July 1, 2023: Daily Discipline Mailbag

The mailbag is back!

Let’s get to it.

“I think you and James Clear (Atomic Habits) need to be on the opening card of the Zuck/Elon fight.”

Haha. I don’t want to fight James and he doesn’t want to fight me. We’re actually aligned, not opposed, and so is our mission.

James specializes in habits and built his approach on the foundation of work done by the brilliant BJ Fogg out of Stanford University. James’ work and book Atomic Habits is responding to the public’s infatuation with habits. He filled an obvious interest people have.

There’s nothing wrong with habits or creating habits. James helps people understand how they work and how to get better at them. Even I can benefit from that.

My issue is not with James. He’s incredible and helping millions of people.

My issue is with people who chase habits as strategy to avoid the hard work of improvement. My issue is with people expecting habits to magically make change happen for them. My issue is with people who want habits without the sweat equity to earn what they desire.

I was actually thinking of James the other day and hoping he writes another book. I’m curious to see what he’s putting effort into now. Whatever it is, I bet it will help a lot of people.

To prove it, I included a question about habits . . . 

“What is one habit you would have somebody start with today to build momentum from a stand still.” (Anonymous)

Workout. Workout hard and regularly.

Not cardio (jogging, biking, etc). Lift weights. Whatever you can do: 5 lb dumbbells? Do that. 400 lb deadlifts? Do that. Bodyweight squats? Do that. 100 burpees? Do that.

Nothing in the world replaces working out. Every aspect of your life inside and out benefits from working out.

You’ll never finish a workout and an hour later think to yourself, “I wish I hadn’t done that.”

“How do you call out someone that BCD's without sounding like you are blaming or complaining. I feel like this is tricky most times.” (Anonymous)

I get this question a lot.

The context of every situation is a little different, and context matters, but there are reliable principles we can follow for letting people know their BCD (Blaming, Complaining, or Defensiveness) is problematic.

  1. Play the long game: So often I see people trying to “solve” the problem of BCD in one or two conversations. It doesn’t work like that. People need time, awareness, and repetition to change behavior patterns. Expect to have 12-20 conversations about it. Some of the conversations won’t be about the person and their behavior patterns, but about the dynamic and impact of BCD. If you try to solve it too fast, you’ll come across too aggressive and judgmental. Your effort will backfire and they’ll shut out your message.
  2. Talk with them about BCD a few times before calling them out: You don’t have to be an expert on it to talk about it. Just introduce it into conversations you’re already having. Try these conversation starters:
    • “It’s interesting how many people I hear complaining about problems they’re not trying very hard to solve. Why do you think people do that?”
    • “Have you ever tried communicating something to someone who just got defensive and didn’t get the message? How do you feel when someone does that and how do you respond to it?”
    • “BCD takes a lot of energy. Between you and I, what if we both got better at not putting any energy into BCD and instead put it into something that fulfilled us?”
  3. Be direct and loving: BCD is a subtly powerful and non-judgmental phrase. How would you feel if someone told you, “You complain a lot. Stop complaining.”? It sounds judgmental right? You’d probably feel labeled. You’d probably feel better if someone said, “That sounds like BCD. Is it BCD or do you need help with something?” Calling someone out doesn’t mean you have to put them in their place. That only works in very specific contexts within certain types of relationships. It doesn’t work well with a co-worker or spouse. You can be direct without judging or making someone feel small. A direct and loving message would be, “I can tell you’re frustrated [or whatever emotion you’re sensing from them]. Let’s not BCD about this because that’s just going to make it worse and amplify all these negative feelings. We can be frustrated without turning to BCD so let’s do that.”

Those three actions are worth a good 3-6 months of effort, or more.

“What defines wasting time? To a business person this could be any time spent not making money. But for the aging parent this could be not spending time and making memories with family?” (Heather - 38 - Beavercreek, OH)

You nailed it, Heather. Everyone has to define the specifics of wasting vs. maximizing time for themselves.

It’s a question of value. What do you value? How do you create more of that value? What time and energy does it take to create that value? How deeply does that value affect you and how long does that value last?

Value is easier to understand if we break it down into external and internal value.

A business person using their time to make money is maximizing external value. An aging parent using their time to be with family is maximizing internal value. They both matter.

I define wasting time as using your time on something that doesn’t give you much external or internal value, or value that disappears quickly after the moment is over. It takes courage to do an audit of how you use your time and put it through the internal/external value lens. People tend to spend a lot [A LOT] of time on things that don’t deliver much internal or external value.

It’s up to each person to reflect and bring discipline to their time based on the value they want from life.

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