Do you ever feel overwhelmed with negativity? Has the news, COVID-19, and worry taken over your mindset? There is hope! In this episode, Jimmy discusses three powerful strategies to help you regain your mindfulness.
You will gain insight into:
- The importance of practicing self-compassion in a world filled with mediocrity.
- How controlling your mindset affects all aspects of life.
- Why you must make peace with your mind to realize your full potential in life!
- The only way life gets better for you is for you to get better.
- How to take back control of your life by reclaiming an active role in rewiring your brain.
Have you ever wondered how some people just never get rattled no matter what’s going on in their environment? Whether it’s their work life, their personal life, their spiritual life, their finances, it doesn’t matter. These people have such a command of their mindset. Well, today we’re going to visit for a few moments just to give you my three best strategies so you too can be the master of your mindset.
Good morning! This is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life By Design, your Monday morning moments of motivation. You know, we come in this room every Monday, and I do what I can to help get you to that bigger, better, and bolder mindset. I know you have the capability, you have this innate, this inside of you that’s just dying to come out and be the hero that you are. But there’s something holding you back. I want to say to you that I know what’s holding you back. Now, I know we’ve never met personally in most cases, but I can promise you that if you will just practice these three strategies that we’re going to show the process of controlling your mindset today, I can assure you you’ll find the bolder you.
Have you ever been around one of these people, as I said, that have the world in the palm of their hand? This is the kind of person that just exudes confidence, that just displays leadership when no one else is willing to lead, that makes the sacrifice of self the foremost choice of the day to help lead others to a better way, that knows that sacrificing the short-term gratification opens the gates to a lifetime of satisfaction. This is what we’re talking about today, folks. We’re going to look at how our world has been turned upside down over the past 12 months. For many of us, this has been a tremendous impact on our emotional wellbeing. You know, whether your job has been impacted, your child’s school, your vacation plans obliterated, or simply suffering from a lack of social interaction, your true happiness may also have been lost along the way. In today’s episode, I will focus on three simple strategies to help you regain control of your mindset.
Although I’m not a Buddhist, this statement attributed to Buddha has great validity for today’s travails we are experiencing. It goes like this: “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind.” Man, that is a powerful statement, that the mind has such dominion over the body and everything that you see with your eyes, the mindset is in control.
So, before we share these amazing and effective strategies for reclaiming your mindset, let’s start with a short exercise. I know what you’re saying. “Hey, Jimmy, it’s Monday morning, I’m listening to you on my way to work. I don’t have time for this short exercise.” I do want you to do me a favor. When you get a moment to yourself, I really want you to think about and put to work this exercise. It’s very simple. So, if you’re driving, don’t attempt this activity, but when you’re able to sit down alone in a quiet room, perform this simple self-inspection, I call it. Sit up comfortably in a chair or on the floor, close your eyes, and listen intently to your own breathing. Feel your abdomen rise and fall with each breath. Lastly, close your mind of all thoughts that are not positive by framing something you enjoy in your mind. For example, playing golf, hitting a hole in one, seeing your children that have been away at college or something of that nature. So, just picture in your mind something very positive for you that gives you happiness.
So, how do you feel? Why do you feel better and more positive than you did before we performed this exercise? I call it intentional mindset mastery. You can control your mindset about the world, your life, and everything in it, if you’ll only focus on the positive areas of life and spend quality time with yourself. That’s it. People have so much noise in the world, TVs, radios, you know, we’ve got satellite radio that has a station for whatever you’re willing to listen to. You have TV that has 24 hours of news, people. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d say at least an hour a day’s enough of the news. But in this case, there’s 24-hour channels. If that doesn’t pound in some negativity, I’m not sure what would.
So, let’s get started with our first strategy: Make peace with your mind. Strategy number one is about taking charge of your being by making peace with your mind. Now, one of my favorite people to study when it comes to leadership and it comes to someone that’s got wisdom, it’s coach John Wooden, the NCAA Hall of Fame basketball coach that said, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you’re capable of becoming.”
Now, that is one profound statement. The key to this successful, if you will, making peace with your mind is to allow yourself to have a quiet moment. You’re going to laugh when I tell you this, but it is more difficult to find quiet time than you would imagine. The world is full of distractions. Whether it’s at home, at work, in your car, wherever you may find yourself, the world is pushing itself into your quietness and into the realm of peace within your mind.
Perhaps much of your disruptive mindset is self-inflicted. Have you been giving your best effort in your career, your relationships, your family? When we allow our approach to life to be settling for less than we are capable, our mind maintains the ill performance and rationalizes, that’s it, rationalizes that it will be just fine because, quote, the environment, the office, or some other uncontrollable factor is preventing us from doing our utmost. This is total fabrication. You can work toward excellence no matter the environment you find yourself. Don’t look for reasons to justify your performance. Rather, look for your performance to give you reasons for your existence. Take pride in your work, your language, your manners, whatever you do.
