Earlier this summer, we hosted a webinar with Michelle Steffes, concerning how to release one’s inner greatness. This is part 2 of 3. Above is the webinar, below the transcript.
This is the heartbeat of what I want to teach you today: you need to retrain your brain, which begins with a mindset.
Be Mindful of Mindsets
I'm going to teach you a little bit about your brain first so I can give you a very clear visual picture about how your brain works. From infancy to today, you have had mindsets formulated. A lot of us don't understand how tangible those mindsets really are. When we are born, we are born with billions of neurons. Every time we have a new thing taught to us whether it be a new concept, idea, mentality, skill, or whatever it might be, it begins with sort of a light, an electrical impulse in our brain. If we continue to think about it long enough, good or bad, you grow dendrites out from it. The longer you think about it, the more the dendrites grow, and eventually they connect to the neurons and now they become a physical part of your brain or mindset. This takes about 21-30 days of constantly thinking about one thing.
You've all heard the theory that you can change any habit within 21-30 days. For example, if you hated water and wanted to start drinking water, if you force yourself to do it for 21-30 days, you’d choke it down for the first week or so, but you'll eventually end up loving it because you changed the entire structure of how your brain functions.
Reversing the Negative
So how do we change those negative messages that we've received? How do we change those things that are working against us? It can start with attitude. Actually, attitude and mindset work together because changing your mindset helps your attitude and changing your attitude helps your mindset. People will reciprocate the attitude that you send to them.
Let me give you a quick scenario. 70% of corporate America is disengaged, which is costing Americans over $4.5 billion dollars a year. It's a big problem. So I go into a lot of organizations where disengagement is prevalent--discord, disunity, I can feel it before I even meet the first individual. You can sense it as an energy. I'm sure you've had that experience, whether at work or home. On the other side, if you have someone who is very positive, upbeat, willing to build on to other people, and help others grow, then you feel the energy that you want to be around and gravitate to that person. Whatever you're working on, in business or life, it's very important that you get your attitude in a state where you are reflecting very positive energy.
Motivation is absolutely critical to helping you to stay on track with that positive attitude. I like what Zig Zigler said once, “Motivation is like taking a bath. You need it every single day." And if you yourself are thinking right now, “Well that's hokey I don't need motivation," then you do need motivation. Here's a few facts you may not know. If you drive 12,000 miles per year, that is the equivalent to 2 years of college education. If you read 20 minutes a day, that equals to a 2200-page book per year. Also note that your brain waves are at their highest during the beginning of the day-- the first 20 minutes of your morning. Therefore, what you do in the first 20 minutes can activate and change the course of the rest of your day; it can set you on a course to feel like everything is going to go wrong, or everything is going to go right. I'm sure you can think about situations where you ran into that. Maybe you started your day and you were thinking all these bad thoughts and went to bed thinking those bad thoughts and your day turned out very crummy. I take this very seriously. I have a waterproof speaker that I take in my shower so I can use the first 20 minutes of my day to listen to inspirational, educational, or instructional things that will help me to continue to grow.
The Value of Visualization
We need to remember that it's important to see who you want to be instead of getting caught up with who we are. I want to bring you back to the motorcycle analogy that I shared with you about looking in the direction you want to go and the rest will follow. As a certified coach, I often give a stack of note cards to my clients and I tell them go fill these. You want to fill them with quotes, ideas, concepts, goals, you want to fill them with anything that encourages you, maybe something somebody said you, a testimonial that encourages you, put your dreams on there, and put them on your bathroom mirror, your computer screen, take them with you in your car, anywhere that allows you to be able to constantly fill your mind with them. Use them like a toolbox. Anytime you are struggling with your thoughts or ideas, you can continue to pull these out and use them as an encouragement.
All of us have a two year old inside of us, and that two year old is kicking and screaming. It's telling us what to do constantly. So at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, it's telling you "I want my coffee." When you go past your chocolate stash, it's telling you, "I want my chocolate." Or it's getting offended and suddenly the inside of you rises up and says take offense, be jealous, be angry and then you start thinking the worst of that person where maybe they never meant bad at all. This “two-year-old” is better known as the subconscious.
Sinking into the Subconscious
The subconscious mind and your mind is like an iceberg. 90% of who you are is your subconscious mind. It's your beliefs, your values, your confidence level, and it's every mindset that's been ingrained in you from the growth of dendrites that we mentioned earlier. It's who you are. It controls how you respond to life, relationships, difficulties, struggles, trials, it takes care of everything in your life occurring on a day-to-day basis. Only 10% is your conscious mind where you actually make decisions, like the decision you made today to be on this call. But you can use that 10% to drive down into your subconscious those things that you need to brand in there. Your subconscious mind is 30 times more powerful than your conscious mind.
