Harness the power of ‘what is’

Acceptance of present moment is the center of anything being done well.

“We need to focus on the present moment, the only one we can really live in, to be truly effective.”

Ability to manage our attention is an important determinant of our success. But we are continuously bombarded by external events in our daily life and experience various distractions and information overload all the time. Most of us never go beyond a narrow, personalised sense of self that is conditioned by past and an anticipated future which is far from present. As a result, our ability to pay attention at will comes under control by external factors and by our past conditioning. We constantly attach thoughts and feelings to external factors, events from past and imaginary future. Because of this, the world around and people in particular come to be perceived as threatening. We begin to judge and the need to compete and dominate arises. Our perceptions and interpretations change and we take actions based on anger, despair, fear and frustration. The actions thus taken generate an automated cycle of negative behaviour where we tend to react to everything automatically without any present moment awareness and attention.

Performing right actions comes down to making right choices and this requires the ability to pay attention to the present moment. Giving full attention to whatever the moment present is possible only through complete acceptance, because you cannot give your full attention to something at the same time resist it.

Importance of acceptance

Accepting yourself unconditionally fosters your efforts to attain your highest potential and encourages you to live up to the highest in you. The non-evaluative observation of ‘what is’ without distortion through mindful acceptance and attention allows you to break the automatic response to the external events by disrupting the unconscious progression of thoughts and emotions. You can bring peace by connecting to your true self. This helps in promoting physical and emotional well-being by removing stress and inner conflict.

Acceptance means positive action

To some people, acceptance may have negative connotations, implying defeat, giving up, lethargy and so on. They might think by always accepting the way things are, they are not going to make any efforts to improve them. True acceptance does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease initiating positive action. Accepting the present moment unconditionally is to let go inner resistance to ‘what is’. Inner resistance is to say ‘no’ to ‘what is’ through mental judgment and emotional negativity. Acceptance of what is does not mean that you cannot take action and change the situation. You don’t need to accept undesirable life situation, but just narrow your attention to the present moment without mentally labelling it in any way. Action with no resistance, no judgment, and no emotional negativity results in positive action and is far more effective than negative action, which arises out of anger, despair or frustration.

If you find your life situation unsatisfactory or even intolerable, it is only through acceptance that you can break the unconscious resistance pattern that perpetuates the situation. Acceptance is the starting point. Unless there is complete acceptance, we will never develop the willingness to change ourselves. This is true for every experience, addiction and weakness. Accepting your true self and of ‘what is’, you can begin to take action, initiate change or achieve goals.

Practice accepting ‘what is’

Focusing on the present moment through conscious acceptance allows you to improve your attention by breaking the automatic feeling-thought-action cycle. Acceptance allows you to take wiser decisions and enables you to cultivate a more balanced relationships. Here is how you can practice acceptance.

• Do not be concerned with the fruit of your action. Give attention to the ‘doing’ than the result that you want to achieve and in time you will be freed from what now seems impossible.

• Accumulation of past in your psyche reinforces false sense of ‘self’ by denying the present moment. You don’t need the past moment, refer to it only when it is relevant to present.

• Don’t be a ‘habitual waiter’, waiting to achieve your goals — with every kind of waiting, you reduce the present moment to a means to an end leading to non fulfilment and dissatisfaction. Strive to achieve your goals but don’t use them to substitute for the feeling of being, whole and complete.

• Watch your thoughts as well as your reactions in various situations. Notice how often your attention is in the past or future. Make it your practice to withdraw attention from past and future when they are not needed.

• Practice meditation to rediscover your unconditional self. Notice your breathing patterns and observe your thoughts and emotions. Accepting your situation through being mindful helps you gain focus and clarity about what triggers certain feelings and emotions.

• Practice focusing your attention in the present moment while eating, drinking, working and while communicating. This reduces stress and anxiety, as well as increases your emotional intelligence. Giving your complete attention to what you do results in empowered action.

• Avoid labelling every perception and experience. When you mentally name or label a situation in some way as undesirable or bad, you tend to personalise the resentment which in turn brings a reactive “me.” Break this habit by practicing “not naming.” Don’t name an experience as “bad” and instead bring an inner “yes” to it.

