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Doubled Edged TRUTH

On the recent Action Catalyst podcast, I heard Ellen Petry Leanse profoundly say individuals are made up of 3 sets. Brainset, mindset, skillset. Her main points were this:

  1. Our basic thinking is called the Brainset and it is about survival, keeping us safe and alive. The brain resists risk taking and new behaviors because the way you’ve always done the things we do up until now has worked to perfection. The proof is … We’re alive! Survival has been achieved.

  2. Our more advance thinking is called Mindset and it is a form of intentional thinking that points us in the direction we really want to go. It is riskier and uncomfortable.

  3. Preparing the brain is not enough. We have to practice (actually think differently) so that the brain actually begins to encode a new behavior and make it part, with time, of a new brainset.

  4. Skillsets are then described as small things we do to enact the mindset.

  5. Any skillset or practice that acts on the mindset will ultimately change things in our brainset.

An example is strength training for athletes. An athlete is just a person. Their default thinking (or brainset) is to do what is comfortable, safe, easy. So in strength training, it hurts to lift heavy weight or do a lot of reps. The brainset says “Dude, stop doing this. This hurts. This is hard. You’re killing me!” Difficulty and pain threaten safety. But you’ve been told and seen heard great athletes say you have to do hard things and lift heavy weight or do a bunch of uncomfortable reps to get stronger so you can improve in your sport. There is hard evidence that you must push through the discomfort and keep working hard.

Mindset then is the intentional thinking that says I’ve got to work harder. I’ve got to do more than I’m doing. This is going to be uncomfortable and I am willing to sacrifice comfort for growth and improvement. But that thinking will not get you over the proverbial hump without action. That is where skillsets come in.

A skillset is actually getting back under the bar to do that extra set despite the fact it hurts. That is what reinforces the mindset. You want to improve so you push yourself past safe and comfortable and when you are done with that last set, you realize you didn’t die. That last set didn’t kill you. You may be a little sore, but you are alive. YOU ACTUALLY DID IT! Every time you “actually do it” it reinforces that crazy intentional thought called mindset and day after day of reinforcing your mindset with skillsets, they start to change default behavior (brainset).

Make sense?

While this is a specific example, I have found that one of the most threatening things to our safety and comfort is not a 200lb bench press bar or skydiving or public speaking or a stock market crash or falling out of a safari bus while observing a hunting lion. It’s way closer, more real and ever present than any of those things. It is called the TRUTH.

When we find ourselves frustrated or disappointed or unsatisfied, more times than not, a truth is responsible for our situation. Without even noticing it though, our brainset goes into survival mode and says “it’s not your fault”, “you’re doing the best you can”, “you don’t have time” and/or “that’s just the way it is”. The brain is trying to protect you from pain and suffering by creating excuses and shifting the blame for the circumstance you’re in or the consequence you received. The brain may even tell you to complain about it aloud to others or feel sorry for yourself. These are all shields and safety nets that keep you safe and comfortable (but interestingly enough still keep you frustrated, disappointed and unsatisfied).

Deep down, we don’t really want to feel that way. We want more for our life and future, but we are stuck in our dismal comfort zone. The answer to our dilemma is the greatest threat to our safety … the truth.

The truth is we’ve been lazy. Or the truth is we haven’t been willing to invest the time it takes to improve. The truth is we wear a cross as decoration instead of a declaration. The truth is we’d rather be playing video games or watching YouTube. The truth is we drink too much. The truth is we care too much about what other people think. The truth is we are insecure. The truth is we are afraid to tell the truth!

The truth threatens our safety because the truth forces us to come face to face with the real reason for our frustration and disappointment. The truth exposes the safety masks of blame, excuses, and self pity we hide behind. But the truth also exposes the way out. It brings things into the light for us to deal with. The truth says if we really want what we say we want, it is going to require sacrifice, commitment, honesty, vulnerability, and change. And to the brainset, those words aren’t synonymous with safety. Most of the time those things describe work, struggle, & difficulty…. the uncomfort zone!

