Master Managing Your Mind
Scholarly research reveals that, on average, organizational change initiatives fail 70% of the time. Why? Because the mechanisms required to unlearn old beliefs and behaviors and relearn new ones are not part of any standard curriculum. This critical skill set is painfully and noticeably absent in most organizations. So often, leaders are asked to skillfully and quickly move their team’s through rapid and ever-increasing change. However, does anyone stop to understand if those leader understand how to change themselves? This is where the work begins.
Initiating change in your own life starts with the awareness of how we are actually hard-wired to stay the same. Once we understand the way our mind works, we can begin to address our fears more accurately and learn the skills tomove through them effortlessly. Read on to learn more about how you can master your mind by getting out of your own way.
Managing Your Mind: Our Brain’s Overprotective Minion
What sounds better to you – getting cozy on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and a crackling fireplace or standing outside in a blizzard?
I know it seems like an oversimplified question, but there’s a purpose behind it. I’m assuming 99% of you would pick the couch scenario over the blizzard because it’s way more comfortable! Our brain acts autonomously in this way too.
The brain is a prediction machine. It uses prior information to form mental models (beliefs and assumptions) to make predictions about the future. Emotion plays a significant role in this, too, as they are our brain’s way of communicating our predictions to us. Our prediction machine is at rest when we’re in our comfort zone (the cozy fireplace within our mind). But when we bump up against something new, we can begin to experience anxiety, fear, doubt, and worry.
The Overprotective Minion
Back in cavepeople’s times, anxiety was a helpful tool our bodies used to communicate that danger was nearby (like a cheetah waiting to pounce). As civilization has moved forward, those fight or flight mechanisms remain. I call it our brain’s “overprotective minion.” We all have one – and it’s constantly seeking a worthy enemy so it can protect us.
Since there aren’t many wild cheetahs roaming around modern society, our minion overreacts to our daily lives to serve their purpose. Whether real or contrived, this fear stops us from boldly stepping forward as our strongest, most powerful selves.
The vast majority of our most persistent and stubborn roadblocks can be traced back to fear. Whether it’s doubt, unworthiness, fear of failure, or judgment, this inherent human condition tries to hold us back. For me, fear of the unknown manifests itself as analysis paralysis. I tend to overthink what could go wrong.
Manage Your Mind: Awareness
There is no way to rid our lives of fear, but we can learn how to identify it and move right through it. Here are the ways you can change your relationship with fear and build a new personal growth muscle in your brain:
- Identify: As soon as you notice the feelings and sensations that come along with your overprotective minion, acknowledge them – you may even want to thank them for their attempt to keep you safe.
- Assess: decide if the fear is real or made up.
- Act: if your minion is reacting to an unknown situation or old belief (and not actual danger), you are ready to take new action or make a new choice.
Once we understand fear’s role in our lives, we don’t have to get so frustrated when it rears its ugly head. We just need acknowledge it, assess it, and move through it when we feel the resistance at the edge of our comfort zone.
Once we are ready to move, we are at our “growth edge.” Our growth edge makes us feel like we’re at the edge of a cliff – and when we move, we are suspending fears and taking a leap into the unknown.
It’s common to cringe as we uncover our limiting beliefs that have kept us in our comfort zone and recognize how they manifest into actions that block us from changing. As we choose to let go of the internal limiting beliefs that block growth, i.e., our desire to avoid failure or to escape conflict, change can unfold quite quickly in front of us.
Taking the first step in deciding to move is one part of managing our minds, but the real change comes with implementing it into our daily lives.
Managing Your Mind: Get out of the Way
Going through the process of releasing or reframing old beliefs and habits while you move through change is quite literally getting out of your own way! We can manage our minds for the best possible outcome by paying attention to what shows up in our lives and our inner world.
Despite helping hundreds of clients work on this exact problem, I sometimes forget to get out of my own way! The most salient example happened recently when Colby and I had an epiphany about a property for our horses. We had been looking to buy a ranch for the past five years, and we had a vision for exactly what it should look like. However, obstacle after obstacle appeared along this path until we finally gave up our search. Only then could we see how we were in our own way. It finally dawned on us that the 10-acre property we were already living on would be a perfect place for the ranch, even though it did not align with my beliefs of what it would (or should) be like.
By letting go of our expectations, becoming aware of our limiting beliefs, and making peace with what is, we changed our mental model and realized we had everything we needed right where we are.