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11 minutes | Jul 23, 2021
Do You Have A Sandbox?
For many of you, last week's episode was very conceptual with no practical application. I want to celebrate that . It’s essential to have activities that don't seem to have practical applications, or use business language, with no tangible Return Of Investment – ROI. We know that children need to play to learn new skills and develop as people. Yet, as adults we forget that we also need to keep playing in order to better ourselves. I have a six year-old daughter, and I totally understand the need to contain the areas where she plays. This way, I keep some order in my house and myself sane. I love inventions such as sandboxes, where we can let kids have fun, knowing that the mess is somewhat contained. So, when I learned that in software development it’s very common to use the term “sandbox” to describe a safe place to try new software, I thought: “What a brilliant use of the term. Why not create something similar to use for our businesses and lives.” Imagine if we could create a place where we could try things, and play with concepts, without worry about getting too messy or off track. For me, my podcast MINDSET ZONE, is my sandbox Here, I play with concepts, explore ideas, even invite special guests, and pick their brains around a certain topic. I even have playmates. People like you, who listen to this podcast and send me their comments and feedback. This way, I know what resonates with my favorite peeps. Playing in this MINDSET ZONE sandbox, I learn what concepts don't work, and I have to let them go. I discover what mindset workouts work better. I also play with ideas that I can use in live presentations or webinars. I can develop my speaking material, while playing in podcasting – and I love it. I can start to articulate concepts that maybe one day get organized and edited in a book – who knows! Even, if I don't materialize any of these ideas, I still think the time and effort to do this podcast, it's totally worth it, because I'm enjoying the process This containment gives me freedom to play – and I like it Do you have a sandbox? Your sandbox can be for play at a professional level or to add some enjoyment to your personal life. It can be a hobby, or whatever allows you to create that safe space where you can just play for the fun of it.
20 minutes | Jul 16, 2021
Paradoxes – Give Your Mindsets a Workout
To provide a mindset workout is my goal for every episode of my podcast. I want to create a space where you come to exercise your mind, such as when you go to the health club to keep yourself healthy and in shape. In the last episode – 26: Do People Really Change? – I went back in time 2,400 years, to Ancient Greece to illustrate the point that the question “Do People Really Change?” is not a new one. There I spoke about philosophers who argued that nothing really changes. They reasoned that everything we perceive as changes are merely illusions of our senses. This is a true paradox. If we look to the origin of the word paradox, we learn that it’s the conjunction of two Greek words: PARA that means “contrary to” and DOXA that means “opinions” or “to appear.” A concept contrary to appearance is a paradox. So, when we look around, we see things changing but maybe they are not changing – this interpretation is a paradox because it’s contrary to what it appears to be. And yes, this makes our brain twist a little. It creates new connections between neurons in our brain. It causes some confusion, and makes us question if what we think is actually true. It’s a great workout for our minds. In this episode, I want to describe some paradoxes created by Zeno – a student of Paramenides. The reason why I want to twist your mind with these paradoxes, is because they are great illustrations of how we can question deep ingrained beliefs – in this case, that things change. It makes us question our own perceptions. Stay with me. In Ancient Greece, Paramenides and Zeno had to convince other philosophers to trust their reasoning more than their senses. So Zeno devised several situations that question what we perceive as change using strong logical arguments. I’m going to speak about two paradoxes that focus on movement. Paradox One Suppose that you want to go from point A to point B. In order to do this, you first have to get to the half point between A and B – let us call it point C. Now, to go from C to B, you have to first get to the half point between C and B – let us call it point D. Then for going from D to B, you have to get to the half point between D and B – let us call it point E. Are you getting the point? (Pun intended.) We will run out of letters of the alphabet, and there still be a half point before we ever arrive to B. So logically, by following this reasoning, it is impossible to really arrive at point B. I know that you can walk from point A to point B, but logically we can argue that you are doing the impossible. I warned you that this was a brain twister. See video: https://youtu.be/EfqVnj-sgcc Ready to another? Paradox Two Following the same logic, suppose that you have a race between Achilles and the tortoise. Achilles gives the tortoise a head-start. By the time that Achilles reaches the place from which the tortoise started, the tortoise has already advanced to another point; when Achilles reaches that point, then the tortoise will have reached another point. So Achilles is getting closer and closer, but by this logic he never overtakes the tortoise. See video: https://youtu.be/skM37PcZmWE And yes, you can be telling yourself, “Yes, I get the logic. If we consider that between a point an the another, there is an infinite number of points (like they teach us in math), there always be a middle point between any two points, BUT I know that people go from point A to B, and I can trust my perception.” Maybe. Yet, I will not be so sure to trust your perception so blindly. Water Experiment Did you ever experiment with three containers of water? Imagine three glasses next to each other: The glass on the left has hot water. The glass on the right has icy water. The middle glass has room temperature water. Place your left index finger on the glass on the left with hot water; at the same time, place the right index finger on the glass on the right with the icy water; and after a minute, place both index fingers on the middle glass with the water at room temperature. What do you perceive? Can you trust your senses now? You know that the glass in the middle is room temperature, yet each index finger feels the temperature differently. So, can you trust your senses? If you never have done this experiment, do it as soon as you can. You are creating new connections between neurons in your brains – these are great workouts to shift your mindsets.
