Chaplin once entered a “Charlie Chaplin Look-alike Contest” in Monte Carlo and therefore the judges awarded him third place! Personality is overrated. Who we are is up to us every moment. the alternatives we bring our thinking either motivate us or they are doing not. And although clear visualization of a goal may be a good initiative, a joyfully motivated life demands more. to measure the life you would like to measure, the action is required. As Shakespeare said, “Action is eloquence.”
1. Get on your deathbed
A number of years ago once I was working with psychotherapist Devers Branden, she put me through her “deathbed” exercise. I used to be asked to obviously imagine myself lying on my very own deathbed, and to completely realize the emotions connected with dying and saying good-bye. Then she asked me to mentally invite the people in my life who were important to me to go to my bedside, one at a time. As I visualized each friend and relative coming in to go to me, I had to talk to them aloud. I had to mention to them what I wanted them to understand as I used to be dying. As I spoke to every person, I could feel my voice breaking. Somehow I could not help breaking down. My eyes were crammed with tears.
I experienced such a way of loss. it had been not my very own life I used to be mourning; it had been the love I used to be losing. To be more exact, it had been communication of affection that had never been there. During this difficult exercise, I actually need to see what proportion I’d overlooked my life. what percentage wonderful feelings I had about my children, for instance, that I’d never explicitly expressed. At the top of the exercise, I used to be an emotional mess. I had rarely cried that tough in my life. But when those emotions cleared, an exquisite thing happened. I used to be clear. I knew what was really important, and who really mattered to me.
I understood for the primary time what George Patton meant when he said, “Death is often more exciting than life.” From that day on I vowed to not leave anything to chance. I made up my mind never to go away anything unsaid. I wanted to measure as if I’d die any moment. the whole experience altered the way I’ve associated with people ever since. and therefore the great point of the exercise wasn’t lost on me: we do not need to wait until we’re actually near death to receive these benefits of being mortal. we will create the experience anytime we would like.
a couple of years later when my mother lay dying during a hospital in Tucson, I rushed to her side to carry her hand and repeat to her all the love and gratitude I felt for who she had been on my behalf me. When she finally died, my grieving was very intense but very short. during a matter of days, I felt that everything great about my mother had entered into me and would live there as a loving spirit forever. A year and a half before my father’s death, I started to send him letters and poems about his contribution to my life. He lived his last months and died within the grip of chronic illness, so communicating and getting through to him face to face wasn’t always easy.
But I always felt good that he had those letters and poems to read. Once he called me after I’d sent him a Father’s Day poem, and he said, “Hey, I assume I wasn’t such a nasty father in any case .” Poet Blake warned us about keeping our thoughts locked up until we die. “When thought is closed caves,” he wrote, “then love will show its roots in deepest hell.” Pretending you are not getting to die is detrimental to your enjoyment of life. it’s detrimental within the same way that it might be detrimental for a basketeer to pretend there was without stopping to the sport he was playing.
That player would scale back his intensity, adopt a lazy playing style, and, of course, find yourself not having any fun in the least. Without an end, there’s no game. Without being aware of death, you cannot be fully conscious of the gift of life.
2. Stay hungry
Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t famous yet in 1976 when he and that I had lunch together at the Doubletree Inn in Tucson, Arizona. Not one person within the restaurant recognized him. He was in town publicizing the movie Stay Hungry, a box-office disappointment he had just made with Jeff Bridges and Sally Field. I used to be a sports columnist for the Tucson Citizen at the time, and my assignment was to spend a full day, one-on-one, with Arnold and write a feature story about him for our newspaper’s Sunday magazine.
I, too, had no idea who he was, or whom he was getting to become. I agreed to spend the day with him because I had to—it was an assignment. And although I took thereto with an uninspired attitude, it had been one I’d always remember. Perhaps the foremost memorable a part of that day with Schwarzenegger occurred once we took an hour for lunch. I had my reporter’s notebook out and was asking questions for the story while we ate.
At one point I casually asked him, “Now that you simply have retired from bodybuilding, what are you getting to do next?” And with a voice as calm as if he were telling me about some mundane travel plans, he said, “I’m getting to be the number-one box-office star altogether of Hollywood.” Mind you, this wasn’t the slim, aerobic Arnold we all know today.
This man was pumped up and large. then for my very own physical sense of well-being, I attempted to seem to seek out his goal reasonable. I attempted to not show my shock and amusement at his plan. After all, his first attempt at movies didn’t promise much. And his Austrian accent and awkward monstrous build didn’t suggest instant acceptance by movie audiences.
I finally managed to match his calm demeanor, and that I asked him just how he planned to become Hollywood’s top star. “It’s an equivalent process I utilized in bodybuilding,” he explained. “What you are doing is create a vision of whom you would like to be, then live into that picture as if it were already true.” It sounded ridiculously simple. Too simple to mean anything. But I wrote it down.
and that I never forgot it. I’ll always remember the instant when some entertainment television program was saying that box office receipts from his second Terminator movie had made him the foremost popular box office to attract the planet. Was he psychic? Or was there something to his formula? Over the years I’ve used Arnold’s idea of making a vision as a motivational tool. I’ve also elaborated thereon in my corporate training seminars.
