Dealing with dream killers

Okay, so you have a dream. Maybe you’ve started planning for it, and it’s become a vision. You’re taking decisive action toward it’s fulfillment. Naturally, you’re excited about it, because you believe in it, so you go ahead and share it with those near and dear to you… or maybe you’re already telling anyone who will listen.

However, they don’t believe in it… and they’re not that nice about it. They point out its downsides, find fault with it, ridicule it, try to convince you that you’re not ‘qualified’ to achieve it, or maybe they even point how others are already doing something similar, or how others have tried and failed. Very often, many of us who get this kind of reaction get discouraged and let our dreams die, allowing others to rob us of our potential for success and greatness. We’ve been assassinated by dream killers.

First, we have to understand WHY so many people are dream killers. Not all of them are petty and vicious. Some of them just don’t want to see you fail miserably. In other cases, they’re just projecting their own fear of failure onto you, or because they fear they might ‘lose’ you if you do happen to succeed. In some cases, dream killers are people who secretly resent your ambition, because you’re willing to take chances that they aren’t willing to take. If you succeed, you underscore how they might have succeeded if they had just had the nerve to try.

When I went to Wall Street, I had lots of dream killers around me. I quickly learned how to handle them. Now, you can go hard core and just completely cut them all out of your life, but sometimes that just isn’t practical. In my case, I couldn’t cut off my family members, because at the time I was broke and lived with them. So I limited their access to me, especially whenever I was feeling discouraged or vulnerable.

Keep your discouragements, setbacks, and vulnerabilities private, at least with regard to the dream killers. You may even want to play things close to the chest in the early stages of a business or product launch so that the dream killers around you don’t get a chance to discourage you.

Now, we don’t get to choose our families, but we do have control over who our friends are, and how much time we spend with both. With this in mind, be purposeful in how you use your time with them. Make a habit of reserving more of your times for those who would encourage and help you. Don’t allow those who don’t value your dream to use much of your time!

Another thing I learned was to do my homework with regard to whatever I happened to be working on, so if anyone suddenly took on the role of a dream killer they weren’t going to win a debate with me about my dream. I also started using the ‘feedback’ I got from them to help me determine weaknesses in my plans. Even then, I took what they said with a bag of salt, not just a grain, because I knew that some of what they had to say was based on their own flawed thinking and incomplete knowledge.

I also had to recognize that people who are deeply entrenched in mediocrity will naturally criticize, ridicule or condemn those seeking to rise ‘above’ them. History does not kindly remember the critic. Would you put what the dream killers have to say on your tombstone? Then why listen to them?

Feed your dream. Find ways to encourage and motivate yourself. Many successful people create ‘vision boards,’ where they post pictures of the lifestyle they’re aiming for, or reminders of why they’re pursuing their dream. With every project I’ve ever worked on, I’ve always tried to come up with more reasons why it will work than why it won’t, and I remind myself continually of those reasons. Chances are, if I’m working on something, you won’t win an argument with me about it. Be more thorough in nurturing your dream than anyone else could be in trying to discourage it.

Stay focused. No matter what the dream killers have to say, keep working at your dream, one decision at a time. It’s your dream, not theirs, your life, not theirs.

Life is short. Don’t chase your dreams, hunt them down.

Charisma, Part 3 – Confidence

Another vital element of charisma is confidence. Charismatic people tend to be highly confident. After all, if you don’t seem sure of yourself, it’s pretty hard for anyone else to be sure of. Especially when you’re initiating contact or trying to sell anything directly as a person, how comfortable your prospects are with you

Darkfell.com - My Art and Fiction Blog

Passion drives competence

is usually more important even than price. For many companies and individuals price is usually about #6 on the list of priorities. Elite clients in particular don’t trust cheap. They also don’t trust insecure.

When you’re confident in what you have to say and what you have to offer, it’s easier to inspire others to be confident in it, too. Some questions that may help you clarify where you might be lacking confidence in communicating with others include:

  • How confident am I about what I’m trying to communicate?
  • Why does what I’m communicating matter to me?
  • Why should it matter to anyone else?
  • If I were 100% confident about this, how would I act?

One of the key factors in being confident is competence. If someone were to ask me to give a speech on composing Latin jazz for large orchestras, I’d be totally lost. On the other hand, if I’m asked to speak on comic art, sales, or leadership, I’d be as comfortable as a pig in mud.

Another factor is passion. Even some of the most bashful, nervous types come to life when they start talking about their passion. Is there such a thing as over-enthusiasm? Sure, but my personal philosophy with regard to most things is that I’d rather beg for forgiveness than ask for permission, and when it comes to enthusiasm, it’s safer to go a little overboard than it is to show up with the personality of a handle. Now, I’m not saying to fake it, but rather to let your passion for what you’re doing come out.

