Hold Your Horses! MKMMA Week 19

As we look around us in the natural world there is incredible order. There is wisdom and instinct that we can’t quite explain. Somehow baby spiders know how to spin webs. Somehow birds know how to fly. Somehow butterflies know how to travel across continents to migrate. The order in the midst of such complexity is awe-inspiring. In the middle of such eloquence, however, there are elements that can unravel things… Where things seem to react in a crazy way.

firehorses1.jpgOne such example can be found in how horses react to a barn fire. While some try to dismiss this as a myth research on the topic reveals story after story after story. As it turns out, if a barn where horses live catches fire, if the horses are not restrained after being chased out of the burning building they will often get free and charge back into the blaze. As I was first researching what sounded like a crazy myth I found incident after incident where animals had died in fires on account of the animal breaking free and running back into the flames… Sometimes even doing so two or three times.

Moths are attracted to a flame, often to their own demise, but what could prompt such an intelligent animal as a horse to behave in such a foolish way. What’s more, might we also act just as foolishly in a similar, though metaphorical, situation?

I believe there are two elements leading to the horse running to their own demise. The first is described by Haanel in his introduction to part nineteen of the Master Keys:

“Fear is a powerful form of thought. It paralyzes the nerve centers, thus affecting the circulation of the blood. This, in turn, paralyzes the muscular system, so that the fear affects the entire being, body, brain and nerve, physical, mental and muscular.”

In short, a terrified horse is not going to make the best decisions. Some ranchers even tell of how the the horses were spooked by the lights and sirens of fire trucks before charging back into the fire. But is there something else at play here? After all, usually when a horse is scared isn’t its instinct to run away from the threat? I believe that there is another factor at play which, when combined with fear, can create a compounded threat not only for horses but for us as well.

The second threat is familiarity. When a horse, or person for that matter, is scared, they will seek comfort. This often comes in the form of seeking familiarity. Fear can jar our certainty and so we try to return to a place where we have always felt safe… someplace familiar. In the panic the horse, too, runs for the place where it has always felt safe… it’s stall.

Fear, chaos, upheaval… All of these things make it almost irresistible for the animal to return to that place of previous safety. Not that the stall was the lifestyle of the horse’s dreams, but at least nothing hurt him while he was there… Things were at least predictable.

So are you seeing the metaphor yet? In some ways we can be very much like the horse. As we make changes in our lives there can be fear and chaos. Taking up the mantle of being a self-determining hero in our own life can bring upheaval. Changes unfold, sometimes at a rate that is faster than we are prepared for. Sometimes changes seem to unfold too slowly, leaving us filled with doubt. Fear can start to rise up and if we are young on our quest, if we lack utter certainty, this can give rise to fear.

fire horse-fire.jpgFear, then, can give rise to a powerful desire for familiarity. Old habits… Old routines… Old comforts… Old blueprints that we had retired because they were no longer serving our life’s purpose. Burning barns, every one of them! They promise safety and the comfort of familiarity but all the while they are filling with smoke and sparks.

As you fashion this life of your dreams do you have fears? If you do, that’s great. That simply means that you are challenging yourself… thrusting yourself forward. Does the fear prompt you to step back, seek comfort and seek shelter? Warning! Warning! Danger! Danger! It is true that every hero needs to rest but they had best do it with their eyes looking forward along their path rather than look back and running towards a comfort that will try to seduce and destroy them.

How do we know if we are being drawn backwards? The answer is found by asking the question, “What would the person I intend to become do next?” Stay connected to this vision that you have of yourself… Of this best version of yourself. Have faith in this best, most courageous, inspired version of yourself and live from that image from this point forward. Most importantly, realize that there is no separation between the two… between you and this best version of yourself.

Be inspired by this best version of yourself. I hope that you are because I know that I certainly am and I can’t wait to see what you’re here to create!

