Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the tag “Mind tricks”

What Forrest Gump is Still Teaching Me

What do The Dog Whisperer and Forest Gump have in common?

Both cause reflection about how the average human’s sense and awareness of past and future can be debilitating to performance in the present (if your mind makes the random connections that mine does)

In my post, Our Simple Minds: Mind Tricks, I explored a simple view that if we remove the conscious barriers or layers between identification of the need for the action, and the action itself, then it appears that we get more done with less resistance.

Drill Sergeant: Gump! What’s your sole purpose in this army?
Forrest Gump: To do whatever you tell me, drill sergeant!

If we remove the conscious resistance to the task and just do, then we’re focusing on our own drill sergeant of task completion.

What occurred to me watching The Dog Whisperer is how we as humans debilitate ourselves by carrying our baggage of history in our heads, and the blanket of stress of expectation and future fears. We bring this to bear on our treatment of dogs, and they don’t know why. They live in the now. Yes they have programmed responses, but as soon as these are removed then their only concern is the here and now. We’re the ones who often screw them up by bizarre behaviour tainted by how they were previously, or our concerns about how they’re going to respond. We miss the mindfulness of the here and now.

It’s very easy to ignore the work you should be doing when you’re rambling with something pleasurable or distracting: the reading, exploring the web, or online conversations. Most of us can lose ourselves in something for minutes if not chunks of hours.  The great thing is that we can lose ourselves in work and task completion in exactly the same way by just tricking ourselves into action. Even just reversing the above pleasurable rambling scenario would work. Rather than ignoring the work you should be doing; ignore the distractions by planning a whole days worth of reading, exploring the web, online conversations etc. etc. Then just ramble with a bit of work. Just start something knowing that you ‘should’ be reading/ surfing/ chatting etc.

The strangest thing happens: you start work without resistance. It flows until you’re a bit spent. Then you can force yourself to start ‘work’ on what you have planned to do……… just see how long it takes you to get distracted by work again though ;-)

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Our Simple Minds: Mind Tricks

Sorry that I’m struggling to shake the simplicity theme that underpinned the Play/ Game posts earlier in the

Person at Desk by Sigurd Decroos

Person at Desk by Sigurd Decroos

week. I feel this will be a recurring theme throughout my exploration of conscious vs. other-than-consciousness as it is at the heart of our self-management.

The whole idea about tricking or ‘blatantly’ nudging yourself into change is a strange one when you consider the supposed power of the intellectual conscious. Back to the ‘remembering to take something to work’ example that I have mentioned before and that David Allen uses so well: how could such an intelligent human animal really rely on leaving something by the front door in order to remember to take it into work the next day. Why is NLP and hypnotherapy so effective in enabling self-change when analysed, it is clearly so simple: all about beliefs and mental associations. 

I was struck this morning how we can trick ourselves into working. How we can fool ourselves into addressing challenging tasks just by being a bit dumb about it.

Put simply: if we remove the conscious barriers or layers between identification of the need for the action, and the action itself, then it appears that we get more done with less resistance. I sometimes think that Forest Gump is an ideal role model for all busy people who want to achieve more in their lives.

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