Taking control of your mind – post 2 of 2

In this second and last post of the series, I will explain another way that we can use the conscious mind to retrain the other-than-conscious mind; again something I use myself and introduce to my clients. As with the REACT framework™ it is surprisingly simple; I have known clients who ‘got it’ very quickly, applied it diligently and achieved powerful results quickly. On the other hand, I know some clients have struggled, taking weeks and even months to adopt the practice assiduously in order to get the same potent outcomes.

REACT_Calm

I once worked with a client who I can best describe as a ‘force of nature’; intense, determined and forceful. Along with these came what I experienced during our first few sessions as an almost constant torrent of negativity, pessimism and, at times, despair. I will not breach client confidentially about the source and nature of what had driven some deeply held beliefs into the client’s other-than-conscious mind, but suffice to say the timing was in childhood. The client seemed to me to naturally experience any situation in a somewhat negative way, identifying problems and obstacles over possibilities and benefits, relating more to pain and worry over joy and harmony.

After considerable persistence on my part (and resistance on hers), I finally managed to persuade her to close her every day by writing down in a journal three positive things from the day. A very simple concept that took her much effort to implement as it seemed so strange and unnatural to her to recognise positives over negatives. In the end, I think I wore her down and she completed daily night-time homework diligently each evening as she went to bed. Once a week, she identified the three best things in her journal. At the end of the month she identified the three most outstanding entries from that month. I detected changes in her behaviour with the negativity gradually decreasing and then a gradual move to equanimity in her demeanour. Towards the end of the second month, she commented spontaneously that she felt she was a lot happier in herself, explaining that a problem at work the day before, which would previously have thrown her into a tail-spin, had seemed to her to be actually rather funny.

I urge you to try out this second method of training the other-than-conscious mind; I know from my clients you have little to lose and much to gain. Find whatever way, mechanism or device works for you and makes it easy for you to do this work every day. Routine is important. Doing this at the same time each day emphasises the routine nature and gets you into the discipline of the daily recording of three positives.

3 good things a day

As you do whatever works well for you, ensure the positives you identify are also expressed in positive terms: ‘I completed the new page for my website’ or ‘I got to speak to the prospect I have been trying to reach for days’ or ‘My new clients just settled my first invoice’. They don’t need to be momentous, ground-breaking or particularly significant. They could include a particularly nice meal, a chat with a friend, or a beautiful sunset. The positives don’t need to be things you have achieved they should be what you have experienced. They just need to be positives that are positively expressed. They should not be expressed as the avoidance of a negative: ‘That meeting could have gone a lot worse’ or ‘We haven’t heard about our bid, so at least we haven’t been thrown out yet’ or ‘We haven’t lost any more customers today’. Remember, this is about training the other-than-conscious mind to recognise positives.

As with the REACT framework™, this is a very simple technique that produces outstanding behavioural changes if you adopt it as a daily habit. I wish you every success; if you want more information or help applying either technique contact me at piw@wttresults.co.uk or call me on 07764 658071 or register for the REACT framework™ workshop here.

WTT Results designs and delivers transformational change, enabling businesses and individuals to be the best that they want to be. To discuss how we can help your business, please get in touch as above. www.wttresults.co.uk

Taking control of your mind – post 1 of 2

Most of the time our behaviours, our thoughts, our feelings are determined by our other-than-conscious minds. The other-than-conscious mind is hugely influenced by what was drilled into us as children, by our early experiences in life, by events we encounter up to our mid-teenage years. I endured too many years of unhappiness because my parents had drilled into me that marriage was for life – ‘til death do us part’. Another favourite homily of theirs was ‘curiosity kills the cat’; it took me months of toil and heartache to inculcate into my persona the ability to replace judgement about right and wrong with inquisitiveness about what might be – a vital component of my modus operandi these days.

So how do we recognise that it is the other-than-conscious mind that is in control, and what can we do to replace the influence of our early-life experiences with something that is more useful to us in the here and now? It’s surprisingly simple but requires a strenuous struggle to master the means and make it habitual. In essence, it is to use the conscious mind to teach the other-than-conscious new ways of thinking. Sounds straightforward – but only if we begin to use our conscious capacity more, to recognise that the sources of our actions, notions and moods are not from the very moment we are experiencing them, but from a time long ago and far away, when we were a different person.

