If you’re familiar with me, my method, and mouth, then you also know that as the creator of The Handel Method and our online coaching course Inner.U that I’m crazy proud of,  I make shi(f)t up that you can never unhear, ALL the time.

Especially life hacks.

And I’m about to again. Why? Because in these incessantly fast times, insta-hacks into our own humanity, enabling us to upgrade our operating systems quickly, are direly needed. I mean, come on, who couldn’t use a Candyland shortcut slide to our greatest selves?  Especially when it comes to our results!

Weeeee ALL most certainly do.

I’ve named today’s hack “the Catch-22.” Fine, I obviously pinched it from Joseph Heller. However — no surprise here — I changed it a little. Allow me to elaborate (a.k.a. summarize what Wikipedia said first, before I explain my version):

The term “Catch-22” was introduced in Heller’s novel of the same title to describe the apparent loophole, or catch, that prevents a pilot from asking for a mental evaluation to determine if they are fit to fly. After all, you’d have to be crazy to fly dangerous missions, but you need to be sane in order to fly. The term was subsequently adopted into general English to refer to an illogical situation or a problem in which the solution is denied by the problem itself.

So, what do mean by it? Sort of the same-ish thing…

Namely, humanity’s lifelong catch/predicament: The day we’re reliable about our promises, is the day we don’t need them, is the day we’ll break them. No matter how many drinks you haven’t been drinking, an alcoholic will always be an alcoholic. No matter how much you worry if your kids are safe, do you stop worrying when they’re safe? Nope. The day you stop giving a shit about getting pregnant or not is the day you get knocked up. The day we make our weight, get out of debt, or write that screenplay, is the day we realize that the voice in our head, no matter how much we’ve accomplished, still self-loathes way more than self-loves.

Yep, to be us is to be in a perpetual catch-22.

As a leader, mother, wife, and result lover, as someone who likes to celebrate big wins every now again with — deep breathe here — tobacco, I’ve been playing with syllogisms, unsolvable math, and humanity’s catch-22’s a big portion of my life. After all, in my world, a perfectly imperfect one, perfect is kinda boring anyway. I much prefer inventing how to live with and thrive in our inherent oddities, imperfections, and contradictions.

Especially when it comes to wanting what we want, when we want it, NOW. Whether it’s an Oompa Loompa, a Tesla, a relationship, a big new client, the water to boil, or a deadline met on our (or my client’s) EXACT timeline, there’s a bit of Willy Wonka’s Veruca Salt in all of us, right? EXCEPT, see catch-22: the more we want the results we want to happen right now, the more they’re not happening right now. The more they’re not happening right now, the more we start to blame someone or something for their not happening. But, the more we search out who or what’s at fault, the more we miss the joke that “maybe” the lack of results is actually a result of us or a result of what we’re sadly believing, calculating, and proving.

Who us? Yes. Catch 22-ers are we.

Let me ask you something: if my clients’ employees are scared to tell my client their greatest fears about a looming deadline they’re afraid they won’t meet –– what’s in the deadline’s way: the actual project, the deadline, the concerned boss, OR their growing fears?

Answer: their unairable fears.

And thus the catch-22. The more we fear something, the more we stay quiet about it. The more we stay quiet, the more what we fear and can’t say becomes real. The more what we fear becomes real, the more accurate we were in the beginning to fear it in the first place. Yes, it sounds a lot like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because it is. Don’t ask yourself IF you’re doing it, figure out WHERE you’re doing it.

So, think about it: Can you see your own fear driven catch-22’s? Can you see them in other people’s lives? Once we can see (and air) our own fears that perpetuate our catch-22’s is the minute we can swim upstream with them or fly a plane in a dangerous mission if we want to, but not have to pocket our fear about it.

As far as my client – the boss with the looming deadline – was concerned, his team was never going to have a solid plan by their Friday deadline. Certainly not the way everyone had been behaving, reeling, and lying to each other. But, my client didn’t want to confront them or even fess his own fears. Instead, he wanted to wait and see what actually transpired on Friday.

I, however, had another plan in mind: a midweek “bonfire.” Come on…a figurative one. One where I’d have my client grant his whole group amnesty and one by one, they’d each meet with him and out all of their fears, worries, and unsaids. But not air them to grow and garner evidence for them, BUT air them to incinerate them. Because once our negative thoughts hit the light of day, then and only then, do they have a chance to disappear, dissipate, or get dealt with. And that’s exactly what happened with my client and his team…and what I knew all along: the plan my client’s team would come up with post the bonfire would be a WHOLE different plan than the one before the burn. And it was. You see, one plan was fear driven and the other was free driven. One had them finding fault and attacking each other, while the other was a whole new plan of attack…where what was NOW possible was possibly the impossible.



P.S. What’s your life like? Sucky? Sexy? Somewhere in between? Take the Current Reality Quiz! It’s a quick, easy, and fun (we swear) way to self-assess and get a better idea (or at least an honest one) on what areas of your life you need to work on.

Lauren Handel Zander is the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of Handel Group®, an international corporate consulting and life coaching company. Her coaching methodology, The Handel Method®, is taught in over 35 universities and institutes of learning around the world, including MIT, Stanford Graduate School of Business, NYU, and the New York City Public School System. Lauren is also the author of Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap, Face Your Fears, Love Your Life (Published by Hachette Book Group, April 2017), a no-nonsense, practical manual that helps readers figure out not just what they want out of life, but how to actually get there. She has spent over 20 years coaching thousands of private and corporate clients, including executives at Vogue, BASF, and AOL. Lauren has been a featured expert in The New York Times, BBC, Forbes, Women’s Health, Dr. Oz, and Marie Claire and she is a regular contributor to Businessweek and the Huffington Post. Click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation with Handel Group.

Image courtesy of Alexei Scutari.