WOOP your Intention

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Our last blog post tried to get you in touch the sweeping changes and improvements in our world.  

But that raised for us a personal question framed by the Greek concept of entelechy.  

The impulse to become better, something more, to become all that you can be, is that impulse the Greeks, most notably Aristotle, challenges us to ask what are we working on?

What gets attention grows and what gets attention gets invested with intention.

I posed the question what are you giving attention to?

Let’s break it down. How does this principle of attention and intention work?

If you decide to act on the quiet background desire (the attention that has finally “gotten your attention”) that you've always had to paint, or learn a new foreign language, or even to become the best in your industry, this is where “when you act” you are moving from the idea your attention has fiddled with, to genuinely acting on it, to actually do something. 

The more you think about this (attention) and the more “excited” you get to engage this new territory, the more energy is invested in making it so (intention).

What often happens though is we never move from attention to intention.  From something hitting our awareness horizon to us giving it focused energy.  

What thing has been floating around vying for your attention in the background muzak of our life that should really get focused energy?  

Because I am spending lots of my coaching practice time with clients wanting to optimize their health this is a ready illustration for me.

It is not enough to say, “it has hit my attention that sugar is the best host site for cancer and that sugar might be the most addictive everyday drug in 90% of all products on grocery store shelves.”  Great information.  Correct information.  Carbohydrate/sugar addiction is responsible for 2/3 of all Americans being terribly overweight and 1/3 morbidly so.  But until attention gets coupled with focused energy to act, plot, plan and execute, that fact will remain part of the swirling mass of information in your head.  

So what is in your attentional field of awareness?  

That you need to dial in your health?

That you need to join the 5 am club, go to bed earlier and cut out TV to increase your learning inputs?

That you need to carve out more time for relationships and invest in those that matter most?

That you need to get a grip on your temper, or your stress level, or anxiety?

What do you need to focus intention on?

Let me give you a little memory trick from one of the great researchers of our day, Gabrielle Oettingen, from her book Rethinking Positive Thinking (an incredibly important book even for parents teaching their childrend!)  It is called the WOOP method.

W - Then what is the wish

O - What does the outcome feel like? What does the desired future look like in high definition color? What would be happening if this outcome occurred

O - What are the possible obstacles? - This is an important and counterintuitive step.  And this is the big contribution of her research.  If all we do is focus on the outcome we will miss the crucial preparation necessary to overcome the challenge when it presents itself.  People that engage this step are vastly more successful achieving their intended outcome because they have anticipated that things will not go off pain or glitch free!

P- And last, what is the plan as those obstacles crop up you will use to step over, around, under or through them.  You can see why the “plan” comes last after the “obstacle.” You build into your execution plan the steps necessary to overcome the potential glitches you have anticipated.

You will hit lack of motivation when the verbs get too complicated in learning the new language.  You will have evenings when reverting to eating a whole row of Oreos just sounds good. You will have times that you would rather veg in front of the TV at 9:00 pm instead of going to bed so you can get up at 5 am and crush a workout so BDNF sets up your brain to be sharper and smarter than those around you. No one should be surprised that these thing WILL happen. 

But when you WOOP your intention… the game changes and you change…and you move from being average toward being a “A” player!

New Remedies

New Remedies

Why is change so hard?  Why are organizational paradigm shifts well near impossible?  One line of conversation could go down the road of the neurobiological challenges that come with habit formation and the of breaking old ones.  We will need to leave that for another day, though it is a fascinating and research rich area. It is the other line of conversation that interests me; peoples unwillingness.

TYIR

rear view mirror sunset.jpg

Every year about this time I set my sights on the year in review trip that I plan in the 2nd quarter each year. Over the last half a dozen years this trip has had me in 6 different countries from the hot summer mountains of South Africa to icy cold snowy but beautiful Finland. While these trips have always been solo events, this year it will be with my son among the salt surf and palm trees of the Baja peninsula. The focus of the trip has been and is always two things…how was this last year and what about the upcoming one?

Socrates said:  ὁ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ. "The unexamined life is not worth living."

One of the themes of Wildly Better this past year has been the danger of skimming through life, of getting caught on cruise control and autopilot only to awake well beyond your exit and then realize 4 years had passed. Many people miss much of life sleepwalking through it.

Part of development, part of the expansion of our awareness horizon, part of the ability to take in wider swatches of life, is by simply being mindful: aware of what is arising within and around you in real time.

And that is the key: real time. Monday morning quarterbacking is always welcome to learn where we misstepped or missed cues. The real juice of development is to live awake and aware in real time and to act in accordance with the big goals in front of you that are laid out and clear.

Enter TYIR.

