A Different View
My favorite book of all time is Tom Robbins’ “Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates”. It is an adventure tale of a CIA agent, that loves language and purity, that gets put in these crazy situations all around the world. The book has an amazing rhythm and is smart, insightful and funny as hell.
Here is the part of the story that brings me an irrevocable smile to my face every time I re-read the book: For reasons I will not reveal (don’t want to ruin it for you), the CIA agent cannot touch his feet to the ground, so he is bound to a wheelchair. At one point in the story he learns how to walk on stilts. This frees him from the wheelchair and provides him with a different view of the world. He requests a nun to make him a custom pair of stilts so that he can be exactly two inches from the ground. Here is why:
“When one was living two inches off the ground, one remained close enough to the earth to experience its tug, share its rhythms, recognize it as home, and not go floating off into some ethereal ozone where one behaved as if one’s physical body was excess baggage and one’s brain a weather balloon. On the other hand, one had just enough loft so that one gilded above the frantic strivings and petty discontents that preoccupied the earthbound, circumnavigating those dreary miasmas that threatened to bleach their hearts a single shade of gray.”
SO COOL!! Now I am going to go have to read the book again.
Anyways, remembering this part of the book led me to think about our perceptions, how we react to situations and how we can easily change our reality if we just shift our mindset. The old concept that you cannot control what happens to you, but that you can control how you react to it is very much true. It helps us escape our victim mentality and start taking accountability for what WE want to do.
I see it time and time again, friends, family, coworkers, and clients all paralyzed by situations that they feel are inescapable. I am guilty of it too. For the longest time, I have had communication issues with my father. Most of them stemming from the fact that he wants to tell me what is best for me and I don’t want to hear what he thinks is best for me (yeah, I know… oldest story ever told). For years, I mean YEARS, I fought tooth and nail with him about who or what is right, why my way was better and that I didn’t want to hear it. This led to friction, heartache, anxiety and pain for both of us. Through it all, I always blamed him. “Why can’t he just lay off?”, “I can’t believe he is worried about this…”. I stressed about it CONSTANTLY! Sometimes I even avoided talking to him because it would literally pain me to think about what I was about to listen to.
I was focused on what was happening to me and not how I was reacting. It was easy to place blame on him and be a victim of the situation. The truth is that he was just doing what he thought would be in my best interest. It is his way of showing how much he loves me. The one that needed a change was me, not him. I needed to learn how to better react to what was happening.
So, after many years of coaching I developed a more positive view of the situation. My dad was not telling me what to do. He was providing me with a viewpoint that I would consider, and I would make a decision on whether to take his suggestion or not. No expectations. No right or wrong. Just more input with me having the decision as to what to do with it.
Man, that was a game changer. I still fall into old habits at times, but more often than not I say: “Ok, thanks for letting me know”. And then… I let it go. No more reactions, no matter how different his opinion was, or how much I would love to tell him why it would not work for me. I just let it be. I am consciously choosing to be happy, instead of being right.
Shifting our perception is a very powerful tool in business. It will help you take feedback in a more positive way. It will allow you to better collaborate with your teams, and provide you with insights you might have not thought of before. All you need to do is focus on your reaction and not on the situation. That way you will be able to better control your outcomes.
I am currently reading “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Anchor, a well renown positive psychology expert. One of his concepts is called the Fulcrum and the Lever. It is based the Archimedes’ teaching: “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world.” Shawn compares the lever to our possibilities and the fulcrum to our mind set. So, if we change our mind set we might be able to move things with a little less force, making it easier for us to achieve what we truly want. Think about it, how much energy are you spending on things that could be a lot easier if you just shifted your mindset a bit?
He goes on to explain that just by changing your mindset, your brain can create patterns that will alter your reality. The example he gives is a study in which a group of hotel staff was given information that their work was equal to a cardio exercise workout. Just by suggesting that their work is equal to exercise made the staff lose weight and lower their cholesterol without changing anything else about their work. THEIR BODY REACTED JUST BY A SHIFT IN PERCEPTION!!
So ultimately what I am trying to say here is that you always have an option. No matter the circumstances. So, if you are stuck in a situation you feel you can’t get out of, try looking at it from a different perspective. Take a different route to work. Go for a walk. Change your mind set.
Next time you are complaining for the millionth time about that meeting you don’t want to go to because it is a waste of time, challenge yourself to find a way to change your mindset in a way that would make it productive. What can you be accountable to make the meeting less exhausting? What are your objectives? What are the positives you might get from it? If you take the initiative things might change a bit.
Who knows? Maybe being 2 inches off the ground will change your entire vision of the world.
Andre Mello is a Business Coach and likes to see the world a little differently than most. He has been in leadership and marketing for over 16 years. To connect with Andre please visit www.wysecoaching.com