When’s the last time you read an engrossing thriller that had you hooked until the very last few pages? Or a great historical book on men and women performing heroic exploits? Some of you may prefer to read inspirational or motivational books. I confess I fall into the latter group and have somewhat of an addiction to learning new things. If you’ve ever read any of Timothy Ferriss’s books about 4-hour workweeks or his latest book on honing your chef skills and metalearning, you have some great insight into my insatiable desire to perpetually upgrade my mental library. People like us have a truly unquenchable desire to discover more ways to embrace adventure.
More importantly, however, we LOVE to share what we’ve learned with others. I’ve been recognized by others as an equipper. I work hard to give others the knowledge and skills to broaden their horizons or simply to overcome obstacles that seem impossible to conquer. Change agents, life coaches, motivational speakers…they all share the desire to be an evangelist. I think of an evangelist as someone who carries a passionate message that will inspire others to analyze their own life and consider making these new (or simply revisited) ideas part of their own.
The landmark book on change, by Dr. James Prochaska, delineates 6 stages of change that he found in working with people trying to kick their smoking habit. I have used this system to help teach my trainers as well as coaching clients to understand what may or may not be stopping them from moving forward in their life. I bring this up for the same reason that Tony Robbins tells people that words and thoughts without ACTION are why most of us fail whenever we think we should change something in our life.
I mean, I get it.
I’ve been the person who stuck his head in the sand and hoped the scary situation would just go away on its own. It did not. I kept expecting different results while doing the same thing over and over.
Insane, I know. But that’s what happens when we allow fear to gain such a strong foothold in our mind. As leaders, it’s imperative that we model hard work, diligence and perseverance and that’s where ACTION speaks louder than words. My wife is a stud. She’s a sales team leader, worship team singer, hip hop dancer, long distance runner and most importantly, an awesome mom who has sacrificed nightly sleep to feed our beautiful babies when they haven’t yet mastered the 8-hour sleep cycle. We have devoured parenting books and even attended a 10 week birthing class in search of expert parental wisdom. However, without actually implementing these tips, our parenting experience could easily turn sour and run us ragged. With the busy schedules we both maintain, neither one of us can afford to allow fear, negativity and hopelessness to creep into our thinking.
Every day we have to make the decision to look beyond the obvious obstacles and conflicts and strive for success (as we define it, of course). Biblically, in Philippians 4:6, the apostle Paul writes, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” People around the world have read that scripture, given it a thought or two, and simply moved back into an anxious state of being. Whether we realize it or not, we are all experts in meditation. Not the kind that practices an emptying of the mind. I’m referring to the kind where we FILL our thoughts rather than empty them.
You see, what you behold (stare at, gaze upon, focus on, etc) you will eventually become. If you aspire to become anything, you must focus on the things that will lead to that destination. A pitcher must look at the catcher when he throws a baseball. Hunters aim at the target they are attempting to shoot. Directionally-challenged people plug in directions to their GPS before they attempt to drive. While watching the sunday night football game, the announcers mentioned the QB of the 49’ers wrote a note about how he was only 5’2″ at the time but when he was older he would be over 6′ tall and play QB for the 49’ers or Packers. Pretty amazing.
Paul also writes in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” In other words, if your citizenship is in Heaven, act like someone who actually lives there now…like someone not bound by limitations or negative emotions, especially fear. Unfortunately, this is where our poor meditation choices–things that breed fear, negativity and hopelessness–cause us to return to our old habits. We repeat our mistakes much like a rat running on a wheel…spending precious time, man(rat)power and mental energy on things that only serve to remind us of our past rather than our future. The writer of Hebrews states in Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of God.” Now, THAT is someone who meditated so long on His goal that not even the reality of painful persecution leading to death could change His path. We’ll come back to Jesus’ formula later on.
In our personal training school, I remind our students that many people struggling with their health also struggle with their self-esteem. We’re not just dealing with their body, we’re dealing with their hearts and minds, too.
In the book of Genesis, chapter 32, there is a story about a determined man. It reminded me of the first time my flag football team won nationals in Las Vegas. I was doing some 6am weightlifting while my team was sleeping and I saw a sign that said, “There is no greater power than a man determined to rise.” Wow, I could have lifted for hours when I read that. I kept meditating on that saying and it truly helped me focus throughout the course of that tournament. Likewise, Jacob was a biblical character who was very important in the history of the Israelites. Here is an excerpt from chapter 32:
“After he had sent his family across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.”
How hard are you willing to fight in order to achieve great things? I’m going to assume you’re reading this because you’re willing to do whatever it takes to achieve great things. Maybe you need some encouragement. Maybe you need some friends and/or family to support you. Maybe you just need some tips and/or strategy. If you will take this idea of meditation seriously, I’m absolutely certain you can be successful. Specifically, let’s look at a psychological perspective on mindfulness.
According to various prominent psychological definitions, Mindfulness refers to a psychological quality that involves
bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis, or involves
paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally,
Much of being in the present is accurately assessing where you ARE and where you are NOT (aka, the contrast principle). If your goal is to lose weight, you must first acknowledge that you have weight to lose. If you are treating people badly, you must recognize this behavior before you can attempt to suppress this tendency. Once we can assess the need for change, we can begin to hunt down a good solution or process to implement this change. This is where meditation begins to become helpful. Once we highlight the key principles of our solution, we have to think about them, write them down, memorize them and anything else that will solidify our objectives in our present day thinking and operating. Again, we are FILLING our mind with this new endeavor…not blocking out everything that comes across our 5 senses. The bible even chimes in on this idea:
1) As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is. 2) Where a man’s heart is, there his treasure lies also. 3) Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.
For those who have read the bible, we see two VERY important principles. First of all, Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Second of all, love others as you would love yourself (unless of course you have difficulty in loving yourself–seeing trash in the mirror). If you are motivated by love, you will fill your day with ways to express love through kindness, generosity, and anything else that helps others. All the rest hinges on these two biblical scriptures. Hopefully these ideas will inspire some creative thought about how you gather your focus and formulate an Action Plan for change. Make sure you share this with others you trust so they can support you and encourage you, if possible. As Willie Nelson sings, “You were always on my mind.” If so, then great things will happen. If not, you just might miss the adventure of a lifetime! Peace out.