You can have good ideas and good intentions but if you’re not executing at a high level, you’re just wasting your time. Especially in a world where word-of-mouth and reputation is now searchable for all time.
NEED & WANTS – STRATEGIES – ACTION – HABITS
First some definitions –
* NEEDS are physical things, necessities you cannot live without: food & water and safety. And a few subjective needs like love and connection, self esteem and control, which I’ll explain below.
WANTS (also known as values) are the things in this world that you link to best being able to meet your needs (but may not have always been around.) Things like money, family, significance, security, sex, growth, contribution and happiness. Although Maslow talked about these things as needs, we actually have very few needs – necessities for actual survival physically or subjectively.
Most of the things we WANT are things we VALUE for greater enjoyment and happiness, but they aren’t essential to survival. You can live without shelter just ask the Nomadic tribes of Africa. You can live without sex, just ask Steve Carrell in 40 Year Old Virgin or young monks who live a life of celibacy.
Connection or Love:
Longevity studies show that humans in isolation often die off much more quickly than those who have connection, therefore connection and love is a NEED, not just something we want.
Self esteem although not necessary in the animal kingdom where they have little to no subjective experience, for a human being with an incredible level of identification with “self” (through the power of words) – self esteem is just as essential to survival as food or water. For example humans are the only species of animal that commits suicide because of their subjective experience alone. Therefore self esteem is a NEED, not just something we want.
A sense of self is intimately associated with power, or a sense of “what I control versus what I don’t control”. Having no control over anything – including one’s own life or thoughts can quickly lead to a sense of helplessness, depression and suicide or death. Therefore control – even to the most basic degree of controlling one’s body or mind is an essential subjective NEED, not just a want.
STRATEGIES are the processes we go through to meet our deepest wants and needs. They are a series of steps or ACTIONS that take us from point A of desire to point B of meeting or satiating that desire.
HABITS are the result of repeatedly using the same strategy to meet a need. The subconscious part of the brain takes it over to free up the conscious brain to focus on new strategies for meeting other urgent or unmet needs. Like driving a car – at first its a very conscious activity but over time it becomes almost automatic while you focus on other strategies like CONNECTING with someone in the car or thinking about something in your head (which is likely a thought about how to do something better – a strategy).
INCREASING KNOWLEDGE OF SELF AND STRATEGIES
The best way to empower the process of Need & Wants – Strategies – Actions – Habits, is through increasing knowledge. In fact most crime is not the result of poor decisions. It’s the Ignorance or the lack of a better strategy that leads them to choose a strategy that isn’t ideal. It’s often all they know!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking some people know better. If someone chooses to be corrupt its because they’ve identified a strategy that helps them meet their needs faster – even if its risky. Someone may also choose strategies that help them meet their needs even if it hurts others due to an over-focus on the self, for example a parent that neglects their children or a politician that cuts personal deals even though it hurts the people they are supposed to serve.
Focusing on meeting the needs of self is important – to a point. But once important personal needs are met, economists have proven the margin of return declines sharply unless you extend that focus to include others*. Sometimes these consequences aren’t apparent at first – since need is a strong motivator and poor rationalizer.
*They call this the declining margin of utility and relate it to the declining value of a dollar in relation to one’s happiness once you get over a certain level of income.
THE WORLD DOESN’T LACK MOTIVATION
The world doesn’t lack motivation -everyone is motivated to do something. In fact most people’s reality is the product of their strategies used to date. Yes shi+ happens, but our strategies determine how we deal with that shi+.
“EFFECTIVE” STRATEGIES QUICKLY BECOME HABITS
Any strategy that regularly meets an important need gets turned into a habit and is no longer something we are conscious of. This sentence is worth re-reading, it is the reason for most unnecessary suffering (and also the reason for great happiness). A strategy that repeatedly meets a need will become a habit or pattern of behavior. Unless you consciously observe this pattern of behavior or expand your awareness of other potential strategies, it becomes all you know and the automatic default behavior for meeting a need.
