Sunday, March 11, 2012

Robert M. Sapolsky

A really good friend, Lois, told me about an extraordinary lecture she attended last week in which the speaker, Robert Sapolsky, spoke of humans and a variety of our attributes including confidence. As coaches we are truly in the confidence business. So I did what anyone would do (!) I Googled him and the word confidence and what appears below jumped up. Isn't life grand?!

Posted by on Nov 7, 2011 in Momentos

I could not be more thrilled about the amount of circulation thegirlwiththewhiteboard has recorded since the site was publicized late last Tuesday night. The support and encouragement of my followers has been enormous, and seeing more and more unfamiliar names and faces following has been a greater joy. For me, December needs to arrive sooner because I can hardly contain how eager I am to start the project on December 2nd. Together, we can keep spreading this to become something truly powerful to many.

"What if...?" This interrogative phrase is used so frequently, but why? Humans are the only creatures that develop anxiety over what could be, unlike the other species on this planet. For class, I once read a book by Stanford University professor and primatologist Robert M. Sapolsky called Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide To Stress, Stress Related Diseases, and Coping. The chapters go on to discuss chemical reactions in the body and the dreaded increase of glucocorticoid levels- we need not go further into the physiology behind all of this- as a result of stress. Translation: stress kills, well, eventually. And what is one way that we accumulate stress? We worry not only about the here and now, but also what is to come. That is what separates us from, say, a zebra. If pursued by a predator, the zebra's stress levels are heightened until the chase is over and, hopefully, the zebra makes it through with his life. Afterwards, the zebra does whatever it is that zebras do. On the flipside, what would we do? We would then stress about when, where and how the next predator would attack us until it either happened or it didn't happen. See the difference? We stress about potential situations, along with what we are presently going through. Sapolsky knew what he was talking about.

Why do we stress about what isn't even certain? I will admit, that as someone who possesses qualities of a Type-A personality, I know exactly what it is like to stress about upcoming deadlines or situations. While it is good to have a healthy amount of planning and execution to arrive at your goals, you can't let it consume you. It is then when you lose sight of what is right in front of you and start overlooking the small wonders that you normally would appreciate. Trust in your abilities; appreciate what you do have, and stop worrying. Even if you are brought to a challenging situation, you will face it and get through it while learning about yourself and becoming more self-assured.

On occasion our "What if...?" could also be referencing a potentially good situation. For example, the day I thought of the idea for this project, my mind flew through many what ifs. But, I obviously chose to make it more than a "what if". It became a certainty. In this case, stop thinking about what could be. Instead, go out there and get it. Did I know if people would consider my idea to be foolish? No. Will I know how people will react to me on the street? No. Did I know how to make a website? No. Had I ever made a business card? No. But, did I care about any of it? No. I wanted something, so I went out and attained it. With passion, everything else will fall into place. With this attitude, I have been carried through achieving anything I was passionate to support. Was I ever disappointed? No, because every situation would have been more disappointing had I not taken a stand and pursued my intended outcome.
Be your own biggest fan. You may not always have someone there to encourage you every step of the way, but by having confidence you will be able to accomplish much without external motivation. What's that? You aren't confident? Solution: fake it 'til you make it. Believe you are confident, challenge yourself in situations, and talk to people. Eventually, you won't be faking anymore; you will have developed your confidence. Voila!

What are you waiting for? Go out and turn your "what if" into something real!

1 comment:

buddy2blogger said...

Dr.Sapolsky is a great writer, in addition to being an extraordinary primatologist and scientist. His book “A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons” is a class act and should be read by any nature or animal lover.