The title of this blog has the word Mindset. What do I mean by a “mindset?” We hear this word mindset a lot now. So, let me ask you, what is a mindset?
We as human beings are always thinking. You are thinking now while I am talking to you via this blog. I am thinking now while I am talking to you via this blog.
So, we are all thinking at the same time. From where do we think?
We think from our minds. But are any of you aware of your mind right now? You are aware if your body feel a bit hot or cold right now. You are aware if you feel tired or fully energised right now. But how many of are you aware and conscious that you are thinking right now?
None of us. Ok then, let’s do a mind experiment with you, are you ready? Ok.- Stop trying to think of icecream!
What are you thinking of right now? (Icecream!)
That is the mind I am talking about. It is mostly unconscious like your breathing, but it does everything in the back ground. Now it’s thinking of icecream when I asked you to not think of it.
How are you thinking?
So then, you have a mind and you think. But what is it that you are doing when you say you are thinking? Or more interestingly how does your mind think? That’s a big question. So, let me answer it in parts.
First part it that; Your mind has to understand something before it can act, so it has a programme to enable it to understand everything, it’s made up of a language or languages. Without the language you can’t understand and without understanding you can’t think.
Then, how does your mind think? That is the next part. It thinks like this;
You see something happening or hear something happening or both see and hear something happening either to you or near you!
And then your mind talks to you about what you saw or heard. It says “Ah you saw and heard that, but what does it mean”? And it looks in a library of meanings it has stored somewhere in your mind and locates a meaning. Or if it can’t find one it has already got, it will create a meaning for you, “This thing that you saw or heard happening just now means this!” And almost always, this meaning is not what happened! It is an interpretation of what happened made up by your mind and it tells you, that meaning or the interpretation is actually what happened.
I say X and your mind adds a Y and tell you I said XY and you really think I said XY and act as though I said XY because that is what your mind tells you to think.
You don’t know any of this, it’s like your breathing, you don’t know you are breathing, you just do it! (Of course, unless you have an asthma attack or something!).
Let me show it to you another way.
In my live workshops, I hold a pen up to the audience, I say “Here’s something! Your mind sees this, look in its records and says “it’s a pen, he’s showing me a pen”
Then I drop the pen, and say “I dropped the pen!!” Your mind sees this and asks itself, “why did Ken drop the pen?” And it looks at my face, and look at my surroundings and looks at the room and the room around you, trying to figure out “why did Ken drop the pen” And it locks into some of the clues from its memory banks, what kind of people do that etc and concludes clumsy people drops pens like that. “Ah, Ken dropped the pen because he is clumsy!”
Then it tells you – “Ken is clumsy.” Then your mind observes and looks for all the evidence from then on to prove to itself that “Ken is clumsy”, like those people who say they are finding evidence for the existence of Noah’s Ark! There is a group of creationists and they believe in the biblical version of how the universe came about and they are convinced that there was an ark and there was a flood. So, they go around making TV documentaries to show you there was an ark.
When you want to prove something, you will find evidence to prove it. So, your mind creates in your head, a reality, called “Ken is clumsy! That’s why he dropped the pen!” And you actually experience this in reality like it is happening in the room. But only you are experiencing this. No one else is, but because you are unaware of this, you think everyone is experiencing this made up reality your mind has made up for you.
So, you check it out with others, “That Ken, have you noticed that he is clumsy?” You convince them of your conviction that “Ken is clumsy, see he can’t even hold that pen!”
This really happened in July with an orienteer I went camping with. I went on a camping trip to a place in UK called “the Lake District” with a couple of people. We had amazing weather and it is a great looking place in England. And on our 2nd day we decided to hike about 6 miles from our campsite to one of the best lakes in the area called the Lake Buttermere
Of course, at first, we followed google maps on our smart phones having decided to take the scenic route through the woods and streams! But at some point, we lost the signal. Our leader had a map on her phone which was frozen, and she worked out the direction we should go and we walked, through the woods following the stream. The lake is at the end of this stream so how complicated can it be? We walked for about 3 miles and there is no sign of this lake, so we asked someone, a couple of walkers, they said, you are going the wrong way.
But our leader was convinced that she was going the right way although clearly, she had the map upside down, which we didn’t know yet. She convinced us, “How can people be so horrible to send us the wrong way deliberately?” So, we carried on for another mile and asked a guy from the Ramblers association and he said the same thing, you are going the wrong way, but he had a whole load of maps and he opened one up and showed us, “here’s where you are, and here is the lake you are looking for.” and she was still convinced she was right, but then the two of us intervened and we persuaded her to change her mind, this added 4 miles to our hike.
