It's What You Think Or Is It?


If you could do one thing today that would make you happier, that would allow you to improve your relationships and free your thinking, would you do it?

It seems redundant question, but I ask it because research shows us that just because we know something, does not mean we utilise it.

This point is well made in the book: Know Can Do! Put Your Know-How Into Action' which is co-authored by the renowned author Ken Blanchard, and written in his classic parable format. Know can do centres on the massive gap between what people ‘know'-and what they actually do with this knowledge.

So, I ask you again - if you did discover 1 thing that could enhance your relationships with others; that could make you happier and more productive - what would you do with it? Hold that thought as you read on, explore and discover.

Recognise to yourself how easy things are when we put our mind to something. When we fully and completely decide to do something, there are very few barriers that will stand in our way - because the power of our minds is truly astonishing. We all know, whether intuitively or from experience or learning that everything we are, everything we have, is a manifestation of the values, beliefs and thoughts that have driven us until now. And correspondingly that we can change who we are, what we have by the power of our thinking. Whether we choose to accept that or want to argue semantics first, it is easy to recognise the cycle that creates the very lives we live.

Simply put - our values determine what we focus on - and our focus drives our thoughts - which then influence our emotions which affect our actions and thereby produce our results; and our results in turn reinforce or influence our beliefs.

Beliefs which of course, have been garnered through previous revolutions of this cycle. So, we have Values - Thoughts - emotions - actions - results - beliefs ... and so it goes.

What makes the world interesting and at times horrifying, frustrating and unbelievable - is that we each have a different set of values and beliefs that are the engine or powerhouse of our mind - our thoughts. These different values and beliefs though many and varied, can be summed up in one seemingly innocuous word.

I call it the ‘s' word - or one half of BS. Now, I don't consider myself a prude, and I have, on occasion been known to utter an expletive or two when the situation warrants it, but this is one word, along with the ‘c' word which I personally believe does far more harm than good. The ‘s' word is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and it's so insidious that we are not even really aware of how often it plagues our lives, nor how much stress and unhappiness it causes. This ‘s' word generally focuses us on the negative and single handedly divides us and predisposes us to the to take the role of judge, jury and executioner; and as much as we all want to think that such unbecoming behaviours are not part of our own repertoire, we all do it.

If we're honest, we all use the ‘s' word multiple times daily - both to ourselves and often aloud too, and each time we do, we are judging someone or something - and often unfairly or unnecessarily. Let me tell you a story of one such situation that happened to me just recently.

As a business owner and training specialist my focus is very much on getting and doing the business; that is looking after my clients, delivering seminars and designing tailored training solutions; and less so on looking after small details like tax/GST and all such other such financial guff. Being aware of my predilection to avoid such paperwork, I employ the services of an accountant. I was completing my GST return recently and so had cause to realise that said accountant still had all my paperwork for the previous financial year, and I had yet to receive the accounts back - 3 months after submitting the very last of the records, dates and detailed requested. So I called my accountant, only to find that she hadn't even started my accounts! Boy did the ‘s' word feature in the conversation that followed that little gem!

By now you probably have an idea in your head what the ‘s' word I'm talking about is - that's right - ‘should'. And like it or not, should happens. And every time it does, its not usually well received.

‘I should eat better' (as I munch on a chocolate bar or devour a cheesecake or plate of butter chicken), ‘you should have tried harder' (and some part of me at the time thinks this statement is warranted and in some way useful), ‘she should have done that by now' (well, she should have, shouldn't she? At least according to my map of the world this is true).

Every time we say ‘should' we are making a value statement about one of the maps we navigate our world by. These maps are made from a set of unique filters through which we process the raw data from our 5 senses. The things we see, hear, smell, feel or taste - all have no meaning but that which we choose to give it. And that's what we do, we give meaning to things in our world - we ‘make sense of it' by filtering it through our internal maps.

Specifically, we take the new data and process it mostly unconsciously by comparing and contrasting it to previous data and their associated outcomes - so that based on our past expectations and/or the social norms which we are used to we know how to respond.

The problem is that these beliefs and values which we hold to be important are often very deeply entwined with our perception or reality of the world. So when someone disagrees with our ‘should statement' it can seem incomprehensible that they do not agree, it can cause us to challenge our map and in doing so upset the foundation we have created our world around.

Next time you feel that immediate ‘knee jerk' reaction to someone else's ‘should' and you feel that gut reaction, I would challenge you to take a moment and pause to remind yourself that the other person is simply demonstrating they have a different map of the world - a map that is no more right or wrong than your own. The key to getting on with each other lies in seeking to understand each other's maps, and in letting go enough of our own belief, to consider the ‘why' behind the other person's belief. I don't mean just listening enough find holes in or get ammunition to destroy the other person's rationale either, but really, tapping into that inner curiosity we all have, to understand the ‘why' behind the ‘should'.

All of this may seem remarkably inefficient and ineffective as you think about it, but while the system is by no means perfect, It is this set of often unspoken internal frames of reference or guidelines that helps us respond quickly in new situations.

Sometimes that's the problem, sometimes we respond too quickly, and that's when relationships can be damaged. By instead seeking to understand the other person's ‘shoulds' we open up understanding. So, in closing I hope you take away these key points and tips today, and that you add them to your continuously developing repertoire of strategies and useful beliefs:

1. We each have our own maps we navigate the world by, and none is wrong, or right, its just a frame of reference we've developed from our own unique upbringing.

2. Should' is a statement of belief and can be a source of information to get to know what makes the other person tick - by exploring someone else's shoulds we can literally visit the world as experienced by that person.

3. Shoulds can divide and pitch people against each other if we let them - it's worth recognising that any time we apply our shoulds to others we seek to make them conform to our map of the world and the world becomes a narrower and far less interesting place.

Finally, remember: Should is a poor motivator - for tips on how to move away from should and find more effective motivators subscribe to Fusion At work podcasts, where we'll also give you tips on how to effectively respond to someone else's ‘should', without having it turn into a should-fight.

Jaki George-Tunnicliffe


Jaki George-Tunnicliffe is a high-energy, engaging speaker, training consultant and facilitator of excellence. In 2006 she founded Fusion At Work Ltd – a training company dedicated to empowering and developing people to drive results, and is now based in beautiful Northland. She dedicates her time to helping businesses large and small to empower their people for greater workplace synergy and higher performance. She travels nation-wide delivering training and keynotes on creating workplace synergy and working together through change.

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