Personal Development

by Dr. Joe Rubino

Exercise #1: Bringing Out the Best in Others

One of the foundational principles that supports our power in relationships is our willingness to create room for other people's stuff. By "stuff," I mean the way they view others, the world, and themselves, especially when it is different from and in opposition to our perspective.

Everyone has a unique combination of paradigms in which they view situations, circumstances, and other people. When our paradigms match those of others, there's no conflict. That often characterizes a friendship where two people view life in much the same way. That's what friends often are for each other - righteous, matched opinions!

The challenge comes when others think and act in opposition to our perspective. Our usual reaction to such a conflict might be to oppose or distance ourselves from the other person.

This can be an opportunity to increase our personal power and effectiveness by listening with a commitment to the other person while standing in his shoes. Hold him as totally capable, intelligent, and powerful, and communicate from this empowering perspective. Don't be surprised if the person may actually listen to what you have to say!

When we disagree with others and hold them as stupid, mistaken, confused, or just plain wrong, an impasse results and the relationship suffers. Making the other person wrong only prevents her from seeing things a different way. As the old saying goes, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

Your willingness to give up your need to be right and to dominate the other person is critical to empowering any conversation. As you listen to the other person as someone totally capable, competent, and insightful, you now have the ability to get them to see something that they may not have been able to see before. Make the other person great instead of small - we too often diminish others when we don't agree with them.

Empowerment through listening will create the safety for the other person to try on a different perspective and the space necessary to convert to your point of view. To develop this skill, embark on the following exercise in self-reflection:

1) When you do not agree with family, friends, and coworkers, do you empower them as you speak or do you make them small?

2) In a daily journal for the next 30 days, record your reactions to and interactions with others with whom you do not agree. Rate each conversation from 1 to 10 - with 1 to signify that you're holding them as broken, stupid, wrong, or deficient and 10 to mean totally capable, competent, and worthy of all your respect and love.

3) How does shifting your perspective impact your relationships?

  How does it impact their openness to you?

4) In every conversation, develop an appreciation for what it's like to be the other person. Listen for the other's concerns and commitments. How does this impact the relationship?

5) How does knowing their concerns and commitments affect your actions and provide a better appreciation for who they are and why they act as they do?

6) Listen for mutuality. What do you have in common that could further your relationship?

  How do your differences contribute to you both?

7) In what ways do you disconnect from others?

8) Record in your journal each time that you do so.

Exercise #2: Honoring Your Commitments

There is no connection between what we want and what we get in life. Look around you and notice how many people want things. Ask an audience of 10,000 people if they want to be wealthy, and you'll get a pretty unanimous response. Although they might want wealth, most will never attain it. The world does not care what we want.

There is, however, a connection between what we get and what we are committed to experiencing. Commitment is that do-whatever-it-takes quality that keeps our eye on the prize. With commitment there is no turning back. Commitment will open up new possibilities that would not reveal themselves to someone with less at stake.

Compare this to how most approach a new endeavor: They are willing to do it as long as it's convenient. The trouble with such an orientation to convenience over commitment becomes apparent when problems arise. With the inevitable appearance of problems, the path of least resistance is to follow one's feelings and do what appears to be most convenient. This usually means quitting. It explains why most do not get what they want but instead get what they are committed to - their comfort. To break out of this self-sabotaging pattern, simply return to and remain present to your commitment as life forces you to choose between commitment and feelings.

Success requires clarity around what's at stake and what it is that you are committed to doing. Then, whether you feel like it or not, do it anyway.

As you develop the habit of honoring commitments, life will take on new direction. Deliberate, focused action toward goals will replace sitting around hoping that your wishes will come true. Successful people are those willing to do what unsuccessful people are not.

Begin on the path of honoring your commitments and decide to live deliberately. Each moment ask yourself, "What is my intended result for this issue?" A clear intent will minimize the distraction and losing your way. Take the following steps to exercise your commitment muscles:

1) List at least one deliberate goal you are willing to commit to achieving in the following areas:

• Your relationships

• Your health

• Your finances

• Your career

2) What definitive action steps will you commit to in order to achieve them?

3) In your journal each morning, record what your intended results are for the day in each of the above areas. What action will you take to bring you closer to your goal in each area?

Exercise #3: Interpretations That Support Your Excellence

Too often, we confuse facts with some negative or disempowering interpretation we make up. We then act consistently with this interpretation we now hold as true. Separating out what happened in a given situation or exchange - the actual facts involved - from any interpretations made up about those facts can vastly improve the quality of life. Our interpretations throw us into our own familiar mood of anger, sadness, or fear. We each have some variation of one of these three predominant moods. Mike Smith points out that this mood is a terribly addicting one. Though we may think we do not like feeling angry, sad, or fearful, our mood is captivating and familiar. It also comes with many payoffs. It allows us to feel that we are better than others. It makes us right and others wrong. It allows us to dominate situations and avoid being dominated.

