Fancy A Reward?

(Approx 1.5 min read)

Welcome to episode three of ‘Comfort Zone’!

Hey you. Yes you! Who else did you think I was talking to? Jeez… Would you like a reward?

Come on. Who doesn’t like gifts?

Let’s use this and some points to flesh out our discussion today.

Point number one – Gifts are nice because they get given to us, which implies very little work on our part. However, working for something and then receiving a reward based on that work adds value to the reward. It doesn’t become more expensive but mentally we attribute the effort we put into attaining it as a cherry on top of the original value of the thing we earn as compensation for our work.

Point number two – Do you know why we find it easier to stay in our comfort zone than to break out of it? Any guesses? Ding ding ding! You got it! (I think) We find it easier to stay in our comfort zone because it’s comfortable ditto the name “comfort zone”. (“Wow. World-class content there Ayanda.” “Yeah XD well… it doesn’t make it any less true.”)

Point number three – Like any chemical reaction – to move from one state to the other requires activation energy. This is the extra push that gets the ball rolling, otherwise if we believe, think and say things are “ok” as they are, why should we want to change? This activation energy can be in the form of a new perspective, motivation or (the topic for today) … a reward.

Conclusion – Do you want to escape the confines of your comfort zone? Do you really? Like, REALLY? Well then, to help you achieve that dream, apply yesterday’s lesson ie look up something new you’d like to do, then once you’ve pinpointed that I dare you (Dare you I say!) to do something outrageous. Are you ready? Here it goes… plan a reward for doing it. Then once you’ve done it, reward yourself with that thing.

That’s it.

If you love yourself as much as I love you, do make it something nice.

See you tomorrow.

Stay awesome!

I Don’t Like It – You Ever Tried It?

(Approx 2 min read)

“I would never ever do something as crazy as skydiving. I can’t do something so absurd. Do I look insane to you? You’re mad!”

I’d never do anything as extreme as that I thought. But guess who looks forward to skydiving now? I can see the seeds that led a shut-in neet who only ever lived for gaming like myself to enjoy and seek after the more adventurous lifestyle. It started simple… a bicycle with training wheels for balance, removing the training wheels, then in-line skates, sand boarding and finally the Disney rollercoaster known as ‘Screaming’. All of these newfound experiences shattered a fear harboured and ignited a curiosity for more. This is our topic for today.

Far too often we limit ourselves because of mindsets often reinforced by our speech. The words “can’t” are more powerful than we give them credit for. I advise against using them and instead adopting the phrase “I do not want“. “Why?” you ask? Well…

‘From the depths of the heart the mouth speaks‘. ‘Life and death are in the power of the tongue.’ To get us speaking right, we need to be feeding right information into our minds.

To get us out of our comfort zone in terms of speech, which is the first step towards achieving what we are aiming for, we need to diversify the sources of information we take in. Am I using too many words? I feel like it. So what do we need in one word? Exposure.

How did you know that you liked your favourite meal? You tasted it, right? Therefore would it be crazy to say that without tasting that particular meal, it wouldn’t be your favourite? I assume you say that’s a logical conclusion… but that doesn’t change the fact that you were always going to enjoy that meal – all that was missing was your experience of it. In other words, the things we enjoy more than anything are out there, they exist. They are perpetually waiting for us to encounter them, experience them, live them and enjoy them. But you can’t enjoy something you don’t encounter. You can’t do something you don’t know or never hear about. Want to get out of your comfort zone of thinking and in doing so speaking? Start by expanding the content you feed your brain. 

Thank God for the internet.

Thank God for you.

Let’s meet again tomorrow.

Stay awesome!

Out Of Comfort

(Approx reading time 3.5 min)

If you’re like me then you like your comfort. If you’re not like me and you like to experience new things which have a possibility of being unpleasant for the sake of adding to your experiences… congratulations! You’ve mastered life. Sort of.

