Dogs are Scary

Self-improvement has a long history but in the last 10 years or so, we’ve heard a lot about the “Law of Attraction (LoA)” – the idea that our thoughts magically attract things, people and situations into our lives.  Movies like “The Secret” have glamorized this idea to near mythic proportions and many, many practitioners use it as a way to achieve improvement in their clients’ lives. 

I have only one problem with the LoA: I don't get the mechanics.  When I ask how the LoA works, the answer I get is invariably something along the lines of: “Like energy attracts like energy.”  My immediate thought to this is: “What the heck does that mean?”  It might make sense to a physicist or a sorcerer, but it doesn't explain to me how it works.  I’ve heard it so often that I started wondering if I had to go to Hogwart’s to get the power to have a better life.  Luckily, I recently came up with a way to explain it without having to figure out how to find Dumbledore.

I was talking with my friend, Marvin, and he told me he is afraid of dogs.  Compared to my mother, who greets all the dogs in the neighborhood, Marvin doesn't like them.  When Marvin sees a dog – especially a larger dog – he immediately thinks: “Oh no!  There’s a dog.  Dogs are scary.”  He then starts to tense up, his heart starts beating faster, his mouth dries up and starts sweating as he prepares for aggressive behavior from the dog.  Next thing he knows, the dog is either barking at him or chasing him down the block. 

For Marvin, this is a problem, but for me it was the answer to bringing the LoA down to earth.  I finally understood that yes, “energy” might be involved, but on a more mundane level, attraction happens depending on how we think about things.  I finally understood that the LoA is just a way of saying that our thoughts create our reality.

To illustrate, when Marvin sees a dog, he thinks dogs are scary and starts feeling afraid.  Even if he can hide his physical expression of fear, it doesn't matter because his body gives off pheromones that communicate his state.  Though most humans won’t consciously notice this pheromone, dogs, with nearly 40% of their brains dedicated to smell analysis and the ability to smell between 1,000 to 10,000 times better than we, sense it right away.

This, however, wouldn't be an issue if dog’s weren’t social animals.  Compared to relatively solitary cats, dogs act much different when confronted with a fearful other.  I mean, if you act afraid of a cat, what do they usually do?  They freak out just as much as you do, right?  Freak out around a cat, and they usually end up stuck to the ceiling.  Cower in front of a dog, however, and it will do just the opposite.  Perhaps it’s because cats are small, but that doesn’t answer this difference because even small dogs act aggressively if they sense fear.

You see, as social animals, dogs naturally hang out in groups.  They play together.  They hunt together.  They develop relationships with others in the pack.  They try to please higher-status members, and, given a chance, they do what they can to raise their own status in the pack.  This can be done in a variety of ways, but when another exhibits fear, they tend to react aggressively – using that fear as an opportunity to climb the social ladder.

Interestingly, in the human social hierarchy, dogs know their place.  They know that we dominate and they submit and, as long as they understand this, most dogs accept it and act accordingly.  If, however, it is not clear that a human is dominant in a situation, (like when someone acts scared of them), a dog will revert to it’s natural instincts and seek to dominate – even over a human.

So, when Marvin starts acting scared, a dog smells the fear and recognizes an opportunity to dominate.  It might take a strong stance; look at him menacingly, growl, bark or even attack - reminding Marvin that dogs are scary.  Sadly for Marvin, this process repeats itself nearly every time he sees a dog.

This is how thought becomes reality and how Marvin “attracts” these experiences to himself.  Marvin sees dog.  Marvin thinks dogs are scary and prepares for trouble.  Dog responds to Marvin’s communicated fear by acting aggressively.  Marvin lives in a world of aggressive dogs.

Thought creates reality.

So, what would happen if Marvin were to change his beliefs about dogs?  What if Marvin thought instead that dogs weren’t scary but perhaps just unpleasant?  Would things be different?  In this case, upon seeing a dog, Marvin wouldn't think: dog = scary and act afraid.  He might instead think something like: dog = annoying and show signs of mild displeasure without sending off the fear pheromone.  In response to his communicated ambivalence and the lack of the fear smell, the dog would probably ignore him too.  Marvin’s new thought about dogs would allow him to have a different experience. 

