Each new start brings some butterflies, but that’s normal and healthy. Professional golfer Greg Norman learned to play the game by reading articles and books written by master golfer Jack Nicklaus. At his first Masters tournament, Norman found himself paired with his mentor, Nicklaus. On the first tee, Norman smashed the ball 300 yards right down the fairway. Jack then hit the ball 300 yards down the fairway.

As the two men walked down the fairway, Jack asked, “Greg, how did you feel as you stood at that first tee in your first Masters? Did you feel excited? Did you feel tight? How did you feel?”

Greg Norman said, “Jack, I was scared to death, my knees were shaking. I was nervous.”

And Jack said, “Don’t you love that feeling?”

I love that feeling of having a fresh start at a new level and you will love that feeling, too, when you decide to start living life at a higher level.

Knowing and accepting the here, the current reality, is just as important as imagining and assimilating the there. If we don’t know who and where we are, we lack the courage to face current reality. We get stuck. Our current reality, rather than being our “baseline” on a performance improvement track, becomes our lifeline our life story, and perhaps the life story of our children and grandchildren, employees and associates.

What is the process of taking an idea and projecting the possibilities? What is the process of taking an idea and building a building or starting a family, or organizing a party, or growing a company, or improving a community?

The Belief Business

What you achieve is largely a matter of what you believe; in fact, you might say: believe equals achieve.

Some 20 years ago, I was a teacher and football coach at Kennedy High School in Seattle. But what I learned from a brilliant visiting professor at the University of Washington changed my way of thinking, and my life.

The first goal I set for myself was to use the information I’d learned to help people and to improve organizations.

“Oh, so you want to change the system?” was the response.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Well, how long have you been a consultant?”

“Never.”

“Do you have a doctorate degree or any experience?”

“Nope.”

“Where did you do your field work?”

“Nowhere.”

“Well, then, what are your qualifications?”

“Quite frankly, none.”

So, what made me think I could achieve this goal? My affirmative belief that my current reality was not an accurate reflection of my inherent potential.

Your reality is the same size and shape as the container you hold it in. If you confine your creativity, your imagination, your future to the small container of your current reality, your thinking will be dominated by negative self-talk and your actions will be confined to your current comfort zone.

how to get what you want

What if you let your “reality” grow without containment? You may think, “That sounds too simple.” It’s not simple; it takes a firm understanding and application of certain principles. But it’s possible, and worth the effort.

Your current reality is not fixed.

You can learn how to see beyond who you are at the present moment and transcend your present circumstances to attain your goals. I don’t mean that you should deny present reality, because recognizing reality is an important step in the process of change. But don’t be fixed by your present state. The universe is not fixed. Creation is not fixed. You are not fixed. You can learn how to choose your future, how to create it, how to invent it now.

If you believe that your current reality is fixed, you get trapped in your own mistaken sense of “This is the way it is.” You think, “It’s always been this way, and it will always be this way.” But the present is not permanent.

Remember Sir Isaac Newton? His view was that God created a perfect world with just one exception: people. People were considered basically sinful. They were always trying to ruin a good thing. The idea was: “If God created a perfect world, then why are you trying, with all of your imagination and creativity, to change it? You’ll screw things up.”

Some of you were raised and conditioned by parents who felt that way. Some work for bosses who think this way. Some have teachers who feel that everything should stay the way it is. “We don’t want any of your bright ideas, thank you. In fact, we discourage any new ideas you have.”

Two centuries later, Alfred North Whitehead, a philosopher and mathematician, saw a dynamic world, not a fixed one. He saw a world in which people are co-creative agents with God. To him, creation is ongoing, as are the lives of human beings. They aren’t fixed, or stuck; they are always in motion.

If you share that viewas I dothen what do you think about people who say, “Well, I’ll lay back and let God, or Fate, or Destiny, or Nature, or the Powers That Be, direct my life for me?” What will their lives be like? “Okay, if I’m a bum, I guess it’s meant to be. If I’m lazy, or can’t control this terrible temper, it isn’t my fault. If I’m wallowing in debt and never pay my bills, that’s just the way it is.”

What a wonderful excuse for not being accountable or responsible for your own life! What a simple way to cement yourself into a fixed reality and never change!

High-performance people live in a Whiteheadian world. For them, present reality is only temporary. Instead of saying, “Well, I guess this is the way it is,” they build a new reality every day. They don’t sit around cursing Fate, or wishing for change, or hoping their lottery number comes up. They create change for themselves.

You were probably conditioned to believe that you were either “born with it” or “born without it.” You’ve heard people say, “She’s a born leader” or ”He’s a born loser.” In other words, you either “have what it takes,” or you don’t.

After taking an I.Q. or aptitude test, you were informed, “You aren’t very good at this, and you’re only average at that.” Those notions become beliefs, even though those tests measure only what you have learned, not what you can learn. They measure what you have been, not what you can be. If you accept the test results as “the truth” about yourself, you to act like the person you believe yourself to be. As long as you hold that belief, you remain trapped or limited by it.

You may also be blocked by the beliefs that others have about you or about your age, skin color, ethnic background, or vocation. If I’m your leader, parent, teacher, coach, or manager and believe that you don’t have what it takes, I’ll set up situations that prevent you from being all that you can be.

When you feel blocked by the beliefs you or others have about you, think of the bumblebee. When aeronautical engineers examine the bumblebee, measure its wing span, compute its body weight, and note its oversized fuselage, they conclude that there is no rational reason why a bumblebee can fly. But the bumblebee doesn’t know this. It doesn’t know that its wing span is too short, or that its fuselage is too heavy to sustain flight. So it flies anyway.

Remember Dick Fosbury, the Olympic high jumper who introduced “The Fosbury Flop”? He was the first international competitor to go over the bar backwards. Back then, coaches told their kids, “Don’t watch this guy. He’s a freak.” These days, everybody goes over backwards. If you change the way you think, you change the way you act. And barriers in your life begin to fall.

Before 1954, everybody “knew” you couldn’t run a mile in under four minutes. Then Roger Bannister crashed through the barrier. Within the next four years, the four-minute barrier was shattered more than 40 times. Why? Runners now knew that it could be done.