Thursday, January 27, 2011

Make Every Moment Count

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What We Think, We Become

Let me share with you another parable about our unconscious mind.

A Cherokee grandpa was sharing with his grandson about life. "A fight is always raging inside my mind," he told the boy.

"Two wolves are locked in a terrible struggle, tearing at each other’s throat.”

“One is the bad wolf - he is anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, resentment, jealousy, vengeance, deceit, pessimism, and unthankfulness."

"The other is the good wolf - he is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, compassion, strength, integrity, gratitude, optimism, and faith.”

“The same fight is also always going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson wondered for a moment and then asked his grandpa, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee replied, "The one you feed."

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "A man is what he thinks about all day long."

When we fill our minds with negative thoughts, we are feeding our “bad wolf” and starving our “good wolf”.

If we want positive results, we must feed our “good wolf” by thinking positive thoughts.

Positive or negative thoughts – the choice is entirely ours. So choose your thoughts wisely – refuse to feed the big “bad wolf”.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Our Conscious and Unconscious Mind

Our mind consists of two distinct parts – our conscious and unconscious.

Our conscious mind houses our critical, analytical thoughts. It can hold only 7 chunks of information at any moment.

Our unconscious mind houses our beliefs, values, attitudes, emotions and memories, and controls our vital body functions. Our unconscious mind can hold an infinite amount of information.

Based on the amount of information it can hold, our conscious mind is like an "ant" while our unconscious mind is like an “elephant”. Vince Poscente uses this metaphor in his book The Ant and the Elephant, and in his trainings.

While we are aware of our conscious mind which is but a tiny ant, most of us are oblivious to our unconscious mind though it is big as an elephant.

Imagine a tiny ant on the back of a massive elephant. It doesn’t matter how hard the ant crawls east, if the elephant he rides on walks in the opposite direction, the ant will end up even farther west than his starting point.

Likewise, we will find ourselves further from our goals if our conscious and unconscious minds move in different directions.

Fortunately, we have tools that help us align our elephant with the intentions of our ant.

The Hero’s Journey pattern is a powerful tool that will help your ant tame your elephant.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Hero's Journey - Am I a Hero?

What does it mean to be a "hero”?

What must one do to be a “hero”?

Can only certain people be “heroes”?

Why would anyone want to be a “hero”?

Is every one a hero-in-the-making, including you and I?

How do we find the “hero” in us?

After studying the myths and stories of cultures across the world and through the ages, Joseph Campbell concluded that no matter which culture and what era, the human race shares similar ideas about what is a hero.

Joseph Campbell’s answer to the question: “What is a hero?” is:

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

Many shared similar ideas about what is a hero:

Aristotle – “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, lies your calling.”

Rose Resnick - “I’ve learned that the happiest people are those who lose themselves in something bigger.”

Mahatma Ghandi - “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Oprah Winfrey - “The best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service.”

Anonymous - “The best use of our life is to so live our life that the use of our life outlives our own lives.”

Henry Ford – “Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It comes as a by-product of providing a useful service.”

Jim Rohn – “Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness - great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation, and great joy.”

Rabindranath Tagore – “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger – “Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life.”

Anthony Robbins – “Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life's deepest joy: true fulfilment.”

A non-hero is preoccupied with questions of identity, self esteem and self image.

Who am I? How do I feel?

How do I look to others? What must I do to look better to others?

To non-heroes the answers lay in the external visible trappings of success. They become self indulgent and are obsessed with the trendiest fashion, the swankiest homes, the flashiest cars, the most exquisite dining, the fanciest vacations, the most glamorous companions, and other indulgences.

A hero who has embarked on his Hero’s Journey to give his life to something bigger than himself, asks:

 How do others see themselves? What can I do to help them see their best self?

The hero identifies his special gifts, develops them to the genius level, and applies them as the Elixir in his community’s service.

The Hero’s Journey does not end with success at securing his rewards. A hero goes beyond success and seeks significance through service.

Are you a hero? The answer is a resounding YES! You are already one. You have always been one.

You just need to reconnect with your authentic core.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Hero’s Journey Steps in a Nutshell

The Hero’s Journey is a series of broadly defined steps all heroes go through.

At the core, it is mankind’s intrinsic story. It is a story that is imprinted in the unconscious mind of all mankind.