New thought = new reality.

This is how we literally create our reality.  We respond to the world in conscious and unconscious ways by how we think about it and the world tells us we are right.  It’s kind of scary if you think about it: just by the way we think about things, we are creating our reality – both good and bad.  How depressing to imagine that many of our failures or unpleasant experiences are our own doing, but on the flip side, how liberating to know that we have the power of creation and just as we created the life we lead today, we have the power to change it.

This is my point: if you can accept that you are the one creating most of the experiences in your life by the way you think about them, you’re on your way to a better life.  Instead of beating yourself up for creating/attracting unpleasant experiences, recognize that you’ve done an amazing job!  Congratulate yourself on those aspects of your life that you are happy and proud of and recognize that you can change those you aren’t.  Everything may not be the way you wanted, but you are the creatornot the victim – of your life. 

Now that’s a powerful thought.

So, next time you are unhappy at the way things are going, create a new thought and see if things don't change just a little bit.  You might be surprised by what happens.

Next time I’ll apply this concept to the thoughts we have about more practical things in our life like money, weight and leadership and see where it leads us.

Thanks to Marvin, his beliefs, and dogs everywhere for helping me to finally, clearly verbalize this concept.

Dopamine: Friend or Foe? – Part 2

Last time I explained that dopamine is the reward drug the brain produces when we do something that promotes our life or reproduction and that getting this drug is the reason we do many things.  I also mentioned how this drug could be harnessed to make effective life choices based on how much dopamine the results of our decisions will produce.

The question is, though, what about goals we resist?  What about goals that will give us a better life, but we don't do because we don't feel excited about them.  Maybe other people enjoy them, but we don't.  How can we harness dopamine to work for us in these situations?

I recently read a book about the physiological changes Wall Street traders have called: “The Hour Between Dog and Wolf” by John Coates.  Among other interesting insights, he discusses the main reason we and other animals have a brain.  We may use our brains to understand this world and make decisions, but in the end, our brain is designed to “plan and execute physical movement.” 

Other life forms like plants and trees may have consciousness, but they more or less stay in one place and passively receive energy/reproduce so they don't need to think about how to go out and get them.  Animals, on the other hand, actively work for food and reproduction.  This requires that we make choices about how to go out and acquire them and our brains are designed to do just that.  Want to move around?  Brain.  No need to move around?  No brain.

Descartes should have said, “I think, therefore I do.”

So, how does this fit in with dopamine?  We know that dopamine is released when we experience stimuli like food, winning and sex but researchers have also found that dopamine also motivates us to go out and search for these experiences.  They found that dopamine is released not only upon experiencing them but also before and in anticipation of experiencing them. 

It goes like this: you feel pleasure (dopamine) when you eat chocolate cake. Mary’s Bakery has a fabulous chocolate cake and you know that if you go Mary’s and have her yummy chocolate cake you will feel good.  Already, at that moment of thinking about Mary’s cake, you start feeling a little excited.  You can imagine how it feels to eat one of her cakes and were you to decide to go get one, it would be a piece of cake to go, right?  (Pun intended).  In other words, you’d be highly motivated to go.  This is your brain producing dopamine in anticipation of the experience of eating Mary’s fabulous cake in order to get you to go out and have that experience.

However, do you know that Mary is going to have cake today?  You assume she will, right?  What if Mary got sick or ran out of ingredients or aliens stole all her cakes?  You can’t know for certain that you will get the experience you desire but what matters here what you think will happen.  You imagine it’s going to be cake heaven at Mary’s so your brain starts producing dopamine in anticipation of that experience and you soon find yourself on the way. 

Dopamine drives us to get out and do things.  Dopamine = motivation.

So, let’s use this knowledge to our advantage.  Pretend you want to get fit but really hate working out.  You know you should, but don't like it for whatever reason.  For you, exercise ≠ dopamine.  In order to get yourself excited to work out, let’s use your imagination to trick your brain into thinking that exercise will feel good.

