Do you know the #1 reason people struggle to achieve the things they want, or plateau in their performance, or have trouble making their relationships work better, or feel stuck in their current circumstances?
It’s that they get stuck in their ways of thinking and don’t know how to get themselves unstuck. Ironically, many people don’t know they are stuck. Most people are quite convinced that their way of thinking is “right” or “best.” And yet, they still struggle to achieve the things they want.
George Bernard Shaw wrote, “All progress requires change and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.“
How well you think determines how well you live.
If you want to live different/better, you need to learn how to think different/better. And by the way, “thinking positive” isn’t necessary better!
Assets and Liabilities
Having scientifically diagnosed the thinking of over 10,000 people we’ve learned a few useful things. For example…
- Every person has biased ways of thinking that limit, undermine, or sabotage their success and happiness, often in surprisingly subtle, but significant ways. We call these biased ways of thinking, Cognitive Liabilities.
- Every person also has certain ways of thinking that help them to think, do, and be their best under almost any circumstance. We call these good ways of thinking their Cognitive Assets.
- On average, people have 3.7 times more Cognitive Liabilities than Cognitive Assets.
Which do you think tends to dominate people’s thinking? How about your own thinking?
Overwhelmingly the answer is: Cognitive Liabilities. Cognitive Liabilities are much more highly habituated than Cognitive Assets. They “run” just about everything in the subconscious mind that isn’t about basic bodily functions and survival. They are the source of our unconscious biases. Many of our preconceptions, snap judgments, beliefs, perceptions, and even our conscious choices and decisions are greatly influenced by our Cognitive Liabilities.
Cognitive Liabilities are the swamps in which thinking gets stuck.
Cognitive Assets are your lifeline out of the swamps.
A Newly Discovered Master Life Skill
Through our research we have also discovered that some people, surprisingly few in fact, have managed to develop the ability to keep themselves from getting swamped, stuck, and sabotaged by their Cognitive Liabilities. They have learned how to shift their thinking, at will and in such a way as to deliberately tap into more of their Cognitive Assets – even in what would otherwise be stressful situations. They may have as just as many Cognitive Liabilities as anyone else; they just don’t let those liabilities run/ruin their life.
They are people who seem to be “wise beyond their years.” They have a certain peacefulness about them, yet are fully engaged in the moment. They don’t let stress get the best of them. They are emotionally even-keeled, yet can exude, joyfulness, empathy, and a toughness when that’s what’s needed. They can think outside the box, yet remain true to their principles and values. They are both flexible and resilient, and both easy to lead and easy to follow. By their own definitions of success, they are highly successful both personally and professionally.
What’s their secret? It’s NOT positive self-talk and they don’t “fake-it-till-they-make-it.” What they have that most others do not is a MASTER LIFE SKILL that we have identified as Cognitive Self-Leadership.
Cognitive Self-Leadership is a unique skillset driven and by a specific mindset.
The mindset of Cognitive Self-Leadership is that every endeavor, every activity, every interaction, every challenge, and every moment in life is an opportunity to create value. It’s the belief quality of life is not determined by the value we get but by the value we create.
Most Cognitive Liabilities are ways of thinking that have a self-centric bias (i.e., wondering “What’s in it for me?” or “How do I get my way?” or “What will they think of me?”). Whereas, Cognitive Assets are ways of thinking that put the focused on value creation (period).
People who naturally practice Cognitive Self-Leadership don’t necessary know the terms Cognitive Assets or Cognitive Liabilities they just know that certain ways of their own thinking work far better than others and they know which is which and how to swich.
The skillset of Cognitive Self-Leadership involves three main areas of focus.
- Clarity of Purpose
- Multi-dimensional Mindfulness
- Cognitive Remodeling.
Clarity of Purpose is much more than goal setting. Clarity of Purpose connects the dots between the what and the why; between value and values, between inspiration and aspiration, and between the present and the process.
