How to Change Your Relationship To Negative Feelings

This is Day Twenty Eight in the 30 Days of Reinvention Video Series [#30DaysReinvention].

Empower yourself by creating a space between action and emotion.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Meditation is a powerful way of forming a different relationship to things you are feeling or experiencing.

At first this changed relationship will be true only during meditation, but over time you can extend and expand this relationship into your everyday life.

think of a recent feeling of irritation you had  for somebody or something.

What is your relationship to that feeling?

Are you stuck with that feeling?

Is it replaying over and over in your mind?

This constant replay is a form of reinforcement. Neuroplasticity works both ways: delivering either positive or negative change  to your brain’s neural structure and function.

Can you step back from that feeling?

Start by recognising it, and then deconstruct it into its various elements.

Can you now start to change your thinking about that feeling?

Hold back your initial troubled reaction to it and replace it with a sense of calm, replace it with a sense of spaciousness.

Does this create a space between the act of doing or not doing and your feeling toward it?

Does it help you separate out the action and the emotion it initially gave rise to?

Your aim is to reach a point where you no longer reinforce the negative and instead you link that difficult feeling with the deep well of open, untroubled awareness that exists within yourself,

This leads to a relaxation of the need to react to that negative feeling and immediately disempowers that feeling.

You will find yourself less controlled by such feelings. You’ll find yourself less in fear of being in situations that may give rise to them and therefore less likely to avoid such circumstances.

This is at the heart of being fierce.

When you are more relaxed overall you find yourself being less fatigued, you find yourself being more productive,  you find yourself being more emotionally intelligent and you find yourself making more strategic decisions.

This is at the heart of being a better leader.

Understanding that you can change your brain through your mind you are empowered to transform your life.

How to Punch Through Failure

This is Day Eighteen in the 30 Days of Reinvention Video Series [#30DaysReinvention].

Adopt behaviors that make failure a learning exercise.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hey it’s Rand,

Don’t let fear prevent you from doing what you need to do to have an impact.

One of our biggest fears is the fear of failure. You need to comfortably face this fear and there are behaviours you should adopt to help you punch through failure.

Firstly, fail fast and succeed slow.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Most successful leaders failed  multiple time before they had a success.

Robert Kiyosaki says, “Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”

Secondly, succeed and then fail.

A big success can hold us to a high bar of what success is. This can make us less open to failure. Put your ego aside, lower your benchmarks and be prepared to fail before your next success.

This will relieve the pressure, and allow you to iterate more with more chance of magic happening.

Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal.”

Thirdly, get into failure flow.

Be mindful of failure, because failing without learning is a wasteful exercise.

Try to be aware of what is happening as a project fails. If you are in failure flow you will see the elements that lead to failure as if in slow motion.

Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Fourthly, only fail when you cannot succeed.

Let’s face it, failure sucks. It sets you back. It impacts the lives of people who believe in you. It impacts the lives of people who rely on you.

Have grit and persistence  and don’t choose failure as an easy way out when the going gets tough.

Fifthly, fail resiliently.

Get up, take the hit and move forward.

When you fail and I hope you will, how do you treat it?

Yep, your heard right: I want you to fail; I want you to fail often!

Why?

Because every failure brings you one step closer to success.

How you deal with each failure, big or small, determines whether you will succeed.

CS Lewis said, Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

Want to Know the Secret to Avoiding Failure, Forever?

Want to learn how to never fail, ever again?

Do you want to learn the overarching or universal rule to never failing?

It all comes back to how we define failure and what we do when faced with a setback.

Deep down you know this is true: if things don’t work out, for whatever reason, we have failed only if we do not try again. And, sadly, sometimes things don’t work out multiple times in a row.

But boom! All it takes is for us to succeed once and we are seen as a success.

It’s simple. The universal rule to never failing is NEVER GIVE UP!

It really is that simple. As I discuss in my book, Fierce Reinvention, I define failure with a capital “F.” In our journey as leaders we can expect to lowercase fail many times. An uppercase Fail
would take place were we to check out, completely.

For many people the fear of failure holds them back from doing things. At best
such fear is self-limiting, at worst it can be debilitating. And that’s just sad.

What it all boils down to is that we don’t know why we are here, on Earth, but it’s not just to make money or have fun; we are all on rickety little boats that are motoring across the narrow expanse of time that is our lifespan; if we want to be successful then we’ve got to leave a wake behind us; if we take life too slow and steady we don’t create a wake and then what’s the point.

