Cause and Effect – are you taking control or are you allowing things to play out? Do you make things happen, watch what happened or wonder what happened?
Cause & Effect (Audio)
Are you decisive about creating what you want? Do you take responsibility for what you achieve? Do you realize you have all the power over the choices and decisions you make? And that these choices usually allow you to make things happen; pro-actively? Or do you reactively blame everyone and everything else for where you are in life; powerless; a victim of circumstance? Resulting in your watching what happens or wondering what happened?
Those of you following my blogs will probably recognize this to be one of my very first blogs called Do you make things happen, watch what happens, or wonder what happened? where I spoke about “cause and effect”. We learned there that the former of the above thinking was called to “be at cause” and the latter “to be at effect”; that our actions caused things to happen or that we could choose to simply accept (and blame) what happened around us. That we had choices which one it was going to be.
Today, almost two years on, I’d like to update that blog with what I’ve learned about this more practically and how to look at this concept more broadly.
Above the Line
I learned to position the above attitudes and behaviours differentiating what we call:
- “above the line” thinking which is “at cause” thinking from
- “below the line thinking which is “at effect” thinking.
Needless to say, successful outcomes are far more likely to ensue from “being at cause” or “above the line thinking”, right? Conversely when we allow ourselves to be “at effect” we can be more anxious, hooked by stories of the future and what could go wrong, or we can be more depressed, hooked by stories from the past, how badly they might have gone and how they may have affected us. It’s where we choose to “shine our torch”, isn’t it?
Say YES, and figure out how
Most of us know that there are two kinds of fundamental attitudes often called “the glass half empty” or the “glass half full” approach to the way we can see things.
In the same way I have seen a great number of clients that are more cautious and perhaps risk averse that when presented with an opportunity, they want to be sure they have considered all options and have “all their ducks in a row” before committing to something.
I have equally seen a great number of my clients that appear more confident and when the opportunity arises first respond with: “yep, I can do that” and then go and figure out afterwards how they will in fact achieve that.
This reminds me of a great experience fellow coach Joe Pane relates so well. He was out jogging when he realized he was on a collision course with a mother duck and her chicks wanting to cross his path. As he was deciding whether to stop, he saw the mum “take action” and purposefully turn back where they were coming from, and noticed how all the chicks immediately turned, lined up and followed mum’s actions.
Joe relates that to learning that it’s not that all the ducks need to be in a row before taking action, but rather the opposite; that when you take action, all the ducks (chicks) get themselves “lined up in a row”. Wonderful metaphor, isn’t it?
Reading Richard Branson’s autobiography recently led me to understand how he chooses to invest in a new business. He will have his team help him figure out what the absolute worst case scenarios could be and if they can think of sufficient means to survive those, he uses the line: “screw it – let’s do it” and gets on with it.
Success is a byproduct of living and working “above the line” or “being at cause”.
The Law of Attraction
I have spoken about this law in a number of my blogs and continue to be amazed how often I notice it at work (for me as well as for my clients). Remember the 3 aspects that need to come together:
a) we need to define what we want (specifically and emotionally)
b) we need to “put it out there” that we want it
c) we need to allow it to manifest by supporting it with expectant positive thinking (and remember that LUCK is spelled W.O.R.K)
I have come to notice and also to believe that when I’m living and working “above the line” or “at cause” then the Law of Attraction works much better for me. I’m also far more positive and I notice how much better “things are going” as well as being “happier with myself”.
Put conversely, I am convinced that when I allow myself to slip into “at effect” thinking, that my mind chatter is rampant and that my “struggle switch” is turned on and that I am far more prone to be trying to “herd the ducks into aligning in a straight line” before I do anything. It’s exhausting.
Just check in with yourself briefly. Can you relate to this?
It only shows up when you’re ready for it
Oh, and what I’ve also learned in this context is that if I notice an opportunity arising for me, that I need to “go after it”. I’ve realized that if I wasn’t ready for it, it wouldn’t show up or I wouldn’t have noticed it.
By the way, I have found that to be a fundamental phenomenon that accompanies any change. I believe that when we are ready for change, the wherewithal to achieve it will emerge, sometimes even surprising us, and that it won’t materialize until we are ready for it.
In fact, coupled with listening for and to my intuition, I have come to trust that to occur for me.
And you do remember that it is only ourselves that we can change, don’t you?
Hard or unfamiliar?
At effect, people will often consider something (usually new) to “be hard”. I have learned to reframe that and simply acknowledge that it is unfamiliar.
Hard implies the “struggle switch” is switched on, whereas acknowledging the unfamiliar allows us to notice that the first time we do something always feels a little strange, because we aren’t practiced at it (yet).
I like to use that little word “yet” here, as it helps me recognize that it is only a matter of time before I will be good at this too and that it won’t be unfamiliar any longer. That it has “expanded my circle” and that I have yet again learned something new.
Curiosity and the choice to have a go is what starts the transition from unfamiliar to familiar, doesn’t it?
Feelings ahead of an unfamiliar situation are often ego driven & usually not useful. Decisions should not be based on such emotions but rather on the outcomes.
In this context may I remind you of the “difficult” versus possible” wordplays?:
- At cause people will think: “it’s difficult, but it’s possible.
- At effect people will think: “it’s possible, but it’s too difficult”.
In my blog called Beliefs I spoke of how some beliefs can be formed. I have learned and now often teach that “if a belief is made up inside our head anyway”, then why not make up and believe some new beliefs that are more supportive and sustainable than those old ones that have been holding us back for so long?
And in my blog Confidence, Certainty and Doubt I suggested that nobody can be completely confident about everything all the time; that we all experience feelings of doubt from time to time. I suggested that it is in certain situations where we might experience a lack of confidence, that we can choose nonetheless to act with certainty; and that if our certainty is greater than (our and) their doubt, we will probably experience a successful outcome.
I loved hearing the story of twin boys that were (badly) raised by an abusive and alcoholic father. I’d like to share that with you today to illustrate how powerful an impact belief can have on our entire life outcomes.
As mature adults one of the boys ended up a drunken derelict, much like his father had been and the other, living in another part of the world completely, was extremely successful in all aspects of the word.
Apparently both mature twins were then interviewed at the same time and asked why they thought they were at where they were in their lives. Remarkably this is what both boys answered almost identically: “well what do you expect, having grown up with such a drunken, abusive father”….
I felt Goosebumps when I heard that story. I can’t think of a better way of encapsulating what I am talking about with today’s blog. Our beliefs and our actions determine who we choose to be. What a poignant description of “above the line” versus “below the line” thinking and living and working life “at cause” rather than “at effect.
So what if in the coming week you fine-tuned your radar to observe your thinking, your self-talk, and your attitude / behaviour and allowed it to help you recognize where and when you are above and below the line. Why not acknowledge and praise yourself when you notice it to have been “above the line”? And if you recognize “below the line” thinking or behaviour, why not acknowledge yourself for noticing and then consciously choose to correct it?
Perhaps you’ll ask a few people close to you that you trust to make you aware of when you display “below the line” language or thinking, so that you become more aware of choosing the right state.
What if you did and others started noticing a change in you? What if that was a catalyst to start moving you closer towards where you want to be?
What if you could?