Multi-dimensional Mindfulness is about:
- Self-Knowledge – a deep understanding of who you are and what makes you tick, gets you ticked off, and help you tick better (i.e., your values, your motivations, and your Cognitive Assets and Liabilities)
- Self- Awareness – The ability to purposefully observe, in the moment, the quality and focus of one’s own thoughts and emotions.
- Situation Presence – the ability to simultaneously be observant of what is happening around you and with other people.
Cognitive Remodeling is about changing how we think. It’s a purpose-driven deliberate practice of shifting the perspective from which one is thinking about, looking at, or approaching a situation. When a person shifts perspectives, they instantly change their way of thinking. They often “see” things differently or see different things than they saw before. In the context of Cognitive Self-Leadership, it’s a practice of maximizing one’s Cognitive Assets and minimizing one’s Cognitive Liabilities to optimize the quality of one’s perceptions, judgments, decisions, choices, responses, and actions. This is ability to switch perspectives from one that is closed and limiting to one that is open to new insights and possibilities is at the heart of what makes Cognitive Self-Leadership a master life skill.
Here are three steps you can start taking today to develop greater Self-Leadership.
- Everyday, choose at least one activity that involves other people and approach that activity with the singular purpose of creating value / goodness for everyone involved rather than making it about you, getting your way, or fixing others. Listen more than you speak and try to avoid using the words “I”, “me”, or “my” altogether.
- Intentionally observe your thoughts and emotions and how they get “triggered.” Learn what situations get you into trouble.
- When you sense you have been negatively triggered, are at risk of getting triggered in a negative way, or at feeling/thinking contrary to Step 1 above, take a moment t earnestly ask yourself this question we call The Central Question of Life, Love, and Leadership:
What choice can I make and action can I take,
in this moment, to create the greatest net value?
As mentioned earlier, some people are “lucky enough” to have developed it naturally over their lifetime. For the rest of us, including this writer, developing the master life skill of Cognitive Self-Leadership will require consistent effort over time.
One of the two most difficult aspects of the process is discerning which ways of your thinking are Cognitive Assets and which are Cognitive Liabilities. People tend to be quite attached to their own ways of thinking and it’s hard to be objective about one’s self. The other most difficult part of it, is having the cognitive awareness and dexterity to shift your thinking in real time when it really matters, especially in stressful situations. Cognitive Liabilities and the emotions they generate are very powerful and, if allowed, will undermine your efforts.
It’s for those reason that you might consider participating in our Self-Leadership 1-2-3 Program. In the program, we teach and support you through every step. It takes everything we know from cognitive science to engage and leverage the natural mechanisms of the human mind-brain to make both the learning process and the practice as easy and effective as possible. We scientifically assess your thinking and objectively identify your Cognitive Assets and Liabilities in a way that is both enlightening and empowering. The program helps you to bring life and energy to your own unique aspirations. It then gives you the knowledge, tools, and practices of Cognitive Self-Leadership that will enable you to make those aspirations a reality. Once learned, you can then apply this master life skill to any and every aspect or endeavor in your life or work now and in the future. All in just 5 weeks.
Think about it, what aspect of your life would not be improved by better thinking? What organization couldn’t benefit greatly if their people could make better use of the knowledge, wisdom, and talents they already have? How much more value could be created in life and in the world if more people knew how to maximize their Cognitive Assets and minimize their Cognitive Liabilities?
If you’re feeling stuck, not “good enough,” frustrated with yourself or the level of success and happiness you’re experiencing…
If you are a professional coach who feels like you are your own worst client…
If you are an organizational leader struggling to make the difference you really want to make…
If you are learning leader / talent development professional looking for a way to help people get unstuck and live up to their potential…
Or if you are someone who just wants to “up their game”…
I invite you to seriously consider what could happen if you learn the MASTER LIFE SKILL of Cognitive Self-Leader.
We have two groups forming right now for our Self-Leadership 1-2-3 Group Coaching Program. It’s a 5-week program. Group-size is limited to 16 people. Your investment is just $645 and you can bring a partner, boss, close friend, co-worker, or employee for half-price.