This is the underlying question almost everyone has running in the back of their minds. Someone makes you an offer and you automatically ask it.
“What’s in it for me?”
Parents ask a variation, “What’s in it for my child, my family?”
It’s perfectly normal and most everyone does it.
So why is it a problem?
Because this question reveals a mindset of lack.
“Gimme, gimme, gimme.”
“Take, take, take.”
It’s the voice of the ego based on fear, insecurity, and a lack of abundance.
It’s victim thinking, not a hero.
I experienced this growing up.
It was like life was an all you can eat buffet.
But “You better get your money’s worth.”
It’s why cruise ship guests put on their “buffet pants.”
Or the advice of some who say, “don’t fill your plate with the cheap stuff, grab the good stuff.”
Now, what if we could shift this to the opposite?
What if we could change the question?
“What’s in it for me?”
“How can I help?”
By asking this new question, there is an assumption of abundance. This question assumes you have the power, capacity, and ability to help. It’s a powerful question. You are tapping into your true gifts. It comes from a deeply spiritual place, not your ego. There is more than enough to share.
We’ve all had ups and downs in our lives. I personally experienced many magical miracles. And then flipped to complete despair.
What I’ve noticed is the presence of the first question and not the latter. Mindset is the key.
So what is mindset?
A mentor of mine recently gave me an amazingly simple definition:
“Mindset is the voice(s) in your head.”
That’s so true. I hear my parents, teachers, and even people I don’t care for speaking in my head.
Who put these voices in our heads?
They get installed automatically throughout life. Parents. Teachers. Relatives. Caregivers. Friends. Facebook. The media…
The thing is, unless you are aware, you are being programmed all the time. If you let it wash over you daily without consciousness, you are installing these voices. The prevailing mindset of lack, poverty, and despair.
The good news is, you can reinstall new voices. It’s like upgrading your internal operating system to the latest, greatest version. You choose your own voice.
Tomorrow, my son turns sixteen. Sixteen! We’re about to start visiting colleges. Think about focus of study. Plan out a course for life.
What I want most for him is to flip the questions. Ask more empowering ones.
“How can I help?”
“What can I offer the world?
What was I born to do?
What are my gifts?
What makes me the only one?”
A Lifetime of Questions
Of course, questioning goes on for a lifetime.
We never completely know. We are always discovering.
The journey of life and success IS the journey of discovering the answers to this question. Life is self-discovery. And this question can change your life.
How can I help?
I hope this awakens something inside of you. New voices = new life. This goes beyond parenting, music, education, business, whatever. This is for you. And through you, you will light up the world.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and place it under a basket, but place it on a lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine, so that they may see your good works…” – Matthew 5:14. the Bible
Mine comes from a Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.It has resonated throughout my being for decades now.
“My actions are the ground I stand on.”
It is so powerful yet simple.Stop talking and do it.Do the right thing.For if you do not, you are standing on quicksand.
“My actions are the ground I stand on.”
At the end of a life, what else will you have?
All the material possessions, they turn to dust.They are just trinkets, baubles or as Robert Kiyosaki calls them, “doodads.”Meaningless.
But to have live a life of right minded action?The experiences, results, all flow from how we be and do.
A few thousand years ago, Siddhartha Gautama, a man, became known as the enlightened one.The Buddha.His teachings became what is now known as either a religion or a philosophy depending on who you talk to.One of the most powerful teachings is the Eightfold Path.
These 8 steps lead to a path of a good and successful life.It’s a Middle Way – not too hot and not too cold.Just right.It’s like the original 7 Habits of Highly Successful People!Only one louder!
Here is the Eightfold Path
These are not rigid rules or commandments.It’s not authoritarian.It’s a self-help book.It’s the original coaching program.Thanks Sidd!
Anyone Can Use Them
And you don’t have to call yourself Buddhist to benefit.These days I call myself Catholic and Buddhist.Perhaps one day I’ll expand that to other labels too.
But there’s no conflict.All spiritual paths are good.There is no difference.
Sure there are religious practices that look different from the outside.
Making the sign of the cross.
Bowing to Mecca.
Chanting in Hebrew.
Chanting in Latin.
Chanting in Sanskrit or Pali.
It’s all the same with minor external differences.
The real culprit in the world is absolutism
Puritanism.Fundamentalism.Holding too strongly to anything.I’ve seen it in all areas of life.Snobbery leads to arrogance leads to condescension and separatism.It’s tribalism.
There are coffee snobs who would never ever drink Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
Wine purists who do not drink Merlot.
Music teachers who have frozen in time all methods of certain master teachers as if time stood still.
People who judge others by the shoes they wear, the cars they drive, the words they use.
“No judgements.”That’s another good quote to live by.
It gets in the way.Acceptance is the new middle way.
And to accept I need to change my thinking, being and doing.
When you are feeling negative emotions, it’s like a warning light on your mental dashboard for a change. Something needs to change, whether it’s an action you are taking (or not), the environment you are in and the people you are surrounding yourself with.
2) The fog of confusion precedes the calm of clarity.
There is always a period of confusion right before the epiphany, “the a-ha moment.” If you are feeling confused, stop, take a breath, meditate, get calm enough to see the ripples on the surface of your mental waters, and reflect.
