I want to start making positive changes in my life and find a greater sense of purpose…is there an app for THAT?
Remember those iPhone commercials a few years back? If you want to check the weather…there’s an app for that. If you want to find a restaurant…there’s an app for that. The list of life’s conundrums resolved with an app was lengthy.
Well, do you ever wish there was an “app” for personal transformation and growth?
Wouldn’t that be great?!
Now, I’m not necessarily talking about these so-called brain-training apps that promise to push your brain to become sharper and faster by playing Tetris on your phone. The jury is out on whether or not they’re effective at all in the long term.
There ARE sophisticated computer programs, rubrics, tests and activities to help you stimulate your brain’s neuropathways, explore your metacognition and get deep into the inner workings of your mind. Through brainwork, hypnotherapy, psychoanalysis and transcendental meditation, we can discover greater paths toward enlightenment and understanding.
However, these great tools for making positive changes can’t be bought at the app store. It turns out, it’s going to take a little more work than that.
You know when you see a great movie? Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or even The Wizard of Oz… What is it about the hero’s journey we love to watch?
It’s that the answer is always within our hero.
Luke was a Jedi all along.
The power to destroy The One Ring was always only Frodo’s.
Dorothy could go back home any time she wanted.
Well, just like these heroes, we’re on our own adventure. We’re on our own hero’s journey. We’re trying to get those answers and tools for making positive changes from within ourselves. We certainly don’t need an app.
I learned to play the trombone many years ago. It’s simple: you hold your lips together to create a buzzing noise. Then, depending on the way you blow, you’ll create a higher or lower pitch.
If I handed you a trombone right now, do you think you could play based on my explanation? What if I had you watch a YouTube tutorial on how to play for a few minutes? Do you think you could play the trombone then?
The thought of playing an instrument with so little practice or experience seems silly, right? Laughable, even!
So WHY do we embrace the same mindset when it comes to making positive changes, huge life transitions and personal transformations?? We attend ONE weekend seminar, take a class or listen to a TED Talk, and we’re told it’s going to “change our life,” right?
When you understand how the brain works and what it takes to build new, lasting neural pathways, you realize that there is no such thing as a quick fix—and anything that offers one is misguided at best and fraudulent at worst. The odds are you’ve taken a class, been to a workshop, or experienced some other type of learning situation that provided useful ideas about how to transform your life, or some aspect of it. You’ve spent a few hours or perhaps a few days absorbing theories and exercises that struck you as valuable or maybe even epiphany-producing.
You’ve learned a lot about yourself what you need to do to change, and you’re excited about putting this learning to work. Unfortunately, it’s one thing to learn a valuable lesson; it’s something else to put it into practice.
When we work with students at the Wright Graduate University, one of the tools we ask them to adopt is called the Assignment Way of Living. This may sound strange, but it’s important as they start to view their life as an adventure — as they begin to view their journey as a hero’s journey.
Heroes go on quests. They go on missions or “assignments,” right? Well, when we view our own life as an adventure, we start to adopt the assignment way of living. We start to see through the “rules” and limits we’ve imposed on ourselves. We start to find ways to break free from those limits.
These rules (like, “I shouldn’t ask for help because I’ll look stupid” or “I shouldn’t speak up because people will think I’m pushy”) are meant to be broken! Students adopt the assignment way of living to break these “rules” that reinforce their own negative beliefs and doubts. So break the rules!
These “rules” are our limiting beliefs. The same limiting beliefs that prevent us from making positive changes, and really truly getting not only what we really want, but what we yearn for deep down as human beings.
Just like any new habit or assignment, we must practice over and over. Asking for what we want is as foreign to many of us as playing the trombone. We can watch a seminar or read a book, but without deliberate practice we will never truly learn how to get what we yearn for.
For those who aren’t used to asking and who are living under the iron curtain of these self-imposed rules, asking for our needs to be met seems very strange and uncomfortable. So, what are our students to do?
During this week of of Year of Transformation, our students are told to go out and ask for everything they think of. Ask someone if they would hail a cab for you. Ask someone if they mind giving you the time. When your spouse isn’t paying attention to you, ask them for it!
Judith and I took years to come to an understanding about asking—a story she’s fond of sharing with our students. See, I tend to be a squeakier wheel than Judith when it comes to getting what I need. I also get absorbed in my work, reading or whatever I’m doing from time to time.
Judith would ask me a question and oftentimes I wouldn’t register I heard her or I would be so absorbed in what I was doing, I would fail to respond. Her yearnings to be seen, heard and acknowledged weren’t being met. So, she would feel hurt and ignored. She would feel frustrated with me and I wouldn’t even realize what had happened.
We had a paradigm shift when she said, “I just need you to tell me you heard me.”
Ah-ha! It was that simple. Once she asked for me to acknowledge her, I realized acknowledging her was all I needed to do to meet her yearning. If I said, “I hear you. I’m finishing this and I’ll be with you in five minutes,” suddenly everything changed. She no longer felt ignored. Her yearnings were being met!
What fun it is to ask for things! It’s also been very interesting to note all the tiny little asks such as my wife to massage my legs and aching feet, bring me a cup of tea or coffee, or make a certain dish for dinner. I’ve asked people I haven’t spoken to in years to see if they’d have a lunch or dinner with me. I’ve also asked others to help me win new business–and it works!
It’s amazing how many of us are right at the cusp of getting the what we want and need, and all we need to do is learn to ask! Asking is one of our most powerful tools when it comes to making positive changes and like every great hero, the ability to ask for what we need is already within us. We simply need to learn how to ask and practice regularly.
Be the hero of your own adventure! Learn more about your yearnings and finding your inner hero by joining us for an upcoming Foundations Training Weekend. Bring out your best and discover what’s possible!
Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.