The Easy Button
Do you remember the Staples commercials with the red easy button? Anytime there was a challenging situation, a red easy button would appear. All you need to do is simply press the easy button and voila—all your troubles are fixed.
It would be nice if we had such a button in real life, wouldn’t it? To press a button and immediately be transported to a fun and carefree life. But would that be in our best interest? Or would that hinder our growth?
Most of us aren’t too good at dealing with emotions like anger, fear, and negativity. Most of us typically have two modes in response to these emotions: Autopilot and Avoidance.
In Autopilot Mode, we are at the mercy of our emotions. It’s as if we are robots and the emotions control our every move. When you’re on autopilot, you are not mindful of where you are and what you’re doing. Your emotions are running the show, shifting you around as if you are a puppet on a string. Over time, and without learning how to deal with these emotions, we soon become the slaves at the end of our string, obeying the puppeteers’ every command.
The more I go through my day on autopilot, the less control I have. When fear and anxiety show up, they dictate my choices. I don’t stop to identify or reflect why I’m feeling the way I am, so I just continue allowing my fear to control me.
Given that fear usually feels unpleasant and our society also teaches us that it’s bad, it’s only natural that we try to avoid or get rid of it. In Avoidance mode, we do whatever we can to get rid of or avoid unpleasant feelings.
This is where the easy button comes in. Easy buttons are the actions and behaviors that numb us and allow us to opt out of experiencing discomfort, painful emotions, and negative thoughts. They take us on a roller coaster through a deep tunnel of darkness within ourselves.
I fall victim to pressing the easy button when a challenging situation arises in my life more than I like to admit. Writing a book. Creating a keynote. Developing a new curriculum. The tasks ahead are daunting and I don’t feel adequate to deliver. So what do I do instead? Reach for my easy button.
Easy buttons are exactly as the name implies. Easy. Comfortable. Takes little effort and minimum thought. The scary part about pressing this easy button over and over? That easy button manifests itself into a habit.
Don’t feel like writing? Easy. Scroll on social media.
Don’t feel like creating? Easy. Binge Netflix.
Don’t feel like getting that curriculum done? Easy. Trick myself into thinking I’m being productive by reading a book or watching YouTube videos.
I’ve hit the easy button many times before, thinking that it will make things better. Skipping the heartaches, fears, defeats, moments of disappointment, or at the very least, leave me feeling better for a brief moment. You have probably done the same thing without even fully being aware that you did it. While the easy serves to distract momentarily, I’ve found that it leaves me feeling restless, dissatisfied, disconnected, and empty.
As a basketball player, after missing a shot or turning the ball over, I figured out that there was no easy button during competition. So, I figured out a different approach to overcome the challenges I faced. I reset.
Our reset buttons are the actions and behaviors that can shift us in our current state of mind to a place of acceptance and intention. Reset buttons don’t fix the missed shots or mistakes we made, but they do shape our mindset to focus on the things we can control. Instead of focusing on the negative—we focus on the possible—our next best action. Or N.B.A. as I refer to this state of mind with my clients.
Reset buttons look different depending on the task at hand and what you are looking to get out of the moment.
Turned the ball over in crunch time but the team is still depending on you to hit the game winning shot? Reset. Focus on my anchoring technique.
Negotiating the deal of your career and your client presents a roadblock you didn't anticipate? Reset. Focus on my N.B.A.
Dealing with a class full of unruly, ungrateful students who don’t listen or appreciate what you do for them? Reset. Focus on my Golden Nuggets.
Hitting my reset button has never been easy. But it does allow me to take back the reins of control. My reset button allows me to shift my focus on what is productive in the moment instead of ruminating on everything going wrong.
Notice when you are reaching for the easy button—and instead—focus on your reset button. Easier said than done, I know. But remember, the easy button is easy for a reason. My biggest challenge is choosing to hit my reset button over my easy button.
It has never been easy.
It has always been worth it.