“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are we not to be? You are a child of god. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of god that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own life shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Caroline Myss
For the vast majority of us, the start of a new year represents a chance for new beginnings or at least the renewal of old commitments. Yet often, New Year's resolutions fade from steadfast determinations to merely reserved aspiration. If commitment is defined as doing what we say we are going to do long after the emotional state we were in when we made our resolution has left us, then we can only conclude that when we retreat from our highest aspirations, it is because we have succumbed to an emotional state that binds us to where we are and therefore forbids us from continuing on the journey toward the actualization of who we were engineered to be. Because our emotions are the precursors to our thoughts and thoughts are things, we’re virtually a different person when we break our commitments then we were when we made them.
Therefore, because our lack of resolve is due to our inability to remain steadfast in the face of a constantly changing outer environment and inner state, perhaps the secret to lasting change is to attach our commitments to that which is unchanging. This requires an unwavering focus. Focus is the root cause of all effects in our lives. Our focus renders us either victims or victors over the forces in our lives. Focus begins with the ability to inwardly direct our focus rather than having it directed by the influences that abound around us. The power of focus emanates from the capacity to ask of ourselves the right questions that will create the meaning we attach to the events in our lives and create our ability to navigate through life’s storms with confidence and precision. To uphold the inner state of mind that serves as the means to progressively attaining a worthy end, perhaps the most fundamental question we need to ask begins with the question, “For what purpose was I born?” Self-actualization emanates from the decision that, regardless of your current circumstances, you must become all that you are capable of being.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe said, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it...”
Yet throughout human history, we see examples of greatness in individuals who, before they overcame seemingly insurmountable circumstances and literally changed the world, had to first discover a cause so powerful that it enabled them to transcend the obstacles that deter most people from finding a reason to go forward toward their destiny, despite the temptation to turn back. When inspiration becomes routed deeply enough within our beings, it grows into a voracious desire, compelling us to throw off our tolerance of mediocrity and embrace our greatness.
However, within each of us, there is a paradox. We possess the intuitive knowledge that we were created for a purpose so great that, unless we pursue it, we can’t be truly whole. Yet we also possess a seemingly insatiable need to remain safe and not step out on our path in the absence of a guarantee. To be what we are capable of becoming, we must go beyond that insatiable need to remain safe toward a meaning for our life so great that the desire of its fulfillment has no equal.
The fact that you have read this far means you have a vision of being more tomorrow than you are today and, with that, the resolve to act in correspondence with your aspirations. This alone separates you from the majority. Most people desire more but fail to make the necessary sacrifices. Many fail to give themselves permission to act on the intuitive knowledge that they can be, have and do more. They will suffer subtle yet enduring inner desperation for the false security promised by their career. Sadly, they never embrace their calling. A career is merely what you’re paid for; a calling is what you’re made for.
Up until this point in your life, whether you have viewed yourself as a victim or a victor, it’s irrelevant. If there exists a gap between who you are and who you desire to be, the first step is in the recognition that such a gap exists. Then the next step toward closing the gap is to clearly identify your personal mission. Your mission statement is the unambiguous answer to the question, “Why do I exist?”
Many people down play the importance of identifying your passion and deciding the meaning and therefore the mission of their lives. That’s a mistake because all of the potential and gifts you possess in your inner world will never fully manifest themselves in your outer world unless you get clear on the answer to that question.
In a study of the relevance “passion” has on the long term achievement of an individual, Scrully Blotnick divided a group of 1,500 participants into two categories identified as category A and category B. Category A consisted of 1,245 people who stated that their life strategy was to pursue financial achievement and security. Then, once they achieved their monetary goals, they would allow themselves to pursue their passion.
Category B consisted of a much smaller group comprised of only 255 individuals who stated that they would pursue their passion first and foremost, trusting that money would inevitably follow. Twenty years later, 101 of the 1,500 participants were millionaires. Only one of those millionaires came from category A.
The remaining 100 millionaires all came from category B who said that above all, they would follow their passion. Remember, this group only had 255 people as opposed to 1,245!
In other words, only one out of 1,245 who said they would pursue financial goals in advance of their passion ever actually achieved financial independence. Yet, almost 40 percent of the group whose passion took precedence over material gain attained financial independence through indirect means.
When writing your mission statement, it should be created as though it were timeless. Even if you modify it in the future, write it now as if it will never change. A mission statement is not something that can ever be achieved; rather, it is the guiding principle behind everything you do. It is the measure of alignment or distraction between your activities and overall purpose. A mission statement should be written in the present tense. In other words, instead of “I will” it should use the language of “I am.” Within the next 24 hours, take out a journal and write down the answers to the following questions:
- What is the purpose of my existence?
- What about that purpose am I most passionate about?
- Why does my purpose give me a sense of meaning?
- What pain would I suffer if I did not pursue my purpose tenaciously?
