Inspired Leadership

How I became odd (and why it helps.) A 3 step roadmap.

Brian Nuckols Neuromarketing and Growth, United States of America

I’m an addict.

And it’s a sinister addiction. Something has it’s claws in me deep, and the harder I try to shake it the worse it gets.

At the moment, I’m feeling fairly uncomfortable and anxious about it.

Here’s the good news.

Even though I’m confused and have little to no idea on how to beat this addiction, I haven’t been more excited in years.

At the risk of sounding flippant I should probably explain a bit about what this addiction is, and why I have such an odd response to a stimuli that creates plenty of anguish in the normal person.

First, the addiction.

It’s biographies.

Yup, from From Tina Fey to Niels Bohr I just can’t get enough. It creates an almost crippling procrastination that makes me extremely curious and happy.

Why am I happy? Why such an odd response? It’s especially confusing because the work I have to do in this world is incredibly important. I help visionaries communicate how they solve problems.

When I’m not doing that people suffer.

Why should this make me happy?

Great question, so I’m not happy about the end result of not getting as much work done as I want. Obviously, this is no good.

I’m happy because when I look back into the past I notice that these times when I start feeling pressure, when my thoughts start to get clouded and doubt settles in this is a great signal that I’m improving.

Simply, when my old friend resistance seeps into the brain I have a history to draw on, a body of work, a series of failures and successes that give me the roadmap of how to go forward.

This roadmap includes 3 components

  1. Investigate the kind of things that tend to trigger resistance and pressure looking for patterns.
  2. Understand the mechanics of anxiety and explore the concepts of emotional resilience and fragility
  3. we’ll identify the habits, systems, and process we can put in place to take advantage of these precious moments of discomfort when they arrive.

Anxiety.

It’s fun!

Why don’t we do what we want to do?

So, it’s time to get to the bottom of this. I use a strategy in my life called thought journaling to look for reoccuring patterns in my own behavior.

When it comes to the experience of procrastination anytime I feel the urge to go read when what I really want to is reduce the suffering of others I pause and do a bit of writing about the situation.

The process goes like this:

  1. The situation. I briefly describe the current situation. What am I doing? Where am I? How’s the weather?
  2. Initial thought. What thought popped into my mind that triggered the urge to procrastinate. This is probably a subconscious or automatic thought pattern that occurs again and again.
  3. Notice negative thinking. Identify the negative thinking behind your initial thought. Note, this is an important step I’ll speak on it more below.
  4. Source of negative belief. Can we trace this thinking back to a situation or person? Is there a deep belief or fear driving the thinking?
  5. Challenge  that belief.
  6. Consider the consequences of allowing the belief to “call the shots” or control our behavior
  7. Explore alternative thinking.
  8. Insert a positive belief or affirmation (kiss the wrist)

“The man who is aware of himself is henceforward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.”

– Virginia Woolf

Okay, this isn’t for the faint of heart. Quite commonly, you’ll find some fairly toxic belief structures lurking at a surprisingly shallow depth below the surface.

Once we complete this exercise, however, congratulations are in order. We’ve made it through the first part of the roadmap.

With that its now time to move onto deconstructing these annoying belief structures that seem to form almost universally within humans with a practical example on how to grow from dealing with them.

Self limiting beliefs are people to! – Annynomous

A belief structure I’d like to analyze in the second part of our roadmap is the common, but silly thought pattern we often fall into called all or nothing thinking.

Perhaps you’ve said something like this aloud or even worse in your head. “I’m stupid” *or* “I have deep flaws” *or*  “I can barely hold it together if any of them knew the real me they wouldn’t like me.”

Now, there is a huge mistake within all of those statements.

To explore this mistake let’s talk about language itself. The operant idea in “I am flawed” is the verb “to be” in this case I am.

One thing I like about the Spanish language is that they’re far more dynamic with how they use the “to be” verb.

We have this lovely distinction between the permanent and the temporary. One can be something permanently  (ser), or one can have a kind of fleeting identity or condition (estar)

Understanding this concept can be incredibly helpful when it comes to some of the trickier aspects of the thought journaling process. 

Okay, When we start thought journaling it’s relatively easy to get through the first two steps. 

  1. (situation) I’m lying on the floor reading Bossy Pants. I should be writing. It’s gray outside.
  2. (initial thought) My voice is bland. Who are writers that I respect? I should read them for a sec…
  3. (identify negative thinking) Ummm…?
  4. (source of negative belief)  Ehhhhhh, no idea…

When I’m drawing a blank like this on a belief I’m fairly sure is negative or limiting me in some my first test is to find any assumptions.

In this case, notice the following statement “my voice is bland.”

Ha! An assumption!

Now,  let’s cross reference that with my list of potentially limiting beliefs and thoughts.

Ding, ding!  Writing pieces are not either perfect or terrible. In reality, there is a spectrum with many gradients in between.

Sure, our creations may not reach the towering heights of our mentors and teachers, but that doesn’t mean real people don’t need them.

In my case, who knows the utility one may find from my work?  After all, my purpose in life is just to communicate and amplify big ideas.

Perfection is not a relevant part of that mission.

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