In the fall of 1992, an enthusiastic, bright student bought a raffle ticket at a college fundraiser for a mission trip to Mexico that she would be involved with that December. She had never won a raffle before and didn’t think of herself as especially lucky, but this was for a good cause, “So why not buy a ticket?” she thought.
Today's article is about problem-solving when things appear to be overwhelming.
16 years ago, I had just made a huge move in my mortgage banking practice. My career started 7 years earlier when I was hired as an assistant to 2 high-level sales people who taught me the ropes and helped me get my life off the ground as a contributing person in the workforce. Before long I was on my own slinging loans in the suburbs of Washington DC for a smaller regional bank. I started making some inroads, built some key relationships, and felt that I was ready to join an organization with a nationwide banking presence, so I made the decision to join Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. My first day was Monday, April 3rd, 2000. I walked in the front door smiling from ear to ear. I was excited. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to get after it at my new company.
April 17th. A mere two weeks later would find me sitting behind my desk at 6:30 a.m. with my face in my hands, simply overwhelmed.
A variation of the same question has been in front of me and the other Rewire Specialists lately, both in our workshops and in our OneWire sessions. And when the same question pops up over and over again, we pay attention here at Rewire. So I wanted to take this week’s article to tackle this thing that seems to be on everyone’s mind. Here’s the question:
As I reflect on my year at Rewire, one of the things I’m most grateful for are the exceptional new people we’ve brought on board in the past few months. They are bringing their expertise and experience to enrich the work we’re doing and serve clients Rewire might not reach otherwise. You hopefully were able to read an article from one of these new people this past week. Joe Shaffner’s article touched on the ways that technology drives us to distraction and a few simple solutions to respond to that dynamic.
Self-improvement has become an incredibly complicated business. Did you know there are over 120,380 books (and counting) on Amazon and hundreds of apps on the iTunes App Store and Google Play? All to help you sell more, lose weight, enjoy better relationships, communicate better, and worry less, among others. This overabundance of options makes it increasingly likely that we will choose “no option at all” and make no progress toward improvement. In fact, due to this overabundance and the often-competing views on this subject, one very common request we get from OneWire clients and workshop attendees is to simplify the improvement process down to its most basic elements. In today’s article, I’d like to offer two.
I have run across this question a lot lately. I was in a workshop the other day when it came up. A friend of mine asked this question over lunch recently. And it came up again at leadership summit I facilitated 2 weeks ago. When the same question or theme comes up this many times in this short period of time, I start to pay attention. What's really being asked and what's behind the question, "What keeps you up at night?"
A few weeks ago, the wife, kids, and I attended a wedding in the south of Italy (Sorrento to be exact). My nephew Danny (who is Italian) was getting married and invited his dear old Uncle Jason. Trip to Italy for an Italian wedding on the Mediterranean Sea? Ummm, yep! I’m in!
As many of you know from reading previous articles of mine, my WWII veteran/physician/real estate investor/all-around amazing father has taught me -- and anyone that spends much time around him -- life lessons that span generations and societal fads. This past Father’s Day, I decided to sit down with him and a voice recorder, ask a bunch of questions, push “record” and just sit back and listen. I am still blown away by what will surely be the first of many recording sessions. The first question I posed was around lessons he learned from his own father or father figures in his life as he was growing up. He told me all kinds of great things about his father, but what stuck out to me most were the things he told me about his uncle Vincent.
We all have things in our head that we want to do for the first time. We want to start really getting healthy for the first time or commit to reading a book a month or start making more sales calls. We have clients right now that want to start a marketing database or desire starting to get 8 hours of sleep a night, deepen certain relationships, or maybe even go skydiving for the first time. Logically, we know that we should begin some of these things, and there is even a part of us that desires to start some of these things but yet, simply put, we don’t.
Today was not an easy day. Good things happened today, but it was not easy. Here’s the story:
I had an interesting conversation with a client during a one-on-one session (we’ll name this client Casey for fun, even though that’s not his real name). Casey said something like “Jason, I’ve never really been much of a numbers person. If you had asked me a month ago how much I weighed or what my sales production was last year, I could not tell you as I just hadn’t really kept track of that stuff.”
In Antarctica, Emperor Penguins survive temperatures as low as -60 degrees and winds up to 100 mph by huddling together. This is a little odd for these penguins as they are usually very territorial and will not approach each other easily. But without this huddling activity, the frigid cold would sap their energy and they would die. So it really is a good thing that they get over their territorial selves and work together to survive. These penguin huddles can number in the hundreds or thousands and is truly amazing to watch in real time. (Video credit: PBS)
The more brain research we do at Rewire, the more we have found that, similar to our penguin friends, we humans also need each other -- not only to survive, but to thrive. When we experience a feeling of belonging or of safety in numbers, there is a chemical called oxytocin that is responsible for that. Oxytocin is released in our brains when we are connected with others. For example, oxytocin spurts when others remember our name or when we collaborate on a successful project with others at work or even when the people closest to us give us a hug. It turns out that oxytocin makes us feel good and we continually seek more of it. This is why we seek out social alliances such as teams, political groups, hobby associations, etc. And on the negative side, it is also why some humans attach so easily to gangs or religious cults. Even unhealthy associations are connections with others and oxytocin does not judge something good or bad, it just releases in your brain and makes you feel good.
So you may be asking “Great Jason, but what do penguins and this chemical oxytocin really have to do with one another and how does any of this help me get to where I want to go in my life or in my business?” Well, I’m glad you asked…
You see, if we want to get better at something, make more sales, be healthier or happier than we currently are today, then being in community with one another will help. Heck, there is even research showing that those of us with healthy relationships live longer. Check out more about this little factoid here in a report from the Harvard Medical School No matter where it is that you want to go or what it is that you want to change or improve on, there are people out there that can help you and want to help you. When you connect with those people, oxytocin will be released which will make you feel good, socially trusted, and connected. And when you feel socially trusted and connected, you are more likely to make the positive change you seek. See my intricate chart below which illustrates this point:
Oh, and let’s not forget our friends the Emperor Penguins, who remind us that while our community of people will indeed help us with all those positive changes we want to make, they could also keep us warm!
Author's Note: Thanks to my daughter, Julia, for the idea behind this article. As I drove her to school this morning, I told her that I was going to write an article for The Wireboard and asked her what I should write about. She said, “I think you should write about how people can Rewire........ or penguins.” Thanks, Julia.
A few months ago, we published an article about not quitting something that you start. This article detailed one man’s amazing quest to finish an Iron Man race that he started even though the odds were thoroughly stacked against him. As we learn about how others persevere through challenges, we can gain insight into ourselves and how we may develop similar perseverance. From the feedback we received on this article, we gleaned that the idea of “not quitting” resonated with many of you.
My daughter, Julia, is working on changing some of her homework habits and last night she asks me “Daddy, it takes 21 days to create a new habit, right?” I spared Julia the half-day workshop that we do for business people on changing and creating success habits. Instead we chatted about 6 of the basic items that successful people carry along their journey to changing habits and achieving great things (even ones that may have seemed impossible at one time). Here are those items: