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Dare to Do the Impossible

You are capable of doing far more than you think is possible. With the right tools and support, you can do the impossible.

Driving a Motorcycle

I learned how to drive a motorcycle this week!

This is a big deal.

A really big deal.

Because I’m legally blind. I haven’t been able to drive anything in years because of my visual impairment.

So, you see, driving a motorcycle is a huge deal for me because it meant doing the impossible. 

I am not reckless, and I don’t harbor any illusions about my limitations. I know that there are things that I am not physically capable of doing (like reading a street sign or regular font on a phone). It’s not a matter of not believing in myself. It’s a matter of my retinas not working properly.

That said, I am, however, willing to challenge what my brain tells me and to stretch well beyond my comfort zone.

And that paid dividends this week.

Initially, I felt nervous and apprehensive. Afterward, exhilarated and alive. And overwhelmed with emotion.

It’s hard to put into words how it felt to succeed at something I didn’t even believe was possible. To feel brave and capable and independent. To feel free and unburdened by my disability, even if only temporarily. It was incredible. 

I’ve had a chance to reflect on this powerful experience, to consider what it takes to dare to do the impossible. This is what I’ve come up with. 

Question What Is Possible

In 2015, I made the decision to stop driving. It was glaringly clear that I was no longer able to safely drive a car, and I’m sure that stubborn refusal to accept that would’ve resulted in someone getting hurt. It was just a matter of time. Even transports like golf carts and bicycles get a little dicey unless I go exceptionally slow or have someone leading the way. So I learned how to navigate the bus system and was incredibly grateful when Uber became a reliable option.

Since then, it’s not like my vision has improved any. In fact, it’s gotten worse. So I’ve accepted as fact that driving a motorized vehicle is not an option for me, at least until Tesla masters the self-driving car. 

Driving an actual motorcycle by myself was not in the realm of possibility.

Then my dear friend Michael threw out the question, “Do you want to learn how to drive my motorcycle?”

My knee jerk reaction was, “I don’t think I can.” 

Michael knows me well and is well-acquainted with my vision. He’s also not reckless. I absolutely believe that he would not put me – or his bike – in a position to be harmed, so his question made me pause to consider…Could I?

Lesson: Too often, we accept our perceived limitations as fact when they may not be anything other than belief. Question what is actually possible and dare to dream that something just might be. 

Find the Right Support

With patient teaching and a lot of encouragement, I learned how to control the bike. If Michael hadn’t believed so steadfastly in my capability, this experience would not have happened. 

Now don’t get me wrong. He was not unrealistic. This was not a Pollyanna-you-can-do-anything-you-set-your-mind-to-if-you-just-believe-in-yourself scenario here. He clearly told me not to go above second gear to keep the speed in a range my visual field could keep up with. He didn’t turn me loose on a busy street where I’d be a liability to myself or others. He kept a firm grasp on meaningful parameters, but encouraged/pushed/challenged/allowed me to succeed well beyond what I thought was possible. 

Lesson: You don’t always need a social ankle weight, tethering you down masquerading as a “voice of reason.” You need people who help clear the path to allow you to succeed and people who see your strengths and potential and challenge you to push the boundaries, to be the best version of you that you can be. 

Set Yourself Up for Success

Beyond those parameters of speed and location that kept me safe, we also did this at night.

For many people, this may seem like an odd choice. For me, however, this was truly the condition that allowed me to be successful.

My vision is drastically affected by light, and my eyes basically shut down in brightness. If we’d tried this during the afternoon sun, there’s no way I could’ve done it. Opting to try this venture in the dark, and on private streets I was very familiar with, helped offset my visual limitations. 

Lesson: Consider the context. Choose conditions that counteract your weaknesses, amplify your strengths, and set you up for success. 

Be Brave

It takes courage to try something that you’re not sure you can do. You have to be willing to risk failure and the pain that comes with it. When the outcome isn’t guaranteed, when you’re not 100% certain how things will turn out (and let’s be real here, we never truly know how things are going to go), it can be uncomfortable at a minimum to outright terrifying to take the leap, depending on the perceived risk.

Being brave doesn’t mean feeling confident, having certainty, or feeling calm. It means embracing the discomfort, not letting anxiety hold you back, and doing it anyways. 

Being brave is a strength that can be developed, a habit that can be cultivated. And it’s invaluable.

Lesson: There’s no way to stretch your comfort zone, reach your peak, or hit your actual ceiling without tapping into courage.

The Right Mindset

I am continually awed by realizations of just how powerful beliefs can be. I don’t think anything else shapes our life experience as much as our beliefs do. They impact literally every aspect of our life from the automatic thoughts and reactions we have in the moment to our sense of identity to the decisions we make to how we interpret what happens to us. 

The gravity of our beliefs is enormous.

Yet very few people have a good grasp of how beliefs work, how they are formed, and how to ensure that they are not exerting a negative impact on life.

That’s why our next quarterly psych strength workshop will tackle this foundational topic. You won’t want to miss it.

Join us live on Tuesday October 18 at 12 CST, or catch the digital replay on demand inside the Peak Mind Platform. Get your ticket for Beyond Belief: The Psychology of How Beliefs Are Formed and Why They’re So Hard to Change here.

