Jim Rohn

The Most Important 15 Minutes of Your Life

In my practice of the martial art of Aikido, I learned a valuable lesson the other day that applies to all areas of life.  If applied, this one lesson might be the single most important principle for changing one’s life- in any area- financial, career, relationships, emotional, spiritual and physical. It is a universal law and people tend to do the opposite and therefore get adverse results in their life. 

About a week and a half ago, there were a bunch of white belts and few black belts training together. it was towards the end of a two hour training session. We thought we had really learned this particular defense. Hell, we had been working on it for almost two hours at that point. Then out of nowhere, the Sensei stops our practice and calls our attention to a very specific focal point. I’m paraphrasing, but he said something like, “what seems to be getting overlooked here is the opening movement. If you don’t take the attackers balance on the opening movement- the rest of the defense is near worthless. A great opening move, sets up for an easy throw and pin. However, without taking your opponents balance, you will never submit your opponent- I don’t care how good you are at the throw and the pin.” 

When I first heard it, it seemed simple and boring instruction. It was just about to come in one ear and go through the other, before I caught myself being lazy. Then I asked myself a better question: “What applications could this have for life?”- because I have found that Aikido is truly a metaphor for life. I have seen that all the lessons I have learned on the mat carry over to life, and this lesson was no different.

Aikido defenses typically have 3 or 4 steps in them. The opening movement a lot of the times is about “getting off the line of attack” (in order to protect yourself) as well as trying to take your opponent’s balance so they are now at a disadvantage. There is nothing sexy or exciting about the opening movement- EVER. The rest of the defense is where the exciting Steven Seagal stuff occurs. But if you don’t set your opponent up in the first step, the later (and more thrilling) movements won’t work. The opening movement sets the tone for the rest of the progression. You’ll commonly hear people say, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish”. Maybe  so, but the greater truth may be that a poor start sets such a terrible tone that the rest of the process often times will never fully recover. And hell, why would you want to live by that motto in the first place- it’s setting you up for a life where you’re constantly digging yourself out of holes. 

Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed and that bad mood just carried on with you for the rest of the day? It was like you were doomed to have a bad day. Everything seemed to go wrong. I’m sure you’ve had days where the opposite was true too. This case of one’s mood and emotions is great place to start when talking about setting the tone. Opening your day with a practice that gets you physically, emotionally and mentally prepared to face challenges optimistically, feel confident and assertive and overall be in a positive state is crucial. Do you think a pro football player is going to show up to the Superbowl and hope to feel good? Hell no, he is going to get himself into a resource state irrespective of the circumstances and external factors. It could be -20 degrees and snowing, his dog could have died, he could have lost his starting job to a rookie. It doesn’t matter, a true professional brings the state of certainty to the field. He isn’t there looking for external feedback to tell him how he should feel or how he should play. 

With this I recommend implementing a ritual that gets you into a peak emotional state during the first 15 minutes of your day. Maybe it is going to the gym. Maybe it is jumping on a mini trampoline while listening to your favorite music. It could a could shower or meditation. Whatever gets you into a positive emotional state and gets your body moving is going to be beneficial. It’s amazing the carryover that will take place throughout the rest of the day. Momentum is an underrated characteristic within human beings. Why is it that we are blind to the fact that the littlest shit always builds to create bigger shit, an eventually monumental shit in our lives. Jim Rohn always said, 

 

“Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day.”

These tiny errors in judgment that get repeated everyday typically stem from our unconscious emotional patterns that habituate in our daily lives. We wake up tired and hit our snooze button 3 or 4 times. This passivity then creeps into every aspect of our existence and compounds into the failure we inevitably face. But if you change the opening movement and consciously choose to set the tone differently each and every day- it’s amazing the kind of momentum that will start to build. You will start to feel better, more energized, more assertive, more confident. These qualities will start to reward you in your work, your relationships, your finances and all aspects of your life. Pretty soon you will start to believe yourself to be a winner, a champion and someone who is a master of their own experience. It is at this point where the Tony Robbins, Richard Branson’s and Marc Benioffs built their success. They became a success through these small rituals, which ultimately created their character. The outside world loves to view their success in terms of their public accomplishments. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Stephen Covey avowed this by saying,

“Private victories always precede public victories”.

The first 15 minutes of your day is the most important. It will set the tone. If you enter your day from a place of uncertainty and passivity, are you just hoping that something will click with you and you’ll all the sudden get some pep in your step? No it’s time to consciously create the life you want. And you do this by a simple ritual in the first 15 minutes after you wake up in the morning. I suggest doing something that radically activates your physiology. Because the quickest and the most surefire way to change the way you feel is to radically shift the way you move your body. The power of physiology is a topic that has been discussed in past posts and will be discussed in the future. It is a crucial linchpin to mastering your emotional life. 

