Deepak Chopra said that recently in an interview with Oprah Winfrey regarding how he feels of what others think of him and it has become one of my favorite things to recite during times of stress or irritation caused by someone else. It was a brilliant one-liner which goes to the heart of understanding the place of the Ego in our life and the lives of others. At the core of Deepak Chopra’s statement is the realization that what other people do and say is really about them – their own mental and emotional state, level of consciousness, and overall phase of evolution. We can either speak from the heart or from the Ego and when people are being aggressive, un-kind, critical, or un-caring, they are usually communicating through their Ego. The Ego is the small voice in your head that operates from a place of fear, anxiety, anger, self-preservation, and a host of other non-loving elements that make up the human psyche. It’s not who we truly are, the underlying well-meaning soul. It is a mask we create and wear that conveys our personality in less than authentic ways.
Eckhart Tolle explains the roots of the Ego in this way: “Most people are so completey identified with the voice in the head – the incessant stream of involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it – that we may describe them as being possessed by their mind. As long as you are completely unaware of this, you take the thinker to be who you are. This is the egoic mind. We call it egoic because it is a sense of self, of I (ego), in every thought – every memory, every interpretation, opinion, viewpoint, reaction, and emotion. This is the unconsciousness, spiritually speaking. Your thinking, the content of your mind, is of course conditioned by the past: your upbringing, culture, family background, and so on. The central core of all your mind activity consists of certain repetitive and persistent thoughts, emotions, and reactive patterns you identify with most strongly. This entity is the Ego itself.”
So, someone’s reaction to you or more correctly, their perception of you or what you have done or said, is not simply a case of stimulus and response (though we should certainly pay close attention to sincere feedback and criticism). It comes with a truck load of baggage. Baggage that is truly unique to that individual and clearly, None of Your Business… Through this practice, we learn acceptance, non-attachment, and forgiveness. We learn to not react egoically ourselves to people and situations - to not take things personally. By doing this, we come closer to achieving the best version of our true self.
“The Non-Profit Institutions are human change-agents. Their “product” is a cured patient, a child that learns, a young man or woman grown into a self-respecting adult; a changed human life altogether”. -Management Guru, Peter F. Drucker From his book: Managing the Nonprofit Organization
We need to turn our brains into noise canceling headphones. – Shawn Achor, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and author of The Happiness Advantage
We need to decrease both the external noise and the internal noise in our lives says Professor Shawn Achor. Research shows the brain processes noise and negative things first and then the meaning. So if you have a lot of noise and meaningless information and entertainment clogging your external world and non stop chatter and worry generated by the voice in your head clogging your internal world, then your brain never gets to the good stuff. The meaningful important bits that allow us to develop gratitude, compassion, contentment, peace, and happiness. Achor cites Research on kids with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) that showed just by taking them into a quiet place with no external stimulus drastically lowered their symptoms. As the noise and distraction level in our environment has gone up is it any wonder ADHD levels are rising sharply ? (2013 CDC survey results showed ADHD now is around 11% of the youth population up from 3% in the 1970’s).
Noise canceling headphones work by introducing the opposite frequency of the noise you want to cancel. We need to do the same thing. Feeling too much negativity? – then cancel it with positive imagery, content, music, and exercise. Unfortunately, what we end up doing too much of the time is noise amplifying – consuming an ever-increasing amount of negative news stories, violent tv, movies, games, and disturbing music.
So go put on those brain noise canceling headphones and take back your sanity (and happiness).
- Meditation remains the best way to lower the internal noise in our minds. See this previous post – Effortless Meditation – on how to get started: http://www.thinksmarterworld.com/2013/11/19/effortless-meditation-2/ and this one on Mindfulness: http://www.thinksmarterworld.com/2014/04/30/mindfulness-experiencing-reality-hd/
- Much of the noise we consume is through mainstream media sources. Here is a post I wrote that gives you 21 different ways to free your mind from mass media: http://www.thinksmarterworld.com/2014/03/10/21-ingredients-healthy-delicious-media-diet/
Practice “self love and love of all others–and
love of the imperfections you imagine you see in both.
In truth, both are perfect in their ‘imperfection,’ for
‘imperfection’ merely means ‘incompletion.”
