How to Make the Past Better than You Remember and then Super Increase Your Ability to Achieve What Your Goal is

It is the fall of 1967.  My teammates and I are playing in the football playoffs for a chance to be champions in Southern California.   It is tight game.  The score goes back and forth, but in the end our team loses.   It is a devastating sense of failure.  For a long time my mind holds tenaciously onto the loss as I replay all of the the things I/we did that could have turned the game around to be the winners.   Not surprisingly nothing I do in my mind helps.  No matter how many replays and switches the score never changes.

All of us have these kinds of memories where we felt devastating loss that we know could have had a different outcome.    It is leaves us defeated.

What is wrong with my thinking in the above scenario?   Among other things the only possible outcome that I gave myself for extreme joy was to win the game and be able to call myself a champion.  It caused me to hold the memory of the loss inside.     Holding onto negative experiences and feelings is the process we do that takes away from having amazingly positive memories and then being highly motivated to do more.

I am on a local ski hill with my 9 year old granddaughter.   She is thrilled at her progress and wants to follow my ski-mate and myself down a difficult hill.   We get to the hill and as we look down it is obviously a much bigger challenge for her than she anticipated, but as she insisted, she goes forward.   Three times she comes to a complete stop.  Her speed is snail’s pace at best, but after a few minutes she reaches the bottom.  Her mother joyously cheers for her.   She has done her first black diamond.  It was way over her ability,  but through her diligence and the encouragement of the adults around her,  she came out of it with a big sense of victory.   It was never about the speed or technique.  It was just making it to the bottom.   She did it.    The fear that the hill presented to her did not persist in her body.   The rest of the day she kept taking new challenges.

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In my high school football experience the only joy was in the win.   It was not in the individual amazing plays.  It was only the final score.    To get to the same kind of joy that my granddaughter experienced I have to let go of the loss.   The score was not important.  As I let go of the loss, now I have access to the positive things I did, the memory is enhanced in its fullness, and I am ready to tackle new experiences with a lot of energy.

This morning I organized a tennis date with some friends at an indoor tennis center about 40 minutes from my house.   It is winter in Vancouver with lots of rain so having indoor facilities is tantamount to having a great winter.    When I get to the tennis center, we find that they made a mistake on the booking.  We are not on the list.  Instead of 2 hours of play we end up with only 1.   Disappointment wants to rush in and ruin my experience.  It is seeking to take over me.   I let it go and play the best hour of tennis in the season.  Even as I write I am remembering how great my serves and approach shots were.   I am excited for my next tennis date.

Letting go of the disappointment and remembering the great play must have helped because when I arrive home I register for the Vancouver half-marathon something I have putting off.     Today I have discovered how to open up my past in ways that I couldn’t ever do before and it has produced so much energy.

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The formula for enhancing the past to feel more positive feelings is as follows.

  1.  Take an experience that should have been more positive, but because someone did something or something happened, the outcome was not so favorable.
  2.  Find out what you are holding onto like anger toward someone.
  3.  Practice letting go of the feeling like taking it and sending it far away.   Notice what is left when the negative things you are holding onto just go away.   And notice how much energy you have.

Daily Change: Chapter 1 What Are You Paying Attention to?

Chapter 1
What are you paying attention to?

One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race. If, however, we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a friend to them is a formidable task.(Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 169)

You are being asked to give a speech in front of a group on a certain topic. Instead of feeling hopeful and enthusiastic about the message that you are about to deliver, your body is filled with fear.

Many parents and teachers in the world have the idea that if they point out to children all of the things that they are doing wrong, that they will somehow learn to be much better in life in all things. Instead of paying attention to the positive things that their children do, a lot of people almost exclusively attend to the negative. If you have a grown up in a world like this, where your negatives have been constantly pointed out, then your mind will have the habit of looking for the negatives in everything you do. If you have a room full of people ready to hear you, your mind believes that they are all going to find only your negatives. My own experience, fortunately, was quite the opposite. When I was young preparing for a speech, my father and mother prepared me well to appear before a group. They taught me how to deliver a speech and how to make it interesting so that when I delivered it, I received very positive responses from the audience. Later, if the opposite happened, that is, I didn’t get the response I wanted, I learned to adjust the presentations to get better responses, but I never have had a lot of fear about public speaking because in my mind I see positive responses.

