The most recent stories from The Change Blog community.
The world is full of competition. There’s always somebody else trying to out-run us so that they can get to the top. This can be discouraging because we might feel we can’t compete on their level. But I think we should see competition as a good thing. It helps us to stay motivated in the things we do, and it helps us to do better for ourselves and others.
Sometimes we get to a point where we just kind of lie dormant, not really progressing much in our lives. For example, sometimes in our careers we lose hope and think that there’s just too much competition and there’s no way for us to get ahead. Simply put…not true! Part of wanting to make positive changes in your life involves giving yourself that extra boost to stand out from the crowd.
It’s hard to be generous when you feel you don’t have enough. The fear of running out is deep, insidious and ingrained; and it presents itself in many guises. Giving in to this fear is to avoid risk, to burden yourself with precautionary excess and to restrict your enjoyment of life itself. It’s time to change your mindset.
On a two-day, 850-mile drive between Austria and Wales, I found myself faced with a traffic jam leading up to a lane closure about a mile ahead. One lane of traffic was almost at a standstill as the other crept steadily ahead, filtering into the first at the last possible moment. For once, I took the bull by the horns and stayed in the moving lane. I crept guiltily past a few cars but, afraid of running out of time and space, slunk back into the slow lane with plenty of room to spare.
‘That’s you all over’, said my fella, ‘you’re always afraid of running out’.
Doing one thing at a time.
That’s the most practical definition of the word Zen. In other words, Zen equals focus. Think of all the pictures that you might associate with the term Zen (peace, clarity, strength) and you can see how they apply to a state of intense focus as well. Ultimately the two subjects are one and the same, and learning to master this art of focus (or Zen) can unlock incredible power in your life.
Focus might be “doing” one thing at a time but it is also about “noticing” one thing at a time. Focus is a state of awareness that goes beyond just actions – it is the place of calm mental presence in this moment. A mind that is cluttered with ten different thoughts is scattered; a mind that gives attention to just one item at a time is focused, calm, poised, and powerful. Consciousness, awareness, flow, and presence are also terms used to describe this state.
I struggle when it comes to using a ton of will-power to make changes in my life. I might manage it for a day or two, but it’s not long before I simply give up – I’ve put so much effort in that I’m exhausted.
Do you ever feel the same? Perhaps you stick determinedly to your diet for a week, but then you just can’t resist that candy bar or slab of cake – especially when everyone else is tucking in. Or maybe you make it through the first three chapters of a business book – but then you get busy and you can’t seem to find the time to carry on.
I’ve noticed that, while I struggle to stick with things which take willpower, I don’t have any problem keeping up with the habits that I’ve established in my life. I imagine it’s the same for you. You’ll have all sorts of current habits like:
One of the personal qualities that helps most with handling change is called self-efficacy. It’s an odd word, and not one you hear a lot in everyday conversation. It’s been around since the 1970s, though, when Albert Bandura invented it as part of his theory that the beliefs we have about our abilities affect our actual outcomes. Or, as Henry Ford put it many years earlier, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right”.
In 1979 Ralf Schwarzer and Matthias Jerusalem came up with a test to predict how well people are likely to cope with daily problems and stressful life events. Since then, a lot of research has gone into showing that, in fact, our beliefs about our own abilities do affect our success in many different areas of life.
David Thornburg is an award winning author and consultant who specializes in the ways in which computer technology influences our lives, particularly the ways we learn. As part of his research, he has proposed that we need access to four basic environments, or ‘learning spaces’ in which to operate in order to learn effectively.
The campfire is where we share knowledge and information with others. This is about preserving knowledge and, in the past, where technologies for encoding information (such as writing, books and, now, the Internet) were not developed, this was an essential means of ensuring that essential information was not lost to the community, that it did not, for example, die with one individual. The oral traditions – the stories – of many cultures are the embodiments of their campfires.
The watering hole is where creative discussions take place. Information does not exist in a vacuum – we have to make sense of it, put it into a context. The same data can mean different things to different groups at different times and, in the end, the sense made of all knowledge is contingent on time and place. We are social animals and so the watering hole is a place where we explore knowledge in the context of the community.