WHY MOVING OUT OF A COMFORT ZONE IS SO HARD
Fear of trying something new is your subconscious reaction to losing something that has proven itself to meet an important need, for something that promises to meet the need better but actually hasn’t proven itself yet! Read that again. The best way to move out of fear is to find all the references you can that something will actually meet the need it promises.
Like an employer seeking job references from a potential employee, they want to know they can “trust” the person they are hiring to meet their needs. You need to do this with your own reality – and as you discover strategies that might meet your needs, you only need to seek out references that PROVE its better. This might include asking people who have done it, getting testimonials from people who have tried it, etc. In today’s age of social proof – this is what we’re already doing – we want to KNOW that someone who has worked with Company X got the result that they promised, making Company X a potentially effective strategy for meeting a need or want.
You can use your understanding of this process, the process of seeking out references for ANY thing that you might put off or fear doing. You can also use your understanding of this process to better enhance the value of what you’re offering. If you are looking for job or want to make a sale, people need more quality references to make a decision to work with you.
BETTER STRATEGIES OFTEN EXIST!
As we grow older and hopefully smarter and more aware we should be better able at strategizing and we need to evaluate if the habits we formed at 5, 10 or 20 years old are STILL best for meeting important needs. Here’s a simple test – are you happy in every area of your life? If not – you might need to learn some better strategies for better meeting your needs. Remember nearly all behavior is a strategy for meeting a need and it not only includes things like the work we do or the projects we work on but it also includes the people we choose to spend our time with and HOW we socialize in general. Even tools like Facebook or Twitter are strategies for meeting basic needs!
STEPS TO IMPLEMENT A NEW STRATEGY (A strategy for implementing strategies)
Step 1: Identify the areas where you’re not happy.
Step 2: Identify the strategy or strategies you’ve been using to meet a need in those areas.
Step 3: List out new and potentially better strategies for meeting the same need.
Step 4: Prioritize the top strategy you’d like to implement.
Step 5: Notice if you feel any fear about replacing one strategy for another. If you do (and you probably will), it’s time to seek out additional references. Don’t stop looking for more references until you feel comfortable enough to give the new strategy a REAL shot. If you still don’t feel comfortable its either because you didn’t find strong enough references or because no strong references exist. Some things are so new that nobody has done them before (most things aren’t however).
You’ll have to decide if the need for change is strong enough to help you overcome your fear before proceeding to the next step.
Step 6: Start implementing the new strategy
Remember that this is a critical period if you are giving up an old strategy. Like quitting smoking, getting out of a bad relationship or starting a new career or business. Needs are tricky – when they are being met you forget about them. But when they are unmet they suddenly become more urgent!
The minute you stop meeting a need, it will suddenly feel more urgent. This urgency will cause you to want to fall back on default behavior: the old strategy that you KNOW works. If you really want the change, don’t fall back on old strategies, otherwise you’ll give yourself a new reference around trying out new strategies “I tried it, it didn’t work.”
You can resist this temptation of giving up on new strategies prematurely by being prepared for it in advance. For example just by reading this you know its going to come up before it feels more urgent.
If you have tried new things and feel like you failed, don’t despair. Now that you are aware of the underlying mechanics of your brain – you can persist next time in spite of the fear or suddenly feeling of urgency to go back to what’s familiar.
This is serious stuff – although you might be reading this and you get it rationally, remember that NEEDS ARE NOT RATIONAL. When a need becomes urgent it will attempt invade your rational mind and justify why its okay to fall back on default patterns.
If your need for change is strong and you have no previous habits for meeting the need, you’ll actually have less challenge on this step.
Step 7: Form a New Habit
By actually attempting a new strategy, you’ll give yourself the strongest reference of all – personal experience.