~Daniel Hanscom

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Is That Your Final Answer? – MKMMA Week 18

who-wants-to-be-a-millionaire-toughest-question.jpg“Is that your final answer?” Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so you’ve probably heard that phrase before. We’ve all seen the game show. Money builds up. questions get more and more difficult. Lifelines are gone… The contestant gives their answer and the host asks over and over, “Are you sure? Is that your final answer?” It’s the moment of truth.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes you can see their level of certainty as though it was written on their face? Are they barely able to speak because of a dry mouth? Are they wiping the sweat from their palms on their pants? Do they have a panicked look on their face? Or, do they look confident and self-assured? Do they look like they KNOW, beyond any doubt, that they are correct? We can see how certain the contestant is through the way that they talk and move but this is only half of the story.

We see the rest of the story when the answer is announced. Sometimes the person who was completely certain turned out to be completely wrong. Sometimes the nervous wreck who was sure that they wrong turns out to be correct. This is a clue for us and I’m going to tell you something very interesting about certainty… Certainty is not a logical state… it’s an emotional one. Psychological study after study has shown this to be true.

What does that mean? It means that certainty is a feeling. As such, it functions according to the “rules” of feelings. It does not have to conform to being based on logic or fact. You can feel lonely in a room full of people. You can feel connected to humanity even though you’re all alone at the top of a mountain. You can choose to feel certain even though conditions don’t necessarily support that conclusion. You can choose to feel uncertain even though the evidence states that you have every right to feel confident. These feelings are choices… Our choices.

Confidence-Level.jpgWhy is this important? It’s important because your ability to create the future of your  dreams is dependent on your certainty that you can achieve it! (Remember point #1 of the Blueprint Builder?) Ultimately, thought, charged with feeling, leading to belief, resulting in action is what is going to build your future… your definite major purpose (DMP). Are you more or less likely to take action if you lack certainty? Lack of certainty leads to paralysis and hesitation so a lack of certainty is definitely going to interfere with creating your dream. This is why the Blueprint Builder focuses so much on the development of self-confidence and certainty… because it is a precursor to action.

In addition, certainty helps us to be clear in our thinking. Haanel talks about focusing our thoughts in one place like a magnifying glass. How can this be done if we are uncertain? How can we focus the power of our mind if we are scattered with thoughts of plan B, C, D, E and F? Certainty concentrates our mind which focuses our actions which leads to results. It is essential to manifesting the life that you want. After all, if you don’t believe it, how will your subconscious?

Sometimes I end my blog with a question or a challenge… This is one of those times. The million dollar question is:

How certain are you that you will turn your DMP into a reality?

Now before you answer, remember that certainty is an emotion. It doesn’t need to be supported by fact in order to be felt. Can you conjure a feeling of certainty around your DMP? Do you conjure this feeling every time you read it?

If you are 100% certain, so that you know clear to your bones, that you will create this reality, that you are already creating it, then I can say with confidence that it will be done. If you lack certainty around your DMP then this is an excellent place for you to devote your efforts. Stoke this fire so that it can light your way. Choose to feel certain regardless of what obstacles stand in your way. Think of them as paper dragons that will be blown aside when the time is right. You will find that certainty, along with a will to act, will make for an unstoppable combination.

I feel certain that you can manifest your dream… Do you?

~Daniel HanscomConfidence.jpg

What To Do With Dragons – MKMMA Week 17b

Our hero climbs yet another mountain and stands at the top looking back from where they came. It has been quite an adventure since they were called forward and took up the mantle of hero… Since they decided it was within their power to control their own fate. This new life of adventure has not been all ease and comfort. There have been bumps and bruises along the way but every hero has bumps and bruises and any quest of significance is worth receiving them.

You are that hero. You have taken up the quest and have become a hero in your own life. You have left so much of what used to be familiar. Truth be told, though, you doubt that those things would give you any comfort now. They just don’t offer the same draw that they once did. New things have you put in their place.

You walk along a path on your quest. Suddenly, the path opens up into a clearing and at the far end of the clearing is a dark cave. You know, deep inside, that the cave holds powers that may threaten to undo you if you don’t face them well. You draw your sword and enter the cave… one cautious step at a time. Your torch provides little light against the inky black that surrounds you. As you turn the corner, though, it provides all the light that you need to see a colossal figure in front of you. Scales glisten in the firelight. It stands before you, ancient and powerful. It is a dragon.

What is your response? I guess, like a great many things in life, your response depends on how you perceive this mighty beast. Even dragons can mean different things to different people and how we were trained to view them has a huge impact on what we will do next.

Green_european_dragon.jpgYou see, different cultures have different views on dragons. European dragons, for example, were malevolent and destructive. They were an evil menace. Stories told of how they used their ancient wisdom to manipulate, slaughter villages, eat livestock and steal treasure. Most of the dragons in these legends cared nothing for others and these stories typically ended with the hero killing the dragon so that it could no longer terrorize the land.

Chinese_Dragon.jpgThe Chinese dragon, however, is viewed entirely differently. This dragon was seen as a very good omen. They were seen as a symbol of power, strength and good luck for those worthy of them. Much of the Chinese art depicting dragons also shows the dragon with a flaming pearl which was a symbol of spiritual power and wisdom.

How do you choose to see dragons? This is important because we use dragon as a metaphor for the dire challenges that we face in life. So much depends on our perceptions. When you face a challenge, which type of dragon do you see. Do you see a powerful, malevolent force that is bent on your destruction? Do you see an attacker whose wrath you hope to merely survive? Or do you see a keeper of wisdom which will teach you during your encounter, even if bumps and bruises are part of the exchange? These dragons can be your tormentor or your teacher. Your paralysis or your awakening. Your end or your true beginning.

How you view a challenge in life will determine what mindset you bring into that challenge. Consequently, the mindset that you bring into the challenge will determine what you will take away from it.

As Og states in Scroll IV:

I have been given eyes to see and a mind to think and now I know a great secret of life for I perceive, at last, that all my problems, discouragements, and heartaches are, in truth, great opportunities in disguise. I am no longer fooled by the garments they wear for mine eyes are open. I look beyond the cloth and I am not deceived.

Here’s to you, my hero… Bumps, bruises and all.

~Cheers, Daniel Hanscom

Pick The Darned Apple – MKMMA Week 17

 

Let me tell you a story…

farmers pick rocks.jpgThere were once two farmers working together in a field. The sun beat down on them as they toiled away clearing rocks. With so much work to be done before the field could be planted they were putting in long hours. By mid-afternoon one of the farmers had become quite famished. He stood up and stretched his back then said to the other man, “My lunch is long gone and I’m so hungry. I’m sure that you must be also. I know of an apple tree that grows in the next field. Why don’t I go and get us some apples. We can have a snack and then finish our work.”

Also very hungry the second farmer agreed. Some food and a break was going to be most welcome. “I’ll stay here and keep working.” he replied.  “Once you get the apples you come on back and we can have a break.”

The first farmer agreed so he set off, hiking across the field towards the promise of the prized reward. The second farmer continued working. The sun beat down and his hunger grew more and more with the passing time. He checked his watch and was baffled at what could be taking his partner so long. Finally, he set off towards the apple tree himself to find the cause of the delay.

When he could see the tree he started to get angry. Here his partner had been simply standing under the tree while he had been working all by himself. “I’ve been slaving away while you’ve been simply standing here?” he snapped. “What have you been doing for all of this time?”, the second farmer demanded. The first farmer looked at him and simply replied, “I’ve been waiting for the fruit to drop.”

So where did our farmer go wrong? He knew what he wanted. He had a burning desire. He formed a plan. His mission included service to others. He even went to the source that could supply his need. What could possibly be missing? What was missing was action.

Vision.jpgI have a vision for the future. It is so real that I can almost taste it. Without action, though, a vision is all it would ever be. As the Japanese proverb says, “A vision without action is a daydream.” A video that I saw from Derek Atchley this week discussed this very concept.

You see, we can wish for something all day long but in the absence of action wishing just doesn’t make it so. If desire alone was enough then every kid would have an ice cream cone and every little girl would have a pony. Desire is useful to the extent that it prompts us to action so that the elements of our dream can be drawn forth into reality. At some point, the rubber needs to hit the road.

