Archive | June, 2011

Who Are You?

25 Jun

Before you read ahead, ask yourself this question: “who am I” and write your answer down. You don’t need to spend a lot of time. Just jot down what first comes to your  mind.

Did you immediately jump to answers such as “I’m a mom”, “I’m an athlete”, I’m a student”, “I’m a secretary”? Perhaps you leapt into a more descriptive stance: “I’m a hardworking, single female that desperately wants to be in a relationship.” Like a personal ad of sorts.  Regardless, you have attached labels to yourself that 1. describe who you believe you are and how you see yourself; and 2. serve as reinforcements for how you will behave and the manner in which you carry yourself. A self-fulfilling prophecy?

In her new book, Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine demonstrates how as humans, we do not  just fall into categories. We create them for ourselves and think of ourselves as being these types of people.  With each category comes assumptions, roles,  behaviors, expectations, and personality traits. But each of us may define the category differently.  My definition of “mom” might be very different than my best friend’s.  But it’s this definition that governs how we behave within that category.

A study conducted at Northwestern University revealed that when participants were asked to imagine themselves as both a “cheerleader” and a “professor”, profound differences came to light regarding the characterizations of themselves. “After the exercise…those individuals who had imaginatively adopted the perspective of the professor were more likely to describe themselves as clever than those who had been assigned the cheerleader persona. And those who had adopted the cheerleader perspective, were correspondingly more likely to describe themselves as gorgeous.”

Taking this a step further, when participants were given a test of analytical intelligence, those who identified with the professor performed better than those who identified as the cheerleader.  What does this mean?

It’s more than biology and genetics that account for personality differences, behavior, and cognitions between men and women.  This isn’t big news– you’ve heard me repeat over and over again how crucial our thoughts are to the manner in which we feel and act.  But what is most interesting is that without a point of reference….without a concept from which to classify yourself, you don’t have any  basis from which to decide who you are or who you want to be.  In essence, you need the category to decide if you want to fall into it or construct a new identity altogether!

Now go back and reread your first answer. Are you who you want to be within your self-instituted categories? How is your category determining your performance and the way you see yourself?

Tuning In or Tuning Out?

13 Jun

I learned how to tune my guitar this weekend.

Well, let me rephrase. I had a lesson in tuning my guitar, and then when I tried it on my own, without my teacher giving me second my second instructions, I got a little lost. I could hear that things weren’t quite right, but I didn’t know how exactly to get that “Wwowowowowowow” sound to stop!! AHH! I wanted that smooth tone to ring through, and to tell you the truth, I got a little frustrated and had to walk away.

I came back and committed to tuning in to the written instructions that my teacher had sent me. “Wow, this is going to take a lot of practice,” I thought.

DUH!  Of course it would! It was a brand new skill– a behavior completely unfamiliar to me. I have an “ear” for notes. I’m a singer. So that helps. But knowing what strings to strike and what fret to finger (yikes) I’d need to repeat over and over until it becomes automatic and second nature.  Was I willing to tune in to the tuning or tune it out and never have built the foundation I’d need to move forward with my guitar playing?!

I’m not one to throw in the towel when something gets challenging. Yes, I may need to step away for a spell and regroup, but I will come back and approach the task from a fresh perspective and a positive mindset. I can do this.

So often we tune out what we need to learn in order to be fully attuned to life.  To reach new heights, to achieve our goals, we must be willing to practice tuning in. Like a radio dial, we may experience some static here and there, but we find our way back to the right frequency….with effort. My guitar…I think it’s a little off right now, and I recognize that (I’m in tune and aware that it’s not at its best), but I’ll go back and find those clear notes.

Tune in, guys.

Expect dissonance, and tune into it.

It doesn’t need to be a source of frustration or a sign to give up or tune out. More than anything it’s a signal to turn the knob to find the best frequency.

It might be a different channel from moment to moment, but it needs to be YOUR channel!

Don’t be afraid to grab a tuning fork when you need it too.  Sometimes a guide is just what you need to bring you back into harmony.

Reaching Past Your Grasp

10 Jun

“It’s just within my grasp!”

“I can taste it! It’s that close!”

“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

All of these quips represent something similar–a goal is close to being accomplished. The toiling we’ve done toward an important endeavor appears to finally be culminating in the “finished product.”

How often during the process, however, do you doubt, question your abilities, ask if you can keep striving and driving toward what  you have set out to achieve? How often have you set a goal and given up on it, just deeming it too difficult, too hard, and just not worth the effort?

It’s not uncommon. I have clients daily who question what they are doing to lose weight. Why put forth the work to “only lose a 1/2 pound a week?”

I know how I’d answer that question.

But how do you get the individual to recognize all that is happening THROUGH the work, the process that is building their foundation of fortitude and resilience and the ambition to drive PAST what they so want to grasp!

Apolo Ohno, the most decorated Winter Olympian in U.S. History, knows the value of working toward a dream.  He entered his 3rd Olympics at the age of 27, and competed as one of the oldest competitors in skating.  “I didn’t know how I would do it or how I would win, but I made the commitment to do what it takes,” he states in his book, Zero Regrets.

Capturing a goal means adopting a mindset that leaves no room for doubt.  The path you take to grasp what holds meaning for you must be routed PAST the goal.  This means you start your journey having already won. 

Everyone says they want to win. But are they willing to do what it takes? Focusing on that end point won’t net you the greatest success. There’s some great scenery along the path. Some detours might be taken that were unexpected. Some inclimate weather may create a a roadblock.  But there is always a way around it. 

Will you give up at the slightest hint of difficulty? Will you go through life with regrets and unfulfilled dreams?

When you approach your goals with a positive mindset, you are already reaching past your grasp and leave no room for regrets.

Raising the Bar

5 Jun

“I’m not setting my expectations too high so that way if I fail I won’t be so disappointed.”

SERIOUSLY?!

I know you have heard this before, and you have likely thought it, whether you have said it out loud or not. Now you know what MY reaction will be if I do happen to hear it. 😉

But c’mon. What happens when you go into a situation thinking it’s going to go poorly? You have already set yourself up for performing less than your best.  The power of the mind, people.  Perhaps saying something like this takes the pressure off, it justifies your feelings of fear or anxiety, or you feel that by approaching the situation this way, you save face IF you do not do as well as you wanted to.

Rubbish. Here’s what I see happening. You go into something with less than fantastic intentions. Rather than, “I’m going to kick a**” you are saying, “We’ll see how it goes…” BOOORRRIIINNNGG and less than inspiring. 

Moving on…. you come out of  it, and you didn’t perform well. So now you’re saying, “Well, I knew it would go down that way,” but inside you’re likely feeling discouraged, upset, disappointed, and less than thrilled. (If it wasn’t important to you, why did you do it in the first place?)

 But then what? Do you take the time, assess what you could have done better, identify what you did well so you can capitalize on those areas? Likely not. You were going to perform in mediocre fashion anyway, so what’s the point in taking the time to analyze how it went down?

Now, had you gone into it with gusto, with excitement, energy, and an attitude of success, I think the outcome would look a bit different. Could your feelings of disappointment be more intense? Absolutely! But could that intensity drive you to push harder, look for your strengths, improve upon your weaknesses, and galvanize your spirit? HECK YES!

Raise the bar, guys. Stop living in the middle to “save yourself the disappointment”. Use that emotion to invigorate your spirit and discover your true potential. Emotions are signals. Listen to them. They may tell you that your head is in the wrong place, and it’s your job then to tease out where that place is. Then you get to jump in the car and map out your course for the place you WANT and know you NEED to be in.

I’m headed to the lush land of positivity. Where are you going?!

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