I am a great supporter and practitioner of mindfulness. Note Claire’s Insight 1 in her blog post at the hyperlink in the line above and you will begin to understand why it was so critical for me to win my struggle with ‘curiosity kills the cat’.

mindfulness

Every day, whenever in the day I am about to start a new task, I use mindfulness as the starting point for running the REACT framework™ to ensure I am in the best state, with the right resources to achieve what I want. This involves my conscious mind taking control decisively to recognise what my current state is and to identify whether my state is appropriate. Our state is made up of a combination of any or all of our physiology, our environment, and our acuity as well as our thoughts, our emotions, and our spiritual condition. If my state is not ideal for what I want to achieve, I consciously identify what resources I think would be appropriate to the task I am about to undertake. These could be physical resources (a cool drink as I am thirsty) or they could be more nebulous, esoteric even (a feeling that I am very creative right now). I then (and this is where the other-than-conscious mind joins in) seek a time when I was really (for example) creative and relive the moment in a very meaningful way. I will repeat this for all the resources I need (for instance curiosity might be a useful addition to creativity). Having claimed my resources, I then take them with me as I undertake the task I want to achieve. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do this each time I make a sandwich of a cup of coffee – it’s reserved for the times when I need to be at my best to achieve something important and potentially challenging.

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For help putting this into action, contact me at piw@wttresults.co.uk or call me on 07764 658071 or register for the REACT framework™ workshop here. In the next post, I will give you another very simple technique you can use to reclaim control of your other-than-conscious mind to achieve powerful results.

WTT Results designs and delivers transformational change, enabling businesses and individuals to be the best that they want to be. To discuss how we can help your business, please get in touch as above. www.wttresults.co.uk

The CREATE process – blog post 3 of 3

get creativeA process for creativity – post 3 of 3

This is the final post of this series covering the CREATE process which was developed to optimise the creativity of both individuals and teams. I use it when I am working alone and want to maximise my creative capacity. I also use it when working with teams of people or with individual clients. Let me explain the acronym once more:

C Cosmos
R Roster
E Enhance
A Assurance
T The Funny Side
E Emancipated

Posts 1 and 2 covered C to A, so let’s finish with T and E.

Funny sideT is for The Funny Side. Seeing the funny side, being unafraid to be humorous, keeping the mood light and playful, all give access to the quickest and most effective ways of moving into the creative mode. Often we limit the use of humour because we regard it as inappropriate when discussing important, weighty, serious matters. So often we confuse seriousness with solemnity, but it is wrong to equate seriousness and solemnity. I would argue that solemnity is the defence of the pompous and self-important, who need to protect against their egotism being punctured by humour. Humour might impact their self-image. The lack of humour is used by them to argue they are more serious, and their arguments therefore carry more weight.

In reality, humour is an essential part of innovation, of playfulness, of creativity. Enabling the introduction of humour is a vital component of the process of innovation. Creativity lives and thrives on the funny side. Seeing the funny side may be a little more difficult when working individually, but it is just as important as it is when working in teams. When I am working individually and want to be able to see the funny side, I find a mirror is helpful. It is not about vanity; it is a mechanism to check if I am seeing the funny side. The mirror reminds me that I should be smiling, smirking, laughing out loud. The visual evidence shows me whether or not I am being effective at accessing the funny side. 🙂 or 😦 in the mirror?

E is for Emancipated. This goes to the heart of fully engaging ourselves as creative individuals and to getting maximum creativity from groups. Emancipation is defined as ‘being not limited socially or politically’. So why choose this word? Let me start by linking back to the funny side. The emancipated see no limit to what is regarded as humorous on the funny side. Their humour mocks convention, attacks widely held taboos, and can be regarded as shocking by more conventional people. This is my point. True creativity lies beyond the boundaries of conventional wisdom, of the rules of society, of what we regard as normal behaviour.

