Adding Value to Your Life

We can add real value to our daily lives by turning ‘value’ into a mnemonic for how to re-pattern, re-programme our mind. The New Testament holds out the hope of dramatic transformation, a personal metamorphosis, through the ‘renewing of your mind’ – through changing your patterns of thinking.
So how do we provoke these personal paradigm shifts? Let’s make V.A.L.U.E. stand for the elements of the process: V = Visualisation; A = Affirmation; L = Language; U = Underline; E = Entrain. You will all have your own associations for the meanings of each of these words – so, to move forward, let’s agree on a common understanding.

Visualisation. I was shocked to find out that, regardless of any sensory learning preference, all sensory inputs (save for scent) go through the junction box of the visual areas of the cortex. This means that visualisation has primacy over all our other sensory processing – except for scent. What you see can condition how you hear something! What you see can easily change how you taste something… and what you physically feel. Taking control of what we internally visualise becomes an important key to success. How do you see yourself? How do you see the World around you? Is it a friendly Universe? Or is it a difficult World in which to live? The ways we ‘see’ internally are what we call beliefs – and according to your faith, your beliefs, it will be ‘done unto you’.

For all of us then, it is time to change some of the movies we are watching if we wish to add value to our lives. See yourself as you would wish to be. Visualise your relationships as you would prefer them to play out. Visualise yourself earning the income you would want. Visualise yourself at your target weight, and wearing the kind of clothes you would wish to. Capture your own imagination with a compelling vision of all you would prefer in life.

Affirmation. As a ‘Mentor’, the major phrases I listen out for are people’s “I am…” statements. Our “I am…” statements reveal our beliefs. Rather wonderfully, we can change our beliefs by re-patterning our “I am…” statements! As with visualisation, what “I am…” statements would you prefer to hear coming out of your mouth or flowing through your thoughts? How many of us poison our minds with destructive and limiting beliefs such as, “I am unattractive,” or “I am stupid,” or “I am useless at…”? Your mental awareness is a faithful servant – and whatever statements you articulate (inwardly or outwardly), your mental awareness will gather evidence to support. So, if you see yourself as unattractive and affirm this, your faithful servant will pay exquisite attention to every put-down you hear about your appearance – and will notice every time you look in the mirror and catch yourself looking less than glamorous.
It’s time to free the new you! It’s time to upgrade your “I am…” statements! Try these on for size, “I am attractive!” “I am a quick learner!” “I am a non-smoker!” “I am earning (insert your chosen income) per year!” Crazy though this sounds, it works… eventually. You’ve undergone a long period of programming to get you to where you are today. The evidence won’t change overnight, but you can begin the transformation in an instant. Affirmations need to be positive, personal, and present tense (as opposed to future tense). Your mind, your faithful servant, will then find ways to make your circumstances match your affirmations.
Develop affirmations for your personality (eg. “I am kind”); your finances; your looks; your health; your weight; your relationships; your state-of-mind; even your possessions.

Language. You can multiply the effectiveness of your inner visualisations and affirmations by externalising and articulating them out loud. The New Testament states, “faith comes by hearing…” This makes the mirror one of your best friends. I find it impossible to stand in front of the mirror, affirming out loud that, “I like myself!” or “I love myself!”, without rapidly shifting my mindset into the positive… in fact, I usually soon begin smiling or laughing. You aren’t going to love others effectively until you learn to love yourself. The Apostle James had many unpleasant things to say about the power of the tongue as a force for harm. He asserted that we needed to get control of our tongues. My belief is that if we can control our thoughts and our words, we will master self-control and change our destiny.
One of the secrets is to be gentle with yourself. When you catch yourself articulating a negative message – gently interrupt yourself! There is no value in beating yourself up about it. Just use an interrupt pattern and restate yourself. I might choose the humorous interrupt of saying out loud, “Whoops!” and then following that with the statement, “Let me rephrase myself…” or “Let me start again…” Let the way of peace be your pilot – asking yourself, “Does this bring me peace?” If not, change what you’re saying until inner peace floods your consciousness.

Underline. “Underline” is a wonderful word, as is “underscore” or the old-fashioned “undergird”. They are supportive, reinforcing words. They draw attention to the words they underline! Nothing draws attention to your words more than your actions. Underline your visualisations, your affirmations, your language – with your actions. Act as if what you are articulating is already true. Our beliefs affect our behaviours – but the opposite is true too. You can transform your beliefs in yourself by behaving differently. Act as if you were already as confident as you would choose to be. Act as if you are calm in that important meeting or interview. Underline your the words of your life script with corresponding action.