So when we want to change, the first thing we can do is simply find the way the mind is paying attention to the current situation. When there is fear, it means that the mind is attending to something negative.  Consider what happens to your mind when you are running a marathon.  At 38 kilometres in a marathon, the mental battle between the part of you that wants you to stop and the one that wants to finish in a positive way is extremely brutal. It is like a blitzkrieg of negative energy trying to get you to stop. Getting one leg to follow another is like a debate in the Security Council at the United Nations. One part has so much logical sense in why you should not go forward in what seems to be a really foolish endeavour, while the other is full of hope and confidence in a successful ending. At 38 kilometres, despite the pain, the end is too near to give into its constant chatter and so a happy ending usually occurs.

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Training for running a marathon is a process that requires keeping your mind constantly focused on positives. Almost everyday in training the negative feelings can get so intense that you want to stop. The thing that keeps you going is that the mind keeps paying attention to positives, keeps seeing the positive end.

When a five-year-old child faces the climbing wall for the first time, they inevitably feel fear when they get to a certain part of the wall. Instead of attending to the joy of climbing and reaching new heights, they attend to the possibility of falling and hurting themselves which sends feelings of fear throughout their young bodies. As they practice, the fear gives way to the positive thoughts by taking a few more steps each day. This is really what daily change is all about. You train your mind to attend to the positive things by changing how the mind is attending to the negatives.

Daily Change: Introduction

The Power of Daily Change
Introduction
The End is in the Beginning

“Consider not the present condition, but rather foresee the future and the end. A seed in the beginning is very small, but in the end a great tree. One should not consider the seed, but the tree and its abundance of blossoms, leaves and fruits.”   Baha’u’llah

“We are going to Vancouver.”

It is 5:00 PM the day before the last day of school, the day of anticipation of the long awaited and deserved rest period. I have just arrived in my apartment and am about to lie down on the living room couch to get a few moments of rest. The phone rings. It is the executive secretary of the acting director. She tells me that I have a meeting with the executive committee of the school council the next morning. I fear the worst in the same manner that any of the 750 students do when an administrator suddenly pulls them out of the middle of a class. It must be bad, but I quickly dismiss it with a host of other reasons for the meeting. When I mention the call to my wife, she is certain that my fear will be realized. She calls our children in Vancouver to say that we may be spending the next year with them. Then we sit down at the dining room table to consult about our options should the worst actually occur. Should we stay or should we go? That is the question. We both agree to return to Vancouver if it happens. Our children are already leading cheers for the worst in hopes that our bad is their gain. We also talk about going to the Pantanal, a huge watershed in Brazil, known for wildlife observing if the worst does not happen. My wife begins to pack and make a list of all the household items we should sell. She is certain.
Before the meeting I tell her that in an hour I will tell her whether we are going to the Pantanal or to Vancouver. I walk into the meeting and realize that the end has come. They tell me that I am disconnected from the school. It is a strange word for me even in Portuguese to be disconnected as if I had ever been connected to them. They give a few reasons. I ask them why I haven’t been informed previously about the perceived weaknesses. They tell me that they have been giving me signs, but I haven’t been reading them correctly. At that point I know that any chance for justice is impossible. I arise from my chair, turn, and walk away.
From the meeting room to my wife’s classroom is about a 100-meter walk. I move slowly and deliberately trying not be noticed. The reality has not fully set in. I approach her door, gaze at her, and say, “We are going to Vancouver.” The words now spoken make the decision of the Council suddenly feel real. My voice cracks, tears begin to flow.

I am not expecting to make such a radical departure from Brazil, but it happens. The executive committee changes my life in a flash. It is traumatic. Like most traumas the first moments of shock seem rather unreal as in the death of a relative or close friend. It is a radical change, but not the one that I had planned for. Being fired as abruptly as I was alters everything, or does it?

As in previous traumas when I am suddenly forced to make a change, I begin by searching through the inspirational writings of my faith, the Baha’i Faith. In one of the mystical writings I find some solace. It recounts a story of a lovesick young man who is ready to end his life because he has lost his lover. He leaves his house in the middle of the night ready to be finished with his weariness, when, on a sudden, a watchman sees him and begins to chase after him. The weary lover begins a frantic attempt to escape by running as fast as he can. After awhile other watchmen enter the chase, and it seems as if his life will be ended not by his own hands, but by the guards. He comes to a dead end where the only choice he has to survive is to scale a huge wall. With all of the effort he can muster, he climbs the wall and leaps down to the other side. There he finds himself in a beautiful garden and before him is his lover holding a ring.

The writing goes on to say that if he had known his end in the beginning, he would have paid the watchmen a big sum of money, but as he was blinded, he could only moan and complain. He had been stuck in his grief, but the seeming injustice of the watchman became the cause of him finding his heart’s desire.

Since I am newly fired, my ears want no thought of paying riches to the executive committee for firing me as if it will be the cause of finding what I am truly looking for like in the story of weary lover, but this is the change I must make if I am to have a bright future. How is it possible to think positively when I have just been thrown out? I want revenge. My temporary solace is that all of my staff are angry, crying, and shocked. Their evaluation of me is 180 degrees opposite of the executive committee. A new leaf is about to turn over in the book of my life, full of bright and new opportunities and wonder, but right now I am sitting in huge pool of grief and anger.

I read the story of the weary lover again and again hoping that the brightness of the future will burn away the pain of the current moment. The pain lingers. I am worn out. I retreat to the living room couch and turn the TV on hoping it will dull the pain and let me forget for a little while.

How to get the bright lights of the future to turn back on again after having had such a dark thing happen is what ‘daily change’ is all about. Being fired, losing a loved one, having a devastating illness, or having all of your money stolen are tough. Imagine the difficulties of a child survivor of the great tsunami of 2004 who has lost his parents and all of his brothers and sisters. How is his light ever going to be bright again? Who wants to be hopeful about a future where the possibility of things being taken away is so great?

Lesson one in daily change is the belief that the future is bright; that there are unlimited possibilities ahead and that the greatest source of learning is the book of your own life, especially the dark chapters. No one wants painful difficulties, but everyone has them. It is part of being human. It is where the great learning is, the rich reference libraries from which you can do great research. A life without much negative experience has less potential for positive things to happen.

Lesson two is that lesson one about the future being bright is not a guarantee. Everyone learns his way to a bright future. There is no such a thing as a positive future that is just given to you. World peace is something that humanity is going to have to learn. It is not coming down from the clouds. If it were going to come down from the clouds, it would have already come. We need difficulties and challenges so that the future can keep growing in brightness. But just having difficulties is no guarantee that you will deal with them in the right way. Most people don’t. Most people are overcome by them. Tests are hard. Life can be hard, but getting to the bright side is worth all of the work.

Lesson three about having a brighter future is that the brighter it is, the brighter it can become. We used to think that a person’s potential was fixed. Now we understand that every time we actualize a new capability, we open the door for more positive capabilities that make things better. Therefore, change is done best, when it is done everyday. Don’t try to change all at once nor expect that world peace is going to come in one moment. The future is made better by making positive change habitual. Monumental change is done by changing everyday.

If I want to have big change in my life, then what I can do is just change everyday. I don’t have to have some great restructuring scheme or magical plan. What I need is the ability to make key changes everyday and when I consistently do that, they become huge. It seems to me that the great majority of us are trying to change by hitting the jackpot. We are hoping that one day we will win the lottery so that our whole life will be better. Executives often try to do a whole restructuring of companies or organizations to try to make their companies a lot of profit in a short period. It is certain that winning a large sum of money will change some things from one day to the next and that a company may get some short term growth by restructuring, but if a couple was fighting constantly as a way of resolving problems before they won the money, the money isn’t going to stop the fighting nor will restructuring solve the reason a company had the problems in the first place.

I am not against restructuring as a concept even though, like most of the people who are reading this book, I have lived through some really horrendous restructuring schemes. I wish that restructuring or winning the jackpot worked, but the premise just doesn’t make common sense to me. You can help the grass grow with fertilizer and sunshine and water, but you just can’t yank the plant out of the seed. When you make a physical restructuring of a company or win a big sum of money, you still basically have the same people running and working the company who haven’t yet made very many personal changes. The people who have won a large sum of money usually have the same bad strategies that kept them from having money before; so getting lots of it will just mean that they will use the same bad strategies with a lot more money. If they were used to losing their money very quickly before, now they will just lose a lot of it very quickly. Change, first and foremost, is about changing our own selves and the way we do things. When we change ourselves, the restructuring and the jackpots follow more naturally and actually work.

