You don’t need a better strategy or more tactics!
The current landscape of business advice — on the Web, in business books and from business gurus’ mega-events — is primarily focused on strategy and tactics and always points to something outside as the solution to the all our business woes. Apparently, for any business problem you want to solve — whether that’s growing your business 1ox, dealing with millennials, fixing bad morale or bad behavior, or innovating faster and better — there’s a “7 (give or take) Step” process to get there.
Here are four principles*— immutable facts about every human, in every situation — that I’ve written about here in a business context. Tactics have their place, but knowing these principles (in your gut, not in your brain) is all you really need to guide you through any business problem, or really any other problem.
1. Our Experience is Created from the Inside-Out, Moment to Moment.
You know that saying, “It is what it is.”? As it turns out, the statement is completely false. “It” can never be anything on its own. Your experience of “it” is created, just for you, moment to moment, thorough the power of thought. We are continually creating the world that we live in, entirely through the power of thought. It was not created for us, or around us.
You know that guy at work who is just a complete jerk? It’s just so frustrating to be around his arrogance and stupidity, right? Turns out that’s not true either. Your experience of him comes entirely from thought. Similarly, if you don’t get contract that you were hoping to get, or a client fires you, or your best employee quits, your experience of that situation is not based on the situation itself. Your experience comes entirely through the power of thought.
When I describe “the power of thought”, I’m pointing to the extremely large number of thoughts that pass through our head every day, similar to the way that thousands of clouds pass through the sky every day. When you’re feeling crappy, it’s simply because you’re having crappy thoughts. The good news (which is probably frustrating to some) is that there’s no way to “change” your thoughts, as so many well-meaning self-help guides would have you believe. It’s not “what” you’re thinking that matters — just “that” you’re thinking.
We’re wired to have ups and downs. Spending time chasing an “up” feeling when we’re feeling down is like trying to fix something that’s not broken in the first place.
2. All Humans are Resilient
In the process of developing a new idea, or living life in any way, there are likely to be many so-called setbacks. We all fall down, a lot. But, built into each and every one of us — regardless of our past, our biochemical imbalances, or anything else — is an extremely powerful system that always resets the mind back to a neutral, or natural, state.
Think about it: all of us who are currently on this planet have experienced “bad” situations — losing loved ones, getting divorced, being in horrible accidents, losing a business, being involved in a war — and so on. But by definition, if we’re still here, we’ve figured out a way through. We may have more scars than we’d like, and we may have not gotten through all of those situations in the exact way we would have preferred, but we got through. That’s resilience. It’s built in. We all know how to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and move on, regardless of what the situation is.
Think about how many ideas people don’t express because of their fear of getting fired, for example. Think about how much freer we all could be if we didn’t fear our experience. It is sometimes said of athletes that perform at an incredibly high level that their strength or conditioning is as good as everyone else’s but what makes them able to perform better is their ability to “take the brakes off”. What would change if all of us were able to take the brakes off, knowing that no matter what, we’ll be fine!
Another way to think about the principle of resilience is to recognize that there are so many potential solutions to just about any problem that can arise in life, certainly in business. Solutions will always seem to come “out of left field”, if you only allow your mind to settle and let those new thoughts (which may look like solutions) in. (More on this in #4, below.)
3. We’re All Guided
There’s stuff going on all the time in the universe that is beyond our understanding. Call it God, quantum physics, collective consciousness, massive coincidences, or luck — call it whatever you like. But it seems to me that there’s an intelligence beyond what’s happening in any of our little 10 pound brains that is making the earth spin, the sun rise, and, well, everything else. It’s what makes those thousands of thoughts appear in our heads without us doing anything. Knowing that we can tap into that universal intelligence at any time we like (and knowing that it’s always there, even if we don’t choose to consciously tap into it) is an extremely powerful (and perhaps comforting) notion.
Let’s say you’re trying to innovate a new product, for example. Sometimes, an idea just comes to you in a dream (while sleeping or awake) and it looks like a completely formed idea that you can just execute and presto — new product! Where did that idea come from? This is the universal intelligence. At other times, you might start with just a zygote of an idea but no idea of how it could turn into a product. Along the way — once you get started, but only once you get started — there are always fresh thoughts that show up and literally guide you along the path toward completing the project. That too, is the universal intelligence at work.
I have seen far too many companies rush toward what they believe to be a great idea and in doing so miss out on so many opportunities along the way; or perhaps even worse, don’t pursue a great idea because they can’t immediately see how it would be completed. Personally, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a programming project that I thought was impossible only to realize halfway through that in fact what I feared would be the hardest (or most impossible) part was actually quite trivial once I had completed all the previous steps.
4. Magic Only Comes from a Clear Mind
New thoughts never ever come from old thinking. If we’re embroiled in thinking about how badly someone wronged us, it’s nearly impossible to see how we can forgive them. When we’re thinking that we’ve been forced into a corner and have to do something or risk losing our business or getting fired, it’s almost impossible to see a way out. But with a clear mind, our default states — specifically creativity and love and a pure sense of resilience — shine through every time.
So, many people will read this and ask “how do I clear my mind”. Like a still pond that’s been disturbed, it is precisely the act of doing nothing that allows the pond to naturally become still again. The more we try to clear our heads of the old thoughts, the more clouded our heads become. Just go on living your life, without churning through those negative thoughts, and you’ll notice, over time, that the mind starts to naturally become much more clear.
Also, understand that in 100% of the cases, whatever stress or negative thinking we are experiencing is not because of what’s happening outside of us, but rather because of what’s happening inside of us (our state of mind).
Further, when it really looks like it’s something outside of us that’s causing us strife, recognize that the entire world we live in was created by thought. There’s no such thing as a corporation, bank account, land border, deadline, or org chart, without it (thought). They aren’t real by themselves — they’re only as real as we make them.
The more that we (innocently) buy into the misunderstanding that a deadline or other externally imposed condition is what is creating our stress, the more our minds become clouded, and the cycle only exacerbates itself .