Do a quick experiment with me. This might even be a bit fun.
Nothing? Buncha lines? Super.
Some of you may recognize this as a bullish ascending triangle pattern from the world of trading, but you may not realize it’s also a story of personal breakthrough… or the failure to do so – mapped out for you.
Patterns are fascinating creatures. They bottle reality for us, and in so doing can either provide incredible heuristics for fast action in a volatile world or can cage the mind in false or limiting bias.
This pattern should do neither because it’s just a triangle. But let’s see if we can make it more, shall we?
In the world of trading – stocks, commodities, crypto, etc – this, like most patterns, represent a battle. Two opposing forces, buyers and sellers, meet one another in a repeatable and often predictable way. The motivation of both players is identical – to maximize profit and minimize loss. But their bias is contradictory.
Now have a look at the initial setup above. We have a rising price (blue line). It meets a wall of resistance (heavy selling) at a certain point and price retreats. After it shakes off a bit of pressure, it makes a second attempt, this time from a higher baseline. Again… no luck getting above the line of resistance.
But on the third attempt it breaks through. I know, charts, not the sexiest of topics… yet. But this is about you, trust me. We’ll get there.
At this stage, we’ve seen a few things. We’ve seen hope and fear play out in a different way than it has the two attempts prior. In this case, the buyers – the bulls – rallied enough strength to overwhelm the sellers – the bears. Bulls profited. Bears lost.
THIS WILL BE REMEMBERED by both, catalogued as a point of significance, and will impact future decision making around the same price point, which we can now call support (rather than resistance).
A new baseline. And then?
Regression. Reversion to the mean. Why?
Aren't bulls flying in clear skies; sellers wallowing in defeat?
The reason for this will seem counterintuitive, but it’s a mechanism that dictates a lot of human behavior – fear.
Sure, the bulls had a great day. They were putting in that work. They got burned a few times along the way but came out on top in the end. So why are they surrendering the potential for further gains?
Because this wide-open space without any boundaries has no clear limits and no clear rules (patterns). And while they broke through resistance, is it real breakthrough? What if it isn’t? What if nothing has changed and my cohorts decide to lock in their new profits before they’re taken away. At this point, the motivation to protect and preserve exceeds the desire to grow.
It’s safer, more comfortable, back there at that defined line of resistance/support.
But a decision must be made. Is the trend going to continue north? Will it fall back below the resistance line again? Or will it meander into formless patterns that neither grow nor fail, but stay in range?
And finally, if the bulls are lucky and conviction of the many is aligned and strong enough, the trend resumes en force, surpassing the recent peak set just before regression, and finding itself in uncharted waters.
Now to your personalization.
I’m in the game of personal breakthrough. If you’re reading this, you may be as well. And if you are, and after reading the breakdown above, you probably see yourself in this pattern. And if you don’t, it’s important you look a little harder.
In every program I run there are forces at play in the hearts and minds of every trainee – ambition (hope) and fear. The former, a construct of the prefrontal cortex, is a rational projection of who you can become. The latter, a leash extended by the limbic (reptilian) brain.
Your amygdala registers change as a threat unless accompanied by overwhelming intrigue, and rather than reinforce and work with your vision of self, it opts for a more energy efficient, static baseline. It forces a return to safety (which doesn’t mean healthy, good, or positive… it just means a modus operandi that you’re familiar with, for better or worse).
Hope-filled effort meets fear of failure over and over. Until one wins.
When breakthrough occurs it’s rarely planned or predicted, which is why it’s so important one never underestimates the value of any individual effort – that workout that feels like too much today, that recommended piece of content, that coaching call, that attempt to apply 'the new' when you'd rather be angry…
We don’t (can’t) know which piece completes the puzzle of insight.
But the odds are being gradually stacked with every action aligned to purpose. Hope grows, self-doubt declines.
And then, the AHA. Breakthrough.
That missing link. That new skill. That critical reframe.
And then there’s you with arms raised spinning in a field with clear blue skies like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, until you realize, “What if I lose it? What if this growth, this breakthrough, these gains aren’t for real? What if I regress?”
And surely enough, you do. You must. And it’s OK.
Regression to the mean is inevitable, for biological as well as psychological reasons. Everything from new neural pathways that dictate new habits, actions, and responses to the acquisition of muscle mass are, at least temporarily, energy inefficient. And between the effort required to continuously sustain them, and the mechanism of fear I mentioned above, regression – a retest of the breakout – is a high probability outcome.
If there is one part of the transformation / growth process that benefits more by coaching than any other, it's navigating this very hairy retest of breakthrough, this reversion to the mean.
Why? Because it comes in disguise, in very subtle forms of self-reinforcement, where tradeoffs and compromises are unclear, and when we think we’ve truly changed.
If I’m lucky, the Weightlessness Process will usher coachees to and through personal breakthrough in a manner that gives us time to address reversion and solidify growth before it releases them back into the wild. But, as is the nature of personal growth, sometimes reversion wins, regardless.
Change is hard.
The fear impulse that arises once one begins to taste the reality of higher-level performance isn’t as you’d expect. It’s not crippling self-doubt or visceral avoidance of the things one must do.
It’s a loss of focus on one’s WHY. It’s attention diverted to the trivial.
This is so damn subtle that I’m worried it’ll get glossed over here. Even with the years I have in the game, noticing those impulses in myself is not easy. It requires practice. It requires a present-to-mind North Star. You cannot lose sight of your WHY.
Why does any of this matter?
Because if an external challenge to your growth process doesn’t arise of its own accord, you WILL create one. Guaranteed. And it’ll be reasonable. And believable. And most importantly, it’ll defer personal responsibility onto someone or something else.
“Things got busy at work this week.”
– Aren’t they always?
“The insights aren’t working right now; I’m going through some shit.”
– You mean you don’t want to apply them when they’re needed? When it’s hard?
“I don’t like the way the coach called me out.”
– Is that reason to lose sight of what you signed up for… for you?
If it’s not a country song, where you lose your job, your wife, and your truck, you’ll figure something out to remove the pressure and responsibility of conscious living above the resistance line. You'll write your own tune.
It’s what you do at THAT point that determines whether growth is consolidated and solidified, or abandoned for that more comfortable sense of self you were trying to leave behind.
In Weightlessness we have foundational tools for centering and sensing, devices that condition and trigger embodied awareness. Whether or not you apply the W method, there is only one way beyond regression.
You’ve got to feel yourself in the here and now. You’ve got to be aware of the impulse to retreat as well as your higher-mind ambitions for growth and transcendence. You’ve got to see your North Star front and center, rather than fixate or ruminate on the trivial.
With conscious, present awareness we embody our breakthroughs, applying them in more complex and challenging circumstances. And with further practice they become default habits, and eventually, the path of least resistance.
Your new baseline is set.
Change is solidified.