What should make you suspicious about restructuring, if you are not so already, is the fact that the people at the top keep getting wealthier while the people at the bottom become fewer. Now if a company would cut wages at the very top that would be radical change, but for the most part companies just replace one person with someone else who has been reared with basically the same strategies and then pay them more. Real change rarely occurs because you can’t get top executives who think that what they are making in comparison to the bottom is ludicrous. If you compare the growth of salary for someone, who is at the top, like a television anchorperson on major networks in the United States with the growth of salary of reporters or camera operators since the 1980s, you will see that the people at the top have grown in salary maybe 100 times what they were getting in the 1970s. The camera operators maybe have raised their salaries 1 time. If that doesn’t make you suspicious about the people at the top and their motives, I don’t know what will.

It is the spring of 1998. I have been fired from a job that I was in for 8 years where I have had nothing but very high evaluations. I am victim of restructuring. But right now that is not on my mind. I have about 6 kilometres to go in 42 k marathon in Vancouver and I feel like I am going to die. Some children offer me candy from the side of the road along the way which I take hoping that anything will spur me forward. I walk for a while, and then continue the run. At last as I approach the finish line the announcer calls out my name. I am in the middle of the pact of some 2500 runners. He is calling out my name over the PA system. I feel so encouraged. As I cross the finish line I find that I am overcome with emotion that I simply cannot explain. I am fired, but I am still running. I am on the wrong end of restructuring for the first time in my life. My future feels really bright. The small group who did the restructuring do not know it, but their days are numbered. Soon they will be gone as will the organization. It takes about 8 years before their doors are permanently closed. My running days have barely begun.

The idea of restructuring is that you can gain a lot of physical reward, by making sudden shifts in the physical structure. It is the same reason so many athletes want to take a drug to help their performance. Restructuring is like trying to take drugs to improve your life. At its best it gives short-term benefits. At its worst it kills us. It is a form of cheating; taking the easy way out and it just doesn’t work in the long term. If we attack a country to have a change of government believing that the change of government is going to greatly benefit the country overnight, we are in for a rude awakening. If the old government was characterized by cheating and corruption, restructuring is not going to change what is essentially a systemic process issue. There is always only one way forward in life, changing your own self for the better.

I wish I could just point a finger at the re-structurers in the world and tell them that they need to change, but the truth is, that as a member of the culture that created restructuring and lotteries, I am quite vulnerable to its way of thinking as well. I just want change right now really fast with a huge share of the rewards so that my life will be better and happier. I wish that I could say that I was completely free of restructuring thinking, but the truth is I am not and it would be difficult to find even one person who is not at least partially infected by its curse.

We are living in a time when two strategies of change, the jackpot-restructuring approach and the consistent process approach, are in a competitive struggle with each other. I have participated in many sports in my life and was in highly competitive sports all through high school. What we all worshiped was being number one, the winner, and we didn’t want to be second place, so when my high school football team came in second place in the state playoffs, it was extremely painful for me even though I can remember that it was one of the best games of my life and that we had had the best team in the history of the school. I was in playing very hard and doing some things that I hadn’t been able to do before, but because we lost, I felt dejected and heart-broken. I wanted the game to be the jackpot, to have it give me a lot of rewards, but we lost the game and I missed the point. Fortunately, in the 1970s a huge new movement of physical activity began in the world, a movement based upon the value of participation over the value of winning or losing. One of the manifestations of the movement was road running. Whereas before there were only a few crazy cross country runners, suddenly large numbers of people began training to run huge distances like 5 kilometres. With 1000 people in a race the chances of winning were very slim, but the joy of participating and winning a participation shirt drew large numbers into a field where before there had only been a handful. Although we still had the super athletes, the participation movement gave rise to the idea that every ordinary person was capable of changing their lives for the better. You could finish in the middle of the pack and feel fantastic because you made a huge effort and maybe set a personal best.

Although the 1980s saw the jackpot theory reappear more viciously with such ideas as trickle-down economics where the rich made a lot more money than ever before and where they were suddenly supposed to give it to everyone else, but to no one’s surprise kept it, participation as a dynamic since the late 90s has increased dramatically as a powerful force. People have taken to the streets in larger numbers than ever to improve themselves.
We have, on the one hand, a culture that rewards the best athletes, the top executives, the big stars with huge amounts of money. A person playing baseball can earn $10,000 just for playing one game for a couple of hours. A soccer player in Europe can earn $250,000 per week. On the other hand we have millions of people participating in sports like never before without the hope of any financial reward. They do it because they love it and the participation brings a lot of satisfaction about the growth they are experiencing.

