How to Change Reality

If you’ve ever set to accomplish anything in your life, you’ve probably heard people tell you things like “Be realistic” or “Things don’t work that way here.” They’re not necessarily trying to crush your dreams, they just have a different perspective of reality, based off their experiences, influences, thoughts, and beliefs.

But whenever I am told I can’t do something, that famous George Bernard Shaw quote plays in my head “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”

In the 1950’s, scientists gave speeches about how it was not humanly possible to run a mile under four minutes. They said the heart would burst from its chest. It could not be done, they said. And these were the so-called professionals. But in 1954, Roger Bannister broke that false belief and ran it in under four minutes. Ever since, thousands of people have ran the four minute mile under four minutes. Even high schoolers.

So what really happened? Did people around the world just suddenly get faster? Did muscle-growth on earth somehow increase? No, instead, it was the change of belief. Reality had changed for people. Since Bannister did it, people knew it could be done. So the barrier, the wall, that limitation in the mind of humanity, was forever altered. A new reality emerged.

Everybody has a view of reality, of what’s possible. It is based on our thoughts about we have experienced, seen, or been influenced by. To the professional scientists, it was impossible to make that run. To Bannister, it was just a challenge. He did not subscribe to their reality. But when he achieved it, the world’s view changed. Doubters and skeptics’ minds were blown open by possibility. After he did it, no more talks were given about how it was impossible. With one act, he caused the consciousness of humanity to transcend.

You do not see with the world with your eyes, you see with your mind. You may see through your eyes, but you see with your mind. Once you understand that reality is not fixed, the fun begins. We’re born into an already-made world of misconceptions, limitations, and beliefs. And they are thrust upon you to adopt as well. And when you don’t accept them, you threaten the identity of everyone who embraces those limitations. So they may become aggressive to defend them.

Much like the movie, The Matrix, we live in a false reality of limitation, but most people think it’s real. Morpheus says “You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.”

I once heard a story about a high school student who fell sleep in his math class. When he awoke at the end, he saw day’s homework written on the chalk board, so he furiously wrote the equation down before leaving class. He went home and struggled with it for weeks. Finally, when the turned it into the teacher, the teacher checked it so that it was the correct answer, and was shocked. The teacher said “You don’t understand, what I wrote on the board last week wasn’t meant to be your homework assignment, Steven, it was an equation that has stumped every mathematician in our field. No one has ever solved it, until now.”

Since the student had fallen asleep, he wasn’t aware that it was meant to be an “impossible” problem. He just thought it was a really tough homework assignment. When you don’t accept, or aren’t aware of or influenced by, the limitations of others, you are free to express what’s truly possible.

Have you ever challenged anyone one on what’s possible and they argue you tooth and nail that it is simply not going to work out and is not possible? They may laugh at your naivete with a smug sense of “You’re a fool” in their tone. Some people even get violent and upset, simply by you proposing the idea  of “I can do it.” Because your reality, your naivete, threatens their very identity. And the ego doesn’t like that.

Steve Jobs often talked of “The Reality Distortion Field.” He says you can push in reality, and something will pop out the other end. But not everyone believes you, their perception has led them to live in different reality. So how do you help to expand their reality?

Through metaphor.

Using metaphors, you can change a person’s perspective to allow possibility to occur. Steve Jobs did this to get teams aboard with his vision. When he wanted the Mac to boot up ten seconds quicker, the engineers told him it’s impossible. “There’s no way we can get it to boot up any quicker.” Steve proposed the idea that, if a person’s life was at stake by saving the time it takes to boot up, could they get it to boot faster? This changed the perspective from which they viewed the problem. It changed their point of view. And when they came back to him, they shaved not only ten seconds, but twenty.

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To be a great leader or teacher, you’ll have to learn to influence through metaphor. Jesus did this by teaching parables as well.  He expanded minds with his teachings, allowing people to view life from a different point of view.

We all think that life is about growth. But growth is a misnomer. It’s about expansion. Its not necessarily like you’re a tree, growing from a seed to a giant redwood. Although that is close in many ways, but that infers that there are things you can’t do yet because you’re still too small a tree. It may feel like we’re growing. But what we’re really doing is expanding ourselves to be bigger people.

Our souls are perfect already. What we grow is our skills. We learn to play the piano, and our spirit is now able to express music through our playing of the piano. Increasing skills allow for spirit and consciousness to express through you in a more vast way.

