Tuning Out For Success
It would be impossible to list all of the things people have considered crucial to success in life. Honesty, energy, bonding, modeling, control of fear...all are important. For my whole life, I've searched for the answers in this arena, and treasured the gems that have been revealed.
In July of 2005, I went back to Longview, Washington, where I'd lived for nine years, raising my daughter. When we left, we packed much of our house into two storage units, planning to return once we had our roots properly planted in Los Angeles. Going through the storage units was bittersweet--my wife and I didn't have a huge amount of time to carefully examine every item in every box. But one book fell out of one box, almost as if it intended to jump into my hands, refusing to be junked. It was called MASTERY (now out of print), and its author was an old friend of mine, Tim Piering.
Tim was (and is) one of the best men I've ever known. A husband, a father, an engineer, a Marine officer, black belt in four martial arts, Tim is a gentle giant with a gift for teaching and coaching. During the 80's, it was my honor to be part of a group with which he shared extremely high-level neurolinguistic and hypnotic patterns, advanced body-mind work that still, twenty years later, seems ahead of its time. Hands trembling, realizing how close I'd come to throwing away one of Tim's few books, I opened it, and came to page 47. there, it said that if you only had two tools in the world to help you succeed, they would be:
1) Well defined WRITTEN goals. 2) The ability to take action despite the "Radio Voice" in your head.
And I was stunned. Never have I heard anyone, anywhere, state the secret to success more clearly, or succinctly. The impact of those earlier days flooded back to me in a moment, and I realized how much of my own accomplishment I owed to just this simple understanding.
Why are these so important, and what EXACTLY does it mean?
We all understand goal-setting, and most of us are aware that writing our goals down increases our odds of accomplishing them by at least 10X. There is a quiet magic in the act of writing goals, and anyone who has practiced this art will know exactly what I'm talking about. If you doubt it, just check around and find out how uncomfortable the average person is in performing this simple, basic act. They KNOW that a written goal, unlike a misty dream or hope, is a contract between your conscious and unconscious mind. A written goal is half-way between a thought and a reality, marking the way to the future.
But what is the Radio Voice? It is the voice in your mind that doubts you, that questions, that offers seductive alternatives to performing the daily tasks that make up our lives. You want to write a chapter--it tells you that your work is crap. You want to exercise--it tells you that it is too late, that your body is beyond repair, why bother? You want to find a healthy relationship, and the voice tells you that all the good men, or women, are gone.
Don't believe you have one? Just sit quietly for two minutes and listen. Go ahead, use a kitchen timer. Listen.
Did you hear that voice saying "what voice? I don't hear a voice!"
That's the voice.
It is imperative to become aware of it, aware of its power, aware that it lies. Aware that the voice in your head IS NOT YOU.
No. You are not the voice. YOU are the one LISTENING to the voice. And this is so important to understand that I cannot overstress it. Please go back and read that again. And again.
All over the world, there are literally thousands of meditation techniques designed to "turn off" or "turn down" the voice of failure. The voice, composed of the memories of teachers, parents, friends, and our own past selves, can make us doubt ourselves even in the midst of victory.
Whatever you do, whatever you desire in life, you MUST find a way to either quiet or ignore those voices, or your results will suffer.
One of the most powerful ways to turn the voices off is physical flow. This is the state reached in Tai Chi or Yoga when your mental and emotional commitment to the technique becomes intense. You can find it in jogging, when you reach "runner's high."
In meditation, you can observe a candle flame, the smell of incense, or even your own breathing or heartbeat for 15-30 minutes at a time, on a daily or thrice-weekly basis. When you try to do this, believe me the voices will freak out and try everything in their bag of tricks to get you to stop.
This mental/physical practice is directly applicable to any other activity in your life. To large degree, your chances to succeed in life will be in direct proportion to your capacity to maintain "flow", or relaxed concentration, under mental or emotional stress. The depths of this trance state vary, but we've all heard stories of artists, inventers, writers and poets so absorbed in their work that they didn't hear the phone ring, or even a tree fall through a window! THAT is concentration. THAT is the ability to shut up "the voices," and that is the state you must approach to find your own greatest genius.
Thank you, Tim, for reminding me of that lesson.
About the author:
NY Times bestselling author Steven Barnes has created Lifewriting, the first whole-mind performance system for writers and readers. Learn more at: http://www.lifewrite.com and http://www.lifewriting.biz