So what’s the answer? The secret to success is the realization that failure isn’t a big deal.

Unfortunately, we tend to get entangled in what we should and shouldn’t do. When we unravel this we formulate constraints on what can and can’t be done. They appear fact-like,
yet they are far from it. They only amount to conversations that we have in our
heads. The challenge is that we are having these conversations at such a rate that they seem to crystallize into facts.

But the silver lining is that as long as the solidifying conversations are driven by
positive, motivating thoughts then they are not a bad thing. It’s when we view fear-induced inner conversations as fact that we limit ourselves.

Be warned that without training and mindfully creating a different set of thoughts we can easily default to that negative conversation.

The truth is that we need to do all we can to banish negative thoughts; we need to do all we can to banish fear and focus on having a positive conversation in our heads. It seems overly simplistic but the cool thing is that we can change reality through the power of what we say to ourselves: as ourpositive thoughts and conversations crystallize into facts, we change reality by having these positive facts guide us, instead of the fearful ones.

You start by imagining a yes when you were expecting a no; you start by acting confident when youfeel nervous; and wham! You can reinvent yourself and become the person you want to be.

Here’s the secret: act like the person you want to be and success will triumph over failure. Remember that success and failure are far from random; they live within the very DNA of our
character and personality; they are expressed through our thoughts and actions.

All in all, we choose which side of the fine line we find ourselves on—success or
failure—by our courage in the face of both adversity and uncertainty and
also how we choose to visualize ourselves.

My new book, Fierce Reinvention: A Guide to Harnessing Your Superpowers for Entrepreneurial and Leadership Success ($11.99 digital, $15.99 print (USD), October 2017) is available from Amazon.

How to Behave Successfully in the Face of Failure

This is Day Seventeen in the 30 Days of Reinvention Video Series [#30DaysReinvention].

Surround yourself with failure and embrace it.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Hey it’s Rand,

Success and failure are far from random.

They live within the DNA of our character and personality.

Success and failure are expressed through our thoughts and actions.

Both success and failure are subjective and depend a lot on  your mindset, your expectations and whether you react positively or negatively to a situation you are presented with.

How does your society define success?

How does your society define failure?

Does your personal definition of success and failure differ from that of your society?

Do you view disappointment as a natural part of expansion?

When you fall short recognise this not as failure, but as an integral part of the cycle and journey to success.

Disappointment is an inevitability if you are courageous enough to moonshot.

When you do fail, make sure you get back on the horse and keep riding.

Success with failure comes down to how you behave in the face of failure.

Failures are a form of feedback. They are never total failures because they show you what you shouldn’t do and what you should do better.

When you fail the first thing you should do is: Celebrate, because you are one step closer to understanding what works and what doesn’t.

And then the second thing you should do is systematise what you do with failures. Create a way of extracting the key learnings from ongoing failures so that they bring you closer and closer to success.

Failure may not be what you wake up every day hoping for, but successful leaders surround themselves with failure and embrace it.

 

What’s Really Holding You Back From Greatness?

There seems to be an all too common theme I’m seeing these days. People know subconsciously that they need to make radical changes in their lives, but then their egos talk them out of it and they revert to form.

Change takes courage, change takes a different attitude.

This is why I advocate adopting fierce reinvention, or something similar, as your mantra for change.

Let me give you a recent case study. Markus has spent the last decade and a half getting up at 4am, kissing his sleeping children on the forehead and then hitting the road to get to his business. He works the corporate treadmill solidly until late in the evening. He repeats this every day of the week and his business is thriving. On weekends family time is sacrosanct.

But here’s the thing: his business isn’t scaling and he cannot take his eye off it for more than a minute. Over the years he has tried a few different angles to introduce scale and reduce frictions. He diversified from being purely services-based and introduced a product line that leveraged his strong brand. But without the resources to market this product it hasn’t progressed beyond a novelty. He’s diversified his personal asset base, but the upside hasn’t eventuated.

He admits he has no real strategy, plan or goal in place. And frustratingly, every time he tries something innovative he quickly gets pulled back into the day to day of his current business.

He recently bought himself a luxury motor vehicle as a reward for his years and years of hard work. He feels guilty driving it.

A couple of weeks ago Markus woke in the middle of the night with pains in his chest. He was terrified he was having a heart attack. Death felt imminent, but he convinced himself it was an anxiety attack due to the pressures he is under. He didn’t go for a medical check up, yet was sufficiently shaken up to give his wife a brief on what to do with his estate should he die.

