Brains are funny things.
We take for granted that our heads sit on our shoulders while our brain does its thing. We learn, we make mistakes, all the while unaware that each action has an impact on our brains. Is that cool or what?
There is a theory about that. Intentional Change Theory argues that our brains grow and change through self-discovery. I am vastly over simplifying this complex research by Dr. Richard Boyatzis and his team at Case Western Reserve University. A recent lecture from Dr. Melvin Smith on this topic was most enlightening. It seems to me that the bottom line is that we grow the most through big picture thinking.
This was a surprise to me. I am a list maker. I love to check off tasks on my way to a big goal. I seldom think about where I am going except in the most practical terms. All that stuff about dreams makes me quite uncomfortable.
I want to achieve $XX revenue this year. I know the steps I have to take to achieve that goal. I know how many clients I need, how many speaking engagements, and how many LinkedIn connections I have to add. I am consumed by these tasks.
Does all that work really contribute to my personal growth and development? Or am I on a hamster wheel?
Intentional change theory suggests that I might make more progress and my brain might grow if I look at a bigger picture more frequently to put the tasks into perspective. I can achieve more substantial results through coaching to have a reminder of this perspective.
Instead of focusing exclusively on those daily and weekly tasks, focus on the bigger picture. “How did my work this week move me towards my goal?”
This also begs the question of whether my goal is big enough. Sure I want to earn $XX revenue. What if I focus on my mission in The Interview Doctor which is to teach people how to achieve career goals so they can achieve their own dreams. THAT is a big lofty goal.
This changes my question from “achieve $XX revenue” to “how did my work this week help someone achieve their career goals?” After I ask the big question I get a certain perspective that makes the revenue question make sense. And my brain grows while my business can grow faster because I focus on giving and sharing with others!
The funny thing is that my work with my business coach focuses on this big picture. I just usually ignore the big picture to focus on the tasks. I have had the power all along to grow faster and further but I completely missed the point!
What does this mean for you? Are you living for a loftier mission or are you on a hamster wheel of activities that make the days pass? Which would you prefer?