“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well”
René Descartes (French Philosopher)
As children, teenagers and adults, we have all had aspirations, dreams and goals that we wanted to achieve, something that would satisfy our insatiable appetite for success in our personal or professional lives. The world was our oyster and anything that our minds could conceive was possible. You would wake up in the morning with that winning mindset that anything was imaginable, and you would strive to make your dreams a reality.
However, years go by and you awaken up from your slumber and contemplate your current reality, having been exhausted from a job that you don’t really enjoy and wonder what’s happened to your life. The reality of a monotonous coexistence as you meander down the road of mediocrity. What changed?
What changed you from being that bright, energetic, enthusiastic and determined individual who had such a positive winning mindset and zest for life? Was it that your expectations had changed or was it the weight and the burden of mortgages, rent, bills, families, work or your attitudes to conform with perceived societal norms, that got in the way of living your dreams, limiting your creativity and innovation, that nullified your winning mindset?
Our mindset often operates out of our memory, which is a historical database that is stored in our brain and retrieved continuously. Memories will have either a positive or negative emotional attachment, which will be either empowering or limiting. A bad experience, e.g. doing a poor presentation, will lead to a negative limiting belief about one’s ability to deliver a good presentation in the future. Similarly, when reflecting on a poor business experience or failure in the workplace, this may trigger an unconscious emotional response. Our response becomes the manifestation of our thoughts, which in turn shape our mindset, our behaviour and subsequently our actions. Memories can either propel you towards your dreams or they can keep you trapped in the confines of a turbulent past.
The brain stores memories in two distinct ways. Short-term memories like a telephone number are processed in the front of the brain in a highly developed area called the prefrontal cortex, Short-term recollection is translated into long-term memory in the hippocampus, an area in the deeper brain. The hippocampus takes simultaneous memories from different sensory regions of the brain and connects them into a single experience of memory.
Our memories are recorded images, sounds, pictures and feelings. We must try to understand how to reprogram our mind to ensure the past does not debilitate or hinder our future. To change we must develop new strategies and ways of thinking that permeate our subconscious and reprogram our minds with new languages, positive affirmations and beliefs. A belief is a subconscious generalisation that we hold as a truth, our brain then determines and filters out information which is either congruent or incongruent. The generalisations become the basis of one’s reality, which then shapes and guides our behaviour.
To be successful in one’s life, we first must adopt a positive mindset, then develop a belief system that underpins and supports this mindset. This will require you to adopt new empowering beliefs and values that are compatible with your goals. If you're to be successful, your actions must support this new winning mindset.
There are several tools that you can use to support the changing of your beliefs:
(1) Visualisation, imagining and seeing positive images regarding an event or experience as opposed to seeing a negative outcome. Magnify a positive new image in your mind and replay this image repeatedly, so that this new positive self-image replaces and discards the previous negative images.
(2) Auditory, positive self-talk and affirmations about what is possible for your life. Daily positive affirmations with repetition will sink into your subconscious mind, which eventually manifests into one’s reality as they become a self-fulfilling prophecy and they become your new reality. This will help you to develop strategies about achieving as opposed to looking at the obstacles or challenges.
(3) Kinaesthetic, the ability to act, work towards a specific outcome or goal. Newton’s third law of motion tells us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When we act, we are intentionally seeking to change our outcome. The basic premise of cause and effect demonstrates to us that we are accountable for our actions and for our own circumstances. If we are in a challenging place in our life, the responsibility is on us to find a way to get ourselves out of that situation.
It's important that you ask yourself the questions “What do I want to do? What do I want to achieve? And when do I want to achieve it?” When you ask people this question, they will typically often start off by telling you that they are not sure what they want or what they don’t want. There is an inherent risk that when you focus on what you don’t want, that will become the manifestation of what transpires in our life. The key to success is to focus and concentrate on what you do want.
Set clear definable and quantifiable written goals, divide your goals into the short, medium and long-term, then put your goals in order of priorities. List the most important first, followed by the second and third. Act daily, weekly and monthly. At the end of each day, week and month review and monitor your progress as to where you are against the goals that you set and modify your behaviour and actions accordingly to meet your objectives.
Alice in Wonderland (scene)
Alice “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
If you do not have a target or a destination then setting goals does not matter. However, if you have a specific goal which you want to achieve, then your mindset, behaviour and your actions will give you the best opportunity of delivering that goal.
To develop and grow, it’s important to adopt the Japanese philosophy of “Kaizen” which is an approach to creating continuous improvement based on the idea that small incremental changes will yield greater developments.
The key action is to start investing in your own self-development, learning through books, TED talks, networking, seminars, conferences, associations, mentors and coaches to aid your development and nurture a winning mindset that will deliver outcomes you would not have thought possible had you not taken the action.
Dr Carlton Brown