Your Life Story and Self-Leadership … Uncovering the Path to the Results and Outcomes You Really Want
I’ve been at something for the last twenty five years or so that I think is wonderful … a model that’s literally life changing.
For twenty of those twenty five years I’ve been engaged in spreading the word formally in terms of my professional pursuits and passions. Yet I’ve remain troubled by how challenging it has been for people to catch the essential, profound value in their Life Story without struggling through trying to understand it first. For quite some time it’s been clear to me what the challenge has been, but that hadn’t necessarily made it any clearer regarding what to do about it.
But, I’ve begun to get it – I think …
Let me jump ahead for a moment, and then I’ll step back to basics.
The advantage of the model is that once you have internalized it and own it everything in your life becomes easier, if not easy.
Your relationships become more alive; i.e.: instead of dealing with a sense of distance and aloneness that can be present in even the most intimate relationships there is a continual sense of being connected, instead of dealing with conflict there is a growing sense of harmony and good will, instead of wondering where the initial spark went in your relationships there is a renewed kindling of the energy that sustains relationships and keeps them sparkling.
You pursue your passions and live your purpose; you naturally uncover what fascinates you and pulls you forward into your own life, rather than chasing some external definition of success you begin building momentum towards experiencing intense satisfaction, you begin to measure success by your contributions and the rewards associated with creating rather than consuming
You experience the wealth of pervasive well being; you begin to express a renewed sense of self esteem, you gain confidence in yourself and your ability to act, you release the limitations that hold you back, you know without question what it is to act in your own self interest in a way that doesn’t impose your wants and needs on others, you live every day to the fullest, you are happy without needing a reason to be or doing anything about it
Your performances become extraordinary; you make high-quality decisions without hesitation or doubt, you take action immediately in the direction where you intend to produce results, you are able to evaluate the results you are getting and reset without attachment to limiting beliefs or dogma, you gain a clarity that makes situations and interactions transparent to you, it becomes obvious to you what to be doing next without worry or concern about what you don’t know or what will happen beyond what to be doing in this moment
When most people read this list of bullet points they typically think that it sounds too good to be true … then they think, “What if my life could really be that way?”
What I can tell you is that I began learning about living within and from this model formally in the late 1980s. Before then I’d read many books about various spiritual and philosophic traditions that suggested a life that included the kinds of things I’ve written about above, but failed to experience any of it fully. However, after becoming immersed in the essence of the model I’m referring to as I apprenticed with my mentor Roye Fraser it become evident what I’d missed and what was missing from all the various studying I had done in the past.
Of course the answer was simple, it always is …
But simple isn’t necessarily easy!
Now I’m not going to bore you with twenty five years of learning that it took me to get to the point I’m at in my life today. I can sum up where I am in my life today by offering you this …
My life today IS simple … and living it IS easy, because I got “IT” … “the one trick.”
In the interest of full disclosure it took me a good seven years to get “IT” – the one trick I called out above. Yes – it was a long time, but the journey was enticing, engaging and exciting all the way. There were moments of pure wonder and joy along the way. There were challenges as well, but with a sense that they were just steps on the path. What I started out looking for and thinking I would be pursuing and gaining turned out to be utterly wrong. What I found turned out to be unexpected and delightful … and as I approached the end of that phase on my journey I realized that I’d gained mastery of a body of knowledge and skills, and just as importantly I’d realized more than I’d hoped for regarding the life I found myself living.
Then I went from maintaining my primary focus on being an apprentice to stepping beyond learning to living the life of a journeyman.
In this new phase of my life as a journeyman an entirely new set of challenges confronted me …
Again, in the interest of respecting your time I won’t go into details. Where I found myself most limited was in conveying the essential life changing concept that I had internalized and was operating from in an ongoing way easily to others. I didn’t want others to struggle for seven years to get “IT.” This became my new question, i.e.: how to convey this simple idea and make it easy for others to *incorporate.
*(Incorporate In*cor”po*rate, a. [L. incorporatus, p. p. of incorporare to incorporate; pref. in- in + corporare to make into a body. See Corporate.] Corporate; incorporated; made one body, or united in one body; associated; mixed together; combined; embodied. [1913 Webster])
Facing the Dilemma
It took me many years to figure out what the dilemma was … i.e.: making something that was essentially simple easy. The dilemma was that I had been taught it technically so that I could eventually master the form and replicate it with others.
Facilitating the model is NOT the same thing as living the model! Wow, what a concept!!!
While my knowledge and skills were significant after a formal seven year apprenticeship at the knee of the master … the ability to translate what I now knew and could do was based in a technical model, Oy! … that made it so much more complex than necessary. So I went back to the drawing board (architect speak, old habits die hard as they say …).