And then he went back to the corporate treadmill. He convinced himself that he is in control; he will consider making a New Year’s resolution to bring changes to his life.

What would you do in Markus’s situation?

I put this question to Hamish Thomson from Priority Advisory Group. His answer:

Markus should take a step back to evaluate. Changes are necessary, he knows this.

Being fierce resonates with him. If he is going to implement changes that can improve his relationships, business, health, why would he wait?

It doesn’t make sense to say I’ll be fierce next week (or in January), or I’ll be slightly fierce today.

Fierce implies urgency.

3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Psychologically Prepare for a Venture Capital Ice Age

iceage2

 

Since initially publishing this newsletter to subscribers two days ago there have been two additional touchpoints worth highlighting:

* firstly, a comprehensive piece has been published on TechCrunch, After the Gold Rush, which lists a number of views from other pundits that back up my prognosis;

* secondly, reports from New York City of a young startup founder who appears to have jumped to her death.

These two incidents may in no way be connected, but the point of this piece is that entrepreneurs should prepared themselves psychologically for the rigours of startup life, which may become a lot harder in coming months.

Here is the original piece I wrote:

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I’ve never been much of a doomsday kind of person. I’ve been through two venture capital ice ages and definitely would not wish one on anyone. That said, the signs are there that we may well be heading into another one – it may be a gradual cooling rather than an overnight freeze, but entrepreneurs need to prepare.

The facts first:
In Q4 financing of startups fell by 6.6% to $17.13bn. This is still high, but it is the lowest in five quarters.

Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley are reigning in the throttle. New financing rounds are being done at lower valuations.

Startups are being urged to cut their cash burn even if they may not yet need to. 10% cuts are now becoming common place. Thanks to John Furrier of SiliconANGLE for this data.

Stats from WSJ/Dow Jones VentureSource point out that the number of US startups valued at $1bn or more for the first time has tentatively dropped by 50% for Q1 ’16 in contrast to Q4, which itself was over 50% down from the Q3 peak. They also point out that 35 of the 48 US tech venture-backed IPOs are trading below their IPO price.

We all know that most startups fail. In the currently cooling climate the number of failures may well skyrocket. Entrepreneurs should continue to listen carefully to their advisers and VC investors regarding trimming back on burn rate and shoring up resources. But what about their emotional side? The pressure of a cooling market can lead to significant psychological stress on founders.

I want to highlight 3 areas that may well help entrepreneurs psychologically prepare with excerpts from my upcoming book, Be Fierce: The Leaders Guide to Unleashing Your Potential:

– Dealing with Failure
– Dealing with Success
– Being Resilient

1. Dealing with Failure
For some people the fear of failure holds them back from doing things. At best such fear is self limiting, at worst it can be debilitating.

Mick Ebeling (of Not Impossible Labs) was able to progress beyond his fear of failure through learning to jump first and making the assumption that the net would appear. He believed things were going to work out even though when he leapt he had no idea how.

You can follow that belief, or you can follow the fear.

He puts it philosophically. We don’t know why we are here, on earth, but it’s not just to make money or have fun. He visualises us all on rickety little boats that are motoring across the narrow of expanse of time that is our lifespan. If we want to be successful then we’ve got to leave a way behind us. If we take life too slow and steady we don’t create a wake and then what’s the point.

The secret to success, for Mick, was the realisation that failure isn’t a big deal.

We tend to find ourselves entangled in what we should and shouldn’t do. When we unravel this we formulate constraints on what can and can’t be done.

They appear fact-like, but they are far from it. They only amount to conversations that we have in our heads, but so often they seem to crystallise into facts.

That’s not a bad thing, as long as the solidifying conversations are motivated by positive, motivating thoughts. It’s when we view fear-induced inner conversations as fact that we limit ourselves.

Without training and mindfully creating a different set of thoughts we can default to that negative conversation.

And so we need to do all we can to banish negative thoughts, banish fear and focus on having a positive conversation in our heads.

You can change reality through the power of what you say to yourself. As your positive thoughts and conversations crystallise into facts, you change reality by having these positive facts guide you, instead of the fearful ones.

By imagining a “Yes” when you’re expecting a “No”, by acting confident when you’re feeling nervous, you can become the person you want to be. Act like the person you want to be and success will triumph over failure.

Success and failure are far from random. They live within the very DNA of our character and personality. They are expressed through our thoughts and actions.