One of the key issues in our world today is the overwhelming acceptance of mediocrity. You heard me, just plain old mediocre performance, and we think just doing enough to get by will work for us in our lives. Well, let’s not settle for mediocrity. Excellence is said to be out of reach for most people, and they’ve resigned themselves to believe the lie. Another quote by my mentor Jim Rohn is, “The only way it gets better for you is when you get better. Better is not something you wish, it’s something you become.” By changing our outlook or increasing a skill, or improving our vocabulary so that we speak intelligently without profane vernacular that others must use to appear superior, you can force your mindset to make peace with itself that you’re discharging your highest effort to accomplish the tasks before you.
Don’t wallow in past failures. Too many of us are still concerned about what happened 10 years ago: perhaps the job you lost that you thought was to be the perfect job for you, and you did not perform as you desired. So that role may have been taken from you, but now you’re in a new role. This is the one you take ownership of. This is where you shine, where you show the path to excellence in whatever role you have. Instead of focusing and wallowing on the past, set a path of positive goals before you that require you to change your mindset to accomplish them. Think powerfully and peacefully about your goals. Picture yourself accomplishing one of your big, hairy, audacious goals and what the results bring you in terms of mindset.
So, strategy number one is making peace with your mind. Strategy number two is to take action by retraining your mind to rewire your brain. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I said an oxymoron, but I didn’t. Your mindset, the way you believe, feel, act, and function, is all a result of what you place in that great computer inside your cranium, your brain. One of the greatest inventions for the automobile in recent years is the autopilot. This feature allows the driver to disengage from active participation in the driving process and allow the onboard computer for the car to make decisions for them. Many of us have done the same with our bodies and our minds. There’s an old saying, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Another way to think of this phrase is, “We become what we repeatedly think.” What habits should you change? What new habits should you form?
To create a break in our habitual routines of the day, you must purposely engage in making different decisions and initiate new activities. As an example of the discomfort that may create at first, do one thing different tomorrow morning. Now, you’re going to laugh when I tell you this little story. It is something that I forced myself to do because I felt like I was becoming a routine, that I was simply going through the same emotions today that I went yesterday, that it was so habit formed that I literally did not need to engage my mind in the process. I literally got up and did the same thing every day. Sounds almost robotic, doesn’t it?
But one thing I did notice, and it came to me one morning when I was journaling, I’d read back a previous few entries in the journal, and I realized that I had become rather redundant in my processes. Now, it’s okay to have, I consider it a morning routine. We all have one; whether you’ve written yours down or not, you have one. I happen to write mine down. So, what I did one morning is I actually, one line at a time, walked through my morning routine and made some simple changes.
So, here’s this simple test of changing a habit, and it will not involve a significant amount of energy, but you will notice your brain struggling to follow through with this procedure. So, here it is: Place your non-dominant leg in your pants first. So, for example, I’m right-handed, and without much thought, every morning I place my right leg in my pants first while getting ready for the day. Now, this is a small point, but I intentionally started placing my left leg in my pants first, and it was most uncomfortable.
Next, I started attempting to brush my teeth with my left hand. Again, I am right-handed. It feels so comfortable for me to do anything right-handed. It makes me work a lot harder to do anything left-handed and to do it efficiently and effectively. Now, I don’t have to describe it too graphically, but let’s just say I had toothpaste running down my chin and all over the basin before I completed this task. And yes, I made myself complete the process of brushing my teeth fully with my left hand.
Now, don’t even ask me how the left-handed shaving turned out, because I’ve got little pieces of toilet paper all over my chin and underneath my nose where that did not work out too well. So, you may not want to shave with your left hand if you’re right-handed, but at least brush your teeth, there’s no sharp knives and points or razors involved. So, take something that you do without conscious thought and train your mind to actively engage in performing it in a different manner. Don’t allow yourself to be placed on autopilot. As you traverse the day, retrain your mind to rewire your way of thinking. Fill your mind with positive, powerful thoughts of achievement. What you are actually doing is called mindfulness.
So, strategy number two is to retrain your mind to rewire your brain. So, we’ve got the first step, making peace with your mind; the second step is to rewire your brain by retraining your mind; and now strategy number three. This was probably going to be one of the toughest of these three for you to grasp. I’ll give you a story in just a moment as to how this one impacted me, but overall, this was probably the toughest thing for me to do in my life, seriously. Strategy number three is to practice self-compassion.
