happiness/success

Succeeding in the New Millenium

In today’s winner-take-all world, where 400 individuals have more wealth than the bottom half of US households combined (about 100 million households), and have rigged the system to take still more (you have to listen to my show at 6PM ET/3PM PT on Wednesday, 5/30, to hear more about this), the rest of us have to revise our definition of success away from the financial. Here’s my take:
  • Be who you want to be – I’m talking character here, qualities, not labels. Do you want to be kind? loving? funny? patient? persevering? dignified? supportive of others? You choose the content of your character — and act from that every single day.
  • Choose your life experience
    • Do what you choose to do – Act according to your choices of who you want to be. If your choice is to be honest, find ways to do that in every situation. If your choice is to be kind, find ways to do that. (And when those choices conflict, you get to set up your own hierarchy of values. For example, is it more important to be honest, or to be kind in a given situation?)
    • Choose work that you like - or at least that is in alignment with your values and abilities. The wisdom handed down through generations in my Jewish family is that you need an education,  because the one thing no one can take from you is what is inside your head. I would expand that to include any skill that is useful, whether it is law or medicine, or carpentry, plumbing, gardening, cutting hair, etc. It’s important that you work with honor — honestly and to the best of your abilities.
    • Choose the people you’d like to be around – Do you want to be around others who want to be what you want to be? People who support you in being who you want to be?
    • Experience the stuff you don’t choose in the way you choose - We can’t consciously choose everything in our lives. No one chooses to lose a child. Hardly anyone chooses to have the company that employs them shut down. But we can choose how we react. Azim Khamisa chose to turn the tragedy of his son’s random murder into an opportunity to teach thousands of young people about forgiveness. (To hear his amazing story, click here.)
    • Appreciate everything you do have - You get more of what you focus on – and appreciation is a form of focus. Appreciate your health, the wonderful people — and the love — in your life, the food you eat, the roof over your head.

Being who you choose to be and having the life experience you choose – priceless. 

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.

Limits to the Law of Attraction

You’ve probably heard of the Law of Attraction (discussed in the book and movie, “The Secret”), which is basically, “What you focus on, expands.” The wonderful thing about teaching the Law of Attraction to people is it gives them more power over their lives, and less of a sense of being a victim.While the Law of Attraction is useful, there are several limitations, which most people don’t bother to talk about. I have written about this here, here, and here.

The first of these is that you must be very precise about what you intend. Where you are not clear, anything can show up.

The second is that all of you must be aligned with your intention. This is not as obvious as it sounds: you must find and change beliefs that are beneath your conscious awareness which conflict with your intention.

The third limitation is obvious — and never discussed either. As I discussed here, your intention will interact with the intentions of others — none of us is the only person with an intention here on Earth. To use a really simple metaphor, imagine you were arm wrestling with someone else. Each of you would work really hard, and eventually one, probably the stronger and/or bigger one, would win and the other would lose.

But how often are there only 2 people with competing intentions? Let’s scale up the metaphor to that of tug of war. Now there are two teams competing, and the one that has the most collective weight will probably win. It’s that way with groups of people having intentions, too, as in elections. No candidate wins without a team, including a majority of voters.

But sometimes the team with the most collective weight loses, because they are not aligned on the same intention. Each person on the team has his/her own personal intention — and if those personal intentions don’t align well with the stated group intention (in this case, to win), then the group won’t create well together, won’t win. Haven’t you been on a work team like this, where the unstated personal intentions of one or more team members derailed the group effort?

Back to the Law of Attraction: if you are the only person with an interest in what you are creating, you are clear about what it is, and you are aligned, voila! An example of this would be wanting to be clear about what you want. Yes, you can get your own clarity.

If more than one person is involved, it gets a bit more complicated. But if you are the only person with a strong intention, like a strong desire for a barbecue or a car, your intention will manifest pretty easily.

But let’s say you have a strong desire for something bigger, like a successful business producing and selling widgets. Now you have to attract people who might use widgets, convince them that they need widgets, or at least that your widget is the best one around. Then you have to align all those people making the widgets so that they’re made well and provide useful and cheerful customer service. Your intention alone, without a lot of skills in promotion and inspiration, will never make that happen, because all of your potential customers and manufacturing workers have their own intentions. Are you beginning to see the limit of the Law of Attraction?

Or let’s say you have a strong desire for something huge, like fairness in our economic system. You can desire it all  you want, but you still have to be clear what it would look like, get rid of all your internal blocks to having it — and do the same thing for some proportion (a majority?) of the population involved, or it won’t manifest. This means involving people who don’t notice a problem, or don’t have any idea what to do, and coalescing them into a force big enough to overcome the force of those who like things the way they are. And each of those people has his or her own intentions. Again, this is the limit of the Law of Attraction.

How to Develop Confidence

“I’m confident” is rarely a complete sentence. Usually, it’s followed by something specific. You say, “I’m confident that…”, as in

  • I’m confident that the sun will rise in the morning, or
  • I’m confident that my mother will make a nasty crack about someone at tonight’s dinner party, or
  • I’m confident that I can pass this exam, or
  • I’m confident that I can win over this audience.

Where does confidence come from? Usually it comes from experience, from which you’ve deduced a pattern, and/or  some kind of external learning.

You’re confident that the sun will rise in the morning because it has for every single day of your life, as it has for every single day of the lives of everyone you know, and because astronomers have explained the earth’s rotation, relative to the sun. That is experience plus learning.

