Because of Saturday’s Diamond Hour show, I was forced to sit down and
work out the rest of the “Perfect Diamond Hour” sequence, and I want to
put this out as fast as possible, so BOOM, here it goes today!
We cannot control external events. What we CAN control is what they mean to us. And if you have been hurt in the past by aiming at a goal and failing, it is natural that you will associate pain with focus, hope and dreams. This is just your nervous system trying to protect you, and one of the “dragons at the gate” of your performance. Totally natural, and totally healthy.
That dragon is not your enemy. It is actually a big friendly puppy which, once tamed, becomes not a monster or enemy, but one of your greatest ally. The way we’re organizing the “perfect Diamond Hour” is designed to help you tame your fear, doubt, and pain. Let’s take a look at the process so far (and btw—you are watching me formalize this in real time. There will be modifications now and later, but the basic framework is solid):
1) 5MM. Take a break every three hours and breathe (later, you will briefly visualize, doing a mini version of this process.
2) Re-write goals.
3) Heartbeat meditation. Self-love, centering, relaxation, focus…this and more, in a streamlined package.
4) Ancient Child. Visualizing your innocent, enthusiastic, loving self. Most of us can do more for our children than we can for ourselves. This allows you to harness this tendency. If you didn’t get the love you needed from your parents…give it to yourself.
5) Morning ritual. Begin to create a morning ritual of thought, motion, and emotion. This begins the alignment of body mind and spirit, which is the highest level of efficiency you are capable of. Sun salutations, Five Tibetans, joint rotations…start MOVING!
6) Raise energy. Move with more power, jack your emotions higher. Associate these powerful positive emotions with your goals and daily actions. If you have to do it—find a way to ENJOY doing it. As Merry Poppins said: “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find the fun and POOF! The job’s a game!” Smart lady.
7)Gratitude for past and current blessings. Find gratitude for what you have already accomplished in your life. If you think you haven’t accomplished anything, you are either lying to yourself, or you have standards that are so unreasonably high they cause you pain. Start with the things for which you would praise your own child: learning to walk, and talk, and read. Having a strong healthy body, heart, and/or mind. Friendships. Family. FIND THINGS TO BE GRATEFUL FOR. If you can read these words, you should be grateful. If you lost your sight or reason, you would mourn them. If your child lost those things, you would be shattered. BE GRATEFUL for another day of life!
8) Gratitude for future blessings (goals). This is critical. Take the SAME
emotional energy you have raised about the things you have now…and begin to give thanks for the
goals you have in the future, as if you have already accomplished them. Say it out loud. If you
can’t say it, you can’t have it! “I’m SO grateful for the new love in my life! I’m SO grateful I
take the time to meditate every day! I’m SO grateful for my five new customers! I’m SO
grateful I look great in my size X pants! I’m SO grateful my children graduated college!”
Use total physiology, emphasis, enthusiasm, body language. The message of “The Science of
Getting Rich” is that gratitude for what we have now is the foundation for our future accomplishment.
9) Incantation (About three minutes) chanting, aloud, with enthusiasm, the belief that you already possess the resources and power necessary to create your dreams.
Success expert Tony Robbins suggests a statement like “All I need is within me now. All the STRENGTH I need is within me now. All the CONFIDENCE I need is within me now. All the LOVE I need is within me now…”
Again, WHILE MOVING, WALKING EXERCISING. Generate the emotions. FEEL it. If you don’t believe it, move your body as if you do. ACT the part. Put on the facial expression of confidence, throw your shoulders back. Smile. Move with authority, power, unstoppable energy. SEE your goals “As if now.”
And we’re back to the 30-day challenge. Do this, every day for 30 days. I promise that at times you will feel silly. You will have huge resistance on some days. JOURNAL THE EMOTIONS that come up. But I also promise that you will increase your output, and begin to see truly strange “coincidence” and instances of “synchronicity” occurring in your life.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
10) TAKE AN ACTION. You’ve clarified goals, raised energy, visualized your internal world and
the external steps you will take today and this week to create your future. NOW…take an action!
Exercise, write 1000 words of your novel, write an email you’ve put off. DO SOMETHING.