You can do this by imagining how great your life will be with a fit body.  Imagine the compliments you will get from people, the excitement of looking at toned muscles in the mirror, the joy of flexibility, the camaraderie of working with others or the solitude of being able to be alone.  Imagine how you will feel after a workout: the calm, the relaxed muscle feeling and/or the sense of accomplishment.

Imagining these results and enjoying how that feels will start to release dopamine.  You might even feel a bit of interest to exercise.  Just as imagining the experience of Mary’s chocolate cake gets you excited, this way of imagining the benefits of exercise will start producing dopamine and the desire to have that experience.

Now, in order to get enough motivation to actually make it happen, you need to practice this technique.  You need to do it often and consistently so that you can strengthen the idea in your brain that exercise = dopamine.  Do it morning and night, after eating, after work, when you turn the lights on in your room, etc. Sooner or later, you will find yourself kind of interested in doing some kind of exercise, and actually taking the necessary steps to get fit.

I use this technique with my clients to get them excited and ready to achieve goals they resist.  Together we come up with a vision that gets them excited to achieve their goal.  Once they have the vision, they practice it frequently and soon naturally find themselves doing what they didn't want to do before.  On top of that, there’s no forcing it because their brain naturally motivates them to do it by producing a motivator drug: dopamine.  Their brain has been reprogrammed to think necessary goal = produce dopamine.

Aren’t drugs great?

Try it out and let me know how it works.  If you have trouble, find a guide who can help you use your imagination to trick your brain into using dopamine to achieve your dreams.  Give it a shot.  It can’t hurt and it just might work.

Dopamine: Friend or Foe? – Part 1

Are you a drug addict?  I’m not just talking about the illegal or illicit kinds but also drugs like tobacco, sugar, alcohol and prescription painkillers?  Do you like how they make you feel?  Our society frowns on drug use – especially the illegal kind – so we don't like to admit to being addicted to drugs – even the legal ones.

That said, I have bad news for you: even if you really don't enjoy drugs – legal or not – you are a serious drug addict.  I would even argue that every human (and lots of animals too) is a drug addict.  In fact, we are so addicted to one drug in particular that we would rather have it than eat.  That drug is, interestingly, one we create ourselves.  It’s a drug called dopamine.

Dopamine is a chemical the brain releases when we gain information or do something that promotes our growth, survival and reproduction.  When it is released, we get excited or euphoric.  It's the feeling we get when we win a game, make a successful investment, find something new and interesting, get a great deal at a store, eat chocolate cake, drink alcohol, experience sex or fall in love.  It’s one of the best feelings we can have and nearly everything we do is so that we can experience that feeling.  It is so powerful that rats will starve if given the choice between taking straight dopamine and eating food.

This is what I mean when I say that we are drug addicts. 

And, just like addicts, we are slaves to dopamine because our desire for the feeling it gives dictates nearly everything we do and resisting that urge is incredibly difficult.  What do you reach for first when you are sad: chocolate cake or salad?  How often have you chosen the wrong mate just because of how you “feel” about him or her?  Have you ever made a bad investment because it sounded “incredible” – only to find that it really was too good to be true?  Ever yell at your staff or partner rather than try to understand them?  Of course these may not be true for you but you can see where I’m going with this: we make decisions based on how we feel rather than how it will serve us in the long run.  One big reason we make these decisions is because of the dopamine rush we get out of them.  

This is why most people would rather eat “bad” food over “healthy,” watch action flicks over documentaries, elect candidates that get them excited instead of those who have sound policies, command employees over leading them, and risk everything on questionable investments over making a reasonable financial plan that will grow money slowly over time.  The reason we make these choices is because we enjoy the dopamine rush we get from them.  

So, now that I have shown that you are drug addict, let me assure you that you can use this knowledge to make dopamine work for you instead of the other way around.  First, remember that you love dopamine and that you make decisions to get that dopamine hit.  Admit that you are addicted to this drug and relax – everyone else is, too.

With this in mind, you can make more beneficial life choices.  You can choose life options that you are relatively sure will give you both the dopamine and improve your life.  For example: have you ever chosen an unenjoyable job because it paid well?  I know I have.  Even though I had a better income, I hated getting up in the mornings and didn't do my best.  I had to drag myself to work every day and either quit unhappy or messed up enough to get fired.  If I, like so many, had “stuck it out” at those jobs, I’m sure I would be miserable now. 

