Getting caught up in a “grass is always greener” frame of mind is one of the worst things that you can do because it removes you from reality by creating “what if” scenarios. For example, you might say things like: “What if I went to a nicer college, I would have a better job right now.” Or, “What if I trained harder for that game, I would have done better.” These are terrible things to say to yourself because no matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been, things can always be better — there is no such thing as perfection. If you are someone who gets caught up in a woulda-coulda-shoulda (i.e., I would have done this, I could of done that, I should have acted this way), then I have some advice for you: stop concerning yourself with the grass on the other side of the hill, and start watering your own damn grass.
Let me tell you a story: at this very moment, several of my neighbors are having an unofficial grass growing competition. I say it’s unofficial because all of my neighbors are each trying to make their front yard look the greenest, but there’s no referee or scoreboard, it’s just a bunch of older/middle aged men making their front yards look good. The amount of time and energy they are spending in doing this is quite surprising. For instance, one of my neighbors dug up his entire front yard, installed an irrigation system, planted premium grass seeds (I asked him), and then put up caution tape around the perimeter of his yard. This guy really wants the greenest of the green in his front yard, at any cost. If the devil himself were to ask him for his soul for green grass, I’m sure he would say yes.
As I look at my neighbors all putting time and energy into their yards, I had an epiphany: my neighbors are entrepreneurs, and their business is growing grass. The more I looked at this occurrence, the more I saw parallels to grass growing and starting a business.
“The grass is greenest where it’s watered”
EVERYTHING YOU NEED IS WITH YOU
I work with lots of entrepreneurs – many in the public speaking, expert field. And most fall into the trap of thinking they are lacking. It’s easy to do. Start comparing yourself to someone with more: success, letters after their name, employees, or whatever and pretty soon you feel like a gooey mass of smallness. Been there
It doesn’t take long before you’re convinced that as-soon-as you get over this one hurdle you’ll enjoy the lottery of success. And when that fails to hit the mark, you convince ourself the next time will be better (maybe that’s why the North American divorce rate is over 50%?)
It’s a no-win cycle – you will never be happy with where you are.
Every day I’m pushing down the “as-soon-as” thoughts. It actually scares me to go there. From being in these trenches many times before, I’ve learned to never allow myself to think that right now is anything less than perfect.
The reason this [the grass is always greener] attitude undermines mental health” said Jennifer Kunst, Ph.D., psychologist, in Psychology Today, “is that it leads us to turn away from the main task of life, which is to make the most of what we have.”
When I step on stage, go onto a conference call with a potential client, or prepare for a keynote – I remind my insecure self (the gooey mass of smallness) that this is the perfect time for me. I’m 150% here. And I don’t want to be anywhere else. The time for rest will come soon enough. For today, I am savouring the privilege of my labours.
I heard a great distinction at a meeting, last night: instead of saying “I have to…”, turn that around and say “I get to…” Try that today – it’s a beautiful synapse-twister that can instantly flip your energy from resenting and resisting to ready and rejoicing.
Sure, all of those future events would be great. No question. The problem is that today, you’re still you, fighting fires, building the fort, and feeding the hungry.
In computer programming, they might call “as-soon-as” thinking an endless loop. By definition, it means once you get what you are hoping for, you STILL won’t be happy, you’ll just have a new “as-soon-as” to think about.
It’s like the lottery winner who is broke six months later. They never learned how to take care of what they’ve got. So when they get more, they just blow it. “He who is not contented with what he has” wrote Socrates “would not be contented with what he would like to have.”
As-soon-as” thinking also takes you out of today, the present, and weakens your ability to hunker down, get focussed, and get work done. The trick is to maximize the use of what you already have.
It’s like going hiking into wilderness – you take what you need on your back. And you make do
It’s no different every day, with the kids, cleaning your bathroom on Sunday, or steeling yourself to pick up the phone one more time and make that sales call. You have what you need. You “get to do it.” Now, get on with it.
By Hugh Culver
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