Our mindset creates our experience of life. With a poor mindset, my experience of life will suffer. With a better mindset, my experience of life will be of greater joy and resourcefulness.
What is Mindset?
Your mindset is your collection of beliefs that shape your thought habits. Thought habits affect how you think, what you feel, what you perceive and what you do. Mindset impacts how you make sense of the world, and how you make sense of your own place in the world.
We don’t notice everything that our senses detect. Our subconscious filters most of our sensory input and only passes a small amount on to our conscious awareness. If I am looking for danger, my subconscious filters will pass on more anxiety creating inputs. If I am looking for things to be grateful for, my awareness will receive more inputs that reflect that search.
Test it for yourself: If you have never seen it, check out the gorilla experiment. It blew me away when I first experienced it.
To change your habits, change your mind…
When reading the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, the most profound insight that I took from the book was that to really change our habits, we have to change our self identity. If I think of myself as unfit, no matter how hard I work to build a fitness habit, I will always be on an uphill struggle. If I can change how I think about myself first, the habit formation becomes less of a challenge… and it will stay with me.
The way we see the world shapes our experience of life. How to shift your mindset?
Social Media Strategies
I’ve started sharing my videos on Linkedin and Instagram as well as YouTube. I used to try to centralise all my video activity on youtube, but I don’t know if there is any benefit to that these days. Linkedin is a much more powerful business network… so I’ll let you know how this experiment goes. I’ve embedded from Linkedin this time… does that work for your viewer?
I’ve spent the last 16 years working with CEOs and entrepreneurs to help them get clear on their purpose, get great people around them, execute their decisions and enjoy their life in the process.
The fact that you are reading this indicates that you are purposeful. The challenge for leaders is how this effectiveness leads to an enhanced quality of life.
How to be happier and more purposeful in 2020 and beyond
Author and Harvard professor David Maister says “success is enjoying your life. If you don’t enjoy what you do, the company of the people you do it with, and the impact you are making in the world… it cannot be considered success.”
A happy life is not the absence of pain. In achieving anything of significance: pain is guaranteed, but misery is optional. Anyone who has climbed Everest has been through a lot of pain. All significant achievements of meaning require the willing acceptance of the pain necessary to make the journey, to do the work, to learn the skills.
7 mindsets that connect a purposeful life to a happy life
Think about what you can achieve in 10 years, not in a week. We so underestimate what we can achieve in a decade, and we so overestimate what we can achieve in a day or a week. Shift your focus to what you can achieve over the next decade. Where can your health, your relationships, your financial wellbeing, your skill mastery be in a decade? It is far more inspiring to see a decade of achievement than a weeks worth of tasks.
Think in terms of who you will become (character), not what you will have (possessions.) I have been running leadership retreats for many years now. As we come to the end of any year, one of the questions that I ask leaders to reflect and share during the retreat is “what three words represent who you will become in 2020?” It forces thinking about how I will be, rather than what I will accomplish. My three words for 2020 are Generous, Focused and Kind. What three words would you choose?
Think in terms of process goals, not results goals. I spent over a decade leading sales organisations… and we are taught not to let sales people share results, but activity. A results goal could be to grow my business by 20%. A process goal is to make two more calls per day. A results goal is to lose 10 kilograms. A process goal is to leave two bites unfinished on every plate.
Think about changes in your environment, not your willpower. If you want to eat less chocolate, don’t have it in your home. If you want to do more exercise, put your sports gear on as soon as you wake up. If want to use Facebook less, delete the app. High performers don’t have greater willpower, they remove the distractions from their life.
Don’t negotiate with your excuses. As soon as you decide to take any action, your mind will come up with reasons why not to do it. Don’t engage in this discussion. Your excuses have access to all of your intelligence and they will win.
Fix the little things, and the big things can take care of themselves. Over the last 3 years I’ve had a habit of noting down each afternoon my “love/hate” list. I note everything that has added to my enjoyment of life on the left, and everthing (and everyone) who has detracted from my life on the right. It is often small things that detract. I have acted to remove anything that consistently appears in my “hate” list from my environment.
