I took my private clients on a tree-climbing adventure to get a glimpse into how they are operating in their respective businesses. If I can impress anything upon you in this article, it is this:
Who you’re being anywhere is who you’re being everywhere.
Or, said another way:
Wherever you go, there you are!
Whether in the trees or in business, we tend to have the same default tendencies – thought processes, behavior patterns, energetic “vibes” that create certain results. I saw this clearly when I first changed jobs hoping that “over there” would be better than “over here,” and realized quickly that I was still the one creating my experience.
When you can give yourself an experience outside of “normal” for you, you gift yourself an opportunity to ask yourself, “Who am I being that… “ life is showing up like this? We did this with tree climbing, and you can create endless opportunities to look.
I’m going to review some of the default tendencies that our group noticed transcended tree climbing into our business. But first, imagine that you pull up to a beautiful, tall tree, draped in climbing ropes. You had no idea what you were in for, and were asked to harness up and prepare for your lesson. How would you respond? What would your automatic thought process be?
Would you be excited? Would you be telling yourself “I can’t” or “I can” or “I guess I have to?” See which of these tendencies most resonate with your current modus operandi.
1. Need to be in control
One participant had to find out about the mystery adventure in advance. She did some detective work and discovered the website of Earth Joy, our excursion leaders. The need to know also shows up in her business – she doesn’t move forward until she knows she’s doing it right, and she creates a lot of extra work for herself and lots of “balls in the air” to control. This gives the ego a feeling of control, but doesn’t allow for support, fun, or freedom to show up on a consistent basis.
2. Need to be liked/ fit in/ please
This one showed up in a couple of ways. One participant had absolutely no interest in climbing trees. It was just “not her thing.” Yet, because I had arranged it and everyone was doing it, she climbed the requisite (in her mind) two ropes so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings. Note, there was no point at which participation was made mandatory. In her business, this person was also holding back her true opinions so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Another participant had a late flight and missed the climb altogether, and worried that she would be behind or not fit in with the group for the next two days as a result. In her business, she noticed she was also highly concerned that she was behind where she thought she should be, or where she perceived her peers to be. We literally recreate opportunities to experience old “junk” like this over and over again! (She’d had strong experiences of not fitting in childhood.)
During the event we played a lighthearted team “game.” One participant noticed she pushed herself to pain to play the game, not because she wanted to or because it was in her best interests, but because her teammate asked her to and she didn’t want to let her down.
3. Need to measure or compare
Several participants reported a tendency to compare their skill and progress at tree climbing with that of others. We are constantly looking for that “norm” in different areas and either ensuring we are just ahead or just behind, based on our programming. Climbing one’s own climb with no regard for others proved difficult for most people.
How many times have you pushed yourself, or threw your hands up in defeat, because you saw someone else’s success? How many times have you held back from saying or doing something that was calling to you because it would stand out, and people might not like it? This constant measurement is insidious.
4. Need to compete or resistance to competition
As I mentioned, we played a friendly game of “capture the monkey” in which each team had different colored monkeys we could leave in the tree and it was the other team’s job to get the monkey down. While we were all friendly competitors, some people were willing to push themselves to compete and others had no interest in competing. While I didn’t see it with this group, the resistance to competing can sometimes come in the form of creating problems that get in the way of competing – someone/something is in the way. Blame.
Attitudes about competition are generally reflected in people’s business – whether a healthy motivator or an unhealthy preoccupation.
5. Need to complete or resistance to completion
We had the option to go to top of any given rope or to experience parts of as many ropes as we could. Some of us had a desire to fully complete a rope – whether to “check the box” or to make sure we didn’t miss anything, or simply out of habit. Others didn’t have any particular rope hold their interest that long. How are you with tasks in your business? Do you push through to “completion” even when you know you’ve already gotten 90% of the benefit? Do you have to complete it perfectly? Or do you give up before completion time and again, and miss the benefit of getting to the top?
6. Need to be supported or resistance to being supported
Wow, this is such a huge area I see clients struggle with. Have you struggled with getting support in your business? You hire a virtual support professional and just hope they’ll take over so you won’t have to deal with it any more, and set them up to fail? Or you hire someone and refuse to release anything fully for them to do?
In the tree, there were ropes that were close in to the trunk, with lots of opportunity to get support from the tree as you climb, and to rest on it’s shoulders. There were also ropes on the outer edges of the branches on which you were on your own, relying on your own strength and skill with the rope to lift you. Some of us looked to the tree for lots of support. Some of us chose the more difficult routes of less support. Where do you gravitate?
The tendencies in the tree and in business are always a result of some belief we have – about ourselves about others, or about life in general. Getting real about these beliefs, that WE ARE BRINGING to the tree and our life, is critical!
And, here’s the deal.
None of these particular tendencies is inherently “bad!” (Did you read it that way?) Each also can be used as a strength at times when needed. And we noticed all kinds of strengths the group used in the activity. We saw persistence, commitment, adventure, openness, play, willingness to know one’s own strengths and limits (healthy limits), willingness to push further, to try new things, to test limits, willingness to take time to rest and regroup, etc.
The tendency to view only “what’s wrong” also showed up a bit in the exercise. That’s also something to notice! THE NEED TO STRUGGLE is a huge business limiter we must bring awareness to as well.
When asking yourself the golden question, “who am I being that…?” Be sure to bring a lightness and curiosity to the question, rather than a “something is wrong with me” view, and you’ll move past your blocks with speed!