Connect to a mindful awareness of your feelings at both a mental and physical level with this guided meditation.
The good news is that meditation can benefit us in three ways:
- It can treat depression and reduce stress,
- It can raise our happiness set point, and
- It can help make us a better leader.
I touch on meditation, mindfulness and the power of living in the now in my new book Fierce Reinvention, which also includes a guided meditation exercise so that you can feel this power first hand.
Think of meditation as the process of substituting your discursive mind with another object of attention, such as your breath, a chant or a sound. It’s that simple.
But beware, meditation is not a form of self-help in who to become or how to be.
Here’s the kicker: meditation is a path of fierceness, reinvention, and wisdom; it is a path to help us discover who we truly are, not who we are expected to be because of some internal or external agenda.
What’s the magic formula?
Meditation requires us to be fierce, because it can be anything but peaceful. In meditation we don’t shut out anything that comes up no matter how uncomfortable we may feel with an emotion, memory, or thought that arrives while we are in this state.
When we meditate we let go of the barriers and walls we have built around us; we stop grasping for things we want and guarding against things we don’t want.
Amazingly, when this happens we come to realize how vulnerable we are; we see vulnerability all around us. And this foundational insight increases our propensity for compassion. And it gets even better because compassion is a gateway to becoming a better leader.
Discover more about meditation, mindfulness and the power of living in the now in 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), which is available from Amazon.
Empower yourself by creating a space between action and emotion.
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.
Harness the Power of Contagion.
Hey, it’s Rand,
You may be doing wonderful things in the world already, but if no one knows about them, if no one knows about you, it can be very difficult to attract the right resources around yourself to amplify your impact.
You need to develop your personal brand and harness the power of contagion.
There are six rules to creating contagion:
Firstly, embrace messy.
The real world isn’t a clean, ordered place. Embrace the messy bits and do things even if you’re not yet perfect at them.
Show up and push the edges.
Secondly, release control.
Give up control over your brand to your followers and let them evangelise for you. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results.
Thirdly, you need to back fires.
Pour small amounts of gasoline on the fires that you already have burning, rather than pumping gallons onto large logs that haven’t been tested.
Fourthly, scare yourself.
Look for issues that take you out of your comfort zone and tackle them.
If you go right to the edge and really scare yourself, it will then be easier to then deal with the smaller issues closer into your comfort zone.
The fifth rule of contagion is to solve small.
Give your followers small problems to solve. This gets them used to working with you to build your brand and once you have established a pattern of problem-solving you can ratchet up the size of the problems you offer to your followers.
The sixth rule is to hook into virality.
You need to create a viral coefficient that is greater than one as this means that every person who hears about your personal brand in what you are doing immediately tells a minimum of two friends or colleagues who in turn going to tell two more, which eventually exponentialises into a huge following.
The trick to having a positive viral coefficient is to create a viral loop that has the minimum number of steps in it before that one person passes on the message of your great work to others.
Set a guiding principle, lift your game and your focus.
Hey, it’s Rand,
What’s your transformational question?
For the Greek mythological hero, Odysseus, the question was,“Where is true home?”
This became his guiding principle as he laboured, day in day out, on his epic quest.
To exponentialize your performance you need to set that guiding principle and take one small step forward, and then another, and before you know it, you will have established something unique that the world has never seen.
Your transformational question will kickstart your passion and provide the impetus to take that first step.
Odysseus didn’t answer his transformational question overnight and neither will you. It will take hard work, long hours and persistence.
To remain in pursuit of your goal set smaller milestones that you can achieve each year, as making progress in 2 to 3 things at a time will prevent you from feeling stuck.
What is your first milestone?
You also need to make a psychological shift and step up into the ranks of elite performer,
which requires being very deliberate with the things you’re saying and doing. It also requires you to not have to prove yourself or come across as trying too hard, and you need to feel like you belong, you need to feel that you are entitled to be where you are.
