I never cease to be amazed by how much I’ve changed in the past five years. Before, I was painfully timid, insecure, and hopeless about my dreams and future direction in life. A decision to change and a fresh new perspective on my faith drastically turned things around, and now I’m on this inspiring journey to unlock my highest potential and purge negativity and needless suffering from my life. I also have more confidence and motivation to pursue my dreams without fear or self-doubts. And even when I have to endure life’s harsh reality, it hardly perturbs my laser focus on where I want to go and what I want to accomplish. Today, I want to share the first of seven things I’ve learned about unlocking potential. I hope these posts will serve as reminders for whenever we find ourselves lost and wandering, but never hopeless.
It all Begins and Ends with the State of Your Mind.
Before you dive into all the steps available out there to increase your productivity, maximize the output of your time, or even understand what you want to do with your life, you have to make sure your mind is in the right state to foster all those dreams, motivate you to act, and charge forward like an angry elephant when everything in life tries to push you back into mediocrity and boring existence. Several days ago, I started reading Overachievement by John Eliot, Ph.D. during my subway rides to work. I’m more than two-thirds done with the book, but already I’ve taken away substantial points he makes about what sets exceptional people apart from ordinary people; what the smart overachiever does over the burnt-out and zealous underachiever. I can’t reveal too much, but I’ll give you enough so you can read the book yourself. I highly recommend it.
Anyway, exceptional, highly successful people are able to reach their highest potential by possessing what Eliot calls the “Trusting Mindset” as opposed to the “Training Mindset” of the mediocre. The “Trusting Mindset” is in the moment and pays no attention to judgment, second-guesses, criticism, over-analysis, rationality, result-orientation, or impatience. It’s not something as superficial as blocking out all these things that are ever present in your mind, but rather zeroing on what needs to be done right now without allowing the rational part of your mind to interfere and undermine the legitimacy of your actions.
Patience, letting things happen, instincts, acceptance, playfulness, and an empty mind are some of the tenants of the “Trusting Mindset”. Ever notice that when reading a really good book, you are chin deep into the moment that when some unfortunate soul comes up to tap you on the shoulder from behind, you jump like you’ve just seen a zombie ready tear at your flesh, or in my case, I become a harpy and yell, “What do you want?” The “Trusting Mindset” is like that except you’re deep into whatever it is you’re doing to achieve your dreams, and anything that isn’t part of helping you get to your destination is irrelevant.
As you can guess, the “Training Mindset” is all about the components that the “Trusting Mindset” ignores as it achieves success. The “Training Mindset” has it place when you’re in school or going through the training you need to achieve your dreams, but when it’s time to perform you have to leave the “Training Mindset” behind and take hold of the “Trusting Mindset.”
There’s more. Eliot says exceptional people don’t put on many different suits for the many different occasions in life that come up. They have a mind focused on achieving whatever their dream may be no matter the obstacles, no matter what people say, no matter the number of failures, and no matter their external conditions—they have that scary confidence that they will make it. Again: I. Will. Make. It.
Another thing: exceptional people relish and utilize stress for their success. Not worry or anxiety, but stress: the butterflies in your stomach kind of stress; the high stakes; the numerous eyes on you, watching your every move; the feeling that your guts are boiling; the heartbeat in your throat; and your mind high and alert in the moment. This is not the time to get yourself relaxed and de-stressed, it’s time to go with the flow and act! It is exactly at this moment that the “Trusting Mindset” is essential because the minute you lose yourself in analysis, results, being calm and rational, and double guessing, you fall and fall hard.
Before I end on this segment, I also want to add a little of what Celestine Chua has to say from her amazing website, Personal Excellence, about your state of mind when achieving your dreams. One of her most important points is to channel your inner desires to motivate you rather than rely on external factors for motivation and inspiration. Sometimes you try to change your settings by moving from one place to another, or even leaving the country, but you still have the same problems you left behind in your previous location. It doesn’t work. No matter where you go, you can’t escape yourself. Or other times you force discipline into your life, think that if you get rid of your laziness, or even stop thinking negatively, you’ll achieve your goals or dreams. However, the steps you take to counter these problems are short-lived, and you eventually return back to where you started. You have to make an effort to understand the deeper meanings behind the culprits that cripple your actions and dreams or drown you in a negative mindset. Once you target the root of the problem instead of tackling surface obstacles, you can move on confidently to your destination. The big difference is now you move forward and act without feeling bored, unhappy, or worried because the purpose you’ve uncovered fuels your actions.
To end, just remember that the state of your mind can be your most powerful ally on the course to achieve your dreams, or, if you’re not careful and aware, it can be your greatest enemy.
How about you? How do you get your mind in the right state to achieve your dreams? I’d love to hear your thoughts!