Over the years mentoring parents I have found that there’s one challenge that comes up over and over again. I call it the
This is the troublemaker who sits on your shoulder and tells you all your problems have to be fixed now; there’s not enough time to make the necessary changes; you have to do it perfectly, or not at all; there’s so much to do you’ll never get it done or you don’t have what it takes to make a lasting change. His purpose is to make it difficult for you to begin, let alone stick with it long enough to effect change. And he’s excellent at his job.
BUT there is a cure for the 100% Devil. It’s called the
This principle states that if you focus on the best 1% of whatever it is you feel needs to be changed, corrected, fixed, etc. then success in that 1% will affect in positive ways, all of the other things you aren’t focusing on now. The 100% devil is the enemy of this principle: small and simple things, done consistently over time bring big results.
The 1% principle works because the results of focusing on the 1 thing that will make the most difference right now is exponential change.
When you work on the best 1%, other issues which you aren’t even looking at miraculously resolve themselves. If you splinter your focus the best you can do is to maintain mediocrity and at the worst move backward. Real growth comes from building on a solid, consistent, best 1% improvement.
When I was a young mother, I was a yeller. It kept my family walking on eggshells because they never knew when I would explode. It took a neighbor walking across my street and handing me a brochure on anger management to get me to look at what I was doing. It was a painful place to come to, and for a few months, I wouldn’t even accept I was there.
But as I observed myself it became evident it was true. I needed to do the obvious and simple thing and stop losing my temper. In our struggling family of seven children, five of whom were teens, there were many things I could have worked on. But my heart told me this was the best 1% at the time.
It took over ten years for me to conquer that demon. So what kept me going? How was I able to persevere long enough to make it happen? How did I dash the 100% devil to the ground so I wasn’t tempted to quit after a few months, two years, or even nine years?
I learned a lot during the time I worked to conquer my temper. Here are the steps that worked for me. There may be other possible steps, but this list is more than enough to get you going and keep you going.
1. CONCENTRATE on the one thing you need to do right now
Do you need to take a look at your current family culture and build a vision? Do you need to give up using technology when you’re working with your kids? Do you need to listen more, yell less, play with your kids, have more mini-conversations, eat dinner together, or go to bed earlier, control your money habits? What is it for you?
2. COMMIT to being consistent for as long as it takes
Some of our family goals will take many years to come to fruition. So will many of our personal goals.
3. REMEMBER being consistent is not the same as being perfect.
Never let the 100% devil remain on your shoulder for long. Dash him to the ground. Don’t believe his lies. Change takes time. Growth takes time. Perfect is not the goal; progress is!
4. BREAK what you want into smaller steps
If the goal is to stop yelling, how would that look?
• Accept that it’s about you and not the behavior of others.
• Commit to your family you’ll use a respectful voice—ask for support.
• Decide what you will do instead of yelling when times get tough.
• Get counseling if you need it.
• Practice, fail, practice, fail, practice . . . for as long as it takes
5. CREATE space
When I was working on controlling my temper, I had to create space for reflection, for getting help from others who had accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, and for nurturing myself as I did the work. Make a commitment to the change you want to see and then make space for the work that it will require.
6. KEEP your word
Do what you’ve decided to do. Be as consistent as possible. Track your efforts. I had to keep taking the steps to control my temper for ten years. Don’t quit.
7. MAKE CERTAIN the steps you take are in your control
When I was overcoming yelling, I was careful my goals were in my control. I couldn’t attach my success to someone else’s behavior.
For example, if a mother wants to have the kids’ chores done by nine, her actual goal might be to stay Present at chore time and move from child to child encouraging and helping them.
If she works with her children each day, supporting them, then she’s successful and reaches the goal even if they’re not completely finished with chores by nine. If success hinges on having it all done by nine, she has less chance of success because she doesn’t have total control over what each child does.
8. FOCUS on today—it’s all you have to work with.
Ten years is a long time to work on one thing. But as I focused on one day at a time, I was able to persevere. Do your best today. If you don’t do well today, then when tomorrow is today, begin again. Once today is yesterday, let it go! Don’t quit!
9. BELIEVE the end result will be exponential growth.
Believe that 1%+1% will not equal 2%, it will equal exponentially more. While I was working on overcoming my yelling what else happened.
• I learned to be more forgiving
• I learned to be more charitable
• I became more grateful
• I strengthened my relationship with my husband and
• I got control of my responses
I could list quite a few more but this will suffice as an example that when you focus on the best 1% you get exponential results.
Real growth and change come from learning to move toward your goals and desires one step at a time, consistently, for as long as it takes.
It takes time and practice to make lasting change and to grow as a person or as a family. We must commit to it. We need to consistently do the work. We have to believe we can accomplish our heart’s desire. In fact, it has to be our heart’s desire.
Doing small and simple things, consistently over time, is what will ultimately give us the success we seek as individuals and as families.
Have you waged war with the 100% Devil? What have you done to win your personal war? Let’s share and help each other out.
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