This is the part that seems to get overlooked so often but Haanel is very clear. In the introduction of Part 10 of the Master Key System he states, “…nothing happens without a definite cause.” He puts the message even more plainly in paragraph 25 when he says,

“Knowledge will not apply itself. You must make the application. Abundance will not come to you out of the sky, neither will it drop into you lap…”

This is not to say that we can explain every effect… Sometimes the power of thought can make an outcome seem almost magical. Somewhere, however, there must be a definite cause.

There is an old saying… Ready, Aim, Fire! Ready is about preparing for action. Ready is the phase where we sit, we think, we build our mindset and our habits and we cultivate the world within. Aim is the phase where we set our sights on our target by crafting our DMP. We decide what we want and create a plan of action to achieve it… Finally comes the third phase… Fire! It is time to act! It is time to charge forward and do the work.

It can be tempting to skip a step. It can also be tempting to stay too long on a step as in the case of paralysis by analysis; “Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim…”. Our success, though, hinges on our having the courage and faith and confidence to actually pull the trigger. The apple won’t fall into our laps… the world that we create within must express itself through action.

I am ready. I have prepared. I have taken aim for my definite purpose. I pull the trigger. “Do the work!” has been added as one of my daily autosuggestions. I am ready to reach out and pick the darned apple. If you haven’t already done so for yourself I hope that you will join me in the next phase of this incredible journey. Let’s not just stand around waiting for the fruit to drop.

appleinsky.jpg

 

Great Expectations – MKMMA Week 16

I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not shrink to a grain of sand. -Og Mandino

My teacher once told me a story of an old martial arts master who was looking for a student to train in his art. There were three young men who wanted to train with him so one day he met with the three young men and told them, “This is your first lesson.” With that, he stood in a stance and demonstrated a straight punch. After demonstrating the technique several times the teacher simply said, “I will return in one year.” and with that he left.

One year later the teacher returned and met with the young men. The first man was asked to demonstrate the technique. It was obvious that he had not spent time practicing because his technique was no better than the day the teacher demonstrated it.

Next, the second man came forward. He took a stance and performed the punch exactly as the teacher had demonstrated. Such was his power and skill that the teacher was impressed with his effort.

Gordon.jpgFinally the third student came forward. He took his stance and also performed the technique with supreme skill. Again the teacher was impressed. The teacher started to consider which of the two students he would train but then the third student spoke up, “But teacher, I found that you can also do the punch while stepping forward. And you can also do the punch while stepping backward or to the side. You can use it to strike high or you can use it to strike low. You can even use it to defend against an attack.” As the young man spoke he demonstrated the different variations of the one simple technique. Upon seeing this the teacher’s decision was simple. The first two students were dismissed and the third was trained.

I have always liked that story. I guess the reason why is that it has nothing to do with the punch. It has to do with expectation. It has to do with the standards that we set for ourselves. Each student had a standard that he held himself to regarding the work that he had been given.

The first student demanded only a minimal effort of himself. This can take many forms and usually comes with an array of justifications, excuses and blame. At the end of the day, though, we each have to face that guy or gal in the glass and we know the truth…

The second student rose to the standard that the teacher seemed to expect. He did what he was told and he did it well. This seemed very reasonable. The third student, however, surpassed what was expected of him because what he demanded of himself was higher than anybody’s expectations of him. Plain and simply… he was unreasonable.

Rudy-Movie.jpgA few weeks ago I wrote a post based on the movie “Rudy”. The post discussed perseverance and how belief, faith and hope are really at its core. If you don’t know the story of Rudy or if you missed the post I invite you to check it out here. One of my favorite elements in the movie was an ideal that Rudy seemed consumed with. “Have I done all that I can?”, he would ask himself. Rudy’s expectation of himself was very simple… Do absolutely everything he could possibly do. It was an expectation that seemed, to everybody else, totally unreasonable and yet he held himself to it… even though nobody else would.

