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Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure.

Earl Wilson

Life Coaching

Building Focus, Energy & Courage - to Make a Better Life for You

Meet The Norms


"NORMS" are the way things generally are.

The things we accept so completely, we don't even see them. Your mission is to learn to recognise your Norms then to question and change them for better ones. This is hard to do, which I'll illustrate through a little theatrical dialogue.

I'll play the coach (I'll be taller, younger and maybe less gray for this production). And I'll also be you (but if you think I'm wearing THAT - you must be joking!). In playing you, I'll be the worst you I can think of. No offense..

Oh, and in an attempt to be entertaining, I've bent my character somewhat. I'm not really supercilious!

OK, Let's call the production...

As You Like It?

Curtain rises

We're in a wood-paneled sitting room.
The lights are dimmed.
You are sitting opposite my desk in a comfy brown leather chair.
One of those thingies from the Sherlock Holmes era, with brass studs all over it.
(The chair - not you).
I'm sitting behind a leather-topped desk.
There's a green-shaded desk lamp to one side.
I'm thinking there's a stuffed animal in one corner.
Could be a bear. Maybe an ungulate skull...that's..probably not important right now.
There's a grandfather clock in the other corner - rhythmically marking
the passage of wisdom and happiness from coach to client in
affordable increments

OK You, we're going to expose your Norms...

[to audience, in a Frankie Howard voice] Oooh Errr, Missus

I want you to talk us through your last work day - last Friday.

OK I generally get in at 9:00, and I usually head straight for coffee...
Just a minute. Let's start from when you wake up.
What?! What's that got to do with anything?
Humour me please.
OK, I get up around 08:15, complete my ablutions in double-quick time,
iron what I must, and head for the door, and drive to work.
What do you enjoy about that routine?
So why do you do it that way?

What? How else am I going to get to work?
What - am I going to show up naked? Or wearing a crumpled dressing gown?

Well, it's possible, but it might not be pretty.
Why choose 08:15 to get up?
I can't leave it any later. Sometimes the traffic on the ...
Sure, but what about earlier?
Why would I do that?? We're trying to make things better aren't we?
Are you sure you know how to do this coaching malarkey?


So. Here are our first Norms of the day. Norms - meet You - You - meet some of your Norms.

You assume without question that the goal is to get in to work as late as possible because you don't get enough sleep.

You accept and expect that you will continue to get insufficient sleep.

You assume your morning routine is a necessary evil from which pleasure cannot be extracted.

Your focus - without design - is in pretending you're not in your present reality. Ideally you'd prefer to sleep through it, waking up fully clothed, ironed and scrubbed up at your desk at 09:01.

All of this comes from the overall rise and fall of the rest of your daily cycle.

NONE of this comes from any fundamental law of the universe or of how Humankind must spend their lives.

Long Silence.
A grins spreads across You's face.

OK... I get it. Well, maybe. So how should I do my mornings, then?
However you like. They're your mornings - not mine.
Oh, very shrinky... That desk is there for self-defence isn't it?
Not really. If you like your mornings the way you are, then keep them.
But if you don't, ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO TO IMPROVE THEM. That's the new step here.
What can you do to make your mornings better for you?
Nothing! I don't like hurrying, but I don't want to get up any earlier,
because I don't sleep enough already and I'm always tired.
Why don't you get enough sleep?
Yeah, well, I go to bed late. I know what comes next, but I go to bed late because, dammit, I want some time for ME.
I spend all my day at THAT PLACE. I come home late, and do what I have to do in the house,
and by the time I sit down for some ME TIME, it's late. I need to live a little!
Certainly. I'm here to help you live a lot.
So the late nights arise from stressful days and busy evenings.
That's OK - just accept for the moment, that late nights are another NORM.
It's entirely possible to conceive of a life in which you went to bed at 7, isn't it?
I wouldn't want that - crikey, I ...
But is it POSSIBLE?
It's stupid, but OK. Yes it is possible.

That's all I was after. You're in charge and you'll go to bed and get up whenever you like.
I just want you to see that these are NORMS and you can choose to change them if and when you want.

So let's look at stress at work.
What is the biggest source of stress?

It's all stressful. Just being in that office is stressful. WORK is stressful!
OK. Let's start from 9am. Walk me through it.
9am. Ahhh, the morning meeting. How I love it. NOT.
It takes half an hour, and serves no purpose except to keep me away from the real work.
It's another NORM, and so it's up for change.
No. I have to go, I can't change it.
Have you spoken to anyone about it?
What's the point. They're all sheep anyway.
So - you've not discussed it with anyone?
No. It wouldn't do any good.
Who COULD you speak to?
Well, Steve - the boss runs it. If I wanted a hard time I could tell him it's a waste of space.
You want me to do that?
What else could you say to Steve?
Long pause. Another grin.
I could suggest that most of what we do in that meeting doesn't actually need a meeting.
He stands there reading out a status report. He could email it to us.
Oh no wait, we sometimes comment on items, and you can't really do that in email.
Ahhh! BUT!!!! He could email the report, we could all undertake to read it beforehand,
and then have a much shorter meeting to just discuss any issue arising.

No wait! We could say that if you don't have any issues arising - you don't have to go!
Hmmm. He's always droning on about efficiency. I can hoist him on his own petard!

End of Act 1 - Curtain Falls


Our character (You) is now in a "resourceful state". They're no longer arms-folded, declaring that every aspect of their existence is unavoidably miserable. They're seeing how NORMS are arbitrary - there to be seen and changed for the better, as they always have been - and always will be. From that point on, it's much easier.

And that's all I really wanted to get across here. It's a simple lesson, but it's hugely powerful because it is universally applicable. Choose almost any aspect of your existence, and you can find NORMS, then question them, then change them for the better.

Your relationship with your partner or family, your body shape, how you're planning to spend this Christmas, what you're going to do tonight at 8pm, and of course, how you spend each of your working days - all of these are up for re-NORMing.

Go Forth and re-norm !


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