When people ask me for my best advice, I typically reply, “Stop believing everything you think.”
When what we’re experiencing in our lives is disturbing our peace—it is not necessarily reality. It’s not the screen that needs to be fixed or cleaned up; it’s actually the lens with which you’re viewing reality.
Your ego is not your amigo.
Your ego is a filter on the world. It’s constantly narrating your reality, and if you believe everything you think, you’ll perceive a very distorted view of reality. The ego distorts your world by acting like a pair of glasses with the wrong prescription. So, instead of having a quality view of reality, this ego is always filtering and distorting your circumstances, creating thoughts that our bosses are incompetent, co-workers are lazy and our toxic cultures are preventing success. The behaviors and actions you take as a result of these thoughts are based on corrupted data.
One of the best things that you can do after you become aware of this chattering filter is to question your thoughts and make a choice whether you should believe the narrator in your mind. While the ego is working hard to paint us as a victim of our circumstances, trying to assure us success would come if only circumstances were different, there’s a way to bypass the ego and stand out as a true leader.
Here are three ways to refocus for success.
1. Separate your stress from your reality.
One of the most priceless things that’s ever happened to me was noticing that I am not that voice inside my head, and that this ego is different than the confidence required to fuel my abilities. Once you discover the difference between ego and confidence, you, too, can start to tune in and listen to what that ego narrator is saying, giving you the most wonderful choice in the world: whether or not to believe the information it’s giving you. That’s where incredible freedom comes from.
2. Know that your success and happiness is not dependent on your circumstances.
When you wake up in the morning, you probably don’t say, Let me start thinking. If you noticed, you are already inundated with thoughts—often frustrating ones—about your abilities, your workday and any circumstances you feel are getting in your way. To achieve higher levels of success, you must accept the core belief that your circumstances are not the reason you can’t succeed; they are the reality in which you must succeed.
3. Edit your story.
Before you question all your thoughts, stop to ask, What do I know for sure? or What are the facts? This allows you to exercise mental flexibility. When I take my ego’s word for it, there’s only one distorted explanation for why things happen to me. Mental flexibility allows me to get clear about the facts and consider that things happen for the greater good. Given what I know for sure, I can come up with 100 different ways why this could be happening that potentially benefit me. It gives you empowerment, which is stepping into the power you already have.
Are you ready for more happiness and success at work? Here’s an assignment for self-reflection: Close your eyes for a minute and really take the time to tune into that voice in your head. It has a whole storyline, whether it be that your culture is toxic, that you’re the only one that does everything at the office or your life will be better if you just had just a different boss, co-workers or clients. Challenge yourself to get clear about what you know for sure. Write down only the facts you hear on a piece of paper. That’s your reality. Now you can ask, Why am I stressed and suffering? It’s often due to the stories we’ve made up about our reality.
Our value as employees and leaders is not what we can deliver in perfect circumstances with a perfect boss or impeccable co-workers. Our value is distinguished by how quickly we can accept the reality of our situation, say yes to what’s next and contribute amazing results in less than perfect circumstances.