Where’s Your Focus?

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“It’s a well-known fact that what we give our attention to grows and what we don’t give our attention to tends to fade away.”

How to Make Your Dreams Come True – Mark Forster

What are your thoughts on this?

My dad used to say what what you think about will likely happen.
We tend to focus on the negative aspects of life. We do this for our protection. Negative things can harm us. So we’re constantly on the lookout. And we do need to protect ourselves from being harmed. But if we only focus on prevention from harm, we may miss the opportunities for growth, development and happiness.

Some examples I thought of:

  • we talk in detail about a bad day at work but summarise a good day
    • them: “How was your day?”
    • me: “Yeah, good!”
  • we look for what is wrong with a situation rather than looking for what is right
  • our organisational reports generally identify error rates, not success rates
  • we tend to coach faults/gaps in performance rather than build on strengths/achievements
  • we complain about our lot in life rather than the benefits
  • we never have enough money so we focus on our lack, not what we have
  • we look how far we have to go rather than look at how far we’ve come
  • we listen to the news which is commonly negative and depressing

If this is the case, we are missing an opportunity to focus on the positive. And if the initial quote is true, or at least beneficial, how might this play out in living the life we want?

This isn’t being Pollyanna – all butterflies and rainbows. It is, in fact, looking for information and examples in situation that are good and generally in any situation.

So, how would you like to think? By focussing on the lack, the gap, what you don’t have? How will that make you feel? How will your energy be?

Don’t try this at home: Spend the next 7 days highlighting all the gaps, problems and issues that you see … in detail!

Try this instead! I actually suggest you do the opposite. Spend the next 7 days looking at all the things you do have.

To do this I suggest the following:

  • grab a notebook
  • go in to each room of your house and where you work (might be the same place)
  • write down all the things you have
  • this isn’t Marie Kondo, they don’t have to bring you joy, just list them
  • you may be amazed at what you have
  • (you may also realise you have a bunch of stuff you no longer need!)
  • do the same with relationships – this could be tricky if you’re in a tough situation
  • same with finances – if you’re in debt, like we used to be, start making a plan to rectify that by focusing on what you want

Doing this exercise does not automatically resolve all our issues into a perfect life. It’s not magical. But it may help you realise how much you can be grateful for and what you can focus on.

As the quote says: “what we give our attention to grows”.

And may also help on taking some initial steps on improving some things.

I’m writing this on a perfect day in Perth, Western Australia. I’m outside on the patio. A galah is feeding from the bird feeder. The wife has just pruned the bushes this morning. There are kids a few houses over having a great time!

While I sit here, I am in to Day 6 of a 14 day quarantine. I have to stay home while the rest of the city is free as can be. I don’t like it and I don’t agree with the strategy. But, the peace and quiet, the ability to read and write is priceless. I’ll focus on that for a while!

Intro to Bamboo SL

This is a model I’ve been playing with lately. I’ve been learning a lot about mindset, habits and behaviours and this is an attempt to learn something by putting it into my own thoughts and provide it to others.

It is developed as Bamboo SL based on the elements that create the outcomes (Satisfaction & Lifestyle) from the inputs:

  • Beliefs
  • Attitudes
  • Mindset
  • Behaviours
  • Observations
  • Outcomes

I’m planning on developing it further and the construct may change as things become clearer. (maybe Observations come after Outcomes).

Background

What got me thinking about this was that we, generally, mostly concern ourselves with external factors, particularly in business when it comes to performance and feedback. These are the behaviours, the observations and the outcomes. “I saw you do this”, “Let’s discuss the sales results”.

The Behaviours are the things we do that we and others can see. We can comment on them, whether they are good, bad or otherwise. You can get feedback on them. I’ve run workshops on performance management based on SOBs – Specific Observable Behaviours.

The Observations are similar to the behaviours but in this instance we are trying to take a step back and observe ourselves or reflect on what we did. We can then make adjustments if we want to.

The Outcomes are, perhaps obviously, the results of what we see. We overeat and the scale goes up. We diet and the scale goes down. We put in a good day at work and our boss is happy with us. We put in a bad day and the boss is less happy. (I have a friend who got a commendation the same day they got a first and final warning!) Organisations, like people, can be fickle.

My observations here are that we tend to focus on the obvious. How we feel about our day and our lot in life. Very simple observations and conclusions for the most part.

We do mull over the Satisfaction stage. Am I satisfied with my job, relationship, income, goals? Sometimes we may look at social media sites showing people who seem to be doing better than we are. Even though we know this is people on their best days, they can still trigger us and cause some dissatisfaction with our own life.

