The room had roughly 20 people in it, and the vibe was heavy.
If you’ve ever taken sales training, you know there aren’t many things that strike fear in the hearts of men and women like role playing.
Most people in the room were strangers, which magnified their inhibition.
This fear is understandable. As humans, we’re hard wired to overreact to perceived threats. In this case the threat is feeling like an idiot in front of others.
Humans are endowed with another cool trait- the ability to take a step back and say, “Wait a minute… what am I really afraid of here?”
But most of us don’t do that. We stay nestled in our comfort zone, never asking ourselves why we won’t at least poke our head out.
This is where I come in.
I‘m a disruptor.
I’m the court jester that nobody ordered.
I’ll put my reputation on the line if it means snapping someone out of their dreamlike state and taking a new perspective.
The leader of the sales training asked a question.
“What do you say if the prospect says, ‘I need to talk to my wife about it before I sign up?’”
He was met with silence. A few people slid down their chair, hoping to drop out of sight.
I piped up with an answer.
“Tell him to ask her if he can have his nuts back while he’s at it.”
The joke didn’t land, but someone said, “Oh my God!” in disbelief from the back of the room.
Sure, some people in that room may think I’m crude, or insensitive, or brutish.
But it’s worth it.
Because that terribly delivered joke made me the fool in the room, which took that burden off of them.
It also set the precedent that it’s OK to say the wrong answer, even if the wrong answer is so ridiculously wrong it borders on barbaric.
Yeah I said it, and I’m still sitting here, smiling and feeling great. There was nothing to be afraid of after all.
I’d say I’m a martyr, but between you and I, it provides me with enough entertainment to make it worthwhile.
We’re Like Fleshy Robots
We like to think everything we do is a conscious decision, backed by logic and reason.
The truth is, few things we do are conscious. Instead, we develop patterns that become so deeply ingrained, we don’t even think about them.
Picture the morning of your typical day.
You roll out of bed, saunter into the bathroom and load up your toothbrush. You brush your teeth with your right hand, spit, rinse the brush, and hop into the shower.
You turn the hot water on first, then you turn on the cold water 3/4 of the way. Soap goes on first, shampoo goes on second.
This all happens without any conscious thought. It’s an automatic pattern that happens whether you’re thoughtfully present or daydreaming about driving to Venezuela and building a hut on the beach.
Even decisions we think are made consciously are automatic much of the time. We perform the action, and the left side of our brain comes up with a reason for it after the fact. It’s an illusion to make us feel like we’re in control, even when we’re not.
There’s a good reason for this patter automation.
If we were conscious of everything around us — every sight, sound, smell — it would be sensory overload. An overwhelming amount of information to process.
So we developed a really cool way to deal with it all.
Our subconscious keeps an eye (and an ear) on everything for us. If something seems particularly relevant, our subconscious mind pushes it into our conscious thoughts.
Have you ever been in a room so crowded, the conversation sounds like a rumbling hum? But when someone in the crowd says your name, you hear it clear as a bell?
That’s your subconscious pushing that sound into your conscious mind, since it knows that name is especially relevant.
So these automatic patterns aren’t all bad. In fact, they’re pretty incredible.
But too much automation traps you in a dreamy, repetitive loop. And this prevents you from accomplishing the things you want to accomplish.
To Get More, You Need to Become More
It makes sense, right?
To accomplish greater things, you need to progress and evolve as a person.
This is where too much automation becomes a road block.
Our routines are so deeply ingrained that they’re automatic, and eventually our comfort zone aligns with these patterns.
Anything that falls outside of our patterns threatens our comfort zone and causes uneasiness.
So we dream about accomplishing great things, but quickly abandon them when we see how they threaten the patterns we’ve become so enamored with.
I’ve worked in gyms for the last 12 years, and I see this every year between January and February.
January hits, and we set new goals.
But the dream feels better than the work.
And between February 14th and 18th, the amount of people in the gym drops off like a cliff.
It’s not a slow trickle out the door. It’s a mass exodus.
By this time, most new year resolutioners have been working out for 4–6 weeks, which is the amount of time it takes most people to become disenchanted with the process.
They realize progress is slow, and it takes more work than they thought.