• When you are unhappy, stay totally with what is. Do not unconsciously designate your deficient sense of self through being ‘right’ and making something ‘wrong’. This leads to reactivity and creates conflict between your external circumstances at that moment. Instead of complaining about the circumstances, accept. This will allow you to make peace and you will be able to turn to present.

• Patiently work with your difficulties. Acceptance builds trust into the current situation and you can focus on underlying opportunities.

Conclusion

Notice how total are you in what you do or in your daily activities.

Watch how it feels like when you don’t want to be where you are — the traffic, work place, the people you are with, dealing with the countless things that make up your daily life — accept the ‘isness’ of the moments in your life. Whatever your life situation is,

practice completely accepting it as it is — where you are, who you are with, or what you are doing. This improves your full attention to the moment and your doing becomes more effective, fulfilling and joyful.

“Pause and remember— When you fight reality, you will lose every time. Once you accept the situation for what it truly is, not what you want it to be, you are then free to move forward.” — Jenni Young

Know the problem you are solving

Some do’s and don’ts of problem-solving

Problems exist everywhere and may arise in all facets of our lives. They are natural part of any work related or business related process. These problems block our progress if not addressed or solved. When we fail to solve these problems, we often learn to work around them or simply learn to live with them. But they can be solved and focusing on finding solutions to problems that arise empowers us and will benefit our personal and professional lives.

It may not be clear what the problem is unless it comes to light. Understanding the problem is important in order to know whether to spend the time or money to find a solution. As a problem solver, you need to understand how the system meant to work and the fundamentals that affect the problem so you can follow a systematic approach. You can find solutions to almost any kind of problem in a methodical and disciplined way.

Here are some do’s and don’ts when diving into problem-solving.

Understand the problem

When we face a problem, we tend to come up with many ideas of what might be wrong and how to fix it and quickly get to work without proper understanding. Anytime you come up with a potential cause that you are not certain of ‘you are guessing’. Guessing is naturally reinforced throughout our lives and we like it because it is quick and works for some of easy problems.

Guessing has number of drawbacks as it

robs you of your time and resources to test every guess. With a long list of your guesses, you will end up wasting both and worse sometimes you may miss out the root cause on your list. You might cause new problems as you really don’t understand the root cause.

Next time around, when these guesses are going to bounce around and distract you, do not suppress, write down your guesses, recognise them for what they are and get them out of your system. Take time to analyse and understand the problem before you rush in to solve it.

“If you are unable to understand the cause of a problem, it is impossible to solve it.” – Naoto Kan

Do not Hide Behind Ignorance

We are often afraid to admit what we don’t know, because it is comforting to imagine that we already have a good idea of the solution to our problem and can take action. The fear of looking ‘ignorant’ or of being ‘exposed’ by asking questions one is “ supposed to know” causes many to hide behind their ignorance. You fail to solve the problem by pretending to know something you don’t under false understanding.

When you are in a problem solving situation, you must focus on learning what you do not yet know. You need not present yourself as all-knowing. Embrace your ignorance and challenge what ‘everyone knows’ by asking questions to make sure you have facts. These questions shatter assumptions and provoke new insight and gets you closer to the problem-solving.

Define the Problem

Get your problem definition right. The way you define your problem influences the solution. Not knowing the problem you are solving might lead to wasting your time and resources to fix something that was never the problem in the first place, whereas defining lets you have a measurable observation and you can remove guessing and emotional attachment to the problem.

Don’t get trapped into solving the wrong problem by defining with prejudice or assumption. Make sure to define your problem as something that is fully within your scope and precisely describing what you observe.

“A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved.” – Dorothea Brande

Don’t wander aimlessly, Generate Possible Solutions

Sometimes, we aimlessly wander around looking at too many things and reams of data. Instead try to ask specific questions about the behaviour of the problem and generate as many solutions possible.

