At some point in our lives, we all have a moment.

You know the one.

That point in time when we realize that we are capable of achieving so much more.

Mine was back in 1994 when I read my first professional development book. The book was “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.

After reading that book, I started to believe that I was capable of achieving so much more, despite all the challenges that I needed to overcome.

Something shifted at the core of my identity, which planted the belief that I could achieve the success that I wanted.

I’ve learned a lot since then, having both great success and just as many failures (aka lessons learned).

During the last 25 years, I’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and money understanding what it takes to make the shift between living an ordinary life, letting the challenges of life control you, versus jumping into the driver’s seat to make the extraordinary happen.

My intention for this article is to plant the seed and perhaps create that moment for you.

Even if I’m able to impact just one person, then it will be worth it.

Let’s dive in.

Understanding Your Inner World

Our mind is an extremely complex system, and we are just scratching the surface on how it works.

What I’ve learned is that each of us holds an internal representation of ourselves, the world, and our place in it.

We’ve been building this internal representation since the moment of our existence.

Since the movie The Matrix, which came out in 1999, I’ve been calling this our internal matrix.

Actually, we hold multiple representations, a different internal matrix for each of our roles.

For example, you might notice that your act one way at work and behave another at home.

We’ve created a different internal matrix for each of these situations.

Your Internal Matrix

I’ve seen several models of the mind, trying to explain the internal matrix, from pyramids to levels, quadrants, circles, and even spheres.

The one that I’m going to share with you today is based on the Logical Levels model from Robert Dilts.

Environment

At the bottom of our internal matrix, we have the environment.

This is the level of context and represents the actual physical environment that surrounds you.

Think about all of the external events that impact you on a daily basis.

You are constantly being influenced by interactions, situations, circumstances, constraints, and expectations of others.

Actions & Behaviours

Moving up to the next level of your internal matrix we have behaviours.

This level is the home of your automatic responses and reactions to what’s happening around you.

When something happens in your environment, you respond with whatever action or behaviour is appropriate (and sometimes inappropriate) to that situation.

In about 95% to 98% of situations, your response will be with automatic, unconscious behaviour.

Skills, Strengths, & Capabilities

Next, we have your skills, strengths, and capabilities.

Your response to a situation will be influenced mainly by your prior knowledge and experience.

If you are not familiar with the topic, or in a new challenging situation, you may experience uncertainty and struggle with what to say or do next.

However, if the current situation is similar to something you have experienced before, you will engage with more confidence.

Beliefs & Values

We now move into beliefs and values.

At this level, we have the beliefs and values about yourself and how the world operates.

These are the beliefs, rules, values, perceptions, experiences, and expectations that you have established for yourself and the world around you.

How you …

  • React to the world will depend on what you believe is right or wrong.
  • Engaged with the world will depend on what you believe is necessary or unnecessary.
  • Impact with the world will depend on what you believe is possible or impossible.

… are all based on your beliefs and values.

Identity

Which now takes us to the level of identity.

The story of who you are as a person lives at this level.

Since the moment of your existence, your story and identity have been crafted in response to the expectations of your family, community, nation, religion, race, or gender.

When you change your story, you automatically change your beliefs, which will determine what skills you choose to develop, which will create more options.

Purpose

The top layer is the home of your purpose and represents your reason for being.

This level contains your sense of purpose and is the most powerful layer.

Everything that you genuinely care about, deeply relate to, and strongly identify with, lives at this level.

This is why meaningful goals, missions, ideas and causes can be so influential as they can bring a sense of direction and purpose to our lives and can be a reliable driver of personal change.

The Ah-Ha Moment

You may have heard the saying “the map is not the territory.”

What this means is that our internal map or matrix of the world is not an accurate representation of how things really are.

Our mind is holding an internal matrix, not reality, which is distorted by our experiences, beliefs and stories.

This is why two people can attend the same event with one person believing that it was amazing, while the other believes that it was a waste of time.

It’s actually part of our evolution as humans to build this internal matrix.

It enables us to build relationships, discover ways to fit in with our tribe, and is essential for our survival.

For about the first 25 years of our lives, it’s to our benefit to fit in with the expectations of others and it a normal part of our growth.

Outside In vs Inside Out

The ah-ha moment for me was when I realized that we’ve been building this internal matrix since the moment of our existence and that there are levels beyond our reactive nature.

To move beyond our reactive nature requires us to transition from a reactive, outside-in view of the world to a more mindful, inside-out approach.

An outside-in view of the world builds an internal matrix based on the expectations of others which creates a reactive, judgmental, fixed mindset.

When we take an inside-out approach, we intentional set out to rewrite out internal matrix through self-awareness and mindfulness. This enables us to shift toward a mindful, curious, growth mindset.

Is This Your Moment?

It takes courage to let go of your current reactive thinking and to explore the higher levels of mindful leadership.

Unfortunately, about 75% of us stay at this the level of reactivity because it feels safe.

We …

  • Fool ourselves by blaming the world for our situation instead of taking responsibility for the life we want to live.
  • Allow others to negatively influence us instead of building the self-confidence to chart our own path.
  • Ignore the long term consequences of our negative habits instead of establishing a system for constant improvement.

… And we wonder why we are stressed, anxious and disappointed with our results.

If you are ready to …

  • Reach higher levels of performance, achieve bigger goals, and move into the top 10% of your field.
  • Connect with your purpose, expand your influence, and build your legacy.
  • Reduce the negative impact of stress, manage your fears, and increase happiness and personal satisfaction.

… Then this is your moment.

All you need to do is to begin walking the path of a Mindful Leader.

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