Medium 9781605097275

Seeing Red Cars

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Surely you’ve experienced something like this: you buy a red car, and suddenly red cars appear everywhere. Why? Because you’re focusing on red cars—and you get more of whatever you focus on. But much of the time, consciously and unconsciously, we dwell on what we don’t want, and that’s what we get. Drawing on the latest scientific research, Laura Goodrich shows you how to stop fixating on negatives and rewire your brain to focus on positive outcomes.

Unique and practical exercises—including a free online toolkit—and dozens of enlightening real-life stories help you identify what you truly want so that it drives everything you do. And Goodrich shows how Seeing Red Cars can build organizational cultures in which employees are playing to their passions and strengths, focusing on what they want, and achieving breakthrough results.

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11 Chapters

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Contents

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Chapter 1 Why We Focus on What We Don’t Want

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When I introduce the concept of Seeing Red Cars, people immediately understand it from two perspectives.

1. They understand that it’s really important to focus on what we want because the more we focus on and take action toward what we want, the more we’re going to get back. They understand that intuitively. They understand that logically.

2. When it’s brought to their attention, they also understand the natural inclination to focus on what we don’t want. I can explain this concept to an 8-year-old or an 80-year-old, and everyone understands it. They recognize that if you’re going to play a game, you’re going to focus on winning that game. They recognize that race car drivers focus on the track, not on the walls they’re trying to avoid.

There are two predominant reasons why it is so ghastly hard to change behaviors:

1. It is estimated that we have 12,000 to 50,0000 thoughts coursing through our brains each day, and 70% of them are focused on what we don’t want and what we’d like to avoid.

2. When people encounter important new information, there are three typical reactions: 20% are very open and excited about it, 50% are cautious and not forthcoming with their support, and 30% are openly opposed.

 

Chapter 2 Rewire Your Brain for Better Outcomes

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Recognizing that there is scientific proof the brain can be changed can heighten your awareness and begin the process of understanding and applying this knowledge. Start looking for ways to intentionally change your mind and create the large and small outcomes you desire. This is important: This type of change is not a step-by-step process; it is a dynamic process requiring constant awareness, and you must keep working at it with diligence and persistence. You must keep practicing the new behaviors in situations large and small. This chapter revisits those nine factors that make it difficult to change behavior with an eye toward strategies you can use to literally rewire your brain and create better outcomes.

Getting out of well-trod ruts requires creating multiple pathways in our brains. We need to engage in new and different activities to get out of our comfortable patterns.

The analogy I often use is this: Imagine you’re in your car in Small Town A. You’re on Main Street. When you want to go to Small Town B, you typically have two choices: Drive one way or the opposite way on Main Street, and you’re out of town quickly. You’ve done it hundreds of times. You don’t try other routes because you know that these two will get you where you need to go. What if a new side road recently opened that cuts 10 minutes of drive time to Small Town B, but you haven’t heard about it yet? You would not venture down that road when you need to go to Small Town B because you know that going north on Main Street will get you there. Eventually, word spreads that a new road to Small Town B has opened. You try it the next time you need to go there. You now know three ways to get out of Small Town A, and you add the new route to the options catalogued in your brain.

 

Chapter 3 Play to Your Strengths and Control What You Can

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Success with the Seeing Red Cars mind-set all begins with knowing yourself. If you know what you’re passionate about and what really interests you, and you know your strengths, they are yours; they are your intellectual property. You can take them anywhere. What trips people up is the challenge of maintaining intentional focus on their passions, interests, and strengths. If you don’t call them out, recognize them, and act on them with intention, your natural tendency to slip back into thinking about what you fear and are trying to avoid will reign. Remember, you get more of whatever you focus on.

Start with the knowledge of your passions, interests, and strengths, and then pay close, constant attention to what you can control, along with what you want and are working toward. Create for yourself mental pictures of your desired outcomes and the feelings associated with achieving those wants, and choose red objects or items to remind you of those desired outcomes. In other words, keep Seeing Red Cars. At those times when your positive outcomes mind-set is challenged, picture your Red Cars memory joggers in your mind and snap back into awareness and action. You can do it. It works.

 

Chapter 4 Tune in and Take Charge

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Staying up-to-date on the changes going on around you plays a significant role in your ability to steer your life in a direction that leverages your strengths and interests. Success with the Seeing Red Cars mind-set requires you to constantly seek and remain open to new information while paying conscious attention to life’s road signs—steering toward opportunities, such as technology that allows you to connect, communicate, and learn differently, and away from hazards, such as negative people, that you encounter along the way. I call it Seeing Red Cars while intentionally driving with high beams on. When you operate this way automatically, you will be well equipped for those times when a change occurs or a tragedy strikes that causes you to have to turn the wheel in a different direction. You will control your own destiny.

You will be glad you completed the exercises in this book and are commanding your own direction, as you will be prepared to respond proactively to workplace changes. Don Tapscott, coauthor of Wikinomics and Macrowikinomics, says, “There is a fundamental change taking place in terms of how corporations create value, and, arguably, in terms of the core architecture of the corporation. I think it’s the biggest change in a century in the ways that companies build relationships and interact with other entities, institutions in the economy and in society. We are in the early days of this fundamental change and we need to reboot business and the world.” Businesses themselves are paying closer attention and driving with intention and high beams on. Be ready to assert yourself appropriately. Employees at all levels need to engage and be a part of the solutions.

 

Chapter 5 Craft Personal “I Wants”

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In this chapter, you will start building your own plan. The sooner you identify your “I want” statements and write them down, the faster you will chart a meaningful course toward your desires. In a rapidly changing world, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture, which is why I am such a stickler for clearly defining what you want in all aspects of your life.