A few people, on the one hand, have really hit the jackpot financially in the sports world or other financial worlds, and at the same time, millions and millions of people are hitting the participation jackpot as well, that is, they are reaping the rewards of change through constant participation.

We could argue for a long time about the justice of whether or not a player or company executive doing restructuring should earn so many 1000 times more financially than the ordinary participant. It hardly seems fair especially since the amount of effort isn’t a 1000 times more, but the purpose in writing about change is not to focus on justice or the need for it. The world is obviously in a state of extreme injustice. We have all probably been treated unjustly and been hurt in horrific ways by it. I don’t doubt that it will continue for some time to come. I am not interested at this point in history in restructuring the way we pay people especially how much more we pay a few people. What I am interested in is encouraging the movement that has already begun in the rest of us, the daily change movement. At some point, I am sure that the injustice will right itself because the force of the daily change movement, which is based in participation, will be just too large for the jack potters to resist and it is just so much more rewarding than the physical rewards.

We now stand on the threshold of creating a new culture, one where change is constant and daily and where we all take over the world and participate in it fully.  Stay tuned for Chapter 1, What Are You Paying Attention To.

How to Get to Results that are Better than you Imagined.

There I am looking down the barrel of a gun.  I am about to be killed.  I start to beg for my life and try to get away.    The person with the gun laughs at me in my humiliated state and let’s me go. This dream is followed by a series of other ones where some plans are killed or people walk away from me.

I know enough about dreams to realize that when a nightmare or super negative dream occurs that I am at the beginning of a new process.   In the dream world a gun is weapon people use to put others down so that they feel better or higher.   I am put down and full on into fear just by the thought of a put down in the dream.   How could this happen after so much work with put downs?   It is like my plans and memory of my higher self are killed with the imagination of negative criticism.

Because  the imagined thought of criticism can destroy or kill my plans,  I realize that the capacity that is calling me is that of being able to get to places that are better than my positive mine can imagined.  The difficulty is the fear of being so killed in a psychological sense that my ego takes completely over.  I have worked with people over the years who are so into power and dominance that there true self seems to have completely left them, but I have forgotten when I was in a state where fear had so completely taken over me  that it was as if my true self  was not there at all.    This happened somewhere around the age of 18, my first year away from home, when I was in a very negative environment.   It is a memory I have buried or not wished to face, but one that one of best friends pointed out about a week ago.

It is sobering thought for me to realize that a group of people could have had that kind of power over me and that I was so weak that I seemed to have completely lost my true self.   They did it through constant criticism and a lot of yelling where nothing  I did was ever quite right.   Not everyone lost themselves in that environment which makes my feelings about myself even worse.   I seemed to have buried myself.   What was left was a lot of acting on the basis of fear.

After processing the fear state for about an hour this morning and answering some dream emails,  I decided to go out for a walk.   The new process of being able to get further than the imagined state was starting to kick in.   Instead of walking for about 15 minutes as planned, the walk ended up being 90 minutes.  It was not  particularly taxing exercise for me, but it showed the progress.  My imagination went for a 15-20 minute walk, but my true self went for 90 minutes.   Is that really possible that your true self can go further than your imagination.  It is counter-intuitive for me.

The killing process was deliberate or so they said.  They actual said it out loud.  The plan was to destroy me (us) as I knew it and then be recreated in their image.   While I never was remade in their image,  I now realize and have to be truthful that they achieved the first part.  My true self got buried, blurred, difficult to access.   I ended up quitting one thing after another for about two years.   It was only when my mother gave me a copy of the book, Psycho-Cybernetics, by Maxwell Maltz that my true self seem to rise from the grave.   Shortly after that I left the school.

Forget about putting restrictions on guns if you are an American.  What you really need to work on is eliminating how vicious criticism kills the soul.   It killed me.   I wished that I would have been stronger, but I was not.  Call me a wimp if you will.  I was.

It was not until I began to do the Psycho-Cybernetics exercises that I could regain a sense of who my true self really was.  By and large it is memory work.   It is positive memory work.  It is remembering positive aspects of yourself and then living in those memories.  It is not easy to let go of loud and constant memories of authority figures telling you that you are worthless scum. That is what I was up against, a killing machine, much more deadly than the thousands of nuclear warheads we had.   It is a soul killer.

What is the key to reviving your soul?   I am not sure that I have all of the answers, but the process is pretty straightforward.  Here are some initial steps.

