Metaphors Gone Wild: Workouts and Quickwittedness

Some companies ask job applicants to design a full-page newspaper ad, promoting themselves. Others have been known to ask tricky questions, such as “Are you intelligent?” followed by ‘How do you know?” You can respond to the unanticipated situation with aplomb by following a few general guidelines.

Before we turn to the tips, consider the Work-Out sessions Jack Welch instituted at General Electric. As demanding as the term suggests, participants in this forum-like setting get a mental workout. They are also allowed to take unnecessary work out of their jobs. And, they can work out problems together. A group is assembled from all parts of the organization. They are briefly addressed by the boss, who provide an agenda and then leaves the room. The group then divides into teams, with each subgroup tackling the basic problem(s) the boss outlined. They also consider factors surrounding it, as well as solutions that might be applied. On the third day, when the boss returns, presentations are made, revealing how the small group thought the problem could best be solved.

The boss, of course, has no idea of what has been discussed. All he or she knows as he sits in the front of the room, is that senior executives are there with him to watch as he reacts to various proposals being made. The boss can only agree to the proposal, or say “no,” or ask for more information by a certain date.” That’s it. Think about what impression she is creating if she rejects every proposal. If she accepts every one. If she asks for more time to think about every proposal presented.

Nerves may easily prevent the boss from responding in a manner that reflects managerial mental ability. Whether you are a manager in such a situation, or simply someone wishing to “hold his own” in a conversation, here are a few tips for overcoming nerves, no matter the metaphoric workout with which you may be dealing yourself.

When you need more time to formulate your thoughts, toss the question or comment back. One phrase you might use is this, “Could you elaborate on that a bit?” Or, “Could you tell me what you mean by ‘ _____’?” When appropriate, you might turn to others in the room and ask, “How do the rest of you feel?”

I once attended a class led by a famous, but aging, European screenwriter and film director. One of the wannabe script writers in the audience stood during the Q&A period, and asked a convoluted question that went something like this: “Can you explain why you use more men than women in your films and why you invariably use dark settings–both literally and figuratively–for most of your films? Further, I’d like to know why anarchy constantly appears as an underlying theme and why there are so few close-ups of the actors’ faces. Finally, could you share with us your tips for breaking into a male-dominated world and how women can do so without appearing to be a threat?”

The response was classic. The older woman graciously agreed to share her knowledge and experience. “My dear,” she said, “I would be happy to answer your questions. Now what was the first one?” Needless to say, the attention-hog couldn’t remember. She sputtered, “Oh, forget it!” and plopped back into her seat.

When asked that “Are you intelligent?” question, a friend of mine used the definition technique. “To me,” she said, quelling her nerves, “intelligence is knowledge and I know more today than I knew yesterday.” She got the job.

Years ago, when I wrote my first book, I had the good fortunate to interview a man who was in the business news on a daily basis back then. “The best thing you can do for your career,” Lee Iacocca advised, “is learn to think on your feet.” His words still ring true.

Dr. Marlene Caroselli is an author, keynoter, and corporate trainer whose clients include Lockheed Martin, Allied Signal, Department of the Interior, and Navy SEALS. She writes extensively about education, business, self-improvement, and careers and has adjuncted at UCLA and National University. Her first book, The Language of Leadership, was named a main selection by the Executive Book Club. Principled Persuasion, a more recent title, was designated a Director’s Choice by the Doubleday Book Club. Applying Mr. Albert: 365+ Einstein-Inspired Brain Boosts, her 62nd book, will be released by HRD Press in 2018.

Autosuggestion, Hypnosis and the Mental Nucleus

Autosuggestion means the person’s self-influence. Thus, the ego is not a consistent and crystallized unit. It consists of one part that can influence the other. The division of these two parts of the ego is simple: the influential side is comprised of the conscious part and the influenced side is in the subconscious. The conscious part of the human mind is just a tip of the iceberg compared to the grand and mysterious subconscious. Actually, we have no information about that part of the ego, which autosuggestion applies to.

In an attempt to conduct a kind of “virtual mapping” of the soul, with the aim of locating and distinguishing that abstract element of the subconscious that is sensitive to suggestion, the best method is evaluating the phenomenon of hypnosis, where suggestion takes on the most direct and focused manifestation.

The Ego Paradox

Beyond the fact that our ego is spread across conscious and subconscious, and that one part can influence the other, hypnosis demonstrates another phenomenon as related to the subconscious ego. It is just this part, which is supposed to be the solid nucleus underlying the conscious ego and which is actually the “core of the mind”, it is this part that is liquid and unstable. It is where we expect the individual to maintain his strongest identity, that his identity is not solid at all. A person can easily be hypnotized into believing that he is someone completely different. A person can be hypnotized to believe that he is living in another place and time, and he will truly believe it. Furthermore, in some cases, a person can be hypnotized into believing that he is an animal and he may believe it in his hypnotic trance, and behave accordingly. When hypnosis was first discovered, there wasn’t much awareness to the severe damage that it may cause to the human psyche. The pioneer practitioners would hypnotize young women into believing that they were hens – they believed it and clucked around – leading some of them to eventually lose their sanity.

The paradox, by which the main nucleus underlying human personality, is the weakest part of his personality, is not unique within the mind-body system. The brain itself, in which all of the sensations and emotions are concentrated, and which is the only organ that senses the body, including any pain or light touch, is actually insensitive and has no reaction to it being touched, pinched or cut.

Hypnosis demonstrates that the human mind conceals a central point that is not bound – not by place, not by time and not by the identity which the individual has developed throughout his lifetime. This part accompanies the individual from birth to death. We encounter it almost every night in dreams in which we find ourselves in another time, another place and, sometimes, bearing a different identity. If we liken the mind (or the psyche) to a virtual ball, the solid external crust is the conscious part, while the core – the point affected by hypnosis, as it circumvents all of the layers and surfaces around it – is the mental nucleus. It is because of the “ego paradox” and its confusing nature, that hypnosis still remains a scientific mystery and the mental nucleus remains unexposed.

