magic starSummarize by Aili

How to Do Hard Things

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses how acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help founders and entrepreneurs deal with the stress and uncertainty of running a business. It explains the key principles of ACT, including:

  • Experiential avoidance vs. willingness
  • Cognitive fusion vs. defusion
  • Past-future preoccupation vs. present-moment contact
  • Rigid stories vs. flexible perspective-taking
  • Lack of direction vs. clear values
  • Inaction vs. committed action

The article provides examples of how the author applied these ACT principles to overcome challenges in his own entrepreneurial journey, and offers practical exercises readers can try to develop these skills.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] How to Find 'Psychological Flexibility'

1. What is the ultimate goal of ACT according to the article?

  • The ultimate goal of ACT is to help people move closer to what they care about in life.

2. How does ACT view difficult thoughts and feelings, compared to other psychological approaches?

  • ACT doesn't see difficult internal experiences as problems to be resolved, but rather as normal parts of life that only become problematic when they interfere with living a meaningful and engaged life in the present.

3. What are the six core skills outlined in ACT to develop psychological flexibility?

  • Experiential avoidance โ†’ Willingness
  • Fusion โ†’ Defusion
  • Past-future preoccupation โ†’ Present-moment contact
  • Rigid stories โ†’ Flexible perspective-taking
  • Lack of direction โ†’ Clear values
  • Inaction โ†’ Committed action

[02] Experiential Avoidance โ†’ Willingness

1. What is experiential avoidance, and how does it differ from willingness?

  • Experiential avoidance is the tendency to avoid difficult thoughts and feelings. Willingness is the ability to contact discomfort when it's in service of doing things you care about.

2. How did the author's experience with marketing in his first startup illustrate the concept of willingness?

  • The author initially avoided marketing tasks because he felt uncomfortable with them, but later took a growth role where he had to confront his fears. By pushing through the initial discomfort, he was able to develop marketing skills that he previously lacked.

3. How can willingness be developed through formal and informal practices?

  • Formal mindfulness practice of sitting with difficult thoughts and feelings can develop willingness. Informally, willingness can be built by stopping attempts to get rid of painful experiences and instead opening up to them as part of pursuing what you care about.

[03] Fusion โ†’ Defusion

1. What is cognitive fusion, and how does it differ from defusion?

  • Fusion is when we see our thoughts as true and external reality, rather than just cognitive events happening in our minds. Defusion is the ability to notice thoughts as just thoughts, rather than taking them as absolute truth.

2. How did the author's belief that "mistakes are bad" illustrate the concept of fusion?

  • The author had internalized this belief from school, and it caused him to feel like a failure whenever things went wrong in his startup. Defusing from this rigid thought allowed him to be more resilient and engaged in his entrepreneurial work.

3. What is an exercise the article suggests to practice defusion?

  • Waving your hand while saying "I'm not waving my hand back and forth" out loud, to short-circuit the automatic tendency to fuse with your thoughts.

[04] Past-Future Preoccupation โ†’ Present Moment Contact

1. What is past-future preoccupation, and how does it relate to the present moment?

  • Past-future preoccupation is when we get stuck ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, losing touch with the present moment. ACT emphasizes the importance of bringing attention back to the here and now.

2. How did the author's experience with cash flow stress in his startup illustrate past-future preoccupation?

  • The author would get caught up in fears about the company going bankrupt in the future, causing him to lose focus on the meaningful aspects of his work in the present.

3. What practice does the article suggest to cultivate present moment contact?

  • Turning attention to the five senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, and physical sensations - as a way to anchor awareness in the present.

[05] Rigid Stories โ†’ Flexible Perspective-Taking

1. What are rigid stories, and how do they differ from flexible perspective-taking?

  • Rigid stories are judgmental narratives we tell about ourselves or others that flatten their complexity. Flexible perspective-taking involves recognizing the multi-faceted nature of people and being able to see things from their point of view.

2. How did the author's experience with comparison and imposter syndrome illustrate rigid self-stories?

  • The author would get stuck in negative self-narratives about being a "bad" or "incompetent" founder compared to others, which caused him to shield himself from challenges.

3. What is the practice of flexible perspective-taking meant to cultivate?

  • Flexible perspective-taking aims to develop a sense of self that transcends any single story or label, and the ability to empathize with others' viewpoints.

[06] Lack of Direction โ†’ Clear Values

1. How do values differ from goals in ACT?

  • Values are intrinsically meaningful ways of being and doing, whereas goals are discrete milestones that can be achieved.

2. What were two of the author's personal values, and how did he try to embody them in his work?

  • The author's values were "love" and "play". In his coaching practice, he would intentionally approach sessions with those qualities, rather than just trying to be clever or analytical.

3. What is the "tombstone exercise" suggested in the article to explore one's values?

  • Imagining what you would want your tombstone to say, and comparing that to what it might realistically say based on how you are currently living.

[07] Inaction โ†’ Committed Action

1. What is the purpose of the "committed action" process in ACT?

  • Committed action is about translating the insights from the other ACT processes into actual behavioral changes aligned with one's values.

2. How did the author apply the "seven Rs" framework to support his own writing habit?

  • The author used reminders, records, rewards, routines, relationships, reflecting, and restructuring to build a consistent daily writing practice with a friend.

3. What is the ultimate goal of committed action in ACT?

  • The goal is to create larger and larger patterns of behavior in service of one's values, with the aim of living a full and meaningful life.
Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
ยฉ 2024 NewMotor Inc.