top of page

Unpacking conviction

One of the most challenging questions for many people is this:

What do I want?

Without having an answer to this, one implicitly becomes subject to the demands of the world around them. So while being one of the most challenging questions, it is one of the most important.


Hold these questions lightly, but seriously... ▶ What do you want? ▶ What do you really want? ▶ How much conviction do you have in getting/creating/building/receiving what you want? Is the answer "I don't know"? Great! Keep reading...


This is not the first time I've asked you, my community, to consider what it is that you want. If you glazed over this exercise the first time, I invite you to really engage with it this time. Here's my stretch task for you (if you dare...!):

Get a piece of paper or a word document or a note in your phone, and write a list of 100 things that you want.

They can be big or small. Rational or irrational. Even include things you already have if you can still connect to that desire you have for them. Then, reflect. Look for themes. Consider if you've been dreaming big, or dreaming modestly. Notice if your desires are more about things, people, experiences or feelings. Now, what have you learned about you? If you've got things on that list that you don't yet have, don't worry. You're in the top 99.99999% of people*! It seems to me that most of us never dare to go for what we want. And of course, that is with good reason (we need to have compassion as we meet this topic...). Probably that subconscious mind of yours has some very intentional mechanism at play that keeps you hooked into the game of "play not to lose" instead of the one that your deepest desires are linked to: "Play to win." And that's okay. We're poking a very confusing part of the human experience here. One that's deeply oriented toward safety. Helen Keller wrote in her 1957 book 'The Open Door': 'Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.' Pretty big words. I think she's onto something. And, at the same time, it would be ignorant to dismiss the merits of holding belief systems that reinforce the idea of security as a reality in order to stabilise the psyche. Sometimes we need that while we work on other foundations that can do the same thing. Like:

Self-trust. Self-confidence. Self-compassion. A willingness to "fail". Devotion to a mission bigger than thee.

Elon Musk's mission is to establish life on Mars. But today, the company he's set up to do that is mainly focused on building rockets. Just because they aren't there, doesn't mean they've failed. The path is long. My clients have been working with these concepts recent times, after doing the hard yards on those foundations I mentioned. I've been asking them to think bigger, just to, you know... mess with their thinking. By setting Musk-esque goals. And they've come back to me with upscaled missions that have just about knocked my socks off. Just the other day, I agreed with a client on a stretchy assignment to challenge his thinking about what's possible for his future and, without prompting, he 10X-ed the assignment. These bold moves inspire me. Not because of the sheer size and bravery of their convictions, but because of the playfulness with which they are approaching them. They don't need these things to happen. Just as Musk probably doesn't need to see life on Mars. And yet, they are convicted in moving toward them. The focus is not on the end result alone, but on the path. The process. If you want to go far, you must learn to be deeply committed to and to celebrate the process. If you don't, it's gonna be a hard road. I recently formed a new friendship with someone I met on LinkedIn who is a talented co-author and has allowed me to read one of his unpublished manuscripts. In describing the main character of the book, he talked about a man who is deeply committed to his personal mission, and pursues that within the context of his strict moral code. He said to me, of this character, but also of conviction more generally: "...if you're convicted in something, you have to really care for what you want." - David N. Cancio This helped me realise, this conversation we're having right now is bigger than just desire, about "wanting" something. Taking action to step into the field beyond what is known, beyond security, beyond guarantees, requires not simply a wanting, a desire. It requires a WHY. A mattering of the mission. That is the part about devotion to a mission bigger than thee. That is what fuels the will. Perhaps the equation is something like this:


Like a jet engine, desire sucks the wind in from the front, and will blows it out the back again, propelling forward against all forces...! (Thank you to Paul Chek for this metaphor.) I don't know. Maybe we're just being poetic and playing with words here. But I can tell you, here at Anne van der Giessen HQ, the team (mainly me) would have thrown in the towel a bloody long time ago in the absence of will. Running a business has been the hardest thing I have ever done. There have been far more "tough days" than "good days", but the meaning this work brings to me and my clients and the reward that emerges from the process is deeply satisfying. I wouldn't have it any other way. It pays to mention however, that my mission didn't start out with so much fire underneath it. It started with tiny sparks. Little flitters of inspiration. Of sentences that started with "I wonder if...". With catching the way light reflected off of damp leaves during a walk in the park. If you don't know what you want, don't worry. "I don't know" is a much more stable starting place than a mislaid "I know for sure!". Dance with it. It will come.


What I'm writing about: Taking about playing to win... I watched the F1 Drive to Survive 2022 series over the weekend, which became the subject of my Mythology Monday reflections. Read it here.

Recommended reading: Fiction! For goodness sake, please read some fiction! Here is your permission slip - go an find some novelty. That may just support your growth more than any personal development book will. In the name of laying bricks versus building cathedrals, what about this one?

Something to listen to: The latest episode of Cultivating Courage just went live. In our latest catch-up, Mike proposed to play with some real life coaching... so here you have it, me, squirming on the "hot seat", as Mike beautifully coaches me on the topic of connecting to joy.


So, now we've gotten down to this end of the email, I'm curious if anything we've explored here may trigger you to realise that your desire is worthy of your pursuit. Even if it feels a bit uncomfortable. Even if right now, desire is just a tiny spark inside of your belly that you don't yet have words for. If you have found something that moves you, and if you dare... would you speak out your desire to me? What is that thing that is "wanting" in you, maybe just tickling you from the inside, seeking to be acknowledged? Waiting for a future moment where it might be combined with will... I'm so curious to hear.

* Not a real statistic, but you get my point. Not yet subscribed? Click the image below to make sure my current personal development perspectives are arriving in your inbox.


bottom of page