When people’s minds get so effected by the rightness of their decisions, of the false realities their minds create for them, they are not only right but they are right that they are right! In other words, righteous.
So, coming back to my thing of dropping the pen. All I did was just drop the pen! Your mind has already worked out why, how and because! This all happens in a split second!! And you are totally unaware of it.
I dropped the pen and bang! “It’s there in nanoseconds!” Your mind has a habit of mixing up what happened and its interpretations of what happened and stating that interpretation as a fact! And its righteous about it. It will make you do to war to protect this view and kills yourself just to be proven right. And you are the good one.
This process creates your whole reality. In an instant. And you are totally like a passenger, in this train of thoughts called your mind.
So that’s how your mind thinks. Nothing ever happened to you, just happened to you, nope, what happened to you is always is that interpretation your mind made about what happened and told you that’s what happened. Each day it will convince itself more and more. But it’s not true! It’s a false interpretation of what happened. Most of the time there is a grain of truth in there. But it is added to a lot by your mind.
I am not clumsy because I dropped the pen, I just dropped the pen because I just dropped the pen. There is no reason for me dropping the pen. If there is a reason I am the one who knows it, (well to show you this whole thing,) but your mind never bothers to ask me “Ken, why did you drop the pen?” But your mind isn’t interested in that. It’s too much work, so it makes up a reason for you, and for you, your mind is more than god. You trust it and believe it every time, because you think it is actually you. But your mind cannot grasp that something happens for no reason.
Your mind has to have a reason for anything and everything, so it can rationalise it and store it in an orderly fashion. It has to know why something happened so it can make some sense out of it?
That meaning doesn’t need to be what actually happened, it needs to make sense according to its files which it has stored in your mind.
Do you know that brain scientists say that there are more neurons in your brain than the starts in the whole known galaxy? And what all those neurons are doing is storing memories. With those memories your brain creates your entire environment automatically.
None of you are sitting in your room right now, your brain actually has created the room you are in, in your head. It’s all happening in your brain. I am right now, in your brain, in an image created by your brain. Now, notice how much you brain is trying to makes sense of what I just said! Notice how busy your brain is right now.
Ok stop! Calm down. You can think about it later. For now – Don’t think of ice-cream!
I’m taking you on another tangent right now. Can you think of something really nice that happened to you today? Ok, thanks. Notice it took some time for you to get that information out. Now can someone tell me something bad or not good that happened to you today? Again, notice how quickly you could think about the bad stuff that’s happened to you. So, your mind tends to remember bad stuff, mistakes, unhappy events a lot more than happy, successful and good outcomes.
Why is this? For survival. The primary job of your mind is your survival. It wants to stop you killing yourself because it doesn’t like to die. Your mind has no limbs or mechanical stuff, it depends on your body for survival, and it thinks its superior to your body and it thinks your body is a bit of an idiot. So, it is always convinced you are going to kill it.
So, to make sure it lives and survives and keep going, your mind created a set of survival tools for you. To keep you in line and survive so it can survive.
There are two basic survival tools that all of us use, all the time;
1) The first tool your mind has created for your survival is called your Fight/Flight mechanism
This is a very primitive mechanism. I was told by a brain scientist, that it comes from your primitive brain. It’s called Medulla or the Brain stem. It’s not just us who has a Medulla, all of the animals have it. And we all inherited is from the very 1st animal that had a brain. And our medulla hasn’t changed like any other part of our brain structure over our evolution. Its primary focus is to protect us.
So, if you consider a dinosaur for example, and any other animal living now or has ever lived, they all had or have the same 3 basic primitive protective mechanisms and also us humans. So, what are the 3 basic primitive protective mechanisms we inherited from the dinosaurs?
- Can I eat it?
- Am I going to get eaten?
- Can I have sex with it?
And it decides whether to fly away or flight. Those are the 3 primitive protective mechanisms and they are all instinctively reactive, facilitated by Medulla or your brain stem.
So, one of the tools your mind still uses for your survival is this fight/flight mechanism you have inherited from the dinosaurs and other ancestor of us humans. Your conscious mind is unconscious to this.
As a result, you and I, unconsciously are very reactive. We react to internal or external stimulation without having to think about it. Its purpose is for us to survive but the danger isn’t actually there.
And that process of interpreting events making false meanings is at the heart of that survival process which contributes a lot to your unconscious mindset.
2) Now the 2nd tool – it’s your survival mechanism
When you were born, there was no thinking at all, because you had no programme, you had no language. Then you slowly absorbed language of the human beings. Although there are many known languages in this planet, we all have a “human” language. We all think and do human thinking and human doing and human being.