Learning anything new is a pain. It’s the frustration of moving through the not knowing of beginner to expert, which is probably why most people avoid learning new things after high school. It can be maddening. But what you’re doing it breaking through the wall of not knowing, of limitation. This causes your mind to expand. And spirit to be expressed. You have expanded who you are.

In this world, you may have to grow your skills in order to expand your being, but it’s the expansion that truly counts. Like creating a larger funnel for spirit to come through, or expanding the hose that the water of spirit can travel through. Expansion will dynamically transform what’s possible in your world. And when you do that, you’ll need to bring others along by using metaphor to expand theirs.

So, become a growth-minded personality, an advancing personality, an expended being. Never settle for what others tell you can and can’t be done, even if(and especially if) they are more experienced than you on the topic, because they’re letting their past experiences, environment, and beliefs cause limitation. Don’t accept the limitations the world thrusts upon you.

You were made from something greater. And where you come from, there are no limitations.

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Is Success Just an Attitude?

iStock_000011303545SmallWe’ve heard before that success is mostly an attitude. Some people have pleasant attitudes while others have negative attitudes(which are people we don’t want to be around!) Sometimes, even a person with the best attitude can have a sour day and be irritable or have a dis-empowered attitude. So if attitudes can change on a daily basis, then where do attitudes come from?

An attitude simply springs from your philosophy about life, the world, and who you are in it. Your philosophy is how you see the world, both consciously and unconsciously. Dictionary.com’s most concise definitions are ” the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct; a particular system of thought based on such study or investigation; a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs.”

There are some points to pick out here. “Investigation of…truths and principles or being, knowledge or conduct,” and “system of thought” and a “system of principles for guidance.” Clearly, what we think ABOUT the world influences how we act IN the world.

 Your philosophy guides you and your actions. Your philosophy is the CONTEXT of how you view the world. Your philosophy shapes your beliefs about the world.

Have you ever given a gold nugget of truth to someone that could change their life forever, but they scoff it off because they don’t believe in such things? You realize that this piece of wisdom could positively change the course of their life…but it rolls off them like water off a duck’s back? You know, those people you just want to slap?! 

Well, their philosophy about life, their CONTEXT, is different than yours. What you believe, or don’t believe, is what’s possible for you. If you don’t believe a thing is possible, then for you, it won’t be.

If you believe that money is evil, or money corrupts, not only will you never become wealthy, but you’ll most likely be poor, or broke all the time. After all, if money is bad, then having less of it means you’re a good person. Even if you don’t consciously think this way, you’ve engrained the belief that money is evil in your subconscious, so your life will reflect what you truly believe.

If you believe that one has to suffer before one is successful, then you’ll never be successful until you have fulfilled that arbitrary requirement of suffering.

If you believe you need a job rather than an income, than you’ll be an employee your whole life rather than your own boss.

If you believe that no one can teach you and you have nothing to learn, then you will learn nothing, even that which can propel you forward in life with a quantum leap. Vice versa, if you believe you have nothing to teach, you will never impact those people you were meant to impact because of your belief in your own unworthiness.

If you have a drinking glass, you can never fill that glass more than it can hold. That glass is the context of your life. So when people read a self-development book or attend a seminar, but never change, it’s because their context hasn’t changed. They’re putting new knowledge and wisdom in the same old glass, the same old belief system, the same old philosophy about life.

What is philosophy, really, but the perspective from which you see? If you’re an ant, your philosphy is from the perspective of an ant. If you’re an astronaut in outer space, your perspective changes dramatically when you see the curvature of the earth, and suddenly those problems in your life don’t seem like such big problems after all, because it’s ‘put into perspective.’ Your perspective on how you view the world has changed. Your perspective forms your philosophy of life. Change your perspective and you change your philosophy. Change your philosophy and you change your world.

When you change your perspective, you change the context of life. Life, literally, takes on new meaning. This conversation is not about how to develop a new perspective, we’ll save that for another time. This conversation is just meant to bring up, raise up, and uncover the means by which we can make a dramatic and empowering shift in ourselves…if we choose to.

