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.

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

 

Living the dream

The other day I asked a man how he was doing. He answered, ‘Living the dream,’ though he was obviously not living well. He was, of course, being facetious. He has a job, and earns a living, but he’s going to work hard until he one day retires old and spends a paltry few years living at a lower standard until he finally dies. Maybe that’s good enough for him. I won’t begrudge him that.

However, for those of you who visit this site, that kind of life isn’t enough. It’s not just that you want the money and all that comes with it. The truth is that an ordinary life of sufficiency and struggle simply don’t satisfy those of us who are dreamers and visionaries. Yet, some reading this will still think or say something like, “That might be true, Sam, but you can’t just live your dreams. You have to be realistic.’

Maybe you can’t just stroll into the Lamborghini dealership and pick up that red Aventador right now. That’s okay. However, you can begin to live your dream NOW, on a smaller scale. What you’ll need to do is to evaluate your dream and break it down into its constituent parts. Which parts of your dreams could be accomplished within a few months? Years? Which goals could you get close to achieving if you just went for it now? What are some ways you could move toward the life you want to live?

Can’t afford that brand-new 700 series BMW? Buy a used one. Armani suits too expensive right now? Buy the best you can afford, get it well-tailored, and carry yourself with such confidence that people will assume it’s the ‘good stuff.’ I know one gentleman who actually buys his suits second-hand from a thrift store that’s located near a high-income area. Because of its location, it receives donations from wealthy businessmen. As a result, he wears high quality, designer label suits that some banker wore twice, and no one would ever guess that he paid $30 for them.

I’m not talking about settling for less, or about having more realistic goals, or faking it until you make it. Rather what I’m suggesting is that you start moving toward your dreams, even if only in small steps. In golf, a 1 millimeter adjustment of your swing makes the difference between being the joke of the country club and being the man to beat on the PGA tour. Very often, our reluctance to even begin to pursue our dreams in a small way is what keeps us from achieving them, because we never realize that the great success we’re dreaming of is just a number of small adjustments away.

Likewise, the life you dream of is closer than you think. Walk, crawl, inch toward it if you must, but don’t you dare stay where you are. You have too much to give to the world. Maybe you won’t accomplish it all. However, one thing is certain: if you don’t at least start, you’ll never get there. So get moving!