“A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” ― Henrik Ibsen
This is part 2 of the multi-part series on life-altering shifts of mindset and perspective. Here is part-1.
I would love to hear from you and your stories of shifts in perspective and mindset that have immensely helped you in your life. Please leave your comments below or e-mail me with your stories.
5. From “Imagination And Dreaming” To “Taking Prompt Action And Repeating”
“Never confuse movement with action.” ― Ernest Hemingway
Imagination and daydreaming are wonderful things to repeatedly engage in and the creativity literature emphasizes the importance of the “discovery or preparation stage” and the “incubation phase.” In the discovery stage, you look for ideas to approach your mind and search for new inspiration.
You may attempt to get new ideas by attempting new things and having new experiences, engaging your imagination and stretching the limits of your thinking. The next critical stage is the incubation period where you allow the ideas to collide and eventually synthesize something novel.
However, after the collision of ideas and the required incubation period, your mind will be ready to give you novel combinations and insights.
The burden is upon us to take prompt action to capture the new synthesis. This is the shift that many understand but only a few realize through experience and practice. Many of us think up wonderful ideas and then talk or rationalize ourselves from the clutches of those ideas.
Imagination and generation of ideas are important steps in the process but they are incomplete without implementation and it is this area that most of the limiting blocks and inertia and friction happens. You are confronted with possible ridicule and failure and the odds are great towards inaction.
I think that it is precisely this stage when you should proceed with baby steps in your next big idea. Instead of the possibility and fear of risking it all and potential inaction, why not just do a quick mini implementation and experience if the idea works for you. If you never place yourself in the shoes of the action taker, it would be impossible to understand if the idea has merit.
In an engaging TED talk Elizabeth Gilbert describes her meeting with with the extraordinary poet Ruth Stone who described the creative process as a poem thundering towards her. The only way Stone could capture the idea was to run to a paper and a pencil and collect it by writing it down. She describes that if she did not get to the paper in time, the poem would barrel through her and move on to someone else.
When ideas and inspiration do strike, we need to be ready to chase them, collect them and then implement or take immediate action lest they pass us by and go find someone who is more enthusiastic. You may be a habitual thinker and dreamer but it is time make a shift to habitual implementation and action.
“Imagination means nothing without doing.” ― Charles Chaplin
Shift your mindset from taking all the great ideas that you have and letting them go to implementing the best ones and taking consistent action on them.
Take small steps on the best possible idea and save the rest of ideas by writing them down for use later on. Do not fall in the trap of too many ideas but no implementation.
DO not dismiss this as a trivial shift. The quality of your life will be defined not by the quality of your ideas but by the power of action and implementation that you repeatedly demonstrate.
Drop the busywork or random movement and focus on doing focused action on the ideas that really matter in your life.
Make a commitment right now to take action and move forward on your great Idea!
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” ― C.G. Jung
6. From Feeling Isolated To Feeling Connected And From “I Can Do Everything Myself” To “I Need a Great Team“
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”― Brené Brown
You have heard before that we are a result of what we think and do and believe. And while all that is very true in many ways, the part that is often left out is that we are also a result of the connections, friendships and collaborations all around us.
In a fiercely individualistic society, great emphasis is placed on the achievement of the self. However, this is an achievement that would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of many individuals. You have been deeply ingrained to attempt to do everything yourself and that asking for “help” or assistance is a sign of great weakness.
What if we flip the concept around on its head and I tell you that not asking for help, directions and assistance is the real sign and cause for much worry, stress and fear? We are deeply afraid to be shown that we might be incorrect and make every possible attempt to mask that even if it means not asking for assistance and opinion.
The truth is that research has repeatedly shown that not only our success but also cardiovascular health and general well-being depends on the depth and meaning of our personal and professional connections. In fact, the Harvard men’s study that stretched for decades came to the very same startling conclusion that well-being was dependent on our sense of dependable connections and love that we experience and give.
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” ― William James
When you feel isolated, you feel unmotivated and uninspired to make a change or a difference in your life or the life of others. But when you connect with like people, who collaborate, mentor, advise and assist you in your journey, failure and difficulties do not seem insurmountable anymore.
