In the context of disruptive thinking, action-oriented means builder. These are the people who build from their vision. The secret, which you will learn, is that all of them have a unique ability to eliminate one word from their vocabulary… It’s the word “no.”
Unlike salespeople who learn how to counter the word ‘no,’ they simply don’t hear it, acknowledge it, or challenge it. For them, it doesn’t exist.
Disruptors like Preston Tucker, Jack Parsons, Nikola Tesla, Henry Ford, JD Rockefeller, Walt Disney, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Larry Ellison, Coco Chanel, Buddha Gautama, Sir Elton John, George Boole, Michael Faraday, Hedy Lamarr, Filippo Brunelleschi, Thomas Edison, Alan Turing, and Roger Banister, never heard ‘no.’
These are the designers, the ones who have big ideas, who are not deterred from their vision.
We know how many people said ‘no’ to Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Walt Disney, Preston Tucker, and even Henry Ford. We also know that Coco Chanel, Agatha Christie, and JK Rowlings encountered a lot of rejections and derisive pushback. But they never gave up on their vision. They never heard ‘no.’
During the space race of the 20th century, on July 30, 1955, President John F. Kennedy threw down the gauntlet and refused to accept that getting an American into space wasn’t inevitable. His goal for congress was simple and direct; “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
There was no concern of ‘how to do it,’ or even, ‘could we do it.’ In his eyes, it was going to be done.
We’ve seen this again and again throughout history. The Egyptian pyramids, the Roman aqueduct, Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccine, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press, Gary Schempp saving 30,000 bees, mapping the human genome, Nelson Mandela, and Gyalwa Rinpoche, the 14th Dalai Lama.
They are builders of ideas, people, philosophies, opportunity, and evolution.
Being action-oriented starts with an idea that initially others can’t see or understand, yet one they themselves see so clearly.
This idea, to see what others don’t see, can initially cause upset and much consternation, as was the case with Buddha Gautama. He got pushback from his aesthetic disciples, from the Vedic Brahmins, his yogic teachers, his royal family, and initially even from some of the people from nearby villages.
It can be initially challenging to get others on board with a new concept or idea, especially when a) you don’t have any track record with them to prove you are the expert in this area, and b) they are used to the current ways and don’t see a need or reason to change.
This is where it can be challenging to stay on your path and not give up. In this light, the word ‘no’ can come at you not only from outside sources but also from within. That is unless you’re able to put two important practices in place.
At this point, when someone is getting rejection or pushback, they can take it personally, and feel it is all about them. And if you’ve read the piece I wrote about Imaginative Nature, you know that ego and self have little to do with building your vision or idea.
Children are masters at not hearing the word ‘no.’ And while parents think they may be ignoring it, the truth is that they get myopically focused on what they are doing and forget that they were told to get ready for bed, to dress for school, or to set the table for supper. Their focus and attention have sent them in another direction, completely, and they just aren’t reacting to what the parent had asked them to do.
This is why it is so frustrating for parents because they assume that their children will have the discipline at the ages of 2-10 to adhere to the rules and requests of their parents. If you are a parent, children aren’t intentionally being defiant, they are just distracted. You’ve just forgotten that you too displayed these same behaviors when you were younger.
And the reason I point this out is that many Disruptors display these same qualities. They get distracted and myopically focused on their project, concept, or idea (their vision), and forget everything else.
The irony is that we admire these people but get frustrated when it happens within our own household.
So, the first practice I want you to adopt is to learn to get distracted. That’s right, I want you to learn the habit of distraction. This is going to help you stay on course when everything around you is trying to pull you away.
Another way to say distraction is the word FOCUS. Especially in today’s world where everything can pull at your attention, work, the needs of others, social media, watching too much YouTube or television, being glued to TikTok, or other outside things vying for your attention: Emails, the phone, marketing, media, clicking ‘likes,’ and even your own mind can get impatient and not stay on course.
So here is how to learn to develop your ability to focus.
Let’s handle the obvious ones first. Turning off the outside noises and distractions may be initially challenging, especially if you are of the smart device era and have been weened on social media, never letting a smart device out of your hands for one second. And they make it even harder on you with smartwatches and earbuds. So for this exercise, I am going to ask you to get naked. In other words, take off all the ‘smart-wear’ and get your attention down to focusing on just one thing.
Yes, at first, this will be uncomfortable, but as you practice this more, you’ll gain new neuro-pathways in your mental conditioning.
This is called brain-mapping, or more aptly, brain-remapping. It is used as a practice to rewire or reset certain habits and conditioning that your brain is used to. It typically looks for routine as the best way to behave. In fact, when we do something habitually, over and over again, it is said that deep neuro channels are formed to make it easier to do things by rote (the use of memory usually with little intelligence).
