2020 – what a challenging year so far! It feels like the tectonic plates of society are moving and we are experiencing quakes and eruptions, and this is affecting our mental fitness.
Is your business affected? As a leader, how are you supporting your people? What about your own health? People always think about physical health when asked that question, and that is only part of the story. The mind and body together are the whole, so I’d like to know how the whole of you is doing. What’s going on in your body? What’s going on in your mind?
We are all having to adapt to stay safe. I see people coping in different ways, some throw themselves into keeping physically fit and active as this helps them feel good and more positive; others indulge in comfort eating and drinking to feel good in the moment, but not more positive; some just worry and feel bad.
Is your brain helping or hindering?
Thanks to neuroscience, we know a lot more about how the brain works and I’ve written about this before in ‘How the brain works to affect performance’. Your brain runs your body, so your mental fitness is critical.
So, let me simplify things here with a story. Have you heard this Native American legend?
The story goes…
A Grandfather was sitting by the fire with his two young grandsons, teaching them about the difference between good and bad, positive and negative. The Grandfather tells his grandchildren, “There is a good wolf and a bad wolf living inside each of us. The good wolf is love, compassion, courage, generosity, fortitude, discipline, laughter and every worthy virtue a human being is capable of. The bad wolf is anger, hatred, laziness, jealousy, envy, greed, sloth and other vices a human being is capable of. In each and every one of us, these two wolves are engaged in a fierce battle.”
Sitting on the edge of their seats the two grandsons, hardly able to contain their anticipation, blurted out excitedly, “Which wolf gets to win Grandfather!?”
“The one you feed”, the Grandfather answered. “The one you feed.”
It’s so true, isn’t it? When you find yourself in a negative thought pattern, such as worrying about what is happening to the business, then everything is affected and feels negative; you don’t even notice the sun shining or the smile on your partner’s face.
On a good day, when you are treating yourself with compassion and exploring new possibilities, you feel more positive and hopeful and this is reinforced by the sunshine and the smile, which you reciprocate.
How can you feed the good wolf and starve the bad wolf?
I found ‘Positive Intelligence’, which provides practical tools to guide you through intercepting and cutting off the bad wolf and feeding and strengthening the good wolf. It’s a mental fitness programme.
The creator of Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chimane, labels these two forces as ‘Saboteurs’ (bad wolf) and ‘Sage’ (good wolf). We all have a few Saboteurs manipulating our thinking and the chief of these is the ‘Judge’. I bet you have a Judge criticising you, saying “You are not good enough”, “You will never make it work”, and so on. The Judge also criticises others – “Who do they think they are?!” – and situations – “This is hopeless!”. Negative thinking that is unlikely to help and may actively make things worse.
The Sage operates from a fundamental belief that …
“Every outcome or circumstance can be turned into a gift and opportunity.”
Maybe not immediately, but with a little Sage effort, you can gain from every circumstance. You may learn something new or develop the skills and strength to deal with that circumstance or perhaps be inspired to make something new happen.
For example, the lockdown and subsequent restrictions on how we work together initially saw my leadership development workshops cancelled and my schedule was suddenly looking bleak for the rest of the year. A vacuum, and I had no idea what would fill it.
I recognised that people still need to learn and develop the skills required to operate effectively under these new conditions. So, I started working on translating face-to-face learning experiences into interactive online learning and virtual workshops. They went down well, and the calendar is now looking much busier. Coaching too can be done just as effectively by phone or videocall.
Remember, the thought pattern you indulge will be a self-fulfilling prophecy – if you believe it, it will be.
How does the Positive Intelligence programme work?
I am becoming a Positive Intelligence (PQ) coach and am offering the 7-week mental fitness programme. We know that changing habits is hard and changing thinking habits is particularly hard as they are intangible. The programme is designed to support you in working on weakening your Saboteurs and strengthening your Sage through daily activities to build a new thinking habit.
This works through an app which guides your daily habit building. Short audios and exercises to do in short chunks of time throughout the day help you to feed the good wolf. We know learning is not only more fun with others, but also you feel more accountable for making progress, so you go through the programme in a small group, which I facilitate. We meet weekly to discuss our experience and consolidate the learning. You will immediately notice the benefits of more positive thinking.
Want to get started or find out more?
To find out how you can experience more joy and positivity in your life by building your Sage powers and weakening the Saboteur hold over you, by working on your mental fitness, contact Amanda now.