I had made a bad life choice based on the money and not on the enjoyment I would have gotten from the work I did.  In other words, I had chosen a job that didn't give me experiences that caused my brain to produce dopamine.  I wasn't getting my fix at work and my results showed this lack.

That’s why, when faced with choosing between a job that gives you a high salary but isn’t so interesting, and one that will be enjoyable but may not be so lucrative take the enjoyable one because you will get more dopamine working there.  Doing an enjoyable job makes you feel good, will cause you to jump out of bed in the mornings, improve your performance, and might get you promoted faster – thereby getting a higher salary.  All the while, your brain will reward you with dopamine because you are doing something exciting.

Sounds pretty good, right?

So, remember that you love dopamine and, like an addict, you sometimes make bad decisions based on getting that good feeling.  Remember also, though, that you can use this addiction to your advantage by choosing things that you know will make you feel good and will also be beneficial to your life.

Next time I will explain how you can make dopamine your servant to achieve your dreams and have fun in the process.

You, the Supertanker – part 2.

Last time I made the metaphor that your life is like a supertanker going full speed and that it takes time to change course.  Continuing the metaphor, what would it be like if you went to change course and nothing happened?  What would happen if the ship’s parts were stuck or no matter how much you turned the wheel, you kept heading towards a rocky shoal?  That would be a nightmare, right?

Well, I have bad news for you: this is kind of how it is when it comes to making course corrections in our lives.  Have you ever tried to make an important change in your life only to find yourself back where you started?  You try to lose weight, get fit, be a better leader or improve your finances but no matter how hard you try, everything seems to stay the same?  If your life were a ship, it might feel like your steering mechanism is frozen.

That’s because it is frozen.  Our subconscious – the part of us that manages the myriad of habits and programs that move us through our life – is doing what it is designed to do: keep things “normal.”  That is to say that our subconscious habits, thoughts and actions are designed to keep us from making changes to our life.  Our subconscious is so good at it’s job that even if we try hard to break a lifestyle or habit, it will keep things just as they are, or, even worse, if we start seeing some success in our new endeavor, it will rearrange things so that we fall back into the old lifestyle or habit – even if it is harmful to us – because that is what it knows.

Do you always have seconds at dinner?  You probably feel dissatisfied if you can’t go back for more.  Think your staff is incompetent?  Perhaps you only seem to notice instances when they made mistakes.  Think you’ll never get rich?  It’s difficult to do when you always have to have the latest tech gadget.  Program your subconscious to do and think a certain way and it will show you the results you tell it to.

Sure, we may want to lose weight, be a better leader or make more money, but the subconscious has other plans: keep things the same.  Anything that is not what you are used to is conveniently ignored or sabotaged.  Consciously trying to change habits and thoughts is like trying to get out and push a ship with your bare hands.  It takes so much focus and discipline that most of us give up after a short, valiant effort.

No wonder people get depressed.

So, the question is, if we are programmed to stay on the course that we have followed for so long, how can we get out of that rut?  A ship’s captain would call a repair team and get them to replace/fix the malfunctioning parts, right?  Who says we can’t do the same with our subconscious?  Our subconscious got programmed to act the way it does in the first place, are we so inflexible that we can’t reprogram it for a better way?

This is exactly what a good guide can do for you.  Instead of trying to make conscious changes, a good guide helps reprogram underlying habits that stop us from the kind of life we dream about.  A good guide can help you change the way you think about and perceive things so you can naturally change course.

So, rather than trying to force yourself to not go for seconds at dinner, why not reprogram your satiation gauge to need less food?  When changing your leadership style, instead of forcing yourself to act unnaturally, why not adjust your engine output to guide your team in a more balanced way?  If you are trying to be more efficient with your budget, why not replace your fun-o-meter with one that allows you to enjoy entertainment that is less expensive but still satisfying?

