From “loser” to “achiever”: Part VII

H_CrooksTwo women turn 70-years-old, yet each takes a different meaning from the event. One “knows” that her life is coming to an end, her body is about to break down and she’d better start winding up her affairs. The other woman sets a higher standard for herself: she decides that mountain climbing might be a good sport to begin at the age of 70. This woman is Hulda Crooks and she became the oldest woman to ascend Mount Fuji: she did it in her nineties!
Robbins is right: it’s never the environment, nor the events of our lives, but the meaning we attach to the events – how we interpret them – that shapes who we are today and who we’ll become tomorrow. Beliefs are what make the difference between a fulfilled life and a miserable one. Beliefs are the guiding force to tell us what will lead to pain and what to pleasure. Whenever an event happens, your brain asks 2 questions: a) will this mean pain or pleasure?; b) what must I do now to avoid pain or gain pleasure? The answers to these 2 questions are based on our beliefs which are driven by our generalizations about what we’ve learned could lead to pain or pleasure. And these generalizations guide all of our actions and thus the direction and quality of our lives.
Most of our beliefs are generalizations about our past, based on our interpretations of painful and pleasurable experiences. Therefore, we’ve got 3 problems: a) most of us do not consciously decide what we are going to believe; b) often our beliefs are based on misinterpretations of past experiences; c) one we adopt a belief, we forget it’s merely an interpretation. So we begin to treat our beliefs as if they’re realities, sometimes even gospel very seldom we question our long-held beliefs.
Therefore, as all of our actions are lead by our beliefs, if you need and want to change your behaviour, you must change the beliefs that are holding you back.
So, if we are stuck in an old problem, chances are that we have a belief – about ourselves (our ability to solve it) or about some unpleasant consequences that might come from solving it – which is preventing us from acting in the right and successful way.
At the end of “Crimes in Little Italy”, Roy changes some beliefs regarding himself: he is no longer the “loser” of the beginning. He now believes he is a talented detective and this new belief transforms his life altogether.
Have you ever changed a belief? What were the consequences?


From “loser” to “achiever”: Part VI

Here I am again with this very useful summary of Tony Robbins’ masterpiece, “Awaken the giant within”.
The 4th chapter’s title is: H_Crooks
This chapter starts with a story that you, exactly like me, will remember for a very long time.
“He was bitter and cruel, an alcoholic and drug addict who almost killed himself several times. Today he serves a life sentence in prison, for the murder of a liquor store cashier who «got in his way». He has 2 sons, born a mere eleven months apart, one of whom grew up to be just like his dad: a drug addict who lived by stealing and threatening others until he, too, was put in jail for attempted murder. His brother, however, is a different story: a man who’s raising 3 kids, enjoys his marriage and appears to be truly happy. As regional manager for a major national concern, he finds his work both challenging and rewarding. He’s physically fit, and has no alcohol or drug addictions. How could these 2 young men have turned out so differently, having grown up in virtually the same environment? Both were asked privately, unbecknownst, to the other, «Why has your life turned out this way?» Surprisingly, they both provided the exact same answer: «What else could I have become, having grown with a father like that?»
This story, to me, is fantastic. It’s a paradigm that can explain quite clearly to everyone how our mind works. We usually tend to believe that events control our lives and that our environment has shaped who we are today. “No greater lie was ever told. It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.”
At the beginning of my book, “Crimes in Little Italy”, the main character, Roy Tarantino, is about to commit suicide because he attached an extremely tragic meaning to the unlucky events that happened to him (divorce, business failure, his son assigned to his former life). Would everybody regard themselves as a “complete failure” in this case? Of course not. Would everybody try to commit suicide? Not at all! Just those people that would attach that precise meaning to those events and also the equivalence: a complete failure has no possibility to start a life of joy and success and has no right to live.
This is quite strange: have you ever known of anyone whose life was successful from its beginning to its end? Have you ever attached a negative (and untrue) meaning to an event? Please, share your experience on this matter.


From “loser” to “achiever”: Part V

“Let’s make sedisonome changes right now”. This is the title of the last paragraph with which Robbins ends the third chapter of his “Awaken the giant within”. We just need to follow 5 steps:
Step One: write down 4 actions that you need to take and you’ve been putting off. If you want to focus on only 2 actions, in my opinion it’s better than nothing.
Step Two: under each of these actions, write down the answer to the following questions: Why haven’t I taken action? In the past, what pain have I linked to taking this action? Be honest with yourself.
write down all the pleasure you’ve had in the past by indulging in this negative pattern, in not taking those actions. In order to create a change that will last, we need to find a new way to get the same pleasure without any negative consequences. This discovery will help you know what your target is.
Step Four: write down what it will cost you if you don’t change now. Be honest with yourself. What is it going to cost you financially, emotionally, in terms of self-image or physical level, in the next 2-5 years? Be honest and precise. Add as many details as possible. As we are driven by emotions, get associated and use pain as your friend.
Step Five: write down all the pleasure you’ll receive by taking each of these actions right now. Make a huge list that will drive you emotionally and get you excited. What will you gain in terms of energy, self-esteem, success, vitality, health, money, relationships, willpower. Envision all the positive impacts both in the present and in the long term.
Carpe diem! Seize the day! There’s no time like the present: take time now to complete this exercise which ultimately gives you the control over the twin powers of pain and pleasure. The powers which shape you life and your destiny.