With the right conditions and the right kind of support – sitting squarely atop a foundation of a strong belief system – you just may be able to exceed what you thought was possible.

I certainly did.

While I won’t be racing in any Motorcycle Grand Prix or even investing in a bike of my own, that ride was a pivotal moment for me and one for which I will be eternally grateful.

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible.'”
– Audrey Hepburn
Categories
Podcasts

The Difference between Mindfulness and Visualization

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Ashley and I have been doing quite a few workshops centered around what psychological strength is and what the components are that make it up. And, there’s one component that consistently generates more confusion and questions than any other. That topic is mindfulness.

The skill of mindfulness sits at the center of our wheel of psychological strength, and it’s the core of psych strength for a reason. You need strong mindfulness skills to develop skills in all of the other areas. Your relationship with your thoughts relies on mindfulness. Mindfulness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. It impacts your relationships, your sense of self, it interacts with your habits and behavior and is an important component in life design. It really is the core of psych strength. However, it frequently gets confused with other similar skills and techniques. Specifically, visualization.

In today’s episode, I want to dig into these two concepts: Mindfulness and visualization to give you a solid understanding of what each of them is. How they’re similar, how they’re different, and more importantly, when to use each one of them because they’re both useful for different things.

Supplemental information:

  1. Podcast episode 0239 – “How to not hate meditation”
  2. Cheryl B. Engelhardt’s episode
  3. Use of mental imagery for sports performance

Following action steps and guided visualization is key to achieving your goals. Knowing the difference between mindfulness and visualization can be the difference between desired outcomes from goal setting and facing an uphill battle. With the right clarity, every single day you propel yourself forward step by step closer to your goal and living your life in a fulfilling manner.

Categories
Blogs

A Helpful Question When You Feel Stuck

Have you ever felt stuck? Torn as to what to do and which way to go in life? 

Maybe you feel that way about some aspect of everyday life right now. If that’s the case, this post is for you. Even if it’s not the case, read on, because that stuck/torn feeling is one we encounter over and over again in life.

I want to give you one simple tool, in the form of a question, that you can use to help you decide what to do next.

Story Time

Recently, we got some bad news about something we’ve been working really hard on inside Peak Mind. Something we’ve been working toward was threatening to fall through and not happen at all, and the news hit me HARD.

We had been working on it for WEEKS. We were thrilled at the opportunity. We were absolutely in LOVE with what we had created and wanted to send it out into the world.

And we were at risk of it all falling through.

I’ll be honest, I instantly began to over-react, and I let my mind take over. I was feeling all sorts of negative thoughts and feelings, and I began asking myself whether it all was worth it. I began doubting whether we’d ever reach the lofty goals we’ve set for ourselves. I began to convince myself that I was wasting my time.

Feeling Stuck in Life?

Now, here’s the thing. Dr.. Ashley and I frequently tell you guys that we use the exact same tools and techniques that we teach in order to build psychological strength and resilience for ourselves.

We’re not exaggerating.

It’s times like the one I just described that I’ve learned to lean back on the techniques we teach in order to help me regain balance, focus on the problem, and decide what to do. 

Here’s what I did.

Finding the Path Forward

The first small step I took was to become an observer of my mind. We give a lot of tools and techniques for doing this inside our Ascend program.

I did this by intentionally noticing the types of negative thoughts I was having and labeling them accordingly: Worry. Catastrophizing. Predicting the Future. Black-or-White Thinking.

By observing my thoughts instead of letting myself get caught up in them, I was able to put myself back in a frame of mind where I could think more clearly.

Then, I asked myself this question:

Let’s pretend you’re right. You’re 80 years old, at the end of your life, and you guys didn’t reach your lofty goals, You spent a good chunk of your life working on something that didn’t turn out the way you expected. So, long term: Will you regret it?

Will you regret spending your time teaching people about their minds, even if you don’t reach as many people as you wanted to reach?

Will you regret showing people how to use life design to make meaningful improvements in their lives, even if never becomes a mainstream practice in our society?

Will you regret focusing your time and energy on something that used your strengths and was aligned with your purpose and values?

The answer came immediately: No. Big time no.

And suddenly, I knew the path forward.

The Question

What about you? Think about the thing(s) you’re grappling with in your life. Ask yourself that question.

At the end of your life, will you regret spending your time in that way?

Sometimes, the answer will be yes. In that case, I’d encourage you to check out the Ascend program, specifically Module 3 that shows you how to use Life Design to identify and make changes in your life. But we need to stop feeling guilty about missing our goals so long as we don’t regret the paths we’ve chosen.

Sometimes the answer will be no. And you stay the course.

Meaning

A meaningful activity is so much more than one that allows you to achieve your external goals. 

Rather, a truly meaningful activity is one that aligns to your values. Uses your strengths. Puts you in a position to be your best self more often than not. When you align your values with your actions, physical and emotional stress recedes.

The work I do for Peak Mind is some of the most meaningful work I’ve ever done. It’s some of the most important time I spend in my life.

I sincerely hope that you have an activity like that in your own life, or that you find one. It is EVERYTHING.

At the end of my life, I am certain that I’ll look back on the work we did with Peak Mind and be proud that this was how I spent so much of my time. I’m so proud to be serving you to improve your mental health.

“Live your life on purpose with no apologies or regrets.”
– Angela Cecilia