Because our interpretations are always made up anyway, why not make up something that supports you and others to be empowered in your relationships?

You always have a choice. Ask yourself, "What are the facts around what actually happened?" Then, "What is an empowering interpretation that I can make up about these facts that will support life working?" Notice that your empowering interpretation never has a mood of anger, fear, or sadness attached to it.

This is one thing that is never handled. The moment you forget to be responsible for separating facts from interpretations, you are back in the soup! It is always juicier to create an interpretation that makes you right, lets you be better than someone, allows you to avoid responsibility, or lands you in your familiar mood of anger, fear, or sadness.

For life to work and your relationships to be strengthened, rigorously manage your interpretations. Mastering this principle can dramatically alter your life. You have the power at any moment to transform who you have been into the person you choose to become simply by managing your interpretations rigorously.

1) In every situation with the potential to produce an upset, ask yourself the following questions:

• What happened?

• What are the facts?

• What did you make up about the facts?

• What interpretations do not support harmony in your relationships?

• What more empowering interpretations will you make up to move life forward?

2) What is your predominant mood? (It's usually some version of anger, sadness, or fear.) Notice each time you are in your mood and record the circumstances in your journal.

3) In what areas of your life are you insisting on being right about something?

4) What is it costing you in terms of your health, dreams, and relationships?

5) On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most committed, how committed are you to giving up your need to be right in order to make your life work?

6) Record your insights in your journal.

Exercise #4: There Is No Such Thing As a Failure!

Does this ever describe you? The mere possibility of failing at an endeavor is so frightening that you are reluctant to take on a challenge just so you avoid any chance of failing. This happens when you become so attached to an outcome that you have no room to maneuver successfully in order to succeed. If you have no room to fail, you also have no room to succeed.

Remember, failure is an interpretation - not a fact. Do you know who was the greatest baseball strikeout king of all time? Babe Ruth. Yes, the Babe struck out more times than anyone else. He was also the number one home run king for decades as well. Failure or tremendous success? It all depends on your focus and your interpretation.

The same is true of inventor Thomas Edison. Before he invented the electric light bulb, he failed at his 400-plus prior attempts. When asked about all these apparent failures, Edison responded that they were not failures at all. In fact, he had successfully discovered more than 400 ways that were not the answer to generating indoor lighting.

We tend to look for the flaw in whatever we do and find countless ways to invalidate ourselves. We zoom in on our shortcomings instead of focusing on our accomplishments. The inability to accept our failures as valid actually limits our actions. If we cannot experience setbacks, we do not allow ourselves the room to experiment beyond the limits of our knowledge.

When you give yourself the room to experience new challenges, to learn from these experiences and to grow from the wisdom they provide, you are to be acknowledged just for putting out the effort. Your courage to attempt the unknown will create countless opportunities for discoveries into realms previously unexplored.

To become empowered to venture into uncharted waters, declare yourself a novice in these areas. Exploring the unknown with open curiosity and without an attachment to a particular result creates the space for new experiences and potential successes.

Another way to approach a concern about failing at your goals is to take your focus off the result. When obsessed with achieving an elusive desired objective, we may become so frustrated that our effectiveness suffers. As a result, we drift further from the very thing we want most.

You can still be committed to a result without being attached to it. Place your attention on the actions required to obtain your intended result. By concentrating on your game plan, you can evaluate your progress, see what's working and what's missing, and alter your actions to better put into place what is needed to come in on target. Much of that information and discovery would be limited were it not for the successful revelation of failure. Give yourself the room to play all out and fail if necessary. Doing so also creates the room to do what it takes to succeed. In the end, your satisfaction will come from doing your very best, free from your fear of failing, no matter what the outcome.

1) Where have you not attempted something for fear of failing?

2) What empowering interpretation can you create to take the place of fearing that you may fail?

3) Design a detailed action plan to achieve an objective that you have been reluctant to take on.

How does your plan incorporate failure to benefit your momentum?

4) Record your observations and insights in your journal.

Exercise #5: Conquering the Resignation in Your Life

In order to gain a better understanding of yourself, look at what is most apparent to you about others. Whatever we focus on in our relationships is usually true about us. Look particularly at what you find to be true and most annoying about others. These issues are typically your very own issues. Remember, we notice in other people those things about ourselves that are most in need of examination.

We are often unaware of our ability to choose differently, opting instead to be a victim living in an invisible catatonic state of resignation. We become numb to and eventually take for granted the things we find distasteful about our lives. We adopt the attitude that this is just the way things are and we are powerless to change them.

Contrast this with the spontaneous vitality and anything-is-possible attitude that children possess. Look at how many children want to be astronauts or president of the United States when they grow up.