Here are some possible rituals to start your day with:

-Jump on a mini trampoline (rebounder) while listening to some music (you could turn this into a formal anchoring practice with a vision board/mandala). {This has other healthy effects, as it pumps the lymph in our bodies}

-Go for a run or bike

-Take a cold shower or contrast shower (hot/cold- back and forth)

-Yoga

-Martial Arts

-Lift weights

-Go for a brisk walk

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The Most Important Person You Haven’t Met Yet

Let me ask you a few questions.  If there was one person in the world you could meet and your entire life would turn around, who would it be? What would they be able to provide you with? How would your life be different? Just think about these questions for a moment. Sit and ponder them. And whenever you’re finished thinking about those questions (and maybe spending some time reflecting in your journal) keep on reading and you’ll see how you will come to meet that very person very soon.

The other day I was listening to some old audio cassette tapes from the 1980’s by Napolean Hill and W. Clement Stone entitled Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude. Though these tapes are ancient, they are the furthest thing from obsolete. It’s amazing how the laws of success and happiness are timeless. There’s something very satisfying about putting a cassette tape into a tape player and hearing the “click” right before it starts playing. Then when the tape is finished- flipping it over to listen to the other side. While I’m listening to these I sometimes imagine other greats like Tony Robbins, Sylvester Stallone, Jack Canfield and Marc Benioff listening to these same personal development cassette tapes decades ago. I use these old school cassette tapes as a form of learning. I have them playing in the background when I’m cooking dinner or brushing my teeth or cleaning the house. I see it as learning through osmosis. Though I am not taking notes and intently listening to every word- they are becoming deeply ingrained in my unconscious mind. Think about who you would be and where your life would be if you had the belief system and model of the world of Napolean Hill, Tony Robbins or W. Clement Stone. 

It was just the other day when I was listening to this tape by Hill and Stone and this one story jumped right out at me and caught my attention- so much so- that I had to rewind the tape and listen to it another two times! Here is story:

A lesson learned from a child. There is a wonderful little story about a minister who, one Saturday morning, was trying to prepare his sermon under difficult conditions. His wife was out shopping. It was a rainy day and his young son was restless and bored, with nothing to do. Finally, in desperation, the minister picked up an old magazine and thumbed through it until he came to a large brightly colored picture. It showed a map of the world. He tore the page from the magazine, ripped it into little bits and threw the scraps all over the living room floor with the words: 

“Johnny, if you can put this all together, I’ll give you a quarter”. 

The preacher thought this would take Johnny most of the morning. But within ten minutes there was a knock on his study door. It was his son with the completed puzzle. The minister was amazed to see Johnny finished so soon, with the pieces of paper neatly arranged and the nap of the world back in order. ‘Son, how did you get that done so fast?” the preacher asked. “Oh,” said Johnny, “it was easy. On the other side, there was a picture of a man. I just put a piece of paper on the bottom, put the picture of the man together, put a piece of paper on top, and then turned it over. I figured that if got the man right, the world would be right.” The minister smiled, and handed his son a quarter. “And you’ve given me my sermon for tomorrow, too,” he said. “If a man is right, his world will be right. ” There’s a great lesson in this idea. If you are unhappy with your world and want to change it, the place to start is with yourself. If you are right, your world will be right. This is what PMA is all about. When you have a Positive Mental Attitude, the problems of your world tend to bow before you. 

 

I hope by this point it has been revealed to you that your ‘future you’ is the most important person you haven’t met yet.  Jim Rohn used to say something very similar to what Hill and Stone were preaching when he said, “if you want life to change, you’ve gotta change. If you want life to get better, you’ve gotta get better. It’s the only way it happens. Luck shows up for people and it leaves them. But if you’re constantly improving who you and what you give- GAME OVER!” 

There are two relationships, two types of communication- that if you master these two- success, happiness and fulfillment is unlimited to you in the future. The first is your relationship with yourself. The second is your relationship with the outside world. However there is a caveat here. 99% of people try to master their relationship with the outside world. They seek approval, love, significance and acceptance from other people and the rest of the world. You may even be able to get this love and acceptance from others just by working to elicit reactions and responses from others and the outside- all while paying no focus to the first relationship (your communication with yourself). Most of our world employs this strategy. That is why we have a society full of posers, followers and people pleasers. I would argue that the issue with this externally focused approach is that it doesn’t lead to fulfillment because you are not expressing your truest nature.  If our greatest fulfillment is ultimately who we become- then how fulfilled and satisfied will we be when we spend our lives being a hostage to the love/approval and reactions of those around us?  As a mentor of mine has told me on a few occasions, “it is far better to be the right person, than to find the right person”. 

Robbin Williams, Chris Farley and John Belushi are great examples of men who mastered their communication with others and the outside world but had no relationship with themselves. They were loved, adored, accepted and very talented individuals. No one from the outside would have thought that they had a troubled internal world.  It is sad to say but they never mastered their internal communication, their relationship with themselves. They in fact neglected to even consider their relationship with them self. 