Think why, who, how… not what, when, how…. In every Vistage CEO decision coaching process, the first question we ask is “why is this important to you?” And we will stay with this question until we truly understand why… before we move to who can help and how to execute. Start with why. Do what is important, not what is convenient.
The founder of Strategic Coach, and one of my favourite podcasters, Dan Sullivan plans to live to 156 years old. It will allow him to see 3 different centuries (19,20,21).
What will it take for him to live that long? He’ll need to eat well. He’ll need to stay physically and mentally fit. He’ll need medicine to come up with some new techniques to extend life…. but more than all of this, he will need a powerful motivation to remain alive.
What gives a powerful motivation to remain alive? In an interview with Peter Diamandis, Dan and Pete shared the perspective that if you have friends, money and purpose: you’ll have a pretty damn good reason to keep on living.
“It is not necessary for a man to be actively bad in order to make a failure in life; simple inaction will accomplish it. Nature has everywhere written her protest against idleness; everything which ceases to struggle, which remains inactive, rapidly deteriorates. It is the struggle toward an ideal, the constant effort to get higher and further, which develops manhood and character.” –James Terry White
Idleness is very difficult for a human to handle.
William James saw that war mobilised a society and gave man clearly meaningful activity. He recognised the importance of keeping people busy and saw that there were benefits to war of allowing states to give structure to peoples lives, to get them busy. In the absence of war he viewed that it was important to have large-scale building schemes to keep people busy.
Today, governments have lost the right to impose work on its citizens.
Society’s function is to give meaning to courageous risks by individual members. Risks to the individual that benefit the group need to feel deeply meaningful.
If society fails to give meaning to difficult actions taken by individuals acting with freedom, we will avoid freedom and fall toward lethargy and apathy.
Freedom is a burden.
Totalitarianism arrives when many prefer structure & certainty over freedom.
What acts are meaningful in our society?
Even the strongest of us need to feel that our lives are given meaning by our society. A sense of meaning comes when we take on commitments to causes bigger than ourselves and allow others to hold us to those commitments. Antoni Gaudi didn’t build the Sagrada Familia because he was paid to do so, but because he committed his life to it. He is famous today, but he did not seek fame in his lifetime.
Today, we value those who accumulate wealth, fame, facebook likes, youtube views, instagram likes, cool clothes. The accumulation of money is not a bad thing, but the hoarding of money is. We place value on the hoarders over the accumulators. In the words from the Bhagavad Gita: “you have a right to your labour, not to the fruits of your labour”.
We have a right to be proud of the quality of our work. It is a positive pride.
We do not have a right to be proud of the wealth that our work allows us to accumulate. This is a dangerous pride.
What acts require individual courage and sacrifice, but make society better for us all?
Do I personally value people for their achievements, and not for the work that went in to the achievement? Sadly, I find the answer is often a “yes”. I don’t like this.
Note: with a series of additions over the years, this post is now 11 Commencement speeches that I love.
Commencement speeches… the final words of wisdom that almost-graduates receive before heading out into the big world. These are important speeches.
I’ve seen a lot of them… I have had the privilege of attending 2 or 3 graduations a year at IESE Business School over the last 16 years… that’s a total of over 35 commencement speeches that I have personally attended 😉
Top 5 Commencement Speeches
Conor’s Top 11 Commencement Speeches
Here are my 11 favourite commencement speeches. They are from inspiring people, sharing personal experiences in a humble manner. This 11 pack of wisdom runs to less than 120 minutes of your life… Watch soon, watch often…
My top 11 commencement speeches (not in any order of preference):
Neil Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. A must watch for any artist and everyone who hopes to be creative and successful.
Connect the Dots
Drawing from some of the most pivotal points in his life, Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks, including death itself.
The benefits of failure and imagination
Harvard University, 2008
J. K. Rowling is a British novelist, screenwriter and film producer best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series.
Make Commitments in Life
“We are not a society that nurtures commitment-making,” “New York Times” columnist David Brooks told the Class of 2015. “But your fulfillment in life will not come from how well you explore your freedom and keep your options open. … Your fulfillment in life will come by how well you end your freedom.”
David Foster Wallace
Learn to be Humble
Kenyon University, 2005
This is just the audio and not a video of his commencement speech, but the essential message on the need to learn humility and the ability to engage with diverse people and points of view is so well expressed that I include it.