I invite people to note that Arnold said that you simply create a vision. He didn’t say that you simply wait until you receive a vision. You create one. In other words, you create it up. a serious a part of living a lifetime of self-motivation has something to awaken for within the morning—something that you simply are “up to” in life in order that you’ll stay hungry.
The vision is often created right now better now than later. you’ll always change it if you would like, but don’t live a flash longer without one. Watch what being hungry to measure that vision does to your ability to motivate yourself
3. Tell yourself a true lie
I remember when my then-12-year-old daughter Margery participated in a school poetry reading in which all her classmates had to write a “lie poem” about how great they were. They were supposed to make up untruths about themselves that made them sound unbelievably wonderful. I realized as I listened to the poems that the children were doing an unintended version of what Arnold did to clarify the picture of his future.
“lying” to themselves they were creating a vision of who they wanted to be.
It’s noteworthy, too, that public schools are so out of touch with the motivational sources of individual achievement and personal success that in order to invite children to express big visions for themselves they have to invite the children to “lie.” (As it was said in the movie ET, “How do you explain school to a higher intelligence?”) Most of us are unable to see the truth of who we could be.
My daughter’s school developed an unintended solution to that difficulty: If it’s hard for you to imagine the potential in yourself, then you might want to begin by expressing it as a fantasy, as did the children who wrote the poems. Think up some stories about who you would like to be. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know you’re fantasizing (it either receives pictures or doesn’t).
Soon you will begin to create the necessary blueprint for stretching your accomplishments. Without a picture of your highest self, you can’t live into that self. Fake it till you make it. The lie will become the truth.
4. Keep your eyes on the prize
Most of us never really focus. We constantly feel a kind of irritating psychic chaos because we keep trying to think of too many things at once. There’s always too much up there on the screen.
There was an interesting motivational talk on this subject given by former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson to his football players before the 1993 Super Bowl: “I told them that if I laid a two-by-four across the room, everybody there would walk across it and not fall because our focus would be that we were going to walk Learn to sweat in peace than two-by-four, But if I put that same two-by-four 10 stories high between two buildings only a few would make it, because the focus would be on falling. Focus is everything.
The team that is more focused today is the team that will win this game.” Johnson told his team not to be distracted by the crowd, the media, or the possibility of losing, but to focus on each play of the game itself just as if it were a good practice session.
5. Learn to sweat in peace
The harder you are on yourself, the easier life is on you. Or, as they say in the Navy Seals, the more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed in war. My childhood friend Rett Nichols was the first to show me this principle in action. When we were playing Little League baseball, we were always troubled by how fast the pitchers threw the ball. We were in an especially good league, and the overgrown opposing pitchers, whose birth certificates we were always demanding to see, fired the ball in to us at alarming speeds during the games.
I picked up a baseball bat and we walked out to the park near Rett’s house. Rett went to the pitcher’s mound but came in about three feet closer than usual. As I stood at the plate, he fired the little golf ball past me as I tried to swing at it. “Ha ha!” Rett shouted. “That’s faster than anybody you’ll face in little league! Let’s get going!” We then took turns pitching to each other with this bizarre little ball humming in at incredible speeds.
The little plastic ball was not only hilariously fast, but it curved and dropped more sharply than any little leaguer’s pitch could do. By the time Rett and I played our next league game, we were ready. The pitches looked like they were coming in slow motion. Big white balloons.
6. Simplify your life
The great Green Bay Packer’s football coach Vince Lombardi was once asked why his world championship team, which had so many multi-talented players, ran such a simple set of plays. “It’s hard to be aggressive when you’re confused,” he said.
Another effective way to simplify your life is to combine your tasks. Combining allows you to achieve two or more objectives at once. For example, as I plan my day today, I notice that I need to shop for my family after work. That’s a task I can’t avoid because we’re running out of everything. I also note that one of my goals is to finish reading my daughter Stephanie’s book reports.
I realize, too, that I’ve made a decision to spend more time doing things with all my kids, as I’ve tended lately to just come home and crash at the end of a long day.
An aggressive orientation to the day—making each day simpler and stronger than the day before— allows you to look at all of these tasks and small goals and ask yourself, “What can I combine?” (Creativity is really little more than making unexpected combinations, in music, architecture, anything, including your day.) After some thought, I realize that I can combine shopping with doing something with my children. (That looks obvious and easy, but I can’t count the times I mindlessly go shopping, or do things on my own just to get them done, and then run out of time to play with the kids.) I also think a little further and remember that the grocery store where we shop has a little deli with tables in it.
My kids love to make lists and go up and down the aisles themselves to fill the grocery cart, so I decide to read my daughter’s book reports at the deli while they travel the aisles for food. They see where I’m sitting, and keep coming over to update me on what they are choosing. After an hour or so, three things Simplify your life.
7. Look for the lost gold
But when I am angry, I see other people as unnecessarily testy. When I am depressed, I notice that people’s eyes look sad. When I am weary, I see the world as boring and unattractive. Who I am is what I see! If I drive into Phoenix and complain, “What a crowded, smog-ridden mess this place is!” I am really expressing what a crowded, smog-ridden mess I am at that moment.