13 minutes | Jul 9, 2021
Life is two days, and the first we spend waking up
Life is two days, and the first we spend waking up. This phrase from a Portuguese song I loved to listen to in the 90s sums up one of my favorite mantras, and like any good chorus, it's worth repeating: Life is two days, and the first we spend waking up. When we become aware of this, what do we do? Do we finally express what we believe and start writing our own scripts, or do we keep trying to meet other people's expectations? How can we live more fully and more positively in this world? These are the kinds of questions I ask myself. I'm probably halfway through my journey; I feel alive, and awake, and I’m embracing the freedom of this constraint. What exactly do I mean? Well, at my age–roughly mid-life–I see a lot of people around me lamenting the lost day they spent “waking up.” They feel they’ve wasted time and they carry this attitude into their futures creating more of the same. If you have got one day left, are you going to waste it lamenting the day that is gone? What if you looked at having only one day as a constraint that brings freedom? Yes, constraints can bring freedom. If you’re in the productivity world, then you’ve probably heard about Parkinson's law, the idea that work expands to fill the resources available for its completion. We see this play out very clearly with deadlines. If the deadline is three weeks from now, we stretch out the work. If the deadline is three days from now, we get the project finished in that time frame. A very precise and clear time constraint can be a great antidote to procrastination, perfectionism, or paralysis by over-analysis. No more postponing it into the next day–we just get it done. No more unrealistic standards that keep being updated as soon as we almost reach them. No more overthinking everything, gather all possible information in the universe before you start to implement it. Deadlines are extremely effective because wanting to meet them forces us to manage our anxieties, plan our schedules accordingly, find the courage to do the work and push it out into the world. When we realize that we have spent half of our lives half-awake, we can choose to be more daring and use the limited time we have to do what really matters most. And yes, there are other constraints besides time – money, skills, materials, space, laws, geography, technology, health – and they also can be used to make things happen more effectively and creatively. As the saying goes, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Or limoncello :) In the corporate world, the Theory Of Constraints or TOC is a well-known management paradigm. It argues that any goal-oriented system has constraints that can be identified and used to improve the overall results. And, many would say that the underlying power of Theory Of Constraints flows from its ability to generate a strong focus on what really matters most. To get back to our lives, we can transform constraints into growth and freedom. Constraints don't necessarily limit us; in fact, they can expand possibilities. More often than not, the problem is not the constraint itself, it’s our reaction to the constraint that results in what seems like a contracted choice. That said, when we learn to change our mindsets around constraints, we can also learn to press the pause button, and choose our response more purposefully. As the quote that Stephen Covey attributes to Viktor Frankl, so well says: "In between stimulus and response there is a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom." Back to the chorus: Life is two days, and the first we spend waking up. If you are like me, maybe you wonder, I have had several awakenings in my life, then I find myself awakening again. Don't I ever learn? Be gentle with yourself. We are always learning and hopefully always awakening to new possibilities–new opportunities to press the pause button and choose growth and freedom. I like to see our continuous awakenings from the perspective of an ancient story called the Dichotomy paradox. This is one of Zeno's conundrum that goes something like this: Suppose you want to walk to the end of a path. Before you can get there, you must get halfway there. Before you can get halfway there, you must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a quarter, you must travel one-eighth; before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on. This argument is called the "Dichotomy" because it involves repeatedly splitting a distance into two parts, and you can carry it on until the infinite and not moving at all. Thus this paradox led Zeno to argue that all motion must be an illusion. Is your head spinning a little? Good. That's what paradoxes do. Tons of philosophers, more clever and knowledgeable than I am, have engaged on this paradox, and trust me, their arguments would make your head spin even more. I like to apply the dichotomy argument differently. If life is two days, and the first we spend waking up, the next day can be split into two parts, allowing us time for a new awakening and time to apply what we learn and repeat this formula until our last breath. Why not? We are always awakening to new possibilities–new opportunities to press the pause button and choose our response more purposefully. Are you with me? Resource links: Zeno's paradoxes Theory of Constraints Parkinson’s Law: Get More Done by Giving Yourself Less Time to Do Things Also, visit mindset.zone where you can find all the episodes and other amazing resources, such as: How to 4X Your Success, so you can work smarter, not harder, and learn how to leverage your talents to make a bigger impact while enjoying the process. Subscribe to the show and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. Apple Podcasts | TuneIn | Spotify | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | GooglePlay Be sure to share your favorite episodes on social media to help me reach more people like you. As always, I'm so grateful that you have crossed over into the Mindset Zone. Expand what's possible, for you, for the ones around you, for the world. Learn. Impact. Enjoy! Ana Melikian Connect with me: anamelikian.com LinkedIn Facebook
14 minutes | Jul 2, 2021
Do People Really Change?
I’m fascinated by change – if you listen regularly to this podcast you may have noticed that. Change has been the focus of my professional life. When I started as a psychotherapist, I helped people overcome problems in ways that changed how they lived their lives. Afterwards, as a life coach, I focused on supporting people to reach their goals and potential. This also implies change. Now, as a business coach, I assist service professionals to change their mindsets to become more impactful change-makers. Yet, once in a while, I have friends who ask “Do people really change?” This question is not new Back in Ancient Greece, many philosophers also wonder about this. They questioned change in general. In fact, there was a group of philosophers who argued that nothing really changed. They said that what we perceive as change is merely an illusion of our senses. In the fifth century BC, Parmenides argued that nothing can become anything other than it is. It’s a total contradiction of what we perceive – it’s a paradox. Yet, the logic behind it is solid and mind-boggling. And Paramenides' ideas had a big impact on philosophy and in the development of science. For me, this idea that nothing changes is very contra-intuitive. And I have the tendency to think that it will be contra-intuitive to other people too. Yet, when I think about expressions that people often say: “He is what he is.” “He was born like that.” “People don’t really change.” “It runs in the family.” “It’s in their genes.” Maybe the question “Do people really change?” is asked so often, because for some people that’s what their intuition or experience tells them. Going back to Ancient Greece, to the fifth century BC There was another group of philosophers who argued that everything flows, everything is always changing. The most well-known is Heraclitus. Even if you don’t know his name, probably you are familiar with one of his quotes: “No man ever steps in the same river twice.” Or the longer version: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” I love this quote, yet I also recognize that this idea of constant flow, constant changing, it can be felt as lack of stability, confusion, even chaos. For instance, think about our technological world. The pace of change is so fast that sometimes it can make us feel uneasy, and wish for more stable ground. If you had to decide between these two extremes – nothing can change or everything is in a constant state of change – which would you pick? Difficult choice. And what I love about philosophy is that it shows us that there is at least a third option, an option that transcends these opposites. Back to the 5th century BC, Empedocles proposed the idea that both Parmenides and Heraclitus were right. Yes, nothing changes AND everything changes is possible. If we believe that everything in nature consists of four elements – earth, air, fire, and water – and that these elements never change, yet can be mixed in various combinations. How is it possible that four elements to be the basis of everything we see? Think of a painter who has the red, yellow, and blue – and can mix these primary colors to become all other colors. Or think about atoms. Yes, there are more than four atoms, yet we believe that everything in nature is made of atoms. I love philosophers and thought leaders who help us transcend opposites. How to apply these ideas to how we see change in ourselves For instance, we can work very hard to change characteristics that are very ingrained in ourselves. Or we can work to accept these characteristics as a given that we can’t change. Yet, now we have a third option. Why not use our energy to mix and match these characteristics so that we produce our desired outcomes. Similar to a painter who has a limited palette, by mixing and matching, we are only limited by our imagination. We can use our creativity to transcend our own limiting contradictions, and transform our mindsets. Think about the possibilities.
13 minutes | Jun 25, 2021
Learning and Change
The topic of this episode is Learning and Change – and how can we learn from our relapses, and missteps. First of all, I want to correct a mistake I did in Episode 23: Understanding Change – and Why Is So Difficult to Change, where I spoke about a specific model to explain change that was developed by a team of psychologists in the 1990s: Prochaska, Norcross, and Diclemente. I said that according to this model, if someone wants to change a habit or behavior, they will go through a 5-Stage Process. My mistake was to describe this system with only 5 stages, when the authors speak of 6 stages. The book that popularized this model, is titled: Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program For Overcoming Bad Habits And Moving Your Life Positively Forward. When I was publishing Episode 23, I realized my mistake, and I could have postponed the release of the episode. Yet, I decided to go ahead with it, because I’m on a mission to embrace my courage to be imperfect – listen to Episode 16 to know more about this – and I knew I could do another episode to correct that misinformation. So, for the record, this Change Process is described as a having 6 stages: Stage 1: Pre-Contemplation If we are at this stage, we don’t see any need to change. Stage 2: Contemplation As the name suggests, we start to realize that there is something that we are better off changing. Stage 3: Preparation We start to devise a plan with concrete action steps and implementation dates. Stage 4: Action We do it. Stage 5: Maintenance We consolidate the new habits, behaviors, and patterns. And very important: Stage 6: Recycling – Learning from Relapse This last stage reminds us that the change is not a linear process, where you go from stage 1, to 2, then 3, then 4, and 5. There are ups and downs, steps backwards and forwards. The secret is to keep going, and learn from the relapses. In fact, Prochaska, Norcross, and Diclemente, speak about several lessons we can learn from this last stage. For instance, we know that: – It’s rare to change a habit on our first attempt. – Trial and error is not a very effective method – instead, learn from other people who have done it, and master the change you are trying to achieve. – If you relapse, that means that you have done some action. Keep learning, and translating that learning into actions, and you will be able to create better habits in your life. How does knowing that relapse is common and even a part of the change process, help you move forward? For me, the lesson is to see a relapse as an opportunity to learn something new. Pick ourselves up again, and keep moving forward. This reminds me of a skill that people who achieve big things have developed. As I spoke in Episode 3: Failure and The Way To Success – we must build a strong failure resilience if we want success. And as my interview with Andrea Waltz – in Episode 22 – show clearly, the image of the fork in the road – with one road that leads to success and the other to failure – is misleading. Success happens if we are willing to endure failures (it’s part of the path).
