The brilliantly insightful Alan Watts explains how fear and worry are intrinsically linked…
The brilliantly insightful Alan Watts explains how fear and worry are intrinsically linked…
When we watch a movie that revolves around some existential threat to humanity or even the planet we are reassured by the film makers that the Heroes will save the day. We enjoy the drama, the threat but ultimately feel relief when the Heroes succeed in saving us all.
The difference between those films and the threat of climate change is urgency.
In the movies there’s only ever a couple of days to save the world, right? It’s now or never. The Heroes fly in and we can all sit comfortably back and watch.
The trouble is, climate change IS here, now! It’s threatening our very existence and the existence of millions of other species, but because it ‘seems‘ to be happening slowly we don’t feel the same urgency (me included). In the grand scheme of things it isn’t happening slowly – it’s racing ahead at breakneck speed and guess what…we are sitting comfortably back watching.
In this story WE need to be the Heroes. WE are the only ones that can avert disaster. WE have to save ourselves and everything else.
At this point in a movie someone might say: “So, are you with me?” Then, we cheer as everybody steps up to the plate and we think: “Yeah, I’d step up if I was a superhero.”
So, are you with me? Are you a superhero? I hope so. Let’s do every small thing (and big thing) we can in our own way.
Now where’s my cape?
SUMMARY OF Dr Steven Peters ‘The Chimp Paradox’ To be honest this is more like a reference book as it is jam packed with great and useful content. I could have written something about every page, but to keep this summary to a reasonable length I’ll cover the main points as they spoke to me – the rest you’ll have to read yourself by getting a copy (I urge you).
Dr Steven Peters states we operate using three main aspects of our brain; the ancient chimp brain, the modern human brain and the computer brain.The Chimp utilises emotional thinking designed for survival whereas the Human utilises rational thinking designed for society and communal living.
The Computer brain is set to do automatic functions. The Chimp can be your best friend or your worst enemy – that is the Chimp Paradox. If you consider your Chimp as a child that has little staying power, easily distracted, undisciplined,disorganised, and constantly craving instant rewards, then you won’t go far wrong.
The Chimp… acts on instincts which just require the right stimulus or trigger (fight, flight or freeze), unfortunately in modern society we need more subtle and sophisticated responses. Imagine walking into a room full of strangers – which of the above responses feels most like you? The Chimp wants you to decide quickly because the ancient brain needs to evaluate if there is danger (physically or to status) and if you don’t – it releases adrenalin to force the issue. If you still don’t decide the adrenalin rush causes feelings of anxiety.
The Human… must make a decision or rationale to reassure the Chimp and calm it down. Our Chimp also has powerful natural drives and are very difficult to resist and don’t require triggers. Sex, dominance, food, security, parental, territorial and belonging are the most prevalent. Ther Human operational features include honesty, compassion, conscience, law abiding, self control, purpose and achievement etc.
Being able to manage your Chimp impulses is a determining factor in whether you will be successful. The main drive for the Human is purpose, without it we lack direction. You can understand which mode you’re in by asking: “Do I want these feelings / these thoughts?” etc. If the answer is “No” then the Chimp is hijacking you, if the answer is “Yes” you are in Human mode.
A clear sign the Chimp is in charge is if your questions start “But what if…” Unless the sentence ends with something rational so that you can make appropriate plans. Chimps operate on “How do I feel right now?” and Humans operate on “How will I feel later?”
Nurture the Chimp by meeting its needs for security, territory etc. then it will be easier to manage. To manage the Chimp effectively either exercise it, let it rant or box it by using logic and truth to reason with it, or feed it as distraction/reward. Being influenced by the Chimp is acceptable per se, but we must allow the Human to take over when appropriate. Remember the Human isn’t always right and the Chimp isn’t always wrong.
The computer aspect is where all data is stored, our perspective on the meaning of a situation depends on whether the Chimp or the Human uploaded it. This creates respective associations. We can use our values base to placate the Chimp – EG: when I crave milk chocolate I can revert to the fact that I have chosen to be vegan – I don’t eat milk, therefore eating milk chocolate would not fit with my values. We can use the Chimp’s urges to belong for example by saying: WE don’t do that – when we want to overcome a behaviour.
So how do we know who the real ‘me’ is?
One way to find out who you really are is to write a list of all the things you’d like to be, EG: calm, confident, kind, considerate etc. This list describes who you actually are. Before engaging in an important discussion ensure the four corners of communication are in place.
They are: 1. the right time, 2. right place, 3. right agenda and 4. right way – these corners are arranged around talking to the right person. Remember the very words we use can cause chemical reactions in our brains AND the brains of those that are listening. Be careful with your words. For example using the word ‘should’ can create levels of expectation which can cause anxiety in ourselves and others. Switching it to ‘could’ alters the meaning of the communication making it more like an opportunity.