More important, they realize how much this new routine is messing with their old patterns. It’s uncomfortable, and they don’t like it.
These mindless patterns will slip around your neck and squeeze the life out of you if you allow it.
When you learn how to break your patterns, you develop the ability to step outside your comfort zone. Since nothing worth while happens within your comfort zone, learning how to demolish your old patterns is a necessity.
You’re Missing So Much Life
Most people are so deeply automatic, they can’t tell you the color of their living room walls.
This is no way to live life. Drifting from day to day unable to enjoy the subtle nuances that make life as beautiful as it is.
Accomplishment is one thing. Happiness is another thing all together.
And life is so much better when you snap out of your dream state and experience every bit of it.
You begin to notice things you otherwise took for granted.
The moon gets brighter, trees look more majestic, and food tastes better.
You feel life charging through you, instead of pounding against you.
The Cacophony Society and Tim Ferris
I first heard about the Cacophony Society during an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, featuring Duncan Trussell.
This random group of people share a mission to create an experience beyond the repetitive nature of our day-to-day lives.
For example, Duncan described an activity called ‘The Salmon Run’, where people dress up in salmon costumes and run the wrong way in a marathon.
Another stunt- people dressed as clowns and waited at a series of bus stops. Each time the bus stopped, a new clown got on. The best part, the clowns didn’t acknowledge each other when they got on the bus.
The intention of these antics is to provide a temporary respite from the monotony and rules of society.
Public stunts like this cause spectators to say, “What’s going on? This isn’t supposed to happen.”
It’s a fun way to snap out of the patterns we get lulled into. It breaks down the walls surrounding ‘normal’, and reminds us that nothing is that serious.
(One note of interest regarding the Cacophony Society: Chuck Palahniuk got the idea for his novel, ‘Fight Club’, from this “beyond mainstream” group.)
Tim Ferris (author, entrepreneur, and public speaker) has his own methods of snapping people out of their trance.
He tells stories about going into Starbucks and laying on the floor for about 10 minutes.
When someone asks if he’s OK, he replies with, “Yup, I’m fine. Just tired.”
He leaves the coffee shop, laughing as he recalls the disruption he caused.
Running upstream at a marathon, laying on a Starbucks floor; these things are unusual, no doubt. Some people will see them as pointless, providing no value.
But when you realize the power of snapping out of your patterns, these antics become gifts.
The people that go out of their way to shake things up, even at the cost of their reputation, are providing an incredible service.
By disrupting your pattern, they’re chipping away at the walls that shape your reality.
When these walls fall, your entire world expands, and your comfort zone adjusts to your new perspective.
The Deathbed Mentality
We know we’ll die one day, but this is a morbid thought, and we discard it before it can sink in.
Instead of avoiding this idea, meditate on it.
Your approach to life will change drastically once you wrap your head around the fact that you have one crack at this, and every second that ticks by is gone forever.
The deathbed mentality means you know that somewhere down the space-time continuum, you’re taking your last breath. As you take that breath, you’re looking back on your life.
From now on, make decisions that would make that version of you proud.
Thrill yourself with boldness, and live without fear.
Because you get one shot at this, and the experience of life is too magnificent to glide through it in a repetitive, lifeless pattern.
When I’m driving down the highway at 5:45 a.m. on a clear Texas morning, I find myself hypnotized by the infinite number of stars, furiously blazing away in outer space.
When I stare off into infinity I’m reminded that we’re all in this together. Latching onto a beautiful gem, hurling through space at unfathomable speeds.
Why we’re here, no one knows.
When you consider the vastness of the universe; powerful stars, giant planets, and mysterious sources of gravity we can’t explain, our problems start to seem silly.
Right now, Jupiter is up there demolishing asteroids, and we’re down here worried about deadlines and what people think of us.
This is Star Therapy. Getting out of your thought patterns to consider our place in this vast universe is a powerful way to snap out of your haze.
And these are just a few of the ways you can disrupt your patterns and snap out of your trance.
Call in sick to work and take a road trip, schedule yourself for a public talk, or change your morning routine.
However you decide to do it, do it regularly.
And live a happier, more productive and fearless life.
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