The truth is what acts as a catalyst to a new mindset; those intentional thoughts that point us in the direction we really want to go. The intentional thoughts that will begin to take us to the place deep down we really want to be. The intentional thoughts that take us beyond the frustration, disappointment, and dissatisfaction.

But in order for the truth to act as a catalyst, we must make the choice to accept it. Until will accept the truth, its mere existence isn’t going to change anything. I say this quote a lot … the truth isn’t diminished by the number of people who believe it. The truth is the truth. Only when we accept it can we then use it to fuel a new chapter of our lives. That new chapter starts with a new mindset. A mindset that says “Yes, that is the truth and that is not who I want to be. I want to be more, I want to be better, that’s who I am called to be!”

As we discussed at the beginning, these new thoughts need to be reinforced. Thinking those thoughts in a moment of self reflection will not change things. We must take action. We must start practicing new skillsets.

Quite frankly, this is where most people get stuck. They want to change but don’t know how. Don’t know what to do next. The answer is, you’ve got to have a plan. If you just say you are going to “do better”, I am sorry to say but there is an unscientific 95% chance that you won’t! You’ve got to have a plan. Here is how you develop a plan.

  1. Find someone you trust to talk through your truth. Ask for advice from people that are where you want to be. Odds are, they’ve had their encounter with their own truth and can tell you what they’ve done. Don’t be afraid to approach someone. Most people really do want to help us.

  2. Read. There are plenty of books written by great people that have been exactly where you are. The last thing you need to think is “no one knows what I am going through”. That is just plain FALSE! The other brainset you need to get over is “I don’t have time to read”. The TRUTH is you don’t have time NOT TO READ. The third brainset excuse is “I don’t like to read”. Which do you like least, being where you really are …. or reading a book? Develop the mindset that reading is going to help me and even if it is difficult at first, I am going to read. I want to grow, improve, be all I was made to be. Please, fo your sake, read. I wrote a book called More Than A Believer. There are other suggestions at Any book on that list will help you move forward.

  3. Podcasts/YouTube videos – There are TONS and i mean TONS of valuable podcasts and videos you can watch of inspirational people and situations. There is something moving and motivating about hearing people talk about the process they used to achieve more and be their best. Google these names Jon Gordon, Eric Thomas, Sports Spectrum, Action Catalyst, Nic Vujicic, Erwin McManus, Dave Ramsey, or Chris Hodges.

  4. Write it down. Write down the things you can do to change your truth. Write down next right steps you can take right where you are. What can you wake up tomorrow morning and do. What is one thing you can do tonight. It may be a simple as “Call Jim”, “Text Susan”, “Buy More Than A Believer on Amazon”, “Go for a walk” “Watch an Nic Vujicic video”, “ Go workout”. But this is a critical step. Write down what you are going to do now. Don’t think you will remember or it is simple enough to not forget. Trust me on this one … write it down. That is the start of your plan!

  5. This last one is a little different, but again trust me. When we come face to face with our truth, overwhelming guilt and shame can accompany it. That is completely normal because we know deep down that we are WAY better than we’ve been acting or what we’ve been doing. The best thing we can do is accept our truth and then FORGIVE ourselves! Really and truthfully, forgive ourselves. I love the quote “I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be”. Because we have committed to writing down a plan and developing a new mindset, we are not where you used to be. We are on the way back, on the way UP! There may be regret for what we’ve done, but don’t waste the pain of regret. Use it to motivate and inspire us to change our future. Forgive ourself and move forward.

I am not telling you what to believe, but this is what I believe. I think heaven is full of people who never realized their full divine potential. They never became all they were called to be. And I think brainset, mindset, and skillset play a major factor. The proof and truth is found in the Bible in Romans 12:2. It says “Don’t copy the behaviors and customs of the world, let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good, pleasing, and perfect.”

Let us all embrace the truth that exists in our life. And set off on a journey of transformation to becoming all that we were made to be!

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