This is going to be the first in a series talking about techniques you can use for mind-body health including boosting your immune system to either prevent yourself from getting coronavirus or minimising the symptoms if you do.
A lot of what I want to share would seem to be the most basic of coaching ideas but it’s like in Aikido there is what’s called the “twenty-year throw” which is where the twenty-year veteran who some would call master though he wouldn’t is so exquisite and elegant in their technique that the basic throws become something else, something more powerful and effective than when they are used from a shallow surface understanding.
As someone who has mentored and coached coaches for over twenty years and provided therapy to therapists and marketing strategy advice to marketers, I want to share some subtle but powerful distinctions that will increase how effective you are whether you are doing this for yourself or working with other people.
But before we get to today’s technique I want to talk about a mindset shift that sabotages many people coaches and therapists included and that is the idea that “you are right”. Because you have the training and the skills and the ability to diagnose that diagnosis is right.
So you’re probably thinking I’m insane isn’t this why you spent all that money and spent all that time studying to get to the position of expert and having the knowledge for what to do.
Yet the diagnosis you create is built from your thinking it’s not built from your clients thinking and if you shift from embracing your arrogance to indulging your client’s arrogance so you work inside their reality you can create a solution that’s built from how they already are successful and if you do that it will work for them because it already works for them.
But into the technique, I want to share with you today.
The idea of being the best version of yourself has a long history in sports coaching as well as personal development.
Todd Herman’s entire book “The Alter Ego Effect” is one version of this technique where when the client doesn’t feel they can do what it is they need to do you ask them: “So who could do that?” And when asked in the right way you find they bypass the limitations they have for themselves.
My preference though is to be more direct and go straight to the idea of “I can’t do that” because if you let them stay with the “I can’t but someone else can” you encourage the idea that they are stuck and can’t develop.
When by contrast you want to build a generative way of thinking rather than just fix that one problem. So if you get them to get that “my fixed idea about how I was stuck was wrong I can actually do the work to get what I thought I couldn’t before” this is applicable in many areas of their life. Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset” has written extensively about this.
So I’m talking about being at your best as a developmental idea. Just like who you are now is different to who you were as a child that you have grown and now are literally a different person.
So it’s not just that you think differently it’s that you physically and biologically are a different person.
If you want to read about developmental theories I’d recommend Ken Wilber’s work as he has synthesised many different developmental theories together and speaks in an inclusive or to use his word “integral” way.
I’m working in an applied way so I’m not talking about a theory I’m talking about what to do that actually works built from twenty years of doing that in the real world with real people.
So how about you? How fixed is your thinking? Do you believe you can get up to the next level and be the best version of yourself whether that is personally or with your work life or in starting or growing your business?
Obviously, the best way to do this is to work with an experienced coach but when you are doing this for yourself you want to get the trick is to externalise your thinking so you can work with that thinking. So you can have a conversation with yourself or work on the relationship you have with yourself. Understanding the relationship you have with yourself affects all your other relationships.
If you were working with a coach they would be able to look at your thinking and suggest changes, essentially they are your thinking partner. But you can do this for yourself and I also do this with my clients in addition to working directly with them. So I want them to build the practice that supports the mindset that they can develop and grow. I’m not taking a position of power where they have to come to me to be fixed I want them to take the power for themselves.
The best way to work with your thinking is to write. Successful people have been doing this in the form of journaling for centuries., But if you don’t like to write by date you don’t have to. And in today’s world, you can even talk to your phone and it’ll turn your speech into text.
You want to do your thinking in writing so you can do what has been done in spiritual training again for centuries which is the process of self-inquiry.
Let’s use a practical example.
You write: “I’m scared the coronavirus is going to get me and I’ll die horribly suffering and unable to breathe.”
Because you have externalised that thought you can work with it. If you don’t externalise it or if you don’t move towards fear or any of your emotions they run unconsciously controlling you.
And there are lots of ways to do this. Some people just write or talk into their phones. Or there is a wealth of apps you can use to extend your brain.
While I like Tiago Forte and his concept of Building A Second Brain with Evernote personally I read Michael Gershon’s book “The Second Brain” about the gut as our enteric nervous system and how that thinks about twenty years ago so that’s my second brain.
And as in my experience, I also have a heart-brain not to mention the different energy flows can be seen as intelligent information flows, and then there are the intersubjective ideas about Mind my favorite neuroscientist Daniel J. Siegel has written extensively about.
So for me, the technology I use which includes iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro, as well as the apps I use, are extensions of how I think and feel.
