What I’m sharing today is much bigger than marketing…
And yet, if you truly take it to heart, it will make you a better marketer. Also, salesperson, businessperson, leader, writer, communicator…
And on, and on.
It applies to pretty much any skill or capability that you’d want to develop. Including in your personal life.
I call it a “mental superpower.”
It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I’ve thought of it in the context of copywriting. I’ve thought of it in the context of improv. I’ve thought of it in the context of my personal relationships.
I’ve thought of it over, and over, and over again — because it applies EVERYWHERE.
And it’s been on my shortlist of topics to write about for a couple weeks. But when it came up yet again — recording the latest lesson in Pinnacle Performance Habits with Joseph Rodrigues — I decided it finally had enough critical mass in my mind to share…
First: any guesses?
Odds are against you to the extreme, because almost no business, marketing, or productivity program I’ve found has written about this.
And yet it’s the secret BEHIND so many other mental superpowers. It’s the secret BEHIND so much great thinking.
And because developing this one capability will spill over into so many others, I’ll argue that it’s the single-most powerful of them all.
And let me head you off here: it’s NOT focus.
Focus is an incredibly powerful and important skill. And, because of our obsession with the glowing screens we all carry around, it’s actually becoming something you have to become more intentional about protecting and developing.
After all, while that glowing screen can keep your focus for hours on end, it actually reinforces an external locus of control for your focus. That is, your focus is controlled by the infinite scroll on Facebook, NOT by your own internal mental processes.
So turning off the screen, and practicing and developing your powers of focus IS important.
And yet, there’s yet another, even more powerful super power that supersedes focus.
I don’t even know the right name for it, probably because it’s such a rare thing to develop consciously…
The closest word I can think of — and the word used in English-language Buddhist texts — is nonattachment.
But that’s a messy word.
Another word is dissociation — but that carries negative connotations.
Separation helps give it context, but again, can feel very negative.
Let’s instead try to put you into the experience.
Right now you’re in room. You can see, smell, and hear what’s around you. You can feel the ground underneath your feet, and perhaps the feeling of your body resting on a chair. Maybe you’re even having some taste sensations, from your afternoon snack, or gum, or even just the ambient taste of your mouth.
In addition, these words are going through your head right now, and maybe you’re even speaking them to yourself, sub-vocally. You may also have separate thoughts about what I’m saying to you, or about something else completely.
And you could be feeling any mix of emotions, from curiosity to annoyance to boredom to interest to whatever…
If you pay attention, you’ll also notice yourself breathing.
You can pay attention to all sorts of things.
Now here’s the critical question: what is the YOU that is paying attention?
Let’s make it easy. You are not what you’re seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, or touching that’s outside of your body. There’s a very clear distinction that you are inside your body, and outside of your body is not you.
But let’s play with the language a little. If you are thinking something, experiencing a thought, that thought is not you, because it is simply something that comes and goes through your awareness, while your YOU-ness never comes and goes.
What is it that is still there, before, during, and after every thought?
And what about your feelings? They are experienced differently, but if we say that YOU are feeling the feelings and emotions, and they come and go but you don’t, then they are not you.
Your breath comes and goes, too. Definitely hard to stop it. But between each breath, there’s still this persistent awareness that is somehow YOU, whereas the breath is simply YOUR breath (your meaning possessed by you, but not you).
Likewise, if you look at pretty much every cell in the human body, it’s subject to death and regeneration. Some cells are regenerating constantly.
As much as we like to use the idea of “blood” (as in family) being a lifelong bond, much of your blood today literally didn’t exist a couple weeks ago. Your red blood cells are the longest-living blood cells, and they are replaced 2-3 times per year.
Even the brain — long thought to be pretty permanent once developed — has regenerative abilities throughout adulthood.
Literally the lens of your eyeballs and a woman’s eggs are the two things that show no regeneration.
So: is that who YOU are? If you’re looking for what’s permanent about you, are you the lenses of your eyeballs, and, if a woman, are you also your eggs?
