Michael Neil (www.geniuscatalyst.com), one of my favorite coaches and authors, recently did an amazing radio show on the power of mindset. In it he shared the work of a psychologist who has been doing work in this area and the ramifications as to how we operate in this world were startling to me. Let me tell you what I learned.
Carol Dweck took a group of grammar school children who had all received the exact same score on a test and divided them into two groups. The first group was praised for their achievement with phrases like, “congratulations! You must be so proud! YOU ARE SO SMART!” The second group was equally praised but with one specific difference. They were told phrases like, “congratulations! You must be so proud! YOU MUST HAVE WORKED SO HARD!”
A very interesting result ensued. The children who were praised for being smart – something that is innate and unchangeable – were later afraid to take on new challenges, avoided things that would test their abilities and tended to lie about test scores they received in the future. In contrast, the children who were praised for working hard were eager to take on new challenges, welcomed things that would test their abilities and told the truth about the test scores they received in the future. (I hope these children were all given a little bit of therapy after this experiment… but I digress…)
So what does all this mean? Well, Dr. Dweck identified that there were two types of mindsets that people tended to operate from: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset comes from the position that your intelligence, talents and abilities are fixed and innate… In other words, you are dealt the cards you’re dealt so get over your big, bad self and deal with it. In contrast, with a growth mindset you see your intelligence, talents and abilities as fluid and a “work in progress” that can continually improve.
The ramifications of this simple realization are incredibly powerful. Whichever perspective we come from, chances are, that perspective operates under the radar and secretly influences everything you experience and think.
Do we operate from the knowledge that we can learn and grow or do we avoid new things because of how “we ARE?” This simple realization can directly affect our motivation levels, our anxiety levels in the midst of new situations, whether or not we are likely to avoid something and a host of other common problem scenarios.
Instead of beating ourselves up and ripping ourselves apart, agonizing over the things we can’t seem to get ourselves to do, perhaps a simple question of asking ourselves what mindset we are coming from… fixed or growth… could be all the motivation we need to turn something we dread into something that is filled with possibility, potential and most of all fun.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it is to examine one thing that you are avoiding completing (or starting) and analyze your mindset around it. If you’re not coming at it from a mindset of growth and possibility, how might you change the way you see the situation to move it there?
In this 3 minute podcast episode, the Superintendent of my building talked to me about what he tries to do every day to make the world a better place. I truly believe that if we all did these 2 simple things every day we totally change the energy of our life, relationships and outlook on problems!
Take a quick listen… it is worth it.
Ask The Life Coach – Video Episode 1 –
Stephanie – A recruiter…
In this episode of Ask The Life Coach, Stephanie, a recruiter, asks Life Coach Roger DeWitt how we can get people to see other opportunities. When what has been working stops working how do we encourage job seekers in this economy to find a new perspective? (4 Minutes 30 seconds)
If you have never seen this man speak… he is quirky, amazing, insightful and totally brilliant. What he says here regarding Classical Music has leadership, life, communication, relationship and joy lessons. A total MUST WATCH yet again from TED.
I was having a conversation with somebody over Twitter recently — (Twitter = Can you say new obsession?) It was one of those random comments that I happened to run across from somebody who I really enjoyed. Her name is Alice Langholt of http://reikiawakening.blogspot.com/ and she is a Reiki Master who is building her business while having a day job rating Google pages.
In the twitter stream she had posted that she was frustrated with having to do a day job when what she really wanted to be doing was reiki full-time. (By the way Reiki (ray-kee) is a spiritual practice in the form of energy healing and I know people who swear by it!)
Our conversation continued over Twitter and my “coach’s fascination” kicked in. I ended up sending her a very lengthy e-mail that addressed this feeling of wanting things to be different than they are. I know all of us have felt that way at one time or another. Below is a synopsis of what I told her.
It is an interesting thing. We attach to wanting a certain thing not because we really want that thing, but because of what we think having that thing will give us or make us feel. (Read that sentence again because it is an important one) I want that new career or that life partner, etc. because of how that will make me feel once I have it. We attach to that particular thing because that is the only way we know how to get that feeling.
Laura Berman Fort gang describes it as the difference between “essence” and “vehicle.” The essence is what we truly want — peace of mind, security, fulfillment, acceptance, significance and so on. The vehicle — the new career, new life partner, new car and so on — is what we attach to and believe will give us that essence that we’re actually looking for.
