Month: December 2016

December 25, 2016 Oliver Briny 1 comment

The Identity Thief wants to hide who you are behind what you do.

The most intrinsic part of your identity is your personality: the ingredient you bring into this world. It comes out in the way you do life with people and ultimately, gives its flavor to whatever it is you choose to do with your life.
 
It would be a shame if what we do robs us of our identity. Yet, as you might have heard, it’s important to specifically be first, and to do second. What does this mean? To put it simply, you are first, and the outflow of that is doing. Yes, what you do should be an extension of your being, not the foundation of your identity.
 
Tragic is the moment we come to the realization that we’ve managed to hide all that we are behind what we do. The tragedy is in that without having the focus on who you are, you might end up wandering aimlessly or worse yet, spending your valuable life doing something that isn’t in accordance with who you are. As an example, this might look like being an acclaimed lawyer in order to please others, at the expense of one's dreams.
 
Yet again, purpose trumps status, and it’s no wonder why one of the top regrets of people during their final moments is that they wasted too much of their lives thinking about what other people thought of them. 
 
The good news is that purpose is attractive! We’ve all seen them haven’t we? People who seem to live such exciting lives pursuing what they believe in and fighting for good causes in their respective spheres of life. These people are usually secure in their identity, full of life, influential and energetic.
Why is that? Could it be that we all share a common characteristic? I believe that like cars run on fuel, we run on purpose. When we do, we see life with more clarity, we feel better and the overflow of our joy can’t help but affect the people we interact with.
 
Maybe you have been one of those people. You once lead a life full of purpose and excitement but somehow it slipped away. I’d like to encourage you by saying that it’s normal. Our nature is to be forgetful. We need to constantly make decisions and use our energy resources to stay close to the things that remind us, refuel us and grow us. I hope this post can be one of those reminders for you!
 
The late Thomas J. Watson Sr., chairman and CEO of IBM famously stated that ‘you cannot stay in one place: you either go forward or go backward’.As a new year is approaching, let's make a commitment to move forward by embracing who we are holistically. Stop hiding behind doing and start being. 
 
YOU are important, unique and well able to be a blessing to someone - just the way you are.
 
1. Friend, Connie. Made for this moment: our time, our life, our legacy. Authorhouse, 2012.
December 17, 2016 Oliver Briny No comments exist

Find the root of your flow - it'll keep you going when the ride gets hard.

I have a friend who wanted to become a lawyer for as long as he could remember. He moved countries to pursue a degree in law and went through many ordeals including a culture shock, establishing a good living environment and leaving his relatives - all in order to pursue his dream.
 
When he finally got accepted in law school and began his studies, he found himself in a struggle. The environment he was in was demotivating: he had difficulties with navigating the culture and finding community. The figurative cost of his dream seemed too grave. But there was also a deeper issue. The weight of everything external and the difficulty of staying disciplined was outweighing the internal desire to accomplish the goals he’d set.
 
The majority of success is established through a healthy, efficient focus point; a focus on self and personal gain can only get you so far. When we start thinking beyond the small bubbles we habitually create around ourselves, we start to be on the right track. This is why it is necessary to have an internal desire - a fueling factor - that keeps you moving regardless of the external pressures of life.
 
At the core of internal strength is an internal desire that outweighs external pressures. A pursuit has to be coupled with purpose, and I’m suggesting that a purpose that’s bigger than yourself is by far the most superior motivator.
 
What is the root of your flow? Is it to help the needy, to give freedom to people who are captive or to feed the hungry? To make this concept more approachable, we have to understand that not everyone has to have an innate desire that’s targeted towards the extremities of life, such as people in depravity or victims of crime, and that’s completely alright!
The root of your flow can just as well be a desire to teach people dynamically with a fresh approach in a field you’re passionate about, raising and equipping the new generation through parenting, or exploring the complex beauty of the world through studying different scientific fields.
 
In the end, my advice to my friend was the same I’d like to offer you and though it’s simple, there’s a difference between simplicity and difficulty. Whatever it is you want to do practically, find your deeper focus point - the purpose behind what you’re doing. What is it that makes you passionate about your pursuit - what is the purpose of it? Then, connect that deeper purpose to any outworking you choose to embark on. Keep reminding yourself daily, consistently deciding to come back to your purpose, and you’ll be well on your way to tapping into the strength that’s at the root of your flow. 
 
What do you want to accomplish and why? The idea is simple, yet the answers can be difficult to find. Don’t run away from these questions though, as they are at the core of finding the root of your flow - the power that keeps you on track when the ride gets tough.
 