So if writing doesn’t immediately thrill you, you might prefer mind mapping or some other visual way of expressing your thinking.
I like both Mindnode and iThoughts and used Mindmanager years ago but it’s been surpassed by better and more reasonably priced apps.
So whatever app I’m using I want to start by just letting out my thinking without jumping on myself and judging myself.
Again lots of people speak to this idea I remember Edward de Bono who I once had a chat with and I still follow his recommendation of having marmite with marmalade on toast. But one of his many books was “Six Thinking Hats”. The insight from this being in my interpretation that you think in many different voices and often if not usually that’s a confusing noise, not a coherent signal.
So you can untangle yourself by externalising your thinking and become more coherent to get more of what you want because you can make progress in the direction you actually need to go not jumping two steps forward then three back then two to the left and so on because you think in a confused way.
Remember you are extending and externalising your thinking using these apps.
And the key here is to really understand how individual this is that you want to use apps you like using because then you will actually use them.
And you aren’t a clone so don’t forget learning isn’t generic it’s always about finding a way that works for you and how you uniquely think and feel.
So there is enormous value in trying out different apps to see what they can teach you about not just how they work but how they work with you.
When you embrace your preferences and understand you don’t have to do everything with Microsoft Office it’s a hammer that makes everything into nails. Just like unless you try new things you don’t know how better your experience can be.
Using a developmental way of understanding yourself is getting you are evolving and you just need to be conscious about which direction and you can upgrade yourself just as you upgrade your phone.
And by fixing the errors the bugs you have in your software what I call your “StoryOS” the story you tell yourself about you and what is possible and what isn’t possible for you. You can consciously tell the story you want to be living.
So with the fear you have about coronavirus by externalising your thinking you can work with the thinking AND the feeling without the emotions overwhelming you.
If you are mind-mapping what branches do you draw? Remembering it’s about moving towards fear as you move towards any emotion to include that in your thinking.
If you let yourself be real and don’t hide from yourself a process I often call when I’m working with clients “honest conversation” you’ll feel the fear understanding you are working with the expression of that fear and how you are thinking about it and feeling it so you can see where you are making the molehills into mountains and just being delusional but more important if you go deep with this process you expose what is unconscious in your thinking so you can see the traps where you sabotage yourself.
Often mindmaps get overwhelming with too much detail so you just have a mindmap for the initial thoughts or branches then expand that by writing more deeply.
I love both the apps Drafts and Bear for iOS and macOS for the initial capturing of my thinking and then Ulysses and Scrivener for building that writing into something larger.
But I store my thinking somewhere else. Tiago Forte recommends Evernote which I do use but I’ve also been a long time user of DEVONthink. I’d strongly recommend with valuable content that you are creating you don’t want it all in one place because that’s how you lose it.
Both Evernote and DEVONthink are great to search and you can use the built-in help to see the many different ways you can search. Some people love keywords but you have to remember to use them and use them consistently. Both these apps allow you to search the text and any of the other docs they support like PDF’s.
So by linking documents together you link your thinking together so you don’t rewrite you link to other documents. And you can build your thinking this way by creating a new document and linking to files within that app.
If you love Evernote Tiago Forte’s process of Progressive Summarization which you can find on his website is very nice.
But when you are working with your own thinking you want to understand you are evolving that thinking in different drafts or versions remember it’s a developmental evolutionary process. This is what writers do and there’s an enormous amount of how best to do this written by famous writers.
Scrivener is a lovely app and makes the whole process of thinking through and building your writing easy particularly when compared to Microsoft Word. Ulysses is also lovely and if you prefer writing without the formatting so as text it would be your top choice.
This may sound overwhelming unless you want to be a writer and not everyone does. But the point I’m making is you can use how an app works to help you think. And apps built to help you create in writing also help you create when you are thinking in writing.
So where I’m going with this is when you realise that you need to evolve just like the phone you use and the apps you use evolve at some point you’ll be using something like JARVIS that Tony Stark uses in the Iron Man and Avengers films. JARVIS stands for Just Another Rather Very Intelligent System and while we don’t have that just yet and talking to Siri or Alexa is a pretty dumb experience that is getting better fast it’s this developmental evolutionary process.
So will you still be limiting your success by thinking inside your own mind or will you be the best version of yourself by using the extensions you already have available because they do help when you choose to be conscious and use the tools you have?
You don’t have to feel the fear and do it anyway you need to be more conscious and awake and that’s not a magical digital enlightenment where you just switch the light on it’s more you grow this ability as a developmental evolutionary process.