Saturday, March 23, 2013

Expensive lessons...

are the best lessons.

The ones that cost you sleepless nights, physical pain, money... Those are the lessons that will actually teach you something. They may not teach you the right way, but they will definitely point out the wrong way.

So, while you lick your wounds, always remember to learn!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Getting past the resistance

Why is it that we choose to continue living the routine? Why do we choose to accept the "golden handcuffs" that keep us in the quotidian grind?

The answer is simple: the Resistance. The Resistance is the voice in your head that always has an excuse, a tale, of why not to do something. The Resistance loves routine; hates change. And so it works extra hard to keep you put, even at the expense of following your heart and dreams. But the thing with the Resistance is that it's like a child—providing lame answers (or excuses) to big question. And that, if you think about it, is its weakness.

It's a weakness because it allows you to catch it in the dog-ate-my-homework act. Because when you listen to what the Resistance has to say, you'll realize just how unfounded it's reasoning is: "You're not good enough"; "You won't be as respected as you are here"; "Do you really want the extra work?"... All lame, miserable excuses. If you identify this "type" of voice, you'll be able to ignore it, and in turn focus on the voice that is pushing you forward, and the real work that's at hand.

Now, ignoring the Resistance is not that easy—I know! So here's a tip to help with that: treat the Resistance as a devil's advocate. Think of it not as a roadblock, but as a warning sign: it is trying to get your attention to the dangers that lie ahead, trying to prepare you for what's coming next. So when it raises its "concerns" about not being good enough or respected enough or over worked, thank it for its concern, explain to it why it is wrong and then dismiss it.

The Resistance will come back and try again, but if you keep focused you'll beat it at its own game.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pavlovian conditioning

Have you heard of Pavlov's dogs? If not, you can read about it here. But in a nutshell: In an experiment involving dogs, Pavlov associated a bell ring to food being served. Each time the dogs received their food, Pavlov would ring a bell. Eventually the bell ring itself—without food being served—would cause the dogs to react as if they were being served food. The dogs had become conditioned to the bell ring. This is known as a Pavlovian conditioning or Pavlovian reaction.

The thing is, like it or not, we all "suffer" from this sort of conditioning. We all have a (metaphoric) bell that causes us to react in a certain way, regardless of whether (metaphoric) food is being served. For example: Think about where your mind goes when someone criticizes your work. Does it feel like your dad (or boss family member) belittling you all over again? The sound of that "bell" — regardless of the fact that you are out of the business already, and the criticism is meant in a good way (ie no real food being served) — will cause a certain reaction with you and trigger certain emotions.

As with all conditions, they can be reconditioned. And it's up to you to do so. The first step is to identify those Pavlovian reactions. Identify the bells that cause the reactions of old. Then react differently, in a way that is thoughtful and calm. Do it enough times, and you'll be all set.

(Thanks to my amazing wife for helping me spot the bells...)