Why is it that productivity tips, tricks, and hacks are perennially captivating? We all seem to care about being productive, to a fault. Let's talk about being more productive by doing less. Here are seven things you should stop doing if you care about being productive.
Mark stopped abruptly. An innate warning commanded him to STOP. Moments later a bullet flew past his skull, so close, he felt the wind brush his hair. This commanding voice, of inner nature, had saved his life.
Mark is no ordinary man. He is Mark Divine, a 20-year veteran and former trainer of the Navy SEALs. His story of life-saving intuition is recounted in his Unbeatable Mind podcast. I was surprised to hear Mark’s sharing of the role intuitive and extrasensory training has had in the shaping of elite fighting forces.
I picture Navy SEALs and commandos as being driven by rationality, logic and strategic planning. The last thing I would expect to learn is that listening to gut feelings and intuition would have any meaningful role in their training. Mark shatters this assumption through his focus on awareness and intuition one of the “five mountains” of his SEALFit training method and in recounting how he was trained as a SEAL.
The military’s secret weapon
Mark Divine is not alone, Navy SEAL Mike Jaco has written a book on the topic called “Intuitive Warrior.” Jaco states, “By fine-tuning my intuition as a Navy SEAL, I was able to predict and avoid attacks to protect myself and my fellow soldiers.”
These are not two isolated cases. In 2011, the Navy funded a $4 million and 4-year long study into intuition, and it’s military application, slyly referred to as a study in “sensemaking”. In a job where one wrong step could mean life or death, I can see how greater sense perception can be worth its weight in gold. More than $4 million worth of gold for sure.
This is all about cultivating a broader sense of awareness for what is really happening, both externally and internally, with regards to a human observer. When awareness is broad, more data is captured and bias is removed. With a broader and unbiased data set, intuition can flourish as it flows in the background of our consciousness, making sense of all the data and bubbling up insights and ideas to guide our way forward.
Intuition and sensemaking in daily life
If the armed forces see value in the cultivation of intuitive and sensemaking powers, what is the relevance for those of us who are business owners, students, athletes or merely looking to get along more effectively in life? Let’s explore this idea.
Business owners could benefit from the enhanced understanding of the viability of a deal or investment. Not to mention the massive improvements to the quality of overall decision making.
Students could benefit from a better sense of how to communicate ideas and cross-pollinate thoughts when writing papers, in exams or engaging in class.
Athletes could better tune into and engage with their bodies in motion, the environment and other players on the field.
Working professionals could benefit from massively improved communication, listening and collaboration skills. As leadership can be defined as one’s capacity to communicate and create an engaged following, there is perhaps no superior way to be a stronger leader than to strengthen one’s sensitivity to what’s going on around them.
Improving your intuitive capability
“Intuition is a skill I believe that can be developed. Every one of us has it to some degree, but a lot of times we ignore it, or we deny it,”
Mark Divine, Navy SEAL Veteran, SEALFit Founder.
Step 1: Improving intuitive capacity is no different from improving any other sense or skill. The first step is to become aware that we all can make sense of the world around us in a more profound way. Logic and reason are vital, but never paint the full picture of what is happening around us or within us.
Step 2: The next step is to broaden one’s awareness of surroundings. Mindfulness meditative practice is one way to do it. Mindfulness can be cultivated when moving as well as stationary. Tune into inner signals and outer surroundings. Start noticing smells, sights, sounds, and feelings as you move. Turn off your smartphone and tune into the real world.
Step 3: The last step is to “keep score” of your intuitive signals. That is to say, begin listening to the more profound intuitive sense you already have, and notice what it is telling you. Intuition communicates in ways that are often subtle and feeling oriented (though in the case of Mark Divine, when his life was on the line, his intuitive warning to STOP was clear and abrupt). Are you able to correctly interpret your intuitive signals? Where is it spot-on? Where does it leave you confused? Where is it dead wrong? Keeping a journal of the intuitive signs and insights noticed can help.
Logic and reason are powerful capacities. However, it’s also important to harness latent intuitive power for the sake of making better choices. Intuition is no longer limited to the realms of mystics and seekers. It’s equally relevant to all of us who are looking to make our way in the world with less struggle and more success.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for my newsletter to get my best personal development and career tips, a few times a month.
Is an active mind a healthy mind? Most people or think so. However, it turns out that our mind, while powerful, mostly gets in the way of our struggles to live a fulfilled and satisfied life.
In this blog post I’ll discuss a different way of achieving big things in the world, a way predicated on thinking less (not more) and following an unconventional and less mentally taxing route to living up to your full potential.
