Flexible Focus #65: Shaping Your Future

by William Reed on August 11, 2011

What is the secret to a life of abundance, and is there a simple method for approaching it?

We have seen how abundance, as well as lack, can be experienced in each of the 8 fields of life: Health, Business, Finance, Home, Society, Personal, Learning, and Leisure. The Mandala Chart can help you gain perspective in each of these areas, as well as in how they enhance and complement each other. In effect, we tell our life story in the way in which we integrate and excel in each of these areas. Without a tool such as the Mandala Chart for viewing and balancing our life, it is all too easy to get caught up in the challenges of one or two areas, at the expense of the others. No wonder it takes a lifetime, maybe several, to get it right.

The first step is to seek continuous improvement, not perfection. Living is a dynamic process, and balance is achieved by continual adjustment, not holding on to a status quo. Think of how you keep your balance on a bicycle. At first you wobble, but gradually your adjustments become so smooth that the wobble seems to disappear. Balance is easier to maintain in motion than in standing still. After you learn to steer, the next question is where do you want to go?

What you see is what you get

A story tells of a family driving through a small town to which they were considering settling in. They passed a home where a local resident was sitting on the porch and asked him, “Say, what are the people like in this town?” He replied by asking back, “What were they like where you came from?” The traveler said that they were mean-spirited and closed-minded. The resident told them, “That’s pretty much the way they are here too.” And so the traveler moved on. Later another family passing through asked the resident the same question, and he asked them what the people were like where they came from. This family replied that they were such nice people, so friendly and helpful. He responded, “That’s pretty much the way they are here too.” And so the family settled there.

So much of our experience is conditioned by our expectations, that we sometimes mistake them for reality itself. The first step to leading a life of abundance starts with your mental outlook. The way our expectations condition our experience is known as the Pygmalion Effect. Pygmalion was a Greek sculptor from Cyprus who carved a statue of a woman from ivory, and fell in love with the sculpture. Through the graces of Venus, in time his adoration brought the statue to life. In educational psychology the Pygmalion Effect refers to how the teacher’s expectations can condition a child’s performance in school, and the teacher’s attitude has been proven in numerous studies to be a significant force.

Take a look at yourself as you could be

The same can be said for what we expect of ourselves, as has also been shown in studies where self-esteem and self-image can be the most significant determining factor in performance. This was discovered by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a cosmetic surgeon who found that self-image had a far more lasting and determining effect on a person’s appearance than the temporary changes rendered by plastic surgery. Dr. Maltz is considered the originator of self-image psychology, and his classic book Psycho-Cybernetics sold over 30 million copies since it was originally published in 1960. It was updated in 2002 in the author’s voice, but with more contemporary examples, in an edition called New Psycho-Cybernetics.

While self-image has a powerful determining effect on your performance, it is partially submerged in your subconscious mind, and its shadowy nature makes it difficult to grasp. This is why psychology approaches it indirectly through suggestion and affirmations. If we use positive language, that helps create positive expectations, and improves your self-image. Life is a canvas upon which we paint with our mind’s eye, and which we can modify by our speech and actions.

In addition to this, there is another step we can take to gain greater clarity and leverage in each of the 8 fields of life, using the Mandala Chart. It provides a useful structure for a diary, which might otherwise simply be a journal or personal record of impressions. It serves as a mirror, and doubles as a lens for flexible focus. It can put the past in perspective, and shape the future by setting your expectations in advance. It rescues the self-image from its shadowy existence, and puts your expectations in plain view. With this in mind you begin to change the way you make entries in your Mandala Chart. Instead of simply reporting on the way things are or were, you actually begin to sculpt them into the way things could be. This sets the Pygmalion Effect in motion, and accelerates the rate of positive change.

Therefore why not create images of beauty and abundance in your mind’s eye, awaken the sleeping statue, and see your dreams come to life?

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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