By reprogramming your subconscious, you naturally change your habits and perspectives.  It can be so effective that you will forget why you used to do things differently.  You will soon find that you don't even need to turn the wheel to move away from the rocky shoals because your ship itself will automatically course correct.  It will automatically steer you away from the life you had into the life you want because that is what it now knows.

Sounds better than getting out to push, doesn't it?

Next time learn how dopamine will drive your life if you don't drive it.

You, the Supertanker - Part 1

It’s really amazing how big supertankers are.  The largest one, the Seawise Giant, was 460 meters long (over ¼ mile) and fully loaded weighed over 560,000 metric tons.  That’s a lot of ship.

These ships don't go super fast, but once they get up to speed, they don't stop or turn easily.  Depending on a ship’s size, speed, weight and load, it can take a few kilometers for one of them to stop or reverse course.  Of course, considering the amount of momentum they have, that’s no surprise.  On top of that, when they turn, it can take over an hour.  That’s a bit slower than a sports car.

Our lives are like a supertanker at full speed.  We set a course in our 20s and for the most part stay on that trajectory.  We more or less stay the same weight; have about the same amount of money/income, similar types of jobs, and the same sorts of relationships.  We might stray from our norms sometimes, but usually find ourselves back on track – whether we like it or not – soon enough.

Of course, if we are satisfied there is no reason to change.  However, as I said in my last post, if we decide to make a change, one of the best ways is to connect with a guide we can trust.  Conversely, trying to charter a new course and failing can be because we don't have a guide we connect with.  This is still true.

The other way we usually fail to change course is if we give up too soon.

When we realize our ship has gone off course, one common reaction is a bit of a freak out – a frantic need to get back on track as soon as possible: “I don't like the way things are going.  I have to fix everything, NOW!” 

Of course, it’s a positive thing to make changes when life is going the wrong way.  The thing is that, just as it takes time to change a supertanker’s course, it takes time for us to go outside of our current course.  Though we might want to fix everything overnight, trying to do so can cause unnecessary stress and disappointment – especially if things don’t change right away. 

When I have a new client, I ask them to pre-pay for 7 weekly or bi-weekly sessions.  This is important because by pre-paying they are committing themselves to achieving their goals and, more importantly, they are sending their subconscious a message: “This is what we are going to do.  I expect you to get on board with it.”  By committing financially, the subconscious mind knows that we are serious and it will work with, instead of against us.  Likewise, because it is a set number of sessions, the subconscious feels a bit of pressure to meet the “deadline” we have created.

This, then, is the magic combination for success: a guide we connect with, good techniques, and our commitment to put in the time.  Sure, I’ve had clients get incredible changes after only 1 or 2 meetings but they are the exception rather than the rule.  Most of my clients need a bit more of a commitment to work on the various aspects of their goal.  By doing so, they can get long-term, satisfying results.

So, when you decide to permanently lose weight/get fit, start that company you’ve always dreamed of or to break and into a better wealth zone, remember to commit some time and money.  Make this investment in yourself and I am sure you will get a great return. 

Here’s the bad news: your ship would rather crash into an iceberg than change course.  Tune in next time to find out how your subconscious keeps you stuck on the course you are going and what you can do about it.

Am I the Best for You?

Have you ever had a discussion about which martial art is the best?  You know, the one where someone says that Karate beats Tae Kwon Do because it’s more “grounded?”  Or, that Aikido is most dangerous because it uses the opponent’s attack against them?  Or, that Jeet Kune Do is best because Bruce Lee developed it?

Martial artists love this kind of talk.  It’s fun to contemplate what style is better by analyzing and comparing techniques.  After having done martial arts for almost 25 years, though, I have come to a different conclusion.  Sure, there are technical differences that might make one art nominally better than another depending on the situation or the practitioner’s body type, but when it comes to self-defense, which style we know isn’t as important as whether we are going to be able to use it when we need it.

Though there are many factors that influence this, one of the most important is who taught us.  Is the teacher proficient?  Can s/he communicate what s/he knows?  Is s/he patient?  These and other factors influence how well a teacher can instill the tenets of his/her art into students.  Likewise, a teacher who can do this for the most people is considered the “best” teacher – and most of us want to be with the best when we learn something, right?