26 minutes | Jun 18, 2021
Stop Changing – Start Shifting with Whitney Hutten
Last episode I spoke about why it’s so difficult to change, and I knew then that I had to bring Whitney Hutten to this podcast. Whitney believes that to stop changing and start shifting, is the best strategy to make what you want happen. Her mission is to help professionals to get 10 to 15 hours back every week, so they can focus on their health, relationships, and personal life – without feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or guilty. During this interview, you'll shift your mindset about change. You will learn: – Why you should remove the word “change” from your vocabulary – How-to make shifts that produce long lasting results – 3 Simple Steps to Start Shifting (Focus – Meaning – Plan) Find more about Whitney Hutten at whitneyhutten.com
22 minutes | Jun 11, 2021
Understanding Change – and Why Is It So Difficult to Change
A quarter of 2015 has already past. I’m wondering if this year you did any New Year's Resolutions that implied a big change in your life. The reality is that for most people, even if they honestly intended to change some important aspect of their lives – from exercising more, losing weight, and so forth – probably, by now, they have gone back to their old habits. If what you want to change is really important to you, please don’t give up or wait until next year to try again. Start to understand: Why It's So Difficult To Change Maybe understanding how the change process works, can help you to achieve your goals. If you think: “I don’t have enough will power.” “I’m never going to be able to do it.” “I tried it before and it didn’t work.” And any other excuses that your internal saboteur creates… (Yes, you are not alone, everybody has a personal critical voice that tries to undermine their self-esteem, but that is a theme for another podcast.) Keep reading and see what we can learn from how psychologists explain the change process. First – it’s important to notice that psychology sees change as a process, not as an isolated event. Second – the change process is complex enough to have many models to explain it. Lets focus on a particular model of change as an example. Model of Change This Model of Change was developed by a team of psychologists in the 1990s (Prochaska, Norcross, and Diclemente)***. It emerged from the studies of successful self-changers, that is, people who successfully changed important behaviors in their lives without professional help (for instance, to stop smoking). According to this model, if someone wants to change a habit or behavior, they will go through a 6-Stage Process***. Stage 1: Pre-Contemplation If we are at this stage, we don't see any need to change. Our friends and family can think otherwise, but we don’t agree with them. Imagine, that we usually spent more than 8 hour seated during our day. Our friend, a fitness expert, has warned us about the dangers of a sedentary life, but we rationalize. Yes, but… “I go to the health club a couple of times a week.” “I try to eat healthy.” “I’m not overweight.” […or whatever excuse we use to justify that we are fine, and we really don’t need to change.] Stage 2: Contemplation As the name suggests, we start to realize that there is something that we are better off changing. Yet, we don’t know how, or we don’t feel quite ready to do it. For instance, in our example of spending more than 8 hour seated. We are still using the same excuses, but now we feel guilty because we know better. We start to believe that our friend – the fitness expert – is right. Maybe we read an article that supports her views, or maybe our last blood work shows some levels that could improve. We know that we should do something to become more active, but it’s easier to create another good excuse. “It’s not the right time.” “After this project is done, I will have more time.” “I really don’t know how to go about changing this.” We can spend lots of time in this stage, spinning our wheels without going anywhere. Stage 3: Preparation Eventually, we can move to the preparation stage, where we really start to devise a plan with concrete action steps and implementation dates. “OK, I’m going to implement what I read in this article. I’m going to set a timer for 60 mn. When it sounds, I will go for a walk around the house.” Then, if we don’t take a step backwards and start to doubt our own plans – “Really, I walk around the house. I should be running. Walking around the house, what difference that makes?” – we move on to the action stage. Stage 4: Action We do it. When the clock sounds, we get up and walk around the house. We start to modify our behavior. This stage has all the glory, but could not happen without the previous stages. And, if we stop with the new practice, we stop the action stage, and we can easily revert into blaming, and fall into the guilt game. Soon enough, you will be at least 2 steps backwards, back to the contemplation or worse – denying the need to change and arguing that “I already did that, but it didn’t work.” So we have to keep taking baby steps in order to move to the next stage. Stage 5: Maintenance To sustain a new habit or change in our life, we have to go through a maintenance stage where we begin to consolidate the new habits, behaviors, and patterns. Only if we persist, keep going, and not give up when we take a step backward, we will reach a plateau where these new habits and behaviors become automatic and second nature to us. This is the last stage of the change process and a new starting point to continue learning, evolving, and changing. Very Important! Stage 6: Recycling – Learning from Relapse This is not a linear process where you go from stage 1, to 2, then 3, then 4, and 5. The best image to describe the change process is an ascending spiral. There are ups and downs, steps backwards and forwards. Keep going, and learn from the relapses. TIP: Get a good support team and this process becomes easier and even fun. This process of change applies to bad habits like smoking, and also to social accepted habits such as overworking (so easy to rationalize). Moreover… We can apply these principles to mindsets too. We can see mindsets as habits. Mindsets are habits of mind formed by previous experience. Think about how to apply this process to change our fixed mindsets. That can open the door to many possibilities. ***Note and Correction: The Model of Change as described by Prochaska, Norcross, and Diclemente has 6 stages. The 6th stage, not described in the audio of this podcast episode, is Recycling – Learning from Relapse. I will probably do a future podcast about this topic.
27 minutes | Jun 4, 2021
Getting a NO can be your best goal with Andrea Waltz
In this episode, I interviewed Andrea Waltz about the book she co-authored with Richard Fenton: Go for NO! YES is the destination NO is how you get there I spoke about this book in Episode 3 – Failure and The Way to Success. I was thrilled with this opportunity to speak with Andrea about some of the key concepts behind her book. We have a natural tendency to avoid NO, and that probably has to do with our fear of rejection. We are social animals, and this means that we seek social acceptance. If we see a NO as a rejection, that NO hurts, and we tend to avoid situations that can lead to hearing a NO. Yet, if we study highly successful people, they don’t see NO or failure as a negative experience. Nonetheless, that goes so much against our natural tendency, and the way we were raised, that makes us wonder if those people have a success gene that we lack. “Your fear of hearing the word ‘no’ is the only thing standing between you and greatness.” ( Go for NO!, pg. 28) If this is true, is there a way we can learn to be more at ease with NO, even to want to hear NO? That’s why I love the Go for NO! book. In less than 75 pages, Richard and Andrea tell us a powerful story that will shift the way you see a NO forever. Listen to this interview to learn: – How the image of the fork in the road – with one road that leads to success and the other to failure – is misleading. – How failing and being a “failure” are two very different concepts – How having the goal of getting a “NO” for an answer can literally change your destiny Find more about Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton at GoForNo.com Join their Facebook group and take advantage of the challenges they organize.
