Embracing Avoidance and Uncovering the Truth

Management is like parenting: many people do it and they mostly have no idea what they’re doing, but they somehow make it work. The result? Stress, wheel-spinning, overwhelm, and millions of dollars in lost opportunity. That’s why I’m launching a special course starting January 11th, 2018. How to Manage and Be Managed is the missing manual for you to help your employees—frankly, what we all should have been taught in high school. Forget everything you’ve learned about management. You don’t have to “motivate” your employees. You don’t need to “empower” them. And you definitely shouldn’t be “supervising” them. Click here to learn more.

And one of the biggest problems managers have with employees? Avoidance!

Everyone avoids things they don’t want to do. But what do you do when you notice you’re avoiding something? You dread. You hear the whiny voice of a five-year-old in your head saying, “I don’t wanna!” What is your reaction to this?

For most people, there’s a heavy sigh and a dreary commitment to do it anyway. Maybe later, but it has to be done and it’s not going to be fun, but too bad. That’s life. For many others, the avoidance is extended even further through what we call procrastination. Procrastination is the avoidance of avoidance.

There’s a way to relate to avoidance in an entirely different way that has amazing benefits. Get excited about it. Don’t get excited about what you don’t want to do, that’s paving over the feeling you have about it. Many coaches want you to think you can just fool yourself into being excited when you’re not and this is thin soup indeed. (Remember, you can get out when you puke.)

Instead, get excited that you found something you’re avoiding.

Why? Because you are about to learn something about yourself and seize an opportunity to grow. Every avoidance is loaded with information about how you relate to yourself, to life, to business, to people, to work, to pain, and more. The things you avoid tend to be the best things for you—like the broccoli you didn’t want to eat as a child. But again, it doesn’t mean you should simply do what you avoid without examination. It’s more complex than this.

It may be necessary to do what you are avoiding, but part of the process ought to be an examination of why you’re avoiding it.

What don’t you want to feel or face in yourself? Are you avoiding the feeling of conflict with another? Discomfort? The shame you feel about your cash flow difficulty? The pain of looking at how much sales are down? I once worked with a business owner whose pain was so deep about money that when she looked at a P&L, the numbers all blurred. She literally dissociated.

Avoidance of a task is almost always the avoidance of feeling an emotion. Embrace yourself by embracing the feeling that task brings up. To continue to avoid the task is to avoid the emotion, which is to miss out on a golden opportunity to get to know what’s going on with you.

By doing this you augment your awareness, a key component of leadership. You cannot lead others if you cannot lead yourself, and leading yourself into this kind of productive discomfort is critical.

So, the next time you find yourself avoiding something, don’t drag yourself through it in dread and don’t push yourself through it with false enthusiasm. Take the time and attention to get to the bottom of why you’re avoiding it and move through the task with awareness and a caring curiosity about yourself. Be fascinated by your avoidance, and know that you will learn something valuable in the process.

Oh, and a quick tip… If you have New Year’s Resolutions for 2018, their success may depend on learning this practice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment