There was a time — long before Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask or Dumb and Dumber — when Jim Carrey was a nobody, just another struggling actor trying to make it big in Hollywood.
Carrey worked as a stand-up comic, but was finding it hard to make the transition into television and film. Unsurprisingly, not everyone was convinced that his particular brand of manic comedy would work on screen.
But Carrey refused to give up. Instead, he would travel up Mulholland Drive every night — where there was a great view of Los Angeles — and picture himself becoming a huge success.
“I would visualise having directors interested in me and people that I respected saying that they liked my work. I would visualise things that I wanted coming true,” Carrey said on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997.
“I had nothing at the time, but it just made me feel better. I would drive home and think: Well, I do have these things, they’re out there, I just don’t have a hold on them yet.”
Carrey even wrote himself a cheque for $10 million (for acting services rendered), and dated it Thanksgiving 1995, which was about three years away. “Just before Thanksgiving in 1995, I found out that I was going to make $10 million on Dumb and Dumber,” Carrey said. So visualisation had clearly worked for him.
Carrey added a caveat, however, saying: “Visualisation works if you work hard. You can’t just visualise and then go eat a sandwich.”
Looking back on the interview years later, Oprah Winfrey said: “That was such a powerful moment for me. I was not a person who did visualisation or thought about my belief system in such a practical way. I learnt a lot from Jim Carrey on that show, and he is absolutely correct, if you can see it and believe it, it is a lot easier to achieve it.”
The Real Secret
There’s a pretty good chance that the story above reminded you of a little book called The Secret. And that might not necessarily be a good thing. Since its release in 2006, the book has achieved massive success — it has been translated into 46 languages and sold around 20 million copies — but it’s not for everyone. Some people (especially cynical and pragmatic business people) tend to baulk at the pseudo-science-laden cosmological talk of energy and vibrations.
But it would be a mistake to dismiss the concept of visualisation simply because of the New Age language of The Secret. The basic premise underlying the secret has actually been around for a long time.
In simple terms, this is the argument: If you spend all your time thinking about all the things you don’t have, you’ll stay unhappy. However, if you spend your time thinking about and visualising the things you want, you’ll attract those things to you.
Related: Stop Being So Damn Positive
The Law of Attraction
This is commonly called the Law of Attraction, and just about every uber-successful self-help book of the last hundred years has been punting this single idea. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, even Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Giant Within, these books all tout the power of visualisation and positive thinking.
And there’s no shortage of successful people who believe in this law, either.
“What you do is create a vision of who you want to be — and then live that picture as if it were already true,” says Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“It’s sort of like a mantra. You repeat it to yourself everyday: Music is my life, music is my life. The fame is inside of me, I’m going to make a number one record with number one hits. And it’s not yet, it’s a lie. You’re saying a lie over and over and over again, and then, one day the lie is true,” says Lady Gaga (who, incidentally, is more intelligent than people often give her credit for.
She was once a member of the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth, which was only open to young adolescents who scored in the top 1% on university entrance exams. Other members included Mark Zuckerberg, Google founder Sergey Brin and mathematician Terence Tao).
Will Smith, one of the few truly ‘bankable’ stars in the world whose mere presence in a film guarantees increased ticket sales, has said: “I believe, wholeheartedly, that our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, our ideas are physical in the universe. If we dream something, if we picture something, we commit ourselves to it, then we are going to command and demand that the universe becomes what we want it to be.”
What about some examples that aren’t from the airy fairy world of entertainment? Well, there’s Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali, who both famously always visualised themselves as victorious before an event.
And then there’s the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who once said: “I am no longer cursed by poverty because I took possession of my own mind and that mind has yielded me every material thing I want, and much more than I need. But this power of mind is a universal one, available to the humblest person as it is to the greatest.”
Why it Works
When an idea remains popular over a long stretch of time and keeps resurfacing in one form or another, you have to question why this is. Is there perhaps something to it?
Just for the sake of this argument, let’s assume that it’s not because there are physical vibrations or energies gravitating towards the happy, shiny people of the world. Let’s also assume it’s not about unblocking your chakras, vanquishing your bad aura, or opening your third eye.
What else could it be, then?
