Keep The Focus
Keep the focus – A question that I have asked myself many times during the course of my life is who decided that things are “Easier said than done?” What is the payoff for perpetuating this life sentence? In my opinion it is a convenient excuse for NOT doing important things.
Recently I was part of a team that ran a holistic wellness retreat, offering delegates the chance to gain deeper understanding and insights into how yoga transcends the mat, cooking demonstration, NLP workshops, trail runs and even some archery should they so desire.
Leading up to the retreat, I began to fall victim to my own doubt and fears, as that little voice inside began to creep up like a lion stalking an injured fawn. You are familiar with that voice that I speak of, the one that shouts louder and louder as doubt knocks on the door. I began to think, “Who am I to host a retreat and guide people in NLP – I’m not good enough”. As many of you know, we all too often believe the things we tell ourselves, I mean why do I need to doubt myself: I would never lie to myself would I?
Well, yes I would and yes we do lie to ourselves – or more subtly it’s called distorting our reality. Our mind is not designed to keep us happy, it is designed to keep us safe and we will do and say whatever we need to, in moments when self-preservation is needed.
Great story, I hear you say, but what relevance has this got to a retreat in modern day times? Remember, that the human mind seeks to avoid pain and move towards pleasure – and in my case self-preservation. Thus, was I really doubting my skills and ability, or was I in fact just focusing on all that could possible go wrong? What was my payoff for focusing on the self destructive and debilitating possibilities? Would trusting my ability and thinking how to foster success not better serve me?
Easier said than done, I hear you think.
All too often, I desire to do a good job and remind myself to not focus on what could go wrong and especially not to be anxious! Sound advice. However, if I ask you not to think about a delicious moist decadent piece of chocolate cake, what do you think of? Yes, carrot and celery? Uhmmm no, you are most probably seeing your favourite sweet snack or guilty pleasure right now.
Slowly I began taking control of my mind and began to focus on that which I could control. Which lead me to ask “What can I control?” I can control staying in the NOW, trusting that I have done and prepared for my workshops, trusting myself and the universe and her abundant knowledge.
My feedback from this experience was that anxiety and stress are flags highlighting that I’m moving away from my most powerful and resourceful state.
I was so consumed with doing a good job that I was trying to focus and prepare for all that could go wrong and trying to ease my anxiety. Doing this sounds good, but if I was doing all of this WHAT WAS I NOT DOING? Correct, I was not being in my NOW state. I began to recall a teaching I received in India: A monk highlighted to me that anxiety is caused by excess worry of the future and depression is brought about by focusing on the past.
As I often remind sports teams I work with, focusing on wanting to do well or winning a game is not always as helpful as you think/feel. Because if you are focusing on winning what are you not focusing on? Again, the NOW. Then follow up with questions like, what can I do to achieve my goal?
I’m sure that the discerning reader is asking what they can do to bypass anxiety and remain in the NOW especially when embroiled by the primitive mind and desire for success. One of the strategies highlighted and taught during NLP World’s 7- day practitioner course is to take some time out and visualise what it would feel like after successful completion of the anxiety-inducing event. Then begin to track back and ask “what is one thing I could do to ensure successfully achieving my visualised state” and continue going back to the moment that you can actually, move into action.
For me it was visualising standing with my fellow hosts of the retreat, saying goodbye to satisfied and peace filled delegates (now friends). Then asking myself what I could do to achieve that “I would have to deliver authentic workshops”. How can I do that “I must prepare in timely fashion and trust myself”. What can I do to make sure I prepare sufficiently and so on until, I had a clear sequential plan of action and engage in action until I completed the plan. This helped me gain control of my thoughts and emotions. REMEMBER, YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR THOUGHTS THUS YOUR RESULTS. Beware; you should not do this unless you want to be successful!
In closing remind yourself that the seduction and allure of wanting to do a good job may be very enticing and seemingly useful. However, I have personally come to understand that it distracts me from what I actually need to be DOING and FOCUSING on. Moreover, it reminds me to focus on what I actually can control.
Taking action gets you going and like a snowball in full flight you will become unstoppable. Momentum will help keep you going, but first you must start the rolling process. As Henry Ford reminds us “ you can not build a reputation on what you’re going to do”.
I’m sure that many of you reading this article have asked similar questions. In my humble opinion, the quality of your questions are directly related to the quality of your life. For example, instead of asking “Why do I need to eat healthily?” ask yourself “What will I gain from living a healthy lifestyle?” If you wish to change your life you have to be willing to question your questioning, question what you know and take action.
“We can not solve problems by using the same kind of thinking that created them”
The fact is most things are easier said than done until they are done. As the late President Mandela reminds us, everything seems impossible until it is done.