We choose which side of the fine line we find ourselves on – success or failure – by our courage in the face of both adversity and uncertainty and also how we choose to visualise ourselves. Do you see yourself as failing or succeeding?

2. Dealing with Success

Success can come with a dark side.

Loneliness and depression affect everyone in all walks of life. Successful people are more prone to it and entrepreneurs even more so.

Mark Suster, a venture capitalist at Upfront Ventures, believes that success breeds loneliness. It can be a depressogen and in some studies the rate of depression in successful people is higher than 1 in 3.

Mark identifies four reasons success can be a lonely place:
1) the expectations don’t stop – they get higher
2) there is so much more at stake and so many more livelihoods and legacies that you plan for
3) it is only a heartbeat away from failure and the press love a rise and fall story
4) you find yourself surrounded by a bubble and often a bubble with vested interests in your actions.

As leaders you can be thrust into the spotlight of success with far more impetus than other people and are therefore susceptible to the sudden onset of loneliness and depression, many times with no experience in how to identify or cope with it.

One moment Jim was a struggling entrepreneur. His mother kept yelling at him to get a real job. His friends told him that he was crazy. The next moment his company was valued at over a billion dollars and some guy he’d only ever previously seen on the cover of magazines was thrusting a very, very big check into his hands. He spent six months mastering golf and travelling the world. Deep down he began to feel more and more hollow inside. He was becoming detached from his former entrepreneurial self and didn’t know how to identify himself anymore.

What can you do to deal with the dark side of success? There are two avenues you can take.

Explore the dark

Your life exists as a narrative, a story arc with a past, present and future. In order to truly achieve well-being you need to delve into parts of your past and present that you may feel much trepidation about. There may be dark times when your arc dipped low and this darkness cannot be avoided. It must be explored as it leads to the next point.

Tackle the triggers

Loneliness is often exacerbated by triggers. Things happen in your life that for most people would be viewed as slightly negative, but you view them as off-the-charts negative. Having explored the dark you become aware why these things have such an effect on you. You can identify very early on, even before the trigger starts having an accentuated impact on you, that it is there and you can act.

3. Being Resilient

You want to achieve your best, you want to stand out from the pack. We all do.

And so you push yourself. Nothing wrong with being driven, it can help you attain your stretch goals. You equate stress with success. There is nothing wrong with this on the face of it.

Pushing yourself to overcome a challenge with the awareness that you may well have too few resources at hand to do so is the very definition of stress. And in many instances this stress is the very thing that drives you over the edge and empowers you to overcome that challenge. Cultivating short term stress can only lead to better performance, but it can also protect you through a boost to your immune system.

The issue, though, is that you don’t stop there. You push yourself continuously. You don’t give yourself time to decompress.

Isolated stress turns into chronic stress, and that is deadly.

And yet, as a society, we take pride in how hard we work, in how much stress we are under.

Have you ever asked someone how they are and they’ve replied, “Great, very relaxed, taking my time to complete a few projects.”

You are more likely to get the response, “I’m so stressed. I’ve been working like crazy and I’ve got so much to do.”

Take note of a person’s body language when they give you such a reply. They will puff out their chest with pride, their eyes will widen in excitement and they will smile at you. All is right in their world, this is how it ought to be.

And yet it isn’t ok. Annual stress-related healthcare costs have soared into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Chronic stress will weaken your energy reserves, it will reduce your ability to think and ultimately it can kill you.

Stress, like happiness, lives on a continuum. At one end stress is short-term, it is good. At the other it is chronic and bad. To cultivate stress and optimise your performance you need to determine what your stress limits are. Just the right amount and you are in the zone. Too much and you cross the point of marginal returns and the efficacy of stress in boosting your performance degrades.

The most reliable measure of your particular place on the stress continuum is your resilience: how quickly you recover from a stress event. It translates directly from Latin: “to jump or leap again”.

Resilience measures how long it takes you to revert to your restorative state in which you charge up your strength for your next challenge.

You may undergo a major stress and feel like you have recovered quickly. Feeling fine you take on another stress almost immediately. Again, you feel like you’ve made a quick recovery so you dive into a new challenge. However, each stress can build up a level of resistance to reverting to your restorative state. The end result is that you don’t ever fully restore your energy levels. And then one day you suffer a cataclysmic health issue.

When I was an analyst I saw the effect of this firsthand. My colleagues would step off the plane from a particularly gruelling few weeks travelling, only to literally turn around and do it again the next day. Meanwhile, they were pushing themselves to keep up their writing regime so that could meet their publishing deadlines and also working on keynote presentations for looming events. While they thrived on the stress of each one of these activities, it was their cumulative effect that wore them down.