So, do this simple exercise and tell me your results!



From “loser” to “achiever”: Part IV (The force that shapes your life)

There is a sintony-robbinsgle force that shapes our lives, determines the difference in human actions, explains the ultimate reason of our behaviours. This force, able to control all aspects of our lives is PAIN and PLEASURE! Everything you and I do, we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure, says Anthony Robbins in chapter 3.
So, his lesson can be summarized as follows: what you link pain to and what you link pleasure to, shapes your destiny. If you link pain/pleasure to drugs/learning or sport/alcohol,… your lives will be shaped accordingly.
After giving interesting examples related to his own life, Robbins explains that if we link massive pain to any behaviour or emotional pattern, we will avoid indulging in it all costs. We can use this understanding to harness the force of pain and pleasure to change virtually anything in our lives.
What drives our behaviour is instinctive reaction to pain and pleasure, not intellectual calculation. Intellectually, we may believe that smoking is bad for us, but we’ll still reach for it. Why? Because we are not driven so much by what we intellectually know, but rather by what we’ve learned to link pain and pleasure to in our nervous systems. It’s neuro-associations that determine what we’ll do.
If you want to change a behaviour you have to link pain to it and pleasure to a new behaviour. And if you truly desire that this change lasts for ever, you have to condition the good behaviour until it’s consistent. Intellectual determination and willpower are not enough: you need to associates correctly those emotions of pain/pleasure to what you consider bad/good for you. And, to be more precise, notice that it’s not actual pain that drives us, but our fear that something will lead to pain. And it’s not actual pleasure that drives us, but our belief that somehow taking a certain action will lead to pleasure. We are not driven by the reality, but by our perception of reality.
If you want to benefit of long-term pleasure, you’ve got to work very hard now and probably face some pain in the short-term. If you are not willing to do so, if you are not enough motivated, chances are that you will never experiment that long-term pleasure.
Turning to my book, “Crimes in Little Italy”, I can give you a good example of a behaviour led by the fear of pain. Laura, a beautiful Italian woman, is said to have chosen her life-partner by using only her rational mind. When she was about 20, she was being courted by three men: Fabio, Marco and Alex. Even if her heart pushed her towards Marco, she preferred Alex because she thought that with Marco she would live a life driven by strong passions and emotions (and, in her mind, such a life means danger of great suffering), whereas with the “achiever” Alex she would have a successful (even if emotionally flat) life. Therefore, it was not real pain that made her decide in a certain way, but what she believed would lead her to pain.
So, what about you? Do you have an experience to tell us about how pain and pleasure led you to a particular decision? Have you ever planned to keep a painful behaviour for some time in order to enjoy a long-term pleasure?


From “loser” to “achiever”: Part III

One of the best “from-loser-to-achiever” story I’ve ever read concerns Mr. Honda’s marvellous life.
You can find it in the second chapter of Robbins’ masterpiece “Awaken the giant within”.
Mr. Soichiro Honda was the founhondader of the corporation that bears his name. Mr Honda could be named a “loser” when in 1938 his proposal of a new piston ring (on which he had been working nights and days for very long time) were refused by Toyota Corporation. He was sent back to school for 2 years, where he heard the derisive laughter of his instructors and fellow students as they talked about how absurd his designs were. But rather than focusing on the pain of the experience, he decided to continue to focus on his goal and after 2 more years, Toyota finally gave him the contract he’d dreamed of. Robbins points out that he followed with determination the Ultimate Success Formula. And he goes on telling his full story, the story of a success due only to a long-term focus and to an extraordinary perseverance. How many people would have given up their dream if they had been in Honda’s shoes when his factory was bombed (twice) and an earthquake levelled it? So the key is to commit yourselves to long-term results, leaving aside what happens in the short term (apart from taking massive action, learning from experiences and changing approach).
God’s delays are not God’s denials, says Anthony. Often what seems impossible in the short term, becomes very possible in the long term if you persist. In order to succeed, we need to discipline ourselves to consistently think long term.
Another example? Billy Joel! Did you know that he dropped out of high school because he decided he wasn’t going to wait any longer to follow his dream of becoming a famous musician? Unfortunately, this dream didn’t become reality quickly enough. In fact, by the time he was 22, he feared that he had made the wrong decision, and that no one would ever love his music. He became flat broke, sleeping in laundromats, because he no longer had a home. When his girlfriend decided to leave him, he decided to commit suicide. Fortunately, before doing so, he reconsidered his options and decided instead to check into a mental institution where he understood what real problems were. By renewing his commitment and following his dream in the long run, he eventually had all that he wanted.
So, in order to harness the power of decision, Anthony Robbins lists these 6 points: 1) Remember the true power of making decisions. 2) Realize that the hardest step in achieving anything is making a true commitment. 3) Make decisions often. 4) Learn from your results. 5) Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach. 6) Enjoy making decisions.
Robbins’ conclusion: When you decide that your life will ultimately be shaped not by conditions, but by your decisions, then, in that moment, your life will change forever, and you will be empowered to take control of the force that shapes your life.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” (Helen Keller).
(If you like this article the reason is probably that you have a similar experience to tell us. Please, leave it here, so that we can learn from it and continue to grow).



