“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are we not to be? …Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
…And as we let our own life shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Caroline Myss Ph.D. (Intuitive Medical Researcher and author including NY Times Bestsellers Anatomy of The Spirit and Sacred Contracts)
For the vast majority of us the decision to change represents a chance for new beginnings or at least the renewal of old commitments. Yet, often resolutions fade from steadfast determinations to fruitless aspirations. If commitment is defined as doing what we say we are going to do long after the emotional state we were in when we made our resolution has left us; then we can only conclude that when we retreat from our highest aspirations it is because we have succumb to an emotional state that binds us to where we are and therefore forbids us from continuing on the journey toward the actualization of who we were engineered to be. Because our emotions are the precursors to our thoughts and thoughts are things; we’re virtually a different person when break our commitments then we were when we made them.
Therefore, because our lack of resolve is due our inability to remain steadfast in the face of a constantly changing outer environment and inner state of mind; perhaps the secret to lasting change is to assign our commitments to that which is unchanging. This requires an unwavering focus. Focus is the root cause of all effects in our lives. Our focus renders us either victims or victors over the forces in our lives. Focus begins with the ability to inwardly direct our focus rather than having it directed by the influences that abound around us. The power of focus emanates from the capacity to ask of ourselves the right questions that will create the meaning we attach to the events in our lives and thus our ability to navigate through life’s storms with confidence and precision; as opposed to finding ourselves constantly blown off course by life’s constantly shifting winds and currents. Perhaps the most fundamental question we need to ask in order to uphold the inner state of mind that serves as the means to progressively attaining a worthy end begins with the question “for what purpose was I born?” Self-actualization emanates from the decision that regardless of your current circumstances, you must become all that you are capable of being.
German writer, philosopher and scientist Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) said that “Until one is committed there is hesitancy the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it…”
Yet throughout human history we see examples of greatness in individuals who before they overcame seemingly insurmountable circumstances and literally changed the world, had to first discover a cause so powerful that it enabled them to transcend the obstacles that deter most people from finding their reason to go forward toward their destiny, despite the temptation to turn back.
- Hernando Cortez with an army of only 600 men and not even 20 horses conquered a vastly larger Mexican Army in his invasion of Tabasco in 1519.
- Thomas Edison with only three months of formal schooling in his entire life and despite being virtually deaf became one of the most prolific inventors in history. He held 1097 patents in the U.S. alone as well as many others in the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
- Albert Einstein was a notoriously poor student and slow learner. He was so challenged in his schooling that there have been multiple speculations that he suffered some form of autism, dyslexia and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Yet, his name continues to be synonymous with genius. He is one of the most celebrated physicists in history. Most known for his “theory of relativity”.
- Wilma Rudolph was afflicted with crippling Polio as a child, yet she’s remembered as one of the greatest female runners of all time.
- Nelson Mandela was the first democratically elected President of South Africa after being imprisoned for 27 years for his involvement in “underground armed resistance” activities as an anti-apartheid activist. Today he is a respected world leader and proponent of human rights.
When inspiration becomes routed deeply enough within our being, it grows into a voracious desire compelling us to throw off our tolerance of mediocrity and embrace our greatness.
However, within each of us there is a paradox. We possess the intuitive knowledge that we were created for a purpose so great that unless we pursue it, we can’t be truly whole; yet we also possess a seemingly insatiable need to remain safe and not step out on our path in the absence of a guarantee. To be what we are capable of becoming we must go beyond that insatiable need to remain safe, toward a meaning for our life so great that the desire of its fulfillment has no equal.
The fact that you have read this far means that you have a vision of being more tomorrow than you are today; and with that the resolve to act in correspondence with your aspirations. This alone separates you from the majority. Most people desire more, but fail to make the necessary sacrifices. Many fail to give themselves permission to act on the intuitive knowledge that they can be, have and do more. They will suffer subtle yet enduring inner desperation for the false security promised by their career. Sadly they never embrace their calling. A career is merely what you’re paid for; a calling is what you’re made for.
