The mind is an incredible factory of make-believe. The images we see are its version of reality stitched together through a complex set of neurons. Thinking is a miracle and a curse. It is a miracle, thanks to its ability to create, and a curse because of its ability to destroy. Most of the destruction takes place inside the brain. It can destroy our better future because of a past failure. It can even destroy our chance at love because of a previous relationship failure. The brain is separate from the mind. What is the difference?
The brain is real, while the mind is a complete fabrication. We begin writing our story at a very young age without even realizing it. Most of us go through life, adding to our story and assuming it is real.
Here is an example: You were required to give a speech in high school. Scared out of your mind and not well prepared, the speech was a complete failure. From that day forward, you have been a terrible public speaker. On the flip side, someone recommended you to give the speech on a topic you know well. Scared out of your mind but armed with the material you know well, the speech was a success. From that day forward, you had confidence in your ability to speak in public. The thought of it makes you a little anxious and gives you butterflies, but you know you can handle it.
We have the same speech but different stories. The stories we tell ourselves about the events of our lives are fabricated. We allow our feelings and emotions to paint our stories. Then we recall the feelings and emotions when considering a similar activity.
The first time we went deep sea fishing, I got seasick, and we didn’t catch any fish. Deep-sea fishing sucks.
The first time we went deep sea fishing, we crushed it. We caught our limit of Mahi Mahi. Deep-sea fishing is so fun.
The first time I asked a girl to dance, she laughed at me, and I was humiliated. I suck at talking to girls.
The first time I asked a girl to dance, she gave me her number, and we had a fantastic date. Connecting with girls is easy.
And so, the story goes. Our entire lives are a fabrication of our interpretations of events we experience. The story we create in our minds will largely determine the level of meaning and fulfillment we will experience.
What is it about these stories that make them so impactful in our lives?
Are you confident? Chances are that your level of confidence has a great deal to do with your interpretation of the events of your life. Positive or favorable outcomes (completely dependent on your expectations) will boost your confidence, while negative or undesirable results (again determined by expectations) will reduce your confidence. Life and success are very much a confidence game. Why?
Confident people expect to win or succeed. They are more resilient and more willing to take risks. Confident people take action and use their stories as motivation. They believe in themselves and attract others that will support them.
Our story, depending on how we have written it, determines our level of agency or control. Agency empowers us to determine our future, and without it, we wander aimlessly through life. Most people give up control to help facilitate or justify their lack of progress. It is easier to be a victim of our past than an agent for our better future. Lack of control becomes an easy excuse for not trying. We all lose hope and conviction at some point, but your ability to take back control of your attitude and response determines your future. Why?
People with agency accept responsibility for their response to every situation and look for solutions rather than blame. People with agency direct their efforts and energy in the creation of their better future and focus on desired outcomes instead of making excuses. They are not content with the status quo and maintain a positive outlook.
Talent is the most overrated quality of the ultra-successful. The reality is that most successful athletes, entertainers, and business people were highly average. Do you want to know what the difference is between you and them? Lucky breaks…maybe. Ultra-gifted…in some ways. Great coaching…sometimes. The big difference is confidence and agency. They believed (confidence) in their ability to determine (agency) their success. All of them were talented, but they believed and wanted it more than the rest. Every successful individual experienced doubt at some point but used their agency to control their will. When most people attempt something and fail to achieve the desired outcome, they immediately assign blame or find an excuse. The blame and excuses are written into the story of our lives. Humans are so good at assigning cause and creating lasting assumptions that we never see it happening. Why?
People with talent are motivated by their desire to succeed and willingly push the envelope of possibility. They cultivate their talent with practice, let go of their excuses, and take risks to grow. People with talent are just like you and me but have a desire to succeed beyond our comprehension. They have a vision and realize that pain and sacrifice will be required to achieve their vision.
Every event in our lives is part of our story.
The level of happiness you experience in life will depend on the story you choose to write. Are you going to write a story that reinforces your belief in a better future? Or will you write a story that reinforces the idea that the world plotting against you? Here is the truth: It is your story because you are the only author.
You choose positive or negative, growth or stagnation, hope or misery. You can accept it or reject it, but you can’t deny it because life happens to us all. You are no exception. The most successful people from the past and in the present have experienced tragedy and triumph just like you. The difference is that they wrote a story that reinforced the vision they had of the life they wanted to create. It is really that simple. The stories we tell ourselves will enhance or reduce our confidence, take away or add to our sense of control, and determine how we cultivate our talents and abilities.
Do you need to rewrite your story about the past to ensure your better future? Stop making excuses and start making life happen.