The answers to these questions are indispensable to you becoming a master of your circumstances, rather than a creature of circumstances, because great achievement is always conceived out of a great purpose. Necessity is the mother of invention. Most people dream and wish for vain ambitions to materialize. Yet, they never step out in pursuit of their dreams because they lack the faith to persist in the absence of a guarantee. Through inaction, the only guarantee they have is to be spared the pain of failure. Ironically, they condemn themselves to a more painful destiny of disappointment and regret - disappointment that they led a life void of purpose and regret that they must live with the choice to never fully live. Their legacy is that they managed to tip toe safely from the cradle to the grave.
However, everything about you changes the moment you have the realization that for things to change, YOU must change. Things may never be easier, but YOU can be better. Regardless of your challenges, YOU have the "response ability" to transcend your circumstances by identifying what is so meaningful to you that YOU will decide without hesitancy to give your life to it’s fulfillment.
At that point, regardless of what “it” is that you have chosen as your purpose, you become great. Unfortunately, most people never get there. They never decide what their life is about. They simply pass time, paying the bills and allowing others to decide the meaning of their lives for them.
Equally as important to your mission statement is your “vision” statement. This is the answer to the question, "Who or what do I ultimately desire to become?" Those who have the courage to live in alignment with the answer to this question will experience the dignity of living a life of self determination, rather than despair of mediocrity and conformity.
In order to direct your focus toward the construction of a viable mission statement, take the time to complete the following statements:
- In the fitness industry, my company or community I am currently known for is ___________.
- In the next 24 months, I will be known for ___________.
- By this time next year, my resume will be markedly different than it is now in the following ways: ___________ and ___________.
- By this time next year, the skills I will have developed are: ___________, ___________ and ___________.
Most importantly, answer the question, "Who or what do I ultimately desire to become?"
These questions should give you some insight to assist you in the creation of your vision statement. It is by far more important to have a working vision statement than a perfect vision statement. Perfectionism often leads to procrastination. You can always revise or add to your vision statement in the future, but you need to design it now. Write down intuitively what you believe it to be. Then, leave it alone for about 24 hours. When you revisit it, you will have a different perspective and greater insight to make it more specific, concise and measurable.
Balance Score Card
After writing your vision statement, the next step is to create a “balance scorecard.” The scorecard determines the metrics you will use to determine how effectively you are moving toward your vision.
For example, if management of a health club asserts in their vision statement that they will secure leadership within their respective market, how will they measure that? Will it be through the total number of members they acquire? The number of memberships they sell monthly? Will it be by their percentage of member retention? Or will they measure their effectiveness by all of the above? What metrics will you use to measure your results against your vision?
Our mission statement answers the question of “why?” for our lives, while our vision statement answers the question “what?” Yet, it’s unlikely that any resolution will endure unless it is in alignment with our core values. Our core values are the answer to the question of "how?" How do I show up? How do I wish to live? What do I stand for? And what would I never stand for? It’s not uncommon for us to set goals that aren’t congruent with our values. Often, that’s because we don’t take the time to clearly identify what our values are. If a dichotomy exists between the resolutions we make and the values we hold, it will perpetuate inner conflict rather than inspiration. Most often, the resolution will not be fulfillment. Even if it is, it will result in disharmony rather than contentment.
Take a look at the following list of values. Which of these do you feel is essential to having a meaningful life? Number each from 1 to 32 in order of most to least important.
- ___ Power
- ___ Relationships
- ___ Love
- ___ Family
- ___ Acceptance
- ___ Creativity
- ___ Confidence
- ___ Financial independence
- ___ Self-Expression
- ___ Courage
- ___ Fun
- ___ Excitement
- ___ Passion
- ___ Making a difference
- ___ Connecting with people
- ___ Peace of mind
- ___ Wonder and curiosity
- ___ Spiritual connection
- ___ Growth
- ___ Excellence
- ___ Discipline
- ___ Integrity
- ___ Health
- ___ Recognition
- ___ Respect
- ___ Attractiveness
- ___ Resourcefulness
- ___ Education
- ___ Adventure
- ___ Honesty
- ___ Freedom
- ___ Security
Anything not listed? _______________
Next, list the top five values you identified in the order of most to least important.
Think of a current goal you have for yourself. Is it aligned with all of the five values you just listed? If not, it will probably not motivate you in the long term nor fulfill you when it’s achieved. How can you modify the goal so that it’s aligned with what you value most? Or what new goal could you set that is more inclusive of your values?
