You know, Buckminster Fuller, a great philosopher, says that we’ve all been born with a genius mind and we spend our whole lives learning how to be un-geniuses. And it’s all because of our filtering system. We don’t just accept the evidence of what we’re capable of doing. We filter out the things that we’re capable of doing or not capable of doing. And that’s how we limit ourselves sometimes.
Let me show you how it works. Right where you’re sitting right now, I’d like you to fold your arms on your chest, very comfortably. Now, look down and notice which arm is on top.
Next, unfold your arms, let them hang down at your side. If you’ve got money in your pocket, go ahead and jiggle that money, or slap your pockets, or just kind of shake your hands-do something.
Now I’m going to ask you to do something differently. What I’d like for you to do is to fold your arms-Wait a minute! Some of you are already starting to fold your arms before I tell you how to do it differently. (I’ve done this with people a lot of times and it never fails.)
Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to fold your arms differently. No matter which arm you put on top last time, put the other arm on top this time.
What does it feel like right now? A little awkward? A little strange? Uncomfortable? What would you like to do right now more than anything else? Go back to the old way of folding your arms? Go ahead and do that.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about this process, because this is a key on your journey to greatness – a real big key.
When I asked you to fold your arms, you knew automatically how to do it. You didn’t even have to think about that, you just folded your arms. That was on the unconscious level of your thought processes. That was way down in the memory. Automatically, when you pushed that key for arm-folding, it said, “Fold your arms like this.”
Next, I asked you to unfold your arms, put them down by your side, and kind of distracted you a little bit. Then I asked you to fold your arms differently. When I asked you to fold your arms differently, what was the first thing you had to do? You had to think about it. You had to override your unconscious, automatic arm-folding function and make a conscious decision.
One of the brilliant aspects of our mind is its ability to make things automatic. What if you had to stop and think about it every time you made a move? You’re at lunch, having a burger and you have to tell yourself, “OK, now, pick up the burger. Move it toward your mouth… now open your mouth and bite down…. Now chew, chew, chew!” In five minutes, you’d be exhausted. And you wouldn’t be able to think about anything else in the meantime. So the automatic function of our brains works for us, non-stop all day long. It keeps our bodies going-keeps us breathing, keeps our hearts beating, our blood pumping-but it also handles our habits for us. It keeps us doing things we always do without our having to think about it.
It’s kind of like driving to work. When you drive to work, you automatically know how to do that. You’re listening to music, driving along, making all the right turns without even consciously thinking about it. Have you ever had the experience of arriving at work, but not even really remembering the drive to get there? It’s because your conscious mind was on other things, while you unconsciously drove to work. It’s a habit. So there’s no need for intervention. You don’t have to think about it, unless something unusual comes up.
What happens when you come across an accident? Now, this demands your attention! You’re going to be late for work. You see that you’ll be stuck here for quite awhile, unless you can figure something out. So you get involved. You start thinking of different ways to drive to work.
It’s kind of like folding your arms. When you fold your arms and you fold them the way you normally do it, it happens automatically. It’s a habit. But when I asked you to fold them differently, you had to think about it.
What are you getting used to? What do you need to do differently?