In this intrinsic story, we are all heroes and we are all on this Journey, whether we are conscious of it or not. We greatly enhance our lives and that of others when we are conscious of our story and take responsibility for our own Hero’s Journey. Our gifts and talents will flourish for the benefit of all.

If we are ignorant of our story, the hero in us remains dormant and we live small lives that do not do justice to our gifts and talents. We and others are poorer as a result.

The Hero’s Journey described in Joseph Campbell’s book, Man With a Thousand Faces, consists of 17 steps. Stories with all 17 steps are very rare.

Most stories will have these 8 steps:

The Call to Adventure - The hero meets a challenge.

Accepting the Call – The hero accepts the challenge.

The Crossing of the Threshold – The hero’s quest takes him into the unknown and dangerous realm.

Meeting the Mentor – The hero finds mentors who help him with his quest.

Facing the Ordeal - The challenge puts the hero into his lowest point or darkest moment.

The Hero is Transformed – The hero emerges from the ordeal a better person.

The Reward – The hero takes the prize of his quest.

Return with the Elixir – The hero uses his prize to benefit his people

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hero’s Welcome

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)
The Hero's Journey is inspired by the teachings of Joseph Campbell, the great American mythologist.

After studying stories from across the world and through the ages, Campbell found that all stories are expressions of the same story-pattern, which he named the "Hero's Journey."

Adolf Bastian (1826-1905)
Campbell built on the pioneering work of German anthropologist Adolf Bastian, who first pointed out that myths from all over the world seem to share the same "elementary ideas."

Carl Jung (1875-1961)
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung named these elementary ideas "archetypes," which he believed are the building blocks not only of the unconscious mind, but of a collective unconscious. Jung believed that everyone in the world is born with the same basic unconscious model of what is a "hero", a "mentor" an "ordeal", or a “reward”, and that's why people from unrelated cultures and separated by centuries can enjoy the same stories.

One of Campbell's key insights is that the "Hero’s Journey" is more than the underlying archetype of a good story; it is our internal compass that teaches us how to live well.

We as human beings are all on this universal Hero’s Journey, regardless of whether we are conscious of this fact or not.

Failure to recognize this basic premise is why many people feel that life is endlessly "doing it to us".

The Hero’s Journey is the Holy Grail buried deep within our unconscious, waiting to be unearthed. Through awakening, we realise that the Hero’s Journey provides us a rich and useful road map, based on a timeless tale of personal trials that lead to transformation, and the discovery of one’s true self - the treasure of who we really are.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Hero’s Journey Makes Your Goals SMART

In his book What They Don't Teach You in the Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack cited a study conducted on the students in the 1979 Harvard MBA class. The students were asked:

"Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?"

Only 3% of the class had written goals and plans. 13% had goals, but did not write them down. 84% had no specific goals at all!

Ten years later, the researchers interviewed the MBA Class of ’79 again, and the findings were simply stunning. The 13% who had unwritten goals were earning twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all. And what of the 3% who had clear, written goals? They were earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together!

Does anyone need any more convincing before they start setting goals smartly?

A good way to set goals is the S.M.A.R.T. way. S.M.A.R.T. is the acronym for:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Timed Frame
Top business coach, Jim Rohn said that the most effective goals, are those that our hearts conceive, our minds believe, and our bodies will carry out.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals using the Hero’s Journey,

The Calling – Accepting the Call – Crossing the Threshold – Meeting the Mentor – Facing the Ordeal – The Hero is Transformed – The Reward - Return with the Elixir,

helps us set S.M.A.R.T. goals that engage our hearts, minds and body.

Specific – To be specific, a goal must address the six "W" questions:

  • Who: Who is involved?
  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • When: Establish a time frame.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
The Hero’s Journey addresses all the “W” questions comprehensively and in a way that connects our heart with our mind:

  • Who: Who is the Hero? Mentor? Demon?
  • What: What is the Calling? Reward? Elixir?
  • Where: Where is the Threshold? Return the Elixir to where?
  • When: When will the Journey end and when will the milestones be crossed?
  • Which: What are the demons in the way of accepting the Calling? Reward?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of the Calling, the Elixir. 

Measurable – The Hero’s Journey sets concrete criteria for measuring progress towards the attainment of the goal we set, the Reward we sought. Concrete criteria let us know whether we have attained our goal or not. When we measure our progress, we stay on track, meet our target dates, and experience the joy of achievement that spurs us on to sustained effort required to reach our goal.