Here’s the thing, though: your teacher doesn't need to be the “best,” s/he only needs to be the best for you.  There are plenty of great teachers out there but even the best teachers don't connect with all students.  Mrs. Robertson was the best math teacher in my Jr. high but I know that not all students connected with her style of teaching.  Interestingly, those who didn't connect with her seemed to do well with another math teacher – different strokes for different folks.

So, when someone asks me which martial art is best, I tell them to do the one with a teacher they connect with.

The same is true with self-improvement.  In the last 30-40 years, many effective techniques have been developed, and, just as with martial artists, people in the field like to argue which techniques are most effective for self-development.  Again, as with martial arts, I think that most techniques have merit and can help people improve their lives.  It is the person we work with that makes the key difference.

The main technique I use is NLP and every once in awhile someone tells me that s/he thinks NLP doesn't work.  I’m always surprised when I hear this because I disagree.  Considering all the great results I’ve had with clients I can’t understand how anyone could pooh-pooh a system that works so well. 

You can imagine that I’ve concluded the reason for their opinion is because they must not have had a good connection with their guide.  This saddens me because I have seen people make remarkable improvements in their lives using self-development techniques.  Of course, I think the improvements came not so much from the techniques as much as from that magical connection between guide and client.

So, if you have tried self-development but haven’t seen improvement or didn't think it worked, ask yourself if you liked/trusted/connected with your guide.  In most cases, lack of success comes from a lack of connection between client and guide causing the client to give up before seeing results. 

When you embark on the path to an improved life, make sure you feel good about your guide.  If you do, the results will be impressive.  If not, you’ll walk away disappointed and a guide will lose an opportunity to make the world a better place.

Which brings me back to the title of this post: though I’m good at what I do, unless you and I have that connection, I won’t be the best for you and your desire to improve your life.  Remember that when you choose your guide and you’ll be able to achieve exciting results.

Tune in next time to find out why you are a lot like a supertanker.

How I Do It

Just like you, when I meet people, they ask me what I do.  After I explain that I do motivation training and talk about the great results my clients get, they often ask how I do it.  In reply, I ask them if they have ever tried Sumo (or Roller Derby or Curling).  They look at me rather befuddled and say: “No, Why do you ask?” 

I then say: “My work is kind of like Sumo.  It is something that, even if you have heard of it, you probably haven’t tried it.  And, like Sumo, no matter how much I explain it to you, you won’t get it.”  I’m sure this isn’t terribly satisfying, but it’s the best I can do, and, though I do explain my techniques, they still don't “get it.” 

Let me explain.

In my previous post, I described that I work with clients to achieve their goals.  I also presented the idea that my work draws what they need from within themselves – thus making it natural and easy to integrate into their lives.

How I do it is less clear because my work is a lot like a sport.  Knowing the organization, rules and some techniques help, but no matter how much study we might do, we won’t get it until we try.

Consultants, coaches and talk therapists have it easier because we innately understand how they work.  We understand that they give advice or ideas to help clients achieve their goals.  If you read my last post, however, you may recall that I avoid giving clients advice.  This doesn't mean that I’m against advice, it’s just that advice can be helpful only if the receiver is ready to accept it.

What I do, on the other hand, does not rely on giving advice so I have the unusual challenge of having to explain a unique kind of success training.

So, how do I work?  Clients do exercises – kind of like sports.  They stand up and move around the session space.  They physically take the position of the many aspects of themselves and others as a way to get different perspectives on what they are looking to improve.  They give themselves advice that they can accept.  They envision their dream, make plans for it, find out why it may fail and come up with solutions to those concerns. 

Clients take the perspective of their own clients and customers to understand what those relationships need.  They rework negative thinking and come up with new ideas that empower and embolden them to take the next steps on their path to success.

That’s how I work: I get clients to literally take new perspectives and thought processes.  I do this so they can give themselves the advice they need – which may include what consultants, coaches or talk therapists may have already told them – but, because they give it to themselves, they are able to accept and integrate it into their lives. 

