A Coaching Power Tool Created by Frank Owiredu-Yeboa
(Business Coach, GHANA)
In today’s world, many employees are faced with increasing demand to meet performance targets in a very competitive marketplace. This is made worse by knowledgeable and demanding customers/ clients/ consumers. Unfortunately, the pressures will not go away and may even be worse as companies and their leaders push to meet their Return On Investment (ROI) targets.
A similar challenge can be said and found with other life goals such as reducing weight, acquiring further education, giving up on a specific behavior, etc. Without the correct mindset/ perspective/ motivations, one easily gives up on his/ her goals. This explains the ritual by some people of setting goals at the beginning of every year only for them to be ‘forgotten’ by the first quarter.
The emotional effect on the individual who is giving up or persevering cannot be quantified. Achieving your goals brings joy, a sense of fulfillment, a belief in self that will continue into future years and responsibilities. Sad to say that many also give up because for various reasons.
In life, some situations challenge you so much that you start having the thought of giving up and may end up giving up.
- How does giving up affect your image in the eyes of your peers and leaders?
- How do you feel any time you give up?
- How do you feel anytime you persevere and become successful?
- cease making an effort; admit defeat.
- allow oneself to be taken over by emotion or addiction. – Definitions from Oxford Languages
Many reasons may influence the choice of giving up. Focus me (2) has enumerated 5(five) points that may cause someone to give up.
A) Lack of Discipline
Lacking the discipline to put in the effort day after day and without anticipating immediate results is probably the number one reason why people give up.
Even if the task is small, there will still be some level of discipline required. A fickle nature and a bit of laziness make it impossible to continue working and pushing.
B) Putting Too Much Power in the Hands of Somebody Else
We are group creatures. As a result, many people are heavily influenced by others. While positive influences can help a person realize their potential, negative influences will prevent many from pursuing their dreams.
Giving others the power to influence your decisions will probably make you think twice about an idea or a dream you have.
C) Daily Distractions
We live in a very dynamic world. Instant access to information, instant access to communication, instant access to entertainment… We have gotten used to leading fast-paced lives and we’ve also gotten used to wanting immediate gratification.
A serious life dream will sometimes require years, even decades to be brought to reality. In the meantime, a person can easily get distracted by mundane, everyday things. Distractions will eventually take over and the end goal will be lost or forgotten.
D) Not Believing Enough in One’s Capabilities
The lack of belief in one’s abilities and strengths is a common reason for goal abandonment.
Mindset is everything when it comes to breaking out of the routine and doing everything it takes to pursue something challenging but rewarding.
E) A Single Failure is Seen as the End of All Things
Achieving a goal isn’t always a straight and unwinding path. For most, a couple of failures come before the eventual success.
Many people will give up after the first stumbling block. They will lack the strength to learn a lesson and move forward with the execution of their plan.
The emotional effect of giving up on achieving a target has an impact on your self-worth. Initially, it may seem a good idea to take you out of the immediate ‘misery’. Giving up is usually a mindset. It can start from pretending to be working when in reality you do not believe that you can achieve the target, to when one totally resigns and stop making any effort at achieving the objective. Many people pretend to be working but, in their hearts, they do not believe in what they are doing and ‘keep up appearances.
Persistence is doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. (oxford languages). Some popular quotes about perseverance include;
Fall seven times and stand up eight.- Japanese Proverb
A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.- George M. Moore Jr. (1862-1940), Member U.S. House of Representatives
We will either find a way or make one.- Hannibal (247-182 BC), Carthaginian General
Moving from a perspective of giving up to that of perseverance creates positive feelings of a can-do attitude. It empowers you with the feeling of easily achieving your targets and makes the effort worthwhile.
A strong perseverance mindset usually comes from a strong belief in your vision. This is critical because it makes you unshakeable in your belief that you want to see your vision becoming a reality. Any time you feel like giving up, refer to your vision and ask yourself if it is not worthwhile pursuing it.
Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. in her book, Mindset, A new psychology of success, talks about the Fixed and the growth mindset.
‘A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.
A person with a fixed mindset will see giving up as a failure and may affect him/her emotionally.
A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. One is more likely to persevere with a growth mindset. S/he sees momentary setbacks as an opportunity to learn. No one likes to fail. It is what we use the failure for that separates the mindsets. After feeling sad about failing, a growth mindset will learn from it to understand the mistakes and find creative solutions to the problem until s/he succeeds.