Understand what is going on behind your problem and what controls your problem. Here are some questions to ask:

1. What does the problem look like?

2. Is it the same every time?

3. When did you first see this?

4. What pattern do you notice?

5. What is its cause?

Be detailed and thorough to know how the problem manifests and use the answers as guides. You can develop a pattern of failure to understand where the problem does and doesn’t happen. Try to find specific information and generate possible solutions. Consider about the positive and negative consequences and what you want the solution to do or not to do.

“You can increase your problem-solving skills by honing your question-asking ability.” – Michael J. Gelb

Arrive at simple solutions

Many of us are used to a pattern of poor problem solving that we have come to believe that complex problems have complex solutions. The complex solutions tend to be often expensive and end up fixing the symptoms instead of the actual problem. Break your assumption and believe in simple solution to complex problems.

Once you understood the root cause,

evaluate them for their effectiveness by considering the following:

1. Does the solution solve the real problem?

2. What are the consequences of implementing the solution?

3. Would this solution help you solve the problem permanently?

This way, you can eliminate many of the variables that aren’t working and can arrive with best and simple possible solution.

Simple solution will always give you the most effective outcome and you will be able to approach the problem correctly rather than work around it.

Don’t make opinion-based decisions

If a particular problem that is ‘known to all’ is being solved, a common method is to use “wisdom of the group.” In solving such problems, do not use your assumptions about facts or the assumptions of others to make decisions, rather verify the facts yourself. Opinion-based decisions prevent progress and you might end up in a wrong direction and won’t solve the problem.

When solving your own complex problems, recognise your opinions for what they are and set them aside.

Use facts to determine which solution is most objectively valuable and has more impact. Be persistent in getting the right facts and make fact-based decisions.

“Your ability to solve problems and make good decisions is the true measure of your skill as a leader.” – Brian Tracy

Finally, Focus your efforts to stay on the solution-finding path and avoid distractions. Don’t get bogged down by expanding the scope of your problem endlessly. Instead break up your problem to eliminate the variables that are not contributing and dig into those you can’t eliminate. This keeps you on the path to the root cause.

Next time you are faced with a problem or an issue, try to structure your efforts systematically and focus on an organised approach to get to the possible solution.

Enhance your Psychological Capital.

Boost your PsyCap to enhance your personal and organisational performance.

People are constantly doing things. But usually only when they have to or under fire from themselves or others. Many of them lack organisational capabilities, planning and management of their internal and external agreements. They get no sense of winning or of being in control, or of cooperating among themselves and with others. This dramatically decreases their ability to make things happen and lowers their performance personally or professionally.

Acting out of external pressure or stress

lowers your self-esteem and ends up making you feel not so good about yourself. Disempowerment lowers your positive Psychological Capital or PsyCap. The aim of developing positive psychological state is to build best qualities, to get things going of your own accord, before you are forced to by external pressure and internal stress. This builds a firm foundation for good self-worth and self-esteem that in turn spreads to every aspect of your life. You are the captain of your own ship; the more you act from this perspective, the better things will go for you. This increases your ability and levels of empowerment.

What is PsyCap?

PsyCap is a common resource connected to many positive outcomes such as job performance, psychological well-being and boosting your self-esteem. PsyCap is your overall resourceful state with all your potentially meaningful things clarified, organised and reflected upon. People with high PsyCap, put more effort into a task, are tenacious, have realistic expectations of future success and respond positively to setbacks or difficulties.

Your PsyCap is a combination of following:

Self-efficacy : is the ability to take on and devote the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks. This improves your job satisfaction, commitment and well-being. (By enabling you to create and maintain a complete picture of your commitments to yourself and others in order to make good decisions, automatically builds your confidence, control and well-being.)

Hope: Your desire or ambition to persevere and redirecting paths when necessary to reach goals in order to succeed. (Identifying your valuable goals and generating multiple pathways helps you to consider required resources to pursue them. Discarding unrealistic pathways and adopting smaller and realistic pathways makes you more organised and you can generate multiple solutions.)