Can you find your authentic and unique voice?
Think of yourself as a force. Can you visualise this force?
How strong is it?
As you settled in for the long haul?
That’s good, but don’t settle in too much or you will create ruts. If you don’t push yourself hard enough you will become too comfortable and dig a deeper and deeper rut that will be very hard to escape from.
Don’t expect to feel 100% secure. if you’re not somewhat scared you will become complacent and your inspiration will wane.
Is the fear always there?
How strong is it?
Exponentializing requires you to lift your game and focus. Reduce the things that you don’t need, create a solid core of who you are, both as a person and as an elite performer, and become aware of any compulsions or rabbit holes.
By focusing on what you fundamentally believe to be important you can avoid being sucked into one of these rabbit holes.
What are you doing to ensure you actively engage in your journey?
Are you sure you aren’t leaving anything to chance?
Listen to your self talk. Is it your worst critic? Do you constantly engage in negative thought patterns? Visualise yourself on a higher level and create the right thinking patterns to get you there.
Lastly, remember that what you put in, is what you get out and ensure you optimise your inputs. get the right level of nutrients from your diet, breathe deeply to optimise your oxygen intake.
The more physically active you are, the more focus you will have. And sleep more so you can build both body and mind muscle.
Achieve more by visualizing success in advance.
Hey, it’s Rand,
Years ago I became national champion in a very athletic sporting event that also included a fair amount of strategy.
In addition to rigorous physical training I maintained a daily positive visualisation practice.
Picturing myself winning, was as powerful as actually practicing.
The more you visualise a goal or outcome in advance, the more ability you have of achieving it.
But bear in mind that your mind’s DNA, the way that it thinks, can either express itself negatively or positively.
If you visualise a disaster, guess what, you will most likely end up with a disaster.
But if you can visualise how a situation will play out as a success then you’re putting a positive spin on it and shifting your inner voice to a positive feel about that event this will cause every single fibre of your being to shift positively as well.
If you don’t make positive visualisation a daily practice, then your default negative voice will kick in and override any visualisation work you may have done previously.
Don’t think that once you are successful this all goes away. Even the most successful people in the world grapple with this on a daily basis. The table stakes simply get higher. If you fail after a big success, you fall harder.
Consider your goals of consequence and visualize being successful with them first. From there, cascade down into your daily activities and visualise success with them.
You want to have a positive frame of mind all the way from your high-level goals down to your daily activities.
if you have a positive view on a meeting, but a negative view over all, that will negatively impact the meeting. It may not totally cancel out the positive thoughts you have conjured up, but at the very least it will become a source of confusion for other participants who will pick up on your mixed messages. Aim to have that positive expression cascading all the way by visualising how the meeting will turn out and thinking positively on a constant basis at different times during the day.
Find more purpose by continuously evolving and growing.
Hey, it’s Rand,
On a scale of 1 to 10 how much life purpose do you have?
Consider Loic, he is a proximity flyer. That means he dons a wing suit and jumps off mountains. After an initial freefall to achieve optimal acceleration speed his suit inflates.
He then hurtles downward at a speed of more than 50 m a second. The smallest error on his part can be catastrophic.
He has had a lot of friends die. He isn’t playing golf, right.
But for him, this is life. For him this is living.
He watched his grandmother die of cancer and says he cannot imagine anything worse.
What is important is how you live.
Death is inevitable.
He says he doesn’t care where or how he dies, those details are not relevant.
For Loic, life is all about purpose. If he is following his true purpose then whether he lives or dies is neither here nor there.
He says that we are evolving, through technology and through skill. He likens what he is doing in proximity flying to the first animals that left the water.
They are evolving and growing. And becoming stronger.
What else is the purpose of life?
Another proximity flyer, Ellen says, “Do you want to go work your ass off, never get out of that hole and exist knowing that this is all that you ever have apart from maybe two weeks vacation every summer?”
