The 24-Hour Rule
One of the millions of things that I love about life is the chance that we have for constant improvement. I can say with certainty that the times and the times now that I believe I have all the answers that I know, what I need to know are the times I never grow. I did not mean to rhyme there but I’m convinced that this point that I’m going to be constantly improving and looking for ways to improve in one way or the other until I die and I know that freak some people out because some people wants to be perfect. They want to have it right, they don’t want to question themselves and they don’t want to be questioned. The way I live life and think of life is that it’s really dangerous. So, I can tell you without a doubt that the biggest mistakes that I’ve made in my life, especially my professional career, come to think of my personal life as well, has been my hot headedness in responding too quickly to things that are emotional to me. I’ve lost or damaged good or decent friendships because of my need to be right in the moment and as quickly as possible.
I can tell you that this is the painful area for self-examination because it will be very easy to say that this is just how I’m wired. This is who I am and I can’t do anything about it and I won’t do a thing about it, take me or leave me. Trust me, I might not have said it out loud like that in my life but I’ve certainly thought that. But as I look back and I grow I learned to take a deep breath and I learn to go to my very smart, calm wife who see me through all the situations. She knows when I fly off the handle. She knows when I overreact to things. She’s seen the damage that can come from this. And yes, I can justify that this person had a say in it and they could’ve done something different. But that truly doesn’t do anything except justify my own stagnation. I get to be in a corner losing a friendship or damaging a friendship or damaging a business opportunity or even something as simple as taking something that’s good, making it not so good, or taking something that’s great and making it okay. That all happened because of my need to be right in the moment.
The thing about being right in the moment with something like hot headedness or ego or pride is that it truly does feel good in the moment. You feel like your point is being made and you proved something. You let this person know what they did wrong. But what I learned after enough painful experiences, each time getting a little less intense was that I won in the short term in my mind and I lost in the long term. So, I got to be right, I got to get my feelings out but I truly think by doing that I eroded trust, even a little at a time. So, Elizabeth has become a big barometer for me on this. I started to grow and instead of responding like what I immediately do, and there are often times that it gets close where I tell this, that I know this isn’t the right thing but I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to send this message or this email. I finally matured enough that I would go to her and I would say “Am I my crazy for feeling the way that I’m feeling?” And she would honestly say to me “I think you’re overreacting to this” or “I think they didn’t mean the way that it came across” or “ I think you need to just take a deep breath and wait on this.” or it’s what happens on occasion and it is rarer than usual is “I think you’re justified and you should say something.”
Whenever she’s told me that, that’s the time that I would respond but I know I had to temper my emotions on it so it didn’t inflame the situation. So, her guidance on this has been immeasurable. If you know me close enough, you know this is one of my Achilles heels. We all have Achilles’ heel. Nobody is close to perfect and we all have the buttons that could be pushed. Now it could be that you’re way to calm and passive and occasional you do need to ruffle some feathers to make somebody take a little more seriously because they take you for granted. For me it is the exact opposite. If you do the DISC profile, if you’ve ever heard of it, last time I tested which was a while ago, I am a high D and a high I. If you are a high D or a high I, not to oversimplify, but a high D can be assertive, dominant, and they feel comfortable being in charge and a high I is kind of entertainer. But what I learned in this was very uncomfortable to learn is if you’re a high D, you learn not just what you do well but you learn what you do poorly. What I learned from doing this at a high D’s greatest fear is being taken advantage of.
Now when I read that and I study that, there was almost some relief but there was a lot of pain in reading that because that’s always been my biggest fear and it’s always been the thing that I’ve reacted strongly to in the moment. When I felt that I’m being taken advantage of, that is when I responded the worst. Wow, was that eye-opening for me to learn about myself. But when I learned that, I realized “Oh okay this is me in my own personal craziness going on” and it really made me understand this person is not really trying to take advantage of me. Most of the time they weren’t. But to me, being my biggest fear, I perceived it that way. So, what I needed more than anything was just some patience and some time and that was a challenge for me. So, Elizabeth guided me in this a ton on how to get better at this. But another person helps me with this tremendously as well. It was a simple conversation that we had. Her name is Tricia Preuss and she’s been a wonderful part of our mastermind for a little while now.
She told me how she goes about the situations and I’m not sure she’s dealt with what I’ve dealt with mentally with this but she said I got a 24-hour rule. I always want to be a student the best that I can so I obviously asked about what the 24-hour rule was. She said I have a rule that I don’t respond, especially online to anything emotional for 24 hours. Now I heard variations of this before but the way she said it was so clear that it really hit home for me. I got off the phone and I thought about that for a good hour about what she said. It really made me feel it was a breakthrough but uncomfortable at the same time. Because when you face your fears and you face your own demons, what you do wrong, it’s not easy to do. It’s so much easier to sweep under the rug and justify. By paying attention to what Tricia said, the 24-hour rule, I thought how many things would I have done better at? How many comments have I made in the moment, in the heat of the moment when I had to be right? when I had to get that point across? How much better would things have been and you never know how much better things would have been because I didn’t respond that way. Instead of somebody throwing up their arms with me and giving up, maybe it was a resolution that would’ve happened that would led to something great in the future.
My past is littered with a lot of these situations. I got a lot of message about the podcast. People would say I love how open and honest this is. I do this because I’m not here to be perfect. I’m not here to portray myself to you that I’m perfect or anywhere close to it. I’m here to open up my world, my mistakes and my lessons from it’s and maybe you can learn from it as well. They say that failure is the best teacher but in reality, other people’s failure could be the best teacher because you can learn from it without the same pain. I’m not sure if I done it to a 100% effectiveness since that conversation with Tricia but it’s been pretty close. I kind of wish I would’ve journaled the process and written down all the times I want to respond to something way quicker than I did. And how often I use that 24-hour rule to just bite my lip and wait. The truth is my emotional response may have led to a really short-term decision and there might’ve been one time out of maybe 50 in that time period that I responded 24 hours later because it was warranted, I was calm and I thought it out.
Some of you listening to this may say that I am insane, this is so easy to do, it so easy. It’s not easy for me. At least it hasn’t been a while. Having people like my wife in my life, people like Tricia, the people that can teach you in a non-condescending way is valuable beyond belief. So, if you don’t have people in your life that do that for you, seek them out and find them because it’s worth tons. If you’re like me and you feel the way I have been talking about this episode, get the 24 hour rule a shot because it proved to me over and over again that that’s the right way to go and I was grateful for those in my life that show me my blind spots, which are many. So, thank you all.
I will be back with you tomorrow.