The clouds of confusion are burned away by the sun of awareness. A path forward is revealed.
3) You are responsible for ALL your results.
I remember when I first heard this and it was a feeling of shock.
“What do you mean I’m completely responsible for everything?” I was so used to blaming the world for my problems. And of course, the more you indulge in this kind of personal un-accountability, the more “proof” you get.
The traffic cop pulls only “you” over when everyone else is going at the same speed. Or the TSA official picks only you out for a random strip search. Of course the world is against you! Changing your mindset is akin to magic. By taking personal responsibility for your entire life, your health, your finances, your living environment, everything…it radically changes your world. And at first, it’s scary.
Start in one area. Pick a specific activity where you absolutely believe that you are responsible for your results like a sport, or a musical instrument or a language. By holding yourself accountable for your results you begin to live in this belief. From there, you can expand to all other areas of your life.
4) Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.
I used to have a lot of anger and frustration. Taking on and conditioning myself with this belief has been a struggle, but produces fruit everyday. It really is unlikely that the world is conspiring against you. In fact, everyone is too caught up in their own problems, insecurities and limiting beliefs. Hold your judgment and realize, they’re doing the best they can with the resources they have available at the moment.
5) There is no permanence. Success or failure are a temporary state.
If you look around you, there’s the illusion of permanence everywhere. The furniture in the room. The buildings, the mountains, the lakes, trees. But look deeper and you see that all is temporary. A snapshot in time. Apple is the biggest company on the planet…at the moment. But remember US Steel, one of the largest employers in the world in the 1950’s? Today they are a mere shell of what they once were. Or what about Pan American Airlines? These were seen as bedrock, unstoppable successes, for a while. Nothing is permanent.
We are all in a state of motion.
Even the most solid of materials, at the quantum level, are in motion.
If we are not growing, we are dying. Keep moving, evolving, reaching for higher and higher levels. It’s the only way to stay in a state of success. Don’t be misled that it’s all sunny days from now on. There will be failures (or you can call them learnings) along the way. But as long as you are aware of the learnings, incorporate them, and move on, you will be in a more consistent state of success.
I think most of us have felt these in our lifetimes, and perhaps even on a weekly or daily basis. There was a time when I experienced Anger, Frustration and Overwhelm almost daily.
The 9 Negative States can be seen as warning lights on your dashboard.
Here’s what they mean and how you can learn from them to release them.
Batten down the hatches, tense up – there’s something you’re going to have to deal with. This is not always true, but you feel it! Take a moment, breathe. Is there really something worth fearing? Unless you are in a life/death situation, most fears are overblown, misplaced and are just worry amplified. Worry is also not necessary. If it happens, deal with it then. Don’t make it worse by spending energy tensing up for a possible non-event.
Action: Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen? Then what? And then?”
Somehow a standard was not met. Rules were broken.
Action: Reflect on “Are these rules even valid? Who made these standards?”
This is a more intense version of hurt, because again, a rule was not met.
I have been in arguments in the past where the other person leaves the room because I’ve raised my voice. In my set of rules, it was okay to get passionate about your discussion and just get it all out in the open now. The other party, whose rules were, never raise your voice as that is verbal abuse and threatening would just leave the room. Can you see how these sets of rules were always in conflict?
Action: Let it go. Reflect on the standards and rules that you feel were not met. What now?
Something is not working and trying to bang through the wall over and over in the same way will only leave you with a banged up head.
Action: Change the approach. Change something. Be flexible.
You haven’t achieved something and you need to change. You also may be feeling a little sorry for yourself.
Tony Robbins says the difference between winners and losers is that winners know how to control their emotional state. Emotions can be thought of as weather patterns being sent up from the unconscious, most triggered habitually. Did you know that you can consciously induce triumph or disappointment? You choose your states whether it is out of habit or choice.
Action: Change the process or change what you want your outcome to be. Pivot.
6) Guilt / Regret
You broke one of your own standards.
Lester Levenson created a whole personal improvement program called the Release Technique and it is simply letting yourself feel the emotions fully and then releasing them. Once you do, you have emptied out the energy you were holding onto thereby clearing all kinds of problems created by stress which causes disease. This technique lives on with two of Lester’s disciples Hale Dwoskin’s Sedona Method and Larry Crane’s Release Technique.
Action: Make amends, forgive yourself, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
You feel less than something or someone else. You can do this by first, stop comparing yourself to others and to start educating yourself in the ways you feel inadequate. This may be in the hard skills of how to play chords on piano, or the soft skills of how to have confidence in public speaking.
Action: Learn skills, Stop comparing to others. Measure your results to see personal improvement.
Your priorities have become muddled and you’re trying to do everything because you don’t know which is the most important.
Action: Stop, reflect, prioritize and then go forth. Most people over-estimate what they can achieve in a year, but underestimate what they can do in a day.
You need to connect with people and spirit.
Action: Get out and say hello. Find your support group of like-minded people. Find your “sangha.” Get with God. I have a writing group, my church choir, my Dad’s group, my music students, my family and now the Foundation as my network. I’m grateful to have them all.
I’ve learned this list from Dane Maxwell and Andy Drish at The Foundation, of which I’m just starting the journey. Because I’m an extroverted thinker, I find I can think and reflect better if I’m teaching others about it. I hope you find this helpful.