Photo by Clinton Naik on Unsplash
Did you know that you have your own personal Whether Channel, and it’s broadcasting self-doubt and self-sabotage to you right now? You can never turn this channel off, although you can turn down the volume quite a lot. You can also stop giving the storm chasers so much air time.
I’m talking about the inner forecasting that goes on 24/7 in the privacy of our own minds, telling us we are going to fail, we can’t to that, and we should give it up right now.
We all have an inner Whether Channel and it rarely sleeps.
Instead, its reporters are busy writing stories of self-doubt and self-sabotage. They foresee unworthiness blowing in from the West. Maybe high winds and scattered showers. Our inner Whether Channel is always on the lookout for the next tornado that could take us out. Its job is to accurately predict what’s coming so that we can be prepared for it.
Your brain is a lot like a weather forecaster. It bases what it knows on data it has collected in the past. Just as a weather forecaster predicts future storms based on data it has observed in the past for similar temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, humidity, and other atmospheric conditions, your brain is constantly scanning its database to find examples of similar situations you have been in.
Your brain has been gathering information your whole life about what feels calm and what feels dangerous to you. Any time you were ever yelled at, criticized, humiliated, mocked, hurt, hit, blamed, shamed, abandoned, not included, and other mean, nasty, ugly stuff, your brain was taking copious notes on the exact conditions that caused you pain so that it can protect you from ever feeling that again.
Consequently, you brain has learned precisely what your comfortable temperature range is — and what situations make you sweat. It knows what lets you relax, and what makes you batten down the hatches and run for cover. The danger list is much longer and louder than the calm list. Your brain’s #1 job is to keep you safe, so your brain will do whatever is necessary to shield you from potential danger.
This system of gathering data from the past and crunching it to predict the future is awesome for computer modelling the next cat 5 hurricane, but it’s not so useful for us humans because in our case, the past does not predict the future.
Any time your brain thinks you might be in danger, it releases a cascade of neurotransmitters that send you into fight or flight. The result is that your inner environment immediately becomes turbulent. The stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline flood your being and all of a sudden your stomach is tied in a knot, your palms are sweating, your heart is pounding and it’s hard to take a deep breath.
You create a chemical rainstorm every time you wittingly or unwittingly trip the switch of “I’m not safe.” Welcome to your inner Whether Channel. It’s tuned to self-doubt and self-sabotage. It wants to keep you safe so it thinks it’s doing the best thing for you by keeping you out of the conditions that could potentially harm you.
Here’s an amazing thing about weather though. It’s changeable. It’s beautiful. It’s a force that connects all of us on this planet. When you slow down the constant storm-chasing chatter of the mind, you discover that your inner weather patterns and the self-doubt that used to plague you can actually be quite lovely.
Turn your Coulds into Clouds. Perspective is everything.
A few nights ago, a blizzard caught me by surprise. I had been so focussed on what I was doing that it had been hours since I’d looked out the window. When I went outside to meet my friends for dinner, I was shocked to find my car under nearly a foot of snow and a winter storm well underway.
It took 15 minutes to chip the ice off my windshield. I could not see where the road ended and where the rest of the world began. I wondered if I was going to drive off the road. Visibility was nil. I wondered if I should turn back. I wondered if I was being an idiot. I decided I was going to go for it. Stick to my plan. Respect the conditions. Take my time.
It was white-knuckle driving to the restaurant, and when I got there 40 minutes late, my friends were waiting for me.
13 lessons from the weather that have everything to do with being an entrepreneur.
1. Clear vision. You have to scrape off the windshield so you can see where you are going. If you don’t have clear vision, how will you know where you are going? How will you see where you are going? How will you know if you are even headed in the right direction?
Being a solopreneur often feels like white-knuckle driving, so it’s critical that you get clear on your destination (your WHAT) and why you want to get there (your WHY). In the short-term scenario described above, I had made a commitment to meet my colleagues and I didn’t want to let them down and I didn’t want to let me down. It was a business dinner we’d planned weeks ago. It was important to me to stay on track with my commitment to myself and to my colleagues, and I opted to honor our plan instead of chickening out because I didn’t feel like driving in a snowstorm.
External weather can derail us as easily as our internal whether conditions. I could easily have let self-doubt sabotage me and ruin my evening, but I didn’t let it.