The same emancipation applies in the earlier Enhance step. There should be no limit imposed by conventional wisdom on how far our ideas can be enhanced and stretched. Often when the idea is stretched as far as the absurd, new ideas and new thoughts emerge that would not have been considered within the boundaries of what is regarded conventionally as acceptable.

creativity-takes-courageIt is clear to me that pushing the boundaries, stretching the ideas, going as far as the absurd are actually the keys to accessing true creativity. I also recognise, particularly in group situations, that this can be a fairly daunting, anarchic and maybe even dangerous activity. Walking the tightrope that balances accessing the absurd on the one hand and moderating the impact of doing so on the other is challenging. Walking this tightrope is a learnable skill.

Having a skilled observer, facilitator and interventionist to help a group to navigate their way through this process of creativity is, without doubt, helpful. Be sure that whoever fulfils this role has the right focus. You want someone who is focused on future possibility, on creativity and on pushing the boundaries. You don’t want somebody taking on this role mainly owing to their past experiences, as these may lead to a limiting framework. I have a lot of respect for mentors, but the CREATE facilitator role is not for them as their strengths derive from their previous experience. Far better to choose a skilled coach whose focus will be on you and your future possibilities.

I wish you good fortune using the CREATE process. Have curiosity, have courage and have fun!

creativity_Fromm

A process for creativity – blog post 2 of 3

get creativeThis is the second of three blog posts on the CREATE process which has been developed to optimise the creativity of both individuals and teams. I use it when I am working alone and want to maximise my creative capacity. I also use it when working with teams of people or with individual clients. Let me again explain the acronym:

C Cosmos
R Roster
E Enhance
A Assurance
T The Funny Side
E Emancipated

The last post reviewed C and R, let’s move to E and A.

E is for Enhance. So often our creativity is limited by our discomfort at not having the solution to a problem, by our desire to make a choice or to take a decision. This part of the process is about patience, belief in the process of creativity and giving time, more time, and even more time, if necessary, to enhance the emerging ideas.

more timeIt is about giving ideas the time to flourish and the opportunity to be considered without a rush to judgement. The ‘gold standard’ here is to be able to access the child-like wonder and sense of exploration where there are no limitations, no fears and no limits on how much we can dream and create. I recall hearing John Cleese speak about the creative process used by the Monty Python team, and he emphasised this need to give time, more time, and even more time to ideas that weren’t quite working; eventually the really creative (and hilarious in the case of Monty Python) idea emerges.

This ability to really enhance is a learnable skill if you create the right conditions in which to build up your practice time, whether practicing on your own or with other people in a team setting. The right conditions include the physical environment, the right state of mind and a way of being with you, and with others if applicable, that is conducive to creativity. The first two are factors you will most likely understand already; the third is less immediately obvious.

Before I explain, let’s consider the modes we adopt in our work and in our lives that are relevant to creativity. We humans operate in two different modes. The first is the closed mode, which is the one we operate in most of the time at work. In this mode we are very purposeful, with a sense that there is much to be done, and that we need to get on with it. It is a very active, perhaps even anxious, mode. In this mode creativity is very difficult, if not impossible to access. We get lots done, we are very decisive, and action is the focus of our being. Quite often it is seen as a very efficient way of operating – one that is purposeful, productive and proficient.

Contrast this with the open mode. This is the creative mode. It is often seen as the antithesis of efficiency, the enemy of progress and the domain of the feckless. It may be portrayed as ‘lying around’, ‘shooting the breeze’ or ‘daydreaming’. While this open, creative mode may be seen in this way by the action junkies who thrive in the closed mode, it is the open mode that is necessary for creativity to exist, flourish and enhance your Big Dreams. But the open mode in itself is not enough.

children-playing-with-blocksSo what more is needed to create ‘the way of being’ that is conducive to increased creativity in the open mode? Firstly, you should give yourself and others permission to be creative, to be imaginative, and even to be silly. Secondly, there should be no limits here, no restrictions brought about by conventional wisdom, and no strictures. Any statements of criticism or disapproval will snuff out the candle-flame of creativity. Finally, a feeling of fun, a dose of child-like naivety and playfulness and a good sense of humour (which will be needed when you get to T, so start now) all enable you to really enhance the ideas.