This is why the most important relationship and communication you can have in this world is the one with yourself. It should be prioritized over your relationship with the outside world- which even includes your family, relatives and friends. Without a compassionate and loving relationship with yourself, your life will be a constant struggle and suffering is guaranteed. Even better is that once you begin to master your internal communication and your relationship with yourself- your relationship with the outside world and other people takes on the same form. If you have a loving and compassionate relationship with yourself, then you will also have that same relationship with other people and the outside world. Yes, the simplicity and beauty of it. THE WORLD IS A MIRROR.

Yes, The world is a mirror. What do I mean by this? Generally speaking, the world we experience externally is nothing more than a mirror image and an identical representation of our internal world. This might sound trite, probably cliche and possibly boring. Yet this one metaphor applies to so many different facets of our human experience on this earth that perhaps you might get one new distinction out of this, that in turn will result in a 1% change. And that 1%, which right now seems meaningless, compounded over the course of days, months, weeks, years and decades- could be the difference in millions of dollars, a better family life or more fulfilling relationships.

So what does the metaphor “the world is a mirror” even mean?

The first way that this is practical is that you will always receive what you give out in world. If you are constantly giving love and kindness to the world, that is exactly what you will receive. It even goes for money too. The more money you give away, the more it will come back to you. So you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll get it back- just fucking give. The same is true for negative emotions and behavior.  Why is it that depressed people keep getting negative outcomes in their life? Because they are giving virtually nothing and looking to get everything. I think Wayne Dyer’s quote sums it up best (which I might have written about in a past post: 

“When you squeeze an orange, you’ll always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what’s inside. The same logic applies to you: when someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, or says something unflattering or critical, and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, that is what’s inside. If love and joy are what you want to give and receive, change your life by changing what’s inside.”

The second way in which the world is a mirror involves the way we view other people and our relationships with other people. Think of a time when you saw someone or met someone who you didn’t like or you believed to be “beneath you”. Maybe they were not as rich as you or not as good at something as you. And you instantly compared yourself and put yourself above them. Ironically, in this very moment you were doing nothing more than uncovering the way you really feel about yourself. When you think about others poorly and treat others poorly, that is truly a reflection of the way you treat yourself and think about yourself. You don’t see the world as it is, you see the world (and others) as you see yourself. Be conscious of this. Whenever you are being critical of someone, you are truly being critical of yourself. So when you look down on someone and consider them inferior, you are really expressing your own feelings of inferiority. The same goes for if you feel like you are perfect and you constantly are condemning others and their ways. This is just a grandiose situation of smoke and mirrors. In reality, you are projecting your feelings about yourself onto everyone else in the world you may come into contact with. That is why accepting everyone else (and everything) as they are is an incredibly powerful practice- because you in turn are accepting and loving yourself for exactly who you are. 

To nail down this point, there is a Hindi word- Genshai (GEN-shy). It means that you should never treat another person in a manner that would make them feel small. That means a rival, a homeless person or even a kid. IT EVEN MEANS YOURSELF. We spend so much time in self deprecating sub-vocalized self talk, belittling ourselves is almost like a full time job for us and we don’t even realize it. We’re on automatic, we’re not even conscious of it. Look to treat everyone you come into contact with- with dignity, respect and love. Can you find something good within everyone? I wonder what your life would look like and feel like to live with such unconditional love for all people. 

Perhaps this sheds some light on the animosity, resentment or the critical nature in which you may be operating with in your life. One strives so hard and diligently for success and sees everything as cutthroat competition. As a result, we are constantly making comparisons and negative appraisals of other people. Ultimately this pattern of thought and behavior is creating deep feelings of inadequacy and insecurity within our self. Take competition, judgment and criticizing out of one’s life and the world is their oyster. The wellsprings of success, wealth, love, joy and abundance open up and flow endlessly. Once this awareness is cultivated, the freedom to live fully and love fully becomes realized. 

The third point of discussion I find relevant has to do with how our world rewards altruism as well as loving and serving others. If your intent is only to serve yourself and only do things for your own gain, then you will only reap a limited reward. If your intent is to serve your family, you will reap a greater reward and a greater level of insight. If your intent is to help your community, you will gain an even greater level of insight and reward. AND if your intent is to serve humanity and contribute massively to mankind and everyone on this planet, then the amount of insight and reward you will receive in return is infinite. It is unlimited. 

Even when you are selfish and only looking out for yourself, it often times still tends to help someone else in some way. When the bumblebee goes from flower to flower to get nectar- it drags pollen along and fertilizes the flowers. It doesn’t try to, but it is contributing to the creation of life out of it’s own selfish act. With that being said- life serves more of what serves life. Everything has a web of connection. Reflect on this. Motive does matter. We will do a lot more for other people than we will ever do for ourselves. 

