“Personal Development” cynics look away now.
This might get a bit ‘self-help’. Those that believe they have reached their fullest potential in every respect need read no further. For I have been listening to an audiobook by the almighty Tony Robbins and I am full of the power of infinite possibilities!
The book is called ‘Awaken the Giant Within’, and as tacky as that might sound to your average low-self-esteem Brit, it’s damn fine stuff. One of the exercises in the audio version we just listened to consists of making two lists: ‘Beliefs that empower me’ and ‘Beliefs that limit me’.
Want to know mine? OK, the ’empower me’ list, which certainly DIDN’T look like this just a few months ago, before I embarked on this “development” journey, currently looks like this:
1. With hard work, I can do anything.
2. I am intelligent.
3. I know how to take ‘massive action’ to reach goals.
4. I can learn new skills all the time.
5. Happiness is available at all times.
Now before you all tell me what a conceited bstd I am, here is what my ‘Beliefs that limit me’ list still looks like all too often:
1. The world is trying to kill me
2. Am I clever and able enough to understand complex things like Spanish accountancy systems, legal stuff, errr… google adwords?
Hmmm. OK, lets start with list no. 1 and that apparently conceited contention that ‘I can do anything’.
I worked that out the other day. It’s not bragging, it’s logic. I probably got the idea from some other Tony Robbins type I was listening to at the time, but it goes like this: “If I can move to Spain, if I can learn Spanish, meet a Spanish girl, get married to her, set up a business with her, and have that business support us… then I can do anything!”
Right? Well, anything I choose to set my mind to at least… I mean, I don’t want to be Prime Minister or anything like that, but if I did… who knows? The point is that I think this logic works for anything, and anyone.
Pick one or two things you are proud of in your life, and say to yourself, ‘well, if I can do that… I can do anything!’ Once you realise that simple fact, your possibilities are limitless. Maybe it was a job you got, an exam you passed, a skill you’ve developed… if you could aceive that, then why couldn’t you acheive anything else you really set your mind to?
It’s all proof of your unlimited capabilities. All we need sometimes is a bit of personal development, or (god forbid!) ‘self help’ to realise it.
OK, back to the list. Items 2, 3 and 4 (I am intelligent, I know how to take ‘massive action’ to reach goals, I can learn new skills all the time) are obvious… even if I’ve had to work bloody hard to belive them! …but what about this ‘Happiness is available at all times’ stuff?
OK, hard to believe ALL the time, many of us have lived through life-changingly horrible episodes, but I have a book here at home that I try and pick up every now and again, the first chapter of which is called something like ‘a brand new 24 hours’. (I’ll list the book name in the reading list at the bottom).
It goes on to say that every day when we wake up we should be happy to have a brand new 24 hours ahead of us, and that we should enjoy every one of them. Pretty damn obvious when you think about it. What’s the alternative, being miserable about that fact? That seems absurd as long as we are basically healthy, fed, and alive… and alive with possible endeavors and encounters.
Now lets get to the juicy stuff, list 2, my ‘limiting beliefs’. How about point 1? I don’t truly believe that the world it trying to kill me as such, but I am mildly phobic and a touch on the OCD side when it comes to things like the imagined war of attrition between me, human being, and modern environmental unpleasantness like pollution etc, that I used to feel would invade my personal physical integrity at any given opportunity. (Not any more, now I know our defenses are strong!)
Number 2, am I clever enough to understand and properly implement tricky things that involve statistical analysis, like google adwords… or to work properly within the challenging Spanish accountancy sytem etc… I hate things like this, that appear to be such ‘hard work’, and beyond the analytical side of my brain that I never had much confidence in…
Now before this gets a bit ‘poor me’, the point of doing this exercise was to clearly point out that those 2 main limiting beliefs are ABSURD! And they have limited me hugely!
