The big thing holding you back from launching full force into action?
It’s not fear, your VPS is off.
“Everything we want is on the other side of fear”
– George Addair
This famous quote has always resonated with me because that’s how it feels to stand in front of the gap to action. That space feels real even if we know it isn’t. I know I need to make “jumps” in my life if I’m going to achieve what I want, but there is one big thing missing here and you might feel it too.
If everything I ever wanted is on the other side of fear, I just have to conquer my fear and dive in, right?
Ok, that’s cool. I guess you assumed I would know what to do then? Like it’s this fiery pit of fear and I gather up my courage, put my big girl pants on, and then jump to the other side?
Except what if the “other side” isn’t that super clear and there are 10 big fiery pits to chose from. How am I supposed to know what big jump is the right big jump to get me there?
Um, hello! No wonder so many of us hang out so long on this side of fear.
I know, quite an exaggerated view of just jumping ahead towards your goals- but here’s the thing….our lizard (limbic) brain doesn’t think so. It kinda thinks you’re nuts for wanting to make the move. It’s pretty darn happy with the good ole’ status quo and its job to keep you there unless a wild boar is chasing you. Seriously, your limbic brain is designed to keep you safe and comfortable.
And we ALL KNOW safe and comfortable isn’t getting us to our Big Hairy Audacious Goal!
So we have two problems now, no clear path (which pit to jump over) and a brain (our limbic brain) who’s not keen on us jumping anywhere and will actively work against us. What’s a jumper to do?
Get some VPS, that’s what.
Values Positioning System- It’s kind of like GPS, only it provides you the clarity of what’s on the other side and let’s you know which pit to jump over. The really cool thing is that it also has the ability to let that lizard brain of yours know that everything is A O.K., nothing to worry about here, we’ve got this covered- not such a risk after all.
Allow me to explain.
Maybe all of our wildest dreams ARE on the other side of fear- meaning we actually have to DO something we’ve never done before to get there. We must act, we must jump. It’s probably not a fiery pit- but we all have that next step that must be taken to start gaining real momentum. It’s something different, something that comes with perceived risk, it’s something our limbic brain would prefer we didn’t entertain and it’ll throw some hormones at us that make us feel like that move is even riskier.
“WHAT IF I FAIL!? How will that look, I’ll be embarrassed, I’ll be broke, I’ll be scared to go for it again.”
Now, I didn’t write this post to get you through that fear- there are some pretty amazing folks out there who can help you with that (watch this TED talk from one of my personal favorites-Amy Cuddy).
I’ve written this post to introduce you to the idea that your big fiery pit isn’t so scary at all if you take the time to develop your own VPS.
VPS is your personal bridge across the fiery pit.
When you develop your own Values Positioning System, the decisions you must make and the terrain you must cross become clearer. You’ll be able to focus on your next step instead of wondering if you can make that big leap across a fiery pit. That won’t worry your lizard brain so much, will it!
So, your VPS, what is it and how do you get it?
Well, it’s always been there, but you likely haven’t taken the time to understand it. Plus, that darn lizard brain doesn’t communicate in words- seriously, it’s out to get you.
VPS – AKA, The bridge from our gut to our reasoning brain.
Imagine being faced with a difficult decision. You’re faced with a number of viable options or solutions and all come with a myriad of seemingly balanced pro’s and cons, perhaps even opposing personal recommendations. You line them up side-by-side, agonize over them. After all, this is a life changing decision. You ultimately go with your gut and hope it was the right choice. But most of the time, you’ll never really know if you made the best decision for you. And if your personality lends to it, it may even keep you awake some nights wondering if you’ve made the right choice.
Now, most of our daily decisions aren’t that risky and we don’t agonize over them for long, we write them off after moving forward. They compound though and eventually converge to nudging you on a particular path.
Remember that I told you your gut had it in for you though?