Ellen says, “That’s not what I want. I want to do things that people tell me I can’t do and that domestic grind to me is not the life I want to live.”
Now ask yourself again: on a scale from 1 to 10, how much life purpose do you have?
If you are truthful to your inner soul and find yourself further left on the life purpose spectrum than you initially thought then you’ve got some work to do.
The truth is that the more you visualize a goal or outcome in advance, the more ability you have of achieving it.
Here’s the secret: visualization is a super power that’s been used by many elite sportspeople, business and other leaders to achieve success.
So, let’s take a closer look at visualization in action.
First of all, a golfer may see where they want the ball to end up, mapping in their mind its trajectory and how it will land. Ahead of a competition, a successful golfer will spend as much time visualizing how they are going to play each hole on the course as they would practising each shot.
Similarly, an executive may have a mental playbook of operating a business far in advance of them actually doing so.
What’s the magic formula? Our default mental state is one of negativity. Our discursive internal chatter constantly runs negative scenarios through our mind. And so, by visualizing success we rewire our thinking and positively align ourselves to achieve our goals.
It sounds simple. And it is. But it is also extremely powerful. The trick is to constantly practice positive visualization.
Learn more about visualization and other super powers in 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), which is available from Amazon.
Reduce stress and build resilience through breathing techniques.
Hey, it’s Rand,
The second element in the happiness algorithm is being resilient, and 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 deal with stress but taking a deep breath
and letting it out slowly. This would help to reduce my anxiety about a stressful situation
and it also increased my clarity of thought so that I could determine how to deal with a sticky situation in the most effective way.
Extending your inhalation and exhalation for just 10 minutes a day can bring noticeable relaxation.
By engaging in deep abdominal breathing you stimulate your vagus nerve, which acts to calm your stress induced fight or flight response. Breathing deeply into your abdominal chamber involves expanding your diaphragm, which is the muscle that sits lengthwise between your stomach and chest.
Reduce your number of breaths by 50% per minute, long and slow 4 to 5 second in breaths and then 4 to 5 second out breaths. Preferably your exhalations should be slightly longer than your inhalations.
Try it now.
Take a deep breath in, hold and then let it out slowly.
Take a deep breath in, hold and let it out slowly.
Resume normal breathing.
Try that for a series of 6 cycles over the next week and notice how your body changes: your posture will relax; you will feel more focused.
Live more in the now.
Hey, it’s Rand,
We all want to be successful and happy, we all want to enjoy doing a great job, yet for the vast majority of people these remain amongst our most elusive goals.
We flit between moments of illusory happiness and moments of dulling pain, glimpsing true joy in the eyes of others, yet very rarely in our own.
Overextension has become the norm: we are always on; always chasing deadlines; always checking in.
Even though happiness can feel ephemeral and elusive, there is a simple formula you can apply to increase the amount of time you are happy:
happiness is living in the now + being resilient
Existing in the now, we are more attentive, engaged and at our happiest.
What can you do to increase you now time?
What can you do to exist more in the now?
Firstly, you can minimise the potential for distractions: by keeping an uncluttered workspace; by placing your mobile phone on silent and, while you are wanting to focus, by removing any form of email or social notification and abstaining from accessing any form of social media.
Secondly you can create more focus time by allocating 90 minute calendar slots to progressing your priority projects and then sticking to them.
Give each task your full attention and notice when your mind wanders, acknowledge that intruding thought, and return your mind to the task at hand.
And thirdly you can build a now practice.
The more you practice being present, in the now, the better you will become at achieving a depth of focus.
As you build a regular practice of being in the now you will start to notice your compulsions to quickly check your email and your social media feed become weaker, you will start to notice that intruding thoughts won’t be as loud and they will arrive less often and with less fanfare, and you will more easily be able to shuffle them on and stay focused.
When you find yourself at this point you will know that you have strengthened your ‘now’ practice.