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Our Minds are like a Small Child

"To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future."

– Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power

I often say, our minds are like small children; if we don’t take them where we want them to go, they go wherever they want to go. I don’t think I made that up, but it is true of my mind. It loves the past and the future.

The past is usually rewinding events that stuck because they were hard. They were stored at a very high magnitude because they were experiences that felt threatening. Those memories show up when I’m scared and about to take a step into uncertainty and desire.

The future feels more like fantasies. Those fantasies are filled with ideas, inspiration, and thoughts of “wouldn’t it be cool if….?” However, it can stop there. Planning is another story. Making a plan can be vulnerable. It can call us forth in ways that fantasizing doesn’t.

All of this reminds me that our power is always in the present moment. Life is essentially making choices. We make choices all day. Some seem much more significant than others, but it’s basically making one choice after another and learning as we go.

That is why reflection is the key. We learn as we go when we stop and notice along the way. One of the skills of effective leadership and living a meaningful life, is to notice when things are going WELL. We get more of what we pay attention to. When things are going well, paying attention to why things are working has more relevant information than we realize. It’s a fundamental shift.

Notice what you notice.

I’d love to hear from you.

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