I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole idea of “neutral” thinking since I first read about it in Trevor Moawad’s It Takes What It Takes.
As we’ve discussed, I love it.
Although I totally get and agree with the distinction between “negative” vs. “positive” vs. “neutral” thinking, I think a more accurate description of this type of thinking might be something along the lines of “Targeted Thinking.”
When I mash up Trevor’s ideas with David Emerald’s wisdom from The Power of TED* along with all the other peak performance gurus who tell us to focus on the process/task rather than complaining or fantasizing about outcomes but not taking action NOW, I arrive at the central question that drives effective thinking.
It’s the question that helps us move from Victim to Creator while remaining grounded in reality AND getting us ready to focus on what needs to get done.
When facing ANY and EVERY challenge (that tempts you to get negative and start complaining, etc. and/or deny reality and pump yourself up with “positive” thinking), the question to ask is…
“What do I want?”
That provides a TARGET for our minds. 🎯
When we get clarity on THAT target, the next question is simple and brings us to the task at hand…
“Now what needs to be done?”
Target set. Take aim. Take action.
Again and again and again.
ESPECIALLY when you’re at risk of falling into Victim quicksand and complaining.
All of which makes me think of our patron god of philosophy, the archer Apollo. You know what he likes? Good targets. You know what he focuses on after he takes aim? The process of doing his best..
I also think of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s first step for getting into Flow: Have a clear target. (Step 2? Focus all your energy on hitting it.)
Let’s run this framework through our Super Bowl, chicken poop and flat bike tire scenarios.
Down 12 with 4 minutes to go in a playoff game after throwing four interceptions? Perfect. It is what it is. Now… What do you want? “I want to win the game.” Fantastic. Now what needs to be done? “It’s time to go do what I do best and lead this team to excellence.” Fantastic. Get on that.
Got chicken poop wafting up from your once-idyllic patio? Perfect. It is what it is. Now… What do you want? “I want to keep the chickens and reclaim the porch.” Fantastic. Now what needs to be done? “Get the chicken wire and get to work.” Fantastic. Get on that.
Flat tire on your lime-green bike preventing you from cruising around the Trail? Perfect. It is what it is. Now… What do you want? “I want to ride my bike.” Fantastic. Now what needs to be done? “Get the bike pump and see if that works. If not, get a new tire.” Fantastic. Get on that.
+🎯 +🎯 +🎯