It’s all too easy to get trapped by your own thinking. Our brains get a lot of time to analyse what has happened, and what we expect to happen, building a mental model of our reality. There’s a risk we end up living the model, rather than the reality, and closing down opportunities before we’ve even seen them. Sometimes, we need to break down the barriers we’ve built in our own brains, and shift our mindsets to achieve success – RSNG has spoken to experts and searched the science to bring you the roadmap…
‘It's estimated that 95% of who we are is just a set of habits – our bodies become the masters rather than our minds’
Meditate To Break Negative Loops
Life is habit forming, which works against us, author and keynote speaker, Pete Cohen, tells RSNG: ‘It is estimated that 95% of who we are is just a set of habits and that by the time we are 35, we’re a bunch of conditioned responses. What happens is our bodies become the masters when originally our minds were the masters. So we can come up with a great idea but the thought goes into our body, and the body then says, “oh no that won’t work” – you have this feeling of it not working.’
For Cohen, the solution is simple. He meditates to bypass this process and get into the circuitry of his brain. ‘You have to use your mind to create thoughts that are powerful. And for me meditation is the most powerful force tool… to train our bodies to believe and emotionally connect to what we want to do.’
Within 15 minutes of getting up Cohen will be mediating, and he does it every day. ‘I don’t want my brain to start connecting to the past, I want every day to be a new day. I use priming which is a very powerful tool, and specific ways of bringing what you want to life.’
Move From A Fixed Mindset To A Growth Mindset
This sounds like classic self-help speak, but the degree to which you have a fixed mindset, or a growth mindset two mindsets is actually measurable by science. When faced with challenge beyond their abilities, test subjects fall into two camps: those who are devastated and flee from difficulty and those who are invigorated by their failure and embrace it as a challenge to learn from.
A study by Moser from 2011 measured brain activity as test subjects encountered errors, and saw that the fixed mindset brains were inactive, whereas the growth mindset brains were on fire with activity, processing the error, and deeply learning from it in order to correct it.
So, check your ego at the door and realise that just because something is too difficult for you now, that doesn’t mean it will be in the future. Run towards difficulty and turn it to your advantage, rather than running away from it.
Learn To Believe In Yourself
How often have you had the experience of coming up with what you think is a really good idea, only for you to then doubt it, often within the same day? Or maybe something came up, you got distracted and the idea fizzled out? It’s more common than you think. ‘The best way to believe in it is to think about it every single day – draw it, connect to it,’ says Cohen, who uses visualisation to stay focussed on his goals.
But don’t battle against self-doubt all on your own. ‘The next thing I would do is to share your idea with as many people as you can, depending on what the idea is, and the ones who don’t laugh, the ones that go, “wow that’s really interesting”, are the ones you want to get into your sphere of influence and potentially helping you with it. Be prepared to get things wrong but see those mistakes as just ‘miss takes’. So take again, go again and move on.’
Realise Your Efforts Can Be Judged On Your Marketing
In the workplace, as in life, it’s natural to judge our successes and failures based on their own merits, to look at what we produced, or did, in isolation. But, as leadership and self-development guru, Seth Godin says in his book This Is Marketing, it can pay to flip your perspective and look at how you told the story around it.
‘If you bring your best to the world, your best work, and the world doesn’t receive it, it’s entirely possible that your marketing sucked. It’s entirely possible you were telling the wrong story to the wrong person, in the wrong way on the right day, or just on the wrong day. Fine, but that’s not about you. It’s about your work as a marketer.’
As Godin, points out you can get better at that work. So, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater after your first setback. Instead, consider the perspective of the people you were trying to influence, or impress – this will help you to develop your empathy and find a route to telling a better story.
‘Reject the tyranny of being picked – pick yourself’
Realise No One Is Coming
‘Reject the tyranny of being picked: pick yourself,’ Godin says. Across business and the arts, the traditional gatekeepers, who would pick out an individual talent and gave it a voice, are losing power and being disrupted.
Godin thinks this is a golden opportunity, but says we’re often conditioned not to take it: ‘It’s a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission from a publisher, or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.” Once you reject that impulse… then you can actually get to work.’
Identify Your Nemesis
You can be ambitious as you like, but you need to give that drive a concrete focus to get results, rather than just grabbing at passing opportunities. Sometimes, it can be helpful to define yourself by who, or what, you would oppose, compete with or take on. Whether it’s a rival startup, a social or global problem you believe must be faced, or an artist you admire and secretly envy, then you need to identify them. As Sam Conniff Allende says in his book Be More Pirate: ‘Who is your navy, Pirate?’
You may well end up with a list, but narrow it down, and then do a thought experiment on how you would tackle them. ‘And don’t hold back; be brave, be ambitious, be imaginative, be unrealistic. If it’s the huge tech player that’s disrupted your whole industry, remember they were the disruptor once, and the next disruptor after them is actually their biggest fear.’
Sleep Better For A Creative Mindset
Creativity is one of those things that we’re taught to think of as a personality type. But as kids we’re all creative. We all go to art class, we all get the chance to play a musical instrument. So, what gives? It turns out that our levels of creativity, which are going to become increasingly critical in a world of automated work, are closely tied to our lifestyle, specifically our levels of quality sleep.
A University of Luebeck study found that participants who were able to sleep for eight hours had enhanced creativity and were more likely to find solutions for maths problems. And the effect is even greater when you consider that good sleep also helps you to successfully learn new skills, and retain information. So, prioritise sleep for a more creative mindset.
WHAT NEXT? Watch Dr Alia Crum’s Tedx Talk on you have the power to change your mindset.
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations.
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