As someone with a number of books and a popular TedX talk to his name, American thought leader Tom Asacker is in big demand.
He’s a scholar of the mind whose particular focus is on the way in which we form our belief systems and how that effects the choices we make.
And in our latest Astley Media In Conversations With webcast, he told me the biggest danger many of us faced right now, especially in business, was telling ourselves the wrong story.
He said: “During my work, the more I looked at people out there and organisations who were stuck, it was because they were stuck in the story they were telling themselves. They didn’t allow their curiosity to pull them out of that story. They had grabbed onto some identity and said, ‘OK, this is who I am.’
“Look at Elon Musk who started at PayPal. If he had said ‘I’m an executive of payment processing company’, he wouldn’t be making electric cars and launching rockets because he would have told himself a story, that then became his identity, which he would have wanted to hold on to.
“I’m trying to tell people… don’t tell yourself a story about who you are. If you want to tell yourself a story, tell yourself the same story everyone should be telling themselves which is: ‘I am pure possibility. I am curious, I am compassionate, I am creative and I can do anything I put my mind to. I just need the energy and the connections and the ideas to go out there and do it, and the guts to go and do it’.”
We caught up with Tom during lockdown at his home in Boston where he admitted that, like many of us, he had sometimes felt overwhelmed during the pandemic.
He said: “Even though I am hyper aware of how the mind works, I’m not immune to these feelings that come over me, like they come over other people.
“You think ‘I understand all this and therefore it won’t happen to me. I won’t get edgy, I won’t get moody’… and what I’ve discovered is that my awareness of how my mind works doesn’t prevent those feelings from arising.
“What it does is prevent me doing something that might be ill-advised… writing something, posting it, saying something to someone. It prevents that from happening but it doesn’t prevent those feelings from coming in.
“The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is living life this way with an understanding of what’s going on inside of you requires constant adjustment and readjustment. You need to continually work it as if you were working an exercise programme.”
To hear the full, fascinating, interview and find out why Tom once dressed as a Star Trek character to deliver an annual report at a GE company conference, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-n06RbpCHY
CEO Astley Media