The Secret of Making your Dreams into Reality
Understanding Future Reality™
Originally posted on my blog as separate posts - here as one article.
Financially you probably get the idea that to be successful you either invest in yourself by saving money for the future or if you work for yourself you understand the idea of paying yourself first as the path to a successful business. Or at least some people do - perhaps you know you should be saving for the future but the demands of everyday life overtake your good intentions.
Or you’re so busy working in your business that you can’t find the time to work on your business.
But few people take the time not just to invest in their financial future but also their future in every other sense of the term. For example: How often do you actually think of the future in any way other than worrying about it?
OK, so you may have the occasional fantasy of winning the lottery or somehow everything magically turning out alright but for most people they have extraordinary difficulty articulating their dreams and because they are vague, hazy, blurry pictures with no structure they have no real reality that pulls you towards them and allows you to make progress on actually having a path to a future that you can take action on and actually began to make your dreams real.
If you are honest with yourself do you actually think of your dreams as something you could make real?
Or are they dreams so by definition are just something to dream about?
Well as a therapist of nearly 20 years experience who has seen clients go from suffering from terrible trauma to making a life worth living where they are happy and loving their lives to working with elite performers and world record holders I have the experience and privilege of working with people actually doing the work to achieve their dreams and yes it is not only possible but because it is so counterintuitive it’s almost impossible to get their without a guide.
This is obvious to professional athletes they know they have to have a coach.
If you’ve gotten to a position of business success where you are either running your own successful business or have a senior position on the leadership team of your organisation you got there through surviving the mistakes you made or had the good sense to find a mentor and learn from their mistakes so you didn’t have to repeat them.
It’s understanding that success is counterintuitive so by definition you can’t trust your intuition.
It’s the fundamental idea that many many people have extraordinary difficulty accepting that whatever the decision you’re about to make you are probably wrong. Most people want to believe that they are right which is why most people aren’t successful. You get successful by understanding that success is a team sport. Every pro athlete doesn’t just have a coach, they have their team that work with them (physiotherapist, dietician, counsellor, doctor, massage therapist, chiropractor, media advisor, legal advisor, manager etc.)
It's understand that successful people have advisors so they can not only benefit from the thinking of experts but you can work out your own thinking and refine it through other people. It’s this developmental process that takes dreams from vague to real.
And it may sound overwhelming and it’s true it is. But the secret here is yes it’s overwhelming but only when you try to keep it all in your own head.
This is why most people fail, why most businesses fail, they try to do it all themselves or they just never get started because it’s impossible to think through by yourself.
Living life from the inside out - Becoming your own guide to the future you that you want to become.
Future Reality™ is about building the future you want to be living in. But the key that most people don’t think about is that it has to be you that builds it - so you can’t model your success on someone else because you are not them. Of course you can be inspired by others but that’s not the same as what you hear people talk about when they tell you about modelling success. And it’s not something you can get from one of these $2000 courses where you follow the blueprint to success because you have to build your blueprint for what you want.
It’s the lazy man’s idea that if I could just have a little piece of the magic that makes this person £100,000 - we’ll I’d be happy with an extra £10,000 a month. Except that doesn’t work - what works is when you make the magic.
Many people don’t like the idea of having to do the work - they want the easy way that doesn’t exist, they want the online business that turns their computer into a cash machine that prints money - and of course if you were actually printing money you’d very shortly get caught and sent to jail.
But having had the privilege of working with people who have suffered and turned their lives around and having worked with world record holding athletes and other elite performers there are some key distinctions - literal keys to success that they understand and work with that are all about doing the work that leads to real results that I want to share with you.
First is understanding that you make the magic.
That the big win is the result of all the little wins. Most athletes here in the UK don’t start out with sponsorship - they train before and after their 9-5 job. The win is getting up at 5am, the next win is eating that healthy breakfast, the next win is getting the first bus of the day to where you go training. And that’s all before you’ve started your training.
Success is built from success. But you have to be noticing for that success, not just looking for the big win, it’s not about gambling it’s about doing the work.
So how good are you about noticing for the success in your life, the little wins?
Do you lead your team by getting them to build on their successes - are you even noticing for what works? Or do you manage by noticing for what isn’t working and complain and criticise. The first is a leader the second is a manager.
