Take any large city and you’ll find some kind of ring road to help people get around. London’s M25, the Paris Peripherique and the Washington Beltway are three typical examples. One thing that these roads have in common is the frustration they can cause through congestion. The congestion isn’t just caused by the volume of traffic. In fact, the roads are designed to cope with heavy volumes. They are however poor at handling drivers who drive erratically. A common example of erratic driving is believing there is a better option in a different lane. The more people switch the more other drivers need to adjust their driving to accommodate them. Which in turn leads to a vicious circle of needing to change lanes and in some cases accidents.
So what has this got do with understanding our performance? Our minds can sometimes feel like an overly congested ring road. Too many thoughts jumping in and out of our consciousness. Some going round and round resulting in us appearing to get more and more frustrated just like someone trying to drive home on a Friday night. Unlike the ring road scenario, we are not at the mercy of all the other driver’s behaviour.
It can seem like the things driving our thinking are coming from our external world. The work deadline, the challenging teenager, the outcome of the Brexit negotiations… There is an alternative way to consider this thinking or at the very least where it’s coming from. The alternative is to understand that it works inside out and not outside in. I get caught out by this continually. As I catch myself believing it’s coming from the outside in, I realise that it is my own thinking about something that is generating my feelings (good and not so good). The thinking is brought to life by our consciousness which is extremely creative and compelling. As a result, we can get tricked into believing something is actually real when it’s something we have made up that isn’t matching the reality we face. Like being the director of our own movie.
Developing this appreciation will help you think about the situations you face differently. This is how you used to interpret the world as a child. Over the years the volume of thinking has grown. Much of it, unfortunately, is contaminated. The good news is that if we can tap into our wisdom we will be able to quieten/reduce the thinking down to something more useful. As we do this our creativity will get a chance to operate as it was intended. As a result, many of things you might think of as problems will either reduce or disappear completely as you begin to realise it’s your interpretation of events that cause us challenges not the things themselves. This isn’t to say we don’t have difficult things to deal with. I’m confident you will. It means that if we can appreciate the innate capacity to learn and be creative in our approach to handling them we might just find we get more helpful and empowered thinking. As a consequence better results.
As always I’m interested in any thoughts or observations you may have.