One of my beliefs about human interaction is that there are no mistakes in communication, only outcomes. Sometimes when people behave in certain ways, the outcome they receive is not useful to them. Yet, as diligently as the alchemist, feverishly trying to change lead into gold, they often repeat the very behaviors which have not worked forty seven times previously, in order to have the opportunity to confirm their failure once again.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o /> Does this seem familiar? This type of behavior occurs in several contexts. Take education. Once I had the privilege of observing a fourth- grade teacher who issued over 2000, "Sit down!" commands to her students in one week. Her behavior was quite consistent. Every time a student left his seat, she attempted to assert herself and failed. Unfortunately, her students did not... they continued to "stand up for themselves."
 And law. Chet preferred parking in front of his store. Unfortunately, the city bus system rather enjoyed that spot, too. In fact, they acted as if they owned it--repeatedly stopping to admit and discharge passengers--according to Chet. But he was determined to convince both the bus company and city police (who issued a citation every time he parked there) that this was his place of business, and his behavior could be just as consistent as theirs! Chet could wallpaper his bathroom with the number of citations he received last year...
 During the past several years, I have encountered people who have dieted or quit smoking successfully...hundreds of times! This reproductive plague often strikes closer to home: The family. Janet had been married twice. Each was a successful professional or businessman. Each was also an alcoholic. When her third husband started staying drunk all weekend, Janet had a sinking feeling in her stomach-- a sick, here-we-go-again experience. How specifically had she been able to become involved in three marriages which basically ran the same course?
 Marty had a sexual on... During the past two years, just before making love to Michelle, he would hear a little "voice" in his head which said, "I wonder if I will be able to maintain my level of arousal?" And then he makes love and fails. Guess what happened next time.
 These examples illustrate the extent to which in a variety of situations people do what's familiar, comfortable and often useless. So what does this mean? In order to achieve a desired outcome for all your efforts, it is worthwhile to consider some new ideas. When something you are doing is not working, stop immediately and do something else! Sounds simple, but far too often, when something isn't working, we keep doing that, only "harder" (remember the song, "High hopes?"). But the harder we try the more it continues to "not work!" You need to break this cycle.
 This can be achieved by asking yourself some valuable questions:

  • "Where am I now (present state)?" Consider what is presently occurring in your life that has undesirable consequences or otherwise limits you in some fashion.
  • "What do I really want (desired outcome)?" Evaluate the change in terms of how you might see yourself differently, and the effect this would have on other aspects of your life.
  • "What do I need to do to get there?" Ponder what you have tried so far that has failed. Consider what happens every time you keep doing that.
  • "What prevents me from doing something else?" If you risked doing something else in a given situation, what is the worst thing that could happen? What could be gained, instead?

 Recycling useless outcomes is an art. Ask yourself some of these questions or generate your own. Sort things out differently. Change the state of your art.