12 minutes | May 28, 2021
The Four Agreements – Always Do Your Best
This is the last episode around the book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz To summarize, The Four Agreements are: First Agreement: Be impeccable with your word Second Agreement: Don't take anything personally Third Agreement: Don't make assumptions Fourth Agreement: Always do your best Today, I’m going to focus on the last agreement: Always do your best. Don Miguel Ruiz defines this Fourth Agreement as: 1. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret 2. Your best is going to change from moment to moment (it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick) I love how he articulates “Always do your best” because it brings balance to this agreement. If you take only the first part of the definition – simply do your best under any circumstance – we put an enormous burden on our shoulders. If you have the tendency to be a perfectionist, you would zoom into this part of the agreement and use it as a great excuse to feed your perfectionism. If you have the tendency to be a workaholic, you would zoom into this part of the agreement and use it as a great excuse to keep working and working, and working. I have to remind myself about the work of Brené Brown that I spoke about in episode 16: Courage To Be Imperfect. Perfectionism is not the same as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is different than self-improvement. I have to keep in mind the second part of the definition – our best is going to change from moment to moment. Do our best, even be our best, is different from trying to be perfect. I believe that if we fall into the trap of going for perfection, we are not doing our best. We'll be procrastinating because of the fear of not being perfect. These two parts of the definition of “Always do your best” are like the 2 sides of a coin. They exist together. To the perfectionists out there (including me), I want to read a passage from the book that I think is essential in order to live The Four Agreements: You don't need to judge yourself, feel guilty, or punish yourself if you cannot keep these agreements. If you’re doing your best, you will feel good about yourself even if you still make assumptions, still take things personally, and still are not impeccable with your word. If you do your best always, over and over again, you will become a master of transformation. Life is a journey of learning. Enjoy it.
16 minutes | May 21, 2021
The Four Agreements – The Assumptions We Make
On the last episode, I spoke about “Don't take anything personally” – the second agreement from the book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. In this episode, I focus on the Third Agreement – Don't make assumptions. Don Miguel Ruiz summarizes this agreement as: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama Don't Make Assumptions Easier said than done. We have a natural tendency to make assumptions. That’s not the real problem. The problem is to believe that the assumptions we make are the truth. As I referred to in episode 18, in Social Psychology, there are researchers who study how individuals explain their own behavior as well as that of others. I spoke about the Attribution Theory that helps us understand how people make these interpretations and attributions. We can understand assumptions as a type of attribution we make about other people's behavior. It’s the reverse of the coin of the second agreement – not to take things personally, because what others say and do is a projection of their own reality. Following the same logic: the way we interpret what others do, is a projection of our own internal reality. It’s based on our personal stories. Because we take our assumptions as the best explanation of reality, it’s easy to fall into the cycle of complaining and blaming others for what we feel and do – it’s their fault. It’s easier to to try to make others wrong, than to have the courage to face our own gremlins. Think of This scenario… We send out a work proposal via email. After a couple of days, still no response. Our assumptions start to take over: “I knew that I was asking too much.” “They are ignoring my email.” “After so much time I spent for free with them, they could at least answer.” Why not pick up the phone and check what’s going on? There are other possibilities that explain their lack of response. And sometimes, even if our assumptions are true, remember, it’s not about you – don't take it personally. For Instance, Imagine That… We meet in a conference and have a great conversation, even exchange contact information. Then, you are in the airport waiting for your flight to go back home. You see me at a distance. For a moment you think I also saw you, but I walk away. You can assume I have ignored you – and there is the possibility that you are right. If your next assumption is that “I don’t like you” – you are probably wrong. During a busy conference, I use all my extrovert energy to the maximum of my capacity. As soon as I get into the airport, my introvert self takes over. I usually withdraw from social interaction, and if I saw you and thought that you didn’t see me, I would probably walk away. Nothing to do with you. Just me being too tired to interact. The Point Is: We are wired to make assumptions, yet, that doesn't make them true. [Tweet “We are wired to make assumptions, yet, that doesn't make them true.”] How Can We Stop Our Tendency To Think Our Assumptions Represent Reality? One possibility is to take the mindfulness approach. Assumptions are thoughts. We can recognize that we have them and then let them go. Be present in the moment and don’t let ourselves get stuck in that specific thought. Once again: easier said than done. Yet, it’s a skill that we can master with practice. Just by doing it, over and over again. Become aware of your thoughts and feelings, accept them without attaching or reacting to them, then let them go. MORE… We can make other people’s lives easier by communicating with them as clearly as we can, and be as impeccable with our words as possible. And if you feel overwhelmed, just tune in for the next episode of this podcast. I’m going to focus on the last agreement “Always do your best” and you will find how liberating that can be. Don’t stay stuck on your assumptions, come back, listen and find out how “Always doing our best” can set us free from perfectionism – really
21 minutes | May 14, 2021
The Four Agreements – It’s Not About You
On the last episode, I focused on the the first agreement from the book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I spoke about “Be impeccable with your word” and reflected on the Power of Words. I even shared some insights from recent psychological research that can help us take this concept to next level, and avoid “The Inverse Power of Praise” Today, I want to focus on the Second Agreement – Don't take anything personally. Ruiz summarizes this agreement as: 1. Nothing others do is because of you 2. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality 3. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering Let’s think about these three points, one at a time: 1. Nothing others do is because of you Think about a common situation that can happen today with the use of Social Media. You post something really meaningful for you in Facebook. Then, you see a negative comment to that post. Do you take this comment personally? Do you think that person that you never met in your life, is doing that to hurt you, or because of you. 2. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality Let’s go back to the Facebook example. That person's interpretation of your post, triggered an emotional reaction that led to writing a negative comment. So, other people's reactions are a projection of their own issues, and nothing to do with you. 3. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering When we don't take things personally, that can be liberating, and prevent us from feeding our own insecurities. So, “Don’t take anything personally” it’s a powerful maximum to live with. Yet, I have the tendency to react to absolute words such as “anything”. It’s easy for me to live by “Don’t take this personally”, yet “Don’t take ANYTHING personally” is going too far. I’m quite good in applying this principle to critiques and other people's negative opinions. I’m good at developing a thick skin, yet the price I pay, is I become numb and this prevents me to enjoying and savoring the praise and positive feelings. So, I decided to apply a twist to this principle inspired by Social Psychology's Attribution Theory. Attribution Theory tries to explain how individuals interpret their success and failures via 3 dimensions: 1- Locus of causality: internal to external The cause of success or failure can be internal – due to factors that we believe have their origin within the person – or external – due to factors that we believe originate in the environment. 2- Stability: Stable to Unstable The cause of the success or failure falls within a stable (constant) to unstable (fluctuating) continuum. We believe a cause is stable – when the outcome is likely to be the same on another occasion. We believe a cause is unstable – when the outcome is likely to be different on another occasion. 3- Controllability: Controllable or Uncontrollable The cause of the success or failure falls within a controllable to uncontrollable continuum. We believe a cause is controllable – when we perceive it as under our volitional or optional control. We believe a cause is uncontrollable – when the circumstances cannot be willed to change. Let’s go back to the Facebook scenario above as an example of a Negative Situation. Negative Situation We post something really meaningful for us in Facebook. Then, we see a negative comment to that post. We take this very personally We see the situation as a big crisis. “How can that person dare to write that? How can that person be so insensitive? I shouldn't have posted that.” “I should know better by now. What was I thinking?” “It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have posted that in Facebook.” We interpret the crisis as our responsibility and as something that will happen again (internal locus of causality and stable). We don't take it personally If we feel any negativity arise, we remind ourselves of the second agreement: “Don't take anything personally.” We tell ourselves: “Remember: nothing others do is because of you.” “What’s going on in this person's life for her to write this?” “Let me read the other comments on my post are.” We interpret the comment as something odd, due to factors outside ourselves (external), that probably will not happen again (unstable). So, we easily move on with our day. Let’s now think about a Positive Situation. Positive Situation It’s my birthday. I look at my Facebook profile and see congratulation after congratulation. People that I don’t connected with for a long time, are saying Happy Birthday. I don’t take it personally I feel a positive emotion, but I know that isn’t because of me – I’m applying the agreement: Don’t take ANYTHING personally. “Facebook make it easy for people to remember birthdays.” (external) “Maybe next year I will have less people congratulating.” (unstable) “This is not about me.” And, if I decide to take this personally “Wow. So nice for people to take their time to congratulate me.” “I see Mary here. So nice of her. Love this.” (internal) “Love to know how my friends are so nice and considerate.” (stable) “So happy that I left as public my birthday info in Facebook.” (control) “I’m so grateful for that Mary, Peter, …. thought of me.” WHY NOT? But remember: It’s a choice. As I spoke on the previous episode, between a stimulus – the comment in Facebook – and a response – our response – their is a space. A brief space where we can choose our response – maybe even take the situation personally. We always can create our responses – even to the books that we love.