Neale Donald Walsch
I can’t get that line out of my head – “imperfection” merely means “incompletion”. In relation to our view and judgement of other people, it implies and requests a level of acceptance that most of us don’t achieve on a daily basis.
The sentiment resonated especially strongly today, as I ran into an old colleague who I hadn’t seen for over five years. He told me of the changes in his life and the personal transformation that he had achieved. As he spoke, I could tell that he had in fact changed from the person I knew from five years ago – all for the better. So, what before had been in my view a number of imperfections in his basic character and the dominance of his strong ego over his life, had actually been “incompletions” that needed time to materialize into life changes. He was now a more complete version of his true self.
The quote of course says to also apply this level of acceptance to yourself. We can all be overcritical on ourselves from time to time. But if we view the current iteration of ourselves as a work in progress, an incomplete masterpiece being worked on if you will, then we can achieve a healthy level of self-acceptance that allows us to be fully present with who we are while still acknowledging the better version of ourselves we will one day become.
In 2006, “You” were chosen as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Time wanted to recognize the millions of people around the globe who were generating unique content on the world’s blogs, social networks, and personal websites, and as such, a more fitting choice could not have been made. The Time editors stated in explaining their choice:
It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before … It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes. The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web … The new Web is a very different thing. It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it’s really a revolution.
Over the last decade, new Internet technologies such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn have unleashed our abilities to create and share our expertise, insights, and wisdom with our fellow citizens easily and economically. But yet when the Time Magazine choice was released, it was heavily criticized. Why? Perhaps because it edged out various high-profile events around the world and numerous people making dramatic impacts at a global level.
In retrospect, however, it should be clear this was a bold and insightful pick—the accessibility of the world’s collective knowledge through our new digital technologies has and will continue to dramatically change our world. Those of us who can tap into this seismic shift will have a sizable advantage on both a personal and professional level.
Of course, “amateur experts” or enthusiasts have always been among us. We’ve all known people who have deep insight into various hobbies and interests and have developed expertise in those areas. Now, if we happened to live in the same area as these people, we could perhaps attend
Mindfulness at its core means Being in the Moment, or Being in the Now, as the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle has described it. This means we recognize that the past has already happened, the future doesn’t yet exist, and the only thing that IS, is the present moment. Unfortunately, much of the time, our minds are so preoccupied with past events or what may happen in the future, that we forget to be present. The result of this is that we don’t fully experience our lives. Another effect is that when we’re not fully focusing on the present moment and seeing it clearly—but instead being affected or influenced by past events or fear of future outcomes—we end up distorting reality. Our view of a situation today may in fact be a reaction to the buildup of past experiences, which is coloring our current perception and causing us to react or act in a way that may be detrimental to us or others.
Being Mindful and developing a mindfulness practice delivers many benefits:
- Mindfulness allows you to by-pass the pitfalls of our conscious and subconscious brain activity that seeks to cause stress and anxiety in our lives.
- Mindfulness removes the filters of our perception that have become clouded by memories, fears, and resentment. When we strip those away and perceive only what is right in front of us at the present moment, things become much clearer.
- Mindfulness heightens your experience of the physical world, it even makes time seem to move slower. You understand more, because you allow more of what’s actually there to come into your awareness.
- Mindfulness allows us to contemplate and understand where our habits are coming from and why. It opens up the pathway to renewal and new ways of being.
- Mindfulness leads us into asking the question – ‘Why?’. As we focus, concentrate, and comprehend things that were hidden behind jumbled thoughts, clarity naturally emerges and what we took at face value previously, no longer seems sufficient.
- As we become more mindful, we realize the power of our thoughts. Our thoughts are constantly creating and manifesting our physical reality. When we start to master mindfulness, we become more intentional about our thoughts. We regain control of our minds, and in so doing, our lives.