My techniques get past their filters that stop them from listening to advice others may give them so they can internalize helpful thinking, beliefs and habits.  Clients naturally find themselves doing the things they need to do and they are doing it so naturally that they forget why they couldn't do it before.  This is what I call “motivation.”  Doing something you want to do – not forcing yourself to do something you have to do. 

If you could somehow find naturally yourself taking the chances you needed to start that career or business you’ve always wanted, do you think you might be able to succeed?  Or, if you could effortlessly follow your fitness plans, do you think you might be able to build a body you can be happy about?  What if you lost interest in foods that are fattening?  Do you think you might start losing weight?  What about money: if you really, truly thought that you could make lots of money easily, do you think you might find that you have more money?

I suspect you would and, because of the results I’ve had with many clients over the years, I can confidently say you would, too.

So, as in Sumo, even though you haven’t tried it, you can study my techniques and get an intellectual understanding of what you could achieve but eventually you will have to try it in order to really “get” it to become the yokozuna (Sumo grand champion) of your life.

Tune in next time and find out why I may not, however, be the best for you.

What I Do

Have you ever told a friend or family member about something you wanted to achieve?  How did it go?  Did they give you encouragement or advice?  I hope they didn't say: “That’s impossible!  You can’t do that.”

Whether they are supportive or discouraging, others often share advice.  Sometimes it’s useful and sometimes it isn’t; but in the end, whether we listen to it or not is up to us.  This is the way most of us work to improve our lives: gather information, evaluate effectiveness and implement the best plan. 

The problem is that it doesn't usually go so smoothly.

Let’s say you decide to lose weight and read an article where an expert tells you to give up your morning donut and vanilla latte.  Sounds reasonable, right?  There are lots of calories in that combo and taking that off your plate will really help.  The problem is that you LOVE your vanilla latte and donut.  It makes your mornings bearable.

Do you think you are going to follow this expert’s advice?  My guess is that most of us would valiantly try only to abandon it as soon as we had “bad” morning and “needed” our treat again.  I know I would.

This is also the way most therapists, coaches and consultants work.  They use suggestions as a way to induce change.  It goes something like this: you have a goal and doing X, Y and Z will get you there.  They provide you with reasonable and rational suggestions to move you forward and it is your job to implement them. 

The problem is that very little of our decision-making is rational. Most of our decisions are irrational and subconscious.  You might be getting great suggestions, but most of them will be difficult to implement unless your irrational mind agrees.  Rationally, it’s a no-brainer that giving up so many calories will help you lose weight, but your irrational mind – which is like a child – doesn't care: it wants what it wants and it wants it now.  It takes a LOT of mental discipline to make the irrational mind do something it doesn’t want.

Think of it like an iceberg.  What is the best way to move one?  Considering that 90% of an iceberg is underwater, pushing the above-water part might get some movement, but mostly it will just rotate the iceberg around in the same spot.  Pushing the underwater part, however, moves the top as well.

We are like that iceberg.  Our rational mind is the small part above the water and the rest is our subconscious.  It’s easy to rationally decide something, but it takes a lot of work get anywhere with it.  Move your subconscious, however, and your conscious experience effortlessly goes with it.

This is where I do my work: on the level of the irrational, or subconscious mind.  To achieve their goals, I do my best not to tell clients what to do or how to do it.  Instead, I help them work with their subconscious mind to propel them in the direction they desire. 

Working with me, clients come up with their own ideas, perspectives and excitement of how and what to do to get where they want to go.  This really makes a difference because what they decide comes from that irrational mind and, like I said before, when the irrational mind wants something, it’s hard to stop. 

Would you be able to do that thing you’ve always dreamed about if it felt fun instead of scary?  How would your company function if your staff loved coming to work?  Could you lose weight if a salad sounded more satisfying than the vanilla latte and donut?  You can push to make these things happen, but it’s much easier if your subconscious helps.

This is what I do: I provide an experience that allows clients to coordinate their conscious and subconscious goals.  Whether it is losing weight, getting fit, finding that dream job or reorganizing a company; getting the subconscious mind on board makes it much easier to achieve your dreams.

So, how do I accomplish this?  What do I do to get the subconscious working with you?  Next time I will explain it using sumo, roller derby and curling.