20 minutes | May 7, 2021
The Four Agreements – Words Are Powerful
On the last episode I spoke about the book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I explored what Ruiz calls Self-Limiting Beliefs. I call them Mindset Blind-Spots because we are not aware that we hold them, and yet we filter our experiences through them. I even started a 7-day Awareness Challenge for myself. Just to become aware of some of my self-limiting beliefs, and to try to articulate them. The reality is that we all have many of these Mindset Blind-Spots. Don Miguel Ruiz suggests to replace these Self-Limiting Beliefs by The Four Agreements: 1. Be impeccable with your word 2. Don't take anything personally 3. Don't make assumptions 4. Always do your best Today, I want to focus on the first agreement “Be impeccable with your word,” and reflect on the power of words. Ruiz defines this First Agreement – Be impeccable with your word – as: Speak with integrity Say only what you mean Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love We often use expressions such as: “Those are just words.” “Too much talking and no action.” “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” And so forth. All these expressions view words as powerless. Yet, if that was true, why do we get so hurt by words, why do we keep remembering words that someone said to us. Having the capacity of using words is something distinctly human, and we should recognize that words are powerful. Don Miguel Ruiz emphasies the power of words. He writes: “The word is not just a sound or a written symbol. The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life. You can speak. What other animal on the planet can speak? The word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic. But like a sword with two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you. … Depending upon how it is used, the word can set you free, or it can enslave you even more than you know.” Let me give another example from another book. Dr. Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset, writes about the power of negative labels. She even refers to research studies that show that to check a box to indicate your race or gender can evoke a stereotype and lower test scores. It seems that this happens at a subconscious level. Words, their meaning and associations are very powerful. Yet, it’s not enough to replace negative words by positive words. It’s not enough to replace negative labels by positive labels. For instance, do you know that praising kids for their intelligence can be counterproductive? See the video below that summarizes some of this research. https://youtu.be/NWv1VdDeoRY We can learn a lot from these type of studies. We can learn to avoid “The Inverse Power of Praise”, and focus our positive words to praise other peoples effort in a specific and concrete way. And, very importantly to apply these principles in our self-talk too. For instance, if you are frequently praised for being a good speaker, a natural on stage, that can create a self-image “I’m a great speaker.” And, who want to challenge such a great self-image? It’s tempting to do everything in our power to preserve it. So we can stop taking risks, because potentially we could fail and ruin our self-image. It’s safer to play small. Think about the implications of all this. Did you ever fall into this type of vicious cycle? This dynamic can stop us from developing our full potential. Love to learn about your experiences.
15 minutes | Apr 30, 2021
The Four Agreements and Mindset Blind-Spots
At the beginning of the year, I like to re-read books that impacted me in the past. This year, I decided to read again The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a beautifully written short book that calls our attention to the many self-limiting beliefs we hold in our lives. The author, Don Miguel Ruiz, calls these beliefs agreements. I like to call them Mindset Blind-Spots, because we are not aware that we hold them, yet we filter our experiences through them. According to Don Miguel Ruiz, if we learn to replace these self-limiting beliefs by The Four Agreements proposed in his book, we can change our lives for the better. These Four Agreements are: 1. Be impeccable with your word 2. Don't take anything personally 3. Don't make assumptions 4. Always do your best In the next episodes of this podcast, I will focus on these agreements. Today, I want to explore the concept of agreement as a self-limiting belief which we hold without awareness. This is why I consider these self-limiting beliefs as Mindset Blind-Spots. Yet, unlike the visual blind spot I described in Episode 6: Blind Spots – We All Have Them, we are not born with Mindset Blind-Spots – we learn them. Don Miguel Ruiz calls this learning process the domestication of humans. It’s how we typically learn how to live and how to dream. This often happens at a subconscious level. We start to believe in certain rules as truisms that we don't even consider to challenge. These can be rules like saying “Thank You” when someone gives us as a gift. To take as fact that if someone says we are “dumb”, “ugly”, “bad” that also must be true. I see this process of domestication as part of being human, living in an organized society. Yet, I like the idea of living in a society where I have some say about the rules that govern it. Luckily enough, I lived all my live in countries ruled by democratic regimes, where theoretically, we have some say on the rules. Yet there are so many implicit and subtle rules that are not written, but are as strong or even stronger that the written ones. I want to have a say on these rules too. Even if it's to agree that I want to keep following that rule. This is vital, because often these are the rules that govern our personal lives. I know that I cannot be in a state of constant analysis – that would lead to analysis paralysis. I would be so overwhelmed that would prevent me to do any meaningful action. Yet, I like to create spaces where I become aware of these unwritten rules. This helps me to become aware of my own Mindset Blind-Spots. I see this as a three-step ABC process: Step 1: Awareness – Become aware that we have many self-limiting beliefs that make us react in a certain way Step 2: Breath Out – Remind myself that I have the power to press the pause button. I don’t have to react, I can choose how to respond Step 3: Create My Response (following my own agreements) I speak about this on Episode 8: React or Create–Your Choice. Love the quote that Stephen R. Covey attributes to Viktor Frankl: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” I love this quote because, we usually see a stimulus as something that activates a response almost automatically. There – between stimulus and response – Frankl sees a space. A brief space where we have the power to choose our response. A brief space where we can learn to be creators of our lives and not just be reactors. This is very powerful and transformational. My challenge for the my next 7 days is to focus on awareness – Step 1 of the ABC process described. The goal is to become more aware. Whenever possible, I will write down my awareness or feelings about the situation. What are the rules am I following? How do I feel about them? Do I feel I need to do this, I have to do this, or I must do this? Do I want to do this? Want to join me in this 7-day Awareness Challenge? Love to hear your comments and learn about your experiences.
