It was last summer that my friend John came to me while we were setting up to facilitate a client group in a teambuilding adventure. “So Mark,” he says, “how can I stop chewing tobacco?”
“It sounds like you want a free coaching session,” I replied.
“Yeah,” says John. That’s not really his name, by the way. He’s not exactly innocent, but I am protecting his identity anyway.
“OK, John, since it’s you. Look into my eyes.” I hold my hand up to his forehead, kind of like a stereotypic faith-healer might do. I give a gentle shove and, “STOP IT!”, I declare.
John laughed. What followed was a bit more serious conversation of how to stop any habit, or at least replace it with something more favorable, something that takes us closer to our most important goals. Habits make us who we are. Was John ready to become someone different – As I remember it, neither of us was any too sure he had the motivation to become One who does not chew tobacco. I know my friend, John, though. Give him a little rope and he can climb a mountain.
That was then; this is now. I spoke with John this week. He reported that he had given up tobacco “for good” 29 days earlier. “That is great,” I congratulated him. I could hear certainty in his voice. He acknowledged that he will have an urge for nicotine the rest of his life.
“You know, it’s like we talked about last year,” says John. “A person has to want something bad enough, for his own reasons. I finally decided I wanted it enough to do something about it daily.”
John went on to talk about all the rewards he had identified that he would experience if he achieved his goal. He described all his research to help him document the consequences he might experience if he was not successful. He listed some of the obstacles he knew he would have to overcome to become One who does not chew tobacco. He described the solutions and specific actions he was already implementing to get past these roadblocks to his success.
I congratulated him once again. “John, you are doing it right. You got at the heart of your motivation to quit, rather than stopping at the most obvious rewards and consequences. You took potential roadblocks seriously and you are taking action each day toward your goal.
“Mark, I am going to be successful at this,” says John.
“John, you already are successful. You already are.”