Consider this tricky little story.
A man is driving his son to school. They get into an accident and the man dies. The son is rushed to the hospital. When he arrives for emergency surgery the doctor says,
“I can’t operate on this boy, HE’S MY SON!”
If you are like me, you may be asking yourself, how can this be? The father died in the car crash! Can he be there at the hospital? But there is another world that exists right before your eyes that you may be blind to. I’ll come back to this in a second.
What are you so sure is REAL that you have never bothered or even felt the need to challenge it? This is an especially potent question when considering beliefs that keep you in fear and pain. Just like in Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is to admit you have a problem. The problem here is settling for anything less then an abundant, peaceful, exciting life. As a human, you are a meaning machine. You are working at full speed to create a story for every bit of information that pops into your brain. Recognizing this story telling habit is the first step to realizing that the culprit for your life being exactly the way it is right now… is you.
Could this be true?
Consider the story above. What if I told you that the doctor in the hospital that exclaimed, “He’s my son!” was the boy’s MOTHER. Were you one of the majority that said, “The doctor is a man. But the man died. Thus, because of the story that I am currently telling, doctors are men, this story does not make sense”? How often do you pass on life changing opportunities, because the story you are telling literally blinds you from even seeing the opportunity.
The first step to create an alternate you, is recognizing the story you are currently telling. And you are telling a story. Once you become aware, then it’s just a matter of telling a different story about the same event to have an alternative experience. Imagine life going from drab to amazing with just a different story!
Back in around 1996 I was working at a real estate loan company. It was my goal to be the best and make a lot of money. As it turned out I ended up the best and making a lot of money while I was there. The height of my goals being achieved was being awarded the top funder of the month award out of 1000 employees. So to think back, how did that happen? It definitely was not by accident. The success really was created by the story I told myself. Since the day I was hired there, I told myself I was going to do whatever it took to be the best in the company. I made a dramatic shift in the way I looked at my life. Instead of asking myself, “I wonder IF I can be the best?”, I asked something very different. I would continually ask myself, “HOW CAN I be the best?” This question prompted me to show up to work earlier and stay later than my peers. This question prompted me to pursue the long time “stars” of the company for advise, even though I was told I wasn’t allow to bother them. I sat for a whole afternoon once and just watched the top salesman in the company work. I just sat there and took notes. I applied the notes and practiced small disciplines that I learned every day. The result from all this, I became the top funder. Bam!
I love that story. It would be nice if all my stories were like that. But as life is, the price of success tends to be its weight in failures.
As failures go, I will share one of my favorites. Not too many years back I brokered a real estate transaction between a pension fund company and national bank. This was no ordinary real estate deal. It consisted of multiple purchases spanning for 3 years from the national bank by the pension fund company that could have racked up a bill into the billions. That’s right, billions. I had structured the transaction so that my partner and I would have received a ¼ of a percentage of each transaction. That may seem like a bad commission compared to a normal real estate agent making 3%, but not with big numbers like that. Upon the completion of the transaction, my partner and I were to receive approximately, depending on the pools of real estate purchased, $80,000 per month for the three year contract. That is $2,880,000. This is not a bad commission check.
Now, your probably guessing that something went wrong. You are right. It went sour when the pension fund backed out of escrow. By the bank pulling all the funds out of escrow, the deal was killed and with it my lovely earnings. I ask myself, was there a story I was telling that had a part in creating this outcome? My answer is Yes.
I was holding onto a belief that someone better, someone more capable and experienced than me needed to be the point person between these two huge companies. After all, I had never done a transaction like this. I told myself that my business partner was this person. Its important to note here that this belief of mine didn’t come from what was really happening. I was the one who found the national bank with the discounted inventory of real estate. I was the one who found the institutional organization who had the capital to purchase in that kind of volume. I am the one who put together the contracts. I am the one who knew how intricate this transaction had to play out. I knew the key to this deal happening was communication of each party’s expectations to each other. If there were any surprises the trust would be compromised and one or both parties would back out. Yet, even with all that evidence of my competence, I had a story going in the back of my head that I needed someone “more experienced” to make sure this complex deal was executed just right.
In the end, the small details that I knew were being neglected came out. Just hours before escrow was going to release all monies the buyer backed out due to these exact miscommunicated details. My story was that I was not experienced enough to fight for this level of business. This story created how I did and did not interact with all parties. My story contributed or maybe was completely at fault for the failure I experienced.
$2.8 million bummer.
So what is the story that you are telling yourself? Answer a couple good questions to figure out your stories that are not helping you. See if you see a pattern.
Fill in the blank.
“I would be happy if _________”
“I will be successful when _________”
“My life would be working, but _____________”
“My business/work would be successful if __________”
“Things would be better if ________________”
“Things are good, but _____________”
Consider that what you fill in those blanks reveal a story that keep you from the success and fulfillment that is available right now. Consider that you are ready and capable of fully engaging in the life opportunity you are in right now. You are the one to make it work. If you don’t, you are the one that lets it die. This is your life. If it works or if it doesn’t work, your stories determine whether you engage or not. Your engagement determines the results you create or don’t create.
It has been said there are two great pains in life. The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. The discipline for me is doubting myself and going for it anyway. The pain of discipline always involves giving up your right for comfort. But if you are are committed to comfort, know that you are not escaping the pain. Of the two pains, regret is the worse. Its the pain of thinking back and knowing you could have done more or at least done something. Its the pain of, “What would have happened if….”. So what will you choose, the pain of discipline or regret? Either way you have to pay.