Ah the mind.
When you’re on, you’re on and when you’re great, you’re great. The mind is a place where we live and we breathe. We think and we grow or we think and we fall.
It all depends . . .
We are a sea of choices. Which one? What do we choose and oh, what happens if we choose and wish that we chose otherwise?
For example, we find ourselves in a train station and for the moment, I will use this station as a symbol of life. There are two shuttles. Both will run parallel yet both rides are completely separate experiences. One shuttle could be mild. The other shuttle could be uplifting and promising.
Or, one shuttle can be packed with people since all of us are on the move and all of us are searching for something and all of us are on the way to the other side (or whatever that means).
Regardless of whichever shuttle we choose, the other shuttle will have a different culture. The other shuttle will have different promises and different results and both shuttles will come out on the other side. Again, this is life. It’s all a game of chance.
The mind is a funny place. We have our attention drawn towards biases and ideas. We look around. We wonder about our deficiencies or question the great “What if” questions.
What if I chose to stay in sales instead of moving over to production?
Or, what if I kept working in the family business instead of going my own way?
Where would I be now if I decided to take the earlier train instead of the later one?
These are real thoughts.
Let’s go back to the shuttle trains that take us to the other side. Both go in the same direction and both trains come with their own unique experience. Which do we choose?
What happens when the doors close and then, suddenly, we are unsure if we made the right choice.
As if to say, what if I chose to take the shuttle on my right instead of my left? What happens when we talk to people who say the same thing; only, they approached the station from the opposite end and their right and our left are two different things?
There are times when the mind is working sharply. There are times when our thoughts are uncontested and on the other end, there are times when our mind is cluttered or congested.
Our thoughts become like a traffic jam in a tunnel and meanwhile, all a person wants is to reach their destination and get to the other side.
So, the mind . . .
It’s easy to celebrate when we believe (or feel) as if we are on top and happy. But what about this – what about our relationship with failures or rejection?
Are we at our best when this happens?
And if not, then why?
There was a sales program in which myself and a team of young door-to-door sales people were gathered to sit in a room where the manager greeted us for a pre-morning pep talk.
I sat through several of these meetings. The intention to be motivational was more effective on some days and less impactful on others. The objective was to send us out into the wild hungry, energized and like animals on the hunt.
The purpose for these pre-morning meetings was to train a mindset. This was to teach us that each time a customer said “no” it was one step closer to someone that would say yes.
Such is the life of a door to door salesperson.
Needless to say the sales staff were more like revolving fixtures. We were an office of young hopefuls and craving entrepreneurs. The room was filled with new entry level warriors, such as myself, who came in brave and eager to make millions. We wanted to make it all; only, the reality was swift and the sales teams were quickly disheartened and quick to become meek by the level of constant rejection.
There was a morning when one of the sales managers took a new hire and invited the sales person to come to the front. The manager sat the person in a chair and turned the chair towards the sales team. The sales manager began to talk about us and the features of our day. He talked about the ultimate goal which was to sell or “move product.”
The manager talked about the presence of mind or the lack thereof. He discussed our attention and our habits, which in the case of selling door-to-door, all aspects of our life needed to align in a pattern. Otherwise, if we were to be successful, we would have to find a pattern of adjustment.
The sales manager talked about the great days of being an entry-level salesperson. The manager talked about the days when they moved product and the numbers were astounding. The manager talked about the days when their pay was high and the business was flowing.
The subject then switched to the opposite end. Or, perhaps we should say the “polar” opposite.
The manager talked about the days when sales were down and not only down, but downright flat and stagnant. Nothing was working and the manager explained that they could not catch a break.
Suddenly, thoughts turned inwards. There were ideas of doubt and worries that came along with a fierce bias of scarcity. There were fears of loss and worries of status and worries of acceptance in the workplace were troubled at best.
The mind and our body on either side of experience are physically the same. However, our relation to experience can affect our thinking and additionally emotion leads to chemical changes.
We can become the product of either side – positive or negative – and whether our intelligence is questioned or not, it has been studied that when the mind is overloaded and or when our thoughts are heavy, we can easily become burdened.
Also, we can easily make poor decisions. We can fall into what I call “emotional quicksand” and find that the deeper we sink, the more impossible it seems that we can ever break free.
The motivation of that morning pre-morning session was shown to give us a different perspective. The manager asked the sales person who sat in the chair, “Will you sell all of your products today.”
[Before I go onward, I should tell you what we were selling. We sold small items. We sold $3.00 pens, calculators, picture cubes and quick little gadgets. We walked busy streets and went to different businesses and stores. We went anywhere with hopes to find small factories where the workers would gather to buy a quick gift that was mainly cheap. And for the record, most days were tough!]
The rejection was steady; however, the idea of selling all of the products and returning to the office with an empty bag and a pocket filled with cash was a rarity at best.
The sales manager asked, “Do you think you will sell out today?”
The sales person smiled and said “yes” with a low dose of enthusiasm. The sales manager then asked, “What if I were to promise you an extra bonus?” said the manager. “What if I were to offer you a little incentive?”
What the salesperson could not see due to the fact that the manager’s back was to them and their front was to us as the sales team was this; the manager reached in their jacket pocket. The manager took out a stack of new, crisp bills. Then the manager turned to the salesperson and showed the stack of $5,000.
“Would you be able to sell out now?”
The smile on the salesperson grew larger and the amount of enthusiasm improved in an excited measure of $5,000.
