Worry and Aspiration: Two Sides of the One Coin

Published on September 25, 2016

I have a simple theory: that worry and visioning, or aspiration, are two sides of the same coin.

In most of the conversations that I have with my clients we're focusing on bringing their ever evolving “best self” forward, so that they can design and live their lives from an aligned, empowered place - both personally and professionally. Often when we're exploring where they are headed, whether that be in their leadership journey, expanding professional presence or in their career, they have a good sense of where they want to go but are somewhat hampered by seemingly conflicting worries or doubts.

Just as visualisation is well documented and accepted as a form of mental rehearsal for something you are trying to achieve (think visualisation in sport that has been widely extended to the corporate arena), their worry seems to be a rehearsal for things not going to plan.

I believe that these concerns are revealing something to my clients about what they really want: they’re clues to painting a richer picture of their aspirations. So when I share my simple coin theory with them something shifts: they’re able to listen to these worries and, at least some of the time, convert them to features of their vision, placing them firmly on the aspiration side of the coin. When they do this, they’re more likely to activate the creative thinking networks in their brain, galvanising the higher order thinking that will help them to realise their vision. And, at least some of the time for some of the worries, they’re calming the fear related networks in their brain that can block that creative thinking.

This terrific article from Fast Company on how our brains are like a garden seems to loosely validate my thinking. What I extracted from this is that if we focus our attention on the aspiration side of the coin, that’s the part of our brain garden that will be watered and fertilised throughout our sleep. The worry side of the coin will get weeded, so to speak.

If you combine this aspirational thinking and visioning with the powerful question a wise friend always asks me when I’m trying to transform something (always framed from the aspirational side of the coin): “What would it take for me to …….”, then who knows what will grow in your brain as you sleep.

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