Thursday, September 27, 2007

Step 3: When a Good Story is No Good

by James Arthur Ray

No doubt you've heard the idea that there are two types of people in this world: dreamers and achievers. Dreamers want to talk about big ideas, while achievers put them into action.

Do you tell good stories or take action?

In truth, all of us have the potential to be either one, and most of us have spent some time in both camps. The fact that you're receiving these e-mail lessons leads me to believe you are already on the way to becoming an achiever. Yet if you are struggling to make positive things happen in your life, you may temporarily be in dreamer mode, wanting something new but coming up with a lot of reasonable sounding excuses about why it's hard or even impossible. These are what I call "good stories."

There can always be a story...

Not long ago, I made a presentation for Canada's Century 21 agents, which reinforced something I discovered a while back: People are a lot better at creating excuses than they are at creating results.

I had been there, speaking to most of the same people, several years ago when many people had explained their lack of Harmonic Wealth™ this way: "The market is so slow, there's too much inventory, and too many choices. People can't make decisions, so we can't sell anything."

If that were true, wouldn't you think that when it's become a seller's market, the results would be different? But in a sellers market the same people were saying, "There's not enough inventory and not enough choices for people, so we can't sell anything."

The story has changed, but the results are exactly the same.

Hmmm. It seems to me that we can always make up a good story no matter what's going on in our lives. In The Power to Win Weekend, I ask people to think of a situation in which they are very successful in getting results. Then I ask them, if they were so inclined as to come up with some excuses for why they couldn't have performed well in this area, could they do it?

The excuses are amazing...

And of course they could. You can always come up with truly excellent reasons for failure. But the fact remains: Good stories don't make up for lack of results. Put another way, success does not equal failure plus a good story. A friend of mine loves to relate how a mentor of his used to set up "accountability worksheets" with checkboxes labeled "yes" and "no" for each result he had promised to produce. "You know why there's just checkboxes on this sheet?" the mentor would ask.

"Because this way there's no room for excuses. You can't fit your story into that little box. All I want to know is if you did it or not."

You either have results...or you don't...

In the last e-mail lesson I sent you, I urged you to "enjoy the journey," to make the most of the here and now instead of pinning all your hopes and dreams on the someday or something you may have been deluded into thinking would bring you happiness. Today, I'm going to ask you to do something that may seem like a 180-degree turnaround: Measure your wealth by your results, rather than by your activities.

But I'm not actually asking you to do anything contradictory. You can do both.

Consider the story of John Wooden, dubbed the "winningest" coach in college basketball history. Coach Wooden led the UCLA Bruins to an unprecedented ten NCAA championships and is one of only two individuals inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. Yet one of the hallmarks of his coaching techniques was never to focus his team on winning. Obviously, every team member knew that the object in a game was to outscore the opponents — everyone knew the goal. But when they were practicing and playing the game, they didn't focus on the score; they focused on giving their best in every moment. They focused on maximizing every play, every dribble. Coach Wooden would call this cornerstone of his coaching "industriousness."

Are you giving 100% to what you do?

Yet Coach Wooden knew the difference between industriousness that creates results and mere busywork. They didn't play to pass the time; they played to get better and better at the game. In the end, the results the Bruins created tell the tale of a talented team that knew how to win without obsessing over the score. That's not just a good story — that's a great story.

Let's take a little trip...

Here's another way to think about it. Let's say you're taking a trip from San Diego to Atlanta. From the minute you get in the car, you know that you want to ultimately end up in Georgia's capital, so you have a map and a route to follow. But do you drive with your eyes on the map or on the road? Clearly, you keep the end in mind but focus on the task at hand.

When you get to Roswell, just outside of Atlanta, you come to a detour. What do you do about it? Do you pull off to the side of the road and gripe about it? Turn around and drive for several days back to San Diego with this story about a detour and how you drove around for hours? No. You regroup. You check the map. Then you go forward. You get to Atlanta another way. And you go home with the great story of your visit to one of the best cities in the South.

Activity does not equal accomplishment...

Think of your life, are your results creating a great story? Do you know the difference between true industriousness and meaningless activities? Are you committed to reaching your destination despite any detours?

Now, let's apply this to you:
Take a look at an area in your life where you currently aren't getting the results you want. Why do you think that's true? Write down your own "good stories." Are you willing to settle for less than your best in this area from this point forward?

Choose another area where you are getting good results. Why? What are you doing, thinking and believing? Write down your "great story." How can you apply these thoughts, beliefs, and actions to the area where you currently aren't getting results? How will your results be different if you did?