So I ask the question, which of the students do you identify with as you study how to be the best version of yourself? Are you trying to just ‘get by’? Be careful… This one costs a great price in terms of integrity and self-image. Are you meeting the minimum…? Meeting the expectation that others have of you? Or are you reaching for your maximum potential? Are you earnestly asking, “Have I done all that I can?”

Study. Readings. Time in meditation. Providing service to others. Being a conduit for kindness. Supporting other class members. Freeing yourself from opinions. Linking. Staying true to the mental diet. Working your plan of action. Being the observer. “Have I done all that I can?” Your behavior will ultimately rise or sink to the expectation that you have of yourself. The standard you hold yourself to.

Every day, it’s time… It’s time to ask if you you have done all that you can. Every day it’s time to remember that you are nature’s greatest miracle. And finally, every day it’s time to strain your potential until it cries for mercy. Now go… and be amazing.

~Daniel Hanscom

mountain-i_will.jpg

 

The Amazing RAS – MKMMA Week 15

Please enjoy the video that I put together which has the entire blog post.

Transcript is below for those who cannot play the video.

I have a riddle for you…

What weighs three pounds, is about 60% fat and is absolutely amazing? Want a hint? It’s NOT cheesecake. The answer is: Your Brain!

Your brain is one of the most miraculous things on the planet and it is capable of absolutely incredible stuff. Let’s take a closer look.. In fact, let’s look at one part specifically.

The part is called the reticular activating system (RAS). This bundle of neurons performs an amazing function… It basically functions as a targeting system and as a filter. We tell it what we are looking for and it either magnifies an input or it deletes it according to what we told it to do. It is like the security guard that decides what gets to have an audience with our conscious mind based on what we’ve told it is relevant and important.

So, how does it magnify? Let me give you an example. Let’s say you want to buy a car. You do your research. You read. You look on the internet. Finally, you decide on the type of car that you want. One of the things that you love about this new car is that it’s kind of unique… You’ve never really seen any of them around before. Well, as soon as you decide on that car you start seeing them absolutely everywhere. It’s like overnight they unloaded a cargo ship and flooded the streets with them. The input of seeing that particular car is magnified.

The truth is the cars were always there. It’s just that we had never considered them relevant. Since they weren’t relevant not only did the RAS not magnify the input… it actually deleted the input so that it never even had a chance to enter the conscious mind.

You see… When you look at our five senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing) there is an incredible amount of data that enters the brain for processing every second of every day. Some estimate that the input is in the millions of bits of information flooding our nervous system at any given moment. The conscious mind, however, can only handle about 130 pieces of information at a time. Enter the RAS. This part of your amazing brain gets to decide what gets to have an audience with the conscious mind, what gets magnified, and, quite simply what gets deleted.

In reality, we’re deleting all the time behind the scenes. For example, right now you aren’t aware of the pressure of the elastic band of your left sock… until you read it. Now, suddenly, you are noticing the pressure of the band. You weren’t aware of the pressure of your watch against your wrist, the sound of your own breathing or the feeling of your heart beating in your chest, until you read it. Again, suddenly, the RAS says, “Oh, that must be relevant… I’ll let the input through.” Thank you, RAS, for sheltering us from this constant barrage of low priority input! Can you imagine trying to have a conversation or read or do anything if you were constantly aware of all input from every one of the five senses? It would be impossible!

So, how does this impact our lives? Remember when I said that the RAS filters some things out while it magnifies other things? Well here’s the beautiful part… You get to customize it! It will magnify what you deem relevant and it will proceed to delete the rest; and it makes these judgements based on your beliefs.

Believe that the world is full of wonderful people and you will see….. more wonderful people. Believe that the world is full of nasty selfish people and the wonderful people won’t even be noticed, they will be deleted as your RAS magnifies nastiness.

