A question that I frequently encounter while coaching is, “How can I be more successful?”
The answer to this question is so simple that to most people it will seem absurd. The key to success for a lot of individuals is to start with this one fundamental action; STOP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND LET GO!
This idea may come as a shock to you but if you stop for a minute and give it some thought it makes perfect sense. If what you are doing is not giving you the results you require, you need to stop what you are doing and try something else.
Let me paint a picture for a moment to illustrate.
You are standing at a door with a sign that reads “your life dreams”. From reading the sign you conclude that you are going to open this door because whatever you desire lies waiting behind it.
The door seems to be locked and pushing it while turning the handle doesn’t make it move. You are, however, armed with a set of keys in a bundle. You, therefore, pick the first key, put it into the lock and turn. The key doesn’t move inside the lock and the door remains tightly shut. You apply a bit more pressure just in case the locking mechanism is stiff but it still doesn’t turn. Now with your full force, you apply so much pressure to the key it begins to hurt and you feel completely exhausted from trying.
I’m sure anyone reading this would agree there is an obvious solution to this problem. Would you not consider anyone continuing to try and open the door with the same key as out of their mind? As the famous Einstein quote goes: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!
The illustration of the door is no different from our situation in life when trying to achieve more success. We often challenge ourselves with goals for which there is an obstacle to overcome. Unfortunately, for the most part, the way we try to overcome it is by doing the same thing we have always done. So if we want want to achieve more success, the answer is simply to stop doing what we are doing by letting go of the key we are holding onto, pick up another key, and try again with that one instead.
If it’s that simple why do we find it so hard to let go?
As much as being a coach is satisfying and fulfilling, especially when you help someone to achieve the goals they have always dreamed of, there are times when it is downright frustrating. Imagine coming across that same individual stuck behind the door and he asks for help so you oblige by saying try another key. He then looks at you dumbstruck as if you had just told him to cut off his arm. Then just goes right back to trying to unlock the door with the same key.
I first encountered this phenomenon many years ago while consulting for various startups. Very gifted entrepreneurs were struggling with their business and when they requested my advice on the matter I would ask have you tried this or this? Agreeing that those options would be good they agreed to give it a go.
To my surprise, months later they came back to me complaining about the same issue. I was stunned when I first noticed but later after consulting for many years, it became apparent that this was a common occurrence. Individuals seem to get stuck on something because they won’t let go.
I eventually realized that our programming is what causes us not to let go.
Yes, just like a computer we run on programs. From birth, we start creating these programs to help us navigate the world. Our programming is down at the unconscious level in our brain so it’s never really apparent to us but it keeps us safe. Imagine if there was an emergency situation where we had stepped out into the road when out of nowhere we saw a car quickly headed towards us. If we had to think about getting out of the way with the conscious part of our brain it would be too slow and we would probably get hit.
What happens instead?
We get the hell out of the way as quickly as possible without even thinking about it! That’s our unconscious program working for us to sense danger and get all of the parts of our body functioning for us to move us back to safety as quickly as possible, including a faster heartbeat, adrenaline to our legs and arms and a heightened sense of alertness.
Unfortunately, not all the programs that we have created from birth serve us well. Some actually hinder us from taking the necessary actions that are needed to drive us towards a greater chance of success. This includes letting go of the bad habits that are holding us back.
What steps do I need to take to let go?
Reprogramming your mind takes time. But there are some steps that you can take now to help you achieve it in due course. Follow these steps and watch as your world begins to change because your behavior will be more aligned with whatever success you are trying to achieve.
Listen to your self-talk. We have this voice inside our head constantly telling us things. It’s mostly there to guide us but there are times when certain phrases said don’t serve us well. The phrases are often limiting in nature and have no basis. They have been imprinted due to our environment and conditioning but need to be expunged so that we are no longer paralyzed by it. Common examples of these hindering thoughts are:
- I’m no good at that. Well, how do you know you are no good? Have you tried it? Have you practiced it? Have you tried to get coaching on it to improve? Remember, no one in this world is born good at anything! If you let this thought prevent you from moving forward, how will you ever become good even if you aren’t?
- I don’t have any good ideas. Have you never had an idea? How did you know it wasn’t any good? Did you try to validate it? Did you ask for anyone’s opinion? What did you base your metric on for deciding it was good or not? If you have ideas it’s best not to assume they aren’t good until you have concrete evidence showing it won’t work by validating it. If that idea isn’t successful, move onto the next and continue to validate until something works. Software engineers call this method trial and error.
By listening to your self-talk you can catch these negative limiting rumblings to ourselves that do nothing else but prevent us from moving forward. Dismiss them and replace them with something that overcomes paralyzing behavior.
Put affirmations into your daily routine. Over time affirmations can overcome the limiting thoughts we have by putting powerful positive thoughts in their place.
Read, read and read some more. I can’t emphasize how good reading positive books are for the brain. There are several books aimed at mindset which if read over and over start to subdue the brain with empowering messages. They encourage a strong sense of belief
Attend mindset seminars. After I attended my first mindset seminar I became a seminar junkie! They are not only filled with positive messages coming from speakers but they also surround you with positive people. Being enveloped by all of this positivity means it will eventually rub off on you.
Practise meditation. There’s a common misconception that the act of meditation is to stop yourself from thinking. Let’s face it apart from being one of the hardest things to do, what purpose would stopping yourself from thinking serve? If instead, we view meditation as a tool for practicing how to control our thoughts there would be less of an excuse not to embrace it. One of the most powerful forms of meditation that I have come across is called Transcendental meditation. I practice it daily, why? Because I find it easier to catch my self-talk and dismiss what doesn’t serve me. I’m often able to rationalize far better because my mind has less noise allowing me to focus on what truly matters. Successful individuals such as billionaire money manager Ray Dalio, famous actor Hugh Jackman and even one of the most famous musicians the Beetles credit their success to the practice.