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How mindset is like making balloon animals

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Let’s go into our imaginations for this one.

Imagine, if you will, that you are a balloon animal artist.

You only make one type of balloon animal; a dog. But you are AMAZING at it. You can inflate and twist out a pup in under 60 seconds. You are a pro, so much so that you don’t even really need to be consciously present to make your creation. You can create the dog without even thinking about it.

So that’s what you do. Someone asks for a balloon animal, you create a dog.

So there you are, with a lineup of people asking you for the dog. No problem! You can whip these puppies out like no one’s business.

And then I’m in front of you, and I say “I want you to make me a butterfly.”

Insert screeching brakes here. “I make dogs” you say.

I persist. “I want a butterfly.”

You give this some thought. Could you make a butterfly? If you can make a dog you can probably make a butterfly, right?

So you give it a shot. But you have to pay attention. Creating a balloon animal in under 60 seconds is now out the window. Creating a butterfly? You have to think about that. Should the air pressure in the balloon change? Where should it be twisted and bent? How much length of balloon do you need to create all the curves required to make the shape of a butterfly?

The next day I ask for a butterfly again. And the following day. And now, daily, you are creating a butterfly. And you find that now, since you’re challenging yourself to it, you think about creating the butterfly even when you’re not actually making the balloon animal version. You just find yourself often going through the motions in your mind, as if your brain is preparing for this new reality.

The other people that stand in line for your balloon animals, they start to get used to the fact that you can now create butterflies, and in fact are choosing to create butterflies instead of dogs. Some people are uncomfortable with it. Some appreciate the change.

For you surmounting the challenge of creating the butterfly in the first place, and then becoming an expert at it, is rewarding and is making you think a little bigger. If the butterfly was possible, what else is?

This is a good metaphor for mindset, or a set mind. Like the dog animal balloon, we get habituated into what we know best. Words (thoughts), emotions, and behaviors get woven into our being, and keep us locked into a pattern of reacting and creating in a specific way.

In order to change those reactions and what you create in your life, you have to take up the challenge of creating a new pattern. And you have to embrace, and ask yourself over and over for the butterfly, even when your brain keeps trying to drive you back to the dog because it’s so comfortable and efficient to just stick with what you know.

So what’s your dog, and what’s your butterfly? I help people figure that out, and make the change.

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Thanks to Charles Deluvio on Unsplash for the top photo.