Resilience: Ability to face problems and adversity, to sustain and to bounce back to original or to even better state of being. (There will be obstacles to virtually any goal. When you ensure ownership of your goals, you can anticipate and be better prepared for obstacles and can overcome them by implementing multiple pathways. You can respond positively to setbacks.)

Optimism: Ability to believe that you will succeed and involves making positive attributions about succeeding now and in the future. (Greater optimism enables you to draw connection between the successful completion and their purpose goal-directed efforts. This creates constructive thinking patterns and inspiring atmosphere. You can adapt well to change.)

Why is PsyCap important?

Positive psychological state leads to positive organisational behaviour and improves your personal and organisational well-being. PsyCap consists of essential personal psychological resources such as self-esteem, being in control and emotional stability. Empowerment, competence and initiating actions with a sense of having a choice is more possible if you develop high levels of PsyCap. Empowering yourself leads to effectiveness, improves your belief in your own capabilities and can have a positive impact on yourself and others.

Ways to enhance your PsyCap.

What can you do to build up your ability and to enhance your PsyCap? Here are some ways to overcome inadequacy attitudes and learning to practice hope and optimism.

Raise your individual self-awareness.

Self-awareness and understanding your needs is an important key to behaving in a ways that move you closer to achieving your goals.

Accept your strengths and weaknesses. This lets you express yourself clearly and helps in asserting your needs with others effectively. Once you are aware of your area of strength, find ways to demonstrate it. Being self-aware lets you define your valuable goal and ensures ownership and freedom to make choices.

Avoid generic positive affirmations.

You can tell yourself you’re great but if you don’t really believe it, your mind will reject the affirmation. Just telling yourself ‘you can do it’ isn’t enough. Your affirmations should be based on your true strengths. Use constructive and positive statements to avoid negative self talk and to control your inner dialogue. List out your valuable goals and devise realistic pathways based on your true strengths.

Open yourself to feedback.

Self esteem is not fuelled by —‘I’ll be successful any day now’ — or by false beliefs — ‘I am the greatest.’ It is fuelled by authentic experiences of demonstrating ability, competence, and learning from mistakes. True estimate of your ability helps you to make necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks. You can attempt to make yourself better by being open to feedback.

Conquer self-deprecation.

Do not let self-deprecatory thoughts grow into mental monsters. Do not build up obstacles in your imagination. Difficulties must be efficiently dealt with to be eliminated, but they must be seen for only what they are. They must not be inflated by your fear thoughts. Have positive expectations about future.

Keep up with your internal and external agreements.

When people with whom you interact notice that without fail, you receive, process and organise the agreements and exchanges they have with you, they begin to trust. You tend to incorporate a level of self-confidence in your engagements. This prevents a poisonous guilt complex and enhances the quality of your communications and relationships, both personally and professionally.

Remain flexible in the face of obstacles.

Never be too stubborn to change. Seeking out unconventional solutions to problems and keeping an open mind helps you in making your own decisions in the face of problems. Think outside the box to develop tolerance for ambiguity and maintain an openness to change.

Finally,

Create sense of direction in your life and develop a foresight to anticipate problems or needs by paying attention to the details. Be committed and do things that actually make you feel accomplished, appreciated and empowered. Try taking steps that make you feel you’re advancing towards your goals.

Practice being “in the zone”

“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’.”– Eckhart Tolle

“Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organisation, preparation, and action.” – David Kekich

Goals are vital part of life, both personal and professional. Goals are different for different people and so is stress in achieving them. To a mountaineer, stress is the challenge of pushing physical resources to the limit of striving to achieve a demanding goal. To a student, it is the challenge to perform well in examination and to executives it is to withstand the competition and ambition of climbing up the ladder. To others it may be addressing different situations from managing work, to family and children.

Because everyone is driven by their goals, stress becomes a major and inevitable problem for many. Being exposed to stress over longer periods of time and without the necessary coping mechanisms can result in burnout and a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. This further leads to feeling tired all the time, failure to meet the deadlines, inability to stick to your goals and experiences of phantom aches and pains. Your personal productivity can be affected if this stress is poorly managed.

