Albert Einstein once said:
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
So last week, in part one of this series, I shared the simplest yet most powerful strategy for success I have come across in over 25 years of coaching high performers – show up and aim yourself in a direction, then respond to what shows up along the way.
I then went on to talk about what it is to really show up to our goals, projects, and challenges. This week, I want to explore the often hidden factors that determine how effectively we respond to what shows up along the way…
Respond to what shows up along the way
There are essentially three types of “thing” that show up for us to respond to when we begin moving in the direction of creating what we want in our lives – possibilities, opportunities, and noise.
Last Wednesday, we did an interesting exercise as part of our Infinite Potential, Infinite Possibilities Mentoring Mastermind group. I asked each of the participants to prepare and deliver a 90 second audition for a TEDx talk, sharing their “idea worth spreading”. While the topics varied from Google’s Andromeda project to experiencing God on a visit to death row, the purpose of the exercise was to heighten people’s noticing of the fact that we are always experiencing a wide range of thinking in response to life’s circumstances.
In the moments before getting up to speak, that thinking ranged from oh my god why does he want us to do to this its so unfair I haven’t had enough time to prepare to I think I’m going to be sick to my personal favorite, F#%k off, Michael Neill, a sentiment that apparently comes up often enough that the group has abbreviated it to the simple acronym “FoMN”.
Yet somewhere in that swirl of thinking, a deeper part of the mind guided them to dismiss the noise of that thinking and in the moment of stepping up to the stage, new thoughts occurred, ranging from I’d better just get this over with to I’m amongst friends – this is going to be fun to I’m looking forward to sharing this to I wonder where I’m going to begin?
That background noise of thinking carried on for most of the group throughout their “auditions”, yet at no point did it seem sufficiently compelling to stop them from moving forward or knock them off track once they’d begun.
In other words, when it comes to performance and moving forward on our goals and dreams, the content of our thinking is only a problem to the extent that we give credence to what it has to say. In this sense, “positive thinking” is no more of a boost than “negative thinking” is an obstacle – it’s all just noise in a system that’s already designed to give us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.
Once we sift through the noise of our own riled up thinking, we begin to notice…
My own TEDx talk, Why Aren’t We Awesomer?, began life as a very different idea. By the end of 2011 we had successfully put on two coaching academies involving participants from more than a dozen countries. The whole process had been extremely rewarding both personally and professionally, and it occurred to me that given our newly developed prowess at putting on events, it might be fun to organize a TEDx event here in Los Angeles.
That possibility led to my sending one of my apprentices, Barb Patterson, to a planning meeting, which in turn led to her doing a TEDx talk of her own called I Don’t Have a Plan and I’ve Never Been More On Purpose. While hosting an event quickly became unfeasible, the idea of doing a talk of my own came in to take its place. About six months later, the third type kind of “thing” for us to respond to showed up…
One of my students from Supercoach Academy 2011 reached out to ask if I’d be interested in being a speaker at TEDx Bend, one of the largest annual TEDx events in America. She told me somewhat apologetically that they already had another speaker lined up who they thought might be a bit too similar to me, so I’d have to interview with the head of the selection committee and the odds were stacked against me.
My son was going to university about two hours away from Bend at the time, so I thought the whole thing could be fun and a good father/son bonding experience, and I said “yes” to the interview. When the head of the selection committee called me on my cell, I was sitting outside my daughter’s dance studio waiting to pick her up from class. He began by telling me why they probably wouldn’t choose me, (which actually put me at my ease), and then asked me what in retrospect I realized was a rather obvious question.
“So, what’s your idea worth spreading?”
I knew enough about the responsive nature of the mind to just take a pause and let myself show up fully to the question. After a few moments, I began to speak.
“Well, the mind works more like a projector than a camera…”
Before I could get a second sentence out, he interrupted to tell me that he was extremely interested and would be recommending me to the committee. A few weeks later I got my formal invite, and the rest, at least in my little corner of the world, is history.
The point of all this storytelling is simply this:
The emergence of fresh new thinking and the unfolding of life
is 100% reliable and 98% unpredictable.
In other words, you can rest assured that when you show up to your life, the creative potential of the deeper mind will show up with you. And you can take equal faith in the fact that if you keep looking in the direction of your goals and dreams, fresh possibilities and previously unseen opportunities will begin to emerge. 100% reliable; 98% unpredictable.
Have fun, learn heaps, happy exploring, and may all your success be fun!
With all my love,