Today, I want to give you a really simple visualization that will help you develop mental superpowers…
This isn’t quite about marketing.
But it is ultra-relevant to being a marketer, or a business person, or really any human being.
It will help you do what you do better.
It will help you achieve more.
Because you’ll be able to notice your own limitations better. And free yourself from them.
Not only that, this can make you happier.
So much of our unhappiness is based on not seeing things as they really are. And this superpower helps us see things as they really are, and then take useful action if we choose to change that.
Your superpower: taking an elevated and slightly removed perspective…
Have you ever had a situation where a friend told you about an issue they couldn’t seem to overcome, and you were instantly able to see the right path for them to take?
What about a situation where you were the one who was stuck, and a friend was able to see what to do from their outside perspective?
This is completely normal.
When we’re inside our experience and inside our thoughts about it, we get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves.
We tell ourselves stories about how things should be, and how they are. We tell ourselves stories about what is and isn’t possible, and the limitations we face.
None of these stories are wrong. But they’re not 100% right, either.
They’re true, but partial.
That is, they’re true from our current perspective, but 100% limited by that perspective as well.
The reason someone with an outside perspective is so readily able to help us is that they are not hamstrung by all these partial stories.
This is actually the value of a coach. Sure, some skill development is helpful. But they can also provide an outside perspective.
It’s also the reason I named my business Fresh Look, Inc. (a name I haven’t always loved in retrospect). Because as a consultant I’m able to take that outside perspective on client’s marketing and business growth challenges.
It’s always great to have someone to help you with this.
But you can also do it yourself.
A lesson from Buddhism — that transcends religion…
One thing I really appreciate about Buddhism is its millennia-long history studying the human mind, and how to improve our mind through contemplative practice.
And one of the core contemplative practices in Buddhist meditation has to do with “The Witness.”
Let’s see if I can guide you into this…
You can start by noticing these words on your computer or phone screen. Notice that you’re reading them, and perhaps even quietly speaking them to yourself in your head as you read.
You can also notice any other sounds around you, as well as the light and other objects around you.
You may notice the way your clothes feel against your skin, the feeling of the ground and maybe your chair underneath you.
You can also notice your breath, as you breathe in and out.
And just like you can notice all these things that are outside your body, you can notice things inside your body, too.
You can notice feeling in your body, in your feet and your hands, in your legs and arms, in your belly and in your chest, in your shoulders, up your neck, in your face and throughout your head.
You can also notice the thoughts going through your head.
There’s the thought of reading this, as well as any number of additional thoughts about what you think of me writing about this, and anything else that may come up.
You can also notice that you have an emotional response to this, ranging from confusion to critical, to indifference to humor.
All of these things you can notice may come and go through your awareness.
But one thing remains constant. There’s a you, a point of consciousness, an awareness that’s experiencing all these things.
This is your inner Witness.
It’s like the sky as the clouds go through it. The sky is always there. At night, the sky is there. During the day, the sky is there. When it’s cloudy and rainy, the sky is there. When it’s sunny, the sky is there.
The sky is the space in which all these things arise and fall, and it’s never changed by what’s in it. It’s always there.
Like the sky, your inner Witness is always there.
You can have a thousand stories that you tell yourself, about any situation. You can be frustrated. You can be excited. You can be sad or happy. These come and go through your witnessing consciousness.
But that Witness never changes.
Stepping back into this Witness consciousness gives you mental superpowers.
Being able to default to it is, from my best understanding, the key to enlightenment as the Buddha taught.
When your friend has a problem and you sit and listen curiously to try to understand it, that’s slipping into the Witness.
The Witness has access to your highest self. The part of you that’s able to integrate all your past experience and choose a best course of action. And so when you listen to your friend from this place of the Witness, you can also hear the best course of action.
When you’re caught up in your own troubles, you’re seldom in the Witness. You’re in your thoughts. You’re in your feelings. You’re associated with these, instead of with the Witness.
And so even though you could find your answer by stepping back into the perspective of the Witness, you don’t because you can’t get out of your own way.
In this moment, take a deep breath. Imagine that all these thoughts and feelings and stories are playing out on a movie theater screen in your mind, as if they were someone else’s story. And let yourself simply watch this movie. This is taking an elevated and slightly removed perspective. And it will help you find the answers you need much quicker than you might imagine.
Here’s another way to look at this…
You may or may not know that I’ve also taken a recent interest in Stoicism.
I see it as yet another tradition that, like Buddhism, is full of helpful lessons in living my best life.
I don’t consider myself to be a Stoic, or a Buddhist, or really anything for that matter. But I am open to what any of these traditions can teach me.
And what’s interesting is that thousands of years ago, around the time of Siddhartha Gautama becoming enlightened and becoming the Buddha, in ancient Greece and Rome there were others who were coming to the same principles to understand the human mind.
Epictetus, born a slave and crippled through mistreatment by a master, taught, “It’s not things that upset us but rather our opinions about things.”
If your friend has a problem and you don’t feel attached to it, it’s easy to not form an emotional opinion about the situation, and so you are not distressed. When you’re not distressed, you know how to manage the situation.
If you can at least momentarily slip into that same detached perspective on your problem, recognizing that you’re simply holding an opinion, you can realize you don’t have to be so upset.
In an article at The Daily Stoic, there was a metaphor of wearing tinted glasses.
You’ve heard the saying, “Looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.”
If you have a story about your life or a situation in it, you’re wearing tinted glasses. They may not be rose-colored. They may be green, or blue, or another shade. They could be darker, or lighter.
But you are wearing glasses. And in any moment, whenever you’re caught up in the stories, you could be wearing a different pair.
One moment, you may be happy. And your glasses are pink. In another, you’re sad, and your glasses are a dark shade of blue.
This influences everything about how you see the world. This is the opinion that makes the world feel better or worse than it really is. It’s true, but partial.
Your superpower comes when you see first that you are wearing the glasses. And then when you realize you can, at least to a degree, take them off.
It may not immediately fix your problems. But it can help you see them more clearly, for what they are, and then listen to your highest self for the best possible solution.
Practical applications of this…
In my career as a freelance copywriter, I’ve often had to write for clients who’ve had different worldviews than mine.
Or, as I’ve written about recently, I’ve had to create marketing messages based more on what I know the market will respond to, and not always 100% with the advice I want to follow today.
In these cases and others, it’s critical for me to accept that I’m writing not for myself, but for the client and for the market.
Keeping on my glasses and distorting the perspective will only hurt me. Trying to force the market or the client to see the world through my lenses will not work.
This is NOT an excuse to violate your personal morals or ethics.
Rather, it’s a way to be most effective in those situations where the complexities of human life and experience create uncertainty and shades of gray.
In these moments, I need to be able to step back. And ask myself not what I want to say, or what I’m most interested in. But rather, to try to slip into my own clear-eyed Witness, and then try on the perspective of my client or market and see what looks good from their point of view.
If you want to be more effective at communicating, it helps to be able to take your own glasses off once in a while, too.
Step back into the Witness. It can be as simple as taking a deep breath, and letting your awareness open up.
Then pay attention to what’s actually going on. Listen to your market. Pay attention to what they want. What they’re saying, and what they’re responding to. Try not to pass any judgment — either positive or negative. Only to notice.
And then use what you see to connect with them at a much deeper level.
Does this feel too woo-woo? I’ll try to be a little less so tomorrow.
But I assure you it is highly-practical and a breakthrough when applied.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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