“Prepare yourself mentally”
How to turn the glass upside down

How often we hear the mantra “prepare yourself mentally” offered as a panacea for solving problems. What does it mean? Your mind is not a cabbage patch to be seeded by some good tilling, a dump of compost and a sprinkle of water. You do not “bed it down”.

If you have any sense, you ginger it up. Stick some mental pins in it and get it thoroughly disrupted. There is then a chance that you will start to think.

Can anyone be made to think? I’m afraid the answer is a reluctant No. The truly lazy and the intellectually challenged have to work hard at it. They don’t always succeed. Those of average intelligence and reasonable determination do so more successfully than they ever thought possible. People on the brink of despair have been recovered by some simple disciplines. They have gone on to achieve greatness both in the eyes of others and – more importantly – in their own view. It is a wondrous thing when it happens.

The rules are simple. You approach every contact, every communication by asking yourself one question: What will motivate the person / people I am about to connect with to do what I want? Clearly, berating them, criticising them, disdaining them, disliking them won’t work. But you cannot always like, applaud, approve of and admire others. Some are simply not worthy of it. What are you to do about them?

Find something you can like, admire etc in them. Our judgments are often too simple. Nobody is wholly good and nobody, wholly bad. Our tendency to see half-empty glasses must change so we see them all half-full. Turn the half-empty glass upside down.

Ever thought about the most challenging times in your life? Instinctively what comes to mind will be set-backs, brushes with the law or powerful people, misdemeanours you thoughtlessly committed. These are not severe challenges. Challenge is when someone demonstrates confidence in you, implying there is even better to come. “To improve someone tell them they’re good; tell them they’re bad and they will get worse”.

Just knowing what turns the other person on won’t guarantee they will do as you wish. It has to be supported by enthusiastic engagement. This is the biggest stumbling block you face. Are you focusing on yourself, the supreme form of arrogance? Do you feel inferior to those you must engage with? Expand your vocabulary by ten words a day. There are dozens of sites where you can do this. Find one that suits you. Very quickly you will become lucid and articulate. Study and practice GUSTO. It involves you in a little acting but you are doing that all the time. Enthusiasm is infectious, make sure you have plenty of it.

Most important of all is your ‘mind-gingering-exercise’. You should do this every day but you are busy and probably won’t – at least not yet. Before a work session which requires ideas and drive and involves other people, try relating what is to be discussed with other, unrelated aspects of life. For example, if the subject is auto-drive electric cars try finding the relationship to them of story-writing, mountaineering and North Korea. That’s quite a challenge, isn’t it? But go on, push yourself. Soon you will be able to relate a packet of crisps to a nuclear warhead or a holiday in the Algarve to a slice of lemon.

What will you then have achieved? The answer is “the ability to perceive relationships”. And what exactly is that? Creativity. That is what preparing your mind is all about.

It’s exciting. May you enjoy doing it to the full.

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