The Big Game: Welcome to The Great Conversation
"The aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts."
-James Allen As A Man Thinketh
“Where did all of the reasons that hold us back come from?” To answer that question you have to be able to answer the question, “Where did beliefs come from?” To answer that question you’ll have to be able to answer the question, “How do you communicate the ideas associated with any belief?”
Here, let me cut to the chase…
Express for me the love you have for someone else but do not use any words. Express a belief you have about yourself or someone else; however, you can’t use any words to do it. How about this one? Express existence without using a single word.
It is pretty amazing that when we are no longer able or allowed to use words to communicate ideas, beliefs and reasons it becomes nearly impossible to do so.
If you think what I am saying is crazy then I invite you to attempt to express the idea of God without using words. The Bible is a collection of words, The Koran, The Sutras, and The Torah are at their very core just words too and to some of us, these collections of words have more meaning than to others. At a particular point in our history we were unable to express the ideas of gravity, light, space and time but someone found a way to either create or use existing words to communicate those concepts and meanings they presently convey. We assign the meanings to words and then we place them together in a way that allows us to communicate ideas, beliefs and opinions that give them greater meaning.
This collection of words, thoughts and ideas that have meaning are combined to bring into existence a conversation that has meaning. This conversation joins every conversation that has ever existed in the whole of human history.
This is what I call The Great Conversation.
The Great Conversation is neither incredibly good nor inherently bad. The most important thing to understand about the great conversation is that it just is. It exists. And we are a part of it, as least our minds and bodies are for a time. If we significantly influence some part of The Great Conversation, our participation in The Great Conversation may continue well beyond our individual life spans. For most of us we go about our day-to-day existence without even realizing that we are participating in The Great Conversation at all. That’s okay. That’s cool.
The Great Conversation continues to evolve and expand whether we elect to participate directly or not. The major price that you pay by not directly participating in The Great Conversation is that you will always be stuck reacting to it.
The reaction to The Great Conversation begins the moment we are born. Think about it, we are tossed immediately into the vastness of The Great Conversation and expected to adapt to the million-year immensity of it all in just a couple of decades. If we don’t take onboard the most critical elements of this information quickly, we might not survive at all. The truly wondrous thing about us is our ability to acclimatize to the situations we find ourselves in. We have, over a million years, developed a remarkable capability that allows us to connect and access The Great Conversation; this resourceful construction is called The Mind.
All right, let’s just stop for a second here…
At this point you might be thinking what does all of this stuff have to do with making what matters to me happen?
That is a great question. It matters because if you don’t understand the very basics about how your thought machine works, then you are going to have a difficult time directing it to where you want it to go. If you don’t understand the basics about driving a car then you are going to have a very challenging time attempting to get that car to go where you want it to go.
The Mind is the greatest invention ever discovered and developed on this planet. The most amazing part about it is its ability to adapt, evolve, expand and connect to the universe around it. It is so powerful that it seems to have the ability to take on a life of its own.
Try this on for size…
I often ask the question in seminars and consultancies, “Have you ever driven your car and made it all the way home without really ever thinking about it?” You might be incredibly shocked to realize just how many of us have done this before. I remember being fairly relieved when I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who had experienced this phenomenon. How was I and so many others able to negotiate the intricacies of driving a car without bringing our full attention to the task at hand and still be able to arrive alive at our destinations unharmed? Luck? No doubt about it, that certainly helped, but there were so many skill sets at work here that the simple explanation of luck is just is not enough. Habit? I think that is much closer but it still doesn’t take into consideration all of the variables. This isn’t as easy as a mouse learning to navigate a path in a maze to get a piece of cheese. There are so many more things that must be taken in to consideration in order for the car and the passenger to arrive safely at their destination. So what allows us to accomplish this complex set of capabilities with so many possible variables without much or any direct and responsible thought? Personally, I give most of the credit for my survival in that situation to The Mind. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t lucky or that the universe, God or whatever didn’t help too. It just means that the only thing that I have control of (my mind) I elected for whatever reason not to control and it still somehow managed to perform well enough to get my butt back home alive.
The Mind has learned to stop at red lights; the mind has learned that pushing the brake petal brings the car to a halt, that the steering wheel turns the car, to judge distance, to anticipate conditions and situations. The Mind has adapted, learned and trained through repetition to comprehend and engage in one aspect of The Great Conversation called driving.
Why is it so important to understand that the mind has this incredible ability to go on autopilot? Why is it critical to understand its ability to connect to the conversation called driving without your complete awareness? Because that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comprehending the shocking capabilities of the mind to go on autopilot in almost every aspect of our lives.
This is the same autopilot that turns on when we are afraid, overwhelmed, stressed, fatigued, in pain, bored, depressed, escaping, angry, confused and apathetic. Just like the autopilot of an aircraft is designed to increase the survival of the pilot, crew and passengers on long flights and in bad weather conditions, the autopilot function of the mind is designed to increase our chances of surviving our involvement in The Great Conversation over the course of our lives.
This is not a bad function of the mind; in fact it has virtues and values that allow us to survive all kinds of issues. The difficultly and dangers that can arise from the autopilot function occur when the pilot fails to monitor and check in on the system. A small error in the autopilot function can lead to being drastically off course or to a disastrous crash that most likely kills everyone onboard.
The great thing about the mind is that it can be managed, directed and remarkably useful. However sadly, it can just as easily be unmanageable, misdirected, and shockingly useless. What is the major difference between these two extremes? One word: Responsibility.
Unless there is an actual chemical malfunction or specific structural damage, you have the power to take full responsibility for every thought you have and most importantly for every single deed you do.
