The book by Robin Sharma The Leader Who Had No Title has made me think further about the role that we ourselves play in our own success, including the habits we adopt and the thoughts that we generate.
Also, having read Dr Joe Dispenza’s book on changing yourself, it is becoming more and more clear that even if we have lots of external factors that we can blame, in the end it is us (in most cases) that have the ability to pull out of negative situations and thought patterns.
This is not some wishy-washy lead-your-self stuff but based on neuroscience and the way human brains work, even on the biological level in how brain chemicals create moods, feelings and thoughts.
Being aware of these factors can give you an edge in how you choose to think and live, even if it is super hard to change the existing frames of mind that we have developed over time.
Be wary of your frames
Just as we put on glasses and see the world in different colours, just as likely our thoughts and thought patterns colour our reality.
This fact, that our thoughts direct our actions and determine to a great extent outcomes we see in our lives, is so important because if we continuously see ourselves as victims, we resign from our capacity to act.
Negative thoughts and feelings of victimhood breed fear and invite those things to our lives that we are most scared of.
As Robin Sharma points out, negative thoughts are like germs: they make us sick and invite more germs, which means more negative outcomes and more negative thoughts:
“You really cannot afford the luxury of even one negative thought because every one of them creates something and leads to some result in your outer world. Every thought you think generates a consequence” (p. 176).
So the age old wisdoms about focusing on observing our thoughts and guarding our minds really do stem from the fact that we can as humans control our minds.
Yet, we have somehow been led to believe that we have little control over our minds, that thoughts just come and go, appear from nowhere and that’s just how life is.
But we do have far more control over ourselves and that begins with a rigorous decision to actually develop our minds and ourselves towards the best we can be:
“You have to take full responsibility for the thoughts you run through your brain. And that means understanding that your mind is no place for even a single negative one… world-class work is obviously the result of world-class thinking” (p. 174).
Successful people and great leaders don’t become successful because there has been a random act of luck and suddenly, they achieve everything they have dreamt of.
Such people excel because they put in the work.
Daily training is what will make you
Training a mind is bloody hard.
And here we come to the not-so-fun truth: if you want to become a better thinker, a better leader, a better person, then you need to put actual effort in self-development on daily basis.
It is a continuous exercise that demands focus, daily steps, crazy amounts of self-reflection, and rigorous follow-up on our actions and thoughts.
It is mental exercise that is similar to learning to play a sport or excelling in anything: becoming a great tennis player is not about occasional activity but daily commitment in excelling in your game.
This means that when others are watching tv, when it’s raining and dull outside, when you really don’t feel like exercising, you still honour your commitment and just do it.
I’ve been told by so many great leaders that there are many people who have dreams, who have brilliant ideas, but who are not ready or don’t feel like committing and keep something going long enough for them to excel.
Most people like the idea of writing a blog for example, write for a few months, do not gain 500 000 followers, and quit because it just wasn’t for them.
So becoming a better thinker and a leader is really about inputs and commitment on excellence: on waking up earlier (or going to bed later) each day to create quiet time for thinking about your goals, tracking your thoughts and reflecting on what has gone well, and practicing gratitude on daily basis.
This all takes actual time and commitment and cannot be done just on a fly; it is like the 10 000-hour rule where you gain excellence over time through commitment.
Although you cannot always clearly see immediate results, what your daily steps do is to create ripple effects that grow over time.
This is as true for self-development as it is true for careers and any skill set.
Commitment creates excellence.
But only if you actually do what you commit to.
In this process, journaling, visualising, exercising, paying attention to your nutrition, setting goals, and affirming your commitments will enable better thought processes.
Daily thinking processes for climate adaptation
In many ways, much of this applies also how we think about climate change adaptation and what it means to live in a world with a changing climate.
This might sound naïve especially for people having lived and seen the catastrophic bushfires in Australia, floods in Jakarta, Indonesia, and living through other disasters.
But the main messages still remain relevant about seeing opportunities and changing our mindsets in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.
Adapting to climate change is about an opportunity to do things differently, to embrace possibilities of change, and then trying to make better decisions in how we live, work and think.
To adapt well requires a whole shift in mindset, and requires us to embrace uncertainty, becoming even uncomfortable in living under uncertainty, but making conscious decisions in learning how to cope in a changing climate.
It is about visualising an outcome, and then following through and mapping which decisions and actions can help us in achieving that outcome.
The more we are capable of visualising positive outcomes, the more energy we will have to work towards those, and the more we can attract those outcomes to our way.
This does not mean devolving responsibility of governments and other actors from taking action on climate change, but it is more about individual well-being and developing the skillsets necessary to adapt well to whatever changes come our way.