Becoming Your Best Self
By Anne Dranitsaris, Ph.D., and Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard.
There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.—Art Turock
While we love to learn about how to improve and develop ourselves, taking in such information is a passive activity, while actually changing our behavior is an experiential one. These two activities are governed by different areas of the brain, and as much fun as an aha moment is, it usually doesn’t take us anywhere in our lives. The purpose of Part III of the book is to provide you with a step-by-step approach to becoming who you are meant to be based on your Predominant Striving Style. It takes you from simply learning about your Predominant Style through all the actions and experiences necessary to break your emotionally driven behaviors and unconscious habits of mind that get in the way of achieving your potential.
Each of the steps in the Roadmap builds on the others, so resist the impulse to skip through without completing all of the exercises and reflections. Remember, development is a biological activity that happens in your brain, not just through abstract thinking, awareness, or knowing. Developing your brain and learning to live from your SA System is not something that you can do without self-knowledge, self-awareness, and a great deal of reflection and introspection. Nor can you do it without facing your fears, trying new behaviors, and having experiences that change the neural connections in your brain. Make sure you give yourself the time you warrant to complete each step of the Roadmap.
Stay the Course
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.—Aristotle
As you move to action, there are certain disciplines and new habits of thinking that will support your success no matter what plan you set out in your Planner. You need to consider how you will integrate each of these habits into your way of being as you execute your plan. It’s not enough to merely have the idea of doing something; you must commit to exactly how you will make each of these become a habit in order to support your ability to stay the course through the process of becoming who you are meant to be. It’s like the bumpers they put in the gutters in bowling alleys. Even when your ball goes off course and hits the side, you know it is still likely to hit a few pins. Make sure you have your bumpers or boundaries in place to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Practice, practice, practice. It takes determination, discipline, and a lot of regular practice to change your brain over time. Sports analogies help us see the amount of practice that goes into developing a new physical skill and give us an idea of the work we must commit to as the development of our brain, self-care, and relationship skills are much more complex than sports skills and take longer to wire into the brain. Think about how long it takes a baby to walk or how long it took you to learn to swim. You have to be prepared to dedicate yourself to your own development, in the same way your mother or primary caretaker dedicated herself to your care while growing up. And if she didn’t set a good example for you, it’s time to move beyond where she left off and challenge yourself to do it differently.
Monitor your progress. It is not enough just to set the plan. You have to follow it, consistently monitoring your progress against the plan, reflecting on what is going well and where you are struggling or avoiding moving to action. At the end of each month, you will need to reset your monthly plan, acknowledging your accomplishments and identifying new actions or experiences to keep you moving forward to become who you are meant to be.
Talk about your successes. Pleasurable experiences are stored in our working memory in the rational brain. For them to register, you actually have to experience them and hold them in your conscious awareness for at least 10 to 20 seconds. To the brain, if you have a pleasant experience and just move on, it’s like it never happened. The brain is wired to throw up painful or “negative” emotional memories faster and with greater frequency, which is why people complain more than they talk about their successes and joys. Refocusing the brain on pleasurable experience requires slowing yourself down and taking the time to share your experiences with others so you can build confidence, self-esteem, and optimism. It also requires you to discard that old belief that talking about your achievements is “bragging” or “blowing your horn.”
Create a positive-focus activity. Another thing you can do is to develop a positive-focus activity. Our family has one called “The best part of the day.” It often is driven by our children, who want to recount the fun things they have done. We go around the table and everyone says what he or she has enjoyed and why. At work, we start our weekly planning meeting with the “wins, achievements, and things that made us feel proud.” Making this conscious effort allows us to get excited about what we are doing and to share the experience with others.
Leverage relationships. Our brain is especially open to change through relationships. Current brain research is demonstrating that the brain is a relationship organ and that our interactions with others are critical to changing our brain. Relationships provide us with the opportunity to meet our predominant need, as well as develop our SA System. They have the capacity to enrich our lives, deepen our self-awareness, and provide us with the love, recognition, and support we need. You need to define how you will leverage relationships in order to support your success.
Don’t do it alone. You can’t develop in a vacuum, nor can you do so when you are trying to prevent everyone from seeing what you feel is wrong with you. Development won’t happen as long as it is an intellectual exercise. You have to get past the discomfort of letting others in on your plans so they can support you.
Seek professional help. Coaching, counseling, psychotherapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy are all approaches that provide a safe, nonjudgmental environment for building self-awareness and getting in touch with your emotions. This type of support can help you to identify and eliminate automatic negative thinking and patterns of behavior that get in your way. Think about seeking professional help to help you build self-awareness or to guide you to achieve the more challenging parts of your plan. Our rule of thumb is, if you need help, ask for it.
Excerpt from “Who Are You Meant to Be? A groundbreaking step-by-step process to discovering and fulfilling your true potential,” by Anne Dranitsaris, Ph.D., and Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard. For more information, visit http://whoareyoumeanttobe.com/products/who-are-you-meant-be-book
Anne Dranitsaris, Ph.D., and Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard are experts in personality and behavioral change. They have more than 60 years of combined experience working with leaders, teams, and employees to eliminate dysfunction, shift behavior, and create business and human systems to ensure employee engagement and the achievement of organizational goals. They are the creators of the Striving StylesPersonality System, a neuro-psychological approach to assessment and development. They are the authors of “Who Are You Meant To Be?” an introduction to the Striving Styles. For more information, visit www.StrivingStyles.com