If you want to win you have to be a leader and leaders start by leading themselves. And the secret to leading yourself is operating yourself from the inside out being able to know what is right for you and going and doing that as opposed to just not knowing what to do and feeling stuck going nowhere.
You know how to build your future because you know where you are going. You know not just in your head but in your heart.
You build a vision that is so powerful that it pulls not just you but others with you.
Now vision is one of those interesting ideas because people think it’s just visual. And yes one of the secrets to motivating and inspirational speaking is to be able to speak to an idea that builds the visual representation of the future you want people to head towards - if they can’t see it they don’t know where to go.
But as any athlete knows if part of practicing is visualisation - let’s say you are visualising shooting hoops in basketball. While you are on the court close your eyes - now what would you do?
How visualisation is often taught is just saying practice the visual process of seeing yourself get the ball in hoop.
Ok if you now try this in real life, on the court eyes still closed - I’ll bet you are going to miss…
Instead open your eyes and put your attention on your body and with the combination of looking where you are shooting and the awareness of what you body is doing practice until you can get the ball in the hoop reliably.
Once you can do this you know how to practice visualisation when you are not on the court because it’s not about what you do visually it’s about what you do with your body.
So you can close your eyes and picture yourself about to shoot but then you need to pay attention to what you are doing with your body - How are your feet positioned? Where is your balance? How are you holding the ball? How do your arms move in combination with your body when you shoot AND get it in the hoop compared with when you shoot and don’t get it in the hoop?
It’s paying attention to these distinctions that mean the difference between success and failure. If you are visualising without paying attention to your body you’ll miss every time.
And it’s just the same in building a vision for yourself - it’s not real if it doesn’t feel real. Heart as well as head.
It’s not going to work if you haven’t gathered the reference experiences of getting the ball in the hoop or whatever the equivalent is. Because otherwise you are trying to lead without knowing where you are going without having the internal experience of being a leader yourself.
You make dreams into reality by building them out of real reference experiences not imagination of experiences you haven't had.
It’s who you are on the inside that is of value and when you can learn to refine and express that you get the results that are right for you.
I call this becoming your own guide because the more you become you, the more you get what you want and the more you bring your full identity your full power into the world the more the right people are attracted to that.
This is the source of what I call Natural Charisma™ and it’s the start of how you build the future that’s so attractive that it pulls not just you but those you want to join you there towards it.
Who Are You Really? or define yourself like Miley Cyrus does - by what she wants not what others think she should be.
I like Miley Cyrus’s stance on taking charge of her own sexuality, of who she is. You can read her own words here. She’s talking about defining herself and yes it’s true that teenagers and twenty somethings naturally do this but it’s also true that many 30, 40, 50, and 60 somethings are still trying to do this. So who are you really?
You are someone who needs to do the work to both define and design who you want to be becoming.
It’s about working on what I call your Inner Architecture™ the structure of who you are.
Because when people really start being honest with themselves they realise that the quick fix promises of NLP, coaching and most therapy that “you have all the resources you need” just isn’t true. It may be comforting to be told that, it may make you feel good as a temporary bolster to your self esteem but when you’ve done the NLP training or coaching or therapy and while you have gained some skills you are still fundamentally you. And because you are fundamentally you, you have the problems YOU have.
It’s the same idea that was prevalent in the 1960’s where people went to India to “find themselves”. Of course the realisation most had was they still had the problems they had hoped to leave behind because they had taken themselves with them. The value of going to a radically different culture is it makes visible your culture to you that’s normally invisible. There’s a Zen cartoon that I’ve always loved of two fishes swimming along side by side and one fish is saying to the other fish: “What’s this thing called water then?” This is what the experience of being in a radically different culture does to you it makes visible all the invisible things in your life - so why is this valuable to you?
You live in an Internal Architecture that you have partially constructed but that’s also been constructed or co-constructed by your family, your friends, people you went to school, college, university with, the people you’ve worked with. You’ve taken on their ideas and built your reality or the internal architecture of that reality with those ideas.
This is so normal that we don’t know we’re doing this.
