Let me introduce you to Mark. . .
Mark is a young copywriter ready to start working for himself and start a freelance copywriting business.
He has built a strong network of potential clients who need copy written for their websites, brochures, marketing campaigns – the whole shebang.
In the beginning, Mark’s business is booming. He has a line of clients waiting to hire him.
He enjoys working from his home office and applying his creative and analytical skills to help his clients.
But after a few months, the leads queue starts to dry up. And because he has been so focused on the task at hand, Mark hasn’t done much to market his own business.
There is no set vision for the business and the types of clients he ideally wants to attract.
Mark starts to feel frustrated and the pressure kicks in. His thinking gets clouded because now he has an “urgent” problem (finding new clients) to take care of. The “important” goal (creating a marketing strategy) takes a backseat.
Over the next few months, Mark focusses on the urgent goal and tries to bring in the leads. But since he doesn’t have a proper strategy around his goals and the ideal client avatar, he feels like he’s running on a hamster wheel.
He starts to wonder, “Am I good enough for this? Do I have what it takes to run a successful business?”
It’s easy to fall in that slump and start questioning whether you’re good enough.
Has that ever happened to you?
You start out with a lot of zeal and passion for a project, and then the inevitable happens. You face a challenge and you now have a choice.
We all have a Mark inside us.
Most people that are unconscious of their behavioural patterns will choose to tell themselves stories of why they can’t do it.
A story is anything we tell ourselves to justify our actions and results.
You may say, “I can’t be a successful entrepreneur because my parents always had a 9-5 job. It’s just not in my genes.” (Level III thinking).
Or you can say, “I’ve always wanted to run a business because of the freedom it offers. I wonder how it’d be and if I could start now. But there are potential threats and challenges; at the same time, I do want a business around my lifestyle. I wonder if I can. . .” (Level II thinking).
Or you can scratch all of that and say, “I know what happens in my life is entirely up to me. I’m 100% responsible to create a successful business and for the results I get. I am thankful for all I have in my life, including the challenges to start a new business. Without challenges there are no opportunities.” (Level I thinking)
Based on life coaching, you’re always living from one of the three levels of thinking.
When you’re on Level III, you invest a lot in the stories you tell yourself.
You have reasons aka excuses of why you can’t do this or why you are not able to act. You have stories around why happiness is elusive and how only the lucky few ones can be successful.
A lot of Level III thinking is addictive because of the drama it creates.
At a deeper level, we all need some form of drama in our lives. Take sport for example. Most people watch it not for the game itself but also for the drama revolving around the players’ lives (as one example). There’s nothing wrong with seeking drama, if it is done in a resourceful and harmless way.
Level III thinking is an unresourceful way of “doing drama”. Because the amount of time we invest in our stories is the time we aren’t investing in our lives. The more time you spend at this level the less you can spend on building your ideal life.
A Level III thinker will also play the blame game pretty often – it’s about what others have done “to them” rather than taking responsibility and deciding to move away from people who have a negative outlook.
If you’re at Level II, you are aware that there are some areas in your life that need changing but you’re not sure how to go about creating the change.
That’s OK though, because awareness is 95% of the journey. This means you are considering ways to achieve your big hairy goals, although at this time you may not be 100% about the how.
You’re clear on your “why” and “what”.
While Level II thinkers have stories they tell themselves about why their life isn’t exactly as they want it, they still experience levels of happiness and fulfillment. Their stories aren’t the end all and be all of their lives – and their level of disappointment and scepticism isn’t as ingrained as it might be for someone playing at Level III.
Someone at Level II might take responsibility for some areas of their lives, especially the areas that they are good at or which they feel most comfortable. When they take responsibility, they like how they feel and want to do it more.
When you operate at Level I, you hold yourself 100% responsible for the results you get, regardless of what the results might be, because you know that anything less means giving away opportunity to bring about change.
Someone living at Level I would never indulge in blame or justification, because they know that doing that simply stops them from learning and growing.
In short, a Level I thinker is not interested in whom to blame, but how to turn around the situation. The focus is always on how to improve the quality of their lives.
You feel gratitude for what you have in your life, including opportunities to learn and grow. You see problems as gifts that help you take life to the next level.
You don’t bemoan the past and forgive anyone who supposedly was responsible for hurting you. It’s easy for you to take yourself lightly, and find the good in every situation.
Here’s an interesting fact: Level I thinking is about living above the line not only when things are peachy but also when the going gets tough.
Extraordinary people live at Level I regardless of what is going on in their lives because they know it isn’t the circumstances that shape them, but what they think and choose as a result of those circumstances.
Most of us go through phases in thinking. It’s not always cut and dried because we swing from one level to another depending on the situation and challenges surrounding us. And then there will be situations when you experience all three levels at the same time.
When you catch yourself stuck in Level III or II, bring yourself above the line and embrace more of Level I. A good place to start is by assuming 100% responsibility and reframing a situation in positive light.
What are your thoughts about the three levels of thinking? Can you relate with any of them? Where do you find yourself most often? Share your experience with us in the comments below.