Okay I made an assumption just like I keep telling people not to do. But it happened all the same. I assumed that when my friend suggested we go to something at the Edinburgh Fringe that I could trust his judgement to pick something good.
Now, to be fair to him, he did email me a list of possible shows but I was busy working away and never saw the message until after he had gone ahead and booked it, based on the desires of the other people coming too. In fact having been to a few gigs with him in the past, I had assumed that it was just the two of us going to see something and since the last gig had been comedy I also assumed (yes this word is fast becoming over-used) that we were going to something funny.
So on Tuesday I travelled through to Edinburgh to see four different shows. He had sent me a list of what they were but I hadn't done any research to see what they involved. And for some reason was still thinking it was going to be comedy. So four of us fought our way through the crowds from Waverley station to the venue, and took our seats where I discovered that the subject of the 'Julie Madly Deeply' title was in fact Julie Andrews and that the whole 65 minutes was a celebration of her life and music. Now, I'm not anti-musicals but neither would I call myself a huge fan. And my only knowledge of the heroine was a vague picture in my head of having seen the poster advertising the Sound of Music and I could recognise a couple of the tunes from the film. I've never actually watched any of her films though. This was a distinct disadvantage which left me somewhat unentertained for about 64½ minutes. Now don't get me wrong, for the right person it was probably a great show (certainly judging by the gusto with which the singalong was entered into by my fellow ticket-buyers) and Sarah-Louise Young can certainly sing well. But it was not for me. And as a first foray to the Fringe Festival it was somewhat underwhelming.
Now, who to blame? Who to vent my frustration on? One of the guys I was with was really glad he had gone - it had been one of his first choice shows from the original list. Not his fault. My mate had encouraged me to join the group and bought the tickets. Not his fault either. It was obviously my own stupid fault, which I did eventually realise. I made many assumptions beforehand and did nothing to check the truth of any of them. If I had done some homework I could have easily turned up for the start of the second of the shows instead. But no, I assumed that it was a group of like-minded people who would all be going to the sort of event that I would really enjoy, so I only had myself to blame.
How often though do we make assumptions about things that are maybe more important and then when the world turns out to be different we want to blame someone else for misleading us when in fact we need to turn the spotlight on ourselves. Taking a little more care in our thinking and gathering all the relevant information can help us avoid similarly frustrating situations. I teach it to others but maybe sometimes I need to listen to my own counsel.
So I've learned a lesson. And thankfully the last couple of shows were really good (John Gordillo and Craig Campbell for reference)
Working with clients this week who were doing some introductory climbing and abseiling, I was struck by how willing they were for me to exhort them to greater efforts, to put them in scary situations and to actively push them, although rarely physically, to bigger and better achievements.
This then made me wonder, how willing are people to be pushed? Do we normally want to be challenged - if we thought about it most of us would say 'of course'. Without some form of challenge or excitement, life can become dull and boring - we thrive on a little bit of stress. Baz Luhrman suggested that we should do one thing every day that scares us but we can easily ignore the advice and lapse into cosy routines that bob along from one day to the next.
So who do we empower to push us beyond our comfort zone? If you look round at your circle of friends and regular acquaintances, how many of them have your permission to say hard things to you, to be critical or to set you targets that will be hard to reach? What gives them that right? Have you explicitly asked them to, or is it simply a feature of a long term, trusting relationship - you know that they have your future best interests at heart so you wilingly forgive them for trying to make your life a little harder in the hear and now?
If you can think of no-one who goads you and motivates you to go that little bit further then stop now and make a plan to find someone to assist you because however much you think you can push yourself, there will always be times when someone else will do it better. When you simply want to relax into a rut of easyness, even if just for a short time, who can you find who will challenge that mindset? Maybe its time to look for a life coach who will hold you accountable, who will challenge your procrastination and 'I'll do it next week' mentality, thereby helping you to reach your goals now, instead of 'sometime in the future'.
Maybe though, you read the title and thought it spoke of someone else forcing you to go where you don't want to, making you work harder than you want, not a friend but a foe. Are you struggling to meet the demands placed on you? If so, its maybe time to look for a way out, a change that takes you away from the pusher, however you choose to make that happen. Again maybe life coaching can be an answer, but there are other options. Simply gaining some more assertiveness might make a difference but so would punching his lights out. Please note I only recommend one of these options, although there are numerous more that could be pursued.
Ultimately though, the question comes down to 'how far do I want to go?' or maybe rephrased as 'how much do I want to achieve?' which needs to be answered before you think about people helping to push you there.
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Nick has been writing for mass consumption ever since he was sending newsletters home from the Philippines 20+ years ago. He has carried on putting finger to keyboard, branching out into magazines, manuals and recently submitting lots of words for books. He has always aimed to be entertaining but at the same time challenging. If you like something, feel free to pass it on to someone else, but if you are challenged by it then even better - write a comment, start a debate, add to the fun.