In 2005, I was asked to launch a very large department for a nonprofit. I was there for a course of seven years. I ended up with four total nonprofit entities and two for-profit entities. After the first four years, I needed to step out and rearrange some things internally so that I could step out and do the external entities that were for-profit in that last two years. But after about a year and half into it, the leadership team had gotten together, and this came shortly after 2008, and as you know a lot of industries were affected by 2008 in many many ways and there were a lot of destructive decisions going on-over reactions, panic, some decisions were great, some were not so great, some were horrible, but after a year and half into this last part of my seven years, they made a decision to dissolve the program. As I said, they had rearranged the internal part of my job, so everything had changed and they weren't able to give me my same position back. They waited about five minutes to finally get the courage to tell me this, and they sat me down and said, "Thank you so much, Michelle, for the seven years. We have really appreciated everything that you have done. But we've had to come to a very difficult decision to dissolve the program. We have two options for you. The first is you can stay on board, we give you this position internally with much lower pay, but that's all we have to offer.” Well yippee. The second choice was that they were willing to give me a very good letter of recommendation, let me keep my technology that they had provided for me to do the exterior business and book of clients, and all they could afford was two months of severance pay. Another yippee.
I made the decision to go out and launch this business. It was a risky decision, because I was bringing in 65% of the household income for my husband and I. We had three children in the house yet. But it was the decision we decided to make. I was two weeks into it and I had created a business name, got it all legalized, and I was off to a rousing start. I took the 10,000 foot view of my life and I was very excited about where I was going because looking back on 25 years of leadership, I knew exactly what my passion was. But, after those first two weeks, I started to question myself. Those fear glasses I talked about earlier went back on my face. Would I lose the house? What should I do? So, I started to job hunt. What I found myself doing was one foot in and one foot out. For two months, I had one foot in, thinking I was going to launch this business and keep pushing to make it happen and the other foot was out just thinking that I needed a job. I had gone to several interviews and had applied to several jobs and had even got several job offers. But they weren't going to pay enough to pay the bills, so I kept waffling back and forth for two months.
Finally, as we began to tap into our savings account, we sold our boat. It wasn't a huge boat, but it was a nice boat. It brought in another two months for us, and as I continued to build the business, the business was starting to come in, but still not paying all the bills, which led us to make another very difficult decision. We decided to sell the motorcycles. As I watched the blank stare of my husband’s face when his motorcycle drove away, I realized mine was next. Within a week or two, I watched mine drive out of the driveway and it was hard for me to choke back the tears.
Retrain the Brain
You might think my reaction was ridiculous--it’s just a motorcycle. For me, it wasn't just a motorcycle; It was a lifestyle. It was the community we had created, the friendships--all the things that my husband and I enjoyed doing together. We had built this thing for seven years and It was very difficult to let our group and dreams about motorcycling go. After it drove away, I went back inside, dug both heels in, gritted my teeth, and I said that's it. No more. I was not going to lose one more thing. At this point it was probably one of the best decisions I made. I began to study hard, read articles, talked to great people and networked with people who could help, coach, and teach me along the way. I hooked up with some great mentors and I would study books and articles and listen to podcasts, it paid off--I ended up retraining my brain.
In the course of time, my business grew 200% in only 6 months. You can do the same thing. Jim Carrey is a great actor but has really had quite a past to speak of. In 1985, he was absolutely broke and depressed. Everything he had tried to do he failed at. From 1985-1992, he spent a lot of time driving up to Hollywood and parking his old-dilapidated car up there and just envisioning himself hobnobbing with all the directors and actresses because his dream was to act, and he wanted to do it more than anything. Just to make himself feel better, he imagined shaking hands with directors, them patting him on the back telling him “Wow, you are fantastic! Will you work for me?”
Through all these things, he continued to envision, and it did make him feel better. Little did he realize that he was recreating himself by doing this dreaming. In 1992, he wrote himself a check for 10 million dollars for acting services rendered and he put it in his wallet. He carried it around with him. He post-dated this check out about three years, which was about Thanksgiving 1995. Every time he'd take it out, he'd look at it and dream and envision himself being who he wanted to be. It got pretty tattered.
Interestingly enough, in 1995, he got a phone call. He was asked to star for the starring role in Dumb and Dumber. That was Thanksgiving. Want to guess what he was paid?
10 million dollars.
The Consequences of Convincing
The New England Journal presents a case of a placebo knee surgery. During this experiment, they had several patients with genetic knee problems. They separated them into two groups--Group A and Group B. Group A was going to go under normal surgery, and Group B (by permission of the family), was going to go under, but only have three slits in their knee, making them think they had knee surgery. They followed both groups after the surgery for several weeks, through the therapy, healing, etc. What they found is that both Group A and Group B healed equally. Why is that? In their mind, they thought they had the surgery.
The mind is an extremely powerful thing. The universal best-selling book of all time states as a man thinks, so is he. When I do this talk in front of a group of people, I always have them stand up and do an experiment, which I’ll quickly explain it to you. I have them stand up, put their finger out front, and twist around as far as they can behind their body without moving their feet. They will go as far as they can and then come back. Then we will have them envision it two more times but twisting even farther all the way back to the front. By the fourth time (they are now doing it physically again, not just in their imagination) I see 90% of them moving around their body 20-50% farther than the first time I asked them to do it. When I asked the audience why, many of them understand. It’s because they envisioned it. They believed in themselves. The subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between vision and reality. Olympians are hooked up to machines to track their vital signs, muscle movement, and nerve movement etc. as they are imagining and envisioning them on the course of the slalom. All of their actions that they are having are exact parallels as if they were doing the course for real.