When John Lauer became president of BF Goodrich he was elated. He felt that finally now he was in a position to contribute with purpose. He could make the kind of difference he’d been burning to make. But as quickly as the overjoy came Slip Sliding Away ensued.
After four short years, John found himself unexcited, lackluster and uninterested. His infectious enthusiasm that inspired so many was gone. What happened?
The slow creep of adjusting and compromising along with complacency—routine creates such gradual change that takes hold over time—it’s difficult to see who we have become.
If you drop a frog into boiling water, he’ll instinctively jump out*. But if you put that frog in a pot of cool water and gradually increase the temperature, the frog won’t notice the water is getting hotter and hotter. He boils right along with the water.
*The frog is not unlike some people who adjust to the deluge of things that take the wind out of our sails on a daily basis. In very small, infinitesimal ways we adjust moment-by-moment with each interaction and our thoughts, beliefs and character become shaped (or reshaped) and informed by disappointments, frustrations, tension, conflict and rejection.
It’s a cumulative buildup. We begin to unknowingly, in very small ways accept ideas such as—anxiety is acceptable, conflict and frustration are “normal” and personal immobility (being stuck), inertia is expected, just part of the deal.
Overtime our beliefs put us into the Slip Sliding Away rut of stagnation, accepting that mediocrity and the status quo is OK, normal and unchangeable. Anything I do doesn’t matter. I might as well give up and join everybody else!
Life is conditioning us in the wrong direction. Watch out for apathy, inertia and inattention. With the loss of interest in leading your life, you begin to follow. You primarily react to life.
Here’s a test to see if you are Slip Sliding Away
- Do you wake up excited, ready to attack the day?
- Are you growing new insights?
- Do you gain clarity of reality as time goes on?
- Is life improving with each day?
- Are you having fun?
Here are some tips to stop the sliding
- Increase your self-awareness.
- Notice what is stirring in you.
- Get curious of the source of discontentment, resentment or anger.
- Pause, reflect and reenergize.
- Recognize that we are not as good at slowing down as we are at getting ramped up.
- Avoid reductive thinking and language. Notice the depth and richness around you.
- I always recommend reading—articles, magazines or books. The lessons that many people have discovered are there to help us discover and go where we need to go.
Think about who you want to be in three years. Make that the target you aim for.
“I have a love for the Lotus flower, while growing in mud it still remains unstained.”—Confucius
*No frogs were injured in this work. The frog is only an analogy. It’s a parable.
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