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People offers one of the most convincing reasons: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
Mahatma Gandhi said something similar: “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
It really comes down to reaping what you sow. Focus on problems and irritations, and you’ll find them everywhere, which will leave you despondent and unproductive. Focus on the good things, and you become happy and productive. You start seeing solutions instead of problems, and without knowing exactly why, your life starts to change — things start going your way.
Let’s Talk About Rituals
“This could be the greatest time you ever live if you control what you focus on, if you find a more empowering meaning, and if you decide to model the actions of those who succeeded before you,” Tony Robbins says.
“It can be the best financial time, the best emotional time and the best spiritual time of your life, but you better take control of your state. And if you think you’re going to do it just by today, you’re wrong. You’re going to need to find yourself some rituals. Everyone is controlled by their rituals.”
Your life (you can call it your destiny, if you like) is determined by your rituals, says Robbins. Importantly, these are not rituals like burning incense, sitting in the lotus position or reciting mantras. It’s about the simple stuff you do every single day of your life — it’s about what you have for breakfast, how often you work out, what you do just before going to bed, how you spend the first 60 minutes of your day.
Robbins himself, for example, has a very specific ritual every morning. No matter how busy he is, he always makes time for it.
“I prime myself every morning. I start off with a radical breathing pattern, and then I spend ten minutes on gratitude. I pick three things I’m grateful for, one of which needs to be very simple, like the wind on my face or the faces of my kids. The emotions that trip us up are fear and anger, and you can’t be fearful and grateful at the same time, and you can’t be angry and grateful at the same time.”
After this, Robbins spends a few minutes visualising the things he wants to achieve. “I pick three results and outcomes, I’m very committed to them and I see them as done and fulfilled.”
The 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss starts his day with five rituals that he believes create the right sort of mental attitude and sets him up to have a successful day. “If you win the morning, you win the day,” he says. “And if I manage to do at least three of these things in a morning, I’ve won the morning.”
He starts by making his bed (it gives you a small win and makes you feel as if you’ve already achieved something for the day). After this, he meditates, which is something he finds most high-performing individuals tend to do.
According to Ferriss, he gets 50% more done in a day if he’s meditated because his mind is focused and not as easily distracted. Thirdly, he hangs, from his arms, for a few minutes. He says it decompresses his spine, and he does it a few times every day, just to break up work sessions.
After hanging, he makes himself some tea, usually herbal tea from China, to which he adds some turmeric and ginger. Finally, he writes in his journal, usually on things he needs to achieve and things he is grateful for.
Begin With Yes
Tim Ferriss’s morning rituals are rather esoteric, to be sure, but the exact nature of his daily habits aren’t really important. What is important is that he has identified specific rituals that help him attain his daily goals, and he sticks to them religiously.
The problem is this: Positive thoughts and words of affirmation are easy to cling to when you’ve got loads of time and few problems, but it’s tough to stay positive when life gets hectic. Maintaining a sunny outlook is near impossible when the kids are sick, traffic is a nightmare, your quarterly sales report is overdue and your landlord is demanding last month’s rent.
That’s when it’s important to have rituals to fall back on. Once you’ve created the habit, your specific mindset in the moment becomes less important. It allows you, in a sense, to ‘go through the motions’. You don’t meditate or write in your gratitude journal because you feel like it (in fact, you probably don’t feel like doing it at all), but you do it anyway because it’s become a habit.
You start off feeling rushed and irritated, but by the time you’ve meditated or written, you feel better. The same is true of preparing healthy meals, working out or volunteering at your local charity. Some days, those feelings of positivity will leave you and you’ll just want to go home and stare at the television, but if you’ve created a ritual, you can fall back on the habit and not depend on your emotions to get things done.
Begin with Yes author Paul Boynton calls this ‘The Law of Action’. The problem with the Law of Attraction is that it demands a positive attitude, something that can be hard to muster when you’re really dealing with a tough situation.
So, instead, he proffers the Law of Action, which doesn’t demand a positive outlook, but simply asks for a dogged determination to keep pushing forward.
As the title of his book suggests, he argues that, even when you don’t feel like it, you just need to keep saying ‘yes’ to life. You take the action, and the emotion will (eventually) follow. (Coincidentally, Jim Carrey once starred in a movie called Yes Man that deals exactly with this. It’s not a masterpiece, but still worth seeking out).
