I’m a fence sitter. This can at times be a hindrance, but if balanced well, it’s an advantage.
What I mean by this is I don’t 100% commit to a point of view. I have a point of view, but it’s not so rigid that I will default to it without being capable of seeing other points of view.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. No doubt thanks to learned behaviors and pure animal instinct, I do default to certain behaviors in given circumstances, but for the sake of this article let’s focus on issues that we can consciously make a decision about using our awareness. These are areas of our lives that are open to interpretation.
My fence sitting stems from an understanding that everyone sees the world through different glasses. We all perceive things differently, and in our own minds we make choices based on how we see things at the time. There is no right or wrong, only perception and choice, which is how we drive our entire lives.
Since you can’t share someone else’s physical experience (you can’t borrow their senses or mind and see what is it like to “be” them), you have to go with your own perception, which unfortunately can be very dangerous if you start to form rigid belief structures.
Most people, especially in liberal cultures gifted with plenty of freedom, like to think of themselves as open minded. You likely feel the same, saving your judgments until you’ve had a chance to weigh up the options, opinions and data until you feel comfortable enough to make a decision.
Open mindedness is good, however it can slow you down. If you’re willing to assess information before making a conclusion, you have to invest time and energy into the process. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to do this and that’s when intuition and experience, or as Malcolm Gladwell calls it – a Blink moment – comes in handy.
A Blink moment refers to the ability of the mind to process data at instantaneous speed, forming an opinion and coming to a conclusion in a matter of seconds, if that. Malcolm Gladwell calls it rapid cognition.
The idea here is that the mind is capable of taking all kinds of inputs, including what data it is receiving from the body’s senses in the moment, plus previous experience, to decipher a conclusion. This is why your first answer is usually the right answer.
While you might think of yourself as open minded, if you’re human your response is instant judgment. We judge at the speed of blink, very quickly forming opinion based on what we see, hear or feel, using our own personal preferences to decide what we like and don’t like and how we respond to a situation.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s important you are aware of it. We like to bend the world into the frame that best matches our present state. Our snap judgments are reflections of how we choose to see situations at a given point in time. We want to make sure we are “right” in what we are doing and thinking based on our current opinion. If you aren’t aware of these tendencies, you can find yourself trapped into patterns that may make you blind to seeing things in a different, more beneficial light.
This is why fence sitting can be an advantage. Although you have to be careful not to sit on the fence permanently, as not making a decision can be detrimental, having a flexible world view gives you the power to adjust and respond to things as needed. It gives you control and thus freedom over your reality, as counter intuitive as that might sound (a dichotomy).
We are all creatures of habit. One of the greatest challenges to learning something new and growing is your capability to step out of your comfort zone.
Most of us are held back by the patterns we have developed and the comfort zone we live in. It’s natural for us to do this since we look for ways to make our lives more comfortable.
Most of modern society’s advances focus on improving the “quality” of our lives, which means faster, more convenient, less work and above all else – “better” than what has come before.
Unfortunately as is often the case, quicker and easier doesn’t mean better, and most things in life that give us real meaning and substance are not instant achievements.
We derive more satisfaction from what requires more of us. Usually it is our patterns of behavior that make us look for the easy way out. We are comfortable doing things the same way and uncomfortable doing things we have never done before. This unfortunately can blindside us from what is really worth doing.
One of the most interesting concepts when it comes to learning something new is the idea of discovering what you don’t know that you don’t know.
It’s the “ah-ha” moment, when you come to an awareness you didn’t even realize a problem was there holding you back, or you have a behavior pattern consistently resulting in the same outcome, even though you want something different.
Uncovering what results you are reinforcing based on your current actions and what you need to know and then do to change this, is the first step towards creating what you want in life. Unless you are prepared to completely re-wire some of your belief structures and destroy your old patterns, once you find them, you won’t experience what you desire.
In other words, you first need the ingredients to enter your awareness as a possibility before you have even a hope of achieving what you want. Without tools and a map, you’re going to keep walking the same circles you have always walked, because you’ve programmed yourself to do so.
If you’re new to self assessment, the process of discovering your patterns can be quite difficult. It literally takes an entirely new way of thinking. It’s like stepping out of your body and mind to watch what it does, then slap it into awareness whenever you notice something needs to change.
