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Be Straight with Yourself to Get What You Want and Want What You Get

Being straight with yourself puts you on solid ground for getting what you want. And who doesn’t like to get what they want?

Can you own up to your motivations and limitations, your values, and your intentions? Are you self-aware enough to acknowledge your capacity and capability and to own up to your strengths and weaknesses? Can you manage your emotions to be responsive rather than reactive? Are you clear about your values and intentions and how they motivate you?

What Do You Want?

Here is a little story about owning up to what you really want.

A person came to the Guru to get instruction on how to deal with an exploitive partner (it could be an abusive, uncooperative, or incompetent boss, subordinate, or peer).

Guru asks, “So you want to change your partner.”

“No, I want to change myself” the person answered.

Guru (who is a bit of a mind reader) says, “No. You only say that because you think wanting to change the other is not “spiritual,” not giving and allowing; that it is manipulative.  You might have read somewhere that the only thing you can do is to change yourself and your perception, that you need to accept things as they are.”


“Admit it.” the Guru says. “You are unhappy with the relationship, and you want change. You want to change the other or to have them change themselves into someone you’d like them to be, doing (or not doing) the things you want them to do.”

Guru continues, “You want to change the situation and you think the only thing you can do is to change yourself because you can’t change your partner. You are correct, you can’t change others.  But you can change your perception. When you do, behavior changes. When your behavior changes, you influence others, so they are likely to change their behavior. Though the change may or may not be to your liking.

You can’t change others, but you can influence their behavior.”

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Are You Being Straight?

The Guru concluded, “Are you being straight with yourself? Are you acknowledging your true feelings, thoughts, wants, and needs? Do you have an accurate sense of the situation? If not, you won’t get the change you want.

“Once you acknowledge the situation and your part in it, you can look in on it. You can be both a part of it and an objective observer, a witness. Stepping back to objectively observe you can better know the situation and it’s causes. Then you can apply the courage to work to change it or learn to settle into it.”

A Self-serving Boss

Take the example of a self-serving, manipulative manager. She exploits and verbally abuses team members. She takes credit for successes and blames others for failures; expresses no gratitude.  You are frustrated, depressed, and angry.

You’ve read a self-help book or listened to a podcast that says you can only change yourself and you begin to deny that you want to change her. So, you learn some techniques to manage your anger. You apply them and the frustration seems relieved; you’ve accepted the situation. Or have you?

The frustration doesn’t go away, instead, it gets buried or turned inward. You become frustrated with yourself and your inability to accept the situation as it is. You feel powerless. Your anger turns to resignation and depression.

A Solid Foundation

When you acknowledge your desire to change the situation and accept that you can change yourself and influence others, you courageously do it or you learn to settle into it, truly accepting what you can’t change.

If it’s neither change nor settles, then you complain (to yourself or out loud) and everyone suffers. When you are straight with yourself you can decide and do.

What You Can Do

When faced with a challenging other, do a reality check.  Are they behaving in an abusive, exploitive manner or are you overly sensitive or expecting too much? Or is it a combination? Are you being open and empathetic? Are they? What are the risks of being straight with them?

Answering these questions will put you in a position to more effectively manage the situation to get what you want and be more likely to like what you get.

Depending on the situation, voice your wants and needs. You can confront your partner gently but firmly and tell them what you are feeling and how their behavior affects you. You can ask them to change their behavior.  If you don’t say what you want, the likelihood of getting it is small.

At the same time, you can change your perception and become less vulnerable to their abusive behavior. Here we are on a slippery slope. You don’t want to become a doormat or accept the unacceptable. You need to know your limits  In negotiation it is knowing your best and final offer and having the resolve to walk away.

Changing your perspective to unconditionally accept what is, is wise. However, accepting what is does not mean that you can’t do something to influence the future. Remember, you can’t change the past or the present moment, but your thoughts, speech, and actions create a ripple that changes the future.

Knowing what you want and don’t want, influences your behavior. You establish goals and objectives, and these motivate you to do what you can.

Values, Intentions, Implications

What are you willing to do to get what you want? Does getting what you want to harm others?  What are the immediate, medium, and long-term implications?

Being straight with yourself includes knowing your values and intentions. The values may be saving time and making money, health and happiness for yourself and others, environmental health, ethical and non-harming behavior, safety, and security. Your intention might be to win at the expense of everyone or to find win-win solutions. Your highest intention may be to become a great servant leader or the richest and most powerful.

Getting What You Want

Opening to self-knowledge, being straight with yourself, may sound easy, though for many people it is not. It requires the courage to confront your beliefs and acknowledge realities that you do not like. It requires stepping back to objectively observe and accept things you don’t like.

When you own up to your motivations and limitations; your values and intentions, and acknowledge your expectations, capacity and capability, strengths, and weaknesses you can get what you want and be more likely to like what you get.

Cultivate self-awareness and be straight with yourself.

George Pitagorsky

George Pitagorsky, integrates core disciplines and applies people centric systems and process thinking to achieve sustainable optimal performance. He is a coach, teacher and consultant. George authored The Zen Approach to Project Management, Managing Conflict and Managing Expectations and IIL’s PM Fundamentals™. He taught meditation at NY Insight Meditation Center for twenty-plus years and created the Conscious Living/Conscious Working and Wisdom in Relationships courses. Until recently, he worked as a CIO at the NYC Department of Education.