Cultivate a "No Barrier" Mentality
We all do it.
Most of us don’t even realize we do it. It haunts our daily lives like an ominous shadow lurking in the dark making us somewhat paralyzed to take the next step.
It oftentimes keeps us from fulfilling our dreams and pursuing our passions.
What is it that is so debilitating to us?
The culprit is called negative self-talk
Most, if not all of us are way too familiar with the repetitive mental phrases:
I’m no good at…
People will think I’m weird if…
Things will never change…
I can’t do that…
If only I had…
Recently there was an interview with the arctic explorer and living legend, Will Steger. At the age of 73 he had just returned from a 72 day solo expedition in the Barren Lands of Canada.
He was asked “Do you think you’re made of different stuff?...What is the secret that’s allowed you to do these things when other people don’t?”
The No Barrier mentality
His response was simple: “I never saw myself as different than anybody else.” But then it became thought provoking when he went on to say “I don’t see barriers” (full interview).
In another interview he was asked why he’s recently been choosing to go on expeditions in the spring when that tends to be the riskiest time of the year with very little room for error.
His response? “Spring breakup expeditions are perfect because you get a whole variation—thaws, blizzards, and storms.” (full interview)
Wow! Maybe he is made of different stuff. Doesn’t see any barriers? Sees thaws, blizzards, and storms as “perfect”? It just doesn’t seem like our brains want to work that way.
But, what if we could train ourselves to start thinking with a “no barriers” mentality? What if we could see storms as “perfect”?
Imagine the opportunities we might jump at, the dreams we might fulfill, and the passions we might pursue.
How many of us are Wills (Wilhelminas) on the verge of bigger things if only we could get past the negative self-talk?
In what ways can we...?
Many years ago I learned the acronym IWWCW which has remained etched in my brain.
It stands for In What Ways Can We?
It is such a great reminder as life throws a lot of curve balls, obstacles, and storms our way.
If we come at them with an attitude of “in what ways can we…overcome, defeat, work through, succeed…in this situation” we halt the negative self-talk and ignite the process of the no barriers mentality.
For example, let’s say we really want to travel (no idea where this example might have come from 😉 but feel that taking the time off from work is impossible.
Well, let’s change that mindset around and ask ourselves “in what ways can we take a week off from work?”
Then we get busy jotting down all the ways to build time off:
Swap hours with someone
Work extra before or after the trip
Schedule a year out so all involved are prepared
Make a commitment for time off no matter the circumstances because life is too short and stick with it
Save money now so you can take the time off later
Realize the business will run without you no matter how much weight you pull and just take it, etc.
Consider all of your many options
When you begin to brainstorm and involve others in the process, you will soon realize that there really aren’t any barriers, only obstacles you just need to work around.
Those dreams and passions suddenly become more attainable!
A non-athletic, non-running friend was recently challenged to run a 5k. She would have told you herself that she was not a runner.
As a matter of fact, I’d guess if you would have asked her a year ago if she was a runner her response would have been one that came from negative self-talk. She would’ve said something like “Are you kidding?! I can’t run!”
But, prodded by her best friend, she decided her non-running middle-aged body was going to do a 5k.
With no prior running experience and no basic fitness level to start, she began walking, then walk-jogging, then jog-walking, until the day of the run arrived.
At the sound of the gun she trotted off with the rest of the pack, best friend by her side.
Throughout each kilometer, sometimes walking a few yards to catch her breath, she continued pressing on with positive self-talk knowing her goal of the finish line was within reach.
Crossing the finish line ahead of her friend she attained her first ever 5k finish! Her can-do attitude brought her health, success, and the runner’s high she never thought she would experience.
Taking that first step to a "no barriers" mindset
What do you think?
Can you take the first steps forward in life by beginning a no barriers mentality and inaugurate the new norm of thinking “in what ways can we/I…”?
Really the sky is the limit!
Find someone who will commit to doing it along with you and hold each other accountable. Then, as goals, dreams, and passions come your way, pursue them with all of your might.
You will soon see challenges and storms as perfect conditions to achievement.