12 minutes | Apr 23, 2021
Shift Your Mindset With Music
All you need is love. You hear these words and you think of the famous Beatle's song. Relax, I will not start singing it. I have many talents but singing is not one of them. Yet I love to sing when I'm alone. It makes me feel alive and it can change my mood quickly. You probably have songs that make you smile, others that make you sad, others that energize you or relax you. Music is powerful, and often it affects us without our awareness. When we are watching a movie, we are not necessarily aware of the soundtrack but it totally makes the experience. Back in the day, I bought many movie soundtracks to replay some of the emotions and feelings of the movie. “Eye of the Tiger" from Rocky...can we even count how many workouts that song has helped? During my teens and twenties, I used to listen to music daily. I would wake up with my alarm radio synced to my favorite rock station. I would have music playing in the background as I was getting ready for the day, while driving, or relaxing. So often I danced or exercised to the sound of music. When my heart was broken I would cry listening to Sinead O’Connor’s "Nothing Compares to You" and bring myself back together again singing along at the top of my lungs (alone) to Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive." When my daughter was born, I rocked her to sleep to old lullabies and Portuguese folk songs that I didn’t even know I remembered. But, recently, I became aware that I don't listen to music that often anymore, and that made me sad. I don’t want to live my life like a movie without a soundtrack. I want the full experience. Music can make us feel alive. Music can help us heal our feelings, even our minds. Music therapy, anyone? Music can lift us up when we need it most, it can energize us, help us process emotions, and yes, shift our mindsets too. After thinking about this for a while, I watched a TED talk about music and emotion through time, where Michael Tilson Thomas traces the development of music from ancient times until today, and he says something that really captured my imagination. I’m going to read from the transcript: “And the chords, it turned out, were capable of representing incredible varieties of emotions. And the basic chords were the ones we still have with us, the triads, either the major one, which we think is happy, or the minor one, which we perceive as sad. But what's the actual difference between these two chords? It's just these two notes in the middle. It's either E natural, and 659 vibrations per second, or E flat, at 622. So the big difference between human happiness and sadness? 37 freakin' vibrations.” End of quote. Small shift, big impact. So, lately, I started organizing playlists on Spotify. I have one titled “Memory lane” with songs that take me back in time, almost like a time machine. Another playlist is for bi-neural music like Hemi-Sync aimed to produce a state of coherence between the left and right brain hemispheres that we can use to facilitate deep relaxation, focused attention, deep sleep, meditation or other desired states. Or “Power songs” – my list of music to lift me up, songs from Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” to “Firework” from Katy Perry, and “Happy” from Pharrell Williams. This playlist also includes a very special song I’ve created with an amazing singer-songwriter from Canada, Lowry. He has recorded 9 albums and along with hundreds of his own songs, has co-written hundreds of songs with other people, individually and in groups. Honestly, until I met him, I didn’t even think about the possibility of writing a song. I want my life to have a great soundtrack. Of course, we can select from thousands of great songs already out there in this universe, but there is something magical about the process of creating our own. I believe that at a certain age, we have to make a choice: Do we finally express what we believe and start writing our own scripts, or do we just keep going trying to meet other people’s expectations? For me that choice is clear, and I’m trying to walk my talk but, as you probably know, some days are harder than others. I get so caught up in the day-to-day I forget what it’s all for. I didn’t realize until I worked with Lowry that, I could write my own power song and play it whenever I need a reminder or a quick pick-me-up. Now I sing my PowerSong every morning – and anytime I want to re-energize and re-connect with my why. Singing is so physical. It gets me out of my head. It shifts my mindset and allows me to be more intentional, implementing, and enjoying the process too. As I promised, I’m not going to sing here, but I want to end today’s episode playing a version of my Power song titled “So lucky to be me” sang by Lowry himself. I hope this will inspire you to create your own playlist of songs that shift your mindset to expand possibilities. Or maybe even hire Lowry to write one of your own. I’m brave enough to be the light, That sees the light in others. The sparkle that ignites the flame, so all of us can shine. From here to the horizon, I'm a beacon on the sea. I find join in every moment. I'm bright. I'm strong. I'm free. There's a wide world out there waiting! I'm so lucky to be me. Resource links: TED talk Music and Emotion Through Time - Michael Tilson Thomas Hemi-Sync.com More information about Lowry’s PowerSongs at PowerSongs.ca Also, visit mindset.zone where you can find all the episodes and other amazing resources, such as: How to 4X Your Success, so you can work smarter, not harder, and learn how to leverage your talents to make a bigger impact while enjoying the process. Subscribe to the show and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. Apple Podcasts | TuneIn | Spotify | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | GooglePlay Be sure to share your favorite episodes on social media to help me reach more people like you. As always, I'm so grateful that you have crossed over into the Mindset Zone. Expand what's possible, for you, for the ones around you, for the world. Learn. Impact. Enjoy! Ana Melikian Connect with me: anamelikian.com LinkedIn Facebook
24 minutes | Apr 16, 2021
Courage To Be Imperfect
Perfection – I strive for perfection. I always did, and I still do. I like to do things as well as possible. I'm always looking for ways to improve. I know that perfection is an illusion. It's impossible to produce something totally flawless, but why not to try to create something as good as possible. In preparation to produce this Podcast, I invested the time and money to learn from the Podcast Answer Man, Cliff Ravenscraft. To launch this podcast, I invested the time and money to learn from John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneurs On Fire. I decided to do this podcast – MINDSET ZONE – because I know that I can create experiences that will help my listeners to expand their possibilities about what they can do and be. Most of the episodes have been solo, and I only bring guests for interviews, when I think that adds significant value to the overall experience to my listener. I'm also aware that when we do a podcast interview, we increase the reach of our message to a wider audience. We are potentially speaking to our own peeps and well as the people who already follow our guest. Thus, to bring the Best-Selling Author Michael Port, to the last week's episode was a very important event at both levels (to create an incredible experience and increase the reach of the Mindset Zone to new listeners). I wanted this interview to be as to be perfect as possible. I Did The Prep Work I had prepared the topic and questions I wanted to cover with Michael well ahead of time. I thought I had planned equally well the environment here in my home office to be ready for this event. This happened during my 5 year-old daughter's school winter break, thus I asked my husband to take her out of the house during the interview. There was a miscommunication about timing, and they returned home during the recording. There I was, trying not to panic, and trying to manage everything in order not to ruin my perfect interview. If you are a home based solo-preneur, you probably get this scenario. Not surprisingly my daughter interrupted the interview by saying hello in the mic (she loves mics!). Again, trying not to panic and bring all my professional skills into play, I utilized the situation to illustrate how we have to be able to deal with situations that are not perfect and yet keep putting our work out there. Courage To Be Imperfect Still, the truth is, it took me a week to gather the courage to listen to the recording and decide if I was going to use it or not. I had worked hard to produce this interview. It was the right timing. My show was trending high in the New & Noteworthy lists in iTunes. I was showing in the main feature chart. I rated: Number 1 in Education>Training and Health>Self-Help Categories. Number 2 in the Business>Management & Marketing category, in both the New & Noteworthy list, as well as, the Top Podcast list. Finally, I was reaching more people, and I knew I had the opportunity to give them an experience that could determine if they will keep following my show (or not). I had to decide to publish (or not to publish) the interview. What would people think? What kind of professional image am I going to project? Agonizing with these issues, I thought of possible solutions. Maybe, I could edit that part out (but, there was solid content that I would have had to cut as well). Maybe, I could ask Michael to re-record the interview, (however, that would delay the release of that episode at least for a couple of weeks). I gathered my courage (and pressured by the deadline to make a decision,) and hit play. The interview sounded better than expected. The Reality… The reality is that doing a good interview with Michael Port is not difficult. If we have a good enough first question, we just have to keep out of his way and he will produce a great show, full of useful and powerful content. Yes, I can see my nervousness by counting the amount of “uhmms.” I know I could have done a better job in facilitating the flow of the interview. Yet, the content was solid, and the message of thinking big is a very important one. Michael dealt so graciously with my daughter’s interruption that it produced a sweet and fun moment. The interview was really a good one, and it was published last week. It's the more popular episode so far. So why did I made such a drama about it? The turmoil of this process made me face my own gremlins about perfection. Let Go of Perfection I decided to read the book,”The Gifts of Imperfection.” This book is written by the best-selling author Brené Brown who is also a researcher and amazing speaker I admire a lot.. In her book, Brown give us 10 guideposts in order to live a wholehearted life. Guidepost #2 is “Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go Of Perfectionism.” Easier Said Than Done I had to recognize that I strive for perfection, but often not for the right reasons. As Michael Port says in the last episode interview, we should be aware if we are doing something for approval or for results. Reading Brené Brown’s book helped me to understand and become aware that: Perfectionism is not the same as striving to be our best Perfectionism is different than self-improvement I'm all about both striving to be our best, and self-improvement. Yet, if we decide to be on the spotlight in order to reach more people, we have to let go of perfectionism. We have to have the courage to be imperfect. To be vulnerable. To dare greatly. Inspiration: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered by Theodore Roosevelt at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 [See Brené Brown's video where she recites this quote at 7mn 3sec, and much more https://youtu.be/8-JXOnFOXQk [Also click here for more info about the book Daring Greatly.] This is my story of my own struggle with perfection and imperfection. How About YOU! Do you resonate with this struggle? Do you fight with perfectionism too? Are you your worst critic? Love to hear your experiences. It's so easy to let perfectionism stop us from making a difference and play small instead of playing big.