I’ll kick off this series with an anecdote. I moved to a new school in fifth grade. Everything was different here. For example, everyone had to run the long distance course under the banner of ‘Cross Country’ at the beginning of the year. I didn’t know what that meant. In my previous school I’d only ever run one race, early on in first grade. There were 200 children in my year and I guess in pursuit of reducing the workload of the teachers only the children who finished within the top 2 of each race partook in athletics. The rest of us didn’t receive any further push to do anything physical. I came third in that race, one place too far to make the team… I could have persisted; I could have protested – but I didn’t. Why? Well after seeing all those kids practise while I got to go home I figured, “Why would I want to do that?” After all, I was comfortable.

“Why would I want to do that?” After all, I was comfortable.

I didn’t so much as sprint any other time except when I ran for the playground at break time. Fast forward to my first year at my new school and the now chubby Ayanda is about to take part in his first race in years. “Cross country? What’s that?” I asked at the start line. The evil fifth grade boys just smiled their devilish grins at me and warned ominously, “Oh you’ll see.” I decided not to let their words get to me. My pride wouldn’t allow me to be laughed at. When the teacher shouted, “Go!” I bolted like a winning racehorse the laughter of my knowing competitors following in my wake.

You have to understand… I was so chubby when I walked by people looked up wondering where the applause was coming from – it was my thighs smacking together. I was unfit and asthmatic. I failed that first attempt at the course dismally. Some 400 metres into it I thought I was going to die. I even approached the teachers wheezing like a 1927 tractor engine trying to come first in a Nascar race. It was awful. But I wasn’t given reprieve. The teachers made me start afresh for trying to weasel my way out of work. How did I respond? By doing the thing that made me most comfortable. I started walking the course instead of trying to run it.

This is the trap we need to beware. When faced with an obstacle you have two choices to make. You either pull up your boots, psych yourself up and try your best to overcome it or you tell yourself, “Meh. It’s not important anyway,” and miss out on what could have been in store for you on the other side… all so you can stay comfortable.

I wake up at 0530 daily to run for about 45 min now. I’m also not “walking applause” chubby anymore. What happened?

Well… the teachers forced me to become uncomfortable walking the course instead of running it. 10 year old me was already becoming fascinated by the opposite sex and even had an eye on one particular member. She was great at Cross Country. The dastardly teachers decided to have the boys run first and then let the girls run some five minutes afterwards. Just one glimpse of her gracefully running past me while I walked like a pimp in a Red Light District supermarket lit up a flame in my heart… ok that’s a lie. It’s the fact that she wouldn’t stop laughing when I rocked up an hour later, long after she’d changed and finished her homework. So – I started running, the aim being not to be embarrassing, because you can’t be embarrassing in front of the girl you have a crush, on right? Screw the logic, that was law to me at that age. I pressed on, increasing the time between when she caught up to me the previous day to the next. Even when I was wheezing like a clogged up train exhaust.

The teachers shifted the ball game for me just by changing the order of how things were done. I probably would be several pounds heavier than I am now if it weren’t for them… or maybe not. Maybe something else would have triggered the transformation. The essence is, so long as you’re in a comfort zone – what triggers you to seek or desire change? Here’s the answer. Are you ready? The answer is… Nothing.

That’s why starting tomorrow we’ll look at tools to help you change your comfort zone. You excited? Coz I am.

Let’s meet up again tomorrow.

Stay awesome!

The Pit

Nobody likes the pit. It isn’t a pleasant place to be in, but when you look back more often than not you’ll have a different perspective of the pit. The pit isn’t always an intended destination, but it can turn out to be for your good. The pit is the place where despair and desperation marry, their union seeks to take control of your life and smother you with their baby, depression… if you overcome this trio however, the pit will be where your character is built and you develop the traits required for you to flourish when you achieve what was once thought impossible. If you let it, the pit will weed out all of your shortcomings and jumpstart your transformation to being that man or woman you aspire to be.

