January 30, 2010

The Most Powerful Tool for Overcoming Anxiety and Depression — Ever

Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all. — Norman Vincent Peale

Through years of walking through anxiety attacks and depression, I found a single imperative that always restored my sanity and gave me a new focus for the future. Action was the key. And though, as Peale wrote, any action is better than no action at all, there is one type of action that consistently brings clarity to the mind.

Taking structured, even outrageous purposeful action in service of others.

Outrageous Purposeful Action in Service of Others

There’s a mnemonic posted on my office wall. “OPASO” reminds me to seek ways I can take Outrageous Purposeful Action in Service of Others. Why outrageous? Because it focuses the mind on seeking unique ways to serve others. That word reminds me to go the extra mile, to over-deliver, to serve others with open hand, open mind, and open heart.

For action to be purposeful, it must actually help people get what they want. Not what I think they want, but what helps them get more of what they want from life. How do you make sure you’re taking purposeful action? Start by observing the sorts of problems people struggle with. You will automatically be attracted to the problems you’re best suited to serve. When you identify a need, fill it to the best of your ability. It really is that simple.

Deliver More Value Than You Receive in Every Exchange

Here’s something that works wonders: Over-delivery on your promise in every exchange.

You see, every time you enter into a transaction with a person or business, you’re exchanging value. If you are the provider of a product or service, then that beneficial value exchange is the key to attracting more good business. When you deliver more than someone asks — something of measurably greater value in the planned exchange — you plant the seeds for future growth. That goes true not only for business, but for every interaction you have in this world.

Over-deliver to your spouse. Over-deliver to your children. Over-deliver to your cats. Over-deliver to your friends. And to your enemies. Especially to those you consider your enemies.

“But Michael, Doesn’t That Make Me a Sucker?”

No. Anyone who tells you to do just enough to get by is no doubt barely getting by themselves. Don’t fall into the trap of doing “just enough.” I know of no relationship in which “just enough” has ever worked. I’ve been in a few partnerships over the years, and the ones that failed are the ones in which one of us committed only to doing “just enough.”

“Just enough” doesn’t cut it.

Be one of those who does more than “just enough.” Give more than you receive, and you’ll receive more than you can possibly imagine.

Try it. You have absolutely nothing to lose.

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