Answer these questions, and you'll be on your way towards a life full of meaning and purpose.
December 9, 2016 Oliver Briny 2 comments

Are you being guided by passion or by anxiety?

In Sydney, Australia, I sat down with my friend David to hear him out on a work-related issue. He was stressed as the company he was working with offered him a new position. That doesn’t sound very stressing, does it? However his current position was something he was very passionate about and allowed him to work directly with the team he had built.
 
David excelled with people through his great interpersonal skills, which is why he loved his current position. He was able to grow and place value on the people he worked with as a team. The higher managerial position would have offered him a nicer office and possibly more respect, but it took away the aspect he enjoyed the most: getting to directly work with people.
 
We discussed a while longer and went through his end goals and hopes for the years to come. It was helpful to pause and see whether this step would align with what he had on his heart for the future. When we looked at the factors that played into his motivation overall, he realized that all of them could be categorized into two categories: passion and anxiety. Any inclination towards taking the promotion was anxiety-driven; his actual goals had to do with what he believed in rather than other people’s opinions.
 
I thought that was a brilliant way to think about it! This process can be used in order to navigate life better, because it filters out the possibility of following anxiety-driven motives: every motive has a connection to either passion or anxiety!
 
Yes, all of our motives can be put under either passion or anxiety. We can be driven by a cause we’re passionate about, or by pressuring anxiety. The pressure might arise due to social reasons, or simply the need to survive. The social contributors can look like a desire for recognition through influence or wealth, for example. But a need for superficial recognition is rooted in an unanchored identity. A lack of purpose is most often the cause: without it life has no depth to it.
 
Time and time again I’ve come back to this reality: if not planted into a cause, our choices are dictated by anxiety. If our purpose goes no further than our own well-being, we have anxiety constantly lurking in the background - we’re always waiting for a certain standard to be met in order to be at peace. In this setting, peace is not the norm, anxiety is.
 
You might intuitively realize how an ‘anxiety as the norm’ -based life is not ideal.
 
Being motivated by anxiety means to be driven by negative, external factors: you let outside pressures direct your steps. Our minds simply don’t work optimally when we’re powered by negative emotions. For example, focusing on who you want to be instead of who you don't want to be is healthier for the mind. Let passion take the steering wheel, and your steps will be guided by your internal compass. You follow a cause that withstands the external voices that try to mislead you.
 
Cultivate a passion to build something far greater and your fuel - your propulsion force - comes from a source that’s life-empowering instead of energy-sapping.
 
Anxiety gave David his instruction, yet David chose to follow Passion.
December 3, 2016 Oliver Briny No comments exist

Build healthy brain tracks and be smart like a fox!

Well if we’re arguing that it is indeed possible to learn positivity in a way that helps you focus on the good things in life more and more by default, there must be some hard logic behind that claim. Incidentally, there is! 
 
Understanding how learning takes place in the brain physiologically enables us to better grasp the power of automations. Are you ready?
 
Learning is defined as relatively permanent change in behavior which is caused by a change in the physical brain. Each action requires complex brain activity, and most of the time a single function requires teamwork from multiple parts of the brain.
 
Neurons are the “chatty” brain cells that form chains by passing information to one another through their synapses. Through repetition each function creates a specific chain of neurons. The information is then fired rapidly through the chain every time you perform the learned function.
 
When learning to drive, each small maneuver takes conscious effort: pressing down the clutch, shifting gears, using turn signals, turning the wheel - each of these details takes energy and care. In the beginning it's very slow and intricate, but under the hood of your mind complex neural pathways are being formed. In his course Valiant Man, Dr. Allan Meyer helpfully describes the pathways as brain tracks.1 Consistent quality firing of these tracks (repetition) strengthens them increasing the speed at which information is being transferred.
 
It takes time and practice, but after a while driving becomes so automatic that we’re able to have conversations, sing and do all kinds of other things we shouldn’t even be doing while driving! Like a path that’s formed by people consistently walking along a line of grass, the brain tracks we use become more and more solid, decreasing the amount of focus needed while increasing our efficiency and performance in relation to the track-specific task. Less energy, more efficiency! Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it, but the fact of the matter is that this tool is freely available to us.
 
When it comes to building healthy brain tracks, I’d like to stress the importance of small daily decisions. Don’t be a passive goat and fall victim to your current automations - be smart like a fox and create new ones!
 
Growing is not just about learning new things: sometimes it’s just a matter of shifting focus towards the things that build rather than destroy.
 
 
1. Meyer, Allan, Dr. Valiant Man. 2nd ed. Chirnside Park: Careforce Lifekeys, 2009.