ACT ON A DECISION. Never leave the site of a decision without taking an action, however small, moving you in that direction. Mind: form a goal. Emotions: generate the positive feelings you WANT to have…and experience them NOW. Body: take an action. DO something. Make a phone call. Check your goal list. Read an article. Perform a sun salutation. Push away from the place.
TAKE AN ACTION. Nearing the end of his life, actor Michael Landon said that it is a tragedy that we don’t understand from birth that we are going to die. That that knowledge would lend both urgency and sweetness to our existence. “Whatever you want to do, do it now.” He said. “There are only so many tomorrows.”
If you will follow this advice for 30 days, you’ll understand something I’ve been trying to say all along. You will have taken responsibility for your existence, and will be acting with greatly enhanced clarity. These actions in the material world are the path to being what I refer to as an “awakened adult.” It is the doorway to an extraordinary life. I wish nothing less for each and every one of you.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Because of Saturday’s Diamond Hour show, I was forced to sit down and
work out the rest of the “Perfect Diamond Hour” sequence, and I want to
put this out as fast as possible, so BOOM, here it goes today!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 4:02 AM
Sunday, May 12, 2013
One of the reasons Motherhood seems to inspire greatness is that every good mother is committed to something other than herself. Something that goes beyond the edge of her own life. Something she loves enough to die for. You can touch this space by the simple joy of giving to others, of finding something to believe in that is larger than you, deeper than you, that will outlive you. By knowing what you would die for, and start living for it. Let the love you feel for your mother inspire you to be not just a great parent...but a great spirit.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 5:17 AM
Friday, May 10, 2013
This is Gratitude both past and present. During your Diamond Hour,
spend 3-5 minutes generating the most positive emotions you can.
Imagine all of the things in your life for
which you ALREADY feel gratitude: life, love, health, family, a roof over your head, etc. As you do, chant out loud something like “I’m SO grateful for my loving children! I’m SO grateful for
a strong, healthy body! I’m SO grateful for a healthy mind and happy heart!” and so on.
The core message of “As A Man Thinketh” and countless other self-help books is that our minds
and emotions create our worlds.
My very favorite goal-setting technique, the “Time Line” process created by Tad James, suggests that you need to visualize (or “mentalize”) your goal, its position on your time line (visualized as a string of actions and incidents stretching off into your future), the intermediate actions necessary to support that goal. Then you have to check the degree to which your internal ecology supports your goal: your beliefs, value hierarchy, and positive and negative emotional anchors or associations.
But the “carrier tone” of the entire thing is emotion. Enthusiasm. In the terms of Aikido master Koichi Tohei, does your “Ki” extend out into the world, or does the world’s negative energy “back up” into you? Imagine it like a stream running into a poisoned pond. So long as the water flows outwards, the poisoned water doesn’t enter the stream.
That is the power of enthusiasm. And it is impossible to feel enthusiastic and positive if all you see in your life right now is the negative. OUR EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES DO NOT CONTROL OUR EMOTIONS. What we focus upon, our beliefs and perceptual filters control our emotions…big time. For 27 years, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, convicted of sabotage against the system of apartheid.
But instead of becoming embittered, he used that time to benefit his people, clarify his values, and deepen his spiritual nature.
He focused on what could be done.
Remember the success equation? GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = SUCCESS. Because this equation is multiplicative rather than additive, a zero in any category will KILL your dreams. So no matter how hard it may be, it is critical that every day you find something to be grateful for, right here, rght now.
“No, dammit!” I can hear some of you howl. “I don’t have anything to be grateful for! I refuse to feel positive about my life!” Like Captain Kirk in The Final Fronteir: “I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!”
Says a fictional character.
Mistaking this for anything other than childish ego would be a huge mistake. If you learn the lesson, you don’t need the pain. Only if you insist on remaining ignorant do you need to hold onto the negative emotions. Dig deep. Learn the lesson. Then let the negative emotions go, trusting that you won’t make the same mistakes again.
You can afford to be grateful. Afford to embrace the small miracles of life, and find joy in any circumstance, no matter how difficult. In fact, the hard fact is that the only way to maximize your chances of moving to a BETTER circumstance is by finding joy right where you are. If this seems a contradiction, you have my sympathy. I can only say that you need to wrestle with this one until you “get it.”