Indeed, passion often drives competence. When I sustained a bad frostbite of my drawing hand and couldn’t even write my name, much less draw, my passion for my art led me to practice with thicker markers and crayons, then a thickly padded ball point pen for weeks. In the end, the art at Darkfell.com improved by leaps and bounds.

I won’t ask how bad do you want it, but rather, ‘How much do you love it?’

-Sam

P.S. Here are some of my other articles on boosting your confidence:

Quick Tips to Boost Your Confidence

The James Bond Walk

The Power of a Good Handshake

The Power of a Genuine Smile

The ABCs of Charisma, Part 2

Charisma isn’t everything, but most of us want it, or wish we had more. In last week’s post, we discussed how improving your charisma can be seen as ABC – a relationship between your Aim, Behavior and the Chemistry between you and others. Today we’re going to deal with one aspect of the behavioral side of charisma.

Yes, there are changes you can make to your behavior which can greatly increase how charismatic you seem, but first I’d like to address the one thing you can do that will make every other strategy far more powerful, and incredibly easier to implement.

AUTHENTICITY.

How do you feel about someone when you think they’re being fake?

Do you find it easy to like them?

 

How likely are you likely to trust them?

Now, I know it may seem corny to just say ‘be yourself,’ but let’s face it, the easiest way to be charismatic is to be real. Nobody likes a phony. Actor George Burns once said about honesty that ‘If you can fake it, you’ve got it made.’ The same holds true for authenticity. very few of us can be fake and pull it off consistently. The vast majority of us are nowhere near as mysterious as we think we are. If you were slick and smooth as a bag of greasy marbles, you wouldn’t be rearing this.

So, your first step in your journey to great charisma is to examine your character and personality. Who are you, really? Drop the socially convenient masks for a little while, and practice really  being yourself.

I’m not saying you should lose all decorum and share your inner demons with the world, but rather that you give yourself permission to be you. It’s a lot easier than creating a facade. Try these simple questions to help define your most authentic self.

What did you LOVE doing as a child? Dig up old photos, videos, diaries, and other things which connect to that past before you learned to conform.

What are your values  What matters most to you? Ask yourself where these values came from. Write them down and re-state them in a way that makes it really yours.

What’s fun for you now? What do you like to do but avoid doing because you think you can’t be good at it?

What are you drawn to? if you were going to have to spend the rest of your life on an island alone but could bring 10 books, what would they be?

What do you do because other people respond well? Would this change if you only ever had to please yourself?

What is your body telling you? What are the things which cause you stress, anxiety, fear? Why?

What are the ways that you function well, and not so well? For example, I do my best writing at around 4AM, regardless of what time I’ve gone to bed, so I try to get up then whenever possible.

What dreams did you have earlier in life? Not all dreams are necessarily destiny, but they can reveal patterns that will help you identify who you really are.

What is the underlying WHY In the things you do when you’re not acting out of obligation, necessity, social expectations, etc.?

When you start answering some of the questions, you’re going to find it easier to be yourself, and when people sense that you’re for real, they will tend to be more receptive to you and what you have to offer, and this receptiveness is what then will enable conscious charismatic behavior to work its apparent magic. We’ll talk about that next week.

Meanwhile, remember. An intention without a decision is just a wish, so decide today to unleash your most authentic self so that you can tap into the amazing power of your charisma.

-S

 

The ABCs of Charisma

James BondNearly all of us want to have at least some charisma. Especially for those of us who are public speakers, who work in sales, strong charisma helps us to engage audiences, build rapport with prospective clients, and create opportunities for personal branding that can greatly enhance our revenue capture. In a word, people with strong charisma tend to have an easier time making money, establishing relationships, and getting what they want out of life in general. On the other hand, almost no one wants to be the guy nobody likes. Most people I run into think I’m very charismatic, yet I was the ‘nice guy’ everybody hated in school. So you won’t be surprised to know I believe charisma can be developed.

What is charisma, then? It comes from an ancient Greek word that meant ‘gift.’ In sacre writings of the Christian faith, it was used to describe spiritual gifts given by God. Today, it’s defined as:

cha·ris·ma
kəˈrizmə/
noun
  1. 1.
    compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.
    “she enchanted guests with her charisma”
    synonyms: charmpresencepersonality, force of personality, strength of character;More

  2. 2.
    a divinely conferred power or talent.

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of a divinely given gift, that’s okay. Think of it then as personal impact. The truth is that to a great degree everyone has at least some charisma, and we can work to improve on our own particular type of charisma.

Now, most of us tend to think that charisma is an inherent trait, and popular culture tends to reinforce this belief with such expressions as ‘you either have it or you don’t,’ and the extreme charisma of celebrities and historical figures seems to enforce this as a fact. I beg to differ. however, and I’ll tell you why.