Achievable – The Hero’s Journey helps us figure out ways we can make our goals come true. The Hero’s Journey has a plan that transforms us, helps us develop the attitudes, abilities, and skills to reach our goals.

When we set our goals and make our plans with the Hero’s Journey, we build our self-image as the lead actor. We see ourselves as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow us to achieve them.

Realistic - The Hero’s Journey makes our goal realistic as it makes us willing and able to work towards it. Realistic goals should be big and audacious. A high goal is often more attainable than a low one because low goals generate little motivational power. As Goethe said "Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men."

Timed Frame - The Hero’s Journey gives our goals a concrete time frame and structure. Some people spend a lot of time talking about what they want to do, someday. But, without a target date and milestones there is no sense of urgency, no reason to take any action today or even tomorrow. The Hero’s Journey provides specific time frames that give us the impetus to get going and also helps us track our progress.

The importance of setting our goals is clear. Poor goals lead to poor results. Incomplete goals lead to incomplete results. The S.M.A.R.T. way helps us set smarter goals.

The Hero’s Journey way of goal setting makes the S.M.A.R.T. way even better.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Facing the Ordeal – How Do you Relate to Adversity?

How we relate to adversity makes the difference between getting the life we want and wasting our talents.

Many people believe there is nothing good about adversity and their natural instinct is to either stay away or run away as fast as they can, or fight it with all their might. Naturally, they get little or nothing from the ordeal.

A smaller number of people see opportunity in adversity. They face adversity despite their fear and snatch the benefits from adversity’s jaws.

The Chinese term for adversity combines the words for danger and opportunity. Whether an adversity is a danger or an opportunity depends on our relationship with it i.e. whether we avoid, survive, cope with, manage or harness it.

Fear of public speaking is often cited to rank second only to the fear of death. We shall use the fear of public speaking to illustrate the relationships with adversity.

Avoiding — You see adversity as nothing but pain. You avoid pain by postponing, delegating, denying, ignoring, or sidestepping adversity. The things you have to do to avoid the adversity can drain your energy and sap your self esteem.

When required to make a speech, you make up excuses to avoid taking up the challenge. Every time the requirement is raised, you react with the same or a new excuse. You may succeed in avoiding the challenge but your self esteem cannot escape taking a beating.

Surviving — You see only the danger in adversity. You do what you must with what you have and nothing more. Adversity is something you "go through" - grin and bear it. Coming out alive, even with a bruised ego, is a major victory for you.

You made the speech because you have no way of avoiding it. Your speech was perfunctory with neither passion nor conviction. You only hoped to survive this and that this would be the last time you are required to do so.

Coping —  Similar to surviving except that the unavoidable adversity is repeated regularly instead of it being a one-off affair. You expend energy daily in the struggle to keep your nose above water. You can’t run from it, so you seek other forms of escape. To help cope with coping with adversity that won’t go away, some people take to smoking, drinking, shopping, whining, blaming, sabotaging others, and so on. Not all coping strategies are negative. Some people go trekking, work out in the gym, run marathons, write books, paint, or sing to get relief from adversity.

You are required to speak regularly. It is a risky, tiresome chore you perform competently without pleasure and get no value out of it.

Managing — You are in damage control mode, focused on keeping the potential dangers of adversity in check and not letting it overwhelm you. The adversity is still seen solely as something negative to be subdued and contained.

You may sign up for speech training and may even join a Toastmasters club. However you still see public speaking as a necessary evil that you have to endure and have to "fight through" with minimum damage to yourself.

HarnessingYou realise that it is a mistake to see only the negative side of adversity because it wraps the benefits inside. You use the adversity to get the gains you could never enjoy without it. You convert adversity into fuel that propels you to a place you could never get to without it. You seek out adversity for the energy and confidence boost just like climbers seeking mountains to climb. You turn adversity into stepping stones towards your goals. When adversity comes, you welcome and embrace it. You turn towards the adversity and draws energy from meeting it head on.

When asked to speak, you “take it on”. You seek out public speaking opportunities because it energises you and opens doors for you. If necessary, you sign up for speech training and join a Toastmasters club for the speaking opportunities they provide.

When Heroes meet adversity, they “take it on” and use it as steps to elevate themselves closer to their goal.