You begin to approach people and make more connections. You begin to enjoy what you have to offer and enjoy what others have to offer you. You begin to give value to others and seek out value that others give to your life. This ability to shift from isolation to a feeling of connectedness and then taking action to connect and collaborate and synergize is a wonderful and productive shift.
It is truly a “win-win” situation when you get energized and inspired by the limitless power and synergy of your connections. But you are going to have to get yourself out of the way and sincerely seek meaningful connections.
The story that I present to you is from a book that I am currently reading: Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness, the story of his life and of the amazingly successful Zappos.com. Tony talks about a class at Harvard that looked insurmountable because he only had two weeks and had more material than that he could possibly cover. Since there was no homework, Tony ended up not reading the material throughout the semester.
Being very innovative and as a measure of necessity and survival in the class, Tony decided to turn the study questions into a crowdsourcing event. He posted a message to an electronic newsletter and set-up what might have been the one of the most clever and largest study group of students online.
The conditions of receiving a completed study guide for each student was to choose three topics out of the possible hundred, complete them and submit them for inclusion in the guide.
Tony was quite surprised by the enthusiastic response he received and quite soon he had a printed and bound study guide with all the answers that he sold for $20.00 each. He not only passed the exam but also made a neat profit selling the guides. If Tony had decided to isolate himself and had attempted to do everything himself, he would have most certainly failed or done very poorly.
“Only connect!” ― E.M. Forster, Howards End
Seek to develop mutually beneficial and meaningful connections with others.
Uplift and seek to be uplifted and you will see that life become a lot more interesting and energized.
The sum of effort by a TEAM of like-minded people is always far greater than your individual efforts. Allow others to assist you and allow yourself to assist others.
7. From Excessive Negativity And Criticism To Positivity And Bliss
“You have to open up to the world and learn optimism…Contentment with the past, happiness with the present, and hope for the future. Learned optimism.”― Jennifer Crusie
When someone tells us about being positive, it is as if our minds dismiss it as another “be positive and stay positive” piece of unsolicited advise. I think that it may have been framed and packaged in a way that may be unacceptable to many. When I tell you to be positive and appreciate what you have, it is by no means being positive all the time.
I think that this very important distinction needs to be made and the context that we consider being positive is all-important. It is a well-known fact that negativity is simply more powerful. I have written about this in the past but now I present you scientific evidence to support the idea.
In a journal review article titled: “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” the authors Vohs et. al. Emphasize this very point.
“The greater power of bad events over good ones is found in everyday events, major life events (e.g., trauma), close relationship outcomes, social network patterns, interpersonal interactions, and learning processes. Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones, and bad information is processed more thoroughly than good.”
The authors go on to say:
“The self is more motivated to avoid bad self-definitions than to pursue good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.”
But there is a ray of hope and certainly a way out of the negativity dilemma. You may need to amplify and intensify the number of good events and keep the negativity toned down a bit.
According to the authors:
“Even though a bad event may have a stronger impact than a comparable good event, many lives can be happy by virtue of having far more good than bad events.”
Instead of trying to be exhaustibly positive all the time, it may be more possible to become aware of the “stickiness” and the relentless inertia caused by negative thoughts and events. When you allow the negative to skim over you imbibing the lesson but at the same time unwilling to engage deeply with it, you shift towards a non-negative state.
Moreover, becoming aware of the automatic response of “no,” “maybe,” “should” and “cannot” and shifting to more facilitative terms like “yes,” “why not,” and “can” might make the difference between giving up and going on. This is a small but powerful shift from crippling negativity to a more allowing positive tone and state.
Always remember that negative states and events are not the problem but our relentless pursuit of those states and unwillingness to consider the alternatives that is the root of the problem. When we willingly dissociate from the negative states, we give other possibilities a fair chance of survival.
Shift from excessive negativity into possibility and positivity.
Learn from negative states and experiences but realize that you do not need to dwell in them longer than you wish to stay there.
8. From Passive Learned Helplessness To Active Engagement
“Self abandoned, relaxed and effortless, I seemed to have laid me down in the dried-up bed of a great river; I heard a flood loosened in remote mountains, I felt the torrent come; to rise I had no will, to flee I had no strength.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Learned helplessness can be described as the condition where you train your brain and mindset to act helpless if you were exposed to a situation in the past where you were powerless to affect any change.