We’re naturally biologically wired as tribal people. And from our first tribe of our family we learn who we are and what to believe and this is how we wire our brains - literally the neurogenesis the physical rewiring of our brains.
So Mummy or Daddy says: “If you want the cookie, the toy, the sweets you’ll need to be a good little boy/girl”. So you learn to do what you are told to get the result you want. You learn to be dependent on someone else telling you what to do.
And of course this continues at school with the teacher in the same role as tribal leader.
Then as a teenager we form our own tribes of social acceptance, even if you don’t fit in that’s still its own tribe.
Then college/university, then going to work, it’s all about doing what you are told by the tribal leader. You fit in at work or get fired.
It’s the same in relationships because you are a boy you need to find a girl, or because you are a girl you need to find a boy. Even if you don’t particularly want to be with that boy or girl. Everyone else is doing it so you know you should to.
And later on you might find you prefer to be different. As a boy you might prefer boys or as a girl you might prefer girls. Or you might just go it’s too confusing…
Because of course the answer is never in anyone else it’s always all about you. But many people end up not just as a teenager working out who they are but it’s also true that many 30, 40, 50, and 60 somethings are still trying to do this.
Often the figuring yourself out bit gets put on pause when our focus gets on work. And doesn’t change till 10, 20, 30 or more years later when something changes and we get reminded that while we think we knew where we were - because we had defined ourselves by our work. We don’t really know who WE are.
So how do you get past all the layers of cultural conditioning down to what you really want rather that what other people want for you and of you?
Mostly it’s a process of not doing. Because all the things we learnt growing up in our dependent relationships have wired our brain so we just run on automatic, we just do things how we do them.
This isn’t a process of learning something new, it’s more unlearning the limitations we have placed on ourselves.
From a Shamanic perspective it’s walking a path of power.
You became a shaman by dying to your former life, sometimes you were cast out from the tribe. Or you never fit in the first place. Or you found the courage to follow your calling and left.
For most people there is too much fear to do this.
Most people get though not necessarily at a conscious level that they HAVE to fit in with their tribe because they literally can’t survive without them.
They’d lose their job and not be able to get another one, they’d not be able to pay the rent/mortgage and end up homeless and living in a cardboard box.
And they know they wouldn’t survive that.
They’d be attacked and robbed of what little they still had.
They’d be beaten and violated, and eventually if they weren’t killed they’d kill themselves because they know that they couldn’t live like that.
But many people live with that fear now - they haven’t been kicked our of the tribe yet. They still have their job even though they secretly hate it. Or they have their business even though it is day by day sucking the life out of them.
Understanding How Fear Keeps You Stuck - Ontological Inclination™ as the Path to Freeing Yourself to Live the Life You Want
Some people have learnt to make life hard for themselves - it’s like they are constantly walking uphill. One of the things I work with clients on is Ontological Inclination™ - imagine you are standing on a slope, it's always easier to walk down hill isn't it. This would be following your natural ontological inclination, being in alignment with who you naturally are. But we don't always do this do we?
Some people just don't see certain options that are available to them - it's like those options literally do not exist. And it's not a matter of just learning to think differently because you know fundamentally certain things are not possible for you. And to a lesser extent other things are harder for you to do, more work for you to do. Where as others find those things easy to do. This should all be very obvious and natural - people are different so have different skills and abilities.
But how you've wired your brain, as we were speaking about last time isn't fixed. Neurogenesis is the process of rewiring your brain by what you think. As I've written elsewhere: Your mind creates your brain which creates your mind. Ontological Inclination is the tendency for what comes naturally, easily and effortlessly when you align with it rather than against it.
Or said very simply do you spend most of you time easily walking downhill or most of your time struggling up hill?
When you align with the Ontological Inclination of when your life works for you, you can begin to build a generative spiral of success leading to more success. Rather than the degenerative spiral that so many people get caught in of failure leading to more failure.
But that doesn't mean life is always easy sailing on calm waters - that's not reality. Real life has ups and downs and sometimes you may feel swamped and like you are about to go down with everything lost.
Power comes from knowing who you are and what you do - what your ontological inclination is. You need to be able to separate the data that is coming in from that data that YOU are generating. What you feel, what you think and being able to make the distinctions between what is happening "out there" and what you are generating "in here" is the key to being able to act effectively and get results.
