SuperPower of the Week:  Rule No. 6

Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.

That is Rule #6 in its entirety.  In other words, lighten up.

Last week I wrote about the virtues of grit, and the consistent combination of passion and perseverance necessary to succeed as a solopreneur.  Rule #6 provides an important balance to that.  

Here’s the thing.  Determination and sweat equity are non-negotiable parts of building your business. There are times when you will work long and/or intensive hours on important launches, projects, and deadlines in service of your end goals.  And that’s all well and good.  

But that kind of serious commitment and hard work is unsustainable without a balance of levity.  When you take yourself too seriously you invite your Voice of Judgement to take over and ruin the party.  It will tell you things like, “You’re not working hard enough.  This project didn’t go as planned.  You’re not as good as ___________.  Epic fail!  You missed that milestone.  You don’t have what it takes.”  Seriously. What a downer.

111HRule #6 is all about taking a step back and taking a breath.  It’s about being able to laugh at yourself. It’s about the ability to shift from forcing forward to being open to possibility.  It’s about telling your Voice of Judgement to take a hike so you can refocus your attention on the positive. Because there’s always a positive.  Sometimes you just have to take a moment to look for it.  And in those stretches of long hard work and intense focus, that focus on the positive is what will see you through.

Activate This SuperPower!

Here are a few ways to activate Rule #6.  Think of Rule #6 as another great RESET button for when you’re feeling stressed, frustrated, or when you’re hitting up against obstacles and don’t yet see a way around them.  Try on these journaling questions to help you get to the bottom of what’s dragging you down and help take your Voice of Judgement (aka your calculating self) out of the driver’s seat.

  1. Why am I taking this so seriously?
  2. How is that serving me?
  3. In what ways can I continue to work toward my goal without punishing myself (or others!) in the process?
  4. How could I make this project more fun?
  5. Am I operating from a place of scarcity and fear right now, and if so, why?
  6. Am I trying to control something that I can’t control?  If so, what can I focus on instead that I can control?
  7. What is the real truth of this situation?
  8. What can I let go of to lighten this situation?  
  9. What are the positives of this situation?  How can I refocus my attention on them?
  10. What am I doing well right now and how can I build on that?

Where did Rule #6 come from?

Rule #6 was created by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander and is described in their best-selling book, The Art of Possibility.  (I was fortunate to hear them speak at Harvard many years ago, they are amazing.  The book is full of unique tools and stories to support transformation and was actually one of the first things I was assigned to read in my MBA program’s leadership curriculum.)  You can also see a short video of Ben Zander introducing the concept with a story here.