The greatest gift in your life is your ability to take responsibility for directing your thoughts and deeds. While this is simple to type, it is often not easy to do. The pull of environmental conversations like: Where you’re from? Who your parents are? What happened to you? What others think of you? What you think of yourself? Make the urge of clicking on the autopilot function so much easier. The responsibility of owning our participation within The Great Conversation and how our minds relate to it can be overwhelming, leading many of us to seek some means of escape. These conversations can also be so dense and destructive that there might be a desire to shut the entire system down permanently.
I know. I’ve been there.
It was before my teens. I somehow woke up, on my knees, in a field with no one around and managed to remove the rope from around my throat.
It was the first time I took charge of the conversation called my mind. The words still echo to the core of my being. “F*#k them… I’ll show them all.”
In the end I survived my first quitting conversation. Although I didn’t understand the complete price that would come with those words, they at least got me moving forward. I prevailed through the dynamic I was in at the time and went on to accomplish things that I did not even think were possible for me to do. I later learned how to understand that conversation and the fears that are attached to it.
My purpose in discussing The Great Conversation and the mind is two fold.
First, The Great Conversation is an incredibly immense conversation that includes all of our shared history, beliefs and opinions. It is immense, always evolving and staggeringly multifaceted. It is also very difficult to manage and takes incredible will power to alter its course. Second, the mind is a much smaller and yet very dense conversation that mostly takes place on an individual level. The mind is a conversation that is manageable but only if we take full responsibility for its management.
Both of these conversations are mostly inherited beliefs, justifications and opinions handed down to us to allow us to interact, survive and possibly thrive in life. The most essential quality to understand about these conversations is that they were made up.
That is exactly what I said. They are made up.
That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, have substance and value. It just means that at some point all of these conversations did not exist and now they do. Someone made them up. There are a lot of valid reasons about why they needed to be made up at the time but that doesn’t change the fact that they were all made up at some point in time.
Think about it. Who decided up was up and down was down? Who decided to call green, green or red, red? It was all decided upon long before the last few generations ever got here. It was handed down to us and now we hand it down to our children. Understanding the difference between red and green keeps up from crashing into each other every single time we drive our cars, but it is liberating if you truly understand that it is all made up and that they are just words that have a meaning that we assign to them. Understanding this concept is the key to ending suffering and promoting joy.
I completely understand if this idea may seem like an incredible threat to anyone reading this and I also want you to understand that my intention is not to threaten you and your core beliefs in any way. Every new or different thought that has ever been introduced into The Great Conversation has always been seen as a threat to the status quo of the great conversation. This is not because it is a real threat, it is just because it sometimes takes the minds of individuals involved within the great conversation time to allow the new idea to come onboard and join The Great Conversation. Please remember that people (experts, leaders and teachers) were once convinced that the earth was flat, the Sun revolved around the Earth and that a patent clerk could not produce the Theory of Special Relativity. My intention here is to give you some space around any core belief that you might have about yourself so that you can accomplish anything that you want and not quit on yourself until you bring it into existence.
Okay, so it is basically all made up and because it is all made up, that means that you can craft your results and create the life that matters to you. You may have to climb out of a gutter to do it but you can do it. You may have to overcome horrors, hate and insanity to do it but you can do it. But if you cannot manage the words, thoughts and conversations that your mind has then you will have almost no chance of crafting a life that matters to you.
Even with everything I have written to this point some of you may be asking:
“What is this conversation he’s writing about?”
“I don’t have any kind of conversation going on.”
That’s the conversation I’m writing about. It’s that quiet little voice that is always judging, assessing and opinionating about almost everything that happens nearly all of the time.
The mind is a powerful tool that has thoughts that are incredibly useful and it can also have thoughts that are useless or at least should be used less.
Your mind is a creation that most of us believe is really us, but if you were dead and someone did an autopsy on you where would they find your mind? Is it in your heart? Is it in your brain? Slice up the brain into a million pieces if you want and you will never be able to show someone where the mind is. You might be able to demonstrate sections of the brain that affect the body and memory storage but not the mind. Not the thing that makes you, you.
If this seems like a rather extreme attempt to get you to understand and question the sources of your mind, The Great Conversation and the very essence of you, it is.
Because it is not until you question it all that you can get a little bit of room to maneuver around all of your self-limiting beliefs and the self-limiting beliefs inherent in The Great Conversation. Just because you, your family and friends, and society as a whole believe something it does not necessarily make it so. I’m not asking you stop believing in things or ideas that matter to you or that are useful but I am asking you to question ideas, thoughts and beliefs of any kind that are useless and that may be holding you back from accomplishing what matters to you.
By understanding that it is all made up, every single word of it, you can shape your future by what you do in the present. You can sculpt the person you want to be and you can craft your destiny. All you have to do is take responsibility for your participation.
I don’t say this for effect, I say this because I have a bunch of self-limiting beliefs, fears and rationalizations that I have to overcome everyday. That’s right, mister Navy SEAL, author, multiple decade martial arts guy, TV host, writer and producer, father and husband has justifiable nonsense that must be overcome often on a moment-to-moment basis. Those are the perfect moments to remind myself that it is all just made up. I even went so far as to tattoo reminders on the inside of my forearms that it’s all simply an incredible game and I am responsible and blessed for being able to play it. It is in that moment that I just recommit myself to playing the game full out. If I can tell my mind to shut-up and do what has to be done to accomplish the task at hand, so can you.
The idea of taking responsibility for the conversations of your mind sounds pretty simple but it is often not easy to do especially when facing stress, pressure, fatigue, doubt, hesitation, pain and fear. To navigate these conditions it is imperative that you keep your conversations as simple and direct as possible. My mission with NDCQ and NDCQ.com is to provide you with specific weapons that will give you the ability to navigate any conversation you face and get you back on the path that you have laid out before yourself.
Thanks for visiting NDCQ.com and for reading this post.