- Do you have ‘rules you live by’?
- Have you noticed how sometimes your greatest strength is also a weakness?
- Are you ever frustrated by a conflict between what you want to do and what you need to do?
The nature of results
Why is it that some things in this world happen reliably, as if by clockwork? They happen so consistently we can set a clock by them, or even stake a life on them?
Even if we don’t want them…
Yet, other things happen inconsistently, or not at all, even if we want or need them desperately…
Not All Policies Are Written
When these ‘rules’ exist, a combination of circumstances arose over time that made these repetitive events and circumstances acceptable, and maybe even desirable.
There was, in fact, a reward in them at one time, and as a result they persisted.
In some cases, the ‘reward’ may have been to avoid a punishment (or a perceived punishment or negative outcome).
One way or the other, a thought pattern and linked behavior started in response to some positive promise or negative outcome.
When something works, we repeat it
We’re learning animals, and our nervous systems are turned to repeat thoughts and behaviors that yield desirable consequences.
So, when we’ve been rewarded for doing (or not doing) something, our brain and nervous system create a ‘memory trace’ that encodes that thought and behavior.
Part of how we’re tuned also has us remember and repeat the thoughts of successes and failures we experienced in the past.
In fact, we experience those recollections of that experience almost as powerfully as we experienced the original event.
In repeating the thoughts, we once again experience the reward of performing the action (or avoiding the negative result). By doing so, we increase the strength of the memory, and we become more likely to have that thought in the future.
Through repetition, our most powerful memories become our most frequent, and continually are reinforced as we remember them, over and over.
In future situations, we are more likely be triggered to have that memory and the behavior it evokes, as a result of it becoming more powerful with each additional review and rehearsal.
The final outcome is rewarding memories persist, and so do the behaviors they evoke.
Policy and Self-Talk
At the stage of the memory/behavior, we may not yet have vocabulary for the experience.
However, if we take the time to consider the thought/behavior pattern, we can readily put words to it, and we can even name the feelings and the ‘rule’ we applied in that initial experience that generated that thought/behavior pattern.
Where a habitual behavior (habit) is involved, it’s a certainty that predictable things are occurring because a pre-existing rule or policy exists (even if it’s just an informal policy).
Once we put words to it, we have ‘self talk’. By the nature of having reviewed that thought/behavior pattern again, and now even given language to it, we’ve further solidified the power of that memory and behavior.
That self talk ‘policy’ will serve to reinforce that the behavior persists because it’s become one more way we experience and re-experience the reward of the original thought/behavior pattern.
Clearly, I’m not suggesting there’s a written plan or document that this action or circumstance is agreed, but there’s definitely an ‘unwritten rule’.
Policy: noun “a high-level overall plan embracing the general goals and acceptable procedures”
We all have rules we live by.
- …don’t eat fried foods.
- …weigh myself every day.
- …eat protein plus fruit or vegetables at every meal.
- …don’t eat gluten.
- …treat others as I wish to be treated.
- …look for the good in all people.
What are some of your ‘rules’?
Are these rules written somewhere, or are they more “informal”, existing in your mind but not in writing?
“When we argue for our limitations, we get to keep them.”
Recap of this lesson segment
- We all have rules we live by.
- We are not always aware of the rules we live by.
- The rules we live by do not always support us, in every situation.
- Some of the rules we live by actually impede us achieving great results: we all have limiting beliefs.
Answer these questions in writing (just a sentence or two apiece will do) and include the results in your Power Board:
- What was most valuable for you in this lesson?
- Describe something you learned that you did not know before.
- Write as many of your personal beliefs as you can. See if you can put in words some you’ve had that you hadn’t previously articulated.
- See if you can identify any of the limitations you’ve experienced as a result of your beliefs. How have your beliefs stopped you from thinking about or taking action in any area of your life. This exercise isn’t intended to point out things that are “wrong” with you or your life. We all have limiting beliefs. In fact, some limiting beliefs actually keep us safe. The value in this exercise is simply beginning to be able to see your thoughts for what they are and what they are not, and to begin to see the power they have over your thoughts and actions.
- Describe something you did during this course that you hadn’t done before.
- Name something you created in this course that you hadn’t created before.
- Describe a result you delivered in this course that you hadn’t delivered before.
Click the link above and
See real power
- Merriam-Webster’s definition of “policy”
- For good examples of how these thoughts and behaviors can arise, see many of the case studies in Getting the Love You Want, by Harville Hendrix
- How You Felt About Gym Class May Impact Your Exercise Habits Today, The New York Times, August 22, 2018
- The power of expectation and the power of belief — Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception | TED Talk
- Evelyn Waugh:
- Learn more here about effective use of Power Board dashboards.
- Grayscale photo of woman’s face: Photo by Septumia Jacobson on Unsplash
- Evelyn Waugh: By Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964) – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a42832. This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, Link.