Are you following the Wooden principle of industriousness in your life, maximizing every action and every moment? How can you get even more from your efforts, including more enjoyment?
In over two decades of teaching thousands of people, I have noticed one big difference between those who achieve Harmonic Wealth™ and those who just talk about achieving.

The ones who just talk about it are interested in wealth.

The ones who achieve are committed to it. They follow Coach Wooden's principle of industriousness: they work to maximize the efforts and results they get from every moment.

That's why I see so many successful, committed people in The Power to Win Weekend. The ones who attend are willing to put their time, money and effort on the line because they want to make the most of their lives.

They're not willing to settle for any less than their own best efforts, and they seek out the best coaching available to help them become more. They find that coaching and direction in The Power to Win Weekend.

Are you ready to create your own great story?

If you want to know more, simply click here. I hope you will make the commitment to creating the results of Harmonic Wealth™ in your life. I look forward to our next lesson, and perhaps to seeing you at our next Power To Win Weekend.

Your Coach,

James Arthur Ray

Monday, September 24, 2007

Step 2: If You Win the Rat Race, You're Still a Rat

by James Arthur Ray

"The rate of change today is staggering."

"We have an accelerated pace unprecedented in the human race." "The amount of information we have available to us is doubling every year."

Sound familiar?

It should. These ideas have been so hammered into our collective consciousness that they hardly make an impact any more.

Frankly, I'm sick of hearing about it...

About how things aren't the same as they used to be — but they are going really fast. And I don't like how it makes us react: It influences us to think that things outside of us are moving so quickly that we have to race like rats in a maze to keep up.

How fast is fast enough?

The truth is that we have complete control over our own internal rate. Yes, we have to stay abreast of technology if we want to capitalize upon it, and yes, we must keep challenging ourselves to our own personal best. But we don't have to feel as if we're on some treadmill and the dreaded finger of time keeps pressing the "increase speed" button.

The comfort zone is the most dangerous place to be...

In the first e-mail lesson you received, I encouraged you to get out of your comfort zone, and even went so far as to say that it's the most dangerous place to be. You have to swim past the crashing waves trying to pull you back to shore, I wrote. This metaphorical treadmill is just like those waves. We need to move beyond it. Mentally, we need to step off and onto our own path.

The Path of Power is a Warrior's path...

In The Power to Win Weekend, I call this "The Path of Power," where we can stride forward with courage into the unknown, seeking our own personal potential. I refer to people who are on The Path of Power as "Warriors." In this case, I'm using the word not to refer to those who attempt to conquer others, but instead to those who take on the task of mastering themselves...

The most difficult battle you will ever fight...

...challenging themselves to live well and achieve great things despite the cultural conditioning. Each of us can be Warriors who face our fears and go forward despite them.

As this kind of Warrior, the most difficult battle you ever fight is the battle to be unique in a world that will marshal its every force to keep you the same. I hope to arm you for this battle both in these e-lessons and in the future should you choose to join me at a live event.

"One more thing" is never enough...

One of the most seductive ideas is that we can "acquire" happiness through something here on the physical plane. Advertising and our social culture reinforce the idea that our lives are about getting a new car, or an impressive title at work, or making six figures, or having a million-dollar home. There's nothing wrong with pursuing or having those things, but we must realize that they are empty if we don't build our lives on something more grounded and eternal.

The ego will never allow you to be wealthy....

We have to silence that craven voice that nags us, "If I get just this one more thing, then I'll be successful and happy." We all know intellectually that this is false, but most of us still behave as if it's true. We run around pursuing that "one thing" and wonder why we don't feel complete when we get it. Or feel frustrated when it doesn't come to us quickly.

Instead of working on things from the outside in — striving to get that "one thing" to make us feel good inside — we need to work for goodness from the inside out, to know that the source of everything that is good in our lives does not come from somewhere outside ourselves, but instead from within.

If you sit around long enough there will be nothing to sit on...

"Now wait a minute, James," you may be thinking as you read this. "I am not going to sit around and contemplate my navel, believing that good stuff will come my way just because I'm a good person." And you are right. But the distinction is that, ultimately, "good stuff" comes from you — not from the world in which we live.

Our accomplishments are hugely important, and they are gratifying only if we understand that it's not the "thing" itself that is gratifying, but who we became in the process to acquire or achieve it.

Live every day for its own sake.

If you can immerse yourself in living, then you can detach while you are still fully engaged. Sound contradictory? It's not.

You can set goals and work to achieve great things in your life. At the same time, you can live each day for its own sake rather than some future return. You can stop living as if every experience is a means to an end and see that every experience is an end in itself.

Most people live everywhere but the present.

Some of us dwell in the past, reliving good memories or trying to change bad ones. Many more are on that treadmill, running to get to somewhere else. But this kind of living brings limited power and limited joy when compared to what you have when you are fully engaged in what you're doing and being right now.

Hurry is fear.

This racing around to get somewhere else is defended by many as enthusiasm or drive. But hurry is merely fear disguised as passion. Impatience is just the ego struggling for control. Once you recognize and accept this, you can start to change it. Doesn't it feel great when you are inspired and excited about your life and your achievements rather than pressured by your own or others' expectations? It comes down to a basic temporal shift: bringing your focus back to the here and now.

When you start to feel frantic, take a moment to ask yourself...

Am I having fun? Does what I am doing right now bring me joy? Is this an adventure? Am I following my love or my destiny? Am I grateful for the opportunity to do what I am doing now?

If you find yourself answering "no," then you know you are back on the treadmill. Mentally hit the pause button. Step off the treadmill. Consider how you can bring yourself back to the present and enjoy what you are doing.
Observe that you are not totally focused on the task at hand. Observing your lack of "present-ness" (awareness of the present) automatically brings you back.

Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Simply tuning in to your breathing will lead you back into the present moment.

Shift your focus to your whole body. Don't think about it, though. Feel it. Notice the sensation in your entire body, a part at a time. By bringing your awareness to your body, you can take it away from the future and past, which exist only in the head.

Ask yourself:
How can I place my full attention on right now and enjoy what I am doing for its own sake?
Get out of the rut...

One of the best ways I've found to step off the treadmill is to do something completely different from your usual routine. That's what a vacation is supposed to do, and, in a way, that's what attending The Power to Win Weekend will do as well. You'll return to your daily life a very different person, refreshed, revitalized, recommitted to living at your fullest in every moment and following the destiny of your dreams. And pursuing a destiny you love is nothing like a rat race — instead, it's the most enjoyable journey you could take.

To find out more about The Power to Win, click here.

Your Coach,

James Arthur Ray

Friday, September 21, 2007

James Ray - Step 1: Come on in, the Water's Fine

Step 1: Come on in, the Water's Fine

What have you gotten yourself into...

It's been three weeks since you began your new fitness plan, and you're starting to dread that drive to the gym, going through the motions once you get there, and resenting the time it takes for the whole sweaty business. Is this really all that important?

If you had more money maybe you could buy muscles...

Taking control of your finances seemed like the right thing to do until you sat down at your desk last night, worked on organizing your files and balancing your checkbook, and got totally overwhelmed. Isn't there an easier way?

And you know how kids are...

Your teenage son has been having problems with some friends at school, but it's a catch-22: you know that if you bring it up and try to help him through it, it will be tense. Frankly, it's much more appealing just to keep the peace. Will it make a difference, anyway?

It's really not that bad... It could be worse...

You know you ought to leave your job and move on to greener pastures, but who's to say you'll find anything better?

If any of these scenarios strikes you as remotely familiar, you know what it means to hit the "terror barrier" — that defining moment when you are challenged to move outside your comfort zone and you don't feel like it. Not one bit. So it's a struggle between one impulse (to just lay low) and another impulse (to follow through).

The fact remains: If we want to reach the goal, whatever that goal is, at some point we must get out of our comfort zone and enter uncharted water.

But how do you do that...

How do you blast past the Terror Barrier?

You run out into the water, lured by the beauty of the ocean and the excitement of an invigorating swim. A little way out, the waves start breaking on you, repeatedly nudging you back toward shore... Sometimes with such force that they knock you right off your feet. You might want to give in and just let the waves carry you back. It's hard work getting through the rough surf. But when you plunge forward and keep swimming, soon enough, the waves are breaking behind you.

And a crystal blue infinity lies before you.

Whenever we move off in a new direction, we predictably are beset by waves of doubt, insecurity, worry, and uncertainty. It feels as if it will be much better — definitely much easier — to head for shore and back to the way things were. We long for the familiar and put off charging forward because, in that moment, going forward is unknown. It can feel scary and unsafe as we leave our comfort zone, as we start to plunge into the surf.

If you are not are dying

Yet we need to remember that the comfort zone is the most dangerous place to be. If we're not plunging forward, we're not growing. And in this world, if we're not growing, we're dying.

Everything, from the lowliest plant and plankton to every person on this planet, is blossoming, unfolding, blooming, or growing in some way, or it's withering and dying away. This is simply a natural principle in the world.

Realize all goals are spiritual goals.