On a closing note, James Allen in As A Man Thinketh wrote something that illustrates this concept perfectly:

“Man is made or unmade by himself, in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself.  He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace”.

How Batman and Abraham Lincoln Can Change Your Life

In the world of film and cinema a “character actor” is best described as an actor that dedicates a portion of his life to learn everything about the person he is playing in his upcoming film. He then completely dedicates his entire life to learning and adopting the behavior, looks, mannerisms, speech, personality and practically everything about the character he is playing in the upcoming film.  It is quite a radical approach to acting. Daniel Day Lewis might be considered the greatest character actor of our generation. He played Abraham Lincoln in the movie Lincoln. He absolutely embodied Abraham Lincoln in every regard. You might be asking why I am talking about this cinematic concept of the ‘character actor’.  Maybe this example of the character actor will make my point a little clearer. Heath Ledger played the role of the Joker in the Batman movie The Dark Knight in 2008 and soon thereafter took his own life. Some speculate that his suicide was a result of him over-identifying with his role as the Joker.  Though there is no concrete proof of this and nor will there ever be a verdict on such a speculation, let’s take a deeper look at this process that a character actor undergoes in preparing for his role. 

For months (probably well over a year to be more accurate) leading up to the Dark Knight, Heath Ledger played his role of Joker 24/7 in order to really fully embody it and perfect it. Some might see this as harmless fun- sure. But what was he really doing? What is really going on here? He was learning an entirely new “way of being”- a totally different beingness.  He was 100% embodying a villain that had maniacal beliefs and lethal intentions. He was practicing over and over again- being sinister, dishonest, violent and slippery.  Through all the months of rehearsing this and practicing this new set of beliefs, behaviors and expressions- one can’t help but to think that he had wired this new identity to his nervous system so strongly that he actually in some ways became the Joker.  If this is true, then it is no surprise that he fell into a deep depression. He probably had an existential identity crisis and couldn’t look at himself in the mirror after seeing who had become. The shame must had been enormous. 

Obviously it is not confirmed that Health Ledger committed suicide as a result of his role of playing the Joker, however I think that this example of a ‘character actor’ can be an effective metaphor for understanding the nature of identity, beingness and personal development.  Simply put, what Heath Ledger did in preparing for the role of the joker (rehearsing and practicing a way of being and an identity) is the same exact process as what we are doing as humans all the time- we just aren’t conscious of it. We are always anchoring something to our nervous system and conditioning (learning) some behavior, thought pattern or emotional reaction (ultimately a way of being). As long as we are breathing and conscious- we are rehearsing some unique beingness. This is good news and bad news. Let me start with the bad news. The bad thing about this is that 97% of the human race is conditioning into their nervous systems shitty and did-empowering states like fear, anxiety, depression, resentment, etc.  On the other hand, the good news is that if we wake up from our trance, we can actually take control of our conditioning and begin to move in the direction of who we actually want to become.

By now you might be asking the question- “well since Heath Ledger and Daniel Day-Lewis are actors- aren’t they just acting?” Yes of course they are actors, but they differentiate themselves from other actors because they embody their role to the fullest and let that become a part of their identity for some finite amount of time. Isn’t this precisely what we are doing as humans? We are doing nothing more than acting and then creating a story around our acting so it forms a set beliefs about ourselves aka an ‘identity’ or ‘personality’. This is kind of screwed up right? Maybe, but what’s even more screwed up is how we as humans tend to  “act” in such an incongruent way that our nervous system is tied up like a pretzel.  Yes the vast majority of us are UNCONSCIOUSLY being just like a character actor.  We are always conditioning some pattern into our nervous system whether we like it or not.  However the patterns we are wiring in are likely to be incongruent- pulling us hard and jolting us in opposite directions.  Love, joy and peace are pulling us in one direction while fear, shame and anger pull us in the other direction. No wonder we can’t get anything accomplished. We are “acting” out a role of pure incongruence.  Then when we don’t get the results we want in life- we beat ourselves up over it and add even more shit to our giant shame sandwich.  Think about it- we have the unique power to visualize and determine who we want to become as a person. We can visualize that person, step into that person and with enough practice we can begin to embody that person.  Then after months and years of practicing this way of being and ‘acting like this person’- we will actually become this person. This is a beautiful thing if you see it for what it is. Some people might see this phenomenon as dark or manipulative or against God’s will. I see it as a huge opportunity. You have to choose wisely who you want to become. Because you could become a complete asshole. You could also come to understand that you have the unique power to serve, heal and love to an exponential degree. You could also not choose and let your life unfold on a ‘default’ setting.  This is how 97% of society operates and they turn out to be fat, broke, divorced and depressed.  Why is this? Because they are conditioning mixed messages into their nervous system at all times. They have mixed associations to everything. This keeps them in no mans land- never really happy or never really sad, never really successful or never really a complete failure. Do you see the predicament in not making a conscious choice about who you are to become?