You can study other references all you want, but until you actually make the connection between personal action and personal fulfillment – you’ll always have your doubts about something. For example if someone promises you $10,000 for crossing a bridge, even if they show you the $10,000 and tell you its waiting on the other side of the bridge – you’ll still doubt them until you actually get over the bridge and have it in your possession. And you might even doubt whether you’ll get out of there alive (maybe its a trick) until you get out of the jungle and actually deposit the funds in your bank account.
The next time we meet this same person at the same bridge, you’ll have a much easier time trusting them if they promise $10,000 for crossing it. That’s the kind of personal reference your brain looks for before it adopts a new habit, after it crosses the bridge a few times (the strategy / action) and gets the $10,000 (the pay off) it knows exactly what to do the next time it NEEDS the same kind of pay off. And if an action produces a consistent pay off – your brain will adopt it as a habit.
Think smoking, drinking and gambling as well as reading, meditation and exercise – all offer pay offs. (Even gambling that doesn’t consistently pay off in terms of dollars and sense – yes I spelled it sense, it does deliver a rush of excitement with each bet).
YOU ultimately have to determine the pay-offs that are worth the most to you in terms of your highest values and the best long term consequences. Remember, needs aren’t rational – they are based on short term pay offs. But YOUR rationality and a thoughtful perspective about the long term can guide your need driven machine (the human body and brain) to the best possible destination, because the ultimate captain of the ship is Soul driven.
If you’re aren’t as happy as you’d like to be right now, don’t worry.. the process of NEEDS – STRATEGIES – ACTIONS – HABITS is a process that never ends as long as you’re alive. Happiness is not a destination, just a measure of how well you’re doing at this moment in time.
In all human interaction, the content or words means very little and the energy that you BRING is everything. When you focus on making a person feel good at a Soul level, it frees you from being self conscious and it raises the vibration of both. But don’t EXPECT positive response, learn not to care how others respond if it’s a low energy or negative. What matters most is the SPIRIT you bring to the interaction, a clear and positive intention to raise another person’s energy with no expectation on what their response will be.
Tolstoy came to the conclusion that the apparent emptiness of our lives is a kind of mercy sent to us from the depths of our being. Its purpose is to shake us loose from over-involvement in superficial concerns and to call us back to our spiritual roots. “I can refer to this by no other name than of a thirst for God,” he writes. “This craving for God had nothing to do with the movement of my ideas-in fact, it was the direct contrary of that movement – it came from my heart.” – Harry Moody writes on Leo Tolstoy after his novel War and Peace was considered one of the best in the world and he had everything a human could want, riches, fame and great respect amongst his peers.
There’s a fine line between two worlds of existence – one is physical and the other spiritual. Attempting to balance between the two is like balancing on a high-wire. It’s very easy to fall into the physical and believe it’s all there is. It’s also possible (with greater effort) to withdraw from the physical and live an almost entirely spiritual existence. But what then would be the purpose of life in this physical realm? We’ll have an opportunity to exist entirely as spirit again, once we give up the physical body.
So the greater challenge is to make use of this physical existence, to grow spiritually but walk that fine line between the physical and spiritual without falling into the physical and living as if that’s all there is. In fact its safer to lean into the spiritual realm through regular meditation, prayer and reading books of a spiritual nature – to be reminded of home. We may not see it but we can certainly feel it when we visit there with our intention.
Something I used to practice with great success – after every book I read of a business nature, I would follow it up with a book of a spiritual nature – in this way I could walk the high-wire between physical and spiritual.
All Souls get homesick after a while. It seems the longer we live in this physical life and experiment with every possible pleasure, the more we realize that NOTHING in this physical realm will ever satisfy our yearning, because deepest desire is of a spiritual nature. The desire to be satisfied SPIRITUALLY cannot be had through any achievement in the physical. No matter if we climb the tallest mountain or beat the people that we secretly compete against. It can only be satisfied in seeking and dwelling in the spiritual. For some that means praying to a God, for others meditating on the universal source and for others it’s tapping into the most creative part of themselves.