One of my favourite true stories involves a bragging annoying teenager who was loved by his father above all his many brothers. He was egotistical and vain and would often share what he envisioned himself becoming, demeaning his siblings in the process. What did they do when the favourite child’s pride became too much for them? They threw him into a pit and told their father that he’d gone missing. In the pit the arrogant teen’s pride was instantly stripped away, replaced by a deep appreciation of life and everything that he had and a realisation of the value of others. In the pit he stopped envisioning things falling into his laps and developed a mentality of discipline and hard work steeped in iron-wrought principles that would not bend under intense pressure. It was in the pit that the metamorphosis he needed for his visions to come true occurred and years later when he was promoted to be the most important man on earth, the pride he had prior did not destroy him. On top of that he went on to forge an unbreakable, genuinely positive bond with his siblings. The pit gave him humility and the ability to forgive. That guy was called Joseph.

So the next time you find yourself in the pit, a pit you could have fallen into because of your own ignorance or poor decisions; or one where you might just be a victim of circumstances, look up and grasp the image of the sky above knowing that…

the time in the pit could be what propels you way above the clouds, far beyond the stratosphere to leave you dancing among the stars.

This marks the conclusion to the Individuality series. I will definitely return here once I’ve completed reading ‘Slight Edge’ and implementing more of these techniques in my own life. See you tomorrow for the start of the Creativity series.

Lying Is Good For You: Building Habits

Starting a habit isn’t always easy. The proof is in the number of people who say they want to start a new habit who don’t actually end up doing so. Or maybe they’ll start but stop before it’s really become a habit.

Habit – a regular tendency that is hard to give up.

Lally’s study claims that it takes anywhere between 18 days to 254 days to form a new habit.

How can one actually achieve such a feat that requires an incredible amount of discipline? First of all we have to acknowledge that it is difficult to maintain something just because we see the benefit of it in the future. If you are one of those people that can do it by just intentionally making the decision, kudos to you! If you are like me then you have to use a different way. The good news is it works just as well. Here it is… it’s time to lie again!

There’s this story about a mouse that’s put in a cage. Scientists would ring a bell at a certain time and then put cheese in the cage. Over time the mouse associated the sound of the shrill bell with cheese and would come out of its little house when the bell was rung and wait, even if the cheese wasn’t forthcoming. The bell didn’t sound attractive but the cheese was attractive. Over time the mouse would come out for the bell because to it the bell = cheese. We’re not mice though so what can we do? We use the horse and carrot stick method.

Ie2uP

Looks ridiculous right? The carrot is the reward after you’ve done the hard work of doing whatever the new habit requires you to do. This way we associate the reward with the work. For example, I love movies! When we got back from a service on Sunday that’s the first thing that I wanted to do. Unfortunately for me, I lived with very wise, orderly parents who would have me do the dishes first (after we’d made and eaten breakfast) before watching any film. Doing the dishes was work. Watching the movie was the carrot. My love for movies was so strong that I would speed through the dishes to have my carrot – ahem – I mean watch my movie. You couldn’t motivate me to do the dishes because it wasn’t something I looked forward to, but because I looked forward to watching movies, the labour of doing the dishes was no longer as hard as it seemed initially. Over time I stopped doing it as an inconvenience and started viewing it as a sort of key, a key to me watching the movies that I wanted to watch on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve used this same trick to exercise daily, write more consistently and to drink enough water each day – all things I never used to do.

So what are the practical bits you can use for you. The only thing you need to do is to make a list of the things you love. Lie to yourself until you believe that you can’t do one of those things until you’ve actioned out the habit you’re trying to build, then reward yourself with the thing you love at the end – and repeat. Make sense?

A short real-life illustration of the effectiveness of this technique:

Mom: Where are you?

Me: I’m in the kitchen. I’ve just started doing the dishes.

Mom: We’ve started watching a movie, come watch with us – you can do the dishes after.

Me: I don’t like doing dishes well after we’ve eaten. I’ll finish up fast then come watch when I’m done.

True story.

I’m a dish dog now!

See you tomorrow for Lying Is Good For You: Trumping Fear.

 

 

Man In The Mirror

“I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life.”

– Michael Jackson

If you’re going to have a positive impact on anyone else’s life, why not start with yours? You know by now what’s holding you back. Make that change!

“It’s gonna feel real good. Gonna make a difference. Gonna make it right.”

So do it!

Just…

Start with the man in the mirror.

71Dqma-I6UL

Thank you for your time:)