Up until this point in your life, whether you have viewed yourself as a victim or a victor, it’s irrelevant. If there exists a gap between who you are and who you desire to be; the first step is in the recognition that such a gap exists. Then the next step toward closing the gap is to clearly identify your personal mission. Your mission statement is the unambiguous answer to the question “why do I exist”.
Many people down play the importance of identifying their passion and deciding the meaning and therefore the mission of their life. That’s a mistake because all of the potential and gifts that you possess in your inner-world will never fully manifest themselves in your outer-world, unless you get clear on the answer to that question.
In a study of the relevance that passion has on the long-term achievement of an individual, Psychologist Scrully Blotnick Ph.D. divided a group of 1500 participants into two categories identified as category A and category B. Category A consisted of 1245 people who stated that their life strategy was to pursue financial achievement and security. Then, once they achieved their monetary goals, they would allow themselves to pursue their passion.
Category B consisted of a much smaller group comprised of only 255 individuals who stated that they would pursue their passion first and foremost; trusting that money would inevitably follow. Twenty years later 101 of the 1500 participants were millionaires. Interestingly, only one of those millionaires came from category A.
The remaining one-hundred millionaires all came from category B who said that above all, they would follow their passion. Remember, this group only had 255 people as opposed to 1245!
In other words, only 1 out of 1245 who said they would pursuit financial goals in advance of their passion ever actually achieved any significant financial success. Yet, almost 40% of the group whose passion took precedence over material gain attained financial independence through indirect means.
When writing your mission statement, it should be created as though it were timeless. Even if you modify it in the future, write it now as if it will never change. A mission statement is not something that can ever be achieved; rather it is the guiding principle behind everything you do. It is the measure of alignment or distraction between your activities and overall purpose. A mission statement should be written in the present tense. In other words instead of “I will” it should use the language of “I am”. Your actions tend to be in correspondence not with what you intend to do, but who you believe you are. Within the next 24-hours take out a journal and write down the answers to the following two questions:
- What is the purpose of my existence?
- What about that purpose am I most passionate about?
- Why does my purpose give me a sense of meaning?
- What pain would I suffer if I did not pursue my purpose tenaciously?
The answers to these questions are indispensable to you becoming a master of your circumstances, rather than a creature of circumstances; because great achievement is always conceived out of a great purpose. Necessity is the mother of invention. Most people dream and wish for vain ambitions to materialize. Yet, they never step out in pursuit of their dreams because they lack the faith to persist in the absence of a guarantee. Through inaction the only guarantee they have is to be spared the pain of failure. Ironically, they condemn themselves to a more painful destiny of disappointment and regret; disappointment that they led a life void of purpose, regret that they must live with the choice to merely exist, but never fully live. Their legacy is that they managed to tip toe safely from the cradle to the grave.
“Far better it is to dare mighty things to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered with failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that know not victory or defeat.” – Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
However, everything about you changes the moment you have the realization that for things to change, you must change; that things may never be easier, but you can be better; that regardless of your challenges you have the response-ability to transcend your circumstances by identifying what is so meaningful to you that you will decide without hesitancy to give your life to it’s fulfillment.
At that point, regardless of what “it” is that you’ve chosen as your purpose, you become great. Unfortunately, most people never get there. They never decide what their life is about. They simply pass time, paying the bills, allowing others to decide the meaning of their life for them.
Your vision statement is equally as important as your mission statement. This is the answer to the question, who or what do I ultimately desire to become? Those who have the courage to live in alignment with the answer to this question will experience the dignity of living a life of self-determination, rather than the regret of mediocrity and conformity.
In order to direct your focus toward the construction of a viable mission statement, take the time to complete the following statements:
- In the fitness industry, my company or community I am currently known for…
- In the next 24 months I will be known for…
- By this time next year my resume’ will be markedly different than it is now in the following 1-2 ways:
- By this time next year the skills (2-3) I have developed are:
Most importantly, answer the question:
- Who or what do I ultimately desire to become?