The point is that our spiritual thirst can only be quenched by visiting the spiritual well – and if we forget how to find it we’ll forever go thirsty in this physical world. You must remember there is a spiritual well, you must be actively seeking it and in doing so you’ll inevitably find it and be satisfied. Unless you forget once more and fall back into the physical, growing thirsty and seeking satisfaction only in the physical.
Nobody has a monopoly on the spiritual well. No religion and no person owns the well. It’s something we ALL have a right to access any time we choose through directing our intention to know God. Some know how to find it better than others, but that doesn’t mean that they ARE the well, or that they own the rights to it.
The highest priority value thing we can do is to remind ourselves and to remind others that the spiritual realm does exist. That it’s real. And that it’s of even greater importance than the greatest of all physical achievements. It’s a place that we can all visit through directing our intention and it costs nothing. It’s the greatest vacation destination your Soul could ever visit! And there are an infinite number of layers to explore so you’ll never get to the end and you’ll never get bored!
On the high-wire of life it is better to lean more into the spiritual realm. This way you can see clearly the boundary of physical and spiritual, making it easier to observe with curiosity the events of this world without getting caught up in them. And this makes it easier to replenish your Soul any time it beckons for home.
Most people don’t really know what they want. So they look outside for the answers, and for validation.
But you don’t have to believe the mind viruses that say you have to win the race for “success” to be happy. Or buy the best house, cars or shoes to be respected. Don’t believe that it’s okay to sell out, EVER. When you’ve given up your principles, that’s when you’ve truly lost everything. And even if you think you’ve lost everything, as long as you still maintain your principles you can rebuild.
From a strong sense of identity comes confidence and from confidence, the WILL TO DO. And from the will to do – great things are built. Not for the status that comes with them but for the sheer joy of creation, which puts us in closest contact with the creative force in this universe.
We are all meant to create, but we do not all possess the confidence to create. Creation of something meaningful to us is a vital and necessary thing for us to feel connected with the greater whole – to feel whole ourselves, to know that we have something worthwhile to create, that we have something worthwhile to share with this world and that without YOUR unique contribution being expressed in your lifetime this world, not only do you miss out on the pleasure of creating but the world is robbed of the gift of your contribution and the picture of a heaven on Earth is a little less complete.
So don’t deny yourself the opportunity to create something because you fear the critics. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of creating something because you feel you aren’t ready or aren’t good enough. OR that nobody will appreciate it. You might be right! Critics will criticize and nobody may like what you’ve created or even buy it, god forbid! But that should not be the only measure of why you create. In the end you create for you and the joy it brings you. If others appreciate it, that’s a bonus. And as you create more, you’ll get better at it.
In your essence you are the creator. Your true source of inspiration lives several layers beneath the Ego. The Ego owns the creation and tries to use it to advance it’s status and appeal to the culture of the day. But ultimately you know the true source of creation lies beyond the grasp of the Ego – and it acts only as a channel or conduit for that creative energy. And because we exist as individuals it only appears as individuals creating something. But we are all in this mix.. all channeling the same creative forces. Some give it more priority than others. Some give it more time to become mastered and manifest.. but we all draw from the same well. And we are all powerful creators if we allow ourselves to be.
The challenge of our day is to find some way to bring heaven to Earth while also making a living. This is often confused with making money at what we love. But what we love may not be marketable and that is OKAY. You can do something that IS marketable for part of the day, and because you don’t get caught up in the mind virus known as “success” in taking on financial obligations that don’t bring you much happiness, you’ll have more free time to focus on the things that bring you joy when you’re not working to earn a living.
Someday you might be able to merge the two, but don’t deprive yourself that joy today. Don’t compartmentalize your life and say that for the first half you’ll work to earn enough to be able to give back to society. There’s no guarantee of a second half!
