Have you ever heard the phrase “live in the now”?
When I first heard it I thought it was redundant. Where else would you be living?
After devoting a great deal of time studying exactly how the brain works, I have come to find out that this ideal to “live in the now” is not so simple to our awesome, complex brains.
Studies show that the mind doesn’t understand the difference between a memory, a current condition (one you are observing), or a future event (one you are imagining).
That’s right – the past, the present, and the future are truly all the same to your brain.
It sounds confusing, but it’s really rather simple. To illustrate, imagine that your brain is a file folder.
Right now your brain has a file open; the question is, which one is it?
The answer to that question is another question: what are you focused on right now?
What pops into your mind is, literally and figuratively speaking, where your head is currently.
FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON THE INTENTION
To demonstrate the incredible power of this insight, I want you to recall a time when you felt invincible. It can be when you experienced a major win in your business, or it could be a personal victory experienced at any time in your life.
Close your eyes and let your mind wander through your past and find a memory that makes you feel strong when you think about it.
For me, one such recollection would be when I was in gym class in first grade. My teacher, Mr. Fuller, was letting us climb the rope for the first time. He allowed the boys to go as high as they could, but kept stopping the girls when we got just a few feet off the ground. He said we were too weak and small and that we didn’t have the courage or strength to be so far off the ground.
Under his watch, no girl had ever climbed to the top of the rope ever before.
Had I bought into this self-limiting belief, I would’ve never done what I did next.
THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO THE TOP
I was determined to be the first girl in the history of the school to touch the ceiling. When it was my turn, I climbed as fast as I could.
Down below I could hear Mr. Fuller say, “Okay, that’s far enough.”
But I didn’t listen, because I knew that what he was saying wasn’t true – at least not for me.
As I climbed beyond his reach, I could hear a bit of panic in his voice. “Girls can’t climb that high. It’s not safe.”
But his words meant nothing to me. I had to stop a few times to readjust my grip. Each time I did, Mr. Fuller told me to come back down. And while he was right that it was uncomfortable and I was getting tired, he was wrong to think any of that could stop me.
Refusing to quit, I kept climbing.
When I reached the top and touched the ceiling, a feeling of electricity flooded through my body. I did it!
In that moment I knew that everything was possible for me.
ACTIONS REALLY DO SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
As I slid down the rope, Mr. Fuller’s voice faded into the background.
Even though he sent me to sit in the corner for disobeying him, I was floating on air. I didn’t care that I had rope burns on my legs and splinters in my hands. None of the minor pain or punishment mattered.
I had proved to the world that a girl could climb to the top of the rope.
More importantly, I had proved to myself that I could do anything.
As I review my life, I realize this was actually the beginning.
THE PAST INFORMS AND EMPOWERS YOUR PRESENT
Even writing down this rope story gives me goosebumps as I recall the euphoria of victory experienced by my seven-year-old self. When I close my eyes, I can see defiant little Debbie with her fist in the air, determined to be the best.
It doesn’t matter that it happened 50 years ago.
When I open the file and “re-live” it right now, I am using my present moment to focus on my power, and that is the overarching thought. My mind doesn’t know the difference and, quite frankly, it doesn’t care that it’s only a memory.
The powerful thoughts evoked are genuine – and what happens to your brain chemistry when you choose to focus on positive thoughts, regardless of if happened in your past, is real, too.
I shared my rope story with you because I access that memory regularly – whenever I need a jolt of confidence at work.
For women in particular, scaling the heights to business success can be daunting. But when you make a conscious connection to an empowering past event, you’ll find your courage and confidence level goes through the roof…
… and helps you perform at the top of your game.
What’s your personal “rope story” – and how does it help you bolster your business confidence? Share your insights in the comments!