So, as I said, there was nothing when you were born and all of a sudden you are absorbed into this human culture. And everything was fine, no issues, no problems, pure joy and just being. Then as you were learning this new thing called being human, the language, the customs and the culture were being absorbed by you, everything was fine, everything was an adventure, exiting, fun and curious. Everything was just perfect. You were perfect. For you then, you were the centre of the universe. Everything happened around you.
And then something happened to you to someone near you, which shattered your notion of this perfection. You made a meaning of that and this has never happened before. You said “uh oh” “Something’s wrong!” and being a person of very limited language, you said what was wrong was with you, or in your words “Me”. And you didn’t like this new realisation you had about you, so you quickly found a way to hide it as it was not helpful, and you learned how to survive that. You created for yourself a new way of being to overcome the problem of something being wrong with you. May be like being cute or or very nice or a rebel. It worked, everybody bought it, so you forget you did that and carried on. Now it’s a part of your survival toolkit.
Then something else happened to you and you said to yourself, “I don’t belong here”, this is the very first time you have ever felt this, but the way you learned to survive something being wrong with you doesn’t cut it this time. That doesn’t work with “I don’t belong here”. So, you create another way of being to survive this new problem of not belonging. Maybe you are hard working or are smart or you are a comedian or you are a loner or a geek etc etc. Now you have 2 survival strategies. But both of these strategies come from an inadequacy in you, to cover up that inadequacy. So, you now have 2 identities, one in public and one in private.
But this works, it’s a survival mechanism so it works very well. You are very successful at this, you begin to be known as these ways of being. But for you they are hollow. They are a fix.
Then something else happen to you, which again those 2 survival strategies won’t work for. When this happens you finally get that you truly are on your own. “I’m on my own!” And you invent another way of being, another survival strategy, maybe you are good at something, or you master something to help you survive “being on my own”. And again, it works. People know you for it.
So, now you operate your life from these 3 survival strategies. You are successful, but the problem is your survival strategy is only good for survival. It creates a comfort zone for you. It doesn’t make you truly live your life. It’s very guarded and constrained. So, your mindset is entirely composed of these 2-key life strategies. Survival and fight/flight. But they are a trap for you.
Now you are thinking. “How do I get out of this trap!” you want another strategy. We are crazy for strategies. But there is no strategy. Because you have a fundamental mistake in your understanding of who you are.
For you, you are your thoughts. Or your mind. That is who you are. As Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am!” But human beings don’t really think! Human beings – are their thoughts. There is no thinking. You are your survival and fight flight mechanisms. You are your weaknesses you are your strengths. It’s there before you.
At first there was you, then your thoughts came to you through growing, then your thoughts began to define you. And now your thoughts are you.
This is the mindset you now have to succeed in life with. And it is very limiting. Life becomes hard work. Your business also becomes hard work. So, what do we do? First let’s do an experiment right? Let’s say who you are is a bunch of thoughts then. Yes, you have a body but without the thinking, your body is useless.
Are you all wearing shoes? If not at least socks or sandals or any kind of foot wear? If not, can you get something on your feet just for this exercise? Now notice your shoe/sock/sandal. It is on your feet, right? But it is not you. Can you all get that? Your shoe or sock or sandal is on you, you are wearing it but you are not a shoe or a sock or a sandal.
Now let’s look at your thoughts. 7Get a glass and fill it to the brim with water. Imagine this glass of water is you. There is the glass around the water and is holding the water. But the glass is not the water. The water in the glass, is surrounded by glass but it is not the glass.
You are also exactly like that. There is you, your body and consciousness and then the mind in your head which is separate from both your consciousness and part of it but in it there is also an unconscious mind. And your thoughts are mostly negated by this unconscious mind and brought to your consciousness by that mechanical process of seeing what happens and interpreting and then creating a reality from the interpretation.
So, there is a you and then your thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You are you and thoughts arise in you. They are not your thoughts! No, they are just thoughts that arise in you because you are a human being. In the human language.
Because as a human being, biologically, you have to think. You have a language and you have to interpret and makes sense of everything.
But if you can separate your “thinking” from “you” and observe your “thinking” and “being” as separate entities. This is a higher level of consciousness, an awareness. You can observe your being consciously and the thoughts that arise in you also consciously at the same time.
It’s like you observing the process that make you think, the mechanics that makes you think. Your fight/flight mechanism and survival mechanism are just composed of thoughts from your past. They are unconscious to you, now you being awareness to them and bring them to your consciousness the mystery disappears and you can see.
Now that we have separated the process from you, you can observe the process in you rather then you being the process.
Something happened, you made it mean something and that meaning created a reality for you, in your head, just for you, no one else and that reality is what you are living now. No one else knows this.