Related: How to Find the Entrepreneur Within
How exactly do you start saying ‘yes’, though? For television mogul Shonda Rhimes it literally meant saying ‘yes’ to everything that came her way for a year.
“So a while ago, I tried an experiment,” she said during a TED Talk on the subject at the beginning of 2016. “For one year, I would say yes to all the things that scared me. Anything that made me nervous, took me out of my comfort zone, I forced myself to say yes to. Did I want to speak in public? No, but yes.
Did I want to be on live TV? No, but yes. Did I want to try acting? No, no, no, but yes, yes, yes.
“And a crazy thing happened: the very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear, made it not scary. My fear of public speaking, my social anxiety, poof, gone. It’s amazing, the power of one word. ‘Yes’ changed my life. ‘Yes’ changed me.”
For Tim Ferriss, meanwhile, it meant embracing what he calls anti-complaining.
Echoing Gandhi and Covey, Ferriss says: “Word choice determines thought choice, which determines emotions and actions. It’s not enough to just decide you’ll stop using certain words, though. It requires conditioning.”
To condition himself, Ferris embraced a system created by church minister Will Bowen.
“Will designed a solution in the form of a simple purple bracelet, which he offered to his congregation with a challenge: Go 21 days without complaining. Each time one of them complained, they had to switch the bracelet to their other wrist and start again from day zero. It was simple but effective metacognitive awareness training.
“I made it 11 days on the first attempt, then I slipped back to zero. Then it was two or three days at a time for about a month. Once I cleared 21 days at around month three, I no longer needed the bracelet.”
As the new year approaches, this is the perfect time to come up with some rituals that will help you achieve your goals. These need not be large and daunting habits. Don’t vow to run 10 km every day if a single flight of stairs currently leaves you winded. Start with small thoughts and small actions, but be consistent. Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.
It’s My Job And I’ll Cry If I Want To: The Case For Showing Emotions In The Workplace
Allowing workers to show their true selves has its benefits.
In a society that values strength, independence and self-reliance above all else, why express yourself? Why go out on a limb to reveal anything other than the highlight reel you post on social media in any situation, let alone in the setting where it could cost you the most: At work?
As it turns out, it could pay off in a big way.
Corporate robots are a dying breed
In today’s professional landscape, people want to bring their whole selves to work, even if doing so would break from the norms of “professionalism.” Millennials want work-life integration, not just work-life balance, meaning they’re not going to leave their emotions at home and send a cold, feeling-less, in-control-at-all-times automaton to the office in their place.
The insane precedent we’ve set for employees to remove so much of themselves from their professional lives is not only unhealthy for individuals; it’s also costing their employers in huge ways, even cutting enormous chunks out of corporate bottom lines.
By creating a workplace that does not allow people to share who they are, employers are essentially ensuring widespread workforce disengagement and high turnover.
I have a (somewhat) radial recommendation to overcome this massive issue: Cry at work.
Related: How to Harness Your Emotions
So, you want my employees to be crying – in the office?
Yes and no. In a perfect world, your employees would be perfectly balanced in their workloads and satisfied in their roles. They would never feel overwhelmed or dejected, and the need for showing negative emotions in the office wouldn’t exist.
We all know that’s not the world we live in. With the insanely fast pace of business these days, it’s likely that your team is going to feel frustration, anger, sadness and a whole host of other unpleasant emotions in the office.
I firmly believe that allowing, and even encouraging them to process these feelings outwardly is essential to having a successful business.
Here’s a personal example so you can see that it’s not as scary as it seems
One experience during last year’s holiday “break” led me to the brink of exhaustion. My team and I thought most people would be offline, but instead, our clients were in need of assistance, and I ended up picking up a heavy load because we hadn’t planned accordingly. I was working until the late hours every night during a week I had planned to spend with my family, and I was frustrated. This was directly impacting my health, and I was putting my professional success in front of my own personal and physical health.
After the holiday, during our weekly check-in, I expressed this frustration with the entire team. I cried during this call, explaining that I had felt really alone and like I could not really depend on anyone. I empathized that I knew everyone worked so unbelievably hard and that we all needed this break, but ultimately we hadn’t set ourselves up for success. We had to work harder and smarter so that we could truly take a well-deserved break and be present with our loved ones and ourselves.