It's the difference between the pilot who can land the plane in an emergency when everything is going wrong around him or her and the pilot who doesn't see what they are about to crash into until it is too late.
Power is when you know your ontological inclination and you recognise what you are about to do is possible. You could say the climb isn't too steep that your angle of approach is achievable, you have the felt sense that you know it is going to work.
Fear is when the angle is too steep - you feel like you will fall or your angle of approach is such that you will crash and burn. You literally feel like you are going to die.
It is emphatically NOT feel the fear and do it anyway - that is stupidity. That is overriding the information coming in, usually overthinking and ignoring or being unable to see the critical data.
Why this is such a bad idea is it leads you further off course.
You go OK I can tolerate a certain amount of fear and get so far I just need to build up my tolerance then I can get further...
People who do this are building a path of suffering for themselves. Literally a path of self inflicted torture.
Fear is information for you to take notice of and do something with.
It is also not False Evidence Appearing Real - which may be a comforting idea. It's also a misleading and potentially fatal one.
Fear is from the perspective of ontological inclination telling you that you need to adjust your angle of approach.
In other words stop how you are approaching and adjust.
This doesn't have to mean you stop completely - the more you work with the idea of ontological inclination the more you can build the flexibility to notice for when your angle of approach is wrong and correct.
The better you get the sooner you notice so the sooner you can respond and correct.
Technically your angle of approach is your "attitude" your orientation to success or failure.
So ontological inclination is how you naturally are. Your attitude (your angle of approach) is how you move towards success or away from it.
And because you know where you are starting from (ontological inclination) you can adjust your attitude based on actual data not made up data.
So this all sounds very intellectual but the practiced reality is it's exactly not that.
The key is attitude is a somatic process like surfing and you need to be able to keep your balance.
The Feeling Thinking Loop
You're caught in a loop and you don't know it. Most people believe their thinking - so much so that you probably don't think about your thinking, it's just what is, it's how reality is for you.
So success just happens for some people.
Other people aren't so lucky...
But you can make your own luck when you start to understand your Internal Architecture or how you have constructed yourself which gets you the results you currently get.
Thinking creates feelings and those feelings create your thinking - This is the Feeling Thinking Loop™
So you are thinking about an event at work, you need to give a presentation, you have an important meeting or something similar. If you've had a bad experience of this previously, thinking about that makes you feel bad, that bad feeling then informs your thinking or more technically primes your thinking so you think about it differently than you would without that priming.
The more you feed that loop: Bad feeling making your thinking worse creating worse feelings creating even more scenarios of how things will go wrong or disasters will happen. The more you build a degenerative spiral and just make yourself miserable, and your life one of despair and dissatisfaction.
This is a neurological phenomenon - you are building a cascade of toxic brain chemicals that harm not just your brain but your body as well.
At some point I'll draw my clients attention to the physiological symptoms they have - it's not a coincidence that they are unhappy AND physically have symptoms.
Back to that event at work but this time if you'd had a good experience last time we often make the mistake of going: "I don't need to prepare because I was so good last time." This is because we feel good and in our thinking we associate feeling good with competence and we've learned that's time to stop learning/preparing because we feel ready. And in this way we trip ourselves up and often land flat on our faces in front of everyone because we hadn't done the work to actually be ready.
Successful people understand they have an internal architecture and they can operate themselves intentionally - that they are responsible for creating their own success or failure. And so understand the value of doing the work because that's the only true path to success.
To create success for yourself you intentionally operate the Feeling Thinking Loop so you set yourself up to win before the game starts.
Because you know your thinking creates how you feel and how you feel creates your thinking you can go: "How do I need to feel to get the result I want?" Then starting from having generated that feeling go: "How does my thinking change and how do I intentionally increase the feeling by changing the thinking?" - This directionality gets you to success, it's a winning attitude.
So there's that "attitude" word again - because this is the process of adjusting your attitude we started to talk about last time.
You change your angle of approach - your attitude - by going to the future position of having successfully gotten the result and noticing what that feels like then starting from that feeling noticing how your thinking changes then intentionally continuing that process built from paying attention to increasing or maintaining that feeling and noticing how your thinking changes when you maintain this "balance".