To some extent, some people are naturally more charismatic than others, yet charisma itself appears to involve conscious effort. There’s a story about Marilyn Monroe going shopping with a friend of hers, and not being recognized by anyone. Her friend was was puzzled by this, and Marilyn, it’s said, told her, “I’m not on stage.” Marilyn then ‘turned on’ her charisma, and before long, she was being mobbed by fans.

In my own small way, I’ve noticed a difference between how people react to me when I’m on stage, and when I’m just trying to leave the venue. When I spoke at an event at The Hard Rock Cafe here in Toronto recently, some people even noted that I was ‘different’ on stage. Indeed, my public speaking tends to attract far more business than all my other channels for attracting clients. To some extent this is because of the content of my speeches, but a good deal of it is because I’ve learned to ‘turn it on’ when I’m on stage.

All charismatic people, when using their charisma, apply what Andrew Leigh, author of Charisma: The Secrets of Making a Lasting Impression, refers to as the ABCs of charisma:

  • Aim. What you want to achieve. This should be specific. When I’m on stage, my aim is to inspire the audience to believe that they can achieve far more. In personal interactions, I’m usually just aiming to make other people feel free to be themselves, because that helps me to see how I can help them.
  • Behavior. Some will say ‘just be yourself.’ I’d say there are specific behavior traits which can be used to reveal your best, most authentic self.
  • Chemistry. The interactions and relationships which occur with others. Think of this as a continuous feedback loop. If you’re not aware of the personal chemistry between you and others, your charisma will suffer setbacks.

We’re going to examine charisma-enhancing behavior in the next post, but for now I’d like you to begin observing your aim  or objective when you’re interacting with others, as well as your own behavior and the resulting personal chemistry. Don’t be in a hurry. Improving your charisma takes time. Once you’ve made some definite observations of your present use of charisma, you can do the following for an immediate shift in its impact:

Smile. A genuine smile conveys warmth and friendly intent.

Make eye contact. Lack of eye contact will make people think you have something to hide, or that you’re not confident.

Use open body language. To put it simply, this is when no part of the body covers the midway point of the bisected body. Crossed arms, for example, usually indicate resistance, hostility, or skepticism.

Relax. Most people don’t bite. Really.

Speak up. Charismatic people tend to speak clearly and calmly.

If you’re really struggling with your charisma, I’d recommend  Andrew Leigh’s book for an in-depth approach. In my next post, I’ll go into detail on how to improve your use of charisma to hep unleash your vision on the world.

Keep the faith!

-Sam

The power of your thoughts

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” – Ancient proverb

Your thoughts are immensely powerful. SO powerful that they shape your very reality. Now, I’m not talking about some belief that your thoughts communicate with the universe and then the universe gives you what you’re thinking about. Being a more practical man, I’d like to share with you  my observations on how your thinking affects your intentions and decisions, which in the end shape your life.

First you continually think about, and how you think about it,  will ultimately affect your perception. When I was in the US Marine Corps, my commanding officer said to me, “Medina, perception is reality. No matter what the truth is, whatever people perceive will be the truth to them.” In the years since then I’ve observed this to be true. When we constantly think a certain way, be begin to persuade ourselves that what we’re thinking is true. In reality, much of what we think is comprised of firmly held beliefs rather than truths, but in time our mind stops seeing the difference. Once we perceive something to be true, we tend to form our intentions based on that perceived truth.

These intentions then direct our decisions. For example, I grew up thinking I was profoundly ugly. So, throughout high school and college I never had a girlfriend. This perception led me to the intention of not bothering to try to engage any woman in conversation, even if I was very strongly attracted to her. After all, what was the use? The decision not to bother even trying to talk to the ladies resulted in a rather dull and lonely social life. It wasn’t until I served in the Marine Corps that I made a shocking discovery.

I was sent to deliver a message to the female platoon, and so stopped outside their barracks (males could not go past the first entryway).One of the young women went inside to tell the platoon that there was someone from 4th Platoon with a message. Another female voice asked who it was, and the woman I’d spoken to said, “Medina.” At this point, it sounded as though the entire platoon said, “Awwww.”

Apparently, all 50 of them thought I was a cute little bugger. Who knew?
This discovery changed my thoughts, which then changed my intentions and decisions concerning women, and my social life became less lonely and a lot more interesting.

So, my challenge to you today is to begin to examine your habitual thoughts and start eliminating the ones which are pointing away from your dreams. When you confront a thought habit which seems to do so, ask yourself whether it’s really the truth, or just a belief. When you find that it’s just a misguided belief, make a decision to eliminate it from your thinking. You owe it to your vision to do so.

To this day, when I’m about to shave, I sometimes look in the mirror and say, “There’s a good-looking brother!”

-Sam