2. Start with where you are. You are wherever you are so start from there. It’s a big waste of time to focus on where you are not. Or how far behind you are. Or how far ahead other people are. Just get in your car and start driving because you will never get there if all you do is complain about how you’re not there yet. Everyone starts somewhere so just start.
When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off. ~Yogi Bhajan
3. Keep your eyes on the road. Focus on where you are going. It doesn’t matter where all the other drivers are going. They have their own destinations and priorities and commitments and schedules. None of that concerns you. What is important is that you focus on the road ahead of you that leads to your destination. Rubbernecking creates dis-traction. If you want to get where you want to go, use the traction of focus instead of the dis-traction of lack of focus.
4. Blank canvas. In a blizzard, the world becomes a blank canvas. It’s eery and unsettling, and it’s the most creative playground ever. If you have ever approached a blank canvas as an artist, or a blank page as a writer, you know that the first marks are the most exhilarating and also the scariest. You can create anything on that vast field of nothingness.
As I was driving to the restaurant, I couldn’t see where the road ended and the rest of the landscape began. The same is true of your minds. The ego likes to think that it has everything mapped out perfectly, but the truth is that the most creativity exists at the edge of what you know. When you get to your wit’s end, and you can’t see beyond what you know, that’s an awesome sign. It means you have just crossed into the no man’s land where all possibilities out there exist that you can’t see. Strive to spend more time in this wilderness, farther than your mind can see. Here true creativity abounds.
5. Feel your way. In a total white out, the road disappears, so you begin to find other things to guide you. The crunch of snow under your tires. The streetlight poles marking the side of the road. Your memory of having driven this road hundreds of times before. Your intuition kicks in. You slow way, way down so that you don’t miss a thing.
Most of us are in such a hurry to get there that we miss the journey. Nothing like a total white out to transform a routine journey into a most wakeful adventure. In blizzard conditions, it’s you and the elements. It’s you and grace. It’s you and faith. It’s you and your ability to stay calm and steady.
6. Respect the weather. Nothing like weather to make us stop and ask: Am I safe? Nothing like weather to humble us and remind us that we are not really in control. The forces creating the blizzard are way bigger than me or you.
7. Respect the whether. Nothing like trusting your inner guidance and intuition. Your inner whether can take you out of the game altogether, or it can be a reliable source of confidence and wisdom. How you follow your whether and let it control you is completely up to you.
8. Become your own personal whether forecaster. Nip self-doubt in the bud. When you know who you are and what you are capable of, you no longer fear the turbulence that sidelines other people. You are so much more capable that you know. You are stronger than you have ever believed. When you consciously and deliberately create the internal weather patterns that create calm and ease for you, you become unstoppable.
9. Weather is temporary. Weather is a system that moves quickly through our immediate vicinity, and it’s never permanent. As Mark Twain reportedly said about New England, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” The weather of our minds is also temporary. It takes about 1/5th of a second for a thought to release the associated neurotransmitters that create ease or anxiety in the body. When you change your mind, you change your life. Being in control of your inner weather is one of the most powerful skills you can develop.
10. Everything is interconnected. Like the hundredth monkey or the butterfly flapping its wings in the Sahara that creates a hurricane on the other side of the Caribbean, weather reminds us that we are all interconnected.
11. There are always clear blue skies above. Above all the turbulence, the blinding snow, the lightning, the thunder, the hail, or the howling winds, are clear blue skies. Always. No exceptions. We forget this. We think storminess is the way of the world. We think our mood will never change. The situation will never change. We think we are stuck with this pattern, like a polar vortex that leaves a region in a cold spell for weeks. But here’s the thing about weather — whatever the weather pattern is “down here,” you can always rise up above it all. There, clear blue exists beyond all the weather that is. Storms and clear skies exist at the same time. It’s just a matter of perspective.
12. Weather is us. We are the elements that make up the weather — earth, water, fire, air, and space. We are turbulent and volatile, wild and blustery, calm and gentle, warm and still, destructive and nourishing. You create your own inner weather. Celebrate this superpower.
13. Weather is the great mystery. We love those liminal spaces where it’s not this or that but it’s both/and. The seashore where the water meets the same. The rainbow where the water meets the sky. The top of the mountain where the earth meets the sky. Weather reminds us that we are part of something bigger than us. We get out of our own small way to watch the weather. Who doesn’t love to watch a lightning storm? Or watch the clouds roll in over the ocean? Who does not feel awe at witnessing a rainbow? Who does not delight in catching snowflakes on the tongue?
Master the inner weather of your mind
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