The trouble is, we attach to a vehicle because that is the only way we know how to get the essence that we really want. We make that “thing” that we want so important and lose sight of what it is we’re really looking for. Unfortunately, there is a huge irony in this. By attaching and focusing on the vehicle, we put an intense pressure on the attainment of that vehicle and oftentimes, push it away in the process. If we would actually stop and ask ourselves the question, “what will having this thing give me/mean about me/make me feel?” we would recognize that there is something much deeper that we are actually looking for.
An interesting thing then happens. By focusing on the deeper essence of what it is we really want, all sorts of “vehicles” suddenly show up as ways we can get that “essence” satisfied. Suddenly we have options and the pressure on that ONE thing as THE ONLY way subsides.
Here’s an example. A young child does a play in the fifth grade. He does well, the audience applauds and all of a sudden he feels completely satisfied and accepted. He has never quite felt that total satisfaction before and decides that an acting career is the way he wants to go. He spends the rest of his adult life pining after an acting career and never feeling satisfied unless he’s actually performing on stage. In this case, he has put all the pressure of the satisfaction of his need for acceptance on an acting career — the vehicle to his acceptance. He feels compelled to an acting career not realizing that what he really needs is acceptance. Were he to stop and uncover what he really needs then that intense pressure of having to have an acting career would subside, he could focus on getting that need met and actually be at choice about if he even WANTS to act!.
I know this may be a bit of a mind screw for many. We really think that we want that THING that we want. We are creatures governed by feeling and we forget that those things, in and of themselves, have no meaning unless we ascribe meaning to them.
For some fun, try this experiment: take something you really, really want and ask yourself this question. “What will having this thing actually give me that I don’t currently have?” I’ll be interested to find out what you learn.
If you found this blog post interesting or helpful, I invite you to contact me via the contact pageon this site and let’s set up a time where we can have a coaching conversation. I am an expert at helping people get what they really need so they can have what they truly want faster and with less stress than they ever thought possible. Give it a try.
Below is a rough transcript of the podcast episode available at the bottom of this post. You now have the option to read or listen!!
A few days ago I posted this amazing talk I found on Ted.com. It was best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love talking about the pressures of being someone who is professionally creative and the expectations of others once we’ve had a success. It was the most fascinating exploration into the human mind of how we all fear that what we have done so far may be as good as it gets. We worry ourselves silly about being good enough for the challenges that lie ahead of us. Without mentioning it, she addresses the fraud factor that I think we all feel or have felt at one time in our life. She offers an amazing way of thinking that can literally smash those fears away. The video was 19 minutes long and I encourage you to watch it if you haven’t already. It is truly one of the most uplifting talks I have ever heard and it gave me strategies that could put into practice immediately.
But that’s not what this article is about.
Now I love blogging. I love the discussion factor and how it gets people talking and how people with varying opinions can weigh in on any given topic… that is to a point.
When I posted that incredibly uplifting and inspiring video I got one comment that I simply couldn’t approve because… well, quite frankly… it would’ve made the person look a little kooky.
This person went on a rant about how they had listened only to the first few minutes of the video and how they became bored and turned it off and then started railing against the fact that everybody feels fear and its natural and good for you. The person called Elizabeth perimenopausal and spoke as if the video had been a self-indulgent “poor me” episode. It was bizarre. I almost approved it because it was so ridiculous. But I didn’t.
Now here’s my point: within the first couple of sentences the person had said that they had only listened to the first few minutes of the video. OK, they missed the other 17 minutes of it. You think there might have been a little bit more information than just in the first two minutes? Do you think that the speaker might have given a solution or two? Do you think you might have given it a chance?
This is the danger we all face when we make snap judgments without all the information. This person had decided after two minutes that they knew exactly what this audio was about, exactly what the speaker was about and exactly what they would get out of it at the end.
Hmmm… make up stories in your head, much?
Here are three obvious things that can help us avoid making snap decisions.
1) Make sure you get all the facts. That means hearing the person out or finishing the entire book or… dare I say watching the entire video. Once you have the information, you can make a decision.
2) Remember that we are making up stories about what things mean. This is in good or bad this just is. Be aware that you’re doing that in separate your story about what things mean from the facts in this case the words.