The team responded immediately, and not only understood my perspective, but jumped into shape to do the work. In the end, we were able to satisfy our clients’ needs and set aside a time of rest for all of us, including myself.
Sometimes tears are the most productive solution, because they show your humanity and rally your colleagues to support you.
Related: 10 Ways Smart People Stay Calm
OK, I get the picture; now what do I do?
There are so many strategies you can try to create an expressive, engaged workplace in which everyone can show how they really feel, but the ones I recommend starting with are:
1. Encourage expression
Create an environment where people can openly share their emotions, whether that’s an all-team happy hour when a new client is won, or encouraging employees to vent their frustration on a tough day. Sometimes, this even means encouraging crying in the office.
A 2001 study by Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steve B Wolff found that teams who score high on tests for emotional intelligence (or emotional quotient, EQ) perform markedly better than those who score poorly. “Our research shows that, just like individuals, the most effective teams are emotionally intelligent ones.”
And they aren’t the only ones preaching the EQ gospel. Their findings have been replicated by hundreds of workplace and emotional researchers and published in dozens of peer-reviewed journals.
One of the most effective strategies that my company, CatalystCreativ, has used to help businesses create a more empathetic and expressive culture is teaching ways to foster traditionally “feminine” traits above more “masculine” ones. By valuing and expressing traits such as receptivity, surrender, vulnerability and tenderness, employees of all genders show higher rates of engagement and job satisfaction, and companies themselves perform better.
Think your male managers won’t go for it? That would objectively be a bad choice. A 2011 study conducted at Stanford examined feminine and masculine traits in male and female employees, and compared these traits to their rates of promotion compared to their peers. The results were surprising: “Feminine” men got two times the promotions of their traditionally masculine peers.
Those workers able to blend feminine and masculine traits in the workplace tend to excel beyond their peers, and companies that encourage this expression among all employees will reap the financial rewards.
2. Reduce stress
Although all workplaces today are somewhat stress-inducing, those that discourage emotional expression are particularly problematic.
By not crying and sharing emotions, employees are bottling in stress. I could site literally thousands of sources explaining that stress is horrible for health, and everyone is now aware of its awful effects, which extend to harming work productivity.
Professor Roger Baker, a clinical psychologist and professor at Bournemouth University in the U.K., claims that “crying is the transformation of distress into something tangible, and that the process itself helps to reduce the feeling of trauma.” And he’s not the only one who feels this way.
William Frey, a biochemist at St Paul-Ramsey Medical Center, found that tears contain the stress hormones prolactin and adrenocorticotropic hormone, meaning that crying literally flushes stress-causing chemicals out of the body.
If you’re still unconvinced about allowing, and even encouraging, your employees to cry in the workplace, consider this: Stress costs U.S. companies $300 billion per year, due to health care and missed work days alone. And while eliminating all stress is impossible, allowing employees to process and express it is the only way to reduce its negative effects on your business.
So, if you’re reading this as an employee, go big. I encourage you to show up to work as your whole self every day. If you’re an organisational leader, I hope you recognise the absolute necessity of creating a more open workplace for your employees. One in which they can celebrate, laugh, talk about their real selves and yes, even cry.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The 5 Gut-Check Questions Confronting Entrepreneurs Every Day
The day you forget why you began is the day you’re done.
Entrepreneurs make an astounding number of decisions daily. They are faced with choosing which opportunities to move on and must solve problems big and small.
By setting up a framework of questions to ask yourself daily, you’ll give yourself some markers to help guide you through these difficult situations. Knowing where you stand on these questions will empower you to make good choices that ultimately lead you to your desired outcome. It will give you a deeper understanding of your motivations and your feelings about your business, and can help you clarify future plans.
Here are five powerful questions all entrepreneurs should ask themselves daily to ensure they are consistently moving toward their goals and making the best decisions for themselves and their business. Ask yourself these questions with an honest and open mind, and see where they take you.
1. Why are you doing this?
What makes this one little question so powerful is that it forces you to examine your desires and impulses, and helps you chart how those motivations change over time. It forces you to look at things from a different perspective. Asking yourself this question every day reaffirms your ambitions and the mindset behind why you are doing what you’re doing. If you don’t know why, you’re in trouble!