I know, it sounds absurd.
No, that’s not YOU. Rather, inside of you there’s a continuous state of awareness, that’s been there as long as you can remember, and will presumably continue for the rest of your life (and perhaps beyond).
Consciously, it’s only interrupted by sleep. Although if you’ve done any work with directing your subconscious (or if you’ve studied the experiential accounts of advanced meditators), there’s reason to believe subconscious awareness isn’t even completely interrupted by sleep.
But that’s a diversion…
The main point is that recognition above. That the true YOU that experiences and is aware of everything… Aware even of the thoughts and feelings that come with living the experience of being human… Is also somehow NOT all of those things.
YOU are not the room around you.
YOU are also not your body or its many sensations.
YOU are also not your thoughts or feelings.
And since things like identity, and roles, and capabilities all exist INSIDE of thoughts and feelings and bodies and sensations…
YOU are dissociated from, separate from, and not attached to any of those things.
You CAN and SHOULD inhabit those things.
For example, this doesn’t release you from morality, because the YOU that you are inside is somehow not the body.
Your body is your vehicle for carrying the awareness through the world, and ultimately in the world you’re responsible for the behaviors and actions of the body.
But when you see yourself as in, though not of the body… In, not of the thoughts… In, not of the feelings… In, not of the roles… And so on…
You suddenly have a brand new sense of control over your life and experience.
How to use this to be a better person…
We have a ton of stories constantly going through our head. They are scripts and filters that we use to interpret the world.
Some of them are useful. Others are decidedly not so.
If you are ASSOCIATED with those stories — in other words, if you believe the stories are a part of YOU, proper — they will literally define your entire experience of the world.
But if you are able to recognize that they are stories that YOU are experiencing, and you could probably experience different stories, then you can start trying on others for size. You might find that some are far more beneficial for you, others, and the world at large than the stories you’re currently telling yourself.
Some stories may lead to unhealthy habits — new stories can make you healthier.
Some may lead you to career self-sabotage — the right new story could open new opportunities.
And so on…
You don’t have to call them stories. Maybe they’re labels. Or identities.
Many copywriters who go to AWAI’s Bootcamp and similar events report that it was the final thing they needed to get started — but why? “Because I realized I could finally call myself a copywriter.” If that’s not a change in story, what is?
How this helps in copywriting, marketing, and sales…
There’s another dimension to this.
If you’re able to separate yourself and recognize that all those things that you experience (“internally” and “externally”) are not you, you actually become much better at paying attention.
You become a better listener.
You learn more about others’ experience.
You can get in their skin, walk a mile in their shoes, and take their perspective.
Because you learn to look at yourself from a third-person perspective, you learn to pay attention to others in a way that leads to a more accurate understanding of who they are, and what their experience is.
And since any great marketing or selling involves getting inside the head of your prospect, thinking like they think, feeling like they feel, and leading them to a mutually-beneficial outcome…
This kind of perspective-taking will make you a MUCH BETTER persuader.
(Incidentally, most of the world’s best copywriters have some kind of experience with contemplative traditions — spiritual or secular.)
Now: how to develop this skill…
Sit, and breathe.
Mindfulness meditation is really the secret.
You sit, and you pay attention to your breath. When a thought comes up, pay attention to it coming, and pay attention to it going. Try to remain in that position of awareness of the thought, not association with the thought.
Some Buddhist traditions call this “The Witness.” It’s that ever-present awareness that is always witnessing what comes and goes through consciousness, but is not a part of it.
Regular, consistent meditative practice — even as little as 10 minutes per day, which I do — is the biggest secret.
The above (called “pointing out instructions”) can help you to know what perspective to take.
But then to actually live the experience and enjoy the benefit, regular practice is key.
(Tacking on: benefits include increased happiness and contentment with life, more compassion and care for others, increased love and respect, less stress, more vitality, clarity of thought and purpose, better relationships, and more.)
Develop this superpower. It is the ultimate breakthrough.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,