 So what I am proposing is that we have the unique power to decide our destiny- to make a decision about the person we are going to become. And once we make this decision, we can rehearse it daily, step into it, embody this person and ultimately become this person. Create such a crystal clear image in your mind of this person you wish to become and overlearn the shit out it. This will completely shift your way of being and the great news is that it is entirely an inside job. Regardless of what kind of feedback the external environment is giving you- you can continue to be this person and condition this way of being into your nervous system until it becomes automatic and you become unconsciously competent at being the person you want to be. And once you become that person, it’s not like the process stops- you just continue to grow and integrate more fully.  I see this approach and understanding to personal development as highly practical and an ideal combination of Maxwell Maltz (Psycho-Cybernetics), Milton Erickson, Richard Bandler, John Grinder, Tony Robbins, Napolean Hill (Think and Grow Rich), Joe Dispenza (Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself) and Alex Loyd. (Beyond Willpower) 

 

Now this leaves you only one question…

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO BECOME? choose wisely, however make the choice, or someone else will for you. Or as Jim Rohn liked to say, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

 

When Success is the Ultimate Failure

You wouldn’t be looking at this if you were 100% content with you current life and circumstances. And I’m not sure that ever becoming 100% content with your life is a recipe for success, fulfillment and happiness. By being 100% satisfied and content with your current life, there is no room for growth and progress. And inside all of us, I believe, is the need to grow so that we have more to give. Our yearning to grow and to give are the needs of our spirit and the soul. This is why I believe if you aren’t growing, you’re dying. How often do you hear about successful and wealthy corporate executives who retire and move down to Florida with the intention of doing nothing but relax, that die soon thereafter. It’s an amazing phenomenon. They literally within a month or two of retirement. Our nervous systems weren’t built to sit on the beach and drink pina coladas all day.  We were built to be constantly improving and growing ourselves so that we have more to give to others (whether it be the ones we love, the community we live in or the rest of the world).  Another place where this shows up is in depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety are great signals. They typically manifest themselves as a result of a neurotic and intense self focus. People who are clinically depressed as well as those who suffer from anxiety (the co-morbidity between anxiety and depression is high) have mastered focusing their attention on themselves and their problems.  As a metaphor, people who are depressed are literally running a negative tv commercial about themselves and their problems on repeat- over and over in their mind. They spend virtually none of their attention and focus on helping others or getting outside of their narrow view of the world. Anxiety is much of the same.  This is why people commonly say that depressed and anxious people should spend time around those who are less fortunate. Additionally, Dale Carnegie in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living affirmed this idea when he wrote, “A good deed, said the prophet Mohammed, is one that brings a smile of joy to the face of another. Why will doing a good deed every day produce such astounding efforts on the doer? Because trying to please others will cause us to stop thinking of ourselves: the very thing that produces worry and fear and melancholia.” And there is a stark difference between the ‘pleasing’ he is talking about and ‘people pleasing’. People pleasing comes at the expense of one’s own happiness. People pleasing is being an emotional hostage to others and allows no room for free self expression.

 

Many people initially enter the self help and personal development world because they are hungry for more success- whether it be money, relationships, career success, power, possessions, etc. They then seek strategies and methods for achieving these external goals. I have no problem with success driven individuals. Success is a noble goal. However I think what many of these success seekers fail to understand is that just by getting the money, the car, the house, the girl or their perfect physique- this will not lead to happiness and contentment in and of itself. What leads to true fulfillment is not what we get or achieve, but who we become as a person. Interviews with numerous 80 and 90 year olds’ who are on their death beds have consistently affirmed this overlooked distinction. Jim Rohn always affirmed this by saying, “The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become”.  Have you ever achieved a goal that you had wanted so dearly and once you got it you asked yourself, “Is this it? Is this all there is?” The pleasure and enjoyment derived from the money, the possession, or the actual goal that was attained is a temporary high. It might last a day, a week or a month, but soon thereafter you will return to your default state of existence and only be left with the person you have become. This is why people who win the lottery see only a momentary spike in their level of happiness and then return to their default level soon thereafter. Unfortunately lottery winners almost always find a way to lose all their winnings and return to their default financial level too. This is not a coincidence. Money is nothing more than a symbol for the amount of value we are able to provide as a human being.  And most people choose to chase money directly and never focus on the value they are providing to others. Most people seek external goals for the possession of the prize in and of itself, when in reality the quest for the external goal is a journey that is going to require them to grow, develop and improve themselves in a way they never expected. Such a journey is going to be rewarding not because of the prize that is sitting at the end of the road, but because of the person they will have to become to get to the finish line. Enjoyment is found in the journey. The end result is a pleasant reward temporarily, but the ultimate fulfillment is found in who the seeker had to become to get there. 