This is a great exercise to do with your clients. Let’s suppose you have a client whose goal is to lose 10 pounds. Her values are in order of priority:
After one month of training with you, she has lost five pounds. She should be more motivated to stay the course because she’s half way there, right? Not always. Let’s say she’s leads a full life with little time for her husband and children. Her workouts are causing her to come home later in the evening three days per week. Her progress toward her goal is in alignment with the values of health, success and attractiveness but at the expense of her higher values of love and relationships. She should feel ecstatic about her success, yet she feels anxious. Half way toward her goal, “life happens” and she “postpones” her training just for a while. More unfortunate is that she never identifies why this keeps happening to her. If she understood her values and their order of importance, you could have helped her create a strategy based on the answer to the questions:
- What is my goal?
- Why is it important to me?
- What is the worst thing that will happen if it is not achieved?
- What is the worst thing that can happen if I do achieve it?
- What can I do if that thing happens?
- What can I do to increase the likelihood that it won’t happen?
The more you expect form yourself, the greater your persistence. Napoleon Hill said, “Persistence is to man as carbon is to steel.” It’s inevitable that any resolution will be met with temporary setbacks and failures. The difference is that individuals who possess a high level of self expectancy know that they will prevail irrespective of the obstacles and difficulties they encounter. They see failure for what it is: a single isolated event, NOT A PERSON. They don’t internalize it as being permanent. Most people with low self expectancy falsely interpret past failures as indicative of future possibilities. But those who expect more out of themselves use failure as a feedback mechanism that enables them to grow and rise above it, instead of being defeated by it like most people. We see this with our clients every day.
She's on her way to achieving her goal of losing 10 pounds, and she's doing well. Then one day, she's out to lunch with friends and a piece of chocolate cake takes advantage of her. She could say to herself, “Alright, that was a very rare event. Let me get back on track tonight." But that’s not what happens. In physiology, we learned about the “all or nothing principle” pertaining to motor recruitment. It seems as though the “all or nothing principle" operates in psychology as well. That night, your client gets home and says to herself, “Well, I already blew it this afternoon, I’ll just get started again tomorrow.” That night, she eats everything that’s not chained down. As trainers, we can’t relate to any of this because, of course, it’s never happened to us! :)
The next day, our client feels intense guilt and says to herself, “I’m just not disciplined.” She says this to herself over and over, and eventually though auto suggestion, she comes to believe it. Because what you believe about yourself inwardly reflects in your behavior outwardly, the client stops exercising completely!
A better response for our client could have been:
- Identify the problem. When going out with friends, she has a tendency to do things that are out of alignment with what she wants. This is positive because getting clear on the problem will help you to construct a solution. Some possible solutions for your client are:
- Stop having lunch with friends. This is not a very good solution though because she probably enjoys having lunch with her friends, so that would great a sense of loss that competes with her desire to achieve her goal. This might set her up for more failure.
- Another strategy is that, at the beginning of lunch, she could tell her friends about her new commitment to exercise and that she has been more conscientious about her food choices. Cognitive dissonance is the inward drive for consistency in your beliefs words and behaviors. Since she made a public declaration to her peer group at the start of lunch, she would lose credibility if she had the chocolate cake. This increases the likelihood that she won’t.
- She could also not say anything about her fitness goals and simply suggest they try a new sushi restaurant she’s heard great things about. This way, she removes herself from the environment that creates the behavior she’s trying to avoid. After lunch, she reflects on the fact that her behavior was consistent with her goal, and her reputation with herself improves. This elevates her self-expectancy and therefore increases her consistency. Further, if she does experience a setback, she will be more likely to use it as a learning experience pertaining to factors such as her emotional state, her environment and who she was with in that environment.
The above steps will enable her to use her temporary failure as a means to create alternative strategies, enabling her to make better choices in the future.
The same holds true for us as well as our clients, that our probability of holding to any resolution in our lives is in direct correspondence with our willingness to persist. Benjamin Disraeli said, “Everything comes if a man will only wait. I’ve brought myself by long meditation to the conviction that a human being with a subtle purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will that will stake even it’s existence for it’s fulfillment.”
Perhaps the sum total of our lives, the difference between those who merely make a living and those who make a difference, lies in our expectations for ourselves. We can either expect to live lives of passion and purpose or expect to live lives of fear. This year, I hope we recognize that FEAR is nothing more than false evidence appearing real.
An electrical wire provides the environment and structure to fuel the creation of performing a task or purpose. The electrical wire is nothing until plugged into an outlet and filled with electricity. The PTN web site and all of its authors are the wires and hopefully provide the environment where greater performance can be facilitated in our careers as well as in our lives.
However, it’s your passion to help others make their lives better, so that’s the outlet we plug into.
The synergy we provide enables us to help individuals, communities and collectively millions of people throughout the world to make the changes necessary to see beyond who or where they are today toward who or what they can ultimately become.
I hope we all find a reason this year to clearly formulate and articulate a message of encouragement for others. Then, as we live each day on purpose, we can experience the esteem that comes from knowing that someone’s world will be better tomorrow because of what we have done today. If order to live a magnanimous life, you must do more than deliver the message. You must become the message.