The lack of personal power and the lack of control to facilitate change and improvement can calibrate your brain to give up and learn the behavior of helplessness. When confronted with a similar situation and under similar conditions, you may express exhaustion and dejection and a sense of acute helplessness that is conveyed through your thoughts, feelings and actions.
How can you transform learned helplessness to empowerment and personal power? The first step would be to become aware that you are engaging in a behavior that you might be synthesizing in your mind and environment.
Instead of latching on to triggers and habitual patterns that support the helplessness like an unfavorable environment or an enervating thought or feeling, you may want to prepare or calibrate your response before the situation actually happens.
If you prepare your mindset and seek out the resources that will aid you to engage a situation instead of being helpless in it, you will be a lot better off to face it.
All the worthy results that you get in your life are a direct consequence of the active and enthusiastic engagement with a problem and the willingness to follow through with a creative solution.
Shifting your perspective from “I cannot” to a strong belief of “I can” will do wonders to your confidence and busting through the massive inertia of learned helplessness.
The truth is that learned helplessness can be unlearned but it requires your active and relentless engagement and participation. It will need your awareness of the patterns of helplessness in your life.
When you actively seek out the resources and conditions that give you more personal power, control and enthusiasm, you will effectively transform helplessness into engagement and action.
It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail.- Lech Walesa
Realize that learned helplessness might be the reason why you are feeling demotivated or talk yourself out of action and engagement.
Establish beforehand how you will deal with helplessness and make a pact with yourself that you will engage and follow through regardless of the inertia of learned helplessness.
Increase your personal power and a sense of control by taking charge of little things that you can affect a change in.
The process of shift from helplessness to awesomeness:
1. Become Aware of Learned Helplessness.
2. Have a deep willingness to engage with the problem.
3. Be open to options and resources and assistance that gives you personal power and control.
4. Have the Commitment to follow through and do what it takes to affect a creative solution!
5. Take repeated and meaningful action and measure the forward motion.
6. Be open to receive feedback as a measure of improvement and not as a debilitating criticism.
9. From Predominantly Consuming To Claiming Your Creative Powers
“The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”― Robert Henri
Do you predominantly have the energy of a consumer or do you have the energy and the persona of a creative person? You may have been told in the past that you were not creative and that you should not even bother to try being creative.
But creativity is what we engage in everyday life. When you do something in a novel and innovative way and set up a new system or a process or produce a new recipe, you are being creative. In reality, who gets to decide what being creative really means? If you have the idea that artists, musicians and writers are highly creative people but the rest of the professions do not require it, think again.
As humans, we are inherently creative and connect, combine and transform things to suit others and ourselves on a daily basis but seldom realize that we are being very creative. When you stop believing in your creative powers and confidence, you may end up spending most of your time consuming content.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with consumption. In fact, consumption is essential for creativity.
The real question is: “what are you doing with everything that you are consuming? Are you allowing the novel fusion and transformation of information in your brain to connect, combine and then create something new? Or are you content consuming one thing after another?
This is the crux of the problem for a lot of people. They consume without creating. They consume and feel overwhelmed with all the material in their head and then feel listless because they have not allowed a creative outlet for themselves.
If you mindlessly consume matter and move from one source to another, not completely satisfied and moving on to the next best thing, you do not allow the vital jump into the incubation and synthesis mode of creativity. Once you get an idea from your experiences, allow yourself the creative outlet of that creative tension or angst.
Claim your undeniable innate creativity and set up structures to allow it to bloom. Make the leap from being only a consumer to rediscovering your creativity and immerse quality time dabbling around in novel synthesis and creative ventures.
“I paint the way someone bite his fingernails; for me, painting is a bad habit because I don’t know nor can I do anything else.”-Pablo Picasso
Make the shift from being a consumer to claiming your creativity.
Turn the expression of your creativity into a repeated habitual pattern that you engage repeatedly.
Purposefully shut the TV and other media of consumption down and allow your natural creativity to express in your field of interest.
Be. Creative. Now. You do not have to explain or prove anything to anyone. Allow your innate creativity to flow through you and do not attempt to block it.
Now over to you! Please let me know in the comments below about your thoughts on the shifts in mindset and perspective in this post and share any stories that you have.
Image Credit: Toni Blay via Compfight