HOW YOUR MIND ACTUALLY WORKS

Hi Everyone,

I am currently writing my first book and I recently shared chapter 1 of this unedited book with my blog. Below is another raw and unedited excerpt from my upcoming book. Please do send me your feedback and sign up to my email list on the homepage if you’d like to receive future emails from me as I’ll be sending out more chapters soon.

CHAPTER 6

I spent my twenties in what is called the self-development or self-help world. I read books on fear, influencing others and spirituality. While driving I constantly listened to non-fiction audiobooks rather than music. I travelled to Europe and the USA to take courses with world-renowned teachers or gurus. I tried to stay in shape by going to the gym and worked to maintain good posture by doing the Alexander Technique (used by many actors). I even hired an image consultant from New York to help me dress better and appear more confident and attractive. I was obsessed with trying to be my best self, a need driven by a misunderstanding that the person I already was wasn’t enough.

Not surprisingly, I still hadn’t found what I was really looking for. All I knew was that I wanted to feel okay. In fleeting moments I understood this, but usually my mind was so busy thinking and analysing that I couldn’t recall the child I used to be and how life was once so easy. So I committed to my strategy of self-improvement.

On some level, it appeared to be working. I was gaining confidence and self-esteem, and overall I seemed to have a happier existence.

In 2012, after over a decade of this personal development training, reading, searching and exploration, I finally thought I’d done enough work. After years of seeking, I arrived at a place where I felt okay.

Little did I know that this was really just the start of one of the biggest phases of personal growth in my life. Everything I had known up to this point was just the tip of the iceberg.

That was the year I turned thirty. It seemed a big milestone. I thought I was old enough and experienced enough to properly be considered an adult, and yet I felt young enough to do almost anything I wanted. I considered a career change. I had, until then, been working in a large construction and building materials company that I had joined as a graduate seven years earlier. While I enjoyed my job, mostly liked my colleagues and had good career prospects, I knew deep down it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I asked myself, would my younger self dream of living the life I was living? I knew the answer was an emphatic NO.

I set one weekend aside to really THINK. I thought this focused attention would give me the answer I was looking for. So for one entire weekend, all I did was think about career options, what my hobbies were, what I enjoyed doing, and so on. I left no stone unturned.

As Sunday evening approached it dawned on me that I was no closer to working out what I really wanted to do. The more I thought, the more confused I got. I just seemed to be thinking myself in circles.

When Monday morning rolled around I set out on my usual drive to work. As I turned into the road where our head office was located, I felt pretty low, but I also realised I was no worse off than I had been on Friday. I then quickly forgot about the weekend’s exercise and went about my day.

That evening, I cooked myself some vegetarian fajitas in my parent’s kitchen. I didn’t cook often, but I was trying to be healthy and this was a simple meal. The pan was on the stove, I had my wooden spoon in my hand and soft tortillas at the ready. With nothing else on my mind, it suddenly hit me:

“Why don’t you coach?”

This didn’t seem like a crazy idea. I realised that I really enjoyed self-development and spirituality. I also enjoyed sharing what I knew with others. I was aware that there was such a profession and that some people were earning a living from it. And it sounded like fun. I admit I was a little scared. I asked a couple of my best friends (who thought quite differently to each other) whether they could see me coaching for a living and they both said yes. I knew that I had to take the next step or I’d end up regretting it.

I enrolled in a one-year coach-training program in London with a coach called Jamie Smart. It wasn’t what I expected. I arrived on the first day of the program at a large, four-star hotel near Heathrow Airport in London. Everyone seemed really happy—almost too happy. I thought I was in the wrong place. I was expecting to see serious, professional high achievers who were there learning to help other serious, high-achieving types of people. The trainer at the front of the room for the first weekend was world-renowned sports coach Garret Kramer. Now he had an impressive resume: he was a published author and had worked with Olympic athletes, pro golfers and NFL players. However, I struggled to buy into what he told the group. As an intelligent person, I thought it was my job to challenge him and not take what he said at face value.

By the end of the first day, I felt that I hadn’t really learned anything. Garret was pointing out that our feelings served as indicators of our state of mind, and that our state of mind in turn impacted our performance. I found this and other material overly simplistic and I challenged many things Garret shared with the group. Surely our state of mind was only a small part of performance? Even if it were the key determinant of performance, I felt it would take years of deep work or daily meditation to master it.

Garret suggested otherwise. Years earlier, his own mentors had introduced him to important ideas that he had incorporated into his own coaching with elite athletes. The concepts were apparently having an incredible impact on their performance both on and off the field.

On the second day I decided to open my mind and give the three-day workshop a chance. Doing so turned what I knew on its head and paved the way for many other insights—eventually leading to the remembering of who I truly am. For the first time, I opened up to the possibility that my feelings were a reflection of my thinking—nothing more and nothing less. When I was angry, my angry feeling wasn’t telling me about what another person had done wrong, or how a particular situation had “made” me angry, or anything else. The feeling was simply a reflection of my thinking in that particular moment.

This blew me away. I’d never considered that anger was solely generated inside my own mind, that it had nothing to do with anyone or anything else. My feelings of anger always seemed to be telling me what an idiot someone else was—how wrong they were and how right I was. However, as I explored my feelings, specifically anger, I realised that I’d never known anyone who’d gotten smarter as they’d gotten angrier.

This insight was about to have a huge impact on all areas of my life.