An Explanation for the Ego Paradox

At birth, a child is, to a great extent, “tabula rasa” as related to his identity and personality. He is indeed born with genetic attributes, with an instinctive will to survive and with inherent egoism, and yet on all issues relating to his identity and personality, he is highly dependent upon the environment into which he was born. If, for example, he is raised among monkeys or wolves, he will grow to believe that he is a wolf or a monkey (despite feeling the difference between him and them). He will adjust to the environment in which he is living, adopt its customs and norms, feel that he belongs and identifies with it and construct his identity accordingly. He will do all that he can to fit the genetic data, with which he was born, to the reality in which he is growing up. Every baby that is born, regardless of the environment, goes on over the years to develop its character, nature, essence and identity, based on his genetic load and environmental factors.

The ego-building process that every person undergoes does not completely cover the mind, but rather leaves its core, to a great extent, in a neutral stance as relating to one’s identity and personality. Around the core, layers of ego are built up, wrapping it and crystallizing thanks to achievements, experience, the development of self-confidence, reinforcements, status, property, etc. There are people who have created thick and solid layers of protection around the core of their soul, and there are those whose core is more exposed – but for all, it is liquid in terms of identity and personality.

In order to understand the reason for this, we must apply the “proof of the negative” method. Assume that the mind’s nucleus is made up of opposite attributes, i.e. having a clear and crystallized, strong, solid and immutable identity. A person with such a nucleus would find it very difficult to adjust to the many changes that he undergoes in life. He would be unable to cope with the changes occurring to his body, his growth and aging, and the many different roles that he is required to fill throughout his lifetime. He would be unable to handle changes of place, time and living conditions. He would be completely unable to fill the role of another, to masquerade or veer from his stereotypical image. There is no doubt that such a life would be much duller, and that people would behave as sophisticated robots whose conduct and reactions are predictable always.

The weakness of the mental nucleus is also the secret of human strength, since the soul wishes to make up for the weak point therein by strengthening the ego layers covering its nucleus by, as stated, attaining achievements, respect and status.

If every person’s nucleus were rigid, we would be free of many problems: no ego struggles, no wars for respect and status. All the phenomena demonstrating sensitivity, vulnerability, vindictiveness and jealousy would not exist. Furthermore, all the psychological problems relating to identity and personality, such as split personalities, fragmented personalities, failed personalities and various personality disorders, would not exist.

A rigid and solid nucleus would render the desire for achievements and self- fulfillment superfluous. A person with such a nucleus would feel no need to belong to any group. Nor would he feel the need for warmth and love, where it is intended to complete a missing part of his personality.

The need for creating and maintaining an identity, which accompanies the individual throughout his lifetime, is nearly equivalent to his will to survive, which is an inherent genetic factor. There is usually harmony between these two urges, but they might sometimes encounter conflicts. There are people who are willing to die to maintain their identity, dignity, status, independence or the social environment, to which they belong. On the other hand, under the threat of death, many would be willing to surrender their identity and alter it in order to protect their lives.

Suggestive Influence

There are three levels of suggestive influence: suggestion, autosuggestion and hypnosis. We are constantly exposed to suggestions, at every age and every place. They apply, directly and indirectly, to our subconscious and conscious, and can affect our thoughts, emotions, desires, opinions, consumer inclinations, etc. Suggestions do not usually penetrate deep into the mental nucleus.

Autosuggestion, on the other hand, is not directed to the conscious at all and does not intend to alter opinions or direct thoughts. It is completely directed toward the subconscious and its target is emotions.

Hypnosis has the strongest suggestive impact and it is capable of penetrating the mental nucleus. Here too, the weakness of the nucleus is the secret of its power, seeing that by being elastic, it can quickly recapture – following the hypnotic impact – its original form.

Why You Must Face The Fire Of Failure To Succeed

Failure is the flipside of success. No one can escape it; no one has ever escaped it, never. It is one of the many immutable laws of life. Do you agree? Drop me a line, please.

In business, education, health, finances, social media, farming, teaching, governance, the stock market, relationship, blogging, etc, our mindsets determine how we look at failure or success.

It also decides, if our failures in any profession, project, vocation, art, science, skill or knowledge, could make or mar us, for life.

If we look at failure as temporary and therefore a stepping stone to success, we will be able to face the heat, the fire, in order to learn the valuable lessons behind our failures.

But, if we blame the devil, enemies, outside factors, or whatever, for our failures, then the mindset is already fixed and the lessons may not be learnt. Man the devil, man the saint.

Our mindsets determine whether or not we will rise and continue the journey, each time we fail or get stuck, somewhere along the line.

There is nobody on this earth plane that has not failed times without number. No not one. I have failed many times. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but our world is expanding.

Now, to the why. Each time we fail, we introspect, become sober and contemplative, trying to find out what went wrong in our planning, scheming or strategizing. Or who the hell is standing on as an obstacle on our journey to success.

That is, if we are conscious of our failures and wants to take responsibilities for it.

It is okay to blame the devil, outside factors, whatever for our failures. But, in truth, it is not right. This is my take.

When we fail, we should pause to reflect, go back to our drawing table to re-strategize and then take action.

Just like me, I am pretty sure you do not like the discomforts, stress or inconveniences that come with failure.

You and I love pleasure, a near stress free life and the many comforts of life. This is life for you. Therefore, nothing is wrong.

But, in truth, to succeed, we must face the fire, the heat, leave our comfort zones, work our ass off, ignore distractions and learn the lessons, in order to grow. This is the inescapable sides of failure.