Quote of the Day

June 22, 2006

Today someone asked me for a quote on detachment. She wants to use it on her business cards. Here is what I provided.

“Forcing life to go down a particular path often leads to dissatisfaction and failure. The solution is detachment – letting go of specific outcomes — playing full out, not worrying or caring about how things turn out. The surest way to detach from one outcome is to reattach yourself to a more empowering outcome: serving others, replacing a bad habit with a good one, or focusing on the present.”
- Stephen Shapiro, Author, Goal-Free Living

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The Power of the Mind…To Be Fooled

June 21, 2006

I am fascinated by the mind’s incredible power. And this power sometimes causes you miss things that are right in front of your nose. In the secret, “Remember that Opportunity Knocks Often, Just Sometimes Softly,” I talk about how the brain filters 99.9% of the stimuli around you. This is important because it allows you to focus. However, what you focus on expands, to the exclusion of all else. You see what you “want” to see, but miss everything else.

I love magic. Magic uses misdirection to get you to see what the magician wants you to see rather than what is really taking place. One form of magic that is particularly interesting is “cold reading.” This is the ability to perform seemingly paranormal (aka psychic) activities through conversational misdirection.

I am reading a great book on the topic by Ian Rowland. I first learned of his book from an article on StraightDope.com (Be sure to read this article and then sign-up for the free Straight Dope newsletter. It’s great. I also subscribe to The Skeptical Inquirer, a magazine I highly recommend). According to the article, Ian “is an entertainer who claims no psychic ability. He has given TV demonstrations posing as a tarot reader, an astrologer, a clairvoyant, and a spirit medium. He scored just as many hits as the ‘genuine’ psychics even though he openly admits he isn’t psychic.”

I’m not discounting the possibility of people with psychic abilities. However, this article provides compelling evidence that our minds can be easily manipulated. People see what they want to see, and miss everything else. When you are blindly focused on your future goals, you often miss opportunities that are around you. You are unwittingly blinded and unknowingly misdirected.

When you are “present and conscious” of your immediate surroundings, you may find bigger and better opportunities.

I will be writing more about magic, mind-reading, and misdirection in the future.

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Three Points I Wish I Made Clearer

June 12, 2006

Once printed, the text in a book never changes. However, the concepts continue to evolve. Therefore, from time to time, I will post my thoughts on how I would say things differently if I were to re-write the book today. Today’s points focus on the clarity of my message; thoughts that are sometimes lost on the reader. To help clarify the points, I am including links to other blog entries that show examples.

  • Being goal-free is very different than being goal-less. Goal-less is having no purpose or direction in life. Think of it as sitting on your butt eating bon-bons and watching Jerry Springer. This is NOT what it means to be goal-free. Being goal-free is having a sense of direction (not a specific destination), playing full out, and then “meandering with purpose.” Being goal-free does not mean being entirely free from goals. Rather it means being free from the burden of goals that grips so many people. It is about actively participating in life.
  • Although Goal-Free Living is about having the life you want, the real thrust of the book is success…with less effort. When you are consumed by your goals, you focus on the future rather than being present to what is around you. You become stressed. As a result, you don’t perform your best. All of my studies and examples show that people who “try harder” are often less successful in achieving their “goals.” Sales reps who try the “hard sale” are worse sales people (there are several examples in the book). Students who focus too much on grades get stressed and sub-optimize their test performance (and they miss bigger learning opportunities). Athletes who focus on the “numbers” (batting average, goals, the stop watch) often perform worse than those who are “in the moment”.
  • Goal-Free Living is not just about career. It is not about “doing what you love and the money will follow.” The goal-free concept applies to every aspect of life from dating to parenting, and vacations to blogging. By being focused on the present, enjoying what you are doing, and being open to new opportunities, success finds you…in all areas of life.
  • More “Points I Wish I Made Clearer” to come in future blog entries.

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    Can Money Buy Happiness?

    June 8, 2006

    While writing Goal-Free Living, I commissioned a number of studies about goal-setting. One study analyzed satisfaction levels associated with goal achievement.

    First, let’s start with those who do not achieve their goals.

    The study found that 74% of individuals are disappointed when they do not achieve their goals. This is not surprising. Unfortunately, many people never achieve their goals. For example, 92% of Americans fail to fulfill their New Year’s Resolutions — the annual goal-setting ritual.

    But what about those who are fortunate enough to achieve their goals? They must be happier. Right? Not necessarily.

    The study found that 41% of Americans say that achieving their goals left them disillusioned. They were LESS happy. The reason appears to be that the sacrifice involved in achieving the goal did not justify the result.

    I dug a bit deeper to find which segments of the population were most afflicted by this goal-settling dilemma. Here’s what I found.

    46% of males who achieve their goals reported levels of dissatisfaction. Quite a bit higher than women who were at 37%.

    The most dissatisfied? The wealthiest individuals who make over $75,000 per year. Over half of those individuals said that they were disillusioned and dissatisfied when they achieved their goals.

    The above statistics were for “generic” goals: anything from weight loss to relationships, or vacations to career advancement. But what about money-oriented goals? Are people who achieve their financial goals happier? Not surprisingly, many are. But a significant number are not.

    36% of those in the $50K – $75K income range who achieved their financial goals said that the money did not make them any happier. Even 25% of the poorest individuals (making under $25K) said that money did not make them happier.
    So the next time you find yourself saying, “I will be happier when I achieve my goals,” remember, achieving your goals may not be the key to happiness. As publisher William Feather once said, “No man is a failure who is enjoying life.” And from my perspective, no one is a success who isn’t.

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    A Goal-Free Conversation

    June 3, 2006

    Theresa Frasch, a blogger, recently read Goal-Free Living and wrote about each chapter. When she got to the section on “detachment,” she struggled a bit. Rather than just leave a comment on her blog, I decided to call her. We spoke for 30 minutes about her current career dilemma and it seemed to free her up quite a bit. Click here to read her blog entry about our phone conversation.

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    101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life

    June 2, 2006

    I recently “co-authored” a book with Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Denis Waitley, Brian Tracy, and 96 other self-improvement authors. The book entitled 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, is now available…for less than $15. When you buy this book, you will be given a bonus gift bundle worth 100 times the price of the book. Click here for details.

    Click here to read my article that appears in the book. You’ll have to buy the book to read the other 100!

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