Who knew that watching 'Long Way Round' (Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman) on a cold winter’s evening would be such an extraordinary catalyst, learning to ride an off-road motorbike and confronting some huge blocks about possibility. It lead to not only a thrilling, and at times scary adventure but also the realisation that by mastering getting comfortable with discomfort, we can all realise our potential through the power of deliberate action and a sprinkling of neuroscience.
What is possible for you? Have you ever asked yourself? Properly? Sometimes the question comes so swiftly and speedily through our subconscious that we’ve dismissed it before even really considering the question. What do you want to achieve this week, month, year, next year… What have you told yourself is impossible that might just be possible? Take a few minutes to consider this and write down your answers or drawn them, thereby truly acknowledging them and making them more real.
What is YOUR definition of success? I do mean yours, not your boss’, your partner's, your teacher's, family or friend's, yours! Again, it is all too common to carry around other people definitions of success, which we work very hard towards achieving. However, when our ambitions are not intrinsic to our own values and what we believe, they do serve as more of an anchor than an enabler. Think deeply about what success means to you. I asked this of a client some years ago, the impact was so profound, it completely turned him and his business around. It unlocked a huge pool of untapped energy and potential.
Give your self-belief a boost? Whether we believe we can or whether we believe we can’t, chances are whichever we choose will bear out, as Henry Ford was want to say. When pursuing our dreams and passions to realise our potential, our self-belief often needs a little nurturing and is often a little fragile. Remember all those times when you have been successful, how did it feel, what did you do? This thinking alone will help strengthen those neural pathways of building your potential. If it is still wavering, ask yourself if you need to borrow it from some-one else. When I was learning to ride an off-road motorbike, I was on the side of a mountain in Wales and beginning to believe that I couldn’t do it. I was riding on a fire-road on a loose surface at c 45mph. Suddenly, a handsome chap roared past at c 60mph, turned side saddle (very impressive) and yelled ‘you can do it girl!’ The power of the belief that I borrowed from him meant that I did do it. So, if your self-belief has momentarily wilted, ask yourself who can you borrow it from. Who believes in you? Try it.
Get comfortable with discomfort
Reaching your potential requires a level of discomfort. When we try something new, we feel uncomfortable just because it is new - nothing more, nothing less. It is the brain processing this new and unfamiliar information, which makes us feel this way. Build into your day, small acts of difference, something new that will make you feel slightly uncomfortable. It will help you build that muscle of potential, especially for those days when it’s hard and a few curve balls have put the schedule off-track. For example, listen to reggae if you favour classical, and vice versa. Read the tabloids if you usually read the broadsheets, or read articles by journalists that you don’t ordinarily. If you really want to go for it, try something that you don’t like, strike up a conversation with someone you don’t warm to, try a food that doesn’t appeal. It will build your muscle of potential but more importantly reveal blind spots to things that we don’t know. It will develop our ability for when the going gets tough and more importantly enhance our brain plasticity.
Take one deliberate action towards your goals, dreams or passions, daily
Having worked with and interviewed many successful business leaders, the elite in sport and people from all walks of life, the power of deliberate action is palpable. Take a small action every day that will progress you towards your goals. Break down the big goals or achievements into small manageable steps and actions. Ask; who do you need to reach out to, what do you need to learn? Where is there a gap in your knowledge?
After all, everything was impossible until someone made it possible.
That someone might just be you.
By Kate Tojeiro, Executive Coach, facilitator to senior executives and author of new book: The Art of Possible, new habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action. She is also the founder of leadership development firm, X fusion and has built an impressive list of FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 clients over the last 15 years. She has formed a reputation for developing some of the world’s most successful leaders, as well as the next generation of rising stars. She is a regular fixture on BBC radio and a voice in the media. She is also the author of The Art of Possible, new habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action.