If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that things can change. Or, more bluntly stated: things have to change if they are to remain successful. Obviously, this last year has been brutal for many of us around the world. But, despite all this difficulty, we’ve seen unbelievable progress and pivoting that proves the most trying circumstances can present us with new opportunities. The secret? If we can transcend our normal methods and patterns of doing things, and take advantage of whatever situations we may encounter, we can find new levels of success.
But, I wanted to explore this secret a little bit more, and give you some actionable items that you could implement in your own life. So, I spoke with Dr. Alok Trivedi, a health and human behavior expert who is the author of Chasing Success and the founder of the Aligned Performance Institute. When I asked him if he had any advice for entrepreneurs during these trying times, he told me that the best way to deal with change is by changing ourselves. Or, as the title states: rewiring our brain.
Dr. Trivedi says the external factors of the world are mostly beyond our control, but how we adapt to them makes the difference between diverging successfully, or standing still and going nowhere. While it may feel safe to casually lounge in our comfort zone, any true entrepreneur knows that nothing will happen by staying still. Success, by its definition, requires a constant state of change and adaptation. But, it isn’t always easy to know how to start or where to go once you have started. Add in a pandemic into the mix, and sprinkle that with some extreme uncertainty, pivoting your path and rewiring your mind can seem almost impossible.
The good news is that it isn’t! Dr. Trivedi reinforces the idea that all of us can manage our personal adaptations, while simultaneously changing our thoughts and actions to become more successful. In fact, we can actually “rewire” our brains on a cellular level to think and feel differently. We can start to reform who we are on a fundamental level and remodel ourselves to be geared for success. While this method may sound difficult, putting it into practice is actually relatively simple. Dr. Trivedi gave me five steps, specially targeted to entrepreneurs to help get them to start down a better path.
Step 1: Re-calibrate your expectations
This basic step is the cornerstone of rewiring our brains. It can be easy to dwell on our mistakes and punish ourselves for past shortcomings. This past guilt causes us to lose confidence in the present and keeps us from moving forward. While this may be inherent in all of us, it is important to understand that we can overcome it.
What we need to do is consciously listen to our thoughts and the feedback those thoughts give us. You should be totally realistic and understand that there will be roadblocks and you will be imperfect. So, it’s ok when you mess up. However, instead of focusing on those mistakes, focus on what you have achieved and how you can keep going forward. Celebrate success and when you stumble, acknowledge the lessons learned. The more you do this, the more your brain will reorder itself so that success is your default mode. It will become your nature to bring up past triumphs, allowing you to pursue successful endeavors with a diminished sense of fear.
Step 2: Use 3-D thinking
Next, we should adjust the scale and the scope of our ambitions. In the 9 to 5 world, many employees think about their daily tasks and career path as a fairly straight line with tasks A-B-C as their mile markers. They get direction from their superiors and carry on accomplishing the tasks set forth for them. Sometimes they get to add input and creativity. Sometimes they don’t. This type of day-to-day work is what Dr. Trivedi calls 2-dimensional thinking.
But, true entrepreneurs can’t think like this. Instead, entrepreneurs need to be able to think on their feet and handle anything that comes their way without an authority who can take the responsibility for its failure or success. This type of environment can feel intense and overwhelming to some, but to thrive, you need to make sure that you are thinking in three dimensions. Constantly tell yourself to expand your horizons and think about the issues in a deeper, more three dimensional way.
What does that mean? We need to be able to build or discard new structures and adapt to any situation in which we find ourselves. Go with what works, but never become so complacent that you don’t see what is coming up next. Keep reinforcing the thought that you can handle anything and everything, but maintain the perspective that there is always room to improve and learn. Never stop growing. Never stop being creative.
Step 3: Get into the Zone of Inspiration
The Zone of Inspiration is a magical place. It’s where the seeds of our dreams were planted. It’s where your ambitions began transforming into action, then into reality. However, it’s as easy to get out of this zone as it is to get in it. Real-life details begin getting in the way, turning what was once a bright and exciting opportunity into a dull and frustrating grind. If this happens, it’s time to rewire your brain.
We want to recapture the initial inspiration that drove you to entrepreneurship and reinforce how much you love what your business stands for. This inspiration can come from anywhere: like what you can do for your customers or the freedom that comes along with the sacrifices you’ve made. Let yourself get back into the Zone of Inspiration, which will help you say “I love this” and “I am so proud of what I am doing.”
Step 4: Become a mirror
Mirror neurons fire within the brain when we perform an action that we also see others perform. They help us understand how we relate to what others are doing. As children, we learn many skills this way, and we understand how we should behave. What better way to find our sense of being successful than to mirror the actions of a successful person? The concept of observing in order to learn is nothing new, but this idea is a little deeper once you grow into adulthood.
Imagine yourself embodying the successful elements of the successful person you are observing. Actually feel that success and let it be part of yourself, without losing yourself.
Step 5: Ask «why not?»
Why is such a great question? It is the pickaxe that uncovers hidden nuggets of knowledge, but it can also strike the depths of doubt. Let’s not let it become negative. When you start asking yourself “why?” questions about anything positive, such as “why should I stick with this business?” or “why did I think I could do this?” turn that into “Why NOT!?!?!” Keep reinforcing that in your own mind. Remember that there is nothing stopping you. Why should I be an entrepreneur? Why NOT!?!?!?
Combining these five steps is truly easy. I keep a paper with each of these steps where I can see them. At first, I had to constantly correct myself and apply these steps. After a while, it became easier. Then, after a good amount of time, I realized that I was doing these things almost naturally. I had rewired my brain, and I watched my life changed for the better. Although it does take some work, rewiring your brain to succeed is a relatively simple process.