 

Understanding these distinctions is crucial for your own journey toward greater success and fulfillment.  Many spend their entire life climbing one latter, only to realize that it is resting against the wrong wall.  The question you should be asking yourself is not what external goal you think will make your life better, but rather who you must become in order to be satisfied and fulfilled. Step into your 80 year old self and look backwards. This exercise of evaluating your current path from your 80 year self is about operating out of the context rather than the content. Most people make huge life decisions based on what is the easiest or most comfortable route in that moment. They inherently sacrifice long term success and fulfillment for short term comfort. Its kind of funny, people spend more time planning their next vacation then they do planning the rest of their life. 

 

This post is not to sway you away from going after your goals and dreams, rather it is to awaken you to the fact that the goals themselves are not going to be the things that provide the ultimate enjoyment and fulfillment.  The person you are to become en route to your goals is the ultimate prize. The actual goal is just the cherry on the top and a great symbol to remind you of the person you have become. Understanding this simple yet commonly overlooked premise of personal development can literally save your life. Failure is not the ultimate failure. Failure is temporary. The ultimate failure is reaching your ultimate goal and still not being fulfilled.

 

 

 

Why 99.9% of People Can’t Get Themselves to Change- HOW TO BE THE 0.1%

How often do we as human beings accomplish something and then proceed to just shrug it off like it never happened? We do something good, maybe feel good for a moment, then we just let it drift on by and we forget about it for the rest of eternity. This positive experience and emotion never even imprints in our subconscious memory. Dr. Rick Hanson, one of the world’s renowned expert in mindfulness and neuroplasticity explains it best when he said, “In effect, the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but teflon for positive ones”.   Our brains weren’t created to make us happy, they built to keep us alive.  They are constantly on the look out for threats to our survival aka negative experiences.  This is likely the root of this negativity bias that occurs in our cognition and memory.  However, this way of processing the world is also incredibly detrimental to our identities. We are so quick to raise the standard and look onto the next goal or task in sight that we never actually register the task we recently achieved as a “success”. I think this is the most underrated factor in the success equation.  The key difference in changing and enhancing one’s identity is this constant acknowledgement and celebration of even the smallest progress towards one’s goal or destiny. If you are only going to celebrate and acknowledge your success once you achieve your big goal and your ultimate destiny- it will never happen. You will never achieve your big goal because you will have not built that new and improved identity that is required to achieve that goal in the first place. The winning and successful identity must always precede the attainment of the goal- plain and simple. You must become the kind of person (and more importantly see yourself as that kind of person) that can achieve the goal before you actually can attain it. If you do not see yourself as that kind of person with 100% certainty, then good luck- you’ll never get there.  My Dad always said that true greatness comes about when competence meets confidence.  Celebrating the small victories and progress along the way is what builds the confidence.  Think about something in your life that you are 100% certain about. Something that is so tied to your identity that you experience anxiety and cognitive dissonance when you do something in opposition to that. Maybe it’s something as severe and outlandish as thinking of yourself as a murderer.  You probably are thinking, I would NEVER commit murder. Your belief that you would never commit murder is so certain and strong that just the thought of it makes you experience a great deal of unease and cognitive dissonance.  You are without a doubt 100% certain that you are not a murderer. This same level of certainty is what you will need in regards to your future desired outcome.  This confidence and belief is not an intellectual certainty, rather it is a feeling state. Belief is nothing more than a feeling of certainty- not a thought.  And the only way you get that level of certainty at the emotional level is to celebrate each tiny, little step along the way. Acknowledge and “register” even the smallest of successes and the slightest progress. You have to train yourself to be worthy, long before you are worthy.

 This insight really hit me pretty strong tonight. I spent 6 hours working through the entire Tony Robbins’ book Awaken the Giant Within tonight and came up with several exercises which I believe to be the essential building blocks to transformation and personal change.  His book is a great manual and starting point for massively transforming one’s life. One exercise I found particularly insightful and effective was this:

 First, we must understand that the quality of our lives are 100% dependent on the quality of our emotions that we consistently live in (where we live emotionally). Identify your 10 emotions of power- the ten emotions that you need to start living in, in order to become the person must become. Robbins listed his ten emotions in his book and I think they are pretty good, so we’ll use his as a reference. Which 10 emotions- that if you were to live in those states on a day to day basis- would bring you the kind of life you’ve always dreamed of. For me they look like this (these should give you an idea):1. love/warmth

2. gratitude/appreciation/celebration

3. curiosity/constant learning

4. Passion/excitement/enthusiasm

5. Flexibility/patience

6. confidence/internal sense of significance\self worth/CONGRUENCE

7. Determination/Grit/Steadfastness

8. Playfulness/Humor/Cheerfulness

9. Health/vitality/physical energy

10. contribution/giving

 

Now that you have identified the 10 emotions that you must live in to guarantee yourself a great quality of life- start by asking yourself the first question (write down these questions and your responses in your journal):

 1. When have I been loving and warm? Provide 5-6 concrete examples from your life.

-Make 1-2 examples from today or yesterday.