The Year In Review is an exercise done by most top performers seeking to learn from yesterday with the express purpose of integrating that into action plans of the the next year! I have placed for your download the TYIR exercise I hope you will take some reflective time and do. I suggest doing some silence meditation and then blocking an hour or so to really think about this past year. Only then will you be able to progress to dreaming, ideating and planning the next.

Here's the download:

2017:  TYIR

 

Live Now!

 

“The greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally unsolvable.They can only be outgrown.” 

Carl Jung

Attachments hold us in yesterday and prevent us from experiencing what is happening right here right now. 

Our meaning-maker, called the ego in psychology, is what gives me my me-ness.  My history, geography, genealogy, education, etc… is what funds the narrative I tell myself about who I am. 

What is fascinating about how we story-tell to ourselves is that most of it is tacit…it is happening under the radar of our awareness most of the time. 

The impetus from minus to plus never ends. The urge from below to above never ceases: whatever premises all our philosophers and psychologists dream of—self-preservation, pleasure principle, equalization—all these are but vague representations, attempts to express the great upward drive.
Göethe - Letter to Lavater

Goethe is speaking here of what the Greeks called Eros.  While usually equated with the erotic and sexuality, eros, according to the Greeks, was the human drive to connect to the divine, to truth, beauty and goodness.

What gets attention grows… certainly makes sense doesn’t it.  Whether it is the ache in your neck, your irritation with a colleague, paranoia about tomorrow’s meeting or… that living right now in the moment and experiencing what is around you right this second is really the only place you can really live!  All of these grow with attention.

We skim life…

When we live most of our lives in the top nine inches of our body we often give attention to nothing and live our lives trapped in daydreams.  Such “captured attention” with constantly looping thoughts in our minds gives us little margin to “give attention.”

I am a daydreamer. 

I prefer to frame it as, brilliant thinker, problem solver or creative genius, but when you strip away all the bologna I am a daydreamer.  But here is the problem when we live our life on the inside of our head we automatically become “blind” to what is happening around us. 

You have had it happen.  You are carrying on a conversation…with yourself….and you miss the exit? There it is!  Daydreaming that leads to blindness and it happens everyday for hours and hours.  When we are giving attention to those thoughts our “sight” goes on autopilot.  We are generally safe driving down the road but we miss details, even big ones.

That is a picture of our lives.  We skim through life hypnotized and blind. 

Here are some ways to try and stay awake.

  1. Start the day with some mindfulness practice.  

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present that is arising around you. When you’re mindful, you are able to observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance.  This enables you to be more proactive rather than reactive and to choose your course. There are a number of ways to go here but if you want to get out of the rut of sleepwalking the only way to do it is to cultivate a practice that will assist that goal. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience. 

One word about “practice.”  The whole point of mindfulness practice is to enable you to be present in real life.  The practice itself isn’t enlightening, or somehow insightful.  It is a practice because as you leave your time of practice you have gotten under your belt a little more “mindfulness exercise” which will enable you in life to be more present and mindful due to your training.  Practice for the express purpose of accomplishing through training what you simply could not do by trying.

       2. Consciously “Do.” 

The foregoing might come off like daydreaming is bad.  It isn’t, but anything we do unconsciously (eating, web surfing, etc…) is still unconscious. Start noting when you are bored, seem to have nothing to do and when you are susceptible to clicking on to mindless autopilot. Choose to dream, problem solve or nap but in in the absence of that choice choose something else.

       3. Ask yourself how much you really experienced your “yesterday.” 

What was your pace like?  How much did you notice?  Did you feel others' heart? Did you notice your surroundings?  Was your food tasty?  Did you really hear others when they spoke? Often we get our day done but we don’t fully experience what the day actually offered.  That requires attention.


Let’s look for ways to taste life.  Let’s be attentive to where we direct our intention.  And let’s help our kids and families do the same.  Experiences around the holidays get piled up on each other.  One after another after another.  The compaction and compression of events leaves little option but to skim…unless we are aware and attentive.

 

 

 

Meditation and Breath... a way Forward

Meditation and Breath...    a way Forward

I have been doing a lot of seminar work lately;  much of it around human development and how the “self” is formed.  Simply and briefly stated our self understanding is a narrative compiled from layers of parental, sibling, playground friend, teacher, coach, professor, employer etc….stories we have picked up. We hear all sorts of stories/comments/observations from these narrative weavers but we choose certain stories to delete, others to hide from, others to replay and that creates the playlist of what gets put into the ipod-of-our-mind that is on an incessant repeat loop.

This Separates the Dreamers from the Activators

This Separates the Dreamers from the Activators

Well I told you that the next post would be around a concept that really separates those that think about it from those that act on it….from those that dream about tomorrow to those that actually take the steps to create and live into that tomorrow. The difference says research is what is being called grit! I know, sounds too pedestrian for someone to do research on doesn’t it? But they are!