“I really want to tell you that I thought you did a fantastic job last year and that you really, really helped me, most notably towards the end of the season.”
Zoe and the Mindset for Growth
Growth Concept Number Two: Challenge What You Know
The pursuit of growth is a journey of continually finding new ways to learn, develop self-mastery, and be fully present. It's a quest of learning how and what to learn. In other words, growth, especially toward Zoë, is the pursuit of wisdom.
Wisdom teaches us how to live and pursue fullness of life. In a way, wisdom is very personal, because no one has had the same experiences and lessons you've had, and thus, no one has the same wisdom as you. On the other hand, wisdom is very communal, because everyone else has wisdom that you do not.
Wisdom is the pursuit of integrity, which is the state of being whole. Few, if any, of us can be whole alone; we rely on the wisdom and love of others. Wisdom sees the interconnectedness of life and how little of it our self-centeredness takes in.
We've all developed habits of seeing things a certain way, things we know to be true—only to change our opinions about these truths down the road as we learn new truths. The world was flat years ago; this was a fact until someone challenged what they knew.
The only way to grow is to accept that there is much to learn. To seek wisdom is to never stop questioning how things are done, what your beliefs are, and how you can live your dreams and help others live theirs. Perhaps the central question to study is how you can be fully present in this moment—what stops you and what helps you. When you're fully present, you have the most fruitful opportunity to grow, because in those moments you have no self-consciousness and no attachments to the past or the future.
You can challenge what you know by asking questions, paying attention, and listening closely. Be willing to change what you know if sufficient data back it up. Read informative books. Take off your self-conscious blinders. Seek counsel. Listen, look, and feel.
The things we know are the result of our habits of thinking. The brain, in its pattern-seeking ways, continually reinforces thoughts that, after a while, we accept as completely true, never to change. The way we talk to ourselves produces self-fulfilling prophecies. We struggle because we say we are struggling. We lose the promotion because we say we rarely get promoted.
Here are a few examples of ingrained habits of thinking that you may want to challenge:
- I have to ________ [get this promotion, win this event, do this thing].
Really? How do you know that getting this promotion, winning this event, or doing this thing is really the best course for you?
- I will be happier with more ________ [money, possessions, achievements, status], or when I get _________.
This is the human facade. The grass is always greener; more always seems better. Getting more creates desire for more that never ends.
- I'm not able to _______ [achieve this goal, get this promotion, win this event].
There are always logical reasons why you cannot do something. There are also reasons, perhaps a bit more imaginative, why you can.
- I'm struggling with ______________ [whatever skill or task has been problematic for you].
You're actually not struggling with anything right now except perhaps reading this sentence. When you talk in the present tense about what you've been struggling with, you're projecting the same for tomorrow.
- I always _____________ [screw this up, lose to this person, fail in this situation].
The fact that you've come up short in this exact situation many times in the past does not mean you will do so again. It means only that the Trickster will remind you of those failures and predict future failure for you. Callista B., from Chapter 6, failed nine straight times and then defeated the same opponent the tenth time, when it mattered most. You can do the same.
- I don't deserve ______________.
In your pursuit of excellence, you deserve to reap excellence. The combination of love, wisdom, and courage attracts abundance. Expect it.
You can challenge these and similar habits of thinking by first analyzing any such thoughts without judgment. Notice the patterns that appear. We generally have a handful of categories that we think about given spare time, and often those thoughts are limiting.
You may counter, "I continually think this way because it's the way things are. I truly cannot do X [or, ‘I always do Y’]." When you argue for your limitations, as motivational speaker Les Brown says, you get to keep them. So, first, notice the internal monologue and whether those thoughts are empowering or limiting. Then learn to dismiss or replace the limiting thoughts, as outlined in Chapter 5.
We mere mortals were definitely sure at one point that humans cannot fly (especially to the moon), cannot run a mile in less than four minutes, cannot play in the NBA if they're five feet three inches tall, and, if they are a group of convicted felons, almost all of whom were also drug addicts, cannot run award-winning companies.
Those are things we knew to be true, and now we know otherwise. Your life is always limited by your imagination and your readiness to challenge what you know. Keep dreaming. Take risks. Fail valiantly…