Besides the constant barrage of challenges that we rise to, you may also be depleting your resilience simply by thinking or participating in routine events like reading a magazine or watching the news on TV. Our default though pattern is to think negatively and so the more we engage in activities that are open to being viewed in a negative light, such as emails and interactions with work colleagues, the more likely we are to stress over them and wear ourselves down. Similarly, marketers and the media are well aware of our how stress-inducing stimuli seize our attention and the daily deluge of ‘act now’ messages we receive have a similar affect.

How can you reduce the effect of stress and build up your resilience?

You come home from work after a busy day and decide to destress with a glass of wine. You try to drown out the thoughts that are stressing you by escaping into a reality program, the latest serial on Netflix or a novel.

But then you have to come back to reality. You do this day after day, night after night until the weekend arrives and you find that you are even more stressed.

This is because constant suppression of negativity leads to an increase in negativity. Not only does it cause you to have more negative emotions, but it can also reduce your self-esteem and lead to depression.

The most effective method to build up resilience is to breathe. By controlling your breathing patterns you alter your emotions and induce stress reduction.

When I was in the military I trained myself to take in a deep breath and let it out slowly. This would help to reduce my anxiety about a stressful situation and also increased my clarity of thought so that I could determine how to deal with the situation in the most effective way.

Taking in slow and deep breaths can stimulate your vagus nerve, which acts against your stress-induced fight or flight response to a stressful situation.

Extending your inhalation and exhalation for just 10 minutes a day can noticeably relax you. This in turn reduces your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. It can also reduce inflammation, improve digestion and brain function.

Deep abdominal breathing involves expanding your diaphragm, the muscle that sits lengthways between your stomach and chest, and reducing your number of breaths by 50% per minute – long and slow, 4-5 seconds in and then 4-5 seconds out.

If you want an even quicker method to activate your vagus nerve, you can immerse you face into a basin of cold water. This method is best done after vigorous exercise. You mainly want to ensure that your eyeballs are completely submerged in the water as they are one of the key vagus nerve stimulation areas.

CEO Richard had a predominantly negative internal dialogue. “We are going to use up all our cash and have to shut down, what will you do then?” Such statements came in waves and at times it seemed like a constant barrage. He delved into one of these times, which has been triggered by a marketing campaign that his internal dialogue told him would fail. What Richard realised is that before the negative thought train left the station there was a primal feeling in the middle of his chest. Feeling always precedes thought. For Richard this was a sharp twisting, squeezing feeling that he best described as crippling anxiety.

He was able to work with this feeling through the practice of meditation. While sitting in his quiet place and meditating, one of these thoughts hit him. Instead of letting it take a hold he decided to explore the feeling itself rather than the accompanying thoughts. He asked himself, “What does it look like? If it were a real thing how would it feel to the touch? What would it smell like?”

These interstitial questions created a major shift in his thought processes. He was able to create a gap between the feeling and the thoughts. Ordinarily, he would notice the feeling and ask himself what was causing him to be anxious. Reasons would flood in. Over a period of months he worked in that gap and strengthened his ability to notice and separate it out.

This enabled him to realise that his anxiety did not stem from any one thing. Instead he had an overarching sense of dread, a feeling that many people experience purely as a result of being conscious.

The act of trying to push that feeling out of his mind had been heightening his anxiety. He decided to accept that it was there, it was a part of him and this acceptance helped ease its affect on him.

By doing so he was accessing his deep well of resiliency, which was as much a part of him as his struggle with anxiety. He did so by essentially standing still, feeling the feeling and not pushing it away with a justification for its existence. From this position of strength he could then return to focus on his purpose, what was driving him to build his company. Coming back to that purpose and holding to it increased his resiliency to the negative barrage.

Remember these three areas, Dealing with Failure, Dealing with Success and Being Resilient, when things get tough for you in your leadership role. Apply them regularly and they will help you deal with the pressure.

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At EXOscalr we work with our clients to unleash their potential and make a difference. We draw on decades of experience, including insights gained in venture capital, corporate innovation, building high growth organizations and advising the Fortune 1000 on transformation.

As a professional coach and adviser I constantly focus on the trends in achieving exponential growth and how you can make more difference.

I read all my email at rand@exoscalr.com and I’m also at +1-650-529-4181 and +1-646-480-0205. Feel free to reach out.

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