Listen to the audio version of this post here.

 

Now you see it …

Have you noticed? Blue cars are everywhere.

For the longest time, you could drive around town and see black cars. White cars. And gray or silver cars. Maybe the occasional red or maroon. No blues, no greens, no nothing.

I drove my black Buick for 12 years—so when the time came for a new car, I was more than ready for a splash of color. Not like the Purple Probe I drove in the ‘90s, of course, but at least a little color.

And I finally have my new Honda CRV. I got the Sport Touring Package, because I’m so darn sporty.🙄 Okay, really it’s because I wanted the hybrid engine that’s only available with the Sport trim.

I also wanted Canyon River Blue because, color. And apparently, I’m not alone. Blue cars are everywhere.

Or maybe it’s the reticular activating system at work.

I definitely notice more blue cars than I did six months or a year ago. But maybe it’s not because more of them are on the road. Maybe it’s just because I see them now, where I didn’t before.

And that’s not about the cars … it’s about the brain.

Our reticular activating system sits in the brain stem and acts as a sort of filter. We’re swimming in impressions all the time—we can’t possibly process all of them.  So, the reticular activating system determines what information gets through and what doesn’t.

It’s kind of like a built-in Facebook algorithm in the brain.

You know how you’ll be in a crowded room, with that steady buzz of noise? Suddenly, you hear your name and perk up. Somebody in that room said your name, and it popped out from the background hum. That’s the reticular activating system.

Or you’re thinking you might, maybe, someday want to move to, say, Arizona. And you begin to see articles and photos and signs about Arizona everywhere you look. That’s the reticular activating system. All that content about the great southwest was there all along, but you’d been filtering it out until now.

It’s almost like magic, isn’t it? You think about something … and voila! It appears.

What if we could set the system to work for us in our business and professional life?

Pondering all those blue cars I keep seeing, I got thinking about what else my reticular activating system is letting in. And, as important, what it’s filtering out! What’s getting more of my attention than it really deserves? And … what am I missing?

Suppose I saw potential clients as often as I see blue cars? What would my business be like then? And what if I didn’t dwell on every opportunity missed or mistake made? What would that be like?

So, I did some research.

Plenty of people believe you can program your reticular activating system to produce the results you want. Some of those people are neuroscientists. And many are coaches, preachers, and bloggers encouraging us to change our thoughts and change our lives.

They all advocate some strategies.

  • Setting your intention—knowing what you want and being extremely clear about it.
  • Visualizing the outcome you hope to achieve—making vivid mental pictures of success.
  • Focusing on the positive and quickly moving on from any negative thoughts you might have.
  • Saying or writing affirmations every day to remind your mind about your goal.
  • Making a vision board that depicts what you want in your life and keeping it where you see it many times every day.

It all strikes me as a little woo-woo. But then, really, what do we have to lose?

I’m game. Are you?

I’m going to give it a go, and I hope you’ll join me in this experiment. Think of something you want in your business, or in your life, for that matter. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Now, pick one of those strategies to get your reticular activating system in gear.

Me? I want more speaking engagements now that I’m working again. I have a few gigs booked, but my calendar’s not nearly as full as I’d like it. I had a fabulous experience speaking to the marketing team at Ulta Beauty a couple weeks ago—and so did they. I definitely want to do more of that.

Now, I’m going to use visualization as a strategy to get my reticular activating system working in the right direction. Seeing myself on stage, even looking at that photo of me on stage. Picturing the audience in front of me, smiling and laughing and, yes, clapping. Imagining the social media posts about those successful talks.

I have to tell you, I’m generally more of a word person than an image person. This visualizing thing could be a challenge. It’ll do me good to practice, don’t you think?

What about you?

I’ll look for your comment on the blog. Tell us what goal you’re going for. And how are you going to set your reticular activating system to the task?

We’ll circle back in a few weeks and see how we’ve all done with this. Meantime, give me a wave when you see me drive by in my Canyon River Blue CRV.