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Breakthrough is one thought away


Breakthrough is one thought away. The Oxford dictionary defines a breakthrough as a "sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development". The key word in the definition we will consider is discovery. In the numerous coaching conversations I've had, it's the moment a client arrives at a self-discovery that their life or experience of living can be forever altered. They have made a mental shift, aka a breakthrough. It can be likened to an old lens being replaced with a new one. Their myopic view is forever altered and becomes expansive to the possibilities ever present.

Now brace yourself because this next part can be very emotionally challenging. Think back on a difficult event or conflict in your life. Please don't go too deep but I do want you to recall something that was a little distasteful. Although it might be hard to do on your own, if you can consider even ONE other possible way of looking at it that could serve you, you are free. Now that is easier said than done, which is why a person may need the support of a counsellor or therapist.

In coaching, when a client allows themselves to be vulnerable and courageous, we can arrive at a block in thinking that has kept them from advancing. With further dialogue and insight-provoking questioning, the client can have an aha moment. Right then, they see the belief hidden within a story that had kept them in a mental prison. This truth or new perspective - which is usually one thought - frees them to choose a new way of being and acting.

Adam Alter, Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology, teaches that breakthrough from a sticking point can be difficult for three reasons. These include: myopic views, habituation and plateaus. Myopic perspectives cause us to get caught up in the minutia of a situation. Habituation is what we do as humans to conserve energy, therefore we don't tend to seek new ways of thinking and acting easily. Plateaus usually occur around the mid-point of our journey and it's there we tend to see little progress. Therefore, breakthrough requires some agitation. There can be no change without a little discomfort. Neurology teaches this in the formation of new brain cells.

Let's take a little deeper exploration of a habit. A habit is a value in action. Axiology proposes that we only do what we value. Some people may want financial independence but if they don't truly value saving and investing, there will be no action taken. Some people want to look lean and fit, but if they don't value the sweat it will take, their jeans will remain tighter than they would prefer. What people do habitually is what they place value on.

Remember a habit is no more than a belief. And a belief comes from a thought. Expose the thought and smash through the wall it has erected. This can take some introspection if done alone. Faster revelation occurs with the right conversation. It can also occur at unexpected moments when you were fully present. For example, whilst walking on the beach, watching an intriguing movie or taking a shower. The key is to get yourself out of the usual scenarios on occasion and allow inspiration to permeate your grey matter.

One of the most common thoughts I come across in working with people is in the mindset "all or nothing". This is especially true when they are trying a form a new behaviour. They go all in too soon and can't sustain the neural demand of the radical change. They fall victim to all or nothing. Instead, they could choose a small aspect of the large behavioural shift which they can sustain thereby building a self-control reservoir. A far more useful thought people uncover is "something versus nothing". And that's the breakthrough. Progress is better than perfection, all day, every day.

Breakthrough is one thought away. What's the fixed mindset you've been clinging to long enough? What part of your thinking has to be sacrificed for your expansion? Remember that a powerful thought that got you here may not get you to the next level of your life. Imagine what lies ahead if you could have a breakthrough today?