From Above




Clarity is your second enemy.

It’s like buying a car, isn’t it? The moment you decide that you are interested in Volkswagen Polo, suddenly you see them on the road everywhere.

I got to the point of tremendous frustration with myself. I am slightly embarrassed to say that I felt engorged most of the time, I felt so stiff in the mornings that I struggled to wipe my own backside, and when I looked at pictures of myself I felt bad. Really bad. I’ve never really liked my pics, but this was next level. And when my neighbours invited me to mountain biking, I went along, but more anxious than excited, as I knew how I would struggle up the hills.

Round about this time, I decided screw it. I’m getting a coach, I’m going on a diet, I’m fixing this. This, by the way, is a proclamation and intention I’ve made many times before, to varying degrees of success. I’ll often lose a little, sometimes a lot, but it remains a diet. And I eventually put the weight back on, and then some.

What was different about this round, though, was that my coach immediately started a conversation around limiting beliefs. About the belief system that traps us, the reality that we have constructed for ourselves, including the way we feel about our bodies and what we associate with pleasure and pain.

And suddenly, everyone from my golf partner to the Netflix show I’m watching to the Jack Carr book I’m reading started referring to this thing: Limiting Beliefs.

In my case, I associate being in shape with pain. The pain of not having all the treats that I so covet, of doing the hard yards of exercise, of suffering the discipline of denial. And it’s such a strong construct that it has always overridden my best efforts to show up differently in the world. I have had short-term successes, but never a lasting victory.

I’m talking about the kind of victory that will make me look forward to my Discovery checkup instead of dreading it and doing it just before Christmas when I’m finally out of time. The kind of victory that will have me chomping at the bit to jump on my bike in the morning to storm up to the Blockhouse. The kind of victory that will align with my goal to have a long and healthy life, so I can check off what is probably my most important bucket list item: Meet my grandkids.

I’ve done lots of work understanding myself. And making the choice to override my legacy constructs with new programming that will serve me better. I have made huge strides in not being a sarcastic know-it-all to cover my own insecurities, I am an able if not outstanding athlete, and I generally have enough EQ to not piss people off right away. I make them wait.

Carlos Castenada talked about the four enemies you have to conquer, and how clarity is the second one. Clarity is great. It helps you focus, it channels your energy, if you have a good grip on the world as you see it, it’s a good thing. But it can also blind you. The clarity you have is based on your legacy constructs, and the next trick to true self-leadership is to explore the other. Other perspectives, other realities, other clarities.

Sias Reyneke almost said it best, in his classic Afrikaans folk song Sproetjies: “I wish I could see myself through your eyes.”

Wishing aside, I have had a clarity of belief my whole life that I just struggle with eating. My Enneagram type (7) reinforces the idea that my vice is gluttony, and my self-talk has always been to lament the reality of my addiction. But the work I’m now doing is around flipping the script. Ja no fine, we all know self-talk is all important. But knowing is not doing. So I’m digging deep into everything from Atomic Habits to Anthony Robbins to the Power of 1, which is a tool we use in Finance Training for Entrepreneurs. I’m staying curious about the idea of limiting beliefs, and how those can be changed to empowering beliefs. And how we need to be patient, and that the world is really out there to derail you. The diet industry, after all, does not want anyone to really figure it out. That would not make for good return business.

I am hopeful that by addressing the underlying thinking and emotions I might be able to stick out the incremental changes that will change my belief about myself once and for all. So that I just don’t show up as an in-shape, confident rockstar. But I also believe I am one, and that my grandkids are gonna love me.

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