From “loser” to “achiever”: Part II

edisonAt page 37 of Anthony Robbins’ book (“Awaken the giant within”), you can read the story of a fiercely proud individual, a woman named Rosa Parks, who one day in 1955 stepped onto a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and refused to give up her seat to a white person as she was legally required to do. Her one quiet act of civil disobedience, sparked a firestorm of controversy and became a symbol for generations to follow. It was the beginning of the civil rights movement… her decision to hold herself to a higher standard compelled her to act. What a far-reaching effect one woman’s decision has had!
Robbins reminds us his Ultimate Success Formula (explained in his previous book, “Unlimited Power”: 1) Decide what you want; 2) Take (massive) action; 3) Notice what’s working or not; 4) Change your approach until you achieve what you want.
If you commit yourself to a specific goal and follow this formula, the “how” will reveal itself.
When I decided to commit myself to become a writer (1995), I took immediate action: I bought a computer and started writing my first novel. It took years and years of reading, studying, writing, making many mistakes, attending contests and literary prizes, advancing proposals to publishers, giving book presentations,… And, actually, I’m still in this same process, trying to learn from my hundreds of mistakes and to improve my writing and my approach to this profession.
According to Robbins there are 3 decisions that control our destiny and namely our decisions about: a) what to focus on; b) what things mean to us; c) what to do to create the results we desire. Do you remember Ed Roberts (if not, see previous article)? He clearly chose to focus on something different than most people in his position would. He focused on how to make a difference and he absolutely committed himself to shaping the environment in a way that would improve the quality of life for all physically challenged people.
Anthony Robbins tells us that he became a wonderful public speaker thanks to his commitment: while others had 48 speaking engagements a year, I would have a similar number within 2 weeks! And here’s one of his best sentences: Remember that there are no failures in life. There are only results. If you didn’t get the results you wanted, learn from this experience so that you have references about how to make better decisions in the future.
When Roy Tarantino – at the beginning of my book, “Crimes in Little Italy” – is about to commit suicide, it’s because he associates his results (he has lost his job, his wife has gone to live with another man and obtained full custody of their only son) to the word “failure”. Notice, that he was not obliged to associate this meaning to those facts. In his shoes, the inventor Thomas Alva Edison, would have reacted much differently: “I’m not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded, is another step forward”.
And what about you? How do you usually name your “apparently negative” results? How do you normally react to them?

From “loser” to “achiever”

