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You need tension

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If you want to change, create tension.

Some people join the army to do this. I don’t know if it works for them. Thankfully there are other options.

Place limits on yourself, even though you don’t need to.

Break up your unhappy relationship, even if it’s comfortable.

Stop talking, stop going out, or change your diet for 30 days.

Refuse to leave your house until you’ve made progress.

Move somewhere different. Get rid of your stuff.

Quit your job, even if you have no other options.

When you start nowhere, you have nothing to lose. When you get rich and famous, you go on defense and, next thing you know, you’ve lost your way. You don’t produce relevant work any more because your purpose is to defend what you’ve built and avoid to mistakes.

Those that are able to keep tension in their lives despite their success are those that will endure and have a chance to become great. Those that coast on their success will not. One is easy. One is hard. Choosing is not obvious.

* Filed by at 11:47 am under challenge, taking action


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17 Responses to “You need tension”

  1. Leanne Says:

    What do you think about creating the tension of sitting still/staying put? No, I’m not being a smart ass; this time. 😉

    But, seriously, those suggestions of yours are good for people who struggle with inertia and motivation. For those of us who are in a constant state of change, whether by circumstance or choice, do you think the “change” of not changing would be just as impacting?

    I’m really curious, just so you know. 🙂

  2. Sophie Davis Says:

    agree 100%. All of that starts with the mind. You have to decide to make a change and decide to stay committed to that change.

    We are very focused on externals that we can’t control: others, our house, our car, our stuff. When the only thing we need and should focus on is our will.

    Great post, as usual. Love reading ya!

  3. Deborah Hinton Says:

    You just have to read Robert Fritz – “Path of least resistance” and/or “Creating”. He talks about designing ‘structural tension’ [not emotional tension] into your life/business. Amazing thinking. Life changing [or unchanging – if that’s what you’re after].

  4. Diane Begin Says:

    That last paragraph says it all.

  5. Iliyan Petrov Says:

    Hmm, thank you for writting this article for me:
    Place limits on yourself, even though you don’t need to.

    Instead of wasting money on cigaretes and unhealthy food, now I literally “starve”. I don’t eat during the day, what’s the point of eating crap? Waste.

    Break up your unhappy relationship, even if it’s comfortable.

    I have stopped going out with toxic people. I have met around 250 people from my city, yet most of them are keeping me down, by not being motivated, but refusing to educate themselves and so forth. Waste.

    Stop talking, stop going out, or change your diet for 30 days.

    Read the above 😉

    Refuse to leave your house until you’ve made progress.

    I am spending most time at work and home. I am tired of wasting my time with pointless things. Waste.

    Move somewhere different. Get rid of your stuff.

    I am moving to the capital in 4 months. Better oppourtinies there. I trowh away all the things that are old and not needed(I gave the books to the university and clothes to different people). Waste.

    Quit your job, even if you have no other options.

    A year ago I was working at McDonalds, disgusting place to work, unless you are 6-7 level at the company. I decided to quit. EVERYONE said I am making a mistake, now I am working at two places(both of them are part-time, web development).

    Everyone is critizing me for being “burn-the-bridges” man. If you are like me, don’t listen to people, listen to your voice, the rest will come along.

  6. Mars Dorian Says:

    What a cool and essential post.
    It’s a kick in the ass that I need right now – and it feels really good.
    I believe the same – only tension can create real change. If you are complacent and resting on your ass, the world will pass you by.

    Time to get mad right now

  7. Joe Sorge Says:

    Julien,
    Another perfectly timed post. I’m wondering if you’ve noticed that it’s this “tension” that causes this sort of cycle – learning/absoption that leads to creation/production that leads to doing/action that leads to a bit of coasting/defending that brings us back to the point of “tension” and it starts all over again? This is just something that I’m noticing in my life and I wonder if you see it that way too.
    Joe

  8. Joe Sorge Says:

    Julien,
    Another perfectly timed post. I’m wondering if you’ve noticed that it’s this “tension” that causes this sort of cycle – learning/absorption that leads to creation/production that leads to doing/action that leads to a bit of coasting/defending that brings us back to the point of “tension” and it starts all over again? This is just something that I’m noticing in my life and I wonder if you see it that way too.
    Joe

  9. CT Moore Says:

    Yeah, well, I guess if what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, we need adversity to keep our edge. When you’re coasting, you’re comfortable, and when you’re comfortable, you’re not alert, and that’s when a lioness gets the drop on you and drags your carcass back for the rest of the pride to gnaw on… booyaka…

  10. dannybuntu Says:

    Tenacity is brought about by hunger. This hunger is fed by fear. And fear comes from the unknown.

