Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Food for Thought/Action

Sow a thought reap an act.
Sow an act reap a habit.
Sow a habit reap a destiny.

I was listening to Ronn Owens’ morning talk program on KGO Radio this past week. KGO reaches tens of millions of listeners. Ronn is one of the station’s most recognized hosts, holding the morning commute time slot when probability dictates an abundance of listeners. His guest, a well-known psychologist, was addressing the need for people to keep positive attitudes and make a practice of visualizing what it is they want rather than the obstacles that are currently afflicting their lives. She also espoused taking the time to be daily grateful for the good things they have, no matter how small, because gratefulness alters the course of one’s thinking.

After five minutes of lead in during which Ronn playfully bantered with his guest, asking her if this wasn’t just psychobabble, he opened the phone lines. The first caller blasted the psychologist. “With all due respect to your guest,” he forcefully pronounced, “she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. How can anyone who has lost their job or is dealing with bankruptcy or has had their home foreclosed on use something as silly as this?!? It’s crazy.” He took his answer off the air.

Ronn’s guest listened. Then she calmly replied with something like this, “Well, the caller certainly has a point. What I’m proposing is simple. I’m not saying it is easy. But if we put our economic problems of today in perspective with something truly profound, like Dr. Viktor Frankl’s survival of the Nazi death camps, ours are actually quite small.” She then went on to remind us who Frankl was.

I first read Fankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, a few years ago during a bout of my own negativity. It was as if he was slapping me in the face, telling me to get off my butt and do something rather than wallow in resignation. Writing these words today I imagine the scene from the film The Godfather when Johnny Fontane, a fictitious popular crooner, sits on Don Vito Corleone’s desk and laments that he can’t get the lead role in a film because he’s a victim to the producer’s prejudice. Then he puts his head in his hands and cries, “Godfather, what am I supposed to?” Corleone reaches across his desk, cuffs him aside the head and responds, “Be a man!”

Frankl states (p 157), “A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes – within the limits of endowment and environment – he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions, but not on condition.” Earlier in the book he speaks to dignity, the need for finding humor in everything, having a positive mental attitude, accepting things as they are and then moving forward regardless of circumstances – and he addresses the need to visualize a positive outcome no matter what.

The good psychologist on Ronn Owens’ program demonstrated composure and put forth her point well in the face of a highly agitated and negative individual.

I suggest that you:
(1) read Viktor Fankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning;
(2) dedicate a month (minimum – though 90 day’s would be preferable) to practice what Ronn’s guest espoused; and
(3) time your practice to a few minutes each morning - maybe right after waking up and before you turn on your computer or read email or watch/read the morning news – taking a walk before doing anything else. Then practice again a few minutes following your mid-day meal, and then again a few minutes as you are dropping off to sleep each night.
This won’t take much of your time; but it will make all the difference in the world.

This week a client called to address a need: that people in his companies invest themselves in the work of having positive mental attitudes. He wants his organization to do some training with that. He referenced Napoleon Hill’s book, Think And Grow Rich, (1937); and the work based upon it which he recalled doing with me years ago in seminars I used to teach. One of the primary mechanisms used in those seminars was visualization. The specific technique taught was called Screen Of The Mind, an adaptation of something that has been referred to throughout written history. In the seminars we used to say that Screen of the Mind is perhaps the most powerful mental technique one could apply. Hill’s research from 1907 to 1927 included the 500 most successful people of his era. They all used this methodology, though they referred to it by different names.

[NOTE: if you would like outline of the Screen of the Mind Technique and how to use it, contact info@AlliedRonin.com and request it. The information will be emailed to you.]

Hill opens his sixth chapter, Imagination: The Workshop of the Mind, The Fifth Step toward Riches, by saying, “The imagination is literally the workshop wherein are fashioned all plans created by man. The impulse, the desire, is given shape, form, and action through the aid of the imaginative faculty of the mind. It has been said that man can create anything which he can imagine.”

That’s powerful stuff! Yet, Hill doesn’t specify that man creates only the positive which he imagines. Hill is addressing the entire creative mechanism. Using the buzzwords of his time, WHATEVER the MIND CONCEIVES and BELIEVES it ACHIEVES. The creative imaginative faculty is impersonal. It really doesn’t care if the picture you are feeding it is positive or negative, constructive or destructive. It will go about producing whatever you feed it. The imagination isn’t the seat of choice, it is merely a willing servant. Viktor Frankl would offer that you are always at the helm of your ship of life by virtue of your decisions and the kind of images that you hold, even without awareness. The creative imagination produces on your order. That isn’t to say you are immune from external forces, but it does say that you have infinite options within the bounds of those forces. You can perform.