Be grateful right now. And then…create an even better future.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:59 AM
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Once you’ve finished your first draft, ask “what is the meaning of my
story” and re-write from the beginning to sharpen this. There are two
things to write about: what are human beings, and what is the world they
see? “Who am I” and “what is true?” These ideas link together
powerfully. Everything you have a character say and do is your comment
on what human beings are. Every plot twist is a statement about the
ethical structure of the universe: how the world responds to us, whether
it is benign, indifferent, or malevolent.
Here’s a note: classical science fiction tends to be much more “what is true” than “who am I?” It deals more with the physical structure of the universe, what is true, how it fits together. Most literary fiction deals more with the first question: “who am I” and the question of deep psychological and philosophical structure. In reality, all fiction has examples that move between these, but another thing to remember is that they are inseparable, really.
Go deeply enough into either question, and you emerge at the other position. So my suggestion is that you need to have a philosophy of humanity. What are we? Why are we? What motivates us, what is love and what is fear?
Go deep. Ultimately, the question is connected to your sense of self.
And then…what is the world? How do you understand the flow of history? The actions of human beings? Not “predict,” but in retrospect understand, and perhaps learn enough to make more positive choices in the future.
Meaning, values, beliefs…all of these things affect our world view. And working through it in your own life will teach you vast amounts about the world.
Then…develop a sense of the flow of history, human and cosmic. How did we become what we are as a species? It took me years of research to devise and refine the theories of social and human evolution in my novels LION’S BLOOD and GREAT SKY WOMAN. The concepts about race, gender, consciousness and social structure are at the core drive the books and define the characters, their worlds, their choices, thoughts and more. All in the service of an emotional charge.
So…what is your story about? Can you define it clearly?
And if you can, what is the opposite of that value? That position? Is there a character or situation that expresses that opposite? Can you set the two values in story opposition to each other? Sharpen them? Force them to clash?
Now, I DON’T suggest that you do this in your first draft. In the first draft, just write and have fun. But during re-write, it is quite valuable to (as I believe Paddy Cheyefski said) extract the meaning from your piece, write it on a 3 X 5 card, and post that card above your computer. Then be certain that every scene in some way explores your theme or counter theme. Do that, and you can create a core of power and emotion that will carry your readers along without them ever consciously realizing how and why they are responding so intensely.
It’s almost cheating.
Write with passion!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:07 AM
Friday, May 03, 2013
Two weeks ago, a young man named Terry H. was preparing to train for his 4th Degree black belt. His test involved serious physical and intellectual work, and part of the test was interviewing a martial artist he admires, who has integrated his physical skills into other levels (that's a great exercise!)
And although I did not know this gentleman personally, he reached out to me to ask my help. I was honored, and we had a wide-ranging hour-long phone interview during which I answered questions about my training and life. During the interview I poked a little to determine whether he was solidly set up for what was going to be a grueling test. How did I know? Here was the prep, according to Terry (I assume this was all to be done in the weeks before the test):
“Thanks again for the interview. It was one of the coolest parts of my 4th Dan test.
6000 pushups & crunches, 4000 basic kicks, 1000 advanced kicks, 1200 forms, 60 miles of roadwork....400 random acts of kindness (not so random, really) one day mute, one day blind folded, one day in a wheelchair….”
That was serious. I knew that it was designed to push him beyond his ordinary concept of self, and that at some point he would waver. So I gave him the ANCIENT CHILD meditation, teaching him to see the light within his heart, to then concentrate that into a child self, and connect it to his “Elder” self, the most generative process imaginable. And indeed, he hit his wall. When he did:
“A week before, my inner child had an inner meltdown. I got him talking to my future old man, and it was cool. "I just want to do good!" the child said. “I’m very proud of you” the elder replied.
There are voices in our minds. If those voices are destructive to you, it is crippling. To begin to align them opens the door to coherence, to congruency. To align your emotions so that you are not fighting yourself any longer.