This is aptly summarized in Vince Lombardi’s famous quote,
Winners never quit, and quitters never win
Lou Macabasco in his article identified six effective ways to be persistent.
- Identify Your Wants and Desires. If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. This can also speak to setting up our goals and understanding what goals we want to achieve in the first place. A firm belief in what you really want and what your desires are will help you persevere in the face of challenges.
- Determine Your Motivation. Your motivation will determine how far you can follow your desire in achieving your goal. If after assessment and you realize your motivation is weak, you must find a way of increasing it else it is a sure recipe for giving up. A strong motivation ensures you can persevere to the end.
- Outline Your Definite Action Step. This is how you will achieve your goal. It pays to be as detailed as possible and taking into consideration potential obstacles and changes that may come your way. A detailed ‘how’ will ensure few surprises along the way to achieving your goal.
- Keep a Positive Mental Attitude. A strong positive mental attitude is necessary to keep off any negative thoughts. One must be focused on the task ahead and determined to achieve that goal.
- Build Your Mastermind Group. This group composes of people who can help you succeed towards your goal. You must choose carefully who you will trust as part of your mastermind group. If possible, include only those who can give you unbiased judgments and who have a positive mental attitude.
- Develop Discipline and Habit. Discipline is harnessing the inner strength not to be swayed by any circumstance and do what you have set out to do. After some time, discipline becomes a habit. Habits then become part of you without you consciously thinking about them. Once you make it a habit, you will be on course to achieving your target.
If anyone practices these principles/ steps, s/he will be on his/her way to achieving success by persevering and not giving up.
On a vacation in Namibia, a tourist decided to climb Dune 7. A dune is a collection of sand usually as a result of the wind effect and mostly found in the desert. Dune 7, so named because it is the seventh dune after crossing the river Tsauchab and measures 1,256 feet (383 meters) high.
At the base of the dune, he assumed his athletic lifestyle will make the climb easy, and more so as he saw other climbers that he thought he was in a better shape than doing it with ease. This thought soon faded off when he experienced the reality. Being a mound of sand, his feet sank into it with every step. As he climbed, he soon realized it was not as easy as he had thought. Looking up to the apex and seeing the distance yet to be covered even demoralized him further. He thought of giving up. With one step at a time, drawing motivation from other colleagues and looking back to see how far he had come spurred him on to continue until he was able to reach the top of the dune. When he was asked how he felt, he said ‘it was the most refreshing feeling ever. He went further to state that what kept him on the trail were;
- A focus on the goal which he could see. The goal was to reach the top of the dune.
- Anytime he looked back, he realized he had made progress. This inspired him to continue.
- His determination to succeed. He could not bear explaining to his colleague why he was unable to complete the climb.
- Drawing inspiration from those climbing and ignoring those who have abandoned and are seated on the sand.
Everyone at one point in time feels like giving up on his/her goal. This may be because;
- You may not be getting the results you desire irrespective of putting in much effort and other resources.
- You may be feeling drained and lethargic. Doing the work does not provide any excitement.
- Your Boss may be upon you to deliver the results possibly without much support.
You start to rationalize the decision with self-defeating words such as ‘Let me cut down my loses and save what is left, ‘I am not the only failure in the world’, ‘The reward is even not enticing enough’ etc.
At this point in your progress, you need to pause, reflect, and go back to your original idea and vision.
It is important that as coaches we bring to the awareness of coachees the vision of accepting the target and why achieving the vision was important in the first place. We may draw on their previous positive experiences or that of their role models who have persevered, succeeded, and what they think about those achievements. Most often the coachees already know they must achieve the objectives but are overwhelmed with the challenges. Therefore, a coach will have to support the coachee to find that energy to overcome the challenges and continue their goal.
As a coach,
- Have you been in a similar situation where you contemplated giving up?
- What helped you to persevere?
- What likely questions will you ask to bring the coachee to awareness of continuing with achieving the goal?
FocusMe. 2021. 5 Reasons People Give Up on Their Goals Too Early – FocusMe. [online] Available at: <https://focusme.com/blog/reasons-people-give-up-on-their-goals/> [Accessed 19 January 2021].
Lifehack. 2021. 6 Effective Ways to Become Persistent. [online] Available at: <https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/6-effective-ways-to-become-persistent.html> [Accessed 19 January 2021].
Dweck, C., n.d. Mindset.