toward goals that are far bigger than our present capabilities” is one of the key tenants of Dan’s Strategic Coach program.
Our identity is, to a large extent, shaped by our behavior.
So, when we procrastinate, we delay or let go of the opportunity to achieve our goals. As a result, we “miss the continuous uptick in confidence that comes from making progress,” Dan and Ben write. “Confidence is belief in [our] ability to imagine, conceptualize, and achieve goals. It is the foundation of imagination. Meta-analytic research shows that confidence is the by-product of recent performance or recent progress toward [our] goals.”
Not only that, but when we stop believing we can achieve big goals, we assume this same pattern will continue into the future. “Thus, procrastination leads to a small self-image and an increasingly smaller future for [ourselves],” observe Ben and Dan.
2: There is, however, another way to view procrastination. Perhaps procrastination is a powerful sign telling us it’s time to get another Who involved. “Because at the moment, [we] ‘re clearly not the Who in possession of the needed knowledge or capability,” Dan and Ben write. We can choose to see procrastination as a sign that our goal or ambition is great. But perhaps we are “not the right person to execute the plan to achieve it, at least not right now.”
If we were the right person with the right skills, we wouldn’t be procrastinating!
When we are stuck, when we need help–the question becomes: Will we seek that help or continue to do nothing?
“The bigger [our] personal ambition, the more procrastination [we] ‘ll experience,” Dan and Ben note. “Everyone who is ambitious procrastinates. It is part of having big goals that stretch far beyond you. But for most people procrastination never leads to creating the result. Instead, it leads to inaction, regret, and frustration.”
3: We only have two options when we procrastinate. Our default response is to ask, “How do I do this?” Which often leads to more procrastination.
Or, we can ask: “Who can help me with this?” Perhaps even better: “Who can achieve this goal for me?
“By doing so, [we] can stop procrastinating and feeling discouraged,” Dan and Ben observe. “Instead, we can experience an injection of energy, confidence, and creativity.
For example, let’s say we want to get healthier. Instead of just joining a gym, we could hire a personal trainer. “Yes, this would be an investment, one [we] may not think [we] have the capacity to make,” write Dan and Ben. “However, by hiring a personal trainer, [our] capabilities and fitness will expand.”
We get coaching and support. Which will lead to better results and increased confidence. “Additionally, by being invested, [we] ‘ll be more motivated and focused, not semi-committed,” the authors note. Investing in our goals is “how [we] grow into and achieve huge goals.”
Asking “Who” not “How” allows us to take control of “our level of potential for expansion. By making the courageous step of investing in Whos, [our] capacity as a person increases,” write Dan and Ben, “which will transform [our] identity, perspectives, and resources.”
Reflection: Where do I need more Whos to help me accomplish what I ultimately want to do? What relationships do I already have that are being underutilized?
Action: Journal my answers to the questions above.