Question 7: “Do you have a plan to be outwardly focused today?”
Whether you struggle with addictive and compulsive behaviors or you just need help overcoming daily worry, this Question has the power to free you.
Zig Ziglar, the sales coach and motivational speaker, told a story once that speaks well to this Question. The story goes that Mr. Ziglar hurt his knee while he was out jogging. While not serious enough to require surgery, the injury was quite painful and left poor Zig hobbling around quite pitifully. Not too long after suffering this injury Mr. Ziglar had an important speaking engagement where he attempted to motivate hundreds of people at a sales seminar. Zig says that when he first gimped up on stage he could feel the audience’s collective sympathy for his pain; Zig swore to himself that he would press on and deliver a great seminar despite his agony.
And then a funny thing happened: He started thinking about his audience and what they needed. Zig spent an hour holding the audience’s attention and transmitting valuable information that had the power to transform lives. He jumped up and down, paced quickly back and forth across the stage…all without feeling an ounce of pain in his knee.
When his talk was done Zig thanked his audience and stepped off the stage…whereupon his injured knee gave out and he nearly collapsed in a heap on the stairs.
Mr. Ziglar proved a universal truth with this story: When you focus on others your own problems seem to disappear. If you have ever served food at a soup kitchen you know exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you with kids: Even when you are at your worst with worry over bills you know all it takes to take your mind off money is for your child to skin a knee. In your rush to comfort your son or daughter you will momentarily forget all about your own problems.
For all of these reasons, asking Question 7 is critical to breaking free from the Addiction Cycle. When I get stuck in the Cycle it is difficult to think clearly. My mind gets clouded by a ‘fog’ and my own feelings cannot be trusted; Stimulus-Response Theory threatens to take control of my life. To keep my sanity I have to get out of my mind. I do this by creating a plan to focus on others. Here’s an example of what such a plan might look like:
- Call several people (friends or relatives) to ask about their day and see how they are doing
- Play with my kids or meet a friend for coffee
- Meditate on the challenges I heard others bring up at my last program meeting, and call those people to offer them encouragement
- Pray for my mentor and the other guys in my program
- Pray for my wife and children, my parents and siblings, heck, even my boss
Question 7 reminds me that I cannot get trapped in my own head once I’ve entered the Addiction Cycle. I must focus outward and on others, not on my own fantasies, fears, and anxieties.
Today’s Challenge: The next time you start to ‘lose it’, whether it’s a result of entering the Addiction Cycle or just having a “case of the Mondays”, write down 5 things you can do with and/or for others…then do them.