Belief 1, that the world is a scary place, helped put me off going to America twice this summer, to conferences I was keen to attend but just felt a bit overwhelmed by. Belief 2 has put me off doing things that would have made a huge difference to our business by now… luckily I still worked on a lot of other things that did make a big difference, but still there was a lot of avoidance going on…
The point is that the crushing power of limiting beliefs is obvious, and huge. What are yours?
Make a list like the one above though, and you might come to the same astounding revelation that I did: that the empowering beliefs clearly cancel out the limiting ones.
‘With hard work, I can do anything’, clearly beats ‘Am I clever enough to…?’, and ‘The world is trying to kill me’ is clearly no match for ‘I am intelligent’ and ‘Happiness is available at all times’.
Since listening to that Tony Robbins audio book (and other inspiring materials this summer), and making that list, those limiting beliefs are vanishing, faster that I imagined possible… I’ve started work on them, and I’m not going to let up.
They’ve been on top of me for about 30 years, and no matter what their origin, I have a feeling they were reinforced by a heavily competitive private school education. A school that prided itself on telling us we were “above average”, but that only a precious few could be top-flight, triple A students…
I came out of that school system at 18 with ABB A-level results, probably above average and pretty damn good, but about all I’d been lead to think I could achieve. I wasn’t considered a Triple A student, and didn’t consider myself one.
Well now I do. Thank goodness for all those personal development books, and all the things I’ve done as a result of reading them, that helped me come to that conclusion.
They’ve helped us pay off a significant chunk of our mortgage this month, the result of setting a goal in September that I thought was just plain stupid at the time… and then achieved two months early… …by taking massive action on everything I’ve been learning and getting what I think are some of the best damn Spanish learning materials on the net (our work at notesinspanish.com) into the hands of as many people as possible.
Those books and audio programmes mean we are now booked to go to America next year to a conference just like the ones I backed out of twice this summer. They mean that I can clearly see those limiting beliefs for what they are, and shall not be controlled by THEM any more.
Why do I write about all this? Because I always like to share what I am passionate about, and I always work on the assumption that there must be at least one other person out there that is interested in what I have to say at any give time.
If that’s you, and you’ve got that tingling sensation that you too need to get your beliefs in order, that you are ready to embrace the idea that “I can do anything” and realise any of your goals and dreams… be it changing your job, starting a business, getting that boy/girl, changing country, learning a language, moving house, writing that book, breaking out of a mould, being as successful as someone you admire in your field or beyond … then here’s my ‘get to it’ reading list. Let me know how it works out:
Awaken the Giant Within: Anthony Robbins (Start here. I liked the audio version, from audible.com. DO the exercises, and don’t be put off by his exuberant, almost preacher-like style. His energy is what got him where he is, and wants you to be too.)
Peace is Every Step: Thich Nhat Hanh (Wonderful vietnamese monk in the Dalai Lama mould. This is where the ‘Brand New 24 Hours’ extract comes from – infinite peace and wisdom lies within.)
Working for Yourself, Business, ‘Entrepreneurship’ etc
If you want to be an ‘entrepreneur’, work for yourself already in any respect, or hope to start a business, then these are ‘musts’, no matter what field you are in:
No B.S. Wealth Attraction For Entrepreneurs – Dan Kennedy (He is a big, brash, super-capitalist no BS pain in your limiting-beliefs ass, but he’s totally what you need to be reading if you are responsible for your own professional and financial present and future).
No BS Time Management for Entrepreneurs – Dan Kennedy (Right on the nail about setting goals and more, it’s not just about time management…)
The Emyth Revisited – Michael Gerber (If what you do or want to do can in any way be considered a ‘business’, small like ours or otherwise, this guy will make sure it doesn’t fail in the first 12 months… 5 years… etc)
These books have helped me a great deal. You will discover many others as a result of reading these, and don’t be put off if some of them were written 10, 20, even 50+ years ago… there are underlying truths that don’t change… But do remember this: Personal Development leads to incredible results, usually in a very short period of time, say 12 months, even 6, but you MUST implement everything you learn, fast, and without hesitation. Do let me know how it works out.