Little by little over the years, we lose our belief that we can be, do, and have anything at all we desire. Most adults live in a state of profound resignation. As we settle time and again for less than we deserve, we become lulled into a condition whereby the confining box we've built around ourselves soon begins to feel all too comfortable and familiar, too much like home. As Norman Cousins said, "The true tragedy in life is not death but that which dies inside of us while we are still living."

Resignation is characterized by playing it safe and quitting when the territory begins to appear too foreign or intimidating. It means choosing to look good rather than risk expanding when the mere possibility of failing arises. Resignation comes from the habit of living and speaking only what you know instead of playing at risk outside your comfort zone. It is only when you decide to live from a commitment to continually grow and expand, instead of focusing on yourself, that your concerns will appear petty and will be handled in light of your stronger commitment.

Whenever you are resigned, you are not being responsible for stepping into your power. Your communication is shut down. You are not holding yourself as competent and powerful. Resignation translates into blindness for exploring possibilities. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we do not realize that we hold the power to return home to Kansas, the land of our dreams, any time we want to. All it takes is the realization that we are totally responsible and capable of changing any situation that does not serve us. Use the following exercises to begin conquering resignation and living deliberately:

1) Identify where you are resigned in life. Where have you settled for anything but the best?

2) What is the source of your resignation?

3) Where do you hold yourself as unworthy or incapable of change?

4) What bold actions can you take today to shift this false self-image?

5) Brainstorm with a coach for several possibilities you had not considered to impact your resigned situation. Write your insights in your journal.

Exercise #6: Seizing Your Personal Power

Personal power is about the ability to trigger meaningful change and bring about a desired result in an expeditious and effective manner. There are three key elements to harness your personal power.

First is your ability to impact the world in a significant way. People who possess this power can bring about change as a result of their interactions with others. Those who have the ability to shift situations and cause others to move into action utilize this power to bring about any intended result. Instead of resigning oneself to the state of how things are, the powerful person responds to the challenge by causing the circumstances to shift to his will. He is the source of what happens to him and around him in life. Simply by realizing the personal power he has at his disposal, he is able to impact others and bring about progress in his world. This ability to influence one's environment need not be reserved for the few who naturally possess this innate talent to influence others and bring about a desired result. It can be developed by those willing to take responsibility for acquiring the necessary skills and key principles required to be maximally effective.

The second element about having personal power involves being results oriented. Either you are producing your intended result or you have a story, excuse, or justification for why the results are lacking. Results are black and white. People lacking in personal power are victims of their circumstances, always at the mercy of the challenges they encounter in their daily lives. When you are focusing on the story about why results are missing, you lose your power. Your justifications for not bringing about your intended result cause you to forfeit your power to external circumstances. You either have the results you desire or you don't. There is no middle ground.

The third important element to consider is decisiveness. People with power act decisively so as to bring about the result they intend with speed and sureness of purpose. The degree to which someone has power is directly related to the time it takes to translate his idea or intention into reality. A way to easily recognize when you are not stepping into your power is to notice the conversation you have with yourself that says, "The timing just isn't right. The best time to act is not now, but when some particular thing happens in the future. I'll wait until then to act."

This usually looks like waiting until you have gathered all the facts, or the circumstances fall exactly into place, or you figure out how to carry out your plan. The problem with this logic is that now is never the best time to do something. If we allow ourselves to put off acting decisively in the moment, we squander our power. There will always be something that is not perfect or out of place to keep us from acting now. We will likely never be ready, for as soon as we resolve one challenge, another is certain to appear.

To regain your power and your ability to act forcefully, consider this. You have no access to acting in the past or the future. The only access to action is now in the present. Since it will never be the right time to act, seize your power and as Nike says, "Just do it!"

The thing that separates ineffective people from powerful people is that ineffective people wait for that one decisive moment while powerful people are decisive in the moment.

1) In what areas of your life are you not content with your situation? Focus particularly on those areas where you have been stuck for an extended period of time.

2) List at least three examples where you have a story to justify why you have not acted already to remedy a situation that is not to your liking.

What is preventing your positive movement?

3) Commit to a specific set of actions clearly addressing each of the above situations. What exactly will it take to produce a result and move the situation along in a positive direction?

Set a date by when you will move decisively forward, stepping squarely into your personal power.

4) Record your commitments and insights in your journal.

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Dr. Joe Rubino is a top distributor in his Network Marketing company and CEO of Visionary International Partnerships. Together with Dr. Tom Ventullo, he is also the co-founder of The Center for Personal Reinvention, an organization that provides personal and group coaching, as well as productivity and leadership development courses. Joe is the author of Secrets of Building a Million Dollar Network Marketing Organization from a Guy Who's Been There, Done That and Shows You How To Do It Too, The Magic Lantern: A Fable about Leadership, Personal Excellence, and Empowerment, and, most recently, the two-volume series The Power to Succeed, from which these exercises were adapted. All of his books are available through Networking Times. For information about The Center for Personal Reinvention and its services, visit on the Web.

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