It's like the surfing analogy I used last time - you literally balance yourself on the wave of the feeling.
Learning from Pixar’s Inside Out - Your Emotions are Really in Control and What To Do About It
The new film from Pixar: “Inside Out” illustrates how our emotions are really in control. And it’s interesting that many people don’t understand this they believe they are rational logical creatures. Yet having worked for nearly 20 years as a therapist it’s obvious how emotions are unconscious to most people. Back to the Feeling Thinking Loop™ we were talking about last time - Most people live in their feelings but are unaware of this they believe they are their thinking.
They believe they are thinking rationally, correctly, logically, that what they think makes sense, that this is how reality is, so make good positive correct choices in their life.
But it’s interesting how so much of those “good positive correct choices” don’t work out…
I’ve been a long term fan and student of Paul Ekman’s work - and interestingly he consulted with Pixar on this film. (If you haven’t watched the TV series “Lie To Me” this would be a great introduction to Paul’s work).
What is beautifully illustrated by Pixar’s new film is the emotions being in control.
This is true of you and the more you realise your emotions are in control the more power you have over yourself because you are not giving that power away to other people. You are not letting them “push your buttons” - not letting them control you.
It’s interesting that Emotional Intelligence which has been considered a critical business success skill for probably around ten years now is still so poorly implemented or better said poorly understood in business. It's still probably the most common criticism I hear about managers and senior leaders and also from those managers and senior leaders I work with when they start to see what they literally couldn't see before not only their life changes but those they relate to in both their business and personal lives.
And of course the critical marketing and sales success skill is understanding your customers and what their needs are - and that means emotionally understanding not just intellectually understanding. So if you don’t have the capacity to understand your own emotions you literally won’t be able to see your customers emotions.
It’s also THE critical interpersonal relationship skill to work on - many of the clients I’ve worked with who have had relationship problems - from getting into a relationship they want to be in, to wanting to get out of the relationship they are in… Or making the relationship they are in be viable and somewhere they want to be long term they make the shifts they need to make by becoming more emotionally aware, more emotionally intelligent.
We are evolutionary biased to be more sensitive to negativity - your and my great great caveman ancestors survived to pass their genes down to us by responding to fear and so not getting eaten by the sabre-toothed tiger. So it’s natural that the emotion Fear has a strong say in our lives - but we can’t let it stay in control.
Emotions often run automatically as emotional scripts - for example you respond to your wife or a potential partner as you learned to respond to your mother. And people who are abused by their parents often repeat that pattern of abuse with their own children. But with mindfulness you can learn to write your own script.
This is a skill you can develop - you can correct the focus of your attention to focus on what you do want rather than on what you don’t want. It’s like a car where the wheels (the tracking) are out of alignment so when you try to go forward you end up going off to the side and never get to where you are intending, never get to the success you want but end up crashing into that tree of failure.
The state of mind you are in affects how you respond to situations so you need to choose what state, what emotion you want to be in control. It’s not enough to just say I was in a poor quality state of mind as an excuse for your bad behaviour - you want to identify what emotion was in control because then you realise that you shouldn’t have let that emotion take control - and the more awareness you can bring to your habitual responses the more mindful you can become, the more choice you can begin to have.
Being mindless isn’t helpful - you are living in reaction without thought. So you are being controlled by the other person, by other people.
Being mindful is having the ability to respond. This is the skilful development of the focus of your attention.
For example when you are experiencing anger you become mindless and lose your ability to respond depending upon the intensity of the anger. But when you add in mindfulness you can decide how you want to respond. You can choose a response that will get you where you want to be going. Towards what you do want not what you don’t want.
It’s about focussing on what you do want not on what you don’t want.
Another example is when you are experiencing arousal - you meet the woman or man of your dreams and you are profoundly attracted yet you find yourself unable to respond or respond poorly. You go mindless.
The mindful response is even though you feel the overwhelm of the arousal knocking you off balance you’ve cultivated the ability to recover that balance so are able to respond from a position of being present, being you and get the result you want.
In the Pixar film Inside Out you see the emotions (as animated characters) at the control panel in the ‘Head’quarters - things go wrong when Anger, Fear and Disgust are left in charge and Joy and Sadness go on their adventure.