-Make 1-2 examples from sometime in the past month or two.

-Then make 1-2 examples from sometime before last year (somewhere in the fairly distant past).

*Write down these 5-6 examples and replay them in your mind. Get associated to these experiences. Step into these moments and re-live them.  See what you saw, feel what you felt, hear what you heard.  Sit with them for a few minutes. You know how to be warm. You know how to love. It doesn’t have to be purely romantic love, but it’s good to provide examples of both.

 Now continue this exercise for each of the other 9 emotional states. Provide examples from all 3 time frames and really associate to and relive these memories. I know this exercise might take 15-30 minutes, but it will be well worth it.  Here’s why.

 Imagine the power this exercise would have if you did it every night. You reflected on your previous day and looked into the past to celebrate when you experienced these positive and uplifting emotions. Pretty soon after days of this, what do you think your identity will be? You will see yourself and think of yourself as a loving, determined, confident, etc person (or whatever emotions you think would be beneficial for you to live in.) You will also be able to engage in these emotions much more frequently because you are rehearsing them every night with this exercise and ritual. The more you practice living in these states- the more they will become your “default setting” and the more you will believe with 100% certainty that you are a worthy, successful and loving person. This conscious recognition of these “small victories”, like reflecting on times when you were loving or determined, has the power to transform your identity into the person you want to become. Truly you are already that person, but with the ineffective cognitive strategies (negativity bias) that you are currently practicing- you are disowning these positive parts of yourself. Imagine what this exercise repeated day in and day out will do to the beliefs you have about yourself. Your entire identity will expand exponentially. You will walk differently, you will talk differently, you will interact with others differently. The certainty about who you are as a person will be astounding. When you live your life in your ten emotional states of power- the quality of your life will transform. It really gives you the power to achieve anything you want because you are becoming the kind of person with the kind of beliefs and identity who can achieve that very something you desire so dearly.

 We spend so much time as humans performing negative self-talk that no wonder everyone is depressed, divorced, in debt and obese. We do something good, but we instantly brush it under the rug like it never happened. Rather when we do something wrong or make a mistake- we sulk over it for hours like it is an indictment on our character. The only difference between successful and congruent people and those who are unsuccessful are the way they cognitively process and store the events that occur in their respective lives. Here is the difference to sum it up (if you haven’t already gotten it).

Successful people celebrate even the smallest successes and the tiniest progress. Rather when they fail or make a mistake, they don’t take it personally, they don’t throw a pity party or have a major a freak out. They just continue with the process until they finally make another step in the right direction. They are process oriented and have a growth mindset (which is brilliantly discussed in Carol Dweck’s book Mindset).

 Unsuccessful people are so focused on the achieving the end goal, that they brush off every little success or minor step along the way that is truly progress. They literally don’t even consciously see they’re making progress. They believe that they will only celebrate and acknowledge themselves as a success when they get the big goal. However they never get there because it is impossible to develop that championship and successful identity unless you celebrate even the smallest successes along the way. They are purely goal oriented and this tends to persuade them to develop a fixed mindset about their ability.

We ALWAYS operate at the level of our identity. This is why change is so brutally difficult for most people. They want to change the circumstances in their life, but they are not changing their identity and who they are becoming.  What they tend to do is rearrange circumstances- which is nothing more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic…no actual transformation occurs.  Jim Rohn summed it perfectly:

 If you want life to change, you’ve got to change. If you want life to get better, you’ve go to get better. It’s the only way it happens. Luck will show up for people and it will leave them. But if you’re constantly improving who you are and what you give- GAME OVER.

A Life Worth Living is a Life Worth Recording: The Power of Journaling

It is said that we think somewhere in the vicinity of 50,000 to 100,000 thoughts a day. Some of these thoughts might be meaningless, others might be a million dollar idea or distinction.  Have you ever come up with some groundbreaking or innovative idea- maybe a business idea, an invention or some concept you thought could change the world?  And maybe you thought about it for a brief moment and then you let it pass by and you failed to take the action that would set it into motion?  And then one day while you’re watching tv or browsing the internet- that same idea you came up with a few years earlier is now the next big thing and is an incredible success?   Undoubtedly those who take massive action have a significantly greater probability of success than those who do not. However, at a closer look, there is an intermediate step in this process of creation that probably separates the truly innovative (and successful) entrepreneurs from John Doe who comes up with the same creative idea in his head.  It is their critical thinking and problem solving abilities.  How does one cultivate such an ability?  For starters- a burning curiosity, a devoted commitment to learning, strategic thinking and intense self reflection.  An invaluable way to begin to cultivate all three invaluable skills is through journaling. You look at some highly successful people like Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Darren Hardy, etc. and they all are highly dedicated to the process of journaling. As Jim Rohn once said, “a life worth living is a life worth recording”.

