Understanding What it Takes to Succeed, part two (#807)

If you missed part one, you can read it here.

Last week, I reviewed six key variables that impact the level of result we produce in our lives:

1. Starting place
2. Investment of time and energy
3. Strategy
4. Level of skill/Level of challenge
5. Other people
6. The random factor

This week, I’d like to explore a seventh variable – what I consider to be the master variable, in that our understanding of it gives us the maximum possible leverage over the other six.

In order to get a better understanding of the master variable, consider the following scenario:

You wake up in the morning feeling a little bit tired.  Before you leave for work, your partner reminds you in no uncertain terms that you agreed to take the kids to practice and rehearsal after school, although you’re pretty sure that conversation never happened and that if it had, you would  never have agreed to it in the first place.

As soon as you log on to your email at work, you are faced with three urgent messages about three critical projects, all saying that strategic decisions need to be made before the end of the day if not sooner.

A quick look at your calendar shows a completely full schedule, and you realize that you would need to stay at work until nearly midnight to get everything done (and that doesn’t include leaving in the middle of the afternoon to drive your kids around).

How are you going to handle it?

What’s the key variable that will have the most impact how your day goes, how much work gets done, which decisions get made, how high quality those decisions are, and whether your relationships are stronger or weaker by the end of the day?

Will it be primarily a function of:

  • How many times you’ve been in situations like this in the past?
  • How hard you’re willing to work?
  • Which time management strategies you choose to apply?
  • How good you are at your job?
  • Your people skills?
  • Luck?

Or will it be something completely different?

When I consider this scenario for myself, I realize that twenty years ago I would have given up and blamed my day on my inexperience, other people’s incompetence, and all-around bad luck.  Ten years ago, I would have tried to resolve it with hard work and time management strategies.  Five years ago I would have hoped that my work experience and communication skill set would carry the day.

But while I recognize all of those things are relevant factors, it is my understanding of the master variable I would trust to carry the day:

The variable of state of mind

There are three things I know about the impact of state of mind that will guide me throughout the day:

1. Low Quality State of Mind

I know that if I act unchecked in a low state of mind, I’m likely to turn each one of my daily dramas into a crisis.  My partner and I will be at each other’s throats over the children and we’ll each be wondering how the other can be so non-understanding.  Each of my work colleagues will become the villains as I try to play hero, working all the hours god sends to save the day whilst simultaneously bemoaning my fate to be surrounded by incompetents.

2. High Quality State of Mind

I know that in a high quality, relatively clear state of mind, I’ll take each one of these things in my stride and handle them as best they can. I’ll recognize the impact of my partner’s state of mind on their communication and it will have become a non-issue by the time I get to work.

I’ll look past the urgency in my colleagues emails and see which projects really need to be acted on today and which will keep until tomorrow or even later.

Rather than try to force a decision if I don’t know what to do about the kids, I’ll elevate that one to the back burner trusting that the incredible resource of innate wisdom will give me an answer when I need one.

And I’ll recognize that all I can do for now is all I can do for now, and not put additional pressure or stress on myself to play superhero.

3.  The Nature of our States of Mind

I know that while I don’t control my state of mind, it is naturally buoyant and self-regulating. The less I try to do to fix it, the more easily it returns to a place of clarity, insight, and well-being. So I take it easy when my state of mind is low, take advantage when it’s high, and don’t waste much mental or physical activity on it in between times.

In the third and final part of this tip, I’ll share my thoughts on how our understanding of state of mind positively impacts each of our other key results variables.

But until then, take some time this week to look deeper at the impact your state of mind has on your performance, relationships, and results. And if you’re someone who has put a lot of time and effort into controlling or managing your state, I really encourage you to consider the possibility that a higher quality state of mind is never more than one thought away from whatever it is that you’re thinking right now…

Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!

With all my love,

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Understanding What it Takes to Succeed, part one (#985)

One of the first major insights I had about myself and my clients over twenty years ago was this:

When it comes to creating results in our lives, most people are pretty much exactly where they ought to be.

What I mean by that is that over the years I’ve rarely seen anyone who consistently outperforms their own efforts. On the whole, life doesn’t really lift people up who haven’t earned the lift or hold them down when everything else is pointing towards success.