In order to change these neuro-pathways and create new ones, you need to adopt new behaviors and stop deferring to old habits. This is done in two ways.
One is the practice of meditation. There are many forms of meditation, and this is a way to remap your brain to adopt new styles of thinking, new behaviors, and even conditioning over maladies.
Athletes use a form of meditation to enhance their performance. They do this by mentally focusing on an upcoming race or competition. Over and over again, they run the course or competition through their mind, and like someone writing a movie script, they design every aspect of how they will run a race, slalom through a ski course, or run a foot race. Every facet of the event is considered, the weather, the lighting, the noise, the competitors, the course, their clothing, their breath, their flexibility, everything until they see a successful outcome in their mind as if it has already happened.
Meditation can be a powerful tool when you are focusing on developing or creating your project, idea, or concept. This can help you stay on target and drown out the need to put your attention elsewhere.
The second practice, believe it or not, is to find something that drives and inspires you. This is what I refer to as your spark, that thing that ignites and excites you. That thing you just must figure out, pursue, or create.
And to do this, you will have to develop a couple of skillsets that you also may not be fully comfortable with or used to. However, you may find them fun, interesting, and definitely inspiring.
The first is to rid yourself of complacency, or as I’ve mentioned before, routine. To do this, you must broaden your experiences. There are three areas to consider when learning to override complacent behavior.
Challenge yourself to experience new things or events for one month. Go listen to a new style of music, one you are unfamiliar with or that is relatively new to you. If you can’t dance, take dance lessons. If you are uncomfortable with public speaking, join Toastmasters. If you are awkward in social settings, join an unlikely or unusual Meetup Group. Take the bus instead of Uber. Learn to cook. Go to a lecture. Learn a new language. Try surfing, mountain climbing, or skydiving. It must be something you are not used to doing, something that challenges both your perceptions and beliefs.
Second, travel. Go to places that are new to you and experience different cultures, different ways of thinking, and different philosophies than yours. In the beginning, you can even choose another state you’ve never visited. It must be someplace that will give you an experience that is different from what you are currently used to. But if you’ve never traveled overseas, then this “trial by fire” will change everything. It will provide new ways to look at life, new ideas and philosophies to consider, and it will offer new thoughts and insights. Traveling abroad is the best way to shake up complacency and change limiting beliefs and attitudes.
The third is to explore, play, and discover. Get your hands wet and your feet muddy. Finger paint, collect seashells, go to a tidal pool, camp in the woods, or sleep under the stars. Commune with nature, become a camp counselor, or volunteer for a children’s outing. Anything that will ignite your sense of exploration, play, and discovery. Challenge yourself to learn about the different trees in your area. Wait until it rains and go for a hike. Look, listen, smell, hear. Learn to incorporate your five senses in everything you do. When hiking, look for things, hummingbirds, butterflies, and rabbits. Even if you don’t find them, just consciously looking for them you’ll notice many new things. Collect different rocks, pinecones, flowers. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to let your inner child take control. Just allow your sense of playfulness and discovery to be your guide. I promise you will experience something new if you give yourself permission to be free and open.
Somewhere within these experiences, something will spark a new thought or idea, hopefully sending you in a different direction that inspires and awakens your sense of wonderment.
But if you don’t take the action, you’ll never remap your thinking to expand in any bigger way. You’ll remain limited in your thinking and attitude, and your intuitive genius will never develop.
When Siddhartha Gautama experienced going outside the confines of the kingdom, much to the dismay and against the wishes of his father, who wanted only to protect him from the pain and suffering people experienced, he saw something that both shocked and yet awakened new thinking within him.
At first, he didn’t understand what he was seeing, but when it was explained to him by Channa (Chandaka), his friend and companion, he understood how much more to life there was than just beauty and comfort. It changed him deeply and he wanted to experience these new emotions, thoughts, and feelings for himself.
(Image by Wikimedia Commons)
Within this experience, he learned two new things: compassion and consciousness. He became aware. He wanted to find a way through the suffering and a path to connect us all to a higher awakening.
He tried many different ways to find the right path, and it took years of struggle, failure, suffering, and almost death, to gain the wisdom and knowledge that helped him to become Buddha.
Buddha experienced four sights that became the catalyst towards his seeking enlightenment. Here are 4 practices you can use to foster a more action-oriented mindset:
1: Act, Don’t React
Disruptor Bruce Lee developed a new technique for fighting that became a better, faster method for outthinking and overcoming his opponents. He called this Jeet Kune Do, fighting without fighting. This meant that you do not go head-to-head with your opponent, but instead, use his force against him. Become like water. Don’t confront, but flow around the obstacle. One of the methods he taught was to act, not react, thereby not giving your brain enough time to create reasons to hesitate or doubt yourself.