What is the value of journaling?

Since our brains are being inundated with an abundance of information and other external stimuli, a journal is the very mechanism that can help us to straighten out our priorities, thoughts and emotions. It also provides an effective avenue to chart one’s progress, successes, areas of improvement and future goals. The great thing about writing (especially when it relates to ourselves) is that it tends to make us look at our lives in a more objective manner. By writing and reflecting about ourselves we can separate from our egos and look at ourselves from an independent, 3rd party’s point of view.

Writing also takes something (a thought or idea) that is intangible and make it concrete- literally, you are taking an abstract concept and through the stroke of a pen, it is physically real and tangible- engraved on a sheet of paper. When we write we are also sharpening our strategic thinking, logic and reasoning abilities. Writing can also help you let go of an unhealthy obsession, attachment or resistance to something.  Yes, journaling is an incredibly therapeutic activity. Next time your frustrated, fuming or raging over something or someone- write about it or write that person a letter explaining how you feel. Then let it be and look at it the next day or a week.. You will likely see how irrational and overly emotional you were probably being in that moment. Heck, it might even give you a good laugh.  Hindsight tends to have that effect. If all you did in your journal was express your most intense emotions and events in your life- the benefit would be unbelievable. Your internal communication with yourself and your inner emotional world would be completely different after 6 months of this simple activity.

Journals are great for listing your daily rituals and holding yourself accountable for living these practices. This exercise is great because instead of evaluating your progress toward a goal based on whether or not you achieved the grand plan- you are able celebrate your small successes of completing all 4 or 5 of your daily rituals in that given day. And after a year of doing that- imagine where you’ll be.

Journaling is also a great tool for breaking the habit of being yourself and gaining a greater degree of self awareness. If you log everything you do in a week (and by this I mean down to the very minute), you can see where you are spending your time. You’d be surprised how much of your time is spent in dead end activities and unnecessary endeavors that aren’t progressing you toward your ultimate vision.  I know for me I haven’t turned on the tv in the past 9 months and the reward has been incredible. To take this one step further- log all your emotional states you live in during that given week. Really see where you live emotionally. This is a great indicator of how effective you are in living your life. Because our quality of life is directly determined by the quality of emotions we experience on a minute to minute and day to day basis. If you’re not spending the vast majority of your time in emotional states that empower you and move you toward your ultimate destiny then you have to make a massive change in your life (which I’ve probably detailed in past posts or will detail in the future).

So what you should you be writing in your journal?

1. Everyday outline your daily practices (musts) and other clerical and odd job tasks you need to complete for that day. Get into the habit of checking off every item from that list throughout the day when you complete it. This builds serious psychological muscle. When you do this you are teaching your brain- I GET SHIT DONE! and it also massively shifts your identity from a procrastinator to someone who takes massive action. You can list these practices the night before.

2. Finish each day with a set period of time 15-30 minutes of journaling. In this time I like to reflect on the day and answer specific questions. Here is a list of questions that are really good to not only create some closure for your day but also really highlight some key emotional states and the progress you have made (to shut up your ego who is always looking for bigger/better/more):

1.What have I given today? How have I been loving today?

2. What bad habit did I break today? How did I break the habit of being myself today?

3. How am I better? What did I do today that improved myself?

4. How can I improve in the future? Where did I not be my best self?

5. Were my intentions and actions congruent and just today? Am I living consistent with the man I want to become?

6. What did I learn today? (hopefully this is an extensive answer) What do I want to learn/study tomorrow?

7. Who did I touch today?

8. What is the life I want and demand of myself? How did I work toward that today? How did I live that life today?

9. What emotions did I live in today? What emotions must I live in tomorrow?

10. What fear did I face today and stand up to?

11. What did I do today to contribute to my happiness?

12. What detracted from my happiness today?

13. What problems did I solve today? How was I resourceful?

14. What do I want/need to work on in the future? tomorrow?

15. What was funny about today? What made me laugh today?

16. What am I truly grateful for in my life?

17. What is the one little thing that if I change/do tomorrow could transform the quality of my life and redirect me in a completely new direction?

3. Track your long term progress. Reflect back often and see the incredible progress you made over the past year or the last 6 months- really look at how far you’ve come. So many times we only focus on how far away we are from where we want to be and forget about how far we’ve come. This is a recipe for disaster because you are letting your ego win and training your brain to always be unsatisfied- so that if someday you ultimately do achieve that goal- you will be unfulfilled, looking on toward the next goal and likely ask yourself the question “Is this all there is?” This gets back to the whole gratitude piece, but if you are constantly focused on not being cool with where you are in the process, and needing results- you will never actually get the results. I know this sounds weird, but in order to get to where you want to go, you must be comfortable with where you currently are first.