  1.  Realize that anyone who is doing a lot of negative mongering is doing it for their own gain.  There is no positive intention other than domination.   When you understand this, it puts you in a state of mind that allows the yelling and criticism to be let go of.   There must of been a part of me that believed them.   I wish that I would have been stronger back them, but I wasn’t.
  2.  The second step is to stop listening to the negative criticism in your head by just turning down the volume.   You can just turn it right off.   You start listening and then you turn it off.  It is simple.  Try it.   Imagine someone really criticizing or yelling at you and then just turn it right down to nothing.
  3.  The third step is access your positive voice inside your mind that reminds you of all of your positive abilities.   Just turn up the volume and hear it.  It will probably generate positive visual memories as well.
  4.  After that you can start with negative and as you are turning the volume down, you can turn the volume of  the positive up.   This will change from dead to alive right before your ears. 

You will need to practice the above exercise lots of times if your memories are severe.

The next step is to imagine positives things and then go out and do them.   If you have extremely positive memories being generated in your mind rather than fear, the reality is actually going to end up better than the imagination.   You have to try this.   Start with the hearing yourself speak about your positive capacities and memories, then feel yourself inside the memory.  After this do the imagination work.   Your results are going to surprise you.

Wild Fires in the Dream World: Building the Virtue of Hope

Counseling Work with Richard Hastings

I am currently in a small town in northern British Columbia in Canada after having done a workshop with some young people on the weekend because our car had some troubles as we were leaving town.     It just so happened that this area was hit really hard this past summer with raging fires on large areas of land.  Thousands of the people had to be evacuated.  Everyone has a story about the fires.

It got me to thinking about the metaphor of raging fires in nature and what it means in terms of one’s functioning in the world.   Here is a short post with some of my thoughts.   The way you are overcome by fire inside  means that something is burning you up.   Being burnt up inside happens when you are stuck in the negative present tense.  What does this mean?  If you are a coal miner in the U.S. or used to working in lumber mills in Canada, you could be stuck in the negative present tense because how you made a living is no longer as viable.  You look around and become angered about the fact that something that used to be so lucrative is now gone.   It is the emotion of anger about the present conditions that causes the roaring fire inside.   It can literally consume your mind and actions.

When a fire like that is burning inside of you because of the current conditions,  you can just be so caught up in blame that your life becomes ruined.    At first you may look for a leader who is going to get  your work back, as is the current case in the U.S., but really an industry like coal is a dead one.  What works instead is to engage the virtue of hope.    Hope is what moves you into the future.  It sees positive possibilities of a different kind of future and then gets you into action toward them.    Hope is an amazing energy, but to get to it you absolutely have to let go of the fiery blaming conditions inside.   This is the key.

To exercise hope you can practice this exercise.  When you take your next vacation, just plan your destination and maybe a couple of nights of where you are going to stay.  Leave everything else open.   When you get to the destination, starting feeling hope by checking out all of the positive possibilities to do in the location.  Then do them one after another.   By the end hope will be huge in you.

My Recurring Dream of the Air Force Academy and Why People Think the Current President is Correct

This is where I spent the first three years of my university education.  It is called the Air Force Academy.  Its purpose is to train young men and women to become officers in the U.S. Air Force.   When I was a young person and they started recruiting me because I was a good student and played football,  I somehow believed that if I went there I would be able to handle everything in life much better.  I wanted to not be affected by criticism or be timid in life.    I don’t know how I came up with this kind of imagination.    It just looked like the place to give me that kind of confidence.    Unfortunately or fortunately depending on the way you look at it, it didn’t work.    The methodology of the military is that if you are in a higher rank you can criticize wildly and are expected to do so to the lower ranks.   If you are of a lower rank, you are just supposed to obey and take it.    Criticism of the lower ranks to the higher ranks is like a mortal sin.   So after about 3 years of fighting with myself,  I realized that I really didn’t want to have anything to do with that kind of system.  I packed my bags and left.

Over the course of the last 40 years I continue to have occasional dreams of the Air Force Academy.   In the dream I am the age I am currently going back there to try to graduate.    Somewhere in the middle of the dream I realize that it is not the place for me and I have to figure out how to quit again.   It is a stubborn recurring dream.  It doesn’t want to go away.  Last night I had it again so I decided to try to find out why.   That is when I discovered the illusion that graduating from there was going to somehow magically make me overcome timidity and difficulty handling criticism.   I am still holding onto the illusion that a military environment is the key to my transformation.  I am actually pretty embarrassed to admit it.      I could go on for a long time about why a military environment doesn’t work,  but science has already done a pretty good job of proving why it is ineffective.   The kind of environment that is conducive to change includes a high level of encouragement,  frank and open consultations,  respect for everyone’s role, and also respect for the authority.    Criticism has consistently been shown to be the least effective method of change,  yet most military organizations still cling to it, but only in one direction, downward on the chain of command.   Effective organizations invite feedback from everyone.