Back in the 1970’s as I was starting my work with this kind of “mind stuff” it was considered esoteric and fringe. As years passed, it became more accepted. World-class athletes talked publicly about how they would let thoughts of defeat drift away. Olympic skiers revealed how they would visualize a perfect run – with eyes closed mentally watching imaginary movies and while simultaneously making subtle physical body movements precisely as they wanted to do on the actual course. Competitive divers spoke about spending time on the platform relaxing and “seeing” their moves in advance, all executed to perfection. Medical professionals began having their patients practice visualization. None of this guaranteed a perfect outcome. But it did increase performance, ability, hopefulness and – yes - results.

Maxwell Maltz, M.D.,F.I.C.S, published Psycho-Cybernetics in 1960. At that time he was one of the world’s most renowned plastic surgeons. He lectured throughout Europe. His work well references the creative imagination. He offered that people would come to the plastic surgeon asking for a change of face or body. After their procedures a significant portion could not see the change themselves, while others around them saw a whole new person. Frequently the individuals having received procedures could be heard saying, “No, it’s still me!” Maltz’s premise: unless and until one changes the internal image nothing else will change.

About imagination Maltz wrote: “Imagination Practice Can Lower Your Golf Score. Time magazine reported that when Ben Hogan is playing in a tournament, he mentally rehearses each shot, just before making it. He makes the shot perfectly in his imagination – ‘feel’ himself performing the perfect follow through – and then steps up to the ball, and depends upon what he calls ‘muscle memory’ to carry out the shot just as he has imagined it.” (Psycho-Cybernetics, p.38)

Ask a young sales person or account manager, “Who was Ben Hogan?” Odd are they’ll probably be at loss to say. Ask the same person, “Who is Tiger Woods?” And they’ll respond, “Where have you been?” Hogan and Woods, both champions of the same sport, were masters of the imagination at different times in history.

Isn’t it interesting: people can make the link between visualization/imagination and a good golf score. But, going back to the caller on the Ronn Owens’ show, they refuse to make a link between visualization/imagination and having a good life or financial score. “Come on,” some will argue, “golf’s just a game! You’re mixing apples with oranges.” Oh really? Tell that to the professional (or the aspiring pro) when she or he has a livelihood on the line, and a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife at home berating them for trying to turn their passion into a career rather than getting “a real job”, and is hammering them about the mounting bills, the kids with nothing but peanut butter to eat, or the rent that’s two months overdue. I coached a fellow like that for a year as he was attempting to get into the U.S. Open Tournament. My job was literally distracting him from his own negative thinking and from it I wrote my booklet “The Mental Game”.

Also this week someone called to talk about the Law of Attraction made popular by a video and companion book The Secret (a body of work that finds its roots in Think and Grow Rich). The person said, “I have been applying the Law of Attraction recently and it’s making a big difference for me in how I’m approaching my work and family.” This is good news. And I was left wondering: At what hour of the day, or under what circumstances or conditions is the Law of Attraction not being applied? No one on this planet lives outside the law of gravity, right? Logically then, if the Law of Attraction is as much law, as say the law of gravity, doesn’t it follow that Attraction is in operation all the time? If you and I think destruction, we attract destruction. If you and I think success, we attract success.

Read Dr. Richard Strozzi-Heckler’s In Search of the Warrior Spirit (pub 1990), which chronicles his work with US Army Special Forces using - you got it - meditation and visualization over long periods of time. Richard’s work dramatically increased the effectiveness and results of highly trained individuals whose performance was supposedly already at max capacity.

I guess the guy who berated Ronn Owens’ studio guest has every right to his perspective, doesn’t he? But he also has the responsibility for that perspective, yes?

Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,
THINK on these things.
- Philippians 4:8, the Bible


Unknown said...

Great thought about creating your happiness and your world. Amazing that so few recognise the power of the mind.
Larry Happiday

Unknown said...

I would follow on articles such as this. Thanks
Larry Happiday