These questions should give you some insight to assist you in the creation of your vision statement. It is by far more important to have a working vision statement than a perfect vision statement. Perfectionism is the path to procrastination. You can always revise or add to your vision statement in the future, but you need to design it now. Write down intuitively what you believe it to be. Then, leave it alone for about 24 hours. When you revisit it, you will have a different perspective and greater insight to make it more specific, concise and measurable.
Balance Score Card
After writing your vision statement the next step is to create a “balance scorecard”. The scorecard determines the metrics you will use to determine how effectively you are moving toward your vision.
For example, if a health club asserts in their vision statement that they will secure leadership within their respective market, how will they measure that? Will it be through the total number of members they acquire? The number of memberships they sell monthly? By member retention? Or, will they measure their effectiveness by all of the above? What metrics will you use to measure your results against your vision?
Our mission statement answers the question of “why?” for our life; while our vision statement answers the question “what?” Yet, it’s unlikely that any resolution will endure unless it is in alignment with our core values. Our core values are the answer to the question how? How do I show up? How do I wish to live? What do I stand for? And, what would I never stand for? It’s not uncommon for us to set goals that aren’t congruent with our values. Often, that’s because we don’t take the time to clearly identify what our values are. If a dichotomy exists between the resolutions we make and the values we hold, it will perpetuate inner conflict rather than inspiration. Most often, the resolution will not be fulfilled. Even if it is, it will result in disharmony rather than contentment.
Take a look at the following list of values. Which of these do you feel is essential to having a meaningful life? Number each 1-32 in the order of most to least important.
___ Financial independence
___ Making a difference
___ Connecting with people
___ Peace of mind
___ Wonder and curiosity
___ Spiritual connection
Anything not listed? __________________________________________________________________
Next, list the top five values you identified in the order of most to least important.
Think of a current goal that you have for yourself. Is it aligned with all of the 5 values you just listed? If not, it will probably not motivate you long-term nor fulfill you when it’s achieved. How can you modify the goal so that it’s aligned with what you value most? Or, what new goal could you set that is more inclusive of your values?
This is a great exercise to do with your clients. Let’s suppose you have a client whose goal is to lose ten pounds. Her values are in order of priority:
After one month of training with you she has lost five pounds. She should be more motivated to stay the course, because she’s half way there right? Not always. Let’s say she’s leads a full life with little time as it is for her husband and children. Her workouts are causing her to come home later in the evening three days per week. Her progress toward her goal is in alignment with the values of health, success and attractiveness, but at the expense of her higher values of love and relationships. She should feel ecstatic about her success, yet she feels anxious. Half way toward her goal “life happens” and she “postpones” her training just for a while. More unfortunate is that she never identifies why this keeps happening to her. She inaccurately views herself as undisciplined, which lowers her self-expectancy and therefore increases the likelihood that she will continually experience self-sabotage. If she understood her values and their order of importance, you could have helped her create a strategy based on the answer to the questions:
- What is my goal?
- Why is it important to me?
- What is the worst thing that will happen if it is not achieved?
- What is the worst thing that can happen if I do achieve it? And,
- What can I do if that thing happens?
- What can I do to increase the likelihood that it won’t?
Persistence is the measure of ones level of self-expectancy. Conversely, the more you expect form yourself, the greater your persistence. In 1908 Napoleon Hill was commissioned by industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who was one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world at the time, to conduct a twenty year study on the most accomplished individuals of the day. That study was intended to be put into practice through the creation of a success philosophy that the masses could understand and employ. In 1937 Napoleon Hill wrote “Think and Grow Rich”, which is perhaps the most influential personal development book ever written. One consistent, indispensable characteristic he observed in individuals like Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Charles M. Schwab, Alexander Graham Bell and many others he interviewed was persistence. He concluded that “persistence is to man, as carbon is to steel”.