I am slow to let go of the illusion despite the science.    Why is that?   Today I am letting it go.

The current president of the U.S. comes from a military school training and his method seems to be what they taught us at the Air Force Academy which is that it is OK and highly desirable for the positions of higher rank to criticize the lower rank, but not the other way around.    If you give him feedback on his actions, like criticizing an officer in the military,  it seems to be viewed as insubordination.   This is the same thing that happens in so many families in the world.  A father assumes the military authority that he can criticize at will and others have to do exactly as he demands.   Feedback to him is insubordination.     The real fear in the officer corps at the Air Force Academy was that maybe the feedback of the lower ranks was actually right. We were right when we gave them feedback on the haircut policy.   The length of one’s hair had nothing to do with self-discipline as they claimed.   So if they were wrong about that, what else were they wrong about.    Stopping the feedback allows them to not have to face their own incompetence.     They can make others look bad so they are not seen as incompetent.

Race is a perfect place where this kind of attitude comes into play.   If you are of race that has traditionally been seen as higher and treated as a higher ranking race,  you may have the tendency to see other races as insubordinate when they give feedback like taking a knee during the national anthem.     This happens because you don’t want to be seen as incompetent.    If you are of a superior rank, how could someone of a lower rank give accurate feedback that is actually true.    If you accept the feedback, you accept the equality.    If you accept the equality, you have to come to terms with your own incompetence.

The dream says that the illusion that the military way of doing things where the higher rank is allowed to criticize the lower rank, but not the other way around is a strategy that is ineffective because it doesn’t make people less timid or able to handle criticism better.  It makes them more timid and less able to receive feedback.   What works is encouragement,  seeing the best in others and honoring it, not criticism.   Encouragement is an effective change strategy because it builds the will to change the weaker parts.     When you are confident in who you are already, you will be excited about developing those aspects of yourself that are not so strong.    The meaning of the dream is that encouragement works.

In Search of a Better World: Book Promotion

In Search of a Better World is an incredible book that helps us all move from the world of not knowing what to do about the conditions of the world to being inspired to act in our communities on the theme of justice.    Payam recounts his own challenges growing up in Canada as an immigrant after having been a religious refugee from Iran in the 1970s.   This is done in the back drop of the historical conditions of the world.   It is not written in an us versus them format, nor does it claim to have clear definitive answers.  It is one man’s struggle to promote justice after having been a lawyer in the war crimes trials for the atrocities committed in Bosnia and witnessed the aftermath in other places like Cambodia and Rwanda.

Don’t miss this opportunity to get your hands on this incredible book.  You won’t be able to put it down.

Are You Planning Your Life According the Old Paradigm or the New One?

What is the Old Paradigm?    In the old way of doing things there was an effort on people who had the advantage like leaders or certain cultural groups to keep things just the way they are.   While they won’t admit it, the effort is to hold onto the status quo where they have the power and control.  One of the keys to maintaining the old paradigm is to have an enemy.    The current enemy seems to be immigrants, terrorists, and money for social improvements.   You are living unconsciously in this paradigm if you are planning your future as if things are going to be the same in a few decades.    The essence of the paradigm is that those who have privilege are going to still have it in the future.   You can also be living in the paradigm on the side of exclusion by remaining in fear of not having resources or privileges.    The people with privilege are obviously not going to change that willingly,  but the people who are excluded also can have a terrible time with change because they often believe that the solution is for them to have privilege.

The new paradigm is built on one major process,  change.     What is happening and is just going to accelerate is the ability for people to make significant changes in their lives.  The science of change is improving all the time.    The future is going to look so different that we will hardly recognize it, and not like those post-apocalyptic movies.   It is going to be extremely positive in every way except to those who want to keep privilege.   Privilege is on its way out.  What is in is the ability to get better and more positive everyday.   People are going to get so good at change that they will not be able to imagine that a day can go buy where they are not involved in a major change process.   Everyday they will looking forward to a new capacity coming in.    Every capacity and new ones will be developed by millions and millions each day.  The time is coming when material things will not be the major concern.   The major concern will be for the welfare of the whole and everyone in it.   We will be like a living organism of constant growth.

