The Key To Self Development

A week or so ago I set up a competition on my Facebook page asking for one word that summed up the key to self development and I offered a free copy of Aligning With Your Core Values to the first person to answer ‘correctly’.

I have correctly in apostrophes because even though I am a Life Coach, I guess I’m really only offering an opinion and no matter how convinced I am that I’m right (and I am very convinced), it doesn’t necessarily make it so.

You can imagine some of the words that were thrown back at me such as; love, desire, persistence, confidence, education, acceptance, will, courage, openness and many more.

Each time I said no, that even though some of those things are very useful even crucial, that without the component I had in mind they are largely useless in making change.

The secret to successful change is consciousness.

Or if you prefer, mindfulness.

Note: You can also call it awareness as Evan from Living Authentically pointed out so well  in the comments.

Think about any change you want to make and I guarantee that you’ll never make it without implementing conscious awareness first. In fact by definition you can’t even think of changing without being mindful.

You may think that’s an obvious thing to say, but it really isn’t, which is why few people implement the changes in their life they’d like to see happen.

Your brain much prefers to replicate previous patterns of behavior because it can do so at an unconscious level which requires a lot less energy. And your brain is very ‘Green’ that way, it loves to conserve energy whenever it can.

I frequently talk with clients about their use of language and how subtle changes can have massive long-term implications for the better, but not if they’re not aware of the language they’re adopting in the first place, and they almost never are.

Change Requires Consciousness

You cannot change limiting, stress-inducing language to empowering and liberating language without stepping in at a conscious level and making that change.

Similarly, you cannot lose weight without being conscious of what and when you’re eating. Or get fit without being mindful that you need to exercise and then getting your ass off the couch.

In the latter example you may be consciously aware  from time to time that you want to get fit, but that consciousness disappears when it’s gym time, your favorite TV program is about to start and your brain has kicked onto auto-pilot mode.

Similarly with eating, knowing you want to lose weight isn’t enough if you occasionally find yourself half way through a cow pie with no idea how it found its way onto your plate.

Think of any major positive changes you’ve made in your life and you will see they were all underpinned by consciousness and the acceptance that change needed to happen.

When I sent out a newsletter out to my subscribers with the heading ‘Possibly The Most Important Book I Have Ever Read’ referring to the stunning book Buddha’s Brain, I wasn’t joking or even exaggerating.

That book, and my recent exposure to a more stringent meditation practice, has helped me understand that without consciousness we are hostages to fortune condemned to repeat the same patterns of behavior ad infinitum.

Sure things may turn out great, but equally you may fall out of a plane and land in a mattress factory, but I wouldn’t bank on it.

So what do you think? If you disagree, what do you think is the key? And if you agree, what are you doing to increase your own mindfulness?