Entrain. “Entrain” is a technical word that has transformed my life. It describes the phenomenon of getting in to sync with another stimulus or signal. Eg, tapping your foot to the beat of a catchy tune – means you have entrained to the beat. When we find ourselves making similar gestures to others, talking at a similar speed or volume, using their tone or even their choice of words – we have been entrained by them. You too can become an Entrainer – the leader. By teaching other people about the transformational techniques you are learning, you can strengthen the power of these techniques in your own life.
Expression deepens impression. This is why complaining out loud about some supposed annoyance is not necessarily helpful or cathartic. More often you will find yourself become angrier as you ‘rehearse’ the imagined offence or irritation. Far more powerful is the phenomenon of rehearsing excellence by sharing positive ideas and strategies with others. The more you rehearse and review, the more ‘real’ they feel.
The other way to entrain is to become entrained yourself by people who are already exhibiting the kinds of excellence you desire and aspire to. You are what you associate – or whom you associate with. The old proverb suggests that, “Bad company corrupts good character.” I agree. The opposite is also true – associate with enough positive and ‘successful’ people and it will rub off on you. As a result of understanding this, some of us will have to change our circle of friends. Change your circle of friends and you will transform your circle of influence.

5 thoughts on “Adding Value to Your Life

  1. What a great post Lex.

    You and I have had discussions for some time now about the systems thinking methodology I use to help organisations improve and about your work helping individuals and teams become so much more empowered and positive about themselves. We have a lot in common and your blog post captures this beautifully.

    I love the VALUE mnemonic and each of the points reinforce some of the key thinking about systems methodology which seeks to undo the damage caused by traditional leadership and management approaches. These traditional approaches treat people at best like children, worse like Pavlovian dogs or worse still like machines.

    I remember vividly making the connection when you talked about criticism at school leading to pupils thinking ‘I can’t do X’ which then becomes self-fulfilling (I have spent years telling myself and everyone else that I can’t do art, music, and many other things because that’s what some teacher told me when I was impressionable). Unfortunately the top down criticism doesn’t stop when you leave school. In fact it gets a lot worse when you join the world of work! There is no shortage of leaders ready to dampen any positive thinking among their employees. Performance appraisals, targets, discipline, incentives and all the other paraphernalia of traditional leadership contributes to undermining the self-esteem of individuals.

    The two most important things I’ve taken from the VALUE mnemonic (they are all important) is the importance of positive affirmation statements and the need to entrain. I think your advice about these is spot on but whilst individuals can certainly do a lot by following your advice, the sad fact is that it can easily be undermined in the workplace by traditional leadership.

    The systems approach I’ve used for many years now takes a different approach to leadership. In a way it is more akin to the ‘servant leadership’ model in that the leaders role is not to ‘manage’ people but rather to design a system that allows employees to do what they all want to do – a good job for their customer. Some people don’t like the term ‘customer’ but it doesn’t matter what term you use, we are all a customer of some sort, whether that’s someone parting with cash for an i-pad or an elderly person in care needing help wash themselves.

    So in the systems approach we spend a lot of time working with leaders trying to get them to change their mindsets. Your VALUE mnemonic is a useful way of capturing some ideas to discuss with them. If we want employees to become more affirmative then leaders have to positively encourage this. The good news is that if they do, they get huge payoff. When I was Operations Director at VELUX we worked to empower our contact centre staff and involve them in how to design and run the centre. By building their confidence and trust in us as leaders we had the highest levels of motivation and engagement and lowest staff turnover of all organisations in an independent research study – and yet under traditional management approaches call centres are depressing sweatshops with high staff turnover.

    The concept of entrainment is so true as well. The traditional approach to dealing with customers is to tell them what they can have i.e. everyone gets the same service and the standard is defined by the organisation. The obvious example is press 1 for .. press 2 for… press 3 for… and so on. Truly annoying for customers but put in place by leaders because they think it makes managing customer demand easier. Oh yeah?… try telling that to the poor person dealing with customers who by the time they have navigated the stupid system are frustrated and angry. What is needed is leaders who entrain to the beat of the customer. Listen to the customer, study the demands that are made on your organisation and design a system that allows you to respond to those demands. I remember the general manager of a five star hotel telling me that she hates when anyone tells her that all her customers expect the same service. She said ‘every customer that walks through my door is an individual with specific requirements. They all expect a five star standard of service but they certainly don’t want a standardised service. They expect the service delivered to reflect their individual needs’. Now there was a leader who could entrain. It doesn’t matter if you’re a five star hotel or a no star bed and breakfast – that same approach should apply.

    I’ll be using your mnemonic in my new organisation as a great starting point for discussion, but naturally I’ll credit the source!

  2. You are my aspiration, I own few web logs and often run out from brand :). “He who controls the past commands the future. He who commands the future conquers the past.” by George Orwell.

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