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To Think, To Decide, To Act: Trust Only Movement

Living at White Heat

highway-393492_640“A motto for man: to do and through doing to ‘do’ himself
and be nothing but what he has made of himself.” Jean Paul Sartre

 

Katherine is such a good woman, a kind-hearted woman, obviously very bright, and likable, friendly, and generous to a fault. There is so much to her, so many gifts, so much to offer, so much promise, but she’s snagged, she’s caught, she’s trapped, and she is not looking for a way to escape. And the days pass.

Someone asked her if she’s happy and she said she is. But the next morning she thought about it and realized she isn’t. It’s no mystery to her why. She knows she’s not nearly as ambitious as she might be, and hasn’t found a heartfelt purpose to get up for in the morning. And she’s in a job she doesn’t like, but makes no attempt to find anything more suitable. Her partner abruptly ended their long relationship, and she’s lonely. But she’s made no effort to find someone else or to look for an activity she would enjoy and would divert her attention from her loneliness. She has friends, but none of them close.

Her life has settled into a tedious routine. From her building’s elevator over to the garage, the mile to the office, lunch at the Greek restaurant, the mile home, and the elevator. Laundry Wednesday night about seven and shopping on Saturday morning, the newspaper on Sunday, and on Monday at 8:30 her favorite TV show.

She looks in the mirror twice a day and sees she’s gaining weight around the middle, and doesn’t like that, but doesn’t do anything about it. No different from a billion other people, she never stops to ask herself, “Why am I living this life when I could always a live another.” She could be leading a better life, a life with meaning, if she made new decisions and followed through on them, no more apathy and no excuses.

To think, to decide, to act, to do something, to get things done, to attend to what needs attention, to reduce the distance between where you are now and where you want to be in life–that’s a human being’s inherent nature. You were not created to be stationary, to be limp and weak and unmoving, but were brought into this world with movement in mind. Action is your natural inclination, a fulfilling life your true destiny. It’s what you’re body and mind are designed for: to make choices and changes, take risks, accept responsibility, exert energy, and achieve purposes. You only reveal the person you truly are in decisive action. Only then do you reach your enormous possibilities. But you must trust only movement.

If we cast a glance at people in general we find the opposite of a continuous advance toward a better life. Standing still in life and doing nothing is plainly the common condition, resisting change even if one’s life is quietly unbearable. Letting opportunities to explore new ways of being and discover new strengths, new people, and new pleasures slip away, and slip away again.

 Recognize the Clues

No one has to tell you there’s a discrepancy between the life you’re leading and the better one you have the potentials to be leading. You know something is wrong before anyone else, and you know it better than anyone else. And if you are intelligent and aware, that knowledge never leaves you alone. Some people intend to change their life, and may swear to others they will. “Someday,” they say, “I’ll do this and then I’ll do that and things will get better.” But when they cast an honest eye on their life in progress they see certain indications that their life is going wrong, certain clues.

An Inappropriate life

There comes a moment when you realize that you could have just as well have lived a thousand different lives but have lived this one, that you could just as well have taken a thousand different paths but took this one; that perhaps they are the wrong life and the wrong path.

Running Out of Time

From time to time you have to ask yourself if you’ve have made the most of your limited time here on earth. Then in a moment of quiet panic some people realize they haven’t. Entering the Garden of Eden, God called to Adam, “Where art thou.” He was asking Adam to account for himself. We all have to account for ourselves. X days and years of the time allotted to you have passed. How far have you gotten?

Hideouts and Cover Stories

People often go to extreme lengths to fabricate a cover story to explain why they’re not making the most of their lives. They hide out. You know people who are hiding out. You can even recite their cover stories, you’ve heard them so often: “This didn’t work out and that didn’t work out. My luck was bad, and things were so dead set against me. I’m as smart as anyone else, but I didn’t get the breaks.” During moments of clarity they become aware that the best part of themselves has never come out of hiding. They cower behind the cover stories they invented and escape to hideouts. You want to say, “Wake up! Stop hiding. Don’t settle for a crummy life.”

Cancelled Dreams

At some point some people give up and abandon their dreams. They continue the rest of their days recalling how pleasant their dreams once had been. Dreams are frail things that disappear if they aren’t turned to reality.

Inaction

You may be a person of action. If you are, when there’s something to be done, you do it. Hard work is necessary if you are to have the life you deserve, so you work hard. You have purposes to attend to and you attend to them. There are obstacles to conquer, so you conquer them. But this man is paralyzed by inaction. He doubts himself and is afraid. He doesn’t do what’s necessary to improve his life. When he is set back he gives up trying and doesn’t bother anymore. His determination withers away. He can follow routines–up at six, home at six–because routines require no imagination or initiative; no risks, no commitments. But when it comes to stepping out of the familiar stream of daily routine and taking action to make more of his life–changing careers, starting a business, leaving a disappointing life behind, moving to a different place, for example– he’s in over his head, he’s helpless There’s procrastinating over the small things–failing to return a library book on time–and there is procrastinating over the big things–failing to make important life-changing decisions and take action, procrastinating your existence into oblivion.

Disillusionment

There’s supposed to be some vital meaning to our lives. But there comes a time when some people are forced to ask, “Is this all there is?” They realize that their lives have little meaning, and without meaning there isn’t much to life. They long to be breathless with desire for–something, anything.

 Unfulfilled Promise

In high school Kim was somebody. But now she realizes that something somehow happened, and she’s been left behind. She’s nowhere near the bright future that once seemed so clearly, like a beacon, to lie ahead. She can’t shake that off. She lives in the past, in her glory years. She’s snagged; she’s stuck. She makes no progress.

A Mechanical Existence

There’s a saying: “Be sure you’re riding the horse and the horse isn’t riding you.” Some people choose to be ridden by the horse. They’re living all right–their heart is beating and they breathe– but they’re not leading their life at all, but are being led. Their lives are too easy, too predictable, and too uneventful, and are headed nowhere. There’s nothing in store, no excitement, no surprises.

A Phony Life

Many people live one way while their true self urges them to live a truer, more authentic, more suitable way. They often stay busy in a whirlwind of activity that unbeknownst to them is designed to allow no time to stop and ask, “Am I doing the best I can, am I going right, or have I just gotten good at leading a phony existence?”

 Living with White Heat

When you put behind you an inappropriate life, hideouts and cover stories, cancelled dreams, inaction, unfulfilled promise, a mechanical existence, and a phony life and disillusionment and choose to live a decisive style of life, you become committed to your actions with your whole person. You live with white heat. When you decide with your whole being, all that you are and all that you can be and hope to be are right there with you. You throw yourself completely into the decision. You’re in this thing to the end and your commitment knows no bounds. You focus, you bear down. There’s something out of the ordinary about you that people recognize, a seriousness of intent, a rare intensity. You’re not fooling around, you’re deadly serious about your life and its goals, and you’re not run of the mill. You’re a different breed of man, a different breed of woman, and that’s obvious. Your determination is as hard as granite. You’re unbendable. You never deviate from your decisiveness.

We’re born and hurled into the future. What’s unique about you sets you apart and launches you in a direction. Always follow where your gifts, your talents, and your intelligence lead you. You were meant to let yourself be drawn in that direction. Why resist?

A man was curious and attended an art show to ask a famous sculptor if he had advice for his son John, a sculptor who was just beginning. The sculptor said, “Yes I do have advice. It’s very simple. You tell John to pick up his mallet and his chisel and make chips.”

We’d be better off, you and I, if like a sculptor sculpting our own lives, we too made a decision to make chips.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:

www.mentorcoach.com/rogershttp://www.mentorcoach.com/positive-psychology-coaching/interviews/interview-david-j-rogers/

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

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Finding a Creative Second Life: Parallel Careers

rails-407242_640This post is about realizing what marvelous talents and gifts you may possess and may not yet be fully using, but may wish to. It tells the stories of people who felt the same.

People from many countries will read this post and there is no doubt in my mind that they will think of similar examples from their own countries. I’d be interested in learning about them.