We are all at our best when we are striving for something. Clearly defining what you want, both personally and professionally, provides a guidepost as well as a target to keep you intentionally in the driver’s seat and charting your own course. Problems can arise when we are on cruise control. People ask me how to create a change-adaptive culture, and I always say it’s not so much about being change-adaptive as it is about people and teams being engaged, awake, and striving for personal and professional improvement. Resistance will always be present in the workplace, but it is much less evident in an engaged culture.

The discussion in this chapter is broadened to focusing on what you want in a more well-rounded way, because if one area of your life is out of whack, it’s likely that others are feeling the pinch as well. The goal is to constantly strive for balance. I’ve seen a good number of folks who are really making strides toward what they want professionally and somehow lose sight of the big picture and what they want in the other areas of their lives. I believe this is especially true during times of dynamic change, when there is a good bit of uncertainty. Welcome to our world. In this chapter, you will begin the process of forming coherent “I want” statements that will lead to a more well-rounded you.

 

Chapter 6 Craft Professional “I Wants”

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What is most important to you in your professional or work life? In this chapter, you will take the “I want” exercises one step further and complete the same set of activities with the focus on clarifying your greatest “I wants” in the development of a well-rounded “professional you.”

There is an important caution for you in this chapter: When it comes to your professional or work life, social conditioning and past experiences create powerful subconscious expectations in people who are not purposefully aware of their influence. As we said in Chapter 1, unless people devote conscious effort to focusing on what they want, an estimated 70% of their thoughts are subconsciously focused on what they don’t want or what they are trying to avoid. These negative thoughts can act like the ocean’s undercurrent, suddenly grabbing you and tugging you under the surface if you aren’t paying close attention.

We talked about social conditioning and past experiences in Chapter 1, and it’s worth refreshing our memories at this point. Our families are the first place that social conditioning begins, and then it continues with our schools and includes the people we hang around with, the work we do, and the environment with which we surround ourselves.

 

Chapter 7 Turn Actions into Outcomes

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You’ve done a lot of work so far to get crystal clear about your personal and professional “I wants” and to write them all down. It is now time to plot a deliberate course of action. Those of you who love planning and to-do lists are saying, “Cool! Let’s get started!” But what about those of you who hate task lists and prefer to operate in hottest-priority-at-this-moment mode? This chapter serves both ends of the spectrum.

In Chapter 1, we introduced scientific evidence of how the brain works and how we can reprogram our brains to focus on what we want. In this chapter, we discuss a second phase of brain science that is equally important to understand: Success in changing deeply ingrained habits and achieving our “I wants” requires time, effort, discipline, and physically planning, tracking, and checking off action steps daily, weekly, and monthly. As I mentioned earlier, on the Seeing Red Cars professional wheel, the four “Working with” categories on the right side refer to the relationships in your work life. When you act on your “I wants” in these categories, you can start to see results quickly. The remaining categories on the wheel represent deeply ingrained behaviors. The notion of changing these behaviors in 21 to 30 days is unrealistic. From my perspective, it typically takes six months to a year or more.

 

Chapter 8 Drive Red Cars to Critical Mass

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I open this chapter with a bold pronouncement: It is possible for an organization of employees who are Seeing Red Cars to hit critical mass—the existence of sufficient momentum in which the intentional focus on wants becomes a self-sustaining culture and fuels further growth. And where positive-focused cultures like this are achieved, the new reality of driving with intention and high beams on becomes equally as powerful as the old cruise-control, just-do-my-job frame of mind. The new reality does not easily return to the passive and subconscious existence of what I don’t want and am trying to avoid.

Up to this point in the Seeing Red Cars journey, we have created insight into the unconscious focus on what you don’t want or are trying to avoid, and we discussed what it takes to turn this thinking around and instead focus intentionally on what you do want. It is now time to demonstrate how this transformation can take place. I want you to think about what it might mean to you, as an individual, if you were a member of an organization in which the majority of employees are actively engaged in the discipline of focusing on actions to achieve desired outcomes. If you were surrounded by colleagues engaged in these behaviors, how powerful would those forces be to you on a daily basis? I suspect it would be a lot easier for you to maintain a Red Cars positive outcomes mind-set and not fall back into negative-thinking ruts.

 

Seeing Red Cars Visual, Auditory, and Tactile “Triggers”

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Use a combination of these methods to act as “triggers” to jog your memory and retain your focus on what you want.

• Post-it Notes strategically placed around your home and office.

• Automatic e-mail sent to yourself each week (e.g., list of “I want” statements).

• Seeing Red Cars Cards in your wallet, pocket, or purse (www.seeingredcarsbook.com).

• Seeing Red Cars Visualization on the calendar daily.

• Seeing Red Cars “I Want” Statements app for cell phone (see http://seeingredcarsbook.com).

• Seeing Red Cars Video app available on iTunes (see http://seeingredcarsbook.com).

• Review Seeing Red Cars Toolkit weekly.

• Seeing Red Cars screensaver (see http://seeingredcarsbook.com).

• Paint red a door, a chair, or another object you see daily in your home or office.

• Seeing Red Cars Friends committed to your success, ready to remind you of your commitment to focus on what you want, on the Seeing Red Cars opportunities.

• Seeing Red Cars Audio Stories available on iTunes: Listen to a story weekly. (see http://seeingredcarsbook.com).

 

Seeing Red Cars Toolkit At-a-Glance

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