This is a way of looking at the meditations where you observe your inner chatter without fighting. Where you throw an Ericksonian “Parts Party” to have your different aspects cooperate with each other. With the imaginary “board meetings” of role models discussed in “Think And Grow Rich.” With looking in the mirror and saying: “I love you.” (And if you cannot do this without flinching, you need this process!)
The “Ancient Child” is a way to access your own power, taking off your brakes. To move through life with the enthusiasm of a child and the wisdom of an elder. That gives your adult self the clarity it needs to fulfill its daily tasks with meaning: you know that every step you take is in alignment with your deepest values, beliefs, needs, and emotions. This feeling, if you haven’t experienced it, is just miraculous.
When Terry’s “child” felt despair, felt unequal to the goals he had set for himself (an inevitable part of the “Hero’s Journey” cycle) and cried “I just want to be good!” the part of him on the other side of the issue, the part who had already accomplished the goal reached back to take his hand. In this case, all that need to be said was “I’m very proud of you.”
Last night at Aikijutsu I watched a young father who had taken his seven year old son for instruction. The son kept trying to master a difficult technique, and failing. Again and again he looked up at his Dad, searching his Dad’s face for understanding, approval, encouragement. And the Dad smiled, and nodded, and gave him a “thumb’s up.” And the kid dove back in and tried again, and again…until he got it.
Anyone who had a parent who supported your dreams knows how important this is. Anyone who didn’t have this critical support knows how much it hurts.
I’m telling you it is not too late. Never too late. You can give yourself permission to be good, be great, to thrive.
In fact…in reality…you’re the only one who can. Please get your FREE copy of the ANCIENT CHILD today!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 3:46 AM
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
First, a recap:
1) Five Minute Miracle. Take five sixty-second “breathing breaks”, one every 2-3 hours.
2) Re-write your top 3-5 goals once every day. Be certain to have a tangible, photographable
goal in each of your top three arenas (body, finances, relationships). And Journal your emotions and
3) Begin to expand out the “5MM” breaks. For instance, spend extra time during session #1 by doing
it first thing in the morning on awakening, listen to your heartbeat.
4) Begin to implement the “Ancient Child” technique to contact your intuition and passion, clarify
your goals for the year and your actions for the day that relate to them.
5) Create a 15-minute (minimum) “morning ritual” of motion and emotion to center and begin to move
your goals and intentions from concept to motion. This means things like Joint Recovery, Five Tibetans, Sun Salutations…something basic and powerful that requires no equipment.
Something you do every day to anchor yourself into your physical body, your vehicle for this world.
6) Raise emotions MORE. Yep, we talked about emotion in Step #5 but we’re going deeper. We have focused our intentions, begun to move our bodies, and now we’re going to begin the magical alchemy of combining body, mind, and emotions so that everything we are is going in the same direction.
Charles Darwin believed that emotions were heuristics, simplified instructions for life that help us sort between numerous choices swiftly. Without emotion, it is difficult to clarify values, and without values, how do you know which of life’s countless options to take?
Now, the evolutionary emotional “flash” is best for short-term decisions (“should I walk down that ally? Ask that person out, or accept an invitation? Watch that movie?”) but long-term decisions require BOTH emotion and logic (buying a house, marrying a partner, designing a career). People who are not in touch with their emotions can have a difficult time making rapid decisions. People who are not in touch with their logical centers can make disastrous decisions about their bodies, their careers, and/or their relationships if they don’t hook both together at the same time.
So learning to deliberately raise and channel your emotions not only enables you to overcome inertia, but also make short-term decisions. Your ultimate destiny is shaped by your capacity to make daily decisions that lead to massive action, those actions in alignment with your long-term goals. The massive action allows you to “fail forward fast” and gain more data about your environment. While other people are trying to make a decision a week, you’re making ten decisions a day, and you’re going to blow their results away, if you just pay attention to the results you get.
ANYTHING that interferes with the process of action, interpreting results, and adjusting action must be eliminated. And changing beliefs or re-aligning values requires…wait for it…emotion.
You must learn to master your emotions. Part of this is learning to “ride” them like a surfer. Another is learning how to “tack” into them like a sailor. Part is learning to “direct” them by controlling your focus. Part is learning to find the “center” of your existence so that the emotions can rage and storm around you, while you remain calm. And part of it is simply being able to “Observe” your emotions without being attached to them.