Which paradigm or you in?   Time to get into the new paradigm.  Start changing and learning how to do it.

The Miracle Cure for Negative Self-Talk

As you are reading this post imagine that you could go out into the future and visit your positive self that had solved the current biggest challenges you are facing.   That self, out there in the future, would have a voice, most likely a very enthusiastic one, and it would be so giving you tons and tons of encouragement.

When you watch tennis matches on TV, you are seeing professional players who have been training incessantly day in and day out for years upon years.  They have made it to where they are with raw talent that is combined with good coaching and hard work.    But they sometimes have days where the opponent frustrates them completely or days when they frustrate themselves.    When this happens, you can see them going into their negative self talk to begin the process of beating themselves up.    It is as if they have this belief that if you talk negatively to yourself in a loud and harsh manner, that it is somehow going to knock themselves out of their current state and into a more positive one that can solve the opponent.

When we get stuck in a cycle of negative self talk about a particular situation like what to do in a relationship or how to get a business moving forward,  it is called ruminating.  It would be so great if we could just turn on a clock, start ruminating, and then come out on the other end with a positive solution.    The problem is that it just doesn’t work.   Negative self talk is critical, blaming, judgmental and all of the bad things we say that you shouldn’t do to yourself or others.

The miracle cure for negative self talk that will get you moving in a positive direction is to hear the positive you out in the future that has already solved the situation.   The reason that it is a miracle cure is because that future self is upbeat, positive, encouraging,  devoid of all of the negative characteristics of the negative self-talk.  When you hear that positive voice, it gets you aligned with your higher positive self,  then the solutions begin coming to you.

The problem with ruminating is that it just keeps throwing the same tired solutions, that didn’t work in the past, right in your face.   It is a no-win process.   The positive voice out in the future aligns you with your higher being that is aligned with the Greater Spirit.  Then all positive things begin to happen.   Back to tennis!  Roger Federer, who already is way beyond the age where nearly every professional retires, won two grand slam tennis tournaments this year.   How did he do it?   Basically he seems to have the ability to keep a positive frame of mind and then solve the problems that are in front of him.    He keeps inventing new solutions to his game that solve the challenges in front of him.    You hardly ever see him engaging in negative self talk.  He keeps positive and then looks for new solutions.

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Why is it a miracle?   It is a miracle because it takes you out of your ego, your lower self, that keeps repeating the same mistakes,  and puts you right into your higher self, that is aligned with the energies where are the positive solutions are.  Try listening to the voice in the future that has solved the current challenges.

 

 

Why People Cannot Develop Their Own Gifts

My last two posts were about how being confident with your gifts is the antidote to worry.   This short post is about some cultural factors that don’t allow most people to develop their inner unique talents.

I don’t want to get too complex about this.   If you go to almost any school in the entire planet (with a few exceptions),  there are basically three virtues that teachers and administrators love to see in their students,  obedience, respect,  and determination.  “Do what I say and do it for as long as you can?”   When students act in this manner,  teachers are really happy.  I am not saying that there are not a lot of teachers who promote creativity, taking risks, or lateral thinking.    It is just that the system in general is preparing students to work really hard so that they can be workaholics for others.    If you look at some of the treasured professions like law and medicine,  the professions are characterized by extremely long work hours that follow prescribed ways of acting.

To get to other gifts besides determination and respect and obedience you need environments that allow for less production and more experimenting and curiosity, less results and more risk taking.   In the last school that I worked in a typical student in the International Baccalaureate program hardly had a moment to breathe and no free time on weekends.  Every moment from early morning to late at night was taken up by someone else’s requirements.  It is nice an environment that is conducive to developing your own uniqueness and special talents.    It is for your participation in the culture as it is.

 

Counseling Work with Richard Hastings

What is more helpful which many companies are beginning to realize is that you need both determination-type qualities and those that allow more freedom and exploration.   It is a dynamic balance, that is not that easy to achieve.  You shouldn’t try to pack your whole calendar for the week, for instance, because you need time for emergent outcomes that come out of creative inspiration.   It is not an either-or proposition.  It is a both/and dynamic.   We can work hard and we can be free and creative.

My experience is that when you are tuned into your dreams or your inspiration, then the gifts you need to develop will readily come calling.   You just have to be paying attention.