43 minutes | Apr 9, 2021
Think BIG MindSet with Michael Port
During this episode, I interviewed my mentor Michael Port about the Think BIG MindSet. Michael Port has been called an “uncommonly honest author” by the Boston Globe, and a “marketing guru” by The Wall Street Journal. He has written 5 bestselling books including Book Yourself Solid, Beyond Booked Solid, The Contrarian Effect, the New York Times Bestseller, The Think Big Manifesto, and Book Yourself Solid Illustrated Edition. He is also known as “The guy to call when you are tired of thinking small.” In fact, everything he does is inspired by thinking big about who you are and what you offer the world. Thus Michael is the ideal person to speak about this topic. In this interview we speak about: How to become aware if we are thinking small or thinking big, and if we are going for approval or results Non-geeky approaches to Social Media and Marketing Types of balance that go beyond life and work How to make the Mindset shift to start to play big The concept that all the world is a stage How to claim who we want to become Different roles we play in our lives Perfectionism How to plan the New Year Links referred to: http://heroicpublicspeaking.com/live http://michaelport.com
16 minutes | Apr 2, 2021
The Power of YET – A Growth Mindset Secret
The idea behind this podcast is that our mindsets determine the way we see the world. And, because it’s so easy to stay stuck in Fixed Mindsets, that prevents us from learning new things, it’s vital to intentionally cultivate Growth Mindsets. These concepts of Fixed and Growth Mindsets are based on the work of Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist. In her book–Mindset: The New Psychology of Success–she describes decades of research about why people succeed or fail, and how the Fixed and Growth Mindsets play a role in this process. Dr. Dweck's 10-minute TED Talk, “The Power Of Believing That You Can Improve”, gives a powerful introduction to these concepts. One of my favorite golden nuggets from her presentation is how she explains the Power of YET. She begins by describing research studies about how 10-year-old children coped with learning challenges. In her own words: “So I gave 10-year-olds problems that were slightly too hard for them. Some of them reacted in a shockingly positive way. They said things like, “I love a challenge,” or, “You know, I was hoping this would be informative.” They understood that their abilities could be developed. They had what I call a growth mindset. But other students felt it was tragic, catastrophic. From their more fixed mindset perspective, their intelligence had been up for judgment and they failed. Instead of luxuriating in the power of yet, they were gripped in the tyranny of now.” So what do they do next? I'll tell you what they do next. In one study, they told us they would probably cheat the next time instead of studying more if they failed a test. In another study, after a failure, they looked for someone who did worse than they did so they could feel really good about themselves. And in study after study, they have run from difficulty. Scientists measured the electrical activity from the brain as students confronted an error. On the left, you see the fixed mindset students. There's hardly any activity. They run from the error. They don't engage with it. But on the right, you have the students with the growth mindset, the idea that abilities can be developed. They engage deeply. Their brain is on fire with yet. They engage deeply. They process the error. They learn from it and they correct it.” Let’s think about these studies for a moment. Research shows us that when a child has a Fixed Mindset as regards their skills and abilities they run away from challenges, they even go as far as to cheat, and compare themselves with children who do worse than they do. If they have a Growth Mindset, they see difficulties as a challenge to overcome, to learn from. Their brain fires up, and they engage. These same principles apply to adults as well. Think about the implications of these principles for our personal and professional lives. If we are locked into a Fixed Mindset, we are gripped in the tyranny of now. If we challenge ourselves with a Growth Mindset, we can luxuriate in the Power of YET. So, how can we cultivate a Growth Mindset in our lives? Here are some clues from Dr. Dweck: “First of all, we can praise wisely, not praising intelligence or talent. That has failed. Don't do that anymore. But praising the process that kids engage in: their effort, their strategies, their focus, their perseverance, their improvement. This process praise creates kids who are hardy and resilient. There are other ways to reward yet. We recently teamed up with game scientists from the University of Washington to create a new online math game that rewarded yet. In this game, students were rewarded for effort, strategy and progress. The usual math game rewards you for getting answers right right now, but this game rewarded process. And we got more effort, more strategies, more engagement over longer periods of time, and more perseverance when they hit really, really hard problems. Just the words “yet” or “not yet,” we're finding, give kids greater confidence, give them a path into the future that creates greater persistence. And we can actually change students' mindsets. In one study, we taught them that every time they push out of their comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in their brain can form new, stronger connections, and over time they can get smarter.” How can we apply this to ourselves? For instance, as a service provider, I can focus on developing my resilience to failure. [Listen to episode 3 of this podcast series to learn more about “Failure and The Way to Success“.] When I face a challenge, or even a failure, I can tell myself that “I have not learn how to do this YET.” Think about the possibilities. Every time you hear a voice saying “You are not______.” Add YET: “I am not ______ YET.” Feel the Power of YET and see the possibilities that open in front of you when you cultivate a Growth Mindset. Love to hear your comments and learn about your experiences. https://youtu.be/J-swZaKN2Ic
41 minutes | Apr 2, 2021
How to Overcome the Fear of Running Out of Money with Sarah Thompson
I had a thought-provoking conversation with Sarah Thompson, a financial expert, on how to overcome the fear of running out of money. I invited Sarah, because she has a well of experiences, from working in the corporate world to her own personal struggles with debt, finances, and success. Now she brings it all together in her own coaching and consulting business. Love to hear your comments about this conversation.