It’s inevitable that any resolution will be met with temporary setbacks and failures. The difference is that individuals who possess a high level of self-expectancy know that they will prevail irrespective of the obstacles and difficulties they encounter. They see failure for what it is; a single isolated event, NOT A PERSON. They don’t internalize it as being permanent. Most people fail to persist in the presence of inevitable setbacks and disappointments because they falsely interpret past failures as indicative of future possibilities. But those who possess mental tenacity use failure as a feedback mechanism that enables them to grow and rise above it, whereas most people are defeated by it. We see this with our clients every day.
They’re on their way to achieving their goal of losing fifteen pounds and they’re doing well. Then one day they go out to lunch with their friends and a piece of chocolate cake takes advantage of them. They could say to themselves, “alright that was a rare event, let me get back on track tonight.” But that’s not what happens. In physiology we learned about the “all or nothing principle” pertaining to motor recruitment. It seems as though the “all or nothing principle” operates in psychology as well. That night your client goes home and say’s to themselves “Well, I already blew it this afternoon, I’ll just get started again tomorrow.” That night they eat everything that’s not chained down. As trainers we can’t relate to any of this because of course it’s never happened to us ;-).
They next day our client feels intense guilt and says to themselves “I’m just not disciplined”. They say this to themselves over and over and eventually though auto-suggestion they come to believe it. Because what you believe about yourself inwardly, reflects in your behavior outwardly, the client eventually stops exercising completely!
A better response for our clients could have been:
- Identify the problem – that when they go out with their friends they have a tendency to do things that are out of alignment with their goals. This is positive because without getting clear on the problem you can’t construct a solution.
Some possible solutions you could help your client with are:
- Stop having lunch with her friends. This isn’t a very good solution because she probably enjoys having lunch with her friends so that would create a sense of loss that competes with her desire to achieve her goal. This might set her up for more failure in the future.
- Another strategy is that at the beginning of lunch she could tell her friends about her new commitment to exercise and that she has been more conscientious about her food choices. Cognitive dissonance is the inward drive for consistency with what you believe, say and do. Since she made a public declaration to her peer group at the start of lunch, she would lose credibility if she had the chocolate cake. This increases the likelihood that she won’t.
- She could also not say anything about her fitness goals and simply suggest they try a new sushi restaurant she’s heard great things about. This way she removes herself from the environment that creates the behavior she’s trying to avoid. After lunch she reflects on the fact that her behavior was consistent with her goal and her reputation with herself improves. This elevates her self-esteem and therefore increases her consistency. Further, if she does experience a setback she will be more likely to use it as a learning experience pertaining to:
- The emotional state she was in.
- The environment she was in.
- Who she was with and so on.
This will enable her to use her temporary failure as means to create alternative strategies that will enable her to make better choices in the future.
The same truth holds true for us as well as our clients; that our probability of holding to any resolution in our lives is in direct correspondence with our willingness to persist. Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1804-1881) said that “Everything comes if a man will only wait, I’ve brought myself by long meditation to the conviction that a human being with a subtle purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will that will stake even its existence for it’s fulfillment.”
Perhaps the sum total of our lives; the difference between those who merely make a living and those who make a difference lies in their expectation of themselves.
However, it’s your passion to help others live a life of greater self-esteem, health, and richness, while alleviating pain, that’s the outlet we plug into.
The synergy that we provide enables us to help individuals, communities and collectively millions of people throughout the world to make the changes necessary to see beyond who or where they are today, toward who or what they can ultimately become.
I hope that we all find a reason this year to clearly formulate and articulate a message of encouragement for others. Then as we live each day on purpose we can experience the esteem that comes from knowing that someone’s world will be better tomorrow because of what we have done today. If order to live a magnanimous life and leave a meaningful legacy, you must do more than deliver the message, you must become the message.