I’ve referred to Satisfaction as “The” Measure. If we are “satisfied” with our lot in life, that becomes our life. There is no need or sense of urgency to change. Even if we are dissatisfied. Read that again. We we can be satisfied with our dissatisfaction. Why?

Life is defined at the top of the image above with examples from Relationships to Finances. Feel free to substitute your own.

The Subconscious Program

Lower down we have the Subconscious program. This encapsulates our beliefs, habits and attitudes that, in many cases, reside there without scrutiny. Again we may mull over them occasionally but perhaps not as much as the external factors.

Our subconscious program, as I have (re)learned has, on the whole, been given to us by others when we were very young. We may vote the same way our parents vote. We are comfortable with similar foods (healthy or unhealthy). We may undertake similar pastimes as our parents or peer groups. Alternatively, it could also be you eat completely differently because your parents ate junk food!

Because our beliefs have been given to us, or we have been highly influenced by others, we can take life as it comes without examining some of these factors. We would do well to examine some of these and see if they hold true for us and help us achieve the Satisfaction and Lifestyle we are wanting. If not, it may be our beliefs are keeping us from achieving the goals we seek, or once sought, and now we’ve accepted our “lot”.

Example: I have a close friend who doesn’t like Mitsubishi cars. No reason! It’s a belief or attitude they have to Mitsubishis. Many years ago, when they were contemplating a new vehicle, Mitsubishis were off the list. 🤷‍♂️ Just a belief that really has no grounding and, in this case, not an issue.

But what if we have beliefs that are issues that we hold on to that limit our progress and limit our real potential. That, to me, is worth exploring.

Summary

I believe the areas that can most influence our Life at the top of the image are, in fact, the elements at the base: Beliefs, Attitudes and Mindsets.

These elements will influence the Behaviours we are prepared to engage in, which in turn can affect our Outcomes if we are prepared to examine (Observe) those Behaviours to see if they are working towards our goals or away from our goals.

My point being, the areas we really need to examine, we generally don’t. (Or perhaps I am the sole troglodyte here!)

The good news is, once we know this, we are free to choose new beliefs, attitudes and mindsets. And, from there, begin to review our potential and re-assess the goals we want to pursue!

Now that I’ve published this I’ll find all the spelling errors. Feel free to point them out! 😉

The Inner Critic (Self Talk, Mindset)

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Do you have an inner critic that you’re tired of listening to?

If someone else spoke to you the way you speak to you, would you put up with it?

Here’s “Thing 1” … 

While you’re berating yourself …

  • others have full confidence in you
  • you provide encouragement, support and confidence to others (who also have an inner critic!)
  • when others fail or falter, what do you do? You’re quick to pick them up, I bet!

Maybe some self care is in order.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Pause/breathe – think about what you’re about to say to yourself
  2. Respond – don’t react
  3. Define what you do want – what does ‘good’ look like?
  4. Next time … what could you do next time this happens. Write it down if you can, it helps with imprinting and reinforcement
  5. Affirm what you’re wanting to achieve – write an effective affirmation (more on this coming soon) 

Here’s “Thing 2” …

  • Think about what you were berating yourself about 12 months ago.
  • Can’t do it, can you? 😉
  • This too will pass, grab any learning you can, let it go and move to the ‘good’

Want an example?

Meeting 1: “God, that was a train wreck! I am hopeless at running meetings. I can’t control the participants. I can’t stick to the agenda. What an idiot!”

Meeting 2: [Pause/breathe] “Well that wasn’t ideal. Next time … I’ll be clear about the agenda and keep participants on track. I’ll allocate some time to plan better. Will see Jane about how she does it, she runs her meetings well.”

Affirmation: “I plan my meetings well and maintain control to achieve the outcomes we need.”

Self Efficacy and Self Talk

So there’s this thing called self efficacy.

“Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1997). Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment.” (Source)

There is another concept called self talk.

Self-talk is our internal dialogue. It’s influenced by our subconscious mind, and it reveals our thoughts, beliefs, questions, and ideas.” (Source)

Most people talk negatively to themselves most of the time. If it’s not negative, then it is neutral, with little to no power to progress.

In order to make progress

We need to improve our self efficacy, the ability to cause something to happen. Otherwise we will remain waiting for something to happen. Waiting on others, or waiting for a windfall.

To improve our self efficacy we can look to improve our self talk. Note from the source above, it can be influenced by some deeply held beliefs we may need to challenge or at least question.

What do you hold to that may not be true?

We could be talking ourselves out of the very things we want to happen in our lives, career, relationships etc.

As Henry Ford said,

If you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right!

What do you want to have happen?

How are you talking to yourself about it?