Why this is hard is because you are trying to change things you currently believe are true, based on your actions. Even if you consider yourself flexible and open minded, if your immediate response thought and your actions don’t reflect this (your snap judgments and actions repeat), then you’re not really changing.
It’s nice to think of yourself in a certain way, that you are capable of change, but if your real-world actions don’t reflect this, you are pandering to your own sense of self, your ego and belief structures about what kind of person you are.
You are basically believing what you think you are, even if you really aren’t there yet. This is natural of course, as we all operate within our own boundaries and thus justify why we do as the right choice for us right now.
If you want to change, you need to be harsh sometimes about what really is the truth regarding the choices you make. It’s seeing a new reality about yourself that you don’t like, which triggers the push to finally act to create change, rather than just be comfortable thinking you can make the change whenever you want to (and never do, or do so only when it is too late).
Since you are reading this blog and have read this article up to this point, you are likely a practitioner of what I call “meta-thinking“.
Meta-Thinking is a phrase I coined (a language identifier), that describes the process of assessing what’s going on behind the scenes. I described this idea as it relates to analyzing the world around you, in particular business, in this article –
The meta aspect of your own decision making process is vitally important to become aware of too. Watching how you see the world, especially your immediate judgments, can be a very eye-opening experience (or perhaps mind-opening is a better phrase).
To help you practice your study of self, here are some common situations we face as humans and some as Internet marketers. Starting today, if you don’t already, monitor how you react to these types of situations –
A lot of people won’t buy products that are sold via long form sales page and consequently couldn’t imagine ever using them to sell their own products or services. Some people think that all testimonials are lies, and thus won’t use them (or now the FTC might stop you!).
You may have a blockage around creating your own product because you don’t see anything you can create as valuable enough for others to buy. Or you may believe that you have to basically lie and cheat and use all those horrible launch tricks in order to convince people to buy what you have, and you just don’t want to become another annoying marketer.
Right now you have a way of looking at everything around you. Your perception dictates what you do and don’t do. Unless you are willing to change how you see things, who you surround yourself with, how you do things and ultimately, how you think, you are going to repeat the same patterns and earn the same results.
The examples above don’t include a “correct” way to look at each situations, they are merely common scenarios we face. If you start to watch how you react you’ve taken the first step because you have opened a new window of awareness – you know what is true to you right now – which means it becomes a variable you can play with rather than just default to.
Once you become aware of how you think, perceive and thus do, you have a starting point for breaking patterns and belief structures that are not beneficial to what you want to create in your life.
Next you need to assess what you want to change, discover the patterns that are holding you back or reinforcing what you don’t want, then find the behaviors that lead to what you do want, and start putting them into practice instead.
In order to help you do this, I’ve found the following set of principles extremely beneficial –
In most cases, getting the change you want actually requires a lot less “work” than what you do now, because you spend so much time repeating patterns that don’t give you your desires. Once you cut the waste and focus on the leverage points, life becomes a lot easier.
For more on this, see: What Is The 80/20 Rule And Why It Will Change Your Life
Identifying your immediate next step towards what you want is critical, and your immediate next step is always elimination of the constraint that is holding you back now. Getting what you want is a process; removing each constraint, which reveals another constraint to remove, and so on. Breaking things down into steps until you can assemble the entire picture is a sound practice, and makes things much less overwhelming.
Live within a fluid environment, but set within boundaries based on the goals you determine using the 80/20 rule and Theory of Constraints. In other words, focus on your goals and be open minded in how to meet them so you are not locked into set ways of doing things, yet you have parameters to work within and you know what your next step is.
If you can’t determine this yourself, ask for external input from mentors, coaches, peers or resources such as books, courses, blogs, websites and formal study.
Applying deadlines can really help this process, especially when the avenues for “study” are limitless, which in most circumstances, they are. There is always more you can learn and become aware of, but only so much time to experience it, at least within this lifetime.
It’s a sobering idea that we are entirely responsible for everything we have and don’t have. If you truly grasp this idea it can be very empowering, but can easily depress you too, depending how you look at it.
As with everything in life, how you feel is dictated entirely by how you choose to see things. Opening your eyes to your own behaviors and seeing what doesn’t help you create the truth you want to experience, is an incredibly powerful insight. Knowing this idea alone is enough to start you down a path that could lead you to exactly what you think you want.
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