Stress & goal-striving

Stress is the inability to cope with a real or imagined threat to your mental, physical and emotional well-being which results in a series of psychological responses and manifests into health issues. Stress occurs when one is driven by compulsion to achieve what you are expected to or want to achieve. In striving for your goals you compete with yourself or with others to compensate for what you believe is lacking. At some point, we become caricatures of who we think we should be as our lifestyles become more external and we are driven by others rather than by our judgement of what we truly need.

Stress and work pressure becomes inevitable and solution lies in active management of stress.

Stress-management & Being “in the zone”

It is important to realise that everything is not just about goal-striving. Doing your tasks in a good state of mind and with good health is more important. This can be achieved by being “ in the zone” with your tasks. In many aspects, managing your tasks to attain your goals is more concerned with fundamental issues of doing meaningful work, mindful living and psychological well-being. Being “in the zone” with your goals helps you organise, do outcome thinking, provides clarity, and thereby reduces stress.

Being “ in the zone”

If you are ‘in the zone’ with your goal, you get intrinsically motivated and perform your tasks without being stressed about an external reward. Those who all in zone experience less stress as they are clear about what to pay attention to and have a complete picture of their commitments.

Checking whether you are being ‘in the zone’ is a simple and systematic process and the process involves comprehended check of your present direction with reference to what you truly want. Willingness to introspect lets you rediscover yourself. This can help you in making choices which are in alignment with your goals. This can help you distinguish between those things that dissipate your energies and those that add up to help you build the life you want.

Take little time to ask yourself following:

What to achieve?

Majority of times, stress is caused by the following situations:

• You know what you want, and you don’t know how to get it; and/or

• You don’t know what you want.

Most of the times, we create and identify with things that aren’t yet real on all the levels we experience; and when we do, we recognise how to restructure our current efforts to that particular outcome. Once you know what to achieve, you begin to be ‘in the zone’ and will more or less do your task automatically. If you trust that something you will more or less do automatically will provide direction and reduces stress. Having clear goals help you make better decisions about what to pay attention to.

What’s your next line of action?

Plan your work. Creating a cause-&-effect link in your mind about your next action will result in clarity, productivity and empowerment. You can really define the right action when you know the outcome you are after. When you organise and make plans ahead of time and decide what actions will be carried out in which context, you will be able to bring your attention to the appropriate things at the right time. Identifying those things that need focused attention and planning your next action keeps your mind relaxed and in the zone.

Are you in flow ?

Flow is the state of optimal performance and engaging your attention in what you are doing. Focused attention intrinsically motivates you. It is necessary that your skills match the challenge at hand. If the challenge exceeds your requisite skill level, you will experience anxiety and if your skills exceed the challenge, you likely feel bored and your flow gets affected. Flow is the complete concentration on the given task. When you have clear goals in sight with the right skill set and concentration, your action merges with your awareness and will allow you to engage more fully in the task at hand and ensures forward engagement in your plan.

How to be “ in the zone”

• Focus on what is important. Break down your complex goals into smaller and manageable ones. Once you achieve the little, you can set your eyes on the whole. Always commit to realistic goals.

• Do not expect fast results and easy outcomes. This makes you stressed and irritable. Take a break if you feel like you are on the verge of losing your calm.

• Discipline yourself not to put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Accumulation of undone jobs take up room in the mind and limits your clarity and focus.

• Don’t compare. Remember to calibrate your goals based on your own skill set, intellect and aptitude.

• Do not look for external validation as it can cause discontentment. Your performance depends on your skill set and efficiency.

• Be organised and review your direction of what you are doing and check whether what you are achieving is what you truly want.

• Monitor your mental and emotional state through self-observation and meditation.

Conclusion

Little time spent on getting to know your authentic self and bringing yourself ‘in the zone’ with what you want to achieve helps you lessen your emotional baggage of fears, anxieties and limitations. Make a list of possible sources of stress and attend to the issues that are a source of stress at the current time and work towards managing it.

“Doing something that is productive is a great way to alleviate emotional stress. Get your mind doing something that is productive.”

– Ziggy Marley