I am not out here, I am in your head, in your room, out here there is something. But for each of you, I am living right now where you are in your head, which you are observing through your computer from your observations from your seat. And how your mindset is composed entirely governs how you see me, even the colours you see. And your mind probably has created for you what I sound like or look like based on what you are reading. Weather you agree with what I’m saying or disagree with it or where you think I got this knowledge or understanding from etc etc etc.
This is difficult to get your head around. It’s very deep thinking. So just let it sink in. You can now separate you from your automatic thinking. But it’s a bit illusory still. So, let me work with you to create a context for all this.
Right now, in this moment you are here. Can you all be present to this moment right now?
What is there when you are present to this moment right now? Ok great, it’s just this moment, right now. So, in this moment right now you are in the present.
But all your thoughts, if you think about it, is not based on this moment right now is it? It’s based on your past. Your memories. And when you look to your future, in this moment right now, it’s also made up of your wishes, hopes and ambitions but not to make the mistakes of the past. So, its constrained by your past and you want to do more or better than you’ve done in the past without making mistakes.
But, when you get really present to this moment you are present to now, this moment and this presence of mind don’t last long when you have to think about your business or work. Because your life is about not making the same mistakes of the past and to do better.
It goes back to all the mechanisms you accumulated. But now that I have distinguished those and shown you how to separate you from your unconscious mechanical thinking, we can have the next conversation. One of the problems you have to confront in shifting your constrained mindset is the direction you live your life on.
You live your life in a direction which doesn’t lend itself for producing breakthrough results. And you have practiced that your whole life. Which is why you have great difficulty in shifting your performance to an un-precedented level.
So, right now, the mindset you have, or the way you think about your business, career and life itself, is based on your thinking from your past. Your interpretations which were created out of what happened to you. Which has created a reality in your mind about how things are for you.
So, you live your life wanting some real great result in the future, doing a lot of work on yourself, to develop yourself and work hard and you do a lot of things. In the hope you will get great results in the future. And then, when you get that result, then you will be accomplished, satisfied and happy.
This is your problem, this accomplishment, satisfaction and happiness is never right here right now. It’s always somewhere in the future. Some other time when you’ve produced a great result or when you have dealt with an obstacle on your way.
This is never ever going to work unless you have a miracle like winning the lottery. In my coaching, I advocate a different approach. I work with people to create a mindset that could work for them?
This is how I do it. I say, imagine you have no problems and everything you wanted has happened exactly the way you wanted them to happen. How would it be for you, what will your experience of this be? Who would you be being, if that happened, you be being what?
For me, it is Being Fun, Free and Excited, what would it be for you? Now, how about if you lived your life being that way right now, this moment, and doing everything from that way of being? Then you will have a result and you would have experienced Being (free, fun and exited) while taking the action to make that result happen.
This immediately creates a different mindset to that of doing a lot of hard work while waiting for a result one day which, if you achieved, will make you experience being fun, free and excited.
But because you have so much training in the opposite, you’ve habituated to your patterns this is very difficult to accomplish. They tell me it takes at least 21 repetitions for someone to get into a habit, so to shift your mindset from the old reactionary one to new present active one you need to practice it and keep practicing it.
And that is what I do with my courses, helping individuals in small groups to master a new mindset and achieve result that is a product of that new mind set.
Now, to help you make that happen I have created another conversation. I want to create
with you an at stake. So, what’s an at stake?
Imagine if you are betting on a horse. You go to the betting shop, check out the horse’s form and how they have done in the past and then put a bet on your favourite. You put down a bet of a pound or dollar. Which is ok, if your horse doesn’t win you don’t care too much it’s only a pound or dollar. But imagine if you go to that same race and choose the same horse and bet your house on that horse!
This is different, if your horse loses, you’re losing your house. And with that you are losing everything. How you feel when you live in your house, your whole way of being. Your sense of identity.
So, what’s at stake for you in your life is not the house you own, not the money you earn, but how you are experiencing your life. If you are living this moment fully or not living this moment fully. It’s a way of being and a way of experiencing how life feel when you are fulfilled in who you’re being life that comes with success that it at stake for you.
Now you can crate the results that will get you to experience this way of being daily, weekly, and monthly. Not some day one day. And if you make a mistake its not your fault, its just a mistake and you can learn from it. You are still being you’r at stake and experiencing it now whether you failed or succeeded. Then you can really appreciate successes and really look at failures without making it personal to you. You have a mindset for breakthrough performance which gets stronger by positive results you accumulate and wiser by learning from failures you will encounter. That is what’s called a win-win mindset.