Sunday, August 18, 2013

Good questions - ask, and it will be given to you

What questions do you ask yourself?

Imagine that something "bad" happens, something that you wish didn't happen, but it did. It might be something you said, something you did or something external that happened to you. What questions do you usually ask in this situations?
"Why am I so stupid?"
"Why bad things happen to me?"
Or rather
"What can I learn from this situation?"
"How can I use it to grow, to learn?"

Things happen, but the way you will use them depends on you. Some things that happen to you cannot be even controlled by you!
You can choose to beat yourself up every time you screw something, but in my opinion the more constructive way is to try to learn from it. I believe that things happen to make us grow, why not take advantage of it? 


Power of good questions

Do this small experiment.

Say to yourself: "I want to loss weight" (you don't need to lose weight? Go to (*) below and do exercise with your own example!). Observe how do you feel with this statement, how your brain reacts to it, what pictures do you see.
Now say to yourself: "What small thing can I do everyday to lose some weight?" and observe how is it different than previous question. Which one creates more drive for action? Which one creates less tension? 

(*) To feel it better try it on something that is adequate to you. It may be losing weight, being more productive, exercising on a regular basis or meditating on regular basis.

Do you feel the difference? For me it was huge! I can feel my brain working differently. When I ask question I immediately see my brain generating ideas. I don't have to think about it. This is like your own brainstorming. Let go and see what ideas are coming to your mind, don't rate them at first, let them flow. You will be amazed what ideas you are generating, some of them will be unreal, some will be weird, some will be constructive. Then choose the couple of them that makes sense for you and use them.

Ask small questions

In small excercise above I've used "What small thing...?" question. Why did I form it this way? It puts much less pressure and makes you think about small part of the solution not about whole. But doesn't it mean that we will achieve less? From my experience - NO. I believe that the power of small, consistent action is priceless. To find out more check out the book about the Kaizen method (here) - there is whole chapter on asking small questions.

In addition to everyday small question, ask "big" questions as well. As they give you long run perspective. Bigger picture of what you want to achieve. It's very important to have something you can focus on.

Small off-topic  about small changes - Anthony Robbins says that in many cases the difference between success and failure is just "2 millimeters" (check this for more details and some nice stories - http://youtu.be/_nZcbIGlCQk).

What if I don't know the answer?

It can happen. 

Come on!? Nobody knows everything and it's good to use other people's knowledge. And if you already have a question you are way ahead to finding the answer. Find someone that you think will know answers and ask them. Find someone that was in similar situation and that found way through. People are more willing to share than you may think. Sometimes they share in the form of book, other times as a movie on youtube, article in newspaper or blog. 

Summary

  • whenever something happens to you, good or bad, ask yourself "what can I learn from this situation?", "how can I use it to grow?"
  • when you want to change something, ask yourself small questions everyday (it's good idea to stick post-it with them) eg. "what small thing can I do today to move ahead?". Ask big questions to create holistic plan.
  • if you don't know the answer or you want to get better ones that you can think of by yourself or simply you want to - go and ask someone, it may be face-2-face conversation, email, book, movie (yeah! These all are ways of communication). Have your questions prepared up front, this will cause your brain to pick important 
  • make asking good questions a habit!
  • and as always - enjoy the process. Asking questions is fun!
Take an action and comment below - what questions works for you? What questions makes you want to live? Examples from my life would be:
  • How can I make it better? What can I improve?
  • What can I do to be better man, to smile more, be more social?


Make it great life!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Courage. Leave home for the unknown...

Do you have moments in your life that you REALLY want to do something, but there is this thing that is holding you back? 
Do you have some areas in your life that you avoid, that you "don't have time for"? 
Are there things that even thinking about them makes you anxious, afraid?

...Think about it...

If you've answered yes for at least one of questions above, there are good news for you - you are ALIVE! And you experience fear from time to time. 

"ME?! Experiencing fear?! That's bullshit!" You might say.
But the truth is that fear is part of live, everybody feels it, it's part of our biology and thanks to it we still exist as human race. The only thing is that we started to connect it to many other things than just survival.

Let's see what can we do about it.

What is courage?



For most of my life I believed that courage is where there is no fear. I thought that brave people, the ones that do things I'm afraid of, have no fear and I have to (somehow...) eliminate fear before I could even try doing it. So I've spent my time reading books, going to seminars trying to get rid of this fear. And... nothing happened with it. It was still there, like a best friend that is with you during bad and good times. 