This moves us nicely into A is for Assurance. An assurance is a promise. The promise is that no idea will be regarded as irrelevant, unworthy or stupid. This promise attacks the very heart of the biggest potential block to innovation – the fear of making a mistake. It’s important to enable complete confidence that whatever evolves is okay, to create the child-like delight with the playfulness of experimentation and to remember that you cannot be spontaneous within reason. The promise helps people to really harness the innovation that lies in the art of ‘What if?’

If you’re working individually, it is a promise you must make, and keep, to and for yourself. In group working, it is helpful to have a non-judgemental environment where everyone knows they will have an equal opportunity to contribute. In the first case of individual working having a skilled coach can be very efficacious. In the latter situation it is often useful to have a skilled facilitator helping you to create, maintain and enhance the assurance that is so important to your collective success.

creativity without limitsI wish you good fortune using the CREATE framework. Have curiosity, have courage and have fun!

The CREATE process – blog post 1 of 3

 

get creativeThe CREATE process was developed to optimise the creativity of both individuals and teams. I use it when I am working alone and want to maximise my creative capacity. I also use it when working with teams of people or with individual clients. Let me explain the acronym:

C Cosmos
R Roster
E Enhance
A Assurance
T The Funny Side
E Emancipated

This is the first in a series of 3 blog posts examining the CREATE process, considering the practical use of C and R.

CosmosC is for Cosmos. The choice of word is deliberate in that it represents moving to a ‘different world’ – a world that is away from the hurly-burly of the day-to-day operations of your business. It is important to create the right environment for creativity and innovation to emerge. Moving to a different Cosmos tells you, both consciously and at the level of the other-than-conscious mind, that this is going to be different to what you were just doing.

Often the changes needed to move to the ‘different world’ are tangible, are physical, but the intent is to affect changes in the intangible, in the mind and mood of the subject or team. Obvious things such as logging off from email, switching off the mobile, and putting on the right ‘mood music’ (for me it is often the highlights of an opera) come to mind. I also often move away from my usual work location, at my desk in front of my laptop, in favour of a comfortable sofa or perhaps I will grab a pen and notepad and embark upon a riverside or country walk. If I am particularly organised I might swap the notepad and pen for my dictation machine. One technique I used quite frequently when writing ‘Dance with the Elephants’ was one I learned many years ago and adapted to increase my writing creativity. The concept of ‘job and done’ was that one completed the tasks that needed to be done that day and then ‘knocked off’ or finished for the day. In my case, I analysed my ‘to-do’ list and identified only the ‘must-do’ items. My bargain with myself was to complete the required tasks and then spend the rest of the day on my book – thinking, planning and capturing trains of thought that could later be turned into draft text. Responding to the immediate needs of my business meant my ‘work day’ usually ended after 3pm (sometimes well after), leaving me perhaps a few hours ‘creative time’, but it is surprising how much creativity can be squeezed out of as little as thirty minutes.

RosterR is for Roster. It is the process of carving time out of the diary in order to be creative. It is important to ensure that not only is the time allocated within your schedule, but that you also respect the time allocated. It is so easy (I write from personal experience) to schedule time to work creatively on a task, but then continue doing email at the start of your roster of creative time. Before you know it, the 90 minutes you scheduled is down to 60 because you just wanted to clear the in-box! Or you fail to switch off your mobile, and half way through your creative time you get a call or a text (they are always immediate but not necessarily important).

If you have people around you, tell them in advance that you are going to have a period when you will not be available because you will be working creatively on something. If you don’t have people around, then email some people you know to tell them about your creative time. Do whatever you can to publically commit to your creative time, and let your public commitments help you to adhere to getting the best out of your planned creative time.

When you have actually honoured your commitment to your creative roster, give yourself a treat, a reward, a gift that recognises and reinforces your achievement. Think about telling others about the outputs from your creative time, increasing your commitment to those outputs. Better still, tell them – don’t just think about telling them.

One tip I will share with you about Roster is to not schedule too long a period of time to be in the creative mode. I have found 90 minutes to two hours is about right. Over two hours is too long for many reasons. These include the fact that we do still have businesses that require our attention and decisions, the creative process can actually be quite tiring, and after two hours you have other bodily needs to attend to.

creativity_EinsteinI wish you good fortune using the CREATE framework. Have curiosity, have courage and have celebration!