What emotion is currently in charge of your “control panel”?
The more mindful or conscious you are the more you can become aware of what emotion is in charge and choose whether you want to continue with that emotion being in charge of you? Or you can make the intelligent choice and choose for the experience you want to be having.
What emotion would you want to be in charge? What would be useful?
These are design questions which we'll explore next time in:
Your Inner Coach – Building a Relationship with the Future You That You Want To Be Becoming with Teleological Design™
I hope you got from last time that most of the time most people are emotionally out of control. You need to develop and work on and apply design principles to the relationship you have with yourself - that sounds complex but it’s quite simply developing the relationship with your Inner Coach.
You have a relationship with yourself, but by default it’s a relationship based on what happened in the past - what you did then causes how you feel now.
The Power of Now is understanding you are in the now already but the focus of your attention is somewhere else. And because it is somewhere else it’s like you are 99% not present to the life you are living - literally stumbling through life like a sleepwalker.
You do have an Inner Coach don’t you?
Or is it more like an inner critic, an inner enemy - someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart?
I always find it extraordinary when I get to the inevitable moment I have with clients where I point out to them that they are arguing for their problems and I’m the one who is actually on their side championing for what they’ve said they actually want - what is going to build the life they dream of.
Yet how come you have this inner relationship with yourself where you aren’t exactly treating yourself in the way you want to be treated?
It scares many of my clients when I point out to them that inevitably they leak. They leak their inner selves out into the real world.
It’s the typical mistake that both men and women make when they want to get into a relationship - they go: “Who do I need to pretend to be?” They don’t go: “I’ll just be myself and people will love me because of who I really am.”
But they leak their inner selves… And so the fiction they have pretended inevitably comes crashing down.
But what if you could have a relationship with yourself that is helpful rather than harmful?
This is the idea of developing the Inner Coach or Building a Relationship with the Future You That You Want To Be Becoming with Teleological Design™ or said simply as the title of this website Being Who You Are Becoming.
This is what I do with clients, it’s the inevitable result of interacting with me that they learn to do the process that we work on together for themselves.
To develop the Inner Coach you need to build a relationship with the future you - and this future you coaches you on getting to where it already has been.
Here’s why this is so important: Your default relationship is a relationship based on what happened in the past - what you did then causes how you feel now. You can’t change this, yes you can change how you think about what happened but you don’t go into the past to do that. You can’t change the past. You can change how you feel in the now and the best way to do that is by designing and building a future that you want. So you feel different in the now because of how you feel about the future.
You are always in the now.
But it’s a question of how mindful you are.
Are you letting your mind unintentionally drift to the problems that happened in the past and feeling bad and letting those problems from the past inform the future that you don’t want?
Or do you choose to design a future that you do want?
The disconnect is between reality and awareness - How much awareness you have of your future - how real it is for you - It should inspire you, literally breath life into you. Without that connection your future doesn’t pull you towards it.
This is the key having a future that pulls you towards it.
So you wake up excited in the morning about your life. You are literally energised by that flow of energy from the future you. You physically feel different when you are connected, plugged in, in touch with that future you.
This is the real shamanic journey - not going into the past to find a piece of you that you’ve lost. The idea that you are broken and need to be fixed has a long tradition and not a particularly happy or successful one. Many people have spent twenty or thirty or more years in psychotherapy and while they may gain a lot of understanding about their problems that doesn’t lead to resolution of those problems.
Shamanic journeying is a journey outside of time or said more clearly - where time is not relevant.
I lead my clients to have an experience of themselves without the problems they have had in the past and from this position you can choose the new future. In that choice you are choosing to be informed in the now by the future you have chosen - so the future is informing the present rather than the past informing the present.
And the more you maintain your focus on that future, the future that you want - this is your angle of approach or attitude mentioned in part 4 and the more you open that possibility for yourself and begin to make it real the more you notice for and can respond to the opportunities to make it real. This is the coaching process you work on with yourself.
This is the secret of making your dreams into reality.
Joseph Campbell spoke of dream being personalised myth - This is what we are doing with the process of Teleological Design™ described above working on your Inner Architecture to create the future informed mythic representation of who we want to be becoming.