If I had been feeling motivated that day, and full of hope and happiness, I could just as easily have said, while driving into Phoenix, “Wow, what a thriving, energetic metropolis this is!” Again, I would have been describing my inner landscape, not Phoenix’s. Our self-motivation suffers most from how we choose to see the circumstances in our lives. That’s because we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. In every circumstance, we can look for the gold, or look for the filth. And what we look for, we find. The best starting point for self-motivation is in what we choose to look for in what we see around us.
Do we see the opportunity everywhere? “When I open my eyes in the morning,” said Colin Wilson, “I am not confronted by the world, but by a million possible worlds.” It is always our choice. Which world do we want to see today? Opportunity is life’s gold. It’s all you need to be happy. It’s the fertile field in which you grow as a person. And opportunities are like those subatomic quantum particles that come into existence only when they are seen by an observer. Your opportunities will multiply when you choose to see them.
8. Push all your own buttons
Have you ever peeked into the cockpit of a large airliner as you boarded a plane? It’s an impressive display of buttons, levers, dials, and switches under one big windshield. What if, as you were boarding, you overheard the pilot say to the co-pilot, “Joe, remind me, what does this set of buttons do?” If I heard that, it would make it a rough flight for me. But most of us pilot our own lives that way, without much knowledge of the instruments. We don’t take the time to learn where our own buttons are, or what they can do. From now on, make it a personal commitment to notice everything that pushes your buttons.
Make a note of everything that inspires you. That’s your control panel. Those buttons operate your whole system of personal motivation. Motivation doesn’t have to be accidental. For example, you don’t have to wait for hours until a certain song comes on the radio that picks up your spirits. You can control what songs you hear. If there are certain songs that always lift you up, make a tape or CD of those songs and have it ready to play in your car. Go through all of your music and create a “greatest motivational hits” tape for yourself.
How many times do you leave a movie feeling inspired and ready to take on the world? Whenever that happens, put the name of the movie in a special notebook that you might label “the right buttons.” Six months to a year later, you can rent the movie and get the same inspired feeling. Most movies that inspire us are even better the second time around.
9. Build a track record
It’s not what we do that makes us tired—it’s what we don’t do. The tasks we don’t complete cause the most fatigue. I was giving a motivational seminar to a utility company recently, and during one of the breaks a small man who looked to be in his 60s came up to me. “My problem,” he said, “is that I never seem to finish anything. I’m always starting things—this project and that, but I never finish.
I’m always off on to something else before anything is completed.” He then asked whether I could give him some affirmations that might alter his belief system. He correctly saw the problem as being one of belief. Because he did not believe he was a good finisher, he did not finish anything.
So he wanted a magical word or phrase to repeat to himself that would brainwash him into being different. “Do you think affirmations are what you need?” I asked him. “If you had to learn how to use a computer, could you do it by sitting on your bed and repeating the affirmations, ‘I know how to use a computer. I am great at using computers.
I am a wizard on a computer’?” He admitted that affirmations would probably have no effect on his ability to use a computer. “The best way to change your belief system is to change the truth about you,” I said. “We believe the truth Welcome the unexpected faster than we believe false affirmations.
To believe that you are a good finisher, you must begin by building a track record of finished tasks.” He followed my suggestions with great enthusiasm. He bought a notebook and at the top of the first page he wrote, “Things I’ve Finished.” Each day, he made a point of setting small goals and finishing them. Whereas in the past he would be sweeping his front walk and leave it unfinished when the phone rang, now he’d let the phone ring so he could finish the job and record it in his notebook.
The more things he wrote down, the more confident he became that he was truly becoming a finisher. And he had a notebook to prove it. Consider how much more permanent his new belief was than if he had tried to do it with affirmations. He could have whispered to himself all night long, “I am a great finisher,” but the right side of his brain would have known better. It would have said to him, “No you’re not.” Stop worrying about what you think of yourself and start building a track record that proves that you can motivate yourself to do whatever you want to do.
10. Welcome the unexpected
Most people do not see themselves as being creative, but we all are. Most people say, “My sister’s creative, she paints,” or “My father’s creative, he sings and writes music.” We miss the point that we are all creative. One of the reasons we don’t see ourselves that way is that we normally associate being “creative” with being “original.” But in reality, creativity has nothing to do with originality—it has everything to do with being unexpected. You don’t have to be original to be creative. In fact, it sometimes helps to realize that no one is original.
Look at Elvis Presley. People thought he was a true original when he first came upon the scene. But he wasn’t. He was just the first white person to ever sing with enthusiasm. His versions of songs, however, were often direct copies from African-American rhythm and blues singers. Elvis acknowledged that his entire style was a combination of Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, and James Brown, as well as a variety of gospel singers. Although Elvis wasn’t original, he was creative.
Because he was so unexpected. If you believe you were created in the image of your Creator, then you must, therefore, be creative. Then, if you’re willing to see yourself as creative, you can begin to cultivate it in everything you do. You can start coming up with all kinds of unexpected solutions to the challenges that life throws at you.