Humans are both biological and spiritual beings. The spirit desires expansion — that's where we get the idea to attain a goal in the first place. Our biology, however, dictates that we seek security and safety — that's why we feel resistance to anything unfamiliar. So the spiritual impulse is to grow, and the biological impulse is to keep things as they are.

Desire and aspiration are spiritual impulses; safety and comfort are biological ones. Is there some way to honor both? In reaching for a goal, perhaps not. But eventually, the bio-self can be convinced that even the spirit's flights of fancy sometimes bring more comfort and safety. Leaving a job you hate may mean a temporary interruption in income, but could bring you a whole new career with better income potential, or better longevity because you love it, or improved skills that can lead to even more exciting professional opportunities.

Carefully saving money and investing it wisely can bring plenty of the physical comforts life has to offer. Honestly dealing with issues in relationships often leads to greater trust and security within the relationship, whether it's with a child, a friend, a parent, or a romantic partner.

Imagine that your comfort zone encircles your reality. You have a circle around you, which outlines your life, defines your limits. When you start pushing at that circle, the whole thing starts shaking. When you break through to a new level, let's say in the area of relationships, the circle doesn't crumble or warp; the circumference expands to encompass a whole new realm of possibilities and capabilities in other areas, too.

And what if things don't turn out as you'd planned?

Was it all for nothing? No, simply engaging in the process of pursuing a goal has its own rewards — even if you don't reach the goal. Helen Keller once said, "Any time a door closes, a new door opens." Unfortunately, most people spend so much energy griping about the closed door that they don't see all the other open doors around them.

Realize that pursuit of any worthy goal creates leaps in understanding and an increase in consciousness, and this is the end your true self seeks. To the degree that people can expand and grow, they are able to experience life at a different level and be more productive, effective and, most important, happy and at peace.

Make your efforts mean something.

Regularly lifting greater and greater weight is what builds muscle, not lifting a light weight whenever we feel like it. Likewise, personal strength comes from continually meeting the next challenge, putting in a little more effort, overcoming obstacles again and again.

You can choose to enjoy the breakthroughs, to see your resistance as a signal that great things are yet to come. The next time you're facing this, remember the following story of two great entertainers.

According to singer/songwriter Carly Simon, when she is backstage just before a live concert, her heart starts beating rapidly, her palms get clammy, she paces back and forth, and sweat beads on her brow. She has said that, in this moment, she just knows she can't go on stage, she's terrified.

Yet she does it anyway. Similarly, as Bruce Springsteen paces backstage, his heart beats rapidly, his palms get clammy, sweat trickles from his hairline. But in his experience, this tells The Boss he's "ready to rock." And he leaps onstage and has the time of his life.

One person's debilitating fear becomes another person's motivating fuel.

You have a choice. You can see these brushes with the terror barrier as attacks of stage fright that have to be conquered, or you can use them to get you ready to rock. Either way, know that you can overcome these hurdles, and you must.

Here's how:
Start by clearly defining exactly where you are going and what you choose to create.
Remember, the physiological experience/emotion of fear is similar if not identical to "fuel" — decide to be The Boss.
Continually focus on where you desire to go. Your mindset and focus determine your actions, your experience, and your results.
In The Power to Win Weekend, which I conduct personally in cities across the U.S., participants learn to break out of their comfort zones and blast past the terror barrier with many powerful experiences and metaphors, including breaking through a one-inch slab of pine with their bare hands.

Together, we discover how fears and negative beliefs can keep us chained within the narrow circumference of our comfort zones; and experience the joy, excitement, and true liberation that is created when we break free and step into an expanded vision of ourselves and what we're capable of.

And that's just the first day...

The rest of the time is spent learning how to create the mindset and focus that will propel you toward the winning life you have always wanted. The combination of blasting past the terror barrier, then creating a clear and powerful vision for the future makes The Power to Win Weekend a truly transformational weekend.

If you're interested in a firsthand experience of your own remarkable ability to attain massive Harmonic Wealth™, join me at an upcoming Power to Win Weekend by clicking here.

Whether you are crystal clear on your direction and are in hot pursuit of your goals, or you're still standing on the beach wondering if it's safe to put a toe in the water, you'll find help in the next six e-mail editions of this series, including step-by-step guides so you can:
Stop making excuses and start getting what you want.
Break through the unconscious chains of old beliefs and habits.
Go beyond goals and create a vision-then make your vision come true.
Discover the universal laws of true Harmonic Wealth™.
Learn to manifest not just money, but true abundance.
Ignite your entrepreneurial spirit to accelerate your spiritual and business growth.
Your Coach,

James Arthur Ray