3) Listen more than you speak. Be interested rather than interesting. Give people the benefit of the doubt. When you do that you are more open and less prone to judgementalism. You don’t want to be judged so be very, very cautious of judging others.
Blogging is fascinating to me and I love it. I think people are fascinating and I learn from even the wackiest situations. But a bit of advice when you comment… and I hope you do… make sure you’ve read the whole article or listen to the whole audio or … dare I say it… watch the whole video!!! ‘Cause next time… I’m gonna hit approve!
This post is a re-post of an earlier podcast that had to be removed due to a posting problem. I loved the sentiment in this post so I wanted to make sure it was there again. Enjoy!
In this podcast I tell about a lesson in humility and preconceived notions I learned in a series of interactions I had with a supermarket checker at my local market. It reminds me that we never know what is going on in someone’s life… so let’s remember to cut eachother some slack!
Everyone is Creative in one way or another.
Those of us who are or have been creative for a living have, at one time or another, felt the weight of fear and self doubt of the ubiquitous question: “AM I GOOD ENOUGH?” Even when we have done it before too tremendous accolades and applause, we worry that perhaps that is as good as it will ever get… maybe our genius was just a fluke and we will be found out as the frauds and fakes that we fear we might be.
I certainly have been there and so has just about every creative person I have ever met. In fact, I would venture to say that every person — professionally creative or not — has had this same fear or worry that has eroded their joy in the present moment.
The video below is a talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, a best-selling author, in which she speaks to the core of everything that we are as creative individuals. In this uplifting and invigorating talk, she gives us a perspective with language and tools to help us separate “who we are” from “what we do.”
It is one of the fastest and most uplifting 19 minutes I have ever experienced.
Enjoy and please comment!!
Due to some technical difficulties, the new Man On The Street ‘Ask The Life Coach’ weekly VLOG series roll out will be slightly delayed.
Sorry folks but we are workin on it.
Ok… more on that soon so stay tuned it will TOTALLY be worth it!
I predict that this is going to be the most posted opening line for all blogs today…
“So, I voted today…”
It was about 5:55 AM as I walked up to the polls. There were about seven different lines that you could join all based on a voting district. There was a very energetic woman, who 10 minutes into the voting process was already beginning to lose her voice, shouting orders, giving instructions, making conversation (a little too much conversation for “a voice” that needs to last It well into the evening) thanking people for their patience and remarking, “I know somebody’s gonna a curse me out before the end of the day.” By 6:15 AM there was easily 150 people standing in the different lines and entering the building in groups of five. Most “districts” only had one actual voting booth apiece so the line crawled along at a snails pace.
There’s a point to all of this so keep reading…
Fast-forward to me having just voted using using one of those old voting machines that New York City has used for 50+ years. Walk in, pull some levers, flips and switches, pull the lever the other way and you voted.
As I walked out of the polling place, I had this fascinating rush of energy. I felt powerful. I felt like I’d done a good thing. My focus was on something bigger than just me and my problems. When I got home, I cooked breakfast for Brad and myself with a renewed vigor and energy. I turned on the TV and listened to all the commentary and speculation and predictions with a renewed interest.
I was a part of something much bigger, much older and quite frankly, more important than my little issues. I sat down with inspiration and was able to do something I haven’t been able to get myself to do in ages… I wrote. I thought and then I wrote a little bit more. I became excited about other projects in my life as well. I started a business project that I’ve wanted to do for ages but had been avoiding for weeks.
Crap! I’m getting things done!
So, what does this all mean? I think the answer lies in being able to step out of myself and think about my life from a bigger place. When we get bogged down in the microcosm we call our own life and microscopically examining every fear, every fault, every trouble and stress, we make those negative things the most important things in our lives. But when we step into a bigger place, join a much larger community and recognize ourselves as integral members of those communities, all of a sudden it’s not just me battling uphill there’s someone behind me helping to shoulder the load. There’s a bigger perspective. We feel powerful.
Has anything in my current situation actually changed? Yes! I have! I’ve changed my perspective. I feel more powerful and able to do what I need to do. I feel grateful. I have a renewed awareness of my abilities.
I don’t have control over other people. I don’t have control over the economy. But I do have control over my perspective and how I want to show up in my own life. Suddenly, as a part of the bigger whole, any challenges or mistakes i fear I might make along the way seem much less significant.
So, I voted today. The surprise was I regained control of my perspective. In the election of November, 2008 the winner is… me!