Having Congruence – One Little Thing.   

OK, so it’s not that little. It’s a pretty big deal. Some call it intuition, some a gut feeling, some a revelation. In NLP we refer to it as having congruence. We’ve all had those times of feeling like we wanted to go, but we also felt like we wanted to stay. Let me tell you a story.

First, I’m going to expose this nasty little secret about getting what you want consistently. You know, so you can count on it, like the sun coming up in the morning. This nasty little secret is the power of congruence. When you are congruent about an outcome it will lock it into your permanent behavior like a bad habit that just won’t leave. 

You see, what makes things happen in life is commitment, and full commitment only comes from congruence. And here’s the big catch: you need to be committed to the process, too.

It’s easy to be congruent about wanting to be a great guitarist. It’s not so easy to be congruent and committed to hours of practice every day of your life for your entire life. Yet that is exactly what it takes to be world-class in that skill.

Fortunately, you do not have to be world-class anything to have a very satisfying life. Many people richly enjoy tennis without any desire to be Serena Williams. And it is their involvement that makes the existence of GOATS like Serena and Steph Curry possible.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take a sabbatical on an ocean voyage. I applied to sail from New England to Old England on a 12-meter ketch (sailboat). My sailing cv was submitted, we had a couple of conversations, exchanged a few emails, and I was waiting for the final yes or no. 

When the day arrived and I got the big yes, as I hung up the phone my body jumped me out of the chair, danced me across the entire house, and I found myself doing a jig in the kitchen.

There was only excitement, there was no anxiety, no second thoughts, or am I ready? I knew that when the time came to leave, I would be ready. I knew that for certain because there was nothing short of death that would stop me. I had already “cleared the decks and singled up my lines.”
To the best of my ability and resources, I had already prepared emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially for this adventure. All of that is part of what builds and permits congruence.

And this was not something that required a lifetime of practice. I did not have to be a world-class sailor and navigator.  A certain level of competence, a well-prepared boat and crew, and an excellent captain. Life has many more opportunities when you learn that you don’t have to do it all yourself.

Further, I skipped to the close there. Did you notice? I went right to the point of full congruence. I sure didn’t start there. I gave you hints like “exchanged vs..emails… well-prepared boat and crew”. Before evaluating that, no, I was not on board.

There is a difference between a five-year-old offered ice cream, and that of an adult offered adventure. A big difference, right?

So, when next you find yourself desiring something, first of course step back and consider whether this is your desire or the typical societal expectation. (I need a new car!). If the desire is truly your own, if it’s more important than what to choose for lunch, using the Well-Formed Outcomes is a very effective way to assess your congruence about committing to that outcome.

If you come up empty, you have just saved yourself tons of energy and disappointment. If you feel at least 50% congruent, then it’s likely worth more exploration and testing out.

And when it’s a lifelong dream, that at last you can achieve? Evaluate your needs and resources and let nothing stop you. For it is a truism well known, that:

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, and always ineffectiveness.  Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:  that the moment one commits oneself, then Providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events ensues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
W. H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition, Published by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1951

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