One of the greatest challenges I faced as a youth was not talking to myself in a negative tone. For example, if I struck out in baseball, I would give myself a good tongue-lashing all the way back to the dugout. Now, I sought perfection in myself, and the best hitter in the Major League Baseball at that time had only a .465 batting average. What this means is, for every time he got up to bat, he only got a hit about one out of two times. He did not get a hit every time he walked to the plate. No one gets a hit every time he goes up to the plate, but that was the standard I held for myself. Not too smart, right? I get that. But as a student, I would push myself to achieve excellence on all of my academic tests. I won an award for six years in a row from elementary through junior high into high school for academic scholastic excellence. I was the number one grade point average of all the boys in my grade level at school. I took pride in this.
Now, I have told you before on this podcast that I was raised with a very rich, very rich family when it came to love. I did not see a whole lot of money. Now, folks, we never missed a meal and always had plenty to eat. And the reason I knew we had plenty to eat is, when I’d hand my plate to my mom, sometimes for seconds or thirds, she would say, “Jimmy, you’ve had plenty to eat.” So, I knew I had had plenty to eat. So, as a student, as I said, I’d push myself to achieve excellence on all of my academic tests. If I made a 99 on the exam, I would browbeat myself for what I called being ordinary.
You know, no one loves mediocrity, but we all get dragged into it from time to time. I fought the word mediocrity my entire youth. I did not want to be just another boy. I didn’t ever aspire to be just good enough to get by. No, I always sought for excellence. I wanted to lead the pack in whatever I was participating, whether it would be sports or academics. I did not join the Boy Scouts to simply be in the troop. No, I was the Boy Scout senior patrol leader, I was the leader of our troop. And these skills that I learned in these wonderful programs in athletics, in academics, have served me so well in life that it empowers me through this day.
Now, before anyone listening takes this message as if my parents were strict or I had negative consequences suffered from anyone other than myself, well, don’t think that. This type of self-expectation was part of my mental thought processes. I wrongfully pushed myself to attempt to achieve levels of performance that Olympic athletes could not experience themselves. No one receives a perfect score in their sport with every outing that they compete.
Now, I want to tell you a story about a young lady named Jenna. Jenna is a gymnastics, a par excellence on the beam. This young lady is the daughter of a family friend, and she has been practicing and performing on the exercises of gymnastics since she was able to walk. She’s now at a major university, a D1 school, leading in the beam for her girls’ squad. Her gymnastics squad has been national champions for three years in a row. These girls eat, sleep, and breathe gymnastics, and they can perform.
But let me tell you about Jenna. Jenna gets on the beam in a very dramatic fashion. Now, I will tell you, she is every bit of five feet tall. She’s not very tall, but dynamite, folks, comes in small packages. Jenna has been winning each of her areas of beam competition with 10s and 9.9 scores. This young lady knows how to master her mindset. She knows that perfection is hard to attain, but it remains the goal. She knows that her teammates are depending on her performance. She comes to each meet with a mindset that she will dominate the beam.
Now, I didn’t say she would dominate her competitor. You see, the real battle for excellence and perfection and the battle within our mindset is all within us. You see, she seeks to beat her last score. Now, if she scored a 10, she at least struggles to achieve another 10. She doesn’t simply look at her competitor, because, see, that’s the mind game that we don’t need to play. If we’re going to show self-compassion, we work within ourselves to yield us the highest capability we have within us. Now, you know the old story; John Wooden has said it many times. You will yield on the day of competition what you have placed within you at practice. Jenna has learned this and practices her skill every day. The day a competition rises, she just goes to practice within her mind once again. You see, she practices for perfection, and on the competition day, she yields the fruit of that benefit.
So, after high school graduation, for me, it may have just been maturity that created maybe a more correct mindset, but I began to set realistic goals of performance. Sure, I didn’t make perfect grades in undergrad school, but I never left the dean’s honor roll and had a pretty fun time while I’m in college. So much fun, I can’t elaborate on this podcast. I learned to look within myself to become more compassionate about the level of my actions versus the unrealistic demand for perfection In all that I do. Compassion simply means that understanding yourself, and the distress you’re causing while wishing to alleviate the undesirable feelings, allow yourself to become more self-compassionate.
So, this week, the challenge I ask each of you to do is the simple exercise of finding a quiet place, taking some big breaths, exhaling through the mouth and in the nose, and just listen to your breathing. Have the room so quiet you can listen to only your breath. And do me another favor. While you’re doing this, clean your mind of all that’s on it. Don’t let work invade your thoughts. Don’t let your family interrupt you. Don’t think about the bill you owe today you got to get paid. Don’t think of anything. Just clear your mind and then fill it with one powerfully positive thought, something that makes you so happy that you can’t stand to sit still any longer and have to go and tackle the day.
You see, that’s how we really and truly master our own mindset. It is within us, but you must work toward the goal of mastery. You don’t become a master of something by simply monitoring it. Nope, you become a master of anything by taking the appropriate actions to eliminate that that is mediocre and focusing on that that you wish to master. Until next week, go out, change the world for good for someone around you, and live your life by design.