 George Bernard Shaw

Before settling down to a playwright’s life and eventually being awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, Irishman George Bernard Shaw drifted aimlessly and unhappily from one occupation to another, including selling men’s clothes in a shop. He thought of becoming a novelist, so dutifully while selling real estate, he wrote one novel each year for five years and submitted the manuscripts to a publisher. Each was rejected, and he was discouraged.

Finally a sympathetic editor accompanied a rejected manuscript with a note stating that while the publishing house would have to turn down this manuscript too, the dialogue was superb. The editor asked, “Did you ever think of writing plays?” Shaw had written little plays as a boy that he and his friends would perform to entertain his family, but he hadn’t written one since.

Encouraged now, immediately he turned to using his strength–writing dialogue. He wasn’t meant to sell men’s shirts or real estate. He wasn’t even meant to write novels. He wasn’t meant for a thousand things. He was meant to write plays. (In my language, that was his intended destiny.) That’s what he was best equipped to do, just as you are best equipped for certain undertakings.

Core Strengths

An important way to find fulfillment in life and perhaps stumble upon a new identity is by making regular use of your principal strengths–your main aptitudes, talents, gifts, personal qualities, and capabilities, and doing so freely, without inhibition, without conflicts, without being interfered with.

Your strengths are what, in particular, out of all you’re capable of, you do better than anything else, and perhaps are happier doing than anything else. They are whatever you’re doing when you feel deep down, “Now, at this moment, I’m doing what I do especially well. I love it. It makes me happy.”

You have many strengths, but one is dominant. It is your main strength, your core strength. You’re at your best when you’re making use of your core strength in an occupation, or while pursuing a purpose that is important to you, or in an abiding interest, all of which bring fulfillment.

From your earliest years you have gravitated toward activities that enabled you to make use of your core strength. As a child you enjoyed building bridges with blocks. You never forgot the joy you felt. You became an engineer so that you could feel that the rest of your life. Or you liked to paint; or liked sports; or liked to sing; you liked to play in the garden; you enjoyed being with friends and showing them your poems. You were particularly good at math.

The life pursuits of people who excel were often foreshadowed by what deeply interested them as children. A chord was struck; something crystalized; a future was laid out. At times, like Shaw, they drift from one field, one occupation, to another, experiencing dead-ends and false starts, and only later return to that earlier interest, and then feel, “This is what I should have been doing all along.” So it is a good idea to never forget what your heart was once drawn to, but to keep it in mind whatever else you might be doing in your life.

In a previous blog I described the Zeigarnik Effect (named after Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, the first person to study it): you don’t forget important things you started even long ago, but did not complete. They linger in your mind, reappearing from time to time, and in fact you remember them better than you do completed tasks. You have a strong desire to finally complete them, and you may do so many years later. That people have a need to finish what they start is true especially of the most highly motivated people.

As a boy, my friend loved to listen to his father tell stories of significant events in history and great people who did great things. He would then tell his friends the stories his father had told him. He worked hard and became a top executive with one of the world’s largest retailers. But he found that something was missing–the stories his father had told him and that he had loved. So while working at his job during the day, he earned a PhD in history at night, a subject which he now teaches at a university after work. Now he can tell his father’s stories again.

Putting yourself in a position to return to your past interests and make use of your core strength, if you aren’t already, is a strategy for bringing about positive change in your life and lifting up your spirits to new heights.

 A Parallel Career

The majority of people across the world are bursting with talents and gifts they are longing to make use of. Most people are far greater than their jobs no matter how excellent that job is. They usually have valuable qualities that are never called upon. They possess more intelligence, energy, motivation, imagination, and creativity than their jobs will ever require of them, and their core strength may go unused. So while working their entire career in one occupation that is otherwise perfectly fine and brings them satisfaction, they find more creative outlets to express themselves further and to make use of their core strength and find still more satisfaction. And sometimes the parallel career consumes them and they achieve extraordinary accomplishments and make names for themselves.

Robert Ardrey was a Hollywood screenwriter in high demand and a playwright who had two plays on Broadway at the same time. But he loved anthropology and the behavioral sciences and studied them on the side. He popularized the concept of “the territorial imperative” which asserts that living creatures, including human beings, instinctively protect their territory. (The farther away from the center of it you stay, the less interested in you they are. But step into their territory and the more aggressive they become.) Ardrey became a renowned paleoanthropologist and wrote the best seller African Genesis.

Busy housewife and mother Anne Sexton watched a PBS show on “How to Write a Sonnet” and sat down and wrote one. That first exposure to creative writing ignited an interest, revealed a core strength, and started her on the path to a parallel career. She never attended college. Her only formal education consisted of sporadic adult education classes at a handful of Boston-area colleges. Yet her poems won immediate attention through their appearance in literary magazines and newspapers. A stream of awards and grants followed the release of each of her first three books. Her fourth, Live or Die, won the Pulitzer Prize. She said, “Until I was twenty-eight I had a kind of buried self who didn’t know she could do anything but make white sauce and diaper babies. I didn’t know I had any creative depths.”

Charles Ives—“an American original,” was one of the first American composers to receive renown internationally. He worked during the day as an insurance company executive, as did poet Wallace Stevens, who received the Pulitzer Prize and twice won the National Book Award. American influential and innovative poet William Carlos Williams and Anton Chekov, Russia’s finest playwright and the world’s best short story writer ever, were both practicing physicians. Franz Kafka was a government bureaucrat during the day. Twentieth century English novelist Henry Green, called “the most original…the best writer of his time,” was born into a wealthy family and was the managing director of its bottling business.

Henri Rousseau, a self-taught French post-impressionistic, though busy at work and with a family, started drawing and painting seriously in his forties. Although untutored, he influenced many painters, especially Pablo Picasso. Rousseau worked as a customs official, and was known as Le Douanier, “the customs officer.” Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick and Billy Budd, was also a customs official– at the New York Port Authority.

Englishman Anthony Trollope was one of the most prolific, respected, and successful writers of the Victorian Era. Not much of a believer in art-for-arts-sake, he wrote that all “material progress has come from man’s desire to do the best he can for himself and those about him.,” and stated that what motivated him was what motivates lawyers and bakers—“to make an income on which I and those belonging to me might live in comfort.” He was a career post office employee who wrote his 47 novels and dozens of short stories and travel books while on trains to and from assignments. He claimed that he wasn’t extraordinary, but that any writer could be as prolific if he just budgeted his time efficiently.

Benjamin Lee Whorf, one of history’s foremost linguists, was by profession a chemical engineer and fire prevention inspector. He studied linguistics as a hobby. Truly a towering figure in sociology, Herbert Spencer was also an anthropologist and political theorist, and made a separate reputation in biology.

William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus; in fact it was called Herschel until Uranus was universally accepted. By profession he was an orchestra conductor and a composer known for his twenty-four symphonies.

Colorful novelist and art critic Andre Malraux, called by Jacqueline Kennedy, “the most fascinating man I ever talked to,” was a statesman, the French Minister for Cultural Affairs. Popular novelist Tom Clancy worked as an insurance salesman. Another Nobel Laureate, poet and literary critic T.S Eliot, worked full-time as a banker and then as a chief executive in a publishing company. The author of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, was a professional mathematician, and noted photographer.

Samuel F.B. Morse was a prominent American portrait painter. He received a message that his wife Susan, age 25, was seriously ill. He rushed from Washington to his home in New Haven to find that she had died while he was returning. Devastated by his failure to reach her in time and the inability of the current message technology to get the news to him faster, he set out to develop a more effective system of long-distance communication. He then invented the telegraph and the Morse code that achieved that goal, connecting all four corners of the globe.

Follow Where Your Core Strength Leads You

Which of your many strengths is your core strength, not your second strength, or third, or fourth? What do you do especially well and continually gravitate toward? What are you doing when you don’t want to quit? What are you doing when you feel most fulfilled and can say, “This is me at my best. There is nothing else like this.”

The goal is to be able to make full use of your core strength freely, without inhibition, without conflicts, without being interfered with.

Possibly in a parallel career.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:

www.mentorcoach.com/rogershttp://www.mentorcoach.com/positive-psychology-coaching/interviews/interview-david-j-rogers/

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

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The Rabbit and the Fox, The Teacher and the Painter, and Other Lessons

Excerpts from Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life

 

 Rabbits

rabbit-40646_640 A wise master and his student were walking through the countryside. The student pointed to a fox chasing a rabbit and said, “Oh, the poor rabbit.”

The master said, “The rabbit will elude the fox.”

The student was surprised. Maybe the old man’s mind wasn’t so sharp anymore. He said, “No, you see, the fox is faster.”

“The rabbit will get away,” repeated the master.

“What makes you think so?”

“Because the fox is running for his dinner, but the rabbit is running for his life.”

The first step is understanding we’re no different than rabbits.

 

Attention, Attention, Attention

 yoga-386611_640A layman asked a Zen master to write some words containing the greatest wisdom.

The master picked up his brush and wrote, “Attention.”

The layman was disappointed. He said, “I was hoping for something more.”

“More?” the master asked, picking up his brush and writing again— this time, “Attention. Attention.”

“That’s it?” asked the layman.

The master had been expecting that. This time he wrote it three times: “Attention, Attention, Attention.”

Your ability to choose how you will direct your attention–what you will think, how you will feel, and the best thing to do–is your most powerful skill.

 

Cherry Blossoms

cherry-blossom-254680_640The delicate cherry blossom has a very short life. It doesn’t last long in the wind that blows it from the tree. One minute it is there, then it is gone. All we have is a memory of how beautiful it was.

No getting around it: I’m a cherry blossom; you’re a cherry blossom.

 

 The Teacher and the Painter

paint-33883_1280My friend is a painter. The best teacher she ever had gave her the best advice she ever received. He looked at her as she painted and said, “You’re being too careful. Make bolder strokes.” He went away. She followed his advice. He came back and studied her work. He raised his voice and said, “Bolder.” Later he came back again and said, even louder, “Bolder! What are you afraid of?”

Our lives would change immensely if we said to ourselves most of the time, “Bolder! What are you afraid of?”

© 2014 David J. Rogers

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:

www.mentorcoach.com/rogershttp://www.mentorcoach.com/positive-psychology-coaching/interviews/interview-david-j-rogers/

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

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Beware Of Becoming What You Weren’t Supposed To Be: Your Two Destinies

Tailors and Generals

road-220058_640The story goes that a man died and went to heaven. Meeting Saint Peter at the gates, watching the crowds of people passing through, he said, “Saint Peter, I’m curious. Point out to me the greatest general in history.” Saint Peter gazed into the mass of people, spotted the man he was looking for and pointing, said, “There he is, that one over there.” The man was shocked. He said, “That’s not a general. That’s just Harry, a tailor from my old neighborhood.”

Yes,” said Saint Peter, “you’re right, that is Harry the tailor. But had he been a soldier he would have been the greatest general in history.”

My question is, “Why are so many people leading a tailor’s life when they should be generals?”

 The Urge to Grow and Flourish

 In the title of a radio show I was a guest on was the word “destiny,” and I started by saying, “I couldn’t be on a more appropriate show. I’m a strong believer in destiny. Here’s what I mean…”

The word “destiny” has the same root as “destination.” It’s where you’re headed. Your destiny is not a pre-ordained life that you’re forced to lead because it’s been laid out before you in detail by some master planner who has absolute control over you. Your destiny depends more than anything on your own free will and it is as much a part of you as your ear.

Every living thing has an innate urge to grow, to flourish, to realize its full potential. A maple tree “wishes” to become all the maple tree it can be, an ear of corn, an ear of corn, a lilac a lilac, you an actor, to discover, develop, refine, and put to use your full talents in performances before an admiring public, and you, a painter, to see your works adorning walls.

This inner urge–this impulse–pushes all living things to strive to become what they are equipped for and have the potential to become, no matter how harsh or unaccommodating the environment. Composers and musical performers who, like Claude Debussy, grow up in unmusical families, and poets and other geniuses of the language whose parents are illiterate or who themselves quit school at twelve–Mark Twain, who claimed that he never let schooling interfere with his education–and Walt Whitman, one day to make himself through his own efforts, high ambitions, and self-teaching into, rather mysteriously, America’s best and most expressive poet.

Denied water, a tree will send out its roots long distances in search of it. Hidden in shadows, it will twist its branches until they reach sunlight. Some people too, will do whatever’s needed to reach sunlight.

 You Have Two Destinies

You have not one, but two, destinies. One is your INTENDED DESTINY and the other is your ACTUAL DESTINY. Your intended destiny is the life you are fully equipped with the talents, gifts, personality, and intelligence to have. The other, your actual destiny, is what you actually became and the life you’re actually living. You know people who have all that’s necessary to become A, and actually became A. But most people’s intended and actual destinies are different. They should have become A, and wanted to become A, but became B instead.

Gary has all that it takes to become a fine architect, but never finished school and settled for being a draftsman. Erin has musical talent and was intended to write popular songs, but works as a sales clerk in a novelty shop and never gets around to writing. Neither put themselves on the right course, or seeing they were on the wrong course, never took it on themselves to change course. They are intended generals who became actual tailors.

The Ideal Is Very Possible

 You’ve reached the ideal when your intended destiny is your actual destiny. Then you’re converting what you hold the promise of being into what you actually are. If you were equipped to be A, and not B, you would be A. Gary would be designing buildings; Erin would be producing songs.

Deep down you and I know that there is a most suitable life for us, more suitable than any other. We can feel that that it’s a specific life. Even if we don’t yet know exactly what it is we feel it and we spend part of our lives—possibly most of our lives—looking for it. To become clear as to what your intended destiny is and to say to it, “I devote myself to you,” is to feel an unstoppable drive toward its due fulfillment and to spring to life. Once you know you’re moving in the right direction and feel strongly about it you fly through your days aflame with energy and determination. If there are obstacles in your way you overcome them, particularly the fear of taking risks.

There’s a part of you that asks yourself, “Why are you here in life and not there? Account for yourself.” If you never start that novel or never start that business that you are equipped for, your conscience won’t let go. From time to time all your life you’ll think, “I should have written that book,” “I should have my own business” and you’ll feel regret, and you’ll never know what might have happened or what your life would have been like.

 The Need to Finish What You Start

Sometimes what we put aside a long time ago but haven’t forgotten is a clue to our true destiny. Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik’s professor Kurt Lewin noticed that a waiter remembered orders only as long as the order was in the process of being served. When it was served, he forgot about it. From this, Zeigarnik developed the theory that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than they do completed tasks (now called “The Zeigarnik Effect”). People who suspend their work and get involved in unrelated activities (such as playing games) will remember material better than people who continue working without taking a break.

As applied to a lifetime it means that you will not forget important things you started even long ago, but did not complete—such as that painting in storage in your basement, or the project you intended to get back to, or the degree you started but never got. Not getting back to them causes a tension that brings repeated thoughts of the unfinished business that doesn’t end until the job is finished. It’s human nature to finish what we start and to feel uneasy until we do. As long as the task is uncompleted your mind continues to work on it, and it will not stop pestering you until you finish the task. I have a novel in a nice bright red binder that I started 35 years ago that has been on my mind ever since. What have you not forgotten that may indicate a direction you should follow?

It’s not unusual for people who distinguish themselves and feel fulfilled to discover the direction of achievements they will have later in life foreshadowed by the interests and preoccupations of their childhood. Quite early in life they became interested in an activity that they later pursued seriously, at times to the exclusion of almost everything else, and at times after pursuing other things that diverted them, often going down a fruitless path and coming to a dead end. The deepening of their interest over time became what guided them to their careers and largely determined their success. So, it could be a turning point when you feel yourself drifting away from your true destiny to ask what interested you when you were a child and haven’t forgotten: “When I was little, I liked especially….”

Timing

You may reach your intended destiny by a rapid jump, a quantum leap, even without any hints beforehand. It seems inconceivable that Joseph Conrad, born Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski, a Polish seaman who spent twenty years on ships and never took a writing class and didn’t learn English until he was in his twenties, should suddenly emerge as one of the greatest and most innovative stylists writing not in Polish, but English. He said later than when he started his first novel one day after breakfast, “I had written nothing but letters, and not very many of these. I never made a note of fact, of an impression or of an anecdote in my life.” His emerging full-blown into a master of the language is one of the puzzles of literary history and human development. But it happened.

You can never say that it’s too late to reach your intended destiny, however roundabout your journey to it has been, or however long it’s taken. Having set out in one direction, you are free to turn and set out in another like a fish in a stream that changes direction any time it wishes. When you overcome past mistakes, false starts, and failures and set out for your intended destiny you feel a sense of rightness, of confidence, of being in complete charge. You think, “This—this—finally is what my life was supposed to be.”

Your true destiny may appear at any time: in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, or late adulthood. Many people enter new paths later than others and they “catch up” quickly and often surpass the others. Duke Ellington’s career was undistinguished until he was forty. Authors Tolstoy, Turgenev, and William Faulkner showed little promise in their youth. They did their best work considerably later than others novelists. Paul Gauguin was a successful Parisian stock broker for years before he turned to art and became a great painter.

Jean Paul Sartre wrote that people exist first and only afterwards define themselves. “They are what they will have planned to be. They are what they conceive themselves to be.” A Japanese adage says, “Irrigators guide water, fletchers straighten arrows, carpenters bend wood, and as for wise people, they shape themselves.”

Shaping yourself into the person you conceive yourself to be—that’s what this post is about.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:

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The Power of Focus; the Power of Breath: The Doctrine of Ki, Part III

“When you’re afraid, tense the muscles of your stomach and the fear will disappear” Zen adage

(Adapted from Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life by David J. Rogers (Crossroad Press, 2014)

 A Powerfully Built Man and a Little Man

To many Easterners the center of a person’s spirit and strength is a point within the abdominal cavity two inches below the navel. This special point is called the tai ten, tanden, tan-tien, tan, seika-tanden, or simply “the one point.” In addition to being your body’s center of gravity, the one point is also the center of kienergy, spirit, aura, vitality, life force, inner strength.

The one point can be compared to the boiler of a steam engine. When your mind is concentrated on it, energy is created and distributed throughout your body, and your body is able to move quickly and powerfully. Athletes, if they are not already, should be very interested in learning more about ki.

R. E. West, a powerfully built Western black belt judoka (practitioner of judo) who knew very little about ki and the one point, asked an old, 130-pound Japanese master for a demonstration of its power. The two men sat on their knees facing each other. Each placed his right hand on the other’s chest. Hard as West tried, he couldn’t budge the old man. Then the old man gave a slight push and West flew backward. The master then said it was only because of the power in his one point that he could knock West over.

Samurai men and women going into battle concentrated on the one point.

How to Draw the Power of Ki

The way to draw the power of ki is very easy. Just concentrate your mind fully on your one point. Look at your stomach and find the point two inches directly below your navel. Now press it hard with your finger. This will leave a residual feeling of where the one point is. Then simply visualize. Don’t look at it, just imagine it as a point, a dot, and concentrate on it.

Now that you’ve located the one point, practice beginning your everyday actions with your attention on it until it becomes second nature to you. Before starting any task, any task at all, first think of your one point—sitting down at your desk, starting a meeting, going to a party, entering a sales conference, starting a race—whatever. If you devote yourself to concentrating on your one point, it will gradually become a habit. Until it does you will have to remind yourself: “Hey, concentrate on your one point.”

When you’re able to remember to begin at least some of your acts from the one point, become a little more ambitious. Get in the habit of concentrating on the one point when you’re upset or irritated. You’ll find yourself becoming calm and tranquil and strong at the same time.

After you’ve started the habit of one-point concentration, begin to use it during times of more severe tension and nervousness. When you’re troubled and your thoughts and emotions are shooting around like rockets, or you are facing an inner or outer block, concentrate on your one point. When you’re discouraged and are thinking, “This time I’ve reached rock-bottom; everything is against me now,” simply concentrate on your one point. Don’t think of yourself as a discouraged person; think of yourself as a strong person with powerful ki.

Breathing

“If you know the art of breathing you have the strength, wisdom and courage of ten tigers.” Chinese adage

The psychotherapist Wilhelm Reich used the word “streamings” to describe energy in the human body. He said that at times streamings flow, and other times they’re dammed up. They flow when you’re optimistic, when you’re not tense or worried, when your expectations of success are high. When they flow you experience an inner glow. You have a completely new sense of courage and self-confidence. Reich’s concept, “streamings,” may seem strange to some people, but it certainly wouldn’t to the practitioners of ki breathing. He would call it ki and state that what Reich says it does, it does. And modern technology is helping to prove Reich was exactly right.

According to a research project undertaken by M.I.T., there actually is an electrical energy field around the human body, and it can be regulated in exactly the way Easterners regulate it—by breathing in a particular way.

Ki is very closely related to breathing, and that’s why it’s sometimes translated as “breath.” The M.I.T. research demonstrated that the breathing exercises in fact thicken the energy field. Everyone has a ki energy field around him or her, but martial arts practitioners using ki breathing techniques actually have a different kind of field than the average person. Using modern photographic processes, the field can even be seen!

In one of the most dramatic demonstrations of ki, Kirlian photography was used to film karateka Teruyuki Yamada breaking a one-inch board with a ki-powered blow. Now there’s nothing amazing about a punch breaking a board. But it is amazing that the punch never hit the board. Playing the film in very slow motion revealed that the board actually snapped when Yamada’s fist was still an inch away from it. What had shattered the wood was the pressurized force of the ki field between the board and the fist!

Ki is also curative. For centuries Chinese healers have used their knowledge of chi to manipulate its flow in sick patients. Physicians in various Western countries are using electrical energy stimulation to heal a variety of body injuries, often with extraordinary results. Russian sports scientists photograph streams of electrical energy in and around athletes’ bodies, then use lasers to stimulate its flow to heal injuries and treat fatigue and emotional disturbances, such as depression and anxiety.

Deep abdominal, diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to have particular health advantages over “high chest,” shallow breathing. Medical researchers estimate that up to 80 per cent of all diseases are attributable to nervous problems. Worry, nervousness, anxiety, anger, and stress narrow our capillaries and restrict the flow of blood carrying fresh oxygen. By breathing the right way, you can open your capillaries and send oxygen freely throughout your body. Diaphragmatic ki breathing also increases your physical strength. That’s another reason why people are so interested in sanchin, “breathing exercises.”

There is breathing high and breathing low. Westerners breathe high. We are taught “stomach in, chest out.” Our breathing is done high in our chest. Ki breathing is done low. It’s bringing the inhaled air far down in the lungs. In other words, as far as ki development is concerned we have learned to breathe wrong. Right breathing is “chest in, stomach out.” It’s breathing from the abdomen—it’s diaphragmatic breathing.

If you’re conscientious about practicing your ki breathing you may come to breathe this way all the time. Most people, however, even if they don’t forever after breathe in the ki way, use it as an alternative way of breathing. When confronted with disturbing situations, when in trouble or doubt, or when they’re in need of a pick-me-up, they simply drop their normal high chest breathing and launch into deep abdominal ki breathing.

Technique

To prepare yourself to use ki breathing whenever you wish:

-Get in a comfortable, relaxed position—your weight on your legs and feet, lying on your back, or sitting comfortably.

–Concentrate your attention on your one point. Remember it’s the center of gravity point located two inches below your navel. Throughout your ki breathing keep your mind on your one point. When your thoughts wander from it don’t fight them, just gently nudge your attention back to your one point.

–Get rid of the carbon dioxide in your lungs by opening your mouth and making a slow, steady “haaa” sound as you breathe out for ten seconds. When you think you’re out of breath make one last hard “ha.”

–Inhale slowly, evenly and deeply through your nose in one uninterrupted motion taking four or five seconds. Concentrate on bringing your breath far down. Imagine your diaphragm swelling out like a balloon and your breath pressing your one point from inside your stomach. Your breathing should be going on in your diaphragm and not in your chest. Your chest should be moving very little, if at all.

–Your attention still on your one point, and your breath pressing against it, hold your breath for five to ten seconds.

–Then exhale deeply, but slowly and evenly through your mouth. Pull in your abdominal muscle to force out as much carbon dioxide as possible. If you get out of breath just stop and breathe in your usual way for a few seconds. Then start your ki breathing again.

Try to practice this method of ki breathing at least five minutes twice each day. If you set aside time every day for ki breathing you’ll feel the effects of it not only when you’re actually doing it, but throughout the day.

If you’re like a lot of people and twice a day is asking a lot, at least learn how to do your breathing so you can launch into it when you’re upset or unsettled, or when you just feel like it.

It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it and once you do you can do it whenever you wish. When your ki is lively, you react confidently and quickly. If it’s clouded and negative, you hesitate and become awkward and indecisive. Therefore, keep your ki flowing all day long

After you have become accustomed to deep abdominal ki breathing you can do it anywhere—in a cab, on a train, at your desk, while walking down the street, in an elevator. Whenever you need ki simply breathe down to your one point.

Points to Remember Blog Posts I, II, and III: The Doctrine of Ki

–Remember to “Fill yourself with ki.” (Ki o mitasu) Do it as often as you can. In particular, do it to increase your expectations of success and whenever you experience defeat.

–Ki is energy, a frame of mind or attitude, and it’s a force that you communicate to other people.

–Positive ki creates positive power in your actions and positive responses in others. Negative ki creates negative actions and responses.

–Make certain you never forget the personal power formula of shinkiryoku (mind-energy-strength). Your frame of mind determines how much energy you have and the amount of power you live and work with. You can choose how much power you will communicate by choosing what you will think.

–To increase your ki and ryoku power: (1) transmit your ki, (2) concentrate on your one point two inches below your navel, and (3) breathe diaphragmatically.

–The time will come when you realize you have been neglecting your ki development. Whenever that happens, go back to these posts and refresh your memory of how you can increase your ki and ryoku power whenever you want.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:

www.mentorcoach.com/rogershttp://www.mentorcoach.com/positive-psychology-coaching/interviews/interview-david-j-rogers/

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

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The Doctrine of Ki, Part II: Clearing Your Mind, Increasing Your Strength

“If your mind is preoccupied, your ki tenses, and you become awkward.”

“Form follows ki, and ki follows the mind.”

(Adapted from the eBook Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life, David J. Rogers, Crossroad Press, 2014)

Shin is your frame of mind, ki is your vital energy, and ryoku is your power. They always go together, and they may fill you with strength or with weakness. In this post we’ll look at shin and whether it is yielding strength or weakness.

A Common Tale

I have two friends, Jack and Bob, who seem to me to be similar in many ways. However, in spite of their similarities, they’re very different. Jack is discouraged and depressed easily, and sees work life (and personal life too) as a burden full of trouble that one has to suffer through.

Bob, on the other hand, is buoyant, energetic and optimistic. Both men have suffered setbacks in business and outside it, but they react to them very differently. Jack dwells on his. He moans and becomes grumpy and irritable. Bob picks himself up and reenters the stream of life eager to see what lies ahead.

Jack endures his job the way one endures a dreaded disease. He has told me more than once that whatever he touches turns to shit. Bob moves quickly from one success to another.

A major difference between these two otherwise similar men is the difference in their frame of mind, their shin. Because their shin is very different, so are their ki and ryoku. Bob’s ki is positive and his power of action is all right there, 100 percent. Jack’s ki is negative and his power is almost nonexistent. Their shin is a difference that makes all the difference.

Olympic Athletes and You

What separates winners from losers? What differentiates Olympic athletes from other world-class competitors? According to a group of researchers who studied America’s top wrestlers, the difference is not in physical ability. And it’s not in training methods: they’re pretty standard. The difference is in the athletes’ frame of mind, their shin—in what they think.

Men who were eliminated in U.S. Olympic trials tended to be more confused or depressed before the match—that’s very bad shin— while the winners were positive and relaxed, which is very good shin. Those who made the Olympic team were more in control of their reactions than the losers, who were more likely to become upset emotionally.

Without seeing even one wrestling match, the researchers were able to predict 92% of the winners by using profiles of the athletes.

Feeling free and easy, being relaxed and calm, not being caught up in problems or worries, thinking positively and optimistically, expecting to do well, being committed to what you’re doing, not being grumpy or irritable, feeling fearless, buoyant and confident … all these are positive shin, positive ki, ryoku power-producers.

Experiencing worry, anger or hostility, losing heart, being afraid of something lying ahead of you, worrying, expecting defeat, holding a grudge, feeling timid or uneasy and being confused in action . . . these are examples of negative shin, negative ki, power-depleters.

Exercises for Transmitting Your Ki

  • Reflect on your thought habits and change negative to positive. Many people, possibly most, simply don’t realize how much negative ki they’re creating. To find out for yourself, a useful technique is to stop the action for five minutes once a day and write down your thoughts as they pop into your head. After you’ve filled a few sheets of paper put a plus sign after each positive ki thought and a minus sign after each negative thought you’ve listed. Any thought that creates power, good chemistry with others, optimism or forward movement gets a plus; and any thought that diminishes your power, creates bad chemistry, is pessimistic or prevents you from moving forward toward your goals and responsibilities gets a minus.Ask yourself, “Which predominates, positive or negative?”
  • Reject negative shin thoughts and replace them with positive, power-producing thoughts. Do this whenever a negative thought appears in your mind. Whenever your thoughts drift off to the negative, stop them, then substitute positive shin thoughts—“I like this person.” “I’m having a good time.” “We can work this out.” “I’m happy.” “I’m going to succeed.” Always reject negative ki and consciously replace it with positive.
  • Spit. To add determination to your rejection of negative thoughts, spit out the troublesome thought. Go “thoo” and spit out the thought.
  • Pay special attention to “red alert,” negative ki thoughts. Whenever you feel any of the following–afraid, scared; confused, indecisive; distracted, upset; depressed, sad or miserable; worried, nervous, anxious, upset, tense, pressured; beaten down, defeated, your spirits sagging; listless, unmotivated and bored; shy, non-assertive, timid; defensive, ready to hit back, bitter; guilty–your ki is negative, your ryoku power is weak. Right away, remind yourself of shin-ki-ryoku. Tell yourself, “Remember, make your thoughts pure and transmit your ki.”
  • Control your expectations. Negative-expectations, negative-ki people are that way only out of habit. By developing new, more positive shin thought habits you condition yourself to have positive expectations and you put more power into your actions. More than 100 studies of 15,000 people show that those who expect to succeed are happier, healthier, and more successful. Always jump to the positive. Be like a fish that is swimming in one direction, but can quickly turn and go in the opposite.
  • Constantly remind yourself of the importance of positive shin, positive ki. Make a pact with someone. If one of you is becoming tight, irritable or gloomy, the other is to say, “C’mon now. Don’t forget. Transmit your ki.
  • Write out reminders on three-by-five index cards and put them in prominent places around your house and office. “Plus creates plus.” “Good shin creates good ki creates power.” Read them aloud, and with feeling, from time to time. On each card draw a large minus sign and a large plus sign. Draw an arrow from the minus to the plus to remind yourself to move your negative thoughts to positive.(Martial artist Bruce Lee visualized his negative thoughts written on a piece of paper, then saw himself wadding the paper into a ball, lighting it with a match and watching it burn to a crisp. He said the thoughts never returned to disturb him.)
  • Draw a ring of harmony around yourself wherever you are. You can generate goodwill and cooperation by imagining a yellow ring of harmony around you constantly. Make the ring red or blue if you like—the color doesn’t matter. All that matters is your imagining the ring around yourself and making certain that whenever another person passes into it, there is cooperation and harmony between you.
  • Stop judging others negatively. People can pick up very quickly if you’re thinking they’re dumb, nasty, unpleasant, overly talkative, ugly, poorly dressed, too highly paid for what they do, etc. If they sense that you don’t like them, they won’t like you. So instead, like them, respect them, find real value in them, even if you have to work hard at it.
  • Be generous with your feelings. If you like people, let them know about it. Transmit your ki to them. Much of the negative ki in business is caused by the supervisor who always criticizes and never praises. Parents often do the same with their children. Simply let people know you appreciate what they’re doing and morale will improve immediately—in business and in the home.
  • See your positive ki being passed from you to others. See it as a ray of white light being transmitted by you to another person or a whole group of people. Actually visualize it moving from you to them under the direction of your mind.
  • Maintain your ki even in defeat. Everyone gets beaten. The question is not whether you’ll experience defeat, but how you’ll handle it when you do. When you’re beaten—by another person, an event, a situation—keep your ki positive and strong. Never let the defeat “penetrate your depths,” never let it get to your shin. When you havc a crisis, positive shin can rescue you. Be able to say, “I lost this one (job, person, disagreement, etc.) but I’m not defeated. I’ve failed, but I’m not a failure. I’ve still got the only solution I need—me. ” Even in defeat—especially in defeat—keep your ki going full blast.

You can choose how much power you will have by choosing what to think.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

The Next Post

The next post will show that “the way to draw the power of ki is very easy,” and that “If your ki is settled, your actions will flow.”

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:

www.mentorcoach.com/rogershttp://www.mentorcoach.com/positive-psychology-coaching/interviews/interview-david-j-rogers/

 

How to Get The Book

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

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Part II, Expectations and Success

A Persistent Author with High Expectations

man-73318_150(1)I know an author who wrote a book that he thought had the potential to be published and sell well. His expectations high, he contacted any number of literary agents and not one was interested in handling his book, telling him that it would be impossible for it to find a public. It just didn’t have that—that whatever it takes for people to want to buy a book.

He did not give up after he had exhausted his long list of agents, but contacted publisher after publisher himself, calling them up, making appointments, pitching the book in their offices, expecting all the time that eventually he would succeed. He met nothing but failure, but still believed in his book and expected it to be published one day.

Then an editor of a small publisher called him to come down and talk. When my friend entered the office his manuscript was spread out on the editor’s desk and the editor was bent over it, reading it. The editor said, “Oh, good, you’re here” and looked up at him with a smile on his face and said, “Your book is going to be the number one best seller in the country.”

That book that he was told by experts could not possibly find a public became a publishing phenomenon and sold an astonishing twenty-five million copies in paperback alone. It became the number one best seller in the world.

Now what would have happened if my friend’s expectations of success had not been strong enough to sustain him through the many disappointments and discouragement, not powerful enough to make him persist?

The book would not have been published.

He would not have become famous. He would not have become rich.

 The Impact of Your Expectations

In Part I of this three-part article on expectations of success, we dealt with expectations as they affected any type of performance.

Persuasive people expect to be persuasive. That’s one of the major differences between them and people who are not persuasive. Talk show hosts expect to be interesting, good writers expect to write skillfully, the best students expect to get an A, effective executives expect to manage well, and the best comedians expect to be funny.

There is hardly an aspect of your life that is not affected by your expectations.

People who expect to live a satisfying life are healthier, report fewer physical symptoms, have a greater sense of well-being, and are more successful and happier. They feel less stress than people who expect the worst.

People with high positive expectations are resilient because of their expectations. They overcome obstacles and aren’t deterred. They expect to be able to handle difficulties and to succeed in spite of them. When setting a goal they consider the probability of success rather than the probability of failure. “The chances are good I’ll succeed. I can accomplish this if I work hard enough.” “This is going to work out really well for me, and I’m going to be happy.” Failure-motivated people have the opposite expectations: “I’ll never be able to do it. I’ll give it a try, but it probably won’t work out.”

 Artists’ Lives

Artists generally are “intrinsically” motivated. That is, they are motivated to persevere–often working hard, toiling long hours, and sacrificing–by the creative side, the work itself. But they often abhor the business side—the “sales” side–particularly because that’s the side that often involves their work being rejected.

When they are working at their craft, they experience an underlying expectation of success that goes unchallenged. But then they shift to the selling of their work in the marketplace, and after enduring repeated rejections—twenty, thirty, forty, or a hundred–all but those with the strongest and most powerful optimistic expectations lose their confidence and may begin to expect future failure. They may stop submitting the work, sometimes even resigning from an artist’s life, giving it up or doing it no longer as a profession, but as a hobby. I’m sure there have been many potentially superb artists who lost the expectation of eventual success and simply quit.

 Social Relationships

I have a friend John I marvel at. He has a wonderful social manner; he has that knack for making friends. He never expects anything but that he is going to like the person he is talking to, and everyone likes him. It’s something to behold.

It is often through our relationships that we reach a richer, fuller life, and our expectations directly affect the quality of those relationships. It makes not one iota of difference if the other person is a total stranger at a party, a new manager of your department, a sales prospect, or two thousand people sitting in an auditorium to hear you speak–if you expect them to like you and you behave accordingly, you will be proven right in almost every instance.

That’s true even if the other person has a reputation for being hard to get along with or the audience is a tough one. But if your expectations are the opposite, they work against you just as powerfully. If you expect a person not to like you and you behave as if that’s the case, you’ll be proven right in almost every instance, even if the person has the reputation of being very friendly and easy to get along with.

Human Motivation

The primary factor in human motivation is the self-perception of highly motivated people that they are doing well. Past success leads to self-confidence and higher expectations, higher motivation, greater persistence, and the drive to do even better. But of course the same holds true for expectations of failure. Expect to fail, fail, expect to fail the next time, fail, and on and on.

 

Let’s say you’re given an assignment at work. If you expect to do well you will work harder and increase your chances of actually doing well. Then, having done well will increase your expectations of doing well the next time. And those favorable expectations, in turn, will increase your chances of doing well again, and on it will go–high expectation-high performance, high expectation-high performance, etc.

 Expectations of Others

We hold expectations of others, and they hold expectations of us. And their expectations of us affect whether or not we succeed. Many a person is being lifted to the heights of that better life on the encouraging expectations of people around him or her, and just as many are being kept from a better life by the low expectations of others.

Parents of highly-motivated people have been shown to have a distinctive style of child-rearing. They are warm, nurturing, physically affectionate, and have high but reasonable expectations of their children. Managers of high-productivity units tend to have higher expectations of their personnel and set higher goals than managers of less productive units–and their personnel tend to live up or down to those expectations, as the case may be.

Parents’ expectations of their children’s success in math have proven to be more accurate predictors of actual performance than aptitude tests. The tests say the children shouldn’t do well, but the parents say they will, and they do. But the reverse is also true. Tests show that they have the aptitude and should do well, but if the parents expect them not to, they tend not to.

Importance in Any Walk of Life

To be successful in any demanding walk of life–and in life generally–requires a common cluster of essential attributes: intelligence, enthusiasm, drive, commitment, persistence, hard work. And high expectations

 If You Really Know It You Can Do It

In the next post–Part III Expectations and Success—we’ll look at turning factual information we have been discussing into prescriptions for action. And action, after all, is the whole idea.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

 

 

The Author

 David J Rogers is the published author of non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. His current eBooks are Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life, and Waging Business Warfare: Lessons from the Military Masters in Achieving Competitive Superiority.

The former has been called the best self-improvement motivational book ever written. The latter has been called “a business masterpiece.”

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:

www.mentorcoach.com/rogershttp://www.mentorcoach.com/positive-psychology-coaching/interviews/interview-david-j-rogers/

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

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Expectations and Success Part I

“Expect: to look forward to the probable occurrence or appearance.”       American Heritage Dictionary                                          thumb-up-153290_150

We will be talking about the tremendous impact your expectations have on your life in three parts. This is Part I. It discusses very briefly the effects of negative or positive expectations as they apply to any kind of performance, whether sitting down to start a novel (your first or your twentieth), making a speech, performing onstage, engaging in social networking, becoming popular, recovering from an illness, going on a diet, or making progress in your career. You’ll see in Parts I, II, and III together that your expectations affect most every aspect of your life. Knowing the mechanics of expectations, you can turn yours to your advantage.

We tend to act in ways that conform to our expectations. Your expectation–positive on the one hand or negative on the other–releases performance and sets it on a track of success or failure. One experience after another confirms this.

The Journalist

I was to be interviewed by a woman journalist. I knew nothing about her, so I asked a man who had met her. “Oh, her, she’s a real bitch,” he said. “She’s just out to nail the people she interviews.” So there they were: my expectations. I went to her office expecting trouble. I was tight-lipped and curt and kept looking for any sign of nastiness. I was having a terrible time, and I could see that she was too. It was going all wrong. I asked if we could take a short break while I made an important phone call, and I went to the cafeteria and adjusted my expectations from harmful to helpful. I went back to her office and behaved accordingly. This time I acted as if she and I would get along exceedingly well. I started all over. I smiled, relaxed, shook her hand, thanked her for having me, and showed an interest in her work. Suddenly she was friendly, smiling, at ease, complimentary. We laughed. She was a nice person. I liked her and she liked me. It was not only an enjoyable interview, but a friendship resulted from my having friendly expectations and my behaving accordingly.

Here was an application of The Law of Positive Expectation and The Law of Social Reciprocation. Your expectations, positive or negative, tend to come true, and give people something of value to them, and if they are like most people they will give you something of value in return. What do people generally want in any human interaction? Respect, recognition, individual attention, to be liked, to be listened to. Always give them what they want, and ordinarily they will give you the same in return.

A researcher asked subjects in an experiment to judge in advance of meeting another person whether they would be popular or unpopular with the other person. The subjects were right almost every time. Those who expected to be unpopular were, and those who expected to be popular were. If you expect to fail socially you probably will, but if you expect the opposite, it’s a good bet you’ll succeed. That’s because our behavior conforms to our expectations. Then through our behavior we tend to influence the other person to produce attitudes that fit those expectations, even without being aware that in fact that’s what we’re doing.

 Robert and Pete

 I have two friends, Robert and Pete. They are the same age, almost to the day. They attended the same schools from kindergarten on. They graduated from the same university in the same major on the same day, and entered the same career, and live in the same neighborhood of the same city. One seems to be about as intelligent as the other, which is quite intelligent. Robert expects to do well whatever he tackles, from repairing a garage door to getting paid well, and does. He has one success after another. Ask him and he will tell you that he is very happy with his life. On the other hand, Pete will tell you, “Everything I touch turns to…” You know what it turns to. And because he expects it to, it does.

 The Effects of Expectations on Your Health

 The impact of the mind on health has been widely documented. The field of psychoneuroimmunology explores the connection between mind and body regarding the immune system. One finding that has emerged clearly from the growing number of studies and anecdotal accounts going all the way back to the time of Hippocrates, is that psychological factors such as the patient’s and doctor’s expectations can influence the immune system and thus have an impact on the outcome of diseases.

Physicians will tell you it is very common that one patient who is not gravely ill but expects to die enters the hospital and dies, and another who is at death’s door and shouldn’t live much longer, says, “Don’t worry, I’m going to walk out of this place,” and does.

When patients given placebos in medical experiments get better, the experimenters and doctors dismiss it. They say, “That’s just the placebo effect.” But the placebo effect is the most astounding thing about the experiment–people getting better without medical treatment because they expect to get better!

There have been thousands of scientifically-conducted studies of the effects of placebos. In one study, patients who had bleeding ulcers were divided into two groups. Group I was told they were being given a powerful new drug that without a doubt would relieve the symptoms. Group II was told they were being given a new experimental drug that little was known about. Twenty-five percent of Group II found relief from their symptoms, but seventy percent of Group I, the people who expected their health to improve, experienced “significant improvement.” In fact both groups had been given the same “medicine” that wasn’t a medicine at all, but a placebo.

 Expectations of Failure

Many people are dominated all their lives by a fear of failing. But the term is a misnomer; they not only fear they will fail, they expect to, so they are dominated by the EXPECTATION of failure and avoid risks. They may take a stab at solving a problem or even at a better life, but if they fail they may never try again. And if they do succeed they may experience “encore anxiety,” the nagging sense that success was just a fluke, and their expectation is that they won’t be able to duplicate their success. On the other hand, there are people who expect to succeed in almost everything they attempt, and having succeeded once, expect to succeed again. If they fail, they consider that a fluke. Even when things repeatedly do not work out, they still expect success to come.

Our expectations affect the smallest things, even the search for ketchup. I’ve often found that when I expect not to be able to find something—a set of notes somewhere in the office or the ketchup in the refrigerator, I tend to be unable to find them. I overlook them even though they are right there. But when I tell myself that they’re here somewhere and expect to find them, they turn up.

 Self-Confidence

Powerful positive expectations propel you confidently into action. Supremely self-confident people approach their endeavors in the same way: as if it’s impossible for them to fail. Suggest to them that in hindsight it was possible that they might have failed, and they will cock their heads a little and get a surprised look in their eyes, and will say these words: “That never occurred to me.”

Whole nations can have such confident expectations. I’ve talked with many Americans who lived during World War II. The most striking similarity is that it never once occurred to any one of them that we might have lost the war, not a single one. They expected total victory.

 Next Time

In the second post on expectations we will look at how expectations affect your motivation, personal relationships, persuasiveness, popularity, learning ability, and more. We will see that our habitual expectations hypnotize us into believing they’re factual when they’re completely fictional. We’ve made them up, but we act “as if” they are true. And so, whether they are positive or negative, they are completely under our control and can be changed from negative to positive.

That makes all the difference.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

David J. Rogers is the author of  eBooks Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life and Waging Business Warfare: Lessons from the Military Masters in Achieving Competitive Superiority.

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:

www.mentorcoach.com/rogershttp://www.mentorcoach.com/positive-psychology-coaching/interviews/interview-david-j-rogers/

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

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or

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fighting-to-win-samurai-techniques-for-your-work-and-life-david-rogers/1119303640?ean=2940149174379

 

Order Waging Business Warfare: Lessons From the Military Masters in Achieving Competitive Superiority

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or

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First Crisis, Then Recovery

Man sitting on a bench looking at the waterWhen crossing marshes, your only concern should be to get over them quickly, without delay”.                                 (Sonshi/Sun Tzu)

I was cheated out of a great deal of money in business by people I had trusted.

I had worked hard an entire year on a handshake, and now I had nothing to show for it. I had a wife and four children to support, and now there was no money with which to pay the bills. Devastated, I quickly fell into a depression; it was almost impossible for me to get up in the morning and I couldn’t sleep at night. I had not only lost the money, I had lost my faith in mankind. Is man’s greed so complete and is he so hopelessly selfish and that he will take the food out of another man’s mouth? I could not fathom such cruelty.

In that dark mood those dreary days, I could not make myself spend time with the family I love so much, didn’t feel like seeing friends, didn’t feel like leaving the house at all, didn’t want to talk, didn’t want to walk my dear dog, didn’t want to water my plants, didn’t  feel like getting dressed.

I am a reader, so one day I left the house and went searching for a book that would help me resurrect my damaged spirit and get me back on my feet and fully functioning again. All my life I have had what I call my “Research Angel”–some unknown factor that I trust to guide me to the solutions to my problems. When I need something, my Research Angel takes me to it.

I went downtown to a book store where I had once been a sales clerk and walked around from floor to floor, looking at book covers, reading titles, and thumbing through book after book until I found one that seemed almost to glow with a bright light there on the shelf. I picked it up and it seems to me now that simply holding it was the start of a new energy, a new focus, a new purpose.

I bought it, took it home, went upstairs to my office, turned on the desk light, and read it. Immediately I knew that book would lead me to writing the book I had been dreaming of writing for some time but could not clearly conceptualize in my mind–and it was.

I have written about how my sister Sharon’s death fueled my purpose and made me indefatigable until I had achieved it.

I wrote my book–Fighting to Win–and it changed everything about my life. After its success a major publisher told me, “We will give you a contract to write your next book.”

I asked, “What do you want me to write about?” and I heard the words every author dreams of hearing: “Write about anything you want to write about.”

And so I wrote another book that became popular: Waging Business Warfare.

That led to public speaking engagements in North America and Europe–and the realization that standing at a podium speaking to a thousand people or two or three thousand or five had been my destiny–shinjin in Japanese–the real me, the true person.

So you see, if I hadn’t been cheated by unscrupulous men I might never have gotten on the path that I was designed to follow all along.

The Research Angel

I think many people have discovered during their lives—particularly when going through tough, discouraging times–that they too have a Research Angel, whatever they call it.  A Research Angel is, I think, a powerful and undeniable intuition, a kind of unshakable knowing what’s best for you–most healthy for you–that comes from within, and an internal compass leading you over, around, or through obstacles, and out of difficulty. All that’s necessary is to relax and free your mind and have trust in your Research Angel. And to follow where it leads.

Two Questions for You

Do you have some kind of what I call a Research Angel that helps you out of crises? What difficulties has it led you out of? I would love to hear your story.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

 

Please follow this “Starting Your Life Fresh” blog. It will feature topics I think will be of value to you.

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:

www.mentorcoach.com/rogershttp://www.mentorcoach.com/positive-psychology-coaching/interviews/interview-david-j-rogers/

 

How to Get The Books

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

Fighting to win Amazon

Click on book image to order from Amazon.com

or

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fighting-to-win-samurai-techniques-for-your-work-and-life-david-rogers/1119303640?ean=2940149174379

 

Order Waging Business Warfare: Lessons From the Military Masters in Achieving Competitive Superiority

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Click on book image to order from Amazon.com

or

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or

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/waging-business-warfare-lessons-from-the-military-masters-in-achieving-competetive-superiority-revised-edition-david-rogers/1119079991?ean=2940149284030

 

 

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Doubting Yourself/Losing Confidence

Caution sign-44463_640To be a successful samurai required tremendous self-confidence. He/she was taught, “To defeat the enemy who comes leaping at you, your spirit must be perfectly poised.” Such confidence can be learned.

 A very intelligent, very talented woman told me her story one quiet, warm summer evening as we walked along a beach and watched the gulls. Since childhood she had imagined writing novels that she would then see on shelves in book stores and libraries wherever she went. “But,” she said almost apologetically, “that was long ago and I gave that up.” Then she picked up a stone off the sand and tossed it in the lake with a plunk. “Though now and then,” she said wistfully, touching my hand, “I do wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t given up?”

I asked her, “Why did you give up?”

“Oh, I’d heard it was impossible to get a book published—told that I was dreaming. And I didn’t want to spend two years or three years or five years writing long hours, sacrificing, spending less time with my family and friends, only to be told, ‘Sorry, you’re not good enough.’ That would have hurt me very much and I didn’t want to go through that.”

I think there are masterpieces that are never written because the would-be author doubted himself or herself and so, didn’t even attempt to write the book that would have become a masterpiece. They are extremely talented. They are extremely intelligent. Their idea for the book is fantastic. But they doubt themselves and don’t try or give up at the first sign of failure, and so there is not the slightest chance the masterpiece will ever be written

Some years ago I wrote a little how-to book on job-hunting for a client running a job placement agency—really just knocked it off. One day at lunch I was in a bookstore in Chicago’s Loop and thumbed through a few best-selling books on the same subject only to conclude “Mine is better.”

That filled me with confidence, and that’s when I made a decision to actually become what I had wanted to be since the third grade when my teacher, Miss Gross, read a story I’d written to the whole class. She was at the front of the room and had quieted us all down. She read the story, and the story was mine. When she finished she said, “Isn’t that a wonderful story David has written?” It was about a time in a football game when I had been tackled. Miss Gross said that when I wrote, “Then I fell to the ground like a blob of jelly coming out of a jar” that was a simile–that was poetic. “So,” I thought, “I’ve written a simile.” I decided then, that day, that moment, sitting at that desk that I wanted to be an author and I have never wanted to do anything else. From that day on I expected to be an author.

The Dreaded “Who Am I, Little Old Me, To Attempt That”

All you need do is think of your own experiences to know this: People shrink from any effort in which they don’t foresee success. They will do what they believe they are capable of succeeding at and avoid it if they doubt–like our would-be writers of masterpieces doubt–that they will succeed. That’s true even if what they avoid is of major value to them, and even if, were they not to doubt themselves, they could do, and perhaps do quite well.

Self-doubt is a thinking-too-much, cowardice creating problem. It begins the moment that nagging little stress-filled inner voice starts whispering “Maybe I’m not good enough.” “Maybe I’m not ready.” “I wish to hell I was somewhere else.” “I will not succeed.”

Even the most confident people–the Abraham Lincoln’s, the Winston Churchill’s, world-class athletes, great actors–experience periods of severe self-doubt. But they come out of it. They shake it off. They recover.

If you doubt yourself often, your major goals and purposes are in jeopardy because self-doubters don’t set their goals high. They avoid difficult tasks.

Self-doubters may avoid a career in which, were they confident, they might excel.

“Go to the battlefield firmly confident of victory and you will come home with no wounds whatsoever.” Samurai general Kenshin Uyesugi (1530-1578)

In an experiment, adults were given the same ten puzzles to solve. When they were done working on them, half were told they had done well, seven out of ten right, and the other half were told they had done poorly, seven out of ten wrong. In fact what they were told was completely fictitious. Then all were given another ten puzzles to solve, the same for each person. Then their efforts were actually graded. The half who had been told they had done well in the first round and so expected to do well again actually did better in the second, while the other half, with self-doubting expectations, did worse.

 Expect Success

“How should a samurai behave in battle?”

“Go straight ahead, wielding your sword.”

                                                                     14th century advice to a reluctant warrior

 The key to all successes is to be found in your own mind, in what you think. The Dhammapada of Buddhism says, “All you are is the result of what you have thought.” Most of the time the lives we lead are a reflection of our expectations

More than 100 studies of 15,000 people show that those who expect to succeed are happier, healthier, and more successful.

Positive expectation people overcome obstacles/blocks and aren’t deterred. They expect to be able to handle difficulties and to succeed in spite of them. When setting a goal they consider the probability of success rather than the probability of failure. “The chances are good I’ll succeed. I can accomplish this if I work hard enough.” “This is going to work out really well for me, and I’m going to be happy.”

Failure-motivated, self-doubting people have the opposite expectations: “I’ll never be able to do it. I’ll give it a try, but it probably won’t work out.”

So reject self-doubt and choose new and more fruitful expectations.

Form a pact with someone at home and at work. Whenever they hear you doubting yourself, they are to say, “Have confidence. Be of good cheer. You’re a very capable person and never forget that. Think of how good things will be when you succeed.”

Before the job interview or sales presentation or settling down to start that book or that painting, go off by yourself. For every self-doubt you have, fill your mind with five expectations of success, five affirmations of your confidence in yourself. And do that immediately upon thinking, “Who am I, little old me…” And time and time again until it becomes a wonderful habit.

Persevere and Succeed

Do not—do not–avoid difficulty. To reduce self-doubt and gain self-confidence requires experiences of mastering difficulty through perseverance. Now, if you set your sights low and experience only easy successes, you come to expect quick and easy results, and your sense of confidence may be shattered if you do not succeed. But blocks, dragons, difficulties, and setbacks serve a useful purpose. They teach you that success usually requires sustained effort. An author may revise a short story, novel, or essay she finds difficult 75 times before she’s satisfied. A ballet dancer intent on a beautiful performance may practice turning her ankle in a particular way a thousand times.

Once you become convinced that you have what it takes to succeed, you persevere in the face of adversity and quickly rebound from failure.

And once you succeed in achieving one goal you will tend to set higher goals.

You needn’t be victimized by your thoughts, your expectations. They’re under your control. You can choose your expectations as easily as you pick a rose from a bush, and in doing that, you are choosing your success.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:

www.mentorcoach.com/rogershttp://www.mentorcoach.com/positive-psychology-coaching/interviews/interview-david-j-rogers/

How to Get The Book

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

Fighting to win Amazon

Click on book image to order from Amazon.com

or

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fighting-to-win-samurai-techniques-for-your-work-and-life-david-rogers/1119303640?ean=2940149174379

 

Please follow this “Starting Your Life Fresh” blog. It will feature topics I think will be of value to you.

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Filed under Blocks to Action, Developing Talent, Human Potential and Achievement, Expectations, Motivation