Yesterday was Christmas, and one of the high points was spending time with my grandmother, who is 97. (97!!) Around the table, my dad asked everyone what they were looking forward to in the new year.
My grandma said something that struck me. She said, “Every new day is a blessing to me, so each day, I ask the Lord how I can be a blessing to someone else.” What a statement! What a model for how to live when, at age 97, your thought about the day is about how to be a blessing to others. She also asks God to help her not to fall, which just shows how sensible she is too.
Every morning I try to wake up and have a few moments of expressing gratitude. But I really like this thought from Grandma: to open myself up to be helpful (aka: a blessing) to someone else.
With that in mind, here are some lessons I’m learning as I re-read Think Like a Freak by Levitt an Dubner (of Freakonomics fame) that you may find helpful today.
1. Reframe the Problem – Levitt and Dubner interviewed a guy named Takeru Kobayashi, who in the early 2000s took the world of competitive eating by storm. Specifically Nathan’s Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. That’s right, sometimes the world needs a hero, and sometimes that hero eats a supernatural number of hot dogs. When Kobayashi started in 2001, the record stood at just over 25 hot dogs. The first year he entered the contest, he ate 50 in just 12 minutes!
How the heck did he do that? He reframed the problem from what competitors before him had focused on: How do I eat more hot dogs? Kobayashi asked a different question: How do I make hot dogs easier to eat?
Looking at problems from a different angle allows you to make big breakthroughs. I have clients who are in the financial services field. How do you differentiate in a crowded space like this? While most financial planners focus on helping people store money away in retirement accounts, basically framing the problem as: How can I help you hide your money from yourself until you retire? My clients reframed the problem. People need their money working for them right now as well as in the future, so their uncommon approach is to ask: how can we help you use your Now Money to help with today while also planning for the future? This question is mind-blowing to their clients because it is such a different approach to financial planning.
2. Don’t Accept False Limits – Another thing that set Kobayashi apart from his competitors: he put that record number of 25 hot dogs eaten in 12 minutes out of his mind. That limit was based on solving a different problem that Kobayashi was solving, so to him, it became a meaningless number. So instead of getting to 23 hot dogs and feeling that sense of “I just have to get beyond that 25th dog”, he refused that limiting belief and literally doubled the previous record.
This is an area I need to work on. My business coach just encouraged me to journal about it. At first I dismissed this idea – I’ve tried traditional journaling and always quit after a few days or a week at most. Which is weird, because I’m a writer. But he said, “No, I’m talking about a sentence. Just write down the limiting belief, cross it out, then write down a belief that is unencumbered by those false limits. Just one sentence, or even a few words. Then say it out loud.”
Well honey, that advice is helpful for me! I can do one sentence a day, and even say it out loud. I have a notion I call the Cynic’s Guide to Positive Thinking, and one sentence of positivity that I can focus on fits right into that framework! So if constantly beckoning the Universe to manifest whatever in your life has you rolling your eyes, just write down a sentence that gets you beyond some limit you know to be false. Give it a try!
Well, I hope you found something in here that is helpful and/or a blessing! I’ll take grandma’s advice and try to keep paying the blessings forward each day.