    -I have no problem with keeping on the edge as I practically live in a jungle while trying to build something “relevant”.

    Steve Jobs echoes this with the unforgettable:

    Stay hungry. Stay foolish

  11. Shira Says:

    You obviously don’t have children. But then, if you did, you would have tension.

  12. Leanne Says:

    Julien,

    Apologies for my delay in replying. I assumed I’d be getting an email notifying me of comments or something. Lazy, much? 😉

    To answer your question about my question, here are my thoughts:

    1-Those things that “feel right” to us may not always be the right things.

    2-Change for change’s sake can be a huge waste of time and a missed opportunity for reflection/introspection.

    3-Your “gut” can tell you a lot about the choices you’re making.

    4-Just because you CAN make a change or do something different doesn’t mean you should.

    5-None of the preceding points matter at all if you lack self awareness and the ability to sit still long enough to reflect and look back on past actions in relation to those “feelings” and “gut” instincts.

    So, what’s that look like in my life? As a “Don’t Fence Me In” kinda gal (I’m old and am referencing a Roy Rogers song), I spent a good portion my life seeking and instigating change when it would have served me better to suck it up and stay put.

    This might have something to do with having a really fast/quirky brain that leads me to believe there is always something better out there or something else to discover or it may be that I read one too many romance novels in my youth, but what I realize now, especially when looking back (reflection/introspection part) is that in my need to move and change and do all things “new”, I missed some key steps along the way that would have gotten me closer to where I wanted to be than I am now.

    Some of those had to do with learning how to deal with stupid people rather than just wash my hands of them and some had to do with accepting that there will always be an imbalance and abuse of power/authority over some aspect of my life that I won’t be able to control.

    Rather than take my toys and go home, I am learning that behind most things are just other human beings and that most of the issues I have with them, are really opportunities for me to deal with my own stuff.

    Once that is done, I’m better able to make a good next step, rather than a leap forward just for the sake of momentum.

    Mostly though, what I’ve learned is that there is great wealth to be found in being stuck and that if you can deal with the absolute discomfort of sitting through it, you can learn more about yourself and what you don’t want, than you ever could had you just blithely moved on.

    Make sense?

  13. Jeff Taylor Says:

    I’m not so sure that creating tension is the only way to effect change.

    You do however have it right when you say that choosing between coasting and not is not obvious – rather, not easy. Who the hell opts to make their life more difficult?

    That said, I believe for the most part it’s the realizing that a change is necessary which is difficult. Typically, when one is coasting they aren’t “really” aware they’re doing so. Unless of course family and good friends give them a swift kick. But most people are too caught up in their own stuff to give a damn.

    Is there a formula? Can one start with your list of recommendations vis a vis creating tension? Sure – but I’m not sure the outcome one is seeking can be attained unless the person is first able to identify what needs changing.

    Love the blog. Happily moving from lurker to commenter…Jeff

  14. Tamsen McMahon Says:

    Our patterns trap us because they’re easy, they require little effort, little thought. But they also lull us into believing that what is easy is *right*, that it’s what’s best for us.

    Tension, and the energy it takes to both create and maintain it, is a sign of the body, and mind, at work. Change requires work — physical, mental, both. If there’s no tension, there’s no change. It really is that simple.

    The lesson I’ve learned? Beware the easy life. We needn’t create change for change’s sake, but whenever we’ve become so efficient at something (whether a pattern of thought or an action) that it’s mindless, effortless, then we need to make doubly sure the outcomes are what we really want.

  15. John McLachlan Says:

    “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan says it all.

  16. Frank Says:

    Structural tension (Deborah Hinton 6/4/10) is good – it keeps us in the mode of the constructive, and encourages and develops problem solving.

    However, Julian didn’t specify structural tension. He specified “tension,” and by that, I assume he means emotional tension is good for us in some ways even when it isn’t in other ways.

    Does anybody else consider that sometimes we need a dose of toxic thinking to make ourselves well or better?

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