I'm a pretty stubborn person.
I know, I know, not exactly a revelation if you've ever a.) spoken to me or b.) read anything that I've written on this blog.
Being stubborn is great when it manifests as discipline and consistent follow-through. Super helpful in getting stuff done and making a difference.
Being stubborn is less great when it's actively stopping you from being as awesome as you could be, like it does sometimes for me.
Conceal, Don't Feel
One of the ways in which I'm stubborn is that I can get fixated on an idea or thought.
I wouldn't necessarily go so far as to call it obsession, but it's pretty close. This provides focus, and can lead to some amazing results when it's channelled correctly.
Another stubborn thing that I've noticed about myself is that I like to follow through on what I say I'm going to do.
This tends to result in a bunch of strong feelings of obligation that emotionally lock me into a specific path. Feeding off those feelings of obligation helps me to be disciplined and not give up in the face of adversity.
I've presented both of the traits above in a positive light, but let's be honest, being stubborn is generally not regarded as a positive trait.
To me, it's a double-edged sword.
Sometimes I end up cutting myself.
Let The Storm Rage On
I think that my fixation on an idea works against me the most when it comes to adapting to change. Especially change that takes the form of a challenge or interruption to my carefully laid plans.
I want to be flexible in the face of a changing reality, but I'm not flexible enough because I don't want to let go of things.
It's not that I'm completely inflexible mind you. I adjust, I adapt, I re-organise, and I get there in the end. Sometimes.
But it doesn't happen very fast and that time period in between being interrupted with new information and adapting to it is stressful and anxiety inducing. I get resistant, I challenge and that sort of behaviour is not always conducive to getting the best outcome.
Moving away from the fixation aspect of my personality (ironically), I find that my desire to follow through on things sometimes manifests in me following through on a sub-optimal solution or path, when a better path is available and ripe for the taking. I get stuck on what I said I was going to do and ignore other, potentially better, options.
A contributing factor here is analysis paralysis, which is something that I definitely suffer from. That's a whole other topic, but let's ignore that for a second and focus on the aftermath of finally making a decision.
When I learn new information that challenges said decision, I get uncomfortable. It's exhausting doing the decision making dance, so I hesitate and resist if I think I need to go through that ordeal again.
It's not that I don't want to pick the best possible path, but fighting against the threat of additional exhaustion takes willpower, which isn't always an abundant resource.
As with most things, I want to be better. I don't like accepting limitations within myself and ironically enough, once I've made a decision about something I've got the discipline to follow through on it and change myself.
Test The Limits And Break Through
Like with any hard thing, it's best to start small.
I've got a thousand little rituals that I do every single day that I could start compromising on in order to train myself to be more flexible. Consciously choosing to break that mental model of always following through on a habit or pattern.
Honestly, it's a terrifying thought because those things bring me comfort and stability.
But no change is painless, and I can see real benefits in being more flexible for the big things, so it's easy to make a case that I'm suffering through that pain for the greater good.
For my greater good.
But just giving up on small things isn't enough. I also need to be kinder to myself when I don't follow through on what I've said I'm going to do. To mentally and emotionally reinforce that it's okay to not do the thing.
The only way that I can think to do that is to supplant the old thing with a new, more valuable thing and to be very conscious about comparing the value of the two. To mentally reinforce that I'm making a good decision, instead of just feeling bad about not following through.
For example, if I'm stuck on delivering a project because I said I was going to, but there is a metaphorical fire burning merrily away nearby, I shouldn't feel bad about deprioritising the project to put the fire out.
After all, nothing good ever comes from a fire that is burning out-of-control and it's important to recognise that emotionally.
Even if it means compromising on something else.
It's a constant war in my head between the guilt of letting people down and the satisfaction of knowing that I've picked a better path.
But it's a war I can win.
The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway
At the end of the day, I need to strike a balance between the two extremes and find a happy sustainable place for me. Where I don't have to completely suppress fundamental elements of my personality, but where I'm able able to work around them when necessary.
It won't be easy, but I think it's a worthwhile thing to invest in because it will make me more effective both personally and professionally.
And I crave effectiveness.
I don't want to be a flake, someone who you can't rely on, but realistically I don't think I ever will be.
I just need to be a little bit more accommodating, a little bit more accepting and a little bit more willing to compromise.
I need to let things go in order to have better things.