Of course there are bone fide situations to use both should and could. The Human needs purpose in life so start each day by having goals – small ones to achieve by the end of the day, medium goals that are steps along the path to bigger achievements and big goals that lift you up, bring you joy and make you get out of bed each morning.
Instant Stress Strategy – You can recognise this by noticing you are having feelings you don’t like. Create autopilots that the Chimp can rely on as the Chimp will be reacting to stress first EG: use a cue word like ‘Change’ to acknowledge you are feeling stress and that you want your Human to step in – say the cue word out loud as soon as you notice you’re stressed.
Have a mental ‘pause’ button and press it to slow your thinking down so you can allow the Human brain to work. Notice that you are stressed and whether your default is Fight, Flight or Freeze – then you know how to adapt your behaviour accordingly.
There are three sources of stress: #1 You, #2 Others, #3 Circumstances – identify which is causing your present stress (it could be one or more of the above contributing), and then create strategies to deal with them.
Dreams v. Goals – A dream is something that ‘might’ happen (face the fact that it also might not). A goal is something that you can ‘make’ happen. So set goals that move you towards your dream incrementally. Divide the goals into ‘target’ goals – those which you will strive to achieve, and ‘maintenance’ goals – those which once achieved you must maintain.
A good visual metaphor is to imagine each goal is like climbing a mountain – the goal is the top. Then start by figuring out how you get to base camp. What resources, tools, help, skills etc. Then do the same for each of the major steps up the mountain until the goal is reached. Keep a visual representation of your progress to help motivate yourself and your Chimp.
Of course you first have to identify your dream first – and make it BIG.
Learning from mistakes – When reviewing a mistake the Human always starts with themselves, what did ‘I’ do wrong? What could ‘I’ do better next time? The Chimp always starts with blaming others or circumstances or both.
Confidence – The best way to be supremely confident is to base your confidence not on what you think you can achieve but rather on your ability to do your best. This way you can deal with failure and move on because you can’t do better than your best.
In a nutshell to have a successful, happy life we must learn to control the Chimp within us most of the time, allowing them to be in control only in those rare circustances where they are best suited. Our Human and our Computer must be taught to do the heavy lifting.
And remember your Chimp brings every emotion to your world, it can be your best friend and your worst enemy and that is the Chimp Paradox.
I can’t remember the last time I heard this explained so clearly. Dr Joe Dispenza teaches us how our mind works on remote control most of the time, what that means to us on an experiential level, and how we can change that so that we can have happier, more fulfilled lives.
Have you ever failed at anything?
I have, many, many times with all sorts of things. From marriage to business to striving for certain goals.
Have you ever succeeded at anything?
I have, many, many times with all sorts of things. From marriage to business to striving for certain goals. Hmm, sounds like the first answer. That’s because it is. No I’m not spinning failure into success. I’m being literal, I have failed and I have succeeded – at the same things.
Let me explain…
My first marriage ended after a year – on anyone’s terms that’s a pretty miserable fail, right? Yeah, at the time it was painful and I felt like a miserable failure. But, after a short time me and my ex-wife actually became friends again, initially for the sake of our daughter, but eventually because it made sense to put the past behind us, learn from it, move on – but most importantly for me – to keep what was good about it. Me and my ex were friends first, so it made sense for me to retain that part.
25 years later we’re still friends and I like to think that our daughter benefitted from the ‘good’ relationship we made. And she has grown into a beautiful, kind, loving mother herself now. HUGE Success
Now I’m married again and it’s great. So now I like to think I’m a success at marriage (ask my wife for a true opinion). 🙂
So other failures…
I started my own business and for a few years it was great and I earned some good money. But slowly, slowly the competition got cheaper and my revenue diminished to a point where it now just ticks over. I tried getting in new business but selling wasn’t my strong point so now I concentrate on property investing. It’s been 12 years or more since I started the core business so I’m already in the top 4% of business owners just by continuing to trade for 10 years+, so in some ways I’m a success, but considering how it’s fortunes have gone steadily down you could say it’s more like a failure.
But I keep going, keep trying new things, keep striving and do my best to keep positive.
At the time I started my business I also started doing abstract paintings and have since sold in excess of 650 originals, albeit at very affordable prices. Success
A few years ago I tried setting up an online business, I got nowhere. Fail
Then I decided to write a self help book, I gave myself one year to write it. I did just that. Success
I self published it and learned a lot about marketing so I could sell it, I even created a 90 day home study course to go along with it. Success
I didn’t get anywhere with it. Fail
After dabbling a bit in business networking I set up my own network group and met lots of interesting people. Success
It didn’t bring me any new business or income streams. Fail
I overcame technical hurdles (and if you know me you know that’s a big deal) to set up blogs like this one and YouTube videos. Success
I reached 2nd Dan Black belt in my chosen martial art and when the club owner retired earlier this year he handed the running of the club over to me. Success
I taught myself how to play the piano and now write my own instrumental pieces. Success
I have written a 12 part children’s book series. Success
I could go on with a long list of successes and failures but my point is, to me, success is an attitude. We don’t know which failures we’ve had in the past might turn into successes, or what lessons they have taught us that might help us with success in the future. So in order to give myself the best chance of success I have to follow the following equation: R+R+HW +D,P&C. Resourcefulness + Resilience + Hard Work + Determination, Persistence & Consistency.