15 minutes | Mar 26, 2021
Age is an Advantage
If you are trying to make a difference – with whatever you are doing at this moment in your life – do you see age as an advantage or a disadvantage? Today, in our western society, a common belief is that as we age, our opportunities to make a difference diminish. Often we rationalize our inertia. We feel we are too old to make a deep impact in the world. We want to make a difference, but can we really make it happen? We listen to the amazing stories of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. They started working in their garages as teenagers and changed the way we live, with companies they founded before they reached their thirties. If we are over thirty, it’s easy to think that we missed our chance. Many of us still keep trying to make a difference – yet, we “shrink” our goals, because we think that it’s too late to aim higher. It’s so easy to accept this fixed mindset that justifies not thinking big. Even worse, we give up, we surrender to regret. This is a common trend: “As we age and we start to see this disconnect between what we aspire to be, and what we aspire to do, and what we're accomplishing, and what we were told we can't accomplish, regret builds, picking up in the late forties. There is that pressure, and human nature says that we have to look for a way to relieve that pressure. So we look for a source of information that tells us that we really can’t accomplish. We go back to that idea that society presents that it’s the young that matter. To relive that pressure, to give up, we find those sources of information. In fact we give up, that relieves the pressure, regret goes away, we lose our opportunity, we lose our drive.” – Jonathan Sackner-Bernstein’s TEDx Talk However, if we look at the facts, they can surprise us. For instance: Nobel Prize winners of the last decades are in their mid-to-upper forties A significant number of founders of successful companies are in their forties or fifties And, if you keep looking, you will find many examples of people that make a huge difference at an even later age. Instead of seeing age as a sign of decline and narrowing opportunities, why not to challenge yourself to see age as an opportunity to ramp up our efforts, stretch ourselves, expand our abilities, and make a deep difference in this world. [Tweet “Age is an opportunity to ramp up our efforts, stretch ourselves, expand our abilities, and make a deep difference in this world”] It’s our choice. We can start to talk back to our fixed mindset voice, and start to take growth mindset actions. Begin by seeing the full TEDx Talk from Jonathan Sackner-Bernstein. Here is another snippet: “Age is an advantage. Those of us who are over thirty-five, over forty, even over fifty, are the people who can make a difference, who have the skills to make the difference, who must step up to make the difference.” – Jonathan Sackner-Bernstein’s TEDx Talk https://youtu.be/0tSCdNmd4BM
12 minutes | Mar 19, 2021
Negative Emotions Are Good
Are negative emotions always bad? What are negative emotions? When something stirs us up in an unpleasant way, we can call it a negative emotion. We feel sad, fearful, mad. Let's think about situations that cause us to be fearful. Usually, it's something that can put us in danger. I remember many years ago, in a group adventure, we went rock rappelling. For those of you who don't know or who have never tried rock rappelling, you lower yourself down the side of a cliff using ropes. If done with care, it's quite safe. Anyway, we ended the day at this natural pool that you could jump into or rappel down to. Oh, boy, when I looked downwards, I was afraid, and I asked myself: "Are you really sure you want to do this?" I understood the fear as self-preservation, I managed to rationalize it, and I jumped. It was terrific falling into the refreshing water–what a contrast between the fear and the joy! A radical emotional shift within seconds. Now let's consider a more common situation. If we are crossing a road, and we suddenly notice a car coming fast. We quickly react out of fear of being run over and bring ourselves to the safety of the sidewalk. We feel our hearts beating fast. We realize how close we've come to danger. We feel fear, a negative emotion that can be a good thing in this type of scenario, even a great thing because it allows our bodies to react quickly to save our lives. Yes, this is an example of how a negative emotion can be good. Fear is there to protect us from danger. The capacity to experience that emotion is there because it helped our ancestors to survive dangers. Negative emotions only become bad when we don't let them go. When we stay stuck in a negative emotional state, for instance, remaining all day long thinking about what could have been? Holding on to this kind of negativity is detrimental to us mentally and physically because we keep that state of high activation going without allowing our body to recover and relax. Consider another situation. Did you ever witness a kid being accused of something they didn't do? Something they consider an unjust accusation. Oh! They can get mad, even have an angry outburst, screaming, crying, kicking. Definitely not a pleasurable experience for anyone involved. Anger has that characteristic of energizing us to fight. For instance, if we witness someone we love (or even a stranger) being mistreated, we feel our heart racing, and we get in action mode to do something about it. In this case, anger can be a good thing. Of course, there are many occasions where anger can lead to awful consequences, such as violence, injuries, and harm. But this happens not because of the emotion itself. More often than not, it's because of how everyone involved reacts to their negative emotions. Let's consider yet another situation–sadness. When we lose a loved one, we feel sad. A totally normal emotion and I will argue, a healthy emotion that just shows how connected we are with significant others, and if those connections are broken, it hurts like hell. But it can also connect us to good memories of that relationship, with all we learn from that person, even energize our determination to keep their legacy alive. In that case, it can be a good thing too. My point is that negative emotions can be a good thing in certain circumstances. Negative emotions are part of our lives, and how we respond to them determines their goodness or badness. Toddlers wear their emotions on their skins. They go from laughing to crying in a New York minute. As we grow older, we can become so good at self-regulating our emotions that we become numb to feeling them. "Thick skin," we call it. But we can sweep too many emotions under the rug, and they will find ways to come out and cause trouble. Or we can reduce our emotional range, which once again can numb us and prevents us from feeling even the good things in our lives. This numbing can have dire consequences. Our bodies are wired for negative emotions. We're meant to feel them and quickly. It's like when we are eating and bite a hot spicy chili pepper. Oh, boy, we know what happened; we feel it in every cell in our body–well, at least in our mouth. Still, as human beings, we have this amazing capacity to numb ourselves to feel these strong emotions—quite incredible. The issue is that desensitization doesn't discriminate. It prevents us from perceiving the good stuff too. By nature, positive emotions are more subtle, like a nice meal with friends that we thoroughly enjoy but aren't totally aware of the bliss. If we are numbed, it much harder to feel the joy of the great things in our lives. We need to allow ourselves to feel the full spectrum of emotions. Can you imagine a good book without the emotional ups and downs? I don't want to imagine a good life without a wide breadth of emotions. Certainly, I don't want to stay stuck on the negative ones, and surely, I want to savor the positive emotions in my life. I want to be aware of my feelings. I want to be able to empathize with others. And I want to regulate my emotional state to choose my responses instead of just reacting to my emotions. What's more, I aspire to constructively manage all the feelings involved in my interpersonal relationships. Learning to embrace the full range of my emotions is a process, a journey of learning. I will fall, and I will get up again and again. And hopefully, like when I jumped into that pool in the river–and I allowed myself to embrace the fear–I will be rewarded by feeling stronger, freer, and more alive. Connect with Ana Melikian: anamelikian.com LinkedIn Facebook Also, visit mindset.zone where you can find all the episodes and other amazing resources, such as: How to 4X Your Success, so you can work smarter, not harder, and learn how to leverage your talents to make a bigger impact while enjoying the process. Subscribe to the show and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. Apple Podcasts | TuneIn | Spotify | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | GooglePlay Be sure to share your favorite episodes on social media to help me reach more people like you. As always, I'm so grateful that you have crossed over into the Mindset Zone. Expand what's possible, for you, for the ones around you, for the world. Learn. Impact. Enjoy! Ana Melikian
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