Your “gut” does have a really important job and it should not be ignored. But its job is to keep you and those around you safe. It’s to prevent you from taking risks that may endanger your life. The problem is, we don’t encounter life threatening risks on a daily basis, but our limbic brain perceives our reactions to these big decisions with the same gut reaction it would wandering into the dark woods alone- better not go out on that limb.
And the kicker- the limbic brain is the part of the brain that makes decisions. And remember, it has no capacity for language!
Ok, so, here’s the complication. Feelings of empowerment, passion, love, disgust, hate, etc. are all housed in the limbic brain too. Have you ever felt as though it were nearly impossible to easily describe why you felt passionate about something or someone?
So, if we know we have to satisfy our gut to make important decisions that we know will move us forward, what should we do?
We should use what we’ve always had at our disposal, our VPS. It’s like a bridge from our limbic brain to our reasoning brain (the neo cortex).
This is really exciting, because this means that not only do we have a bi-pass system around that gut that tells us NOT to jump, but we have a much better system to decide which jump is ideal for us.
VSP, our Personal Values Lens.
Our Values, weather or not we recognize and can articulate them, are one of the biggest driving forces in our lives. When we are aligned to our values we feel fulfilled, passionate, and productive towards our goals and ambitions. When our actions and path aren’t in alignment to our values, we feel unfulfilled, uneasy, and have a hard time finding passion on our work and activities.
In fact, there is a behavioral psychology term called Cognitive Dissonance, which is defined as an ill feeling experienced when we act in a way counter to one or more of our personal beliefs. An example of this is cheating on a test when we believe cheating is wrong. It can literally make us feel sick.
Cognitive Dissonance also happens when we don’t act in alignment with our values. Ironically, most of the time we don’t even realize why something doesn’t feel right. Because our values live in both the limbic brain (the emotional brain) and the neo cortex (the reasoning brain) there is a good chance that we’ve not made the connection between how we act and what we feel or believe.
If we don’t know and can’t articulate what we value or believe, it’s pretty darn hard to align ourselves to them. So it becomes a game of hit or miss and we land on the side of cognitive dissonance far more often than we need to.
Activating your Values Lens to get Clarity
Identifying and articulating our values isn’t something most of us have invested in fully understanding and it’s a shame because when we know what are values are, we unlock a really powerful tool to massively accelerate our personal development and advancement towards our goals.
We all have a values system, so the key to building that bridge between our Limbic brain (gut with no capacity for language) and Neo Cortex (thinking brain that can communicate in language) is uncovering and articulating your top personal values.
So, how do you do that?
I’ve been working with start-ups, new entrepreneurs and individuals on this very endeavor and I have a pretty involved process I take them through, but there is an easy way you can get started on your own.
Brains on Fire, a super cool marketing firm in SC, has created a short worksheet you can use to start mapping out your top three values. The link to the worksheet is at the bottom of their blog post.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s enough to get you thinking about what those values might be. After you compete the worksheet, I want you to think about these three questions:
- When I look at these three Values, do they feel right? Do they feel like I could start to create guidelines around how I make decisions in my life going forward? If they don’t feel quite right, could I combine a few top values to make a statement that is a much better fit?
- What am I doing right now that doesn’t align with at least one of these values or values statements I created? The easiest way to look at this is to look at what you spend both your time and your money on.
- What could I be doing right now to start aligning myself better to these values?
Once you start to get an idea, in words and on paper, of what your personal values look like, you can start to bridge that gap between the limbic brain and the neo cortex.
If you can articulate your values, you can align your actions to them. And once you do that, you tell that gut of yours that there is nothing to worry about here. You have a much clearer path. You’ll be able to determine which fiery pit is YOUR fiery pit to cross.
There is a downside. Now that you’ve bridged the gap between your limbic brain and your neo cortex, you’ve got no excuse to move forward. What is your next step?
To the Changemakers,
Interested in learning more about yourself ? Take V2B’s Changemaker Mindset Quiz