To do this, you must practice doing something immediately (use the 1-second rule to act), do it repeatedly (until it becomes muscle memory), and don’t think about the consequences (but instead, review your techniques later). This will help you become faster at whatever you do while training your mind to not second-guess your decisions.
2: Experience New Things
As mentioned earlier, the more new and different things you can experience, the bigger and more expansive your thoughts and ideas will become. Challenge yourself by stretching your comfort zone. Typically, we build muscles of conditioning that limit how far we’re willing to go. By stretching and challenging yourself, finding new experiences to explore, and not seeking out the obvious, but instead the unusual or unique, you will grow in thinking while gaining new purpose.
3: Practice Bending Reality
When you look at things differently, you start to create a new framework for how your mind processes thoughts and ideas. Preston Tucker, the creator of the Tucker automobile, saw the future of automobiles before others could, in the way of seatbelts, braking systems, collision protection, in the form of pop-out, shatterproof front windshield, and a padded dashboard, a more fuel-efficient and faster engine (boasting speeds in excess of 120 mph of and an unheard of 20 mpg). Everything for safety and efficiency, which the big three, at the time, weren’t even considering. Now they all incorporate these features in all of their cars.
And then there are the creators at Xerox Parc whose ideas and concepts they themselves didn’t even know the potential of at the time: WYSIWYG typing, the alto computer, Laser printing, computer-generated bitmap graphics, GUI (graphical user interface) – featuring skeuomorphic windows and icons, ethernet, object-oriented programming, electronic paper, the computer mouse, and more.
If these examples aren’t about bending reality, then your guess is as good as mine. The same goes for 3D printing.
How does one bend reality? Start by looking at examples throughout history, MC Escher or Salvador Dali’s works to get in the right mindset. Also find some examples of 3D sidewalk art and look at it from all perspectives. This will become an introductory course for bending reality. Study movie special effects, look up some of the earlier graphic renderings from examples like the Coca Cola commercials with the polar bears. The movie Inception, where they bent buildings. In other words, get your head out of the logic clouds and start tapping into your imaginative, fantasy mindset. This is why, as I mentioned early, to play and explore. Let your mind out of the box, please.
I cannot think of a better way to set your mind up to become an action-oriented builder. There is a meditation technique I created for myself that I use in order to free, relax, and rejuvenate my mind. It’s not in my workbook, but I encourage you to look at the different styles of meditation I list there to understand how to get yourself into the right mental state.
The method I love to use, I refer to as the Superman (or Superwoman) method. Feel free to borrow from this and create your own practice.
I close my eyes and picture myself sitting on a lush, green mountaintop on a beautifully sunny day, overlooking a vast ocean of clear, blue, calm water. I take notice of the large billowing clouds above, and the inviting water below. Then I picture myself flying between the ocean beneath and the clouds above. I increase my speed and soar up high into the soft, fluffy clouds, doing little twists, turns, and flips as I race through the sky. I shoot up higher until I break through the cloud-cover and bask in the warmth of the sun for a moment, then I plunge down towards the water, still flying fast, and skim the surface close enough that I can reach out my hand and touch the inviting, cool water below. I can feel the ocean spray on my skin. I race back up and chase birds flying in the sky, I twist, twirl, and spin, I do a few tumbling summersaults, and race back up through the clouds again. I always notice the big grin on my face. After I have enjoyed my flight, I head back to the mountaintop and gently land back down onto the soft grass. I close my eyes and sit there a moment, remembering my brief, but incredible flight. Slowly, with a few deep breaths and exhalations, I open my eyes again.
What this simple meditation does for me is to show me how silly and unnecessary the word ‘no’ really and truly is.
Not all of us will achieve enlightenment in our lifetimes, but the pursuit, as I have found, can be very rewarding. If you think about it, it’s kind of like being Merlin or Benjamin Button, who both got younger as they got older. What I mean by this, is that experiencing what you did when you were a child, and revisiting those same qualities and behaviors, can help shed the skin of limiting conditioning and beliefs.
For some, this will feel silly and perhaps even stupid, but I have to ask you, when it comes to awakening your inner genius, what is the harm? And if you stop to think about it, people like Einstein, da Vinci, and Shakespeare all had childlike mindsets when creating. Their minds were not hindered by adult attitudes, and no matter how others viewed or criticized them, they never heard the word “no.”
This is a complete list of articles I have written on Action Oriented Practices. Enjoy!