Inside of two minutes, you can provoke mindfulness, a meditative state, or anxiety. You do it simply focusing your thoughts. Most of us do anxiety, rage, irritation, frustration, disappointment, and fear pretty reliably. Maybe you have the land speed record on those.
The terrible truth is, what you believe is “natural,” is not. How you respond to situations or life itself is simply a manifestation of personal choices. The scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming on this now. How you feel is a choice – your choice.
How big of an “aha!” moment is that for you? When I learned this, I thought: “Wow. How I feel is a choice? How I ignite my neurochemistry in response to my thoughts or a situation is a choice? I’m feeling a little Spock-like right now.”
When I got over the sci-fi shiver of it, my next “aha!” was: what power! If I chose my feelings – even rehearse them much less spend time cleaning out my internal environment, it’s easy to control my behavior. And, my behavior forms other people’s opinions of me and how I am doing. That is the essence of the power of personal branding.
We each control our own reality, or at least our impression of reality. It’s as if you have a virtual reality helmet on all day and the controllers are well, under your control. You select what you see. And, you select how you feel about it. That is, if you make such choices consciously.
Given that individual or collective perception is largely what we call reality, this choice means you are inventing or at least collaborating with the environment all day long. And, that collaboration results in at least one of two thoughts and a whole set of feelings:
- Wow! It’s a great day to be me. Feeling happy and relaxed.
- Gee. What a terrible day to be me. Feeling angry and anxious.
It’s a bit of shock and maybe even a little embarrassing to consider the implications of the two-minute transformation.
You suffer or you are serene. Your choice.
It’s kind of like being offered coffee or tea. Your choice.
Of course, given the spectrum of human emotions and a lifetime of practicing the neurological pathways that lead to misery or mindfulness (among a host of other states you might regularly be in): this finding might cause you to doubt yourself.
Who would choose to be anxious? Angry? Irritated?
Who would choose to be serene? Laid back? So “om” that the covers are too heavy to lift and hence I can’t get myself out of bed and to work?
Of course, you are probably not the Dalai Lama or another master of spiritual practice. Events occur that “naturally” ignite a raft of negative feeling states included the dreadful anxiety most of us have from time to time.
It’s the meditation and mindfulness exercise that we have to do with intention. The question is will you make the choice? Will you take two minutes at various points in your day – or at any point in your day – to change your reality?
Are you willing to be in control of how you feel, and how you act? The best personal brands do.
As a side note: I wonder if they have Starbucks Italian Roast in Keurig cups in heaven? Maybe that is heaven, because I just bought the machine and had a hellish time trying to find that roast. Oops! Time to focus on my breathing.
You know all those people you think are jerks for being louder and pushier than you? Here’s a shocker. They get what they want, way more often than you do.
Compared to those who are less straightforward: people, who emphatically say what they want, get what they want more often. Not because other people are intimidated by these so-called jerks. But because other people understand in no uncertain terms exactly what these jerks want.
So, these folks aren’t jerks. They are just really clear about what they want, and certain they need other people to know it. That’s how they get attention and action in their favor.
Say What You Mean = Get What You Want.
What happens when you FAIL to say what you mean, and fail to speak up in terms that are explicit, clear and emphatic? You actually diminish the chance you’ll get what you want. When you are vague, oblique or otherwise understated about your goals? The statistical likelihood of our agreeing to it goes way, way down.
If you pussyfoot around an issue: that’s like giving your audience – a boss, recruiter or colleague – instructions to do more of what you don’t want.
Here are some examples:
If you want recruiters to hire someone else: don’t ask for the job during the interview.
If you want to receive no raise or bonus this year: don’t ask your boss for a specific amount.
If you want to do a massive amount of work alone until way past midnight: don’t ask your co-worker to stay and help you with a specific task.
That’s the key. You must be specific.
You must also speak or write in an authoritative tone.
And you must give unambiguous instructions.
That’s how what you say becomes what you get.
For example, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant report on persuasion guru Robert Cialdini’s experiment on saving a forest.
When signs were posted with warnings that people were stealing petrified wood and irreparably damaging the forest, stealing wood increased dramatically. Then new signs were posted that said: Don’t Steal Petrified Wood. Stealing dropped dramatically.
Whatever your issue – it pays to be a jerk. That is, if you define being a jerk as saying what you want and getting it.
It’s not that I don’t love children. I have one and love her more than life itself.
It’s just that the demands of my workplace involve employees using the kind of grown up thinking and behaviors that only childhood graduates can muster.
By graduating, I mean you have resolved the big issues of the surreal experience that was your childhood. Everyone’s childhood is surreal. Think about it. During the first several years of your life, giants surrounded you while talking in indistinguishable sounds.
Without notice, people picked you up off your back or feet. For no apparent reason, they smiled at you. Or smacked you. All decisions were made for you. You were constantly being coddled, trained, regarded, disciplined or painfully ignored.
Put in a couple of years like that or 18 of them, and you have a lot to get over.
And yet, the workplace that you enter after those years – or the stay of execution that is college and graduate school – only rewards people who have the skills of an adult.
Work demands you make decisions about your loss of freedom. It’s almost always a trade-off between doing exactly what you’d like to do versus doing what needs to be done. Rarely do those things match up perfectly. Adults have to see potential choices, use self-determination, make commitments, manage anger or disappointment, and exhibit a surfeit of self-control.
When you feel lost, under-utilized, left out, over-burdened, angry or clueless about what your boss or colleagues are doing – and what you should be doing given their actions, it’s simply a sign that you haven’t yet graduated from childhood.
Most employers are looking for grown-ups. And most employees haven’t had the guidance to truly graduate from their childhood.
This graduation isn’t the walk across a stage or a piece of paper with fancy writing. You probably have a good bit of reading and writing to do, to sort out who you are and what your purpose is. You probably need to ask and answer some big questions to get you started on self-determination, self-reliance and resilience.
Let me know if you’d like a list to get you started. Email Nance@NanceRosen.com, subject line: Graduate.