The Full Potential Of Our Mind
A New York Times article by Dr. Moshe Bar, Professor of Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, cites a curious quality of the mind:
“Many psychologists assume that the mind, left to its own devices, is inclined to follow a well-worn path of familiar associations. But our findings suggest that innovative thinking, not routine ideation, is our default cognitive mode when our minds are clear.”
Note the final part of the statement: “…when our minds are clear.”
The jury is out on how many thoughts we have per day. The number 70,000 is tossed about online. It’s undoubtedly well into the thousands if my own experience is correct! It makes sense to me that all this mental noise can cover up the precious signal of insight and wisdom lurking down below.
If our minds are naturally innovative and creative, as Dr. Bar asserts, it’s worth better understanding what keeps us functioning this way most of the time. The impediment seems to be all that mental chatter going on upstairs. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the problem with our thinking.
The Problem With Our Thinking
We live in the feeling of our thinking, not as the world really is. This is true for everyone, all the time. It’s not a bad thing either. Thoughts carry all sorts of ideas and insights in their midst, that help us make our way in the world.
I’m happy that I get to think. It’s how I get to write these words. It’s how I get to plan my trips. It’s how I get to come up with all kinds of exciting games to play and adventures to pursue. You probably feel the same way. Your thoughts aren’t all that bad. In fact, it can feel kind of good to think!
However, what happens when you are stuck in a bad feeling? Someone cuts you off in traffic. Your boss passes you over for a promotion. A competitor beats you. Your cake comes out of the oven looking a little flat. Mental chatter amplifies and with it, a bad feeling arises that seems to last forever.
None of these external circumstances carry an inherently negative quality. The person cutting you off might be a surgeon rushing to save a patient’s life. The competitor might be the better athlete and more deserving. The flat-looking cake might still taste amazing. Still, we feel buffeted about by our feelings about the changing winds of an external world. This doesn’t pose a problem, until, well, we feel that it does.
The brain has a knack for amplifying the negative; therefore, we tend to overemphasize the less-than-positive thoughts which are felt as crummy feelings. We take our perceptions too seriously, instead of seeing them as merely the product of our personal thinking, which varies depending on who is the thinker and which side of the bed they woke up on!
As described by spiritual teacher Sydney Banks, in The Enlightened Gardener:
“Take that rose bush, for example. We are all looking at the same plant, but our perception of it varies according to the way we each think and see. One person may see a vigorous rose, another may see a rose that could benefit from a little pruning, and a third may see a mess that no amount of attention would save. The rose bush isn’t changing; it’s the way we personally perceive it that differs, the way each of us thinks that colors our perception.”
The truth is that it’s not the circumstances that create what we feel, be they positive or negative feelings, it’s our thinking about the circumstances that cast a spell. Spell? You might say it is magic or a curse, depending on the feeling that goes along with the thinking.
I’m spending so much time discussing the nature of our thinking, and how it runs our experience of life since this understanding is fundamental to sorting out how to make our way in the world more fruitfully. If our thoughts get us into trouble more often than not, wouldn’t it be logical to see that thinking less is a promising solution to our predicament?
How To Think Less
Let’s conduct an experiment: Try not to think about a what you are going to eat for your next meal. Don’t think about how good the food will taste, where you will eat it, who you will eat it with or what you will have for dessert!
How successful are you at not thinking about it?
What we push away grows stronger. Our thoughts are the same way. It’s not possible to force thinking to stop. I’ve never been able to do it, and I’ve wasted a lot of energy trying!
Instead of trying to eliminate your thinking, you can follow the path set forth by experienced meditators and spiritual seekers. This is a similar path that works wonders for top-performing Executives who are looking to improve their Emotional Intelligence and Elite Athletes who are looking for peak mental performance. It’s all about getting out of your own way. Noticing an obstacle makes it easier to contend with. The obstacle is your nonstop mental chatter.
Notice your thinking, and allow it to move through you. The less you hold on to your thinking, the less the thoughts weigh on you. No judgment. No story. Just let them go, each and every time. It’s a process of letting go vs. trying to do anything actively.
This is where a meditative practice can be invaluable. Dr. Barr, as mentioned earlier, calls meditation one of the few practical tools we have to cultivate a calm and clear mental state:
“It is clear to me that this ancient meditative practice helps free the mind to have richer experiences of the present. Except when you are flying an F–16 aircraft or experiencing extreme fear or having an orgasm, your life leaves too much room for your mind to wander.