As a side note - don't get me wrong, I'm so GRATEFUL for all books I've read and all seminars I've attended, because they were the road to ideas and better understanding of how it works. Without them I would not be able to write about things I'm writing about now. I've learned a lot about myself and met wonderful people and I highly encourage everybody to do at least one of these two. The only wrong thing about it was my mindset.

Winston Churchill said [x]:
Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend.
Think about it. How would world be different if people like Gandhi, Rosa Parks and many others had same ideas, but without courage? Without courage to go out and act.

How to be brave?

Does it mean that knowing about it automatically makes you courageous?

Nope. 

Because it takes practice. It takes practice to condition your brain to face fears and dance with them. It takes practice to be brave. It's like a muscle that needs to be exercised to grow and stay big. What happens to the muscle that is not used? It shrinks. So something to think about - ask yourself a question - what can I do everyday/week/month to grow my courage muscle?

On the other hand - knowing that you should be dancing with your fears instead of trying to conquer them is HUGE. For me it changed completely my approach to fears. Before I was trying to get rid of them BEFORE making an action. After I started doing things despite of being afraid. 
Some examples from my life:
  • I was scared of water - I've signed up for swimming lessons.
  • I was anxious when speaking to people I don't know (especially in English) - I've joined couple of meetups.
  • I'm afraid of what people will think of me and my ideas - I start writing blog!
Jacek Walkiewicz, polish psychologist (if you know polish I highly recommend you watching this: "Pełna moc możliwości"), says in one of his TEDx presentation that the difference between him now and him 20 years ago is "back then I was scared and I didn't do it, now I am scared and I do it".

Comfort zone

Fear is something that was used to keep us alive, to be safe, to pump blood to muscles and to be able to fight or run away more efficiently. But nowadays it's far from keeping us safe. We have the illusion of safeness though, so it's tempting to stay inside this safe place of comfort zone. 

Magic happens when you face your fears, dance with it, treat it as a challenge not something you have to run away from.


DO IT!

I recommend you do this small exercise. Think of something you are afraid of doing, something take makes you anxious or something that is not comfortable for you and DO IT! Choose safe environment, to make sure you and others will be ok and DO IT!

You say that I should dance with my fears and I'm really afraid of jumping out of the building, should I do it? NO! Use your common sense, you KNOW which of you fears seams "unreasonable" (yeah, there is no such thing as unreasonable fear - there is always a reason!). It may be speaking in front of people, talking to cute girls on the street, etc. You know what's yours!

Sometimes you say that you don't have time, don't want to do this, but underneath the surface there is fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not being enough, fear of rejection.

First dance with your fear would be - be honest with yourself. Even better - talk to someone you trust about it. Admit that you are afraid of something. Many times this single step will help a lot. You start dancing with your fear, you acknowledge that there is something and then you can start your dance.

Summary

These guidelines I use for dancing with fear and building courage muscle.
  1. Be honest with yourself about what you feel, what you are afraid of.
  2. Ask yourself: why do I want to do the thing I'm afraid of? What is your reason? Do you have reason that is strong enough that you really WANT to do this?
  3. Choose appropriate step size. Too small challenge won't be attractive for you, too big will be too scary. To learn how to swim you need something bigger than puddle and something smaller than ocean. Take a look at kaizen method.
  4. Increase size of steps while you are getting more comfortable. To grow muscles you need to increase weight.
  5. When you are in the situation when you experience fear, observe it, treat it as energy that is flowing. This reminds me that I've heard this in one of the interviews with well known musician:
    [A] "You are not afraid of going and performing in front of thousands of people?"
    [B] "I don't call it fear. I feel my heart beating faster, my hands slightly shaking and I know that I'm doing something that matters, I feel excitement, I know I'm alive, I know I'm ready!"
  6. Dance with your fear in safe environment. Ask someone that already has do it for advices, read a book, attend a workshop and just DO IT!
And start asking yourself question: What small thing can I do today to grow my courage muscle? And comment below to share some awesome strategies you come up with.

Good read about how to make change in sustainable way - You need internal power to transform your life.

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This way I would like to welcome you on this blog. I thought this will be great way to start it. I'm really afraid of putting this outside, I don't know what people will think, whether my English is good enough and much more. But I do it anyway. There is no better way to grow than to confront your own fears.

Be brave!

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