Years and years ago, I tried to read Norman Mailer's “The Naked and The Dead” - without too much success. Blood, gore, and the Second World War don't really do it for me. But Mailer's GIs had a mantra that I still remember: “Keep a tight a**hole”!
If you're going into a bloody, physical battle, I guess it's not a bad idea. Under more normal circumstances, there are – I fondly believe – other, more constructive strategies you could be focusing on.
Sadly, metaphorically speaking, too many people go into – shall we call it Norman Mailer Mode? – when things get tough. They tighten every muscle, brace themselves, and wait for the tough circumstances to pass.
Norman Mailer Mode actually gets in the way of dealing constructively with most challenges that arise in more or less normal circumstances. It closes down more possibilities than it opens up. It's all about just about getting by. It’s about getting through the bad times, and waiting for things to get better, before you make your move.
The problem is that it can be a long wait. Things may well not improve to the point you would like, of their own accord. Not being proactive means you will likely miss out on any number of opportunities that would be there for the taking – if only you were out there, taking. Meanwhile, because you're in Norman Mailer Mode, you can’t use that time to the full to experiment, and grow, or enlist support or expertise.
I was talking with a woman yesterday who had a business dream. Not a plan, you understand, just a business dream. She wanted to get started with an idea we both knew had legs, but she felt too overwhelmed and frightened to do so.
So what was she doing?
(That's a strategy a LOT of people use, all the time, in every area of their lives. It's not confined just to the 'business' compartment.)
We talked for a straight 28 minutes.
In that time I established that her biggest block wasn't actually fear, it was not knowing where, or how, to start. (That can feel an awful lot like fear.)
We then drew up a simple strategy that was well within her personal, technological, and professional capabilities. She liked that much better than being in Norman Mailer Mode.
Will she implement that strategy?
My guess is that she will. Because now she can see exactly what she needs to do to take her business forward – and it’s much, much easier than she would have imagined it might be.
The hurdle she'd fallen at was Norman Mailer Mode. She got past that by taking on board a better strategy.
In all my years of working with people, around happiness, success, and relationships, I've come across an awful lot of people who get stuck in Norman Mailer Mode. (I'm pretty good at recognising it because I've been there myself. It’s NOT a nice place to be…) What determines the outcome is not circumstances, but how you deal with difficult challenges. EVERY TIME.
So, my question to you is this: how do you deal with challenges?
Have you been known to get stuck in Norman Mailer Mode? And if you have, what will you do differently, now, to make sure you stay out of it?