tony-robbinsIs it possible, for a “loser” to become an “achiever”?
In 1995, I bumped into “Awaken the giant within”, a bestseller by Anthony Robbins.
Believe it or not, this book changed my life for ever. Non precisely when I finished to read it, but in the years to come.
I perfectly remember those days. At the time, I was living in England in order to complete a course of study regarding the English language.
When I started reading that book, I certainly was a “loser”.
I had already turned 30 and was still looking for my life’s path. I didn’t know who I was and for what reason I showed up in this world. I was feeling lost: my life was meaningless, my results bad, my mind confused, my expectations disappointed, my relationships poor. The main problem was that I had no direction, no goals, no vision, no mission at all.
After graduating in Economics in 1989, I had been working for some years as a controller in a big company until one day I woke up and asked myself: “What the hell am I doing here? Do I really want to work as an accountant for your entire life?”
The answer was no. I didn’t know what to do, but I was certain I didn’t want to spend all my life in that sad office totally absorbed by arid numbers. Thus, I resigned and flew to England to improve my English.
One day, I entered a bookshop in London and found this book by Anthony Robbins. I bought it and started to read it soon.
In the second page (actually the exact page number is 20) Anthony writes: One mother introduced me to her son who had been labelled “hyperactive” and “learning disabled”. Utilizing the principles of state management taught in this book, she was not only able to get him off the drug Ritalin, but they had also since been transferred to California where her son had been retested and evaluated at the level of genius! You should have seen his face as she shared with me his new label.
The author is here telling us his personal story. The story of a man who, eight years earlier, was struggling, frustrated, feeling alone and incapable of making his life work. Fat, broke and wondering if he could even survive. The story of a loser who was able to become an achiever. Yes, for Anthony Robbins, it was possible to change his destiny altogether. And the same happened to thousands of people who have attended his seminars so far. So, why shouldn’t be the same for all “losers”?
As well as Robbins when he was a loser, I too was feeling that my disappointing results didn’t express my true potential and that inside my life there was a jewel which I needed to find at all costs. I truly believe we all have a sleeping giant within us. Each of us has a talent, a gift, our own bit of genius just waiting to be tapped. You have no idea how excited I felt when I was reading these first rows.
The second chapter of Robbins’ book is about Making Decisions. The author writes that it’s in our moments of decision that our destiny is shaped and invites us to look back over the last 10 years with this questions in mind: Were there times when a different decision would have made your life radically different from today, either for better or for worse? How are you going to live the next 10 years of your life? How are going to live today in order to create the tomorrow you are committed to? We’ve got to set a baseline standard for what we’ll accept in our life, we’ve got to decide once and for all to make our life consistent with the quality of our spirit and achieve the destiny we want for our life to be meaningful.
But it was when I read the story of Ed Robert (page 37) that I felt change and commitment coming from within.

This men has been paralyzed from the neck down since he was fourteen years old. He uses a breathing device and he spends every night in an iron lung. Having fought a battle against polio, several times almost losing his life, he certainly could have decided to focus on his own pain, but instead chose to make a difference for others. For the last 15 years, his decision to fight against a world he often found condescending has resulted in many enhancements to the quality of life for the disabled. Facing a multitude of myths about the capabilities of the physically challenged, Ed educated the public and initiated everything from wheelchair access ramps and special parking spaces to grab bars. He became the first quadriplegic to graduate from Berkeley, and he eventually held the position of director of the California State Department of Rehabilitation, again pioneering this position for the disabled. Ed Roberts is powerful evidence that it’s not where you start out but the decisions you make about where you’re determined to end up that matter. All of your actions were founded in a single, powerful, committed moment of decision. What could you do with your life if you really decided to?
I stopped reading. I started thinking and realized that: a) I had probably been a loser hitherto, but this didn’t mean I had necessarily to be a loser for ever; b) I was in good health, I had a degree and was able to speak good English; c) I had been wasting time in things, jobs and activities I didn’t like at all and I had no precise direction to follow, but I could make a decision that might have shaped a satisfying destiny.
Thus, I started to think about what sort of decision would have shaped my life for the better. Did I have a talent?
This was the moment when I reached my personal enlightenment. If I wanted to tap into my latent power and shape my future life I had to find my true talent and commit myself to express it as best as I could.
Yes, I did have a talent. I had (and have) a talent for writing. I had loved so much Classical Literature and Philosophy and I had always thought that one day I would have written my first novel. I had always felt that this talent was latent in the depths of my life. But I had never tried to manifest it.
As you have probably understood, that was the moment in which I made the most important decision of my life: I committed myself to become a novelist.
And here I am – after graduating in Philosophy, publishing 5 books in Italy and winning dozens of Literary Prizes – with my first book published in English language (“Crimes in Little Italy”, available on Amazon). To me, this is the demonstration that all “losers” can become “achievers”. In my view, there’s no need to become the best one in your field. The most important thing is to express your talent and feel that your life is worth living and well spent because you dedicate yourself to your talent and to the activities and people you love most.
In my thriller, you’ll find this new character, Roy Tarantino. He is a “loser”, a fifty-year-old second generation Italian American, a man who lives in Little Italy and has lost not only his job, but also his wife and his son and is about to commit suicide.
Will Roy Tarantino find out his own talent and become an achiever? You bet… But an “achiever” with the softer meaning I give to this substantive. Maybe he will not become the best detective of the world, very probably he will remain a fragile and insecure person, surely he will continue to make mistakes and face hard days, but he will eventually find his way and become able to make his life meaningful.
See you soon with other articles and experiences on this subject.
All those who have stories regarding talent manifestations, business improvements, relationship enhancements and getting better in some fields of life, maybe starting from the lowest possible level, please, leave your experience here as a comment so that m any others will be encouraged to find their way in their lives. It doesn’t matter what you have accomplished. What matters is if you have improved a single aspect of your life and how you were able to do that.