The salesperson was facing us, the sales team. The manager walked behind the salesperson who was giggling at this point with a stack of cash in their lap.
“What about now,” asked the manager.
The manager reached in their jacket once more and pulled out another $5,000.
Then the manager dropped the money into the salesperson’s lap.
“Hell yeah,” said the salesperson. They shouted this with an almighty exuberance in a room where young hopefuls were crazed by the idea of such an earning.
“How about now?” said the manager after pulling out another stack of $5,000 and dropping it into the salesperson’s lap.
The exercise started with the basic incentive to work and sell. Then it went up incrementally from zero to $5,000, to $10,000, to 15 and then up to 20.
The illusion of success and the association with our ability to place value, whether monetarily or otherwise, was clearly shown.
So, the question becomes, “What motivates us?”
Secondly, motivation like this is not sustainable. Money comes and goes. So does fame. So does attention and so does the novelty of things that can lose a realistic shine.
For example, the salesperson went out that morning into the field. They sold a decent amount during the morning. However, as the rejection built and as reality set in, they knew there was no payout of $20k waiting at the office. This eventually caused the salesperson’s enthusiasm to tank or become stagnant.
This person quit before the week was through. So did a lot of other people.
I learned about interesting research at Princeton University. The research was on sugar cane farmers and how they were paid 60% of their salary once a year. This meant that they were hard pressed for money throughout a large part of the year and satisfied during the other part.
I learned about a fascinating study that took place in which the farmers were given an IQ test during the months when they were doing poorly as opposed to the months when they were financially secure.
It turns out, the farmers who participated scored lower on their IQ tests when they were doing poorly and higher when they were doing well.
Once again, this showed an association with wealth, value, scarcity and comfort. This showed that when we are down or “feel” poor, our thoughts and ideas become bogged down with other ideas of fear-based or shame-based thinking.
This does not make us less-smart or automatically unintelligent; but more likely, this bogs us down with thoughts that are caught in indecision. We are bogged down by the pressures and like any machine, as we rise to the level of “red-line” danger, our decision making abilities and choices become less clear.
Now switching gears, I go to a memory from when I stood in front of a classroom of high school students. I asked them about an item that had value to them. For example, I approached one of the students and asked about their shirt.
Do you like your shirt?
That’s why I bought it, laughed the student.
Oh, so you bought the shirt?
Was it expensive?
Not too bad.
Would you sell it to me for ten bucks?
No, laughed the student.
Well, why not?
Because it cost me more than ten bucks answered the student.
I asked the classroom if anyone has experienced what it feels like to be called something hurtful, like a name, or if anyone was ever treated poorly.
Most of the class raised their hands. I asked if anyone was ever bullied or publicly humiliated. And again, many in the class raised their hands.
We began to address our culture. We addressed racist comments, social snobbery and insensitive comments. While some admitted to the pain behind certain words, other students took a more protective stance. They claimed a violent response, regardless of the consequences and my question to those who said this is “Why?”
I decided to change the questions.
I asked the person whose shirt was in question, “What if I upped the ante. Would you sell me the shirt now?”
I changed the offer to $25.
How about $125?
Now you’re talking, said the student.
Okay, so now that we established an understanding of value, we went back to the discussion of names and name calling and the words people use to destroy spirits and break wills.
If someone were to call you stupid, would this bother you?
I asked them to answer honestly.
But there was little response.
What about the word loser?
We talked about this.
We put other names on the board.
Loser. Idiot. Stupid. Lowlife, and in fairness, some of the words took on a racial appeal and some are not words that I use in my journal entries.
I offered the idea that, “Say I came in this room and singled a person out. I then called them by their worst name to hurt them. What would happen?”
Would they be upset?
Of course they would be.
However, what if I were to place a briefcase filled with cash on the desk and the cash was enough to buy any shirt in any store, plus a new phone and all the technology one could ask for and a new car.
Would that person be angry about what I said or thought of them?
The answer was a loud “Probably not!”
Of course name calling and rudeness will always be part of this world. Although lawsuits have recovered large purses; most times, there is no cash reward for being bullied or put down. There are no extra incentives beyond realistic measures in this world and still, we look for rewards. We look for value and we look for worth.
We associate thoughts differently when we face rejection or shame-based ideas. We sink into the motivational quicksand.
Aside from money, success is found when we realize a long-term, sustainable motivator to override the ups and downs of an interpersonal economy.
When we address our mindset to find the secret of our endurance; and when we learn ways to motivate ourselves in methods that aren’t fleeting but instead, we create a mindset and improve our level of understanding, our potential improves.
Our thinking improves; but more, our understanding improves and suddenly the congestion in our mind begins to clear. The traffic jam lifts and suddenly, we are moving through to the other side.
The one thing that proves true is our experience becomes value. No matter which shuttle we choose in this life, our experience is what teaches us how to live, sustain and endure.
Ah, the mind . . .
When you’re on, you’re on and when you’re great, you’re great. But not all days are great days. The question is more than how do we make all days great. The question becomes how do we prevent days that are not great from distracting us from our worth?
We often lose to our own associations; therefore, to improve, we have to improve the way we associate our values.
I will close today’s entry with this. Three things create change: Motivation, empowerment and encouragement.
Imagine if we found a wealth of this below the levels of our subconscious mind. Suddenly, we would all think like millionaires. We’d be unmoved by distractions or insults. The ideas of scarcity and fears would no longer wear down our mental systems – and just like that . . .
We could think freely.