Asking this question opens the door to a plethora of other questions that will give you food for thought. What is the reason for launching your business? Why are you passionate about doing this? Are you the right person to run this business? These answers may change over time. At first it may seem difficult to truly nail down the “why” behind your motivations. Maybe there are competing interests that are driving you. But when you really think about it and drill down into this question, there’s probably a simple answer. Just be sure you’re being truthful with yourself.
Why you do something also gives rise to the question: what do you hope to achieve? You need to know what your end game looks like, and what success means to you. Is it about attaining a certain level of wealth? Is it about being the top in your market? Is it about earning respect? Are you looking to rule the world (or at least a niche market), or are you simply hoping to earn a living doing something you love?
Start your day by asking yourself this question and see where your answer takes you. By spending a few minutes pondering this, you’ll gain clarity that will help you steer your career in the direction you want it to go.
2. What is your company’s purpose?
See if you can answer this question in a single sentence. A good place to start is with your mission statement: what are the formal aims, goals and values of your company or organisation? This should be clear and concise – it should get to the heart of what your business is about.
Your company’s purpose is the foundation that all else is built on. It should have enough flexibility to grow and allow for change, but be specific enough to be meaningful and relevant. Ultimately, this question should help you understand what the heck you’re really doing here.
This question should be at the forefront of your mind when making important decisions. Ask yourself whether this new venture or idea would reinforce or logically contribute to your company’s overall purpose. Are you staying true to your calling?
That’s not to say that your purpose can’t change over time. However, if it does, the change should be purposeful and executed with care. Thinking about this will help you identify your long-term business goals and may lead to bigger questions, such as: What do you want your company to mean to your customers, what is your company’s place in world and what is its ideal market?
3. Where is your business at right now?
The goal with this question is to take both an analytical and emotional assessment of your business. This is a chance for you to take a hard look at where your company sits. Is it on the right track? What seems amiss? What is going right and how can that be reproduced throughout your business?
It’s also important to acknowledge your emotions and to be mindful of how you are feeling about your business. What is your gut instinct saying? Are you feeling anxious or excited about the business? Whether you are having negative emotions or positive ones, it’s important to recognise what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way.
This will give you a chance to better understand your mental state and how that may be influencing your decision making. It’s also about understanding what kind of vibe you are putting out. Are you feeling clear-minded and balanced? Or are you feeling off-kilter and out of sorts?
Being in tune with your emotions and having a clear view of what’s going on with your business will ensure you’re on an even keel. It will help you avoid overreacting or under-reacting to situations.
4. What lessons are you learning?
Every entrepreneur faces an uphill battle to achieve success. Every day you should be learning and growing, and the best way to do this is through a great deal of reflection on the lessons that present themselves each day.
Ask yourself whether you’re learning from your mistakes. Failure is a part of every entrepreneur’s journey. The question is, will your mistakes allow you to learn and grow? If not, you’re liable to fall into the same pitfalls and missteps. Conversely, are you learning when to jump at an opportunity and when to let it go? This is the ultimate lesson every entrepreneur is trying to learn, and it’s never an easy one.
The next time you’re weighing whether or not to take a risk, try asking yourself: “When I’m 80, will I feel sorry if I hadn’t gone for it?” Jeff Bezos does this as a way to crystallise whether he will regret not taking action on something. In the big picture, it’s often what we fail to do that we see as our biggest mistakes in life.
5. What’s next?
If you ask yourself one question every day, this should be it. As an entrepreneur, you always need to be anticipating what’s next. You need to anticipate what’s coming down the road and formulate a plan to take it on. This is the question that forces you to look up from that pile of work on your desk and think about the big picture and next steps for your business.
What strategies will you need as you keep pushing your business into the future? What trends or shifting interests are coming up that may affect your business? How will new technology impact the way you manage the company?
Disruption will happen in every market because change is inevitable. Businesses that survive see that wave coming and start making adjustments early on. So, in a way, change is predictable because it will always come. Innovation and ingenuity will always be the key to success – and those who seize opportunity will ride the crest of the next wave.
So when you ask yourself “What’s next?” make sure you have your blinders off and are looking at things with a curious and open mind. Make sure you’re staying open to new ideas and embracing creative solutions. Keeping looking for the “wow” factor.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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