What I Learned from a Near-Death Experience By Marshall Goldsmith...
This is such a powerful belief that I’ve come to accommodate it in my one-on-one coaching, even though my successful clients are demonstrably comfortable with paying the price. It’s what’s got them where they are. Yet I still feel the need to assure them that their commitment to the coaching process will not be futile.
“This is hard,” I say. “One slipup can undo your progress and send you back to square one. But if you follow up and stick with it for the next year or two, you will get better.” It’s as close as I’m willing to go to offering a guarantee, but imparting my certainty is part of the coaching. In reducing my clients’ resistance to paying the price, I’m giving them a head start on success.
Another reason is a failure of vision. Our sacrifice today does not yield a reward we can enjoy today. The benefit from our self-control is far down the road, given to a future version of us whom we do not know. It’s why we’d rather spend our spare cash on ourselves now than save it and let the wonders of compound interest turn it into a useful sum 30 years later.
Some people can pay that price, foreseeing the future gratitude they’ll feel toward their former self who sacrificed in their interest. Some people can’t see that far ahead.
A third reason is our zero-sum view of the world, in which winning something here means losing something there.
Paying the price is an opportunity cost, calculated in what we must sacrifice: “If I do this, I can’t do that.” This view isn’t entirely wrong. It’s merely pointless as a consideration about paying the price. When we choose to pay the price — that is, do something challenging and risky rather than an easy sure thing — it doesn’t follow that we have sacrificed the sure thing.
Most times, when you choose the difficult path, you’ve automatically eliminated all other options, including the sure thing. After all, you can’t be in two places at the same time; something’s got to give. The sooner you accept that, the more comfortable you’ll be about paying the price.
The great French skier Jean-Claude Killy said, “I train wherever it’s winter. Half the year in the Northern Hemisphere, half in the Southern Hemisphere. I haven’t experienced summer in years.” Killy, a French national hero and the dominant athlete at the 1968 Winter Olympics, where he swept all the gold medals in alpine skiing, wasn’t describing the absence of summers as a hardship he suffered. He was stating that he was comfortable with the price he paid to be world champion. He could experience summer as much as he wanted after he put his gold medals away.
In recent years I’ve noticed a fourth reason people hesitate to pay the price for earning anything: It forces them out of their comfort zone.
For example, I don’t like confrontation and avoid it nine out of 10 times. It just isn’t worth it to me. But that tenth time, when something I value greatly is in jeopardy (a project, my family, a friend in need), I’m willing to confront anyone to do what I think is necessary.
I don’t enjoy doing it, but I don’t regret having done it.