Mindfulness and meditation are often coupled together, even as a phrase – “Mindful Meditation”. It is in fact meditation, that allows us to
Contrary to what you may believe—or have been taught to believe—failure is good. It teaches, builds character, instructs us how not to do something, and leads to understanding of how to do it correctly. Sometimes the only path to success is through failure. In fact, venture capitalists often prefer to staff their start-ups’ leadership teams with people who have a few failures under their belt, the theory being that they know the path of what doesn’t work, and now in a different set of conditions, they’ll find the path to success. Of course, the team is ideally comprised of people who failed a few times and then eventually succeeded. Failing perpetually isn’t the objective.
Failure, risk taking, and success all go hand in hand. If you’re afraid to take risks, statistically you’ll have low failure rates; at the same time, you may also have low success rates. As the old saying goes: “You gotta be in it to win it.”
But like many things in life, there are good and bad ways to take risk, and although at some point you’ll fail, the key will be how effectively you learn from it.
Fortunately, there are several tools and models we can use to help us take risks in a thoughtful way, as well as additional methods that allow us to understand the results of our risk-taking efforts so that we can learn more quickly and improve.
One excellent tool to map out your risk-taking efforts is called Scenario Planning. It originated at the RAND Corporation in the 1940s by Herman Kahn as the creation of plausible future realities. The essence of the technique is to look at the goal you want to achieve and clearly think through all possible outcomes that could occur, starting from your current baseline. In other words, you begin with “This is what I would ideally like to have happen,” and then proceed to “What are all the things that could go wrong?”
Art Kleiner describes the process in his book, Doing Scenarios, as follows:
“Scenario planning forces us to learn to see more clearly the possible worlds in which the unimaginable, the unthinkable, the ungodly, and the unpredictable actually come to pass. If we can feel our way around in them in our imaginations for a while, then we can prepare ourselves for whatever future does come to pass.”
Kleiner is referring to the downside risks, but it’s important to keep in mind that scenario planning can also lead to the uncovering of opportunities. For example, when you map out what could occur, certain outcomes may actually present possibilities for providing a business or service to counter prospective negative issues. In addition, Scenario planning works best when
Once we start to understand the world around us better through tools such as systems thinking, we’re naturally going to identify areas for improvement. We’ll begin to see where making some changes can vastly improve how we do things, and we may even decide to create new goals for ourselves. Having a high-level map of what we would like to achieve is a key step in moving from the reactive to proactive mindset as covered in Chapter One of Think Smarter in a Digitally Enabled World. But the reality is that over 90% of people don’t actively set, write down, or track their goals. Why? It seems to often stem from a few common themes:
- It takes time and energy
There’s always something better to do, right?
- Fear of failure
Not hitting your goal is a form of failure. Failure feels bad, so why put yourself in that position?
- Questioning if it generates results
Things change, circumstances change, so why even create goals in the first place?
These are all understandable reasons to resist goal setting; however, study after study shows that people who create and track goals are more successful in their lives.
Those of you working in corporations are likely steeped in your company’s goal-setting process, as these are found in most mid-to- large businesses and every venture-funded start-up. Goals, and the milestones needed to achieve them, are the lifeblood of these companies. This is how the various employees are directed to work toward the same corporate objectives.
In our era of technology and media abundance, having
Unlimited access to the world’s’ collective information is only as good as our ability to organize, manage, and retrieve it effectively. As productivity guru David Allen says: “We must go beyond our brain’s limitations to hold information for us.” If you aren’t familiar with David’s “Getting Things Done” methodology, one of the key points of his approach is to relieve the burden on the part of your mind that excels at short-term, not long- term, memory capture. You can achieve this by filing away information into some type of “off-brain” storage—a notebook, folder, etc.
Fortunately, we have great user friendly apps to help us and ensure that we are able to easily off-load and catalog the information we collect on our daily digital journey.
I use four tools in particular on a daily basis to help organize information, make sense of it, and convert it into actionable next steps.
Evernote is a sophisticated note-taking tool that many of you are probably aware of. At its core, it allows us to organize into notes and notebooks the vast amounts of knowledge and information we encounter on a daily basis, such as: web pages we like, articles, blog posts, an interesting picture, an email we’d like to archive, and more.
Once in Evernote, the information becomes highly searchable, making it a vast database for our knowledge that we can use to grow and learn. Evernote has a few main building blocks:
This is for individual notes you would create on any topic. They can be small to-do type notes or larger project-oriented topics, and