Neil Thompson’s Lesson for Living – Be proactive. Make things happen

Throughout my career I have come across people time and time again who are unhappy about one or more aspects of their lives who, when I ask them what they are doing to address those issues, respond with a shrug of the shoulders or the verbal equivalent. It is as if they feel overwhelmed by the situation and therefore adopt a passive approach to it.

I have sometimes felt a bit of a fraud because it has often been the case that my saying: ‘So, what are you going to do about it?’ and helping them to formulate some meaningful answers to that question have been enough to free them up to take some positive steps. The ensuing progress – often very significant progress once they shook off that passivity – would then lead them to tell me how I had worked miracles for them and inspired them. Of course, I may have inspired them to a certain extent, but there were certainly no miracles involved – just a straightforward process of being proactive, of making happen the things that needed to happen.

A key part of what leads to that passivity is that, when people are feeling low, under pressure or otherwise feeling at well below their best, they can feel anxious and unconfident – as if taking the risk of any further pressure leads them to settle for their current unhappy situation (better to be unhappy but coping than to risk trying to improve things and end up not able to cope).

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