For the next ten years I was consistently refining and revising the way I worked with and presented the essential model, which by now I had named the MythoSelf Process. During this decade of refinement I realized a few things and had to build an integrated set of tools for the work I was now doing with clients, a toolset I called Soma-Semantics, referring to the singularity of the body-mind experience and the way that’s represented. The body is experienced and expressed somatically, and the mind is experienced and expressed semantically. Anyone wanting to do the work I was now doing would have to master the knowledge and skills to read the signals and interact effectively at both the somatic and semantic levels. This part of what I do had to remain technical, but to get the outcome I intended … to make the simple, easy … all the rest need to become as non-technical as possible.
The question that remained was, “How?” … how do I make the simple, easy?
I needed a simple structure that was completely non-technical if possible … and then I found it right there under my nose! For years I had been calling the work I was doing the MythoSelf Process, in part based on the influence of Joseph Campbell’s work on mythology. I understood the nature of mythological form, and the way we are neurologically organized to respond to it. I got how we encapsulate our experience into autobiographical narratives that become for us our Life Story, the all and everything we believe to be what is, how things are and reality itself. Our stories are more real to us than the sensory evidence we experience … dang it, there it was right in front of me!!!
Now I had it … a way to make the simple easy! K.I.S.S.
Keep it simple stories! That was the key … it was already all there laid out in the work I was already doing for the past twenty years! The stories are the key, I already knew that. Specifically, the stories that people tell themselves and others are for them the reality they live – change your story and you change your life. What remained was to find the way to move someone from the story they were currently living from to a new and more powerful story … the essential Life Story that was theirs and theirs alone.
The essence of what I’d learned from Roye, in addition to a massive set of powerful changework skills, was how to help someone shift from what he called “the inhibitory state” to “the excitatory state.” One of his ways of referring to the excitatory state was as the Ready State, a state from which anything is possible and you are ready to act. Using the model and skills I’d learned working with Roye that became easy, i.e.: getting someone to the Ready State. When they were working with me it was even easy for them as well. The challenges was stabilizing it over time.
When someone experiences the Ready State they are blown away … literally in that moment their life changes completely. There is no sense of limitation or inhibition. There are no problems. Opportunities seem abundant and the way forward becomes clear. A sense of pervasive well being radiates through you and from you. Everything and anything seems possible from the Ready State, and yet there is no sense of stress or urgency surrounding what needs to be done, or what you want to be doing.
Over time I began referring to the pattern that people operated from when they had accessed and were living from the Ready State as their Success Blueprint. This resonated for many people and it made what could be a complex idea simpler and more accessible. That was a start …
The challenge that still remained however was that it took people days, weeks, months or even years to get “IT” sometimes. There are so many potential inhibitions to address if you think you are supposed to be living from some kind of extraordinary, superhuman state … whether you call it the Ready State, or Being At Your Best (as some folks still inaccurately like to refer to this state of being) … enlightened or whatever. Believing that there’s anything you need to change about who you are so that you can live a life worth living, and accomplish the things you desire, isn’t only foolish it’s foolhardy.
Thinking you first need to become someone other than who you are right now, right here in this moment without changing a thing about yourself is foolhardy because A) it cannot get you what you want (you can’t have to be someone else before you begin because using that logic you can never begin), and B) the cost is just too damn high (you will spend years chastising yourself for what you are not, for what you haven’t accomplished, for all your faults … and then you’ll blame others for being in collusion with you in your faults, eventually you’ll even pay the price of ill-health and emotional distress or complete breakdown).
The evidence of the cost of holding a negative self image has been mounting for years. The sources of perennial wisdom have touted it for millenia, and now medical science is catching up and confirming the high cost on our physical well-being. As we continue to unfold how human neuropsychology works we are finding out that a negative self image literally inhibits us from functioning fully.
It is essential to shift our perceptions, beginning with our self image, if we intend to achieve anything like the levels of health, well-being and elite performance we’re capable of … and the fundamental key to making this shift is held in our Life Story.
Now we’re getting somewhere!
How To Shift Your Life Story
This part of this posting could be a book unto itself … but I’ll skip over all the parts about how you get your Life Story, how it’s initially imposed upon you, how you compromise the essential and unique story that is your own, how you get stuck in believing your less and less capable than you are, how you begin pursing a path that has nothing to do with who you are, how you learn to measure yourself by arbitrary and external markers of success. (If you want to read all about that, and the way out from under it too, get my new book is coming out next month … “The State of Perfection: Your Hidden Code to Unleashing Personal Mastery”)
I’ll jump right to what I found out when I resolved the dilemma of making the simple, easy.