In my own life, fear was a major concern in my martial arts training. This is precisely why it took me SEVENTEEN YEARS to earn my first black belt. I had a morbid fear of sparring. I was good at it. I’d never been hurt. Hell, I’d taken second place at the 1972 National Korean Karate competitions, and been congratulated on my technique by Joon Rhee himself, the “Father of American Tae Kwon Do.” But I had only wrapped technique around my fear like a candy shell around a Tootsie Pop’s chewy center.
Under stress, the whole structure collapsed. And friends, if you are trying to move forward in any hierarchical activity, you will be stress-tested to ego destruction. No matter how you twist and turn, eventually life lays you bare. And I couldn’t face the Gorgon.
It took me years of searching to finally find my answer, in the shape of a Shorei Chito Ryu instructor named Terry Letteau, and HIS instructor, Harley Reagan. These men opened the door to real understanding, that my fear was just…a feeling. It didn’t mean that I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, or mustn’t, or that I was small and weak, or that I was a coward. It was just there, and the labels I added to it were what was draining my strength away.
That’s another subject. The point is that every day, you need to directly engage with your emotions. You both use them as fuel, and study them as a source of conflict. If you say “Ever day in every way I’m getting better and better” what voices come up in your head? Whose voices are they?
If you say “I’m grateful for my life” do you believe it? If you seek things in your past and present that you can be proud of, do you lie to yourself and say “there is nothing. I’ve never done anything” and disempower yourself?
If you are going to direct your life, to have your dreams, you have to use all your tools. And that means keeping them in the very best condition. And that means to inspect them, under controlled conditions, like a pilot inspecting his plane and going through his check list BEFORE he is in the air…every damned day.
Raise your emotions. Think of what you love, what you are proud of, what you hope for. All the things you have to be grateful for. Look for “tiny” miracles if you want: the fact that you can read, walk, talk. That you live in a world where you can share knowledge you didn’t have to shed blood and skin to learn…just by opening a book. That you didn’t have to hunt your own meat, grow your own fruit, pave your own roads. That you are part of a web of association, billions of individuals working together to increase the possibility for all. Be grateful for your children, parents, friends. For health, for love, for your past accomplishments and future potential.
Yes, there will ALWAYS be storm clouds. Everyone has them. But the way you get through them is by shrinking your ego until you can fit into whatever specks of blue sky you can find. And when you do that…the storm clouds shrink, and you’ll find the room to do your dance.
So…raise your emotions. Every day. And then…surf the wave!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 4:53 AM
Monday, April 29, 2013
The “naturals” in any field can learn their craft, sport, or discipline simply by observing other people’s finished product, and working their butts off. But the truth is that anyone can learn anything more efficiently and effectively if you make a specific study of learning techniques. I will leave most of this homework for the student, but here is your basic assignment:
1) Identify three writers you admire who have achieved the kind of quality and success you desire, and have also written or spoken (in some accessible manner) of their career.
2) One at a time, study them. Seek most specifically how they use body, mind and emotions. NLP refers to this as “Belief Systems, Mental Syntax and use of Physiology”. In writing, here are some possibilities
A) BELIEF: What do they believe about the role of art and the artist in life? What do they believe are the most important aspects of writing and art?
B) MENTAL SYNTAX: What is the specific pattern they work in? How and when do they research, outline, write first-draft, rewrite, submit, revise, promote? Each of these arenas ALSO has sub-belief and syntaxes. Study them.
C) PHYSIOLOGY: How do they actually position themselves in their work? What physical environment creates their work? What time of day? What healthy stimulants or relaxants do they use?
3) Look at what all three writers say in common. Concentrate on this.
4) Filter out unhealthy activities. Writers are just human beings. They make the mistake of using drugs or alcohol to relax, they engage in self-destructive behavior, they have ugly relationships and do stupid things. But what you seek is the “critical path”—the actions which are most generative. The actions that professional, successful writers practice that unsuccessful writers neglect.
Then…begin to implant these attitudes in your own life. And watch your results soar! Remember: success leaves clues. Footprints. Recipes. Practice them today, and share them tomorrow!
Write with passion!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 7:25 AM