As a result, only a small fraction of your mental capacity remains engaged in what is before it, and mind-wandering and ruminations become a tax on the quality of your life. Honing an ability to unburden the load on your mind, be it through meditation or some other practice, can bring with it a wonderfully magnified experience of the world — and, as our study suggests, of your own mind.”
Mindfulness and meditative practice is an art. There is no right or wrong way to do it. You can practice it while walking, eating, writing, working, playing or doing any other activity. While I personally enjoy going for a quiet walk or sitting for 10–20 minutes in silent meditation, you can cultivate whatever practice seems to work for you. I highlight three simple ways to meditate here.
The important thing, is to find a way to notice what is happening in the world, including in your thinking mind (your thoughts are part of the world too!). Allow your thinking to arise and flow through you without ruminating on them or buying into the stories you want to tell about them. Naturally and inevitably, your mind will settle and the benefits of a relaxed cognitive state will be revealed.
What benefits? Try it and see for yourself!
We do our best when we have less on our mind. We are more creative at work, superior athletes on the playing field and feel better overall. What gets in the way is over thinking and attachment to our thoughts.
Thoughts have a purpose, but when we engage in the world, we are best served by being present and connected to what is actually happening, not stuck gazing at the movie theater of our mind.
While we can’t stop our thoughts, we can notice them and remember to observe, but not grasp them. Meditation and mindfulness practices also work wonders. What is revealed through the settling down of the mind is a more creative, innovative and relaxed state that will undoubtedly lead to positive outcomes in many parts of life.
Modern scientific research, such as the work done by Doctors Bar, Goleman, Davidson and others; are starting to uncover these benefits. However, there really is no need to wait for scientific proof to catch up, you can experiment for yourself and experience the benefits if you are willing to try.
I love the Olympics. It’s inspiring to watch people who have worked their entire lives for a single moment on the world stage. When it comes to performance improvement, these athletes leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of excellence. The best training, coaching, nutrition and of course, mental preparation all have their place.
My gym is packed.
You would think there is a doorbuster sale. There isn’t. New Years Resolutions are in full effect. Too bad most will fail. 80% abandon their goals by March. 92% will give up before crossing their finish line.
Are these people insincere, lacking willpower or missing vital tools and techniques? I find that hard to believe. They all seem to care about their health. Why else would they be at a gym during a vacation? It’s a great gym. All the tools to sculpt and tone are readily available. Classes galore, from Barre to Spinning. Skilled trainers too.
I first started to meditate, reluctantly, as a little kid. I find that when I have a consistent meditation routine, life seems to be less stressful and more fun. Wondering how to start a meditation practice? In this blog post I will share three simple, yet powerful, meditation techniques.
If you have seen Tony Robbins epic documentary “I Am Not Your Guru” on Netflix, you have witnessed the amazing transformations that can occur through Tony Robbins Date With Destiny program. This weeklong event is designed to compress decades of personal growth into days.
It delivers on that promise.
I’ve been fortunate to attend Date With Destiny, not once, but twice. The second time I brought my wife along. She didn’t know who Tony was when we signed up, and after spending a week with him, she was just as impressed as I was.
I don’t know what is drawing you to look into Date With Destiny, but whatever it is, all I can say is that the program delivers!
I also know some tips will help you to get the most out of your experience. That is what this post is going to explain. I’d like to share some things you would benefit from knowing if you are attending - or even considering attending - Date With Destiny. Nothing here is classified or confidential. They are just my helpful thoughts to support you in getting the most out of the experience.
Don't wait for your feelings to change in order to act. Act and your feelings will change. You must start before you feel ready. You are ready now.
What decisions have had the biggest impact on your life?
In my life, there are a few that stand out. Where to go to college. Taking a job in tech instead of consulting or banking. Moving to Seattle. Getting married. Quitting my job to travel the world. Starting my business. Moving to Colorado.
When you think about your major life decisions, what was it like making those choices?
Was it hard? Was it easy?
Did you weight the pros and cons or just go with your gut instinct?
Every day we are making choices. Some seem big, and some seem small. Decisions can be exciting, but also a drain on energy and source of stress.
In this post, we will get to the heart of what decision-making really is, and find a way to make them less stressful and more effortless. I’ll specifically focus on two big mistakes we make. These errors keep us stuck and limit our potential.
If our destiny is shaped by our choices, moving towards free-flowing decisions (and away from analysis paralysis) is a crucial step to take.
My entire adult life I’ve been very goal oriented. Career goals. Fitness goals. Financial goals.
Are goals required to live a fulfilling and fruitful life?