You’re  confident your mother will make that nasty crack because she’s done it at every other dinner party you’ve been at with her. That’s experience.

You’re confident that you can pass the exam because you’ve passed all the exams before and because you’ve done all the homework. That is experience plus learning.

You’re confident you can win over an audience because you’ve done it so many times before. This is the untold secret behind so may young stars. Crystal Bowersox, who came in second at American Idol in 2010 at the age of 24, was amazingly poised. Why? Because she began performing professionally at the age of 10. That is, she’d been a pro for 14 years by the time she got to American Idol. 14 years is a lot of experience — it’s a long time to both perfect your craft and to learn the patterns that it takes to win over an audience. That’s how you develop confidence at both the craft and the performing edge.

What do you do if you aren’t confident?

If you aren’t confident about something, it means you don’t have enough experience and/or knowledge. Which means that your task is to get that experience and/or knowledge.

If the subject about which you lack confidence is not within your control, like the sun rising or someone else’s behavior, then you must do whatever research you can. Something else you can do is to plan for different possibilites. Flexibility can make up for a lack of a sure pattern.

If you need confidence about something within your control, then your only answer is practice. When I was an engineering undergrad, and terrified about my grades in technical courses, which consisted only of exam scores, my father said, “The answer is simple: do every problem in every textbook you have.” Dad was right! I did all those problems and immediately began to ace all my exams. Then I became confident that as long as I did this admittedly prodigious amount of work, I’d succeed.

So developing confidence is simply a matter of increasing your knowledge and gaining experience. Ask yourself:

  • How can I learn about this subject?
  • How can I practice the skills I need?

When you have the answers to these questions, do the work suggested by those answers.

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.

Banding Together — Literally!

Last Sunday, I did my annual day of being a ‘roadie’ (well, okay, working backstage) at the Sausalito Art Festival. I learn something every time, and this year was no exception.

What I learned was this: banding together really does work to make a living — especially in this economy. Here’s what I mean:

I was told privately that the attendance for the Festival was down 24%, at least for the first day. This is in one of the 20 richest counties in the entire US. (The bar receipts at the side of the stage were up 7 or 8%, though. Not sure what that means — people who can afford $25 to get in, down from $27 two years ago, can afford to buy drinks? People need drinks more?)

The big draw for Sunday was the World Class Rockers. Who? Who are they? Never heard of them. And I’ll bet you never have, either.

They are all guys who were part of big name bands — Steppenwolf,  Santana, Journey, Toto, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston — but never got personally famous. Some, like the drummer, Aynsley Dunbar, are rock royalty, while others, like Randall Hall, were replacements for original band members. They’re all wonderful musicians — and their love of the music, and in some cases, love of the crowd, are infectious. They also clearly like working together (the party was definitely around their dressing room — so big it spilled out into the open-air corridor).

Individually, not one of them would have been a big draw. But together — a big crowd! And I do have to say, they rocked the house!

So banding together works. If it works for the rockers, it might work for you — and a few of your friends. With whom can you band together to provide a good or service that people might want?

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.

A Lesson from Giants’ Pitcher, Brian Wilson

A friend (thanks, Dennis!) took me to a SF Giants’ game on Friday night, where I had the wonderful opportunity, not only to see the game with someone who could explain the nuances to me, but also to see the power of focus in the relief pitcher, aka the ‘closer’, Brian Wilson.

For most of the game, I watched other pitchers work. From this, I learned that the pitcher is the one person in baseball who really is in charge. Nothing happens till the pitcher lets go of that ball. Everyone else — on both teams — is reacting. The batter is reacting to the pitcher’s pitch. The catcher, the infield and the outfield are all reacting to the batter’s actions.

Yes, the pitcher must take into account the handedness of the batter, along with all sorts of other peculiarities, as well as the wind, and maybe even whether it’s day or night. But he can practice in all sorts of conditions and with all sorts of goals — putting different spins on the ball, hitting different areas of the strike zone, pitching at different speeds. So to some degree, the best pitcher is the one who practices the most.

And what does that take? Focus. 

In his day, the basketball player, Larry Bird, was renowned for his amazing free throw percentage — .886, which was significantly higher than anyone else’s. Why? Practice, practice, practice. He was renowned also for the interminable hours he spent shooting those free throws.

The special talent of the ‘closer’, that is, the relief pitcher who specializes in ending games in which his team is ahead by 1 – 3 runs, is the ability to perform under pressure. What is that? Focus, again.

You can see it in Brian Wilson. When he’s on the mound, it’s clear that for him, there is no one else around, except the batter. His focus is on his internal process. He’s more into his own core than any of the other pitchers I watched (and there were 3 others, because pitchers get tired after about 100 pitches and so can’t pitch an entire normal game).

The evidence is in the statistics:

  1. SavesWhen a relief pitcher enters a game in which his team has a 1, 2, or 3 run lead and this pitcher finishes the game without letting the other team tie or win the game, then he gets a Save. There have been 1095 save opportunities in the National League this year resulting in 819 saves (75%). WIlson has had 35 save opportunities and achieved 31 saves (89%). 
  2. Earned Run Average (ERA). This is how many runs a pitcher gives up, on average, in 9 innings of pitching, so the lower it is, the better the pitcher. League average is 3.90, while Wilson’s is 2.77. 

So what is the lesson from Brian Wilson? The power of focus. 


Of what is that focus comprised?

  • Shutting out all distractions
  • Being in your core, very alert to what’s going on inside you
  • Practice, practice, practice

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.