What we think about grows. What we forget atrophies… Sound familiar? It should. It’s one of the laws of the mind. And it’s also a guiding principle of so much of what we have been doing in the MKMMA! When we focus consistently on positive conditions we are actually training our RAS. We are calibrating it, so to speak. On the flip side, as we calibrate it to look for and magnify the positive you can guess what happens to the negative input… Writing accomplishments on cards and reviewing them. Writing grattitudes on cards and reviewing them. Disciplining ourselves to live the “Mental Diet” abstaining from all negative thought. Consciously observing for virtues in our daily life… It’s all part of a calibration process. We are changing the rules for the RAS… dialing it in, so to speak.

Can you imagine what life would be like if it was not a choice to have a positive mindset but it was simply automatic? Or what it would be like if you didn’t have to try to stay positive in spite of a negative experience. Rather, so much of the negative was simply deleted so that your conscious mind didn’t even have to deal with it? Imagine a filter, like a mental bodyguard, who makes sure that the only stuff that gets through is the stuff that’s good for you.

Just imagine… It’s easy if you try… Keep doing the work in the MKMMA and you won’t have to imagine for much longer. See you there!

RAS Video~ Daniel Hanscom

The Fuel For Persistence – MKMMA Week 14

I’ll admit it… I’m a planner. I love to analyze things and work out projections. I love to try to figure out the desired outcome and put together the steps for how to get there. It’s like a puzzle that fits together in my head and I love the game of it.

I-WILL-PERSIST-UNITL-I-SUCCEEDJust about the time that my plan is complete, though, something happens that changes everything. I take action. You see… As soon as I take action there is a reaction and the reaction often isn’t what I forecasted in my planning stage. Sometimes planning is like working out a physics problem in high school… You calculate the main variables as though it’s a perfect world but ignore the little details like friction, air resistance, etc.

As such, any plan that takes more than one step to accomplish takes persistence. You have to stick to it until it is complete in spite of the unexpected turns along the way. Persistence is the only way to accomplish any worthwhile thing. So what is it, really?

Persistence is defined as a “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition”. So the key to persistence is continuing on in spite of difficulty or opposition. Persistence isn’t really required when everything is going exactly according to plan but, oh boy, do you ever need persistence when it all goes sideways. When things go wrong, when people are all telling you to quit, when it seems impossible to succeed… This is the fire in which persistence is forged.

PersistenceThe elements of persistence are described in a personal development course that I am currently taking. In the Master Key Mastermind Alliance course we have examined the component parts of persistence. The four elements are: a definite major purpose, a positive mental attitude, a plan of action and a mastermind alliance (people who work in harmony with you towards the definite major purpose). In situations where people persist you can see these elements over and over. You can also see them in the stories that we tell and in the heroes that we look up to. I certainly saw each of these elements in the movie “Rudy” that I saw recently.

49-Rudy-RuettigerRudy is the story of a small, unathletic, non-academically inclined kid who dreamed his entire life of attending Notre Dame so that he could play on their football team, the Fighting Irish. In spite of being told that it would never happen by virtually everybody his entire life Rudy never gave up. He pushed harder and worked harder than anybody else. He attracted to himself the few that would help him. He gave all that he had to his dream, his purpose, and had such a burning desire that he was willing to make any sacrifice necessary. He followed his plan and maintained a mindset of absolute assuredness that one day he would realize his dream. And he did… He realized his dream even though he was pushed, for a brief moment, to the point of giving up hope.

Perhaps that is the key… Persistence is simply the action that occurs when we hold onto hope and keep faith. Even when it all goes sideways. Even when it looks impossible. Even when it looks hopeless… The four elements of persistence serve the purpose of nourishing hope and keeping faith alive so that we can stay the course, persist through the resistance and, in the end, emerge victorious.

So… If the world without is a representation of the world within and if our situation is a mirror of what occurs in our mindset then hope is the water that allows the seed of persistence to germinate. It is also the fuel that allows persistence to grow strong enough to endure any opposition.

It all comes down to hope, or faith, if you will. Whether you want to play on a football team or launch your business to the next level or recreate your life so that you can be the best version of yourself…

Nourish hope, keep the faith and then persist until you succeed.faith