My wife Jenn and I have been helping companies, couples, and sports teams increase their performance, synergize their teams and grow the leadership capacity and the mindset focus of their people for over 25 seasons.
As we continue to play in this field of people development, one observation still stands out: Most people don't get what they want... because most people don't know what they want!
Or put in a slightly different fashion, even if people know what they want or think about their desired futures, very few of them capture these thoughts on paper, and fewer still build a plan to actualize their ideas.
Remember John Maxwell's belief that, "Workers will always work for thinkers."
During our recent training sessions we have been challenging leaders to increase the time spent on their thinking by journalling. Right at this moment I want to pause and challenge you! Are you consistently journalling? Has this practice become one of your most cherished habits?
Neurologist and teacher Judy Willis explains:
The practice of writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information… it promotes the brain’s attentive focus … boosts long-term memory, illuminates patterns, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition.
Our company's Thinking Tendencies Model can be a valuable and powerful visual tool for increasing our "thinking" awareness and juicing up our journalling.
We have positioned the process that we call FUTURE-POSITIVE Thinking at the top right hand corner of our model (based on an ice arena), pictured below. FUTURE-NEGATIVE Thinking is shown directly beneath, in the Defensive Zone. This is where we lose games before we play, or we lose the job before we interview. The FUTURE-NEGATIVE state of mind sounds a lot like, "I could never do that," or "I could never be like that person."
A FUTURE-POSITIVE focus has a much different impact. It delivers different language and very different energy. As we dwell in FUTURE-POSITIVE, our energy begins to dish up the life we desire instead of the life we hope not to get someday.
While you are in the FUTURE-POSITIVE quadrant, I would like you to focus on two key concepts. The first, Prospection, is defined as:
1: the act of anticipating : FORESIGHT 2: the act of viewing 3: the act of exploring (as for gold)
In the field of psychology, prospection refers to "the generation and evaluation of mental representations of possible futures. The term therefore captures a wide array of future-oriented psychological phenomena, including the prediction of future emotion, the imagination of future scenarios, and planning." (Wikipedia)
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
— Albert Einstein
We are viewing prospection through the FUTURE-POSITIVE lens, but prospection can easily be a FUTURE-NEGATIVE indulgence also. For this reason, many of our clients/trainees often ask this powerful question: "how do we adjust our thinking, choose our thoughts?"
Matthew Biggins has a great suggestion in his article, "You are not your Thoughts." He instructs the reader to, "imagine you’re sitting on a riverbank. As you look out you see objects floating by. As long as you stay seated, those objects will pass by. But if you pull the objects out of the river, then they become yours. The river is your mind. The objects are your thoughts."
Biggins is explaining that we are not our thoughts, but rather, we become the thoughts that we choose. Prospection then (mental representations of possible futures) gives us a powerful opportunity to choose F+ outcome desires for ourselves. In light of this, are we aware of the moment by moment choices that we are making? Are we intentional or re-actional as we sit on the bank of our mind's river?
The second F+ concept to ponder is deciding our desired Future Self.
According to Wikipedia,
"The psychological research on the future self examines the processes and consequences associated with thinking about oneself in the future. People think about their future selves similarly to how they think about other people. The extent to which people feel psychologically connected (e.g., similarity, closeness) to their future self influences how well they treat their future self. When people feel connected to their future self, they are more likely to save for retirement, make healthy decisions, and avoid ethical transgressions. Interventions that increase feelings of connectedness with future selves can improve future-oriented decision making across these domains."
Most experts agree that humans are transient. We will change over the next 10 years, so why not be intentional around who we will become, our Future-Selves?
Tod Perry includes an idea in his article, "The 'future self' strategy is a simple and positive way to becoming your best self." Perry's suggestion (below) pulls together our key concepts of thinking, journalling and intentionally utilizing prospection to better create our future-selves:
"Make the future you (in 5, 10 or 20 years) your pen pal. Frequently write to them explaining who you are today and the person you hope to become. This will create a kinship with your future self and make it more likely for you to know what that person will want and desire."
Use the ideas in this article as a warmup in order to play the important game of creating the person that you want to become!
We learn from our past, we live in our present, but our greatest opportunity lies in who we choose to become in our future.
Many of our corporate clients are engaging our services this summer and throughout the fall in order to energize their teams, focus their cultural mindset, and brainstorm processes around how to maximize their team COMMUNICATION during this new-normal.