Instead, we want to focus on creating the optimal brain conditions so that the answers will find us.
So far this week, we focused on learning to ask the right questions. Step two involves finding more inspiring answers.
“Two factors are key for creating optimal conditions to find answers internally,” Danny observes. “First, regulate any stress-driven reactivity, and second, optimize [our] mental state to facilitate creative insights.”
One strategy that works to manage our reactivity? Pause, Danny tells us. Then, breathe. Allow our midsection to expand on our in-breath and recede on the out-breath. “This kind of breathing activates the parasympathetic part of our nervous system, which taps the brake on our reactivity, helping us self-soothe and calm down.”
We can cultivate this ability by practicing mindfulness. “As various thoughts, feelings, and sensations arise, notice them come and go without judgment or trying to change them,” Danny writes. “Imagine [our] thoughts and sensations are simply clouds passing across the sky. Keep returning to [our] breath over and over again.”
With practice, we can learn to respond mindfully rather than react unconsciously. Steven Covey defines “responsibility” as the ability to choose our response. This capability is especially important for leaders. Because when turbulence occurs and leaders react rather than respond, their reactivity shuts down creative thinking across their organization.
We are wise to pay close attention to our internal dialogue and to our overall mindset. “Approaching these questions with an open-minded, curious, and accepting attitude is just as important as the content of the questions [we] ask,” Danny reminds us. “For example, asking “What can I do?” with a tone of resignation closes the doorway to opportunity and growth, while the same question asked with genuine curiosity opens it.”
We then evaluate the potential answers by how well they align with our deepest values. We ask: “How can I best act in alignment with my highest purpose and service?”
The final step is to take action. There are times we may be afraid. We understand that “courage to act is not the absence of fear, but the capacity to take action in the face of your fear,” Danny writes.
Ask. Find. Evaluate. Apply.
“These four steps help us ask more inspiring questions, find more inspiring answers, and therefore take more inspired action, which is especially helpful in catalyzing [our] growth in the most challenging of circumstances,” Danny reflects.
Then what? Begin again. After we take action, we start over by asking: “Is what I’m doing working?” Danny calls it the “Infinite curriculum.”
Reflection: What strategies might I use to allow the answers to find me?
Action: Establish a mindfulness practice.