Wanderlust Hollywood Wisdom 2.0: Mike Gervais

I had the pleasure of attending the Wisdom 2.0 conference at Wanderlust Hollywood last week. The conference aims to bring together like minded wellness entrepreneurs to discuss ideas on business, self improvement, yoga, meditation and wellness. The panel of speakers was extremely varied and I wanted to share some of their insights.

In the first series of these blog posts, I will discuss identity foreclosure presented by performance psychologist Mike Gervais. Mike's job is to bring mindfulness practices to companies, sports teams and artists. Although his approach to these very different clients is tailored to their specific needs, his beliefs on meditation and well being are broad enough to be applied to all walks of life.

Gervais explains that we create a barrier within ourselves which he dubs identity foreclosure. Meaning, we form a protective shell around ourselves and judge each other because of it. His example is asking the question what do you do? He believes that immediately after we respond, we are pigeonholed into a stereotype in our conversation, where the other person encloses you in a bubble and now filters your conversation accordingly. I agree with Gervais in this theory and have been frustrated with the labels people are expecting to hear from us just as much as we put pressure on ourselves to adhere to these labels. We are no longer only responsible to always like refreshed, healthy (whatever that means), dress a certain way, drive a certain car or live in a certain place, we are also judged for our job! People living in a routine life without a mindfulness practice or attention to their health are facilitating this label shaming behavior and the more time we are spending in front of our screens and tuning out our intuition and thoughts, the less likely we are to converse with others on a more profound level, develop hobbies or question ourselves and the world we live in. 

Gervais also talks about training our body, craft and mind. Of the three, he believes mind training is most important because we take our mind with us wherever we go and this is a common attribute to all people. If we want to excel, we can't leave our mind to chance (be it in sports, in building a fortune 500 company or any other aspect of your life).

Mike asked an important question that he believes we all need to take the time to answer.

What is your philosophy?

This is an intellectual exercise to help you understand the way you make decisions. Your answer should be clear and concise for others to understand. This exercise allows you to be yourself even in the most hostile environments. Gervais says that there is no way to measure someone's mindfulness through data and numbers. Rather, mindfulness can be assessed through the decision making framework that you establish and adhere to and that which will be present in all of the decisions that you make and thoughts you manifest. 

Do you practice your philosophy once you make a commitment?

To have a masterful outcome, you must have a masterful process. Prepare and execute your framework and don't forget about the here and the now. When you know it can be hard, when others don't want to see you succeed - be true and authentic to your craft.

This concept of being so present in your beliefs that you won't let anything disturb your inner peace is called the flow state. It can be achieved by communicating clearly with others, being here and now, being in sync with time and space and setting clear goals. If you can't describe what you stand for, you haven't completed the work yet. 

To find your flow, ask yourself if you can describe the sound in your head when you are at your best. That is the feeling you want to achieve to be your best self - always. Try spending more time in nature; use it as inspiration for your mind, body, fitness and cognition. 

Gervais ends his discussion by asking us to stop thinking and behaving like 20th century people (their need for a fast outcome and instant gratification for their efforts brought us to where we are today). We must follow ancient wisdom, yet stay progressive. Work hard, but know when to let go. The most hostile environment is the one we create ourselves and to avoid creating hostility, we must compete to be our very best together rather than against one another.