Make sure this resonates with you before adopting it though as there are many sayings and formulas out there that can misleading. One is attributed to Einstein: “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” However, if you were a door to door salesman and you quit after the first ‘No thanks’ because of Einstein’s quote you’d never get to door 7 where the first buyer of your product is. Or door 18 where your second buyer is, or door 32 where your biggest buyer is.
The lesson is only learned after sufficient energy has been put into something and you’ve learned all you can from the process and only you’ll know when that is. We also have to learn from the ‘No thanks’ in order to maximise a different result further up the metaphorical street.
Will I continue to have failures? Of course. But hopefully my ratio of successes will get larger.
So to answer the headline of this blog: The only way to properly fail is either not to try in the first place or quit trying because of failure. That’s not me and I hope it’s not you either.
So let me ask you this…
What would you regret most at the end of your life:
A) Failing to reach your dream goal
B) Never having tried to reach your dream goal
BOOK REVIEW of ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell
This book addresses the phenomena of epidemics in behaviour. It’s premise is that there are certain types of people that start, broaden and continue certain trends in a particular way that is almost formulaic.
These are Connectors, Mavens and Salespeople – all of which play their part in translating and transmitting the mesage from the Innovators of the world.
Connectors: “These people who link us up with the world, who bridge Omaha and Sharon, who introduce us to our social circles – these people on whom we rely on more heavily than we realize – are Connectors, people with a very special gift of bringing people together.”
Mavens: “A Maven is a person who has information on a lot of different products or prices or places. This person likes to initiate discussions with consumers and respond to requests … they like to be helpers in the marketplace. They distribute coupons. They take you shopping. They go shopping for you … This is the person who connects people to the marketplace and has the inside scoop on the marketplace.”
Salespeople: “Mavens are data banks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue: they spread it. But there is also a select group of people – Salespeople – with the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing, and they are as critical to the tipping of word-of-mouth epidemics as the other two groups.”
Things I learned from this book include…
Stickyness – a product or service must be of such quality and usefulness that it lives up to the hype of the reporting of it by the Mavens and Connectors. It must create involvement (engagement) of the target audience.
The Sesame Street Lesson – Kids tune out when things get confusing, even things designed to be exciting (to adults) proved to be confusing to kids and they switched attention. Lesson: know your audience, understand how they want to consume your content and in what situations are they most open to receiving your message.
Which peronality trait are you aiming at? – Studies have shown that children will lie and cheat depending on the circumstances of a situation. Therefore personality traits are not set in stone. Don’t expect adults to be any different, if you’re trying to create an epidemic around your product or service understand the personality traits of your audience as they’re in the situation they come in to contact with your communication, or, news of it via the Mavens, Connectors and Salespeople.
Fundamental Attribution Error – We are more intelligent about human situations than abstract ones, which is maybe why human based stories capture our attention. Gladwell writes: “(FAE) …is a fancy way of saying that when it comes to interpreting other people’s behaviour, human beings invariably make the mistake of overestimating the importance of fundamental character traits and underestimating the importance of the situation or context.” He concludes that there seems to be a mental sleight of hand that helps us reduce the complexity of decision making.
Unfortunately, this usually means our decisions only appear to be rational.
The Power of 150 – The human neocortex ratio of the brain = 150. This means the maximum number of genuine social relationships we can handle is approx. 150. Gore Co. (makers of Goretex) limit the number of employees working in it’s buildings to around 150 for this reason, they find that people function more efficiently, happily and innovatively in groups no larger than this. Mormons split their communities once they reach 150 into two groups of approx. 75. The military have found that units of soldiers operate optimally at 200 or below.
Lastly, Gladwell hypothesises that understanding tipping points when it comes to things like cigarette addiction could have significant impact. Trying to curb the initial usage of cigarettes by youngsters is pointless. No amount of persuasion over the decades has made much difference because of the rebellious nature of teenagers.
He suggests that curbing the stickyness (or addiction) is needed – IE: reduce the nicotine levels to make addiction less likely.
The concepts in this book require some deep thought and can be applied to all walks of life not just marketing. For instance his story of crime reduction on the New York subways simply by cleaning up graffiti is inspirational.
On a thought provoking basis I give this book 8 out of 10.