There are really two parts to this, i.e.: making the simple, easy.
The first part has to do with how to do it. I’ve already begun to make it clear that the key is in the stories we tell that are collectively our Life Story. Your Life Story is the wholeform gestalt worldview you possess, i.e.: how you see yourself and the world, including people you interact with … what all that means to you.
You are limited in what you perceive by your Life Story, and from what gets through you create meaning.
The meaning you create … about yourself, about the world, about others … determines what you will do, i.e.: your behaviors that form your acts.
These acts are what create the results and outcomes you produce in the world, and these become the life you live.
Your experience of the life you live, i.e.: the results and outcomes you produce by your acts, starts the cycle all over again feeding your perception and sustaining your Life Story.
The recursive loop that follows from your Life Story is a powerful mechanism keeping you in the life you are living. If you want to have different experiences in any part of your life, or your life overall you have to begin with your Life Story.
The second part has to do with the primary distinction I learned working with Roye, i.e.: the shift from the inhibitory bias to the excitatory bias. This distinction is remarkably precise, but for most people confusing or even meaningless. Before someone can make meaning of what I mean when I say, “Shifting from the inhibitory bias to the excitatory bias.” they need to be educated in the terminology I’m using.
Technical terminology, or jargon, makes something that’s essentially simple and potentially easy, unnecessarily challenging.
The way out of that conundrum of jargon is finding the way to express the essential concept in common terms. That was the breakthrough I needed!
Let me start again with the essential concept of shift the Life Story from an inhibitory bias to an excitatory bias. Instead of getting lost in what that means or might mean think of it this way …
You can either be in an open frame of mind or a closed frame of mind.
In an open frame of mind you are seeking information and withholding judgement until you have all the evidence you need to reach a reasonable and useful conclusion about what to be doing, if anything needs to be done at all. This applies to information about people, places, things, activities and even information itself. Rather than working from pre-existing frameworks and old evidence to generate meaning in the moment, you remain open to what is actually happening and create meaning on a situation by situation basis, allowing yourself to update the story you are acting on in real time.
This is a really powerful way to move through the world. Imagine how different your relationships would be if you literally dropped all your preconceptions and began tracking for the evidence about who someone is and how they are being in real time. For instance, how would your relationships be different if you didn’t blame others, hold them responsible for your experience, or place a burden of your expectations on them? This doesn’t mean that you don’t hold people accountable for their actions, you do … and at a level that’s probably higher than you ever have before. What it does mean is that you don’t burden them with the past and you allow them to move forward with you. It also gives you the personal freedom to exit from relationships or interactions that don’t work for you without needing to blame others or have explanations beyond what’s not working, i.e.: you don’t need for them to be bad so you can be good.
Now you can extend the idea of operating with an open frame of mind to any other consideration as well. In the work I do with business and organizational clients teaching them to operate with this kind of clear thinking provokes creativity and a remarkable focus on getting results. There is no wasted energy on the ordinary “people problems” that often interfere with getting the outcomes everyone claims to want. Entire groups or people begin to self-organize to create extraordinary outcomes. And you can begin to play with where else and how else operating with an open frame of mind would show up in your life.
The excitatory bias is a reference to the underlying neurological state that someone has when they are in an open frame of mind, but its not necessary to understand the neurology to live from this powerful position yourself. What is important is learning to recognize how to lead yourself to an open frame of mind when and where you need and want to get results and outcomes that are meaningful for you. This has become the basis of the work I do and the way I now do it with clients, individually … in groups … and in organizations.
What shifted most significantly from the way I was working ten years ago to today has been the level of non-technical, conversational process I now use. What I’ve found has been that there’s no need whatsoever for the process to be technical in any way whatsoever … unless I’m engaged in teaching others to facilitate the process, and even that has become far less technical in the way I approach it today.
Literally the best way is the most conversational way in my opinion. I’m finding that the old ways, work the best. Like sitting around the fire, sharing stories, after a long day with family and friends … the process I now work from allows my clients to experience the shift they want without even necessarily knowing how or what has happened, but knowing without question that something dramatic has occurred by the results and outcomes they get, and the way life has become for them.
What I’ve found over these many years of pursing what I call my passion and purpose is that to make something simple is only the first step, despite the enormity of that step. Making the simple, easy can be another thing entirely. In my case this quest has been more than two decades long to date … and worth every minute. What I’ve learned in these years is that what I thought of as mastery before is only the beginning in many ways … making the simple, easy is worthy of a lifetime’s investment.
It’s often amazing to me how life is so much like a wheel coming full circle …