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The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

How often do you shock and wake yourself up?

Today is December 3 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you shock and wake yourself up?” While navigating the chaos it is an absolute necessity at times to shock and wake yourself up. You do this by taking risks and traveling outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes, however, life presents an unexpected opportunity that shocks and wakes you up when you least expect it.

Actor Milena Govich understood this and decided to wake herself up the day after NBC cancelled the show she starred in, the 2006 NBC legal drama Conviction, created by Dick Wolf.

The day after that show was cancelled Wolf invited her to join the cast of Law & Order for its 17th season. Govich appeared as the first and only female detective and assumed a role once played by Jerry Orbach and Dennis Farina.

According to Govich, “It’s tough to change up a show that’s been running so long. I like taking risks. There is no such thing as security in my world. I knew it was going to be tough…but there was no way I could turn it down.”

Much like Govich, Sam Mendes understands the value of waking himself up periodically. Mendes is an English film director, film producer, and stage director best known for directing the drama film American Beauty and the James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre.

When asked if he has ever failed at anything Mendes said "God, yes; I can't speak a foreign language. I cannot type or play golf. I cannot cook and as a director I have been down some blind alleys and felt I was repeating myself. I did Skyfall to shock and wake myself up. And it has certainly done that – and then some."

The backstories of Govich and Mendes demonstrate the two traits of successful people that researcher Peter Bregman noted in his November 9, 2018 Harvard Business Review blog post. Bregman wrote that there are just two questions people need to ask if they want to do something they’ve never done.

The first question is “Do you want to do better?” and the second question is: “Are you willing to feel the discomfort of putting in more effort and trying new things that will feel weird and different and won’t work right away?”

So here we have two additional questions involved with today’s reflection. Such questions might be difficult to ask yourself, but they are a necessity if you want to translate one or more dreams into reality. Both questions involve the duality of yes and no. There is no grey here. No middle ground. Since a duality exists you might run the risk of overthinking each answer. It is, as with each Navigate the Chaos post, entirely up to you to a)ask the question and b)answer it. How you answer the question tells you just as much as the answer itself.

The first question is “do you want to do better?” Do you want to do better than where you currently are? Perhaps you have lost two pounds but want to lose 25 more so you are discouraged that you have yet to lose all 25. The only question to ask is, ‘so I have lost two pounds, do I want to lose more?” Yes or No? That is all you need to ask yourself at this moment in time. If you stay focused on all of the other weight you want to lose it will be difficult to stay present in the moment and engage in the necessary self-reflection required of this question.

The second question is “Are you willing to feel the discomfort of putting in more effort and trying new things that will feel weird and different and will not work right away?” So, this question is a bit more complicated since it involves the following components:

  • Discomfort: are you willing to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation?

  • Effort/time: are you willing to put in the time?

  • New things: are you willing to try something new?

  • Weird: are you willing to have that something new feel weird?

  • Delayed gratification: are you willing to wait?

While the second question involves the duality of choosing between yes or no, you will need to reflect upon each of its components.

Both Govich and Mendes wanted to do better, and they were willing to feel the discomfort. Are you?

  • How often do you ask yourself Bregman’s two questions: “Do you want to do better?” and “Are you willing to feel the discomfort of putting in more effort and trying new things that will feel weird and different and won’t work right away?”

  • If you do not ask yourself these two questions, why do you think that is?

  • When you have asked yourself those questions, what happened?


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