And don’t use hard work as an excuse for distraction. Yes, you need time to play. To have fun. To play games. Sometimes we use hard work as a justification for play. But you can also play for the sake of playing, no judgement or justification required. To retain the qualities of playfulness in a world that prides itself on being “grown up” is to retain the experience of joy in spite of the seriousness around us.
At the end of the day we have to grow for some purpose that is beyond our comprehension. In the end none of us know what this life holds when we our bodies cease to operate. Or even if we did we could probably only sense that realization for a moment. The brain has evolved to deal with the three dimensions in which we live and attempt to comprehend time through our memories. But even as you think about the life you’ve lived you notice that the brain does a poor job at remembering much. This is a hint of how inferior it is in understanding the complexities of the universe.
But on a deeper level we know we must GROW for something. We must CONTRIBUTE for something. We know we must soar as high as the best versions of our selves can take us. And in that flight, taste the sweet nectar of enlightened living for however long it lasts before we fall again, with effort, not as far down as the last time. The pain reminding us why we took flight in the first place and again journey to the highest levels of our being. Each time attempting to stay in flight, at higher levels, for a longer duration.
At any given moment, energy is potential. All future outcomes have a price tag in the form of energy required. The greater the outcome, the greater the energy required.
Although energy itself might be infinite, life at least from the perspective of an individual in this material plane, is not. Therefore the most important discovery for any conscious being is that
1) time and energy must be used wisely
2) goals must be chosen carefully
3) energy, focused clearly on a specific aim is essential for realizing any great purpose in a single lifetime
Look around you – everyone in life is trying to meet some need. From need, intention and purpose are born. Though not always as poetic as we would like, we are all carrying out a purpose at this time.. We all have a WHY or NEED we are trying to resolve. The strategies we use to resolve our needs are based on our personal experience and relevant knowledge: our education.
All actions are based on strategies. Though you might consider some as lacking strategy, they are actually doing the best they can with what they have.
The key factors that determine the quality of our lives and the state of this world are:
- Our individual ability to prioritize higher needs over lower needs (Soul needs over Ego needs)
- The environment and education influencing our strategies and ultimately our actions
- the interpretations we make in response to people and events, driven by the quality of questions we ask.
To make the best use of this knowledge you must:
- Live from the highest self. What does living a life at your full potential mean to you? What needs and strategies should take priority?
- Surround yourself with people that live according to higher values. Or at the very least, surround yourself with books and information of a higher frequency.
- Respond to all events with a positive frame of questions.. For example: What’s useful and valuable about this event? What have I learned?
- Strive to maintain balance, centeredness and awareness no matter what happens.
-Stay true to personal higher values and avoid the temptation to get sucked into the most dominant values of society if they are not in alignment with your own.
It’s been 3 and a half months since I’ve broken my leg. The experience has taught me how important my physical activity is to overall energy levels. At times I have caught myself feeling unexcited about my day and I wonder how that’s possible with everything I know about living a Full Potential life. What I realized recently is that I haven’t been able to really exercise because my leg is still healing.
But as soon as I realized a major piece of my routine is at half-throttle I determined to do as much as I can with the legs and arms that are still working. This morning I did push ups, sit ups and stretches with a new vigor. I feel great and I know that when my leg gets back to full activity I will have a new appreciation for my heart pumping exercises.
If your energy levels have been relatively low for a period of months or years it will be harder for you to know how dramatically your energy shifts when you are engaged in physical activity. The first key to change is awareness. Notice where your energy levels are at on a 1 – 10 right before your physical activity and write that down. Then write down where your energy levels are at after 20 minutes or so of heart pumping exercise.
Want to feel alive? Cycle intense periods of physical activity with rejuvenating downtime. There’s an art to engaging in the right level of intense action and giving yourself time to let go to achieve the deepest possible levels of relaxation.
Mushy brain? Some top reasons we don’t think clearly: Â not enough water, sleep and exercise, OR too much sugar, bread and overeating.Â