We all have a vision of who we want to be. For some it may be a vision of power and influence while others may focus their dreams on family, service or inner peace. Getting to that vision is neither automatic nor providence. Rather, it requires constantly making choices in life that are consistent with personal goals. But have you ever noticed that sometimes people make choices that are not consistent with their life’s purpose and in fact, may even qualify as self-sabotage? In my experience, the fastest and most effective path to achieving one’s ideal self is to control one’s thoughts. This has a cascading effect such that one is better able to fully align one’s mind and mindset with their purpose, ultimately making it easier to remove those self-inflicted barriers to success.
Joseph Campbell, the American Professor of Literature who is well known for his work in comparative mythology and the art of storytelling around the hero’s journey, tells the tale of a samurai warrior that makes the point…
There was a samurai warrior, a Japanese warrior, who had the duty to avenge the murder of his overlord. And he actually, after some time, found and cornered the man who had murdered his overlord. And he was about to deal with him with his samurai sword, when this man in the corner, in the passion of terror, spat in his face. And the samurai sheathed the sword and walked away. Why did he do that? Because he was made angry, and if he had killed that man then, it would have been a personal act, of another kind of act, that’s not what he had come to do.
For the samurai, his own motivations were critical to the outcome. He was clear on why he was taking action and knew that if his ‘why’ changed, it would completely change what he saw as an honor-bound duty to a dishonorable act. In the heat of the moment, the samurai was able to control his angry thoughts and thus controlled his mind in a way that allowed him to walk away. The samurai was thus in full control of his life of honor and integrity.
How then does one practice controlling their thoughts? It begins with a conscious decision to be the curator of your own mind. You might think of your mind as a museum. You are in charge of the interior design. Don’t you want to fill it with beautiful, interesting and meaningful artifacts? At the same time, you want to eliminate or at least minimize the rubbish and waste. Once the decision is made, you must take action on it. Set aside some time each and every day to cultivate your mind, expose yourself to poetry, great teachings, and beautiful artwork. Find or create your own scared space, it could be a church, a park, by a river, or in your very own home.
Read poetry. Poetry, by its very nature, is meditative and transcendent. Consider the great poet, Rabindranath Tagore who said “The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous leaves and flowers.” Tagore calls this the lifeblood of ages. This powerful lifeblood runs through all of us. Read poetry and reflect as if you are at the edge the river of life. Observe thoughtfully as it flows by. The river will carry to you to what you most desire. You have simply to bend down and take it from the source.
Contemplate the great connectivity. Thomas Gray, in his poetry, reminds us of the temporary nature of our existence, “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power and all that beauty all that wealth e’er gave await alike the inevitable hour. The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” Once we accept that life in all its forms is identical -- animals, plants, planets, and stars are all constructed from the same fundamental building material -- and by its very nature are connected, perhaps we can begin to contemplate that it may be enough to open our minds to this great connectivity and embrace the knowledge that is waiting for us. Here is an inspiring TED Talk by Emily Levine who fully understands the reality of life and death and the connectivity and continuity of everything. By taking the time to curate what we focus on we begin to train our mind on those things that are most creative, open and consistent with our goals.
Stop Judging. We must stop judging ourselves and others. Judging ourselves and our loved ones when we fail to live up to our own expectations only leads to additional stress and disharmony.
All creatures on the planet are on their very own journey and while another’s journey might not suit us, it’s perfect for them, just the way it is. Consequently, it is not necessary to judge them. Live your life with kindness and abandon.
Practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the greatest forms of love. Learning to love ourselves, our fellow human beings, and all the creatures on the planet will help us set aside destructive thoughts. Recognize that your purpose is to spread peace and happiness and to embrace all life in its myriad forms.
Develop a consciousness of abundance and wealth. It is within your power to decide that you have an abundant life. You can embody this decision through appreciation and gratitude for the many gifts you have in your life. Use your growing belief in your own abundance and wealth to help other people. One of the greatest forms of wealth you possess is your time. Give your time generously to help those around you, those in need, those who suffer, and those who have wronged you. By doing these acts you will set yourself free.
Focus your attention on the here and now. Do not live in the past and do not have your mind focused on the future. You cannot change what has happened in the past you can only make the decision to forgive hurts, to let go of old grievances, and embrace the future with the determination to live your life in a state of health, well-being, kindness, and generosity.
Appreciate nature daily. Spend some time every day in nature. It can be as simple as taking a walk. Stop to admire the trees or the beautiful flowers often cleverly disguised as weeds. Enjoy the birds and the music they provide and delight in the various creatures afoot, playing in the bushes or swimming in the waters. Focus on the natural wonders all about you and much like our ancestors, marvel at the beauty of the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Disconnect from the clutter. Our world of electronic gadgets is certainly marvelous and exciting. In some ways we feel more connected through our devices. At the same time, these tools can isolate us, making us feel more alone and disconnected from life. Take time to disconnect and force yourself to be alone with your thoughts. That’s the only way to evaluate them, curate them and shape them into the mindset you need to move forward.
In order be a great leader you must serve and help others. Remember you are a figment of your imagination, and by controlling your thoughts you shape your world and your interactions with others. The steps I have outlined above will help you eliminate feeling like an imposter or having thoughts of inadequacy or fear. You cannot serve others if you harbor feelings of prejudice, jealousy, resentment or anger. You cannot be your best self unless you are able to control your thoughts.
Create your future by curating your thoughts. From there, everything you desire and work for becomes possible.
Colin Geraghty is a business executive with over 30 years’ experience in building successful teams, growing sales and profits, and managing change in challenging environments. He demonstrates commercial instincts, keen business judgment and acumen, and a proven ability to motivate and influence organizations and teams.
Having left his homeland of Ireland at the early age of 13, he carved his own path in the world as a seasoned traveler and adventurer. From South Africa to Asia and Europe to America, he’s developed a global mindset and a humble openness to people, cultures and connection.
Colin focuses on practical and applied coaching methods that get his clients to success faster. He delivers his services with a quick wit and an uncanny ability to transform complexity into straightforward concepts. By placing emphasis on staying in the present moment, he is able to inspire others to greater courage, confidence and control.
In addition to his MBA and BA in Social Ecology, Colin also completed his coaching education with Robbins-Madanes Training under teachers Tony Robbins, Mark and Magali Peysha.