Suffering is Surmountable: 25 Steps to Conquering Complacency

September 11, 2014 Affective LeadershipEmotional IntelligencePeer Powered PerformancePositive Deviance  No comments


“…All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable,
than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

It is often easy to complain that the present pace and complexity of change is often overwhelming but this quote taken from the first line of the indictment section of the Declaration of Independence reveals how easily we can be lulled into a sense of helplessness.  Change as our founding fathers knew centuries ago is difficult. We like conformity, consistency and predictability. Even when our experiences are unpleasant we most often “prefer the predictability of pain to the pain of unpredictability”.[i]

Changing any habit is “abolishing a form” whether it is a non-representative governing body, or managing a sweet tooth is awkward. We have to be willing to pass through the stages of uncertainty, failure, self-doubt and our often overwhelming need to be seen well in the eyes of others.

We are all faced with the necessity for change every day. Any organization or individual that does not adapt will inevitably face extinction.

Here is an admittedly incomplete list of my best recommendations for successfully surmounting the unavoidable obstacles to any change. It does not matter whether these are personal, professional or organizational. I welcome additions, subtractions, clarifications and admonitions of every kind. My understanding is admittedly incomplete.  Despite the 30 years of study I have invested in my own awakening I am often “asleep at the wheel”.   Fortunately I am a ravenous reader and you will find a link to many of the sources of these suppositions at the end of this article.

Thank you for taking your time to participate in our shared enlightenment.

  1. Don’t tell anyone of your plans. Many argue that you need a professional or at least another to “hold your feet to the fire”. This may work for some but I find that most will find that being pushed is not as effective as find your own pull.

  2. Start by making a list of all the benefits you expect to receive upon reaching your desired outcome. Include past, present and future. DON’T BEGIN UNTIL THE LIST IS IRRESISTIBLE. The goal is not to push towards doing but be pulled by being. Sustainable transformation begins from the inside out not the outside in.

  3. Impatience is poison. It is helpful to remember the “Just Do It” campaign slogan was taken from the final words of a convicted murderer before execution.

  4. Awareness is everything. Notice the stories you tell yourself.

  5. Do your thoughts bring your pleasure or pain?

  6. If your inner conversations bring you pain. Learn to think differently.

  7. Nobody puts thoughts in your head…you choose how you think.

  8. Don’t try and stop anything. Your mind creates pictures. You move in the direction of the pictures you create. Putting a big red stop sign over a chocolate cake does not discourage us from eating cake. The cake has a powerful pull. (This may be anecdotal but chocolate cake may actually contain evil expanding spells)

  9. Start good things again, again, again and again. Think about how children learn to walk. They don’t focus on the falls they focus on the freedom that walking will bring.

  10. Surround yourself with people who energize you. Energizing connections are twice as important as informational connections. Sadly de-energizing connections have double the influence of an uplifting engagement. The takeaway to remember is that one de-energizing connection will overpower the influence of eight informational connections.

  11. Treat failure as INVALUABLE FEEDBACK to a better path.

  12. Guilt, regret, shame, remorse, blame all de-energizers. How can deliberately demoralizing yourself (or others) lead to positive progress?

  13. If you experience any of the above don’t judge yourself. We all do the best we can at that moment. Once that moment has past we are different people. The past and future are both fiction. The ONLY reality is now.

  14. Remember you and everyone around you is a liar.

  15. We lie all the time and the person we are most effective at lying to is ourselves.

  16. Memories are not like fiction. They are fiction.

  17. Let go of anything that makes you feel bad.

  18. Worry is often disguised as planning.

  19. Keep the planning but REFRAME THE PAIN to have a positive emotional impact.

  20. Know you are more power-full than you can even imagine.

  21. Feed your mind. Trade your workout music for audio books. Never stop learning.

  22. Find a format for positive objective feedback. Maybe that is a friend or group. One of mine is a GPS watch. Anytime I am uninspired to lace up my shoes I can look at how far I have come.

  23. Concentrate on just one line in this list each week. If you have collaborators who share your passion use those relationships to share the truth.

  24. Start where you are. Individually and organizationally we often struggle not because we are unclear or insincere about where we want to go but because it is emotionally demoralizing to accept where we really are. It does not matter in the slightest why you are where you are. Like it says on the signs in the mall “you are here” that is all you need to know.

  25. When you reach the end. Start over.

Loving Life,


[i] I would credit the Original author of this phrase but have been unable to find the source.

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