A renowned speaker, business consultant, record-setting speed skier and Olympian, Vince Poscente believes in the enormous potential of the unconscious mind.
In his book ‘The Ant and The Elephant’, Poscente likens the dynamic between the conscious and subconscious minds to an ant and an elephant. He believes our minds are separated into two distinct functions – the conscious and subconscious elements. Our ant is the intentional part of the brain, but our elephant is the instinctual, impulsive part of the brain that houses emotions and memories and even guides the body to perform vital functions. While we tend to know our conscious minds – our ants – rather well, we often overlook the power of our elephantine subconscious minds. When we do, unfortunately, we squander a wellspring of human potential.
Having read too many books focused on what a problem or solution is and too few focused on how to solve the problem, I love how Poscente, with his trademark wit, wisdom and steely resolve, created ‘The Ant and the Elephant – Leadership for the Self: A Parable and Five-Step Action Plan to Transform Workplace Performance‘.
Below I have highlighted the key takeaways from his book:
Action Step #1: Find the ‘elephant buzz’.
Find the emotion that ignites your vision. Inspire through your emotion and ever underestimate the power of that emotion.
- Clarify your vision
- Make fear your friend. Not your master.
- You don’t know what you don’t know. Open your mind to discover possibilities that may not be obvious at the time.
- Zero in on a goal that has a depth of meaning. The journey has to be worth taking.
If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs
Action step #2: Stay the course.
Change is gradual. Remember the drops in the bucket to avoid frustration. Learn to delay gratification.
- Commit to cultivating positive dominant thoughts.
- Shift your beliefs, attitudes, and truths so they are aligned with your vision.
- Envision having the goal, rather than merely wanting the goal.
- Elgo’s beliefs, attitudes, and truths can be deeply held. You can change Elgo’s mind with a dedicated, focused effort. (Elgo = the elephant representative of our Impulsive side)
Action Step #3: Use gold dot reminders.
Gold dots are triggers for goals that have emotions tied to them (To remind you of your goals). Your personal gold dot must align with the gold dot of the team.
- Consistently focus on your performance.
- Experience your goal as though it were happening right now.
- Show your gratitude consistently!
Action Step #4: Institute pattern busters.
Once you recognize yourself or your team playing out the pattern of negativity, interrupt this thought by saying, “Thank you, but that is not part of my vision. My vision is…” Experience the vision in detail.
- Strengthen your confidence.
- Frustration will lead to negative thoughts. Negative thoughts add fuel to more negativity. This negativity can be a pattern that destroys your confidence.
- No two thoughts can occupy the mind at the same time. Replace negativity with positive, confident thoughts.
“You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind”
Action Step #5: Use flash cards.
Design flash cards that detail stressful scenarios. Mentally experience handling these stressful situations with ease.
- You learn how to control your response to any situation.
- Unforeseen circumstances will arise. Expect the unexpected. Anticipate your response to challenges as well as your teams.
The Five C’s:
- Clarity of vision: A goal with a depth of meaning has an emotional buzz
- Commitment: Commit to a process of positive dominant thoughts
- Consistency: Apply consistent strategies. (The bucket will turn blue)
- Confidence: Strengthen confidence by breaking negative patterns
- Control: Practice responses to the unforeseen events that may arise
Have you read ‘The Ant and The Elephant’? What did you think of it?