Thursday, October 12, 2006

Dealing With The Unthinkable

It happened last night.

I had just given a four-hour teleseminar called The Procrastination Cure, and it many ways it was the best one I've done yet.  People were learning, they were changing, they were getting rid of blocks and finding new motivation, and I was on a roll as a speaker, at least in the second half.  It was absolutely fantastic.

And then, after everyone hung up and I left the call, I discovered that my recording program (PowerGramo for Skype) didn't have a record of it.  At all.  When I tried to investigate further, it crashed, deleting the temporary file that might have contained some salvageable data.

It was one of those moments that, in a comedy TV show or movie, would be marked by someone looking up to the heavens and screaming, "Noooooooooooooooooooo!"

I felt demolished.  Ruined.  Weeks of preparation, many hours of spare time spent on product planning and logistics, getting ready to reproduce this recording and sell it once it was done, not to mention four hours worth of "go time", and it was all gone.  Worst of all, I had lost the recording of all of the participants' questions (and my answers) as we diagnosed and prescribed solutions for their individual problems.  In some ways, the Q&A and live diagnosis is the most important part of the material for people listening to the recordings later, because it gives people very personal examples to learn from.  And all of it was irretrievably gone, forever.

I almost could have cried.  The weight of all the work I'd been doing this week felt heavy on my shoulders.  I sent out an email to the participants to ask if anyone else had a recording, but I honestly didn't expect anyone to.

And, there once was a time when, if something terrible like this had happened, it would have made me want to curl up in a ball in a dark room and not come out for a long, long time.

What You Feel Is What Seems Real

Luckily for me, that time is long past.  I spent about a minute, maybe two, of wallowing in the feeling of loss and grief, before I started applying the same things I just spent the previous four hours lecturing about.

And so I used my feelings to identify the thoughts that were leading me the wrong way.  And I started asking questions that would lead me to think differently.  I asked, "well, what's good about this?"

And I thought, "Well, I wasn't really happy with the tone, pacing, or organization of the first hour.  I kind of wanted to re-record that anyway."  Then I thought, "Well, since I can't arrange another recording between now and when I go to the networking event next week, I don't need to do all the ninety jillion other things I had on my list to do to package up the sample CDs and workbooks I was going to take along to promo the product to other publishers.  So I'll have more time to relax in the next few days and focus on giving a good decision-making workshop on Saturday."

And then I thought, "Well, if I have to re-record, I can't really use the same group of people, because they'll be familiar with the material and they won't ask the same questions.  I mean, some of them could join in if they wanted to, but I need enough new people to keep it fresh.  But nearly everyone in the coaching group was on the line, so there aren't enough new people."

"Hm.  That means I would need to go outside the group...  but I wouldn't necessarily need to do it for free.  I could just sell the course, but give the first 15 people who buy it (or some other number) a chance to get in on the re-recording.  I could maybe remaster the entire thing, or change how I want to organize it a bit.  Because I've missed my original publication deadline, I've got time to rethink things if I want, now."

Feeling Down?  Ask the right questions to turn it around!

Now, I don't know yet how any of this is going to turn out, but changing my thinking turned my feelings around completely.  By thinking about what advantages this event could give me, I changed my reality.  Instantly.  And instead of moaning about my fate, I sat down and started writing this article.  Because that was one more advantage I thought of: "Hm, I've been thinking I need some more articles about me solving problems in my own life with this stuff.  So I can blog this, too!"

So if you have bad things happening to you in your life (and who doesn't?) and you want to stop feeling bad about them (and who doesn't?), you need to be in my coaching program.  Because the people who are, just got four hours of free consultation on problems and goals that were important to them...  and that's in addition to the dozen-plus hours of workshops and lots of online coaching they were actually paying for.

And in those four hours, they learned not only how to identify and eradicate chronic "useless" bad feelings that create procrastination, they also learned how to create highly motivating goals and action plans, and to bring feelings of growth, fulfillment, compassion, and fun into everything they have to do in their lives.  And they learned how to do what I just did: take any bad feeling, and use it as leverage to change their thinking, and thus, transform their experience of reality.

Shakespeare once said that nothing is ever good or bad, but thinking makes it so.  I would revise him slightly to say that thinking does indeed make it so, but it is the feelings produced by our thoughts that convince us that things are indeed "so".  And some of those feelings are useful, because they guide you to change your thoughts and actions, as my "Noooooo" feeling did for me earlier.  And others are not so useful, because they lead you to believe that "reality" is unchangeable and that your present situation is hopeless and stuck.  They keep you doing the same things, living the same way, and going nowhere.

For example, one of the participants on the call talked about a feeling that kept him from doing any of the many things that needed to be done, because he felt guilty about not doing all the other things that needed to be done!  And of course this is useless, because there always will be something that he is not doing.  So this is a feeling that can and should be deleted, using the techniques I taught in Banish Unwanted Feelings Forever.

Feelings: Keep the best, discard the rest!

And once you learn to use the useful feelings as a guide, and to get rid of the rest, then you can begin to discover how to make every moment an expression of unique personal meaning and integrity.  When I discovered the recording was lost, it was up to me to decide how I would interpret the "meaning" of this event.  Was it good, or was it bad?  It was entirely in my power to decide.  I chose to align the meaning of the event with my personal values, and my desire to set a positive example for my clients, as well as my desire to have a great life!

Through this perspective, I created the meaning of the moment.  Just as I do every moment.  And so do you.  The only way we might differ, is in what meanings we are each creating, at each point in time.

So remember: life is every moment.  Make it mean something!

(Update: as I was writing this article, I received an email from a participant who may have a partial recording I can use, so some of the material may yet be recovered.  I will post again when I know whether it's usable and I've decided what will happen about a re-recording, if any.  But notice that this has nothing to do with how I felt at the time, and what I believed to be true.  Even if the recordings turn out not to be useful, my peace of mind remains undisturbed.)