Prof Rick Rigsby
Seek Wisdom, not Just Knowledge
Rick Rigsby commands the audience with his presence. His speech is reminiscent of Martin Luther King… with his tone of voice raising and lowering and his pacing of his words deliberately used to emphasise his message.
I met Dandapani at EO Instanbul University and have since met him in Barcelona when he came to run a 1 day retreat for our chapter of the EO organisation.
He spent 10 years as a Hindu monk, and now shares what he learnt about using our mind and our awareness in an intentional manner. We need to learn to use our mind well. We need to learn to concentrate.
We become good at what we practice and most of us are experts at practicing distraction. We live in a society that trains us to multi-task and jump from one thing to another in an uncontrolled way. The great panacea for a world plagued by distraction is learning and practicing the art of concentration. In this talk Dandapani shares tools to learn to create focus in our lives.
PS My favourite joke in the speech 5:56 “She asked me ‘Is it ok for monks to use email?’ I turned to her and said ‘yes, but as long as there are no attachments'” 😉
As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.
Why is it hard?
We often look for quick fixes. There are no relationship quick fixes. Relationships take lifelong, constant effort. You must actively work to keep the important relationships in your life strong.
What does leaning in to relationships look like? Do something new together. Reach out to the family regularly. Listen and share. Reach out without reason to friends. Pick up the phone and meet.
It is imagination that makes humans unique in nature.
Genetically we differ 2% from chimpanzees and 3% from worms. It is not our genes that have us living in penthouses and connecting on facebook.
Our difference is the human cortex, the layer of brain that is most highly developed in humans. The cortex is where we begin to live intentionally. We have a choice. We don’t have to just respond to the world, but can begin to imagine a better world and thus plan and act accordingly.
The unique gift of humanity is reason, the ability to solve problems in the mind.
What is the Purpose of Human Life?
2,300 years ago in the Greek city-state of Athens, Aristotle asked himself “what is the purpose of human life?” Aristotle defined the purpose of an object as being that which it can uniquely do.
A human is alive – but plants are also alive – so that cannot be human purpose.
A human feels – but animals also feel – so that cannot be human purpose.
The unique gift of humanity is reason, the ability to solve problems in the mind: to imagine solutions before putting them into practice.
Aristotle concludes the Nicomachean Ethics with a discussion of the highest form of happiness: a life of intellectual contemplation. Reasoned imagination is the highest virtue.
Leadership Requires Imagination
A leader must see a future that is not yet here. The clearer you can see and touch and feel this potential future the more compellingly you can communicate it to others. The more you practice your imagination, the better you will get. How can you practice your imagination?
How can you develop your imagination? Here are some ways:
Spend time bored.
Read fiction. Write a new ending to a classic book. Make a hero into a villain, and a hero into a villain. Write yourself into the book.
Throw photos on the floor and then explain the connection between them.
Watch TV in another language and explain to a friend what is happening.
List 10 small improvements you could make to the seat you are sitting on.
Tell bedtime stories to your children… let them create the characters as you go.
Develop 2×2 matrix on an area of interest… and develop scenarios for changing positions.
Go to an ethnic restaurant and order something you have never had before.
Go to a railroad station or airport and take the first train or plane to depart.
Imagine a world without oil, cars, telephones, internet… fill in the blank…
Three wonderful short videos from The School of Life youtube channel, total duration 27 minutes:
How to Make a Country Rich
If you were setting out to make a country rich, what kind of mindsets and ideas would be most likely to achieve your goals? We invent a country, Richland, and try to imagine the psychology of its inhabitants.
Would you want to live in Richland?
How to Make an Attractive City
We’ve grown good at making many things in the modern world – but strangely the art of making attractive cities has been lost. Here are some key principles for how to make attractive cities once again. Please subscribe to our channel.
Does your city have the political will to create beautiful spaces?
How to become a better person
It sounds normal to say one’s out to become a fitter person; but it sounds weird to say one would like to be a nicer or better person. It shouldn’t – so here is a guide to 10 virtues of a nice person.
Are these your 10 most important virtues? Which are the easiest for you? Which are the hardest for you?
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