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7 Simple Ways to Build Your Self-Esteem

believe in yourselfManaging our self-esteem is something we all deal with at some point in our lives, if not something we battle with our entire life. Self-esteem is not to be confused with self-image. Self image(how I see myself) delves into the thoughts of “I’m a dog owner; I’m a man; I’m a father.” These are often based on outer facts or roles that form a person’s self-identity. Self-concept is like an apple. The image is on the outside, but the esteem is the core. Within the center of your self-identity is your self-esteem(how I feel about myself). These thoughts are “I’m a bad pet owner,” or “I’m a terrible father,” or “I’m a loser“. They are judgements based on more emotion than fact.

But the truth is, what we focus on expands. If you have a negative belief about something and focus on thoughts such as “I’m a loser,” you will inevitably find occurrences in your life to back up that belief. If you believe you’re a winner, the same is also true. In fact, you will not only find but also create these circumstances to back the belief that you are either a winner or a loser.

We can talk about this subject in volumes of books and still not complete our conversation. But this is an article, not a 1000 page tome. So I will be brief and give seven fairly simple things that can cause low self-esteem and give simple solutions for improving yours. These are not in any order of importance. Nor is it a complete list, but I hope it can give some value.

1) Self Talk. What we say to ourselves is one of the major factors in low self-esteem. Your subconscious can’t take a joke.If you say to yourself(whether out loud or silently) “I’m a loser,” you’re subconscious mind will say “Yes, I am.” Whatever direction you tell it, it believes. It doesn’t distinguish or judge or neglect anything you tell it, it merely takes it all in and makes it fact in your belief system. If you bump into a cabinet and blurt out “I’m such a clutz,” your subconscious mind will say “Yes, I am.” And it will actually cause things to happen that reinforce that belief. You stub your toe and it will say “See, I told you you’re a clutz.”

Solution: Watch your mouth. Start becoming aware of all your negative self talk. Next time you tell yourself something that is negative, notice it and change the conversation in your head and say “No thanks.” Then change the self talk to “I’m getting better every day” and teach yourself to laugh at the mistake you made. When you start identifying with being able to laugh at your mistakes without judging them, your esteem will soar, because you realize that a healthy self image comes from being able to laugh at yourself(and most people aren’t willing to do that). Confidence comes with the ability to laugh at yourself.

2) Procrastination: Procrastination is a form of psychological failure and damages you more than you think. Washing dishes. Putting your clothes away after the laundry. Doing the little  things you need to do. You may think these are minor issues, but it’s the little things that make a huge difference.

Solution: The two minute rule. If you can do something in less than two minutes, DO IT. Wash that dish when you’re done with it. Hang up your clothes. It makes an amazing difference and has helped me personally to end procrastination. When I see something that I have to do I say to myself “I’ll have to do it eventually anyway, let’s just do it now and get it over with.”

3) Not finishing. How many times do we start something and not finish it? I have a list of projects I started while in my early twenties that I never finished. Of course, we always have justification for why we don’t finish. A big one for me in the past was “I got inspired by something else before finishing, so I moved on to the newly inspired project. So that means I’m meant to do this new project now, right?” Wrong. “I got distracted and lost momentum.” “I don’t have discipline.” These are all common excuses we say that we actually believe to justify why we don’t finish things. 

SolutionFall in love. Finishing isn’t a process of discipline but of devotion. I spent a year and a half on one of my short films’ digital effects. A YEAR AND A HALF. ON A SHORT FILM! That’s just lunacy! You don’t do that out of discipline. I was devoted to that project. It was my baby.  And I wanted to see it birthed. I loved it into creation.

A problem is we often get new inspiration stirring for a new project or idea, so we start that one without ever having finished the last one. Getting inspiration isn’t divinity telling you not to finish your current project. The inspiration came to you because you were open to it, but it has no meaning. Finish what you started then move to the next project. It will still be there for you when you’re ready.

Also, if working on a book or creative project, stay in the momentum. Don’t get distracted by other things that can take your attention. Your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Ride the momentum whether you feel inspired to do the work or not. When you look back and see how much you’ve accomplished, you won’t care about whether you felt inspired in the moment or not, you’ll be proud at what you’ve accomplished and it will carry you to finish.

4) Lack of direction. When you don’t have a definite purpose in life, or haven’t yet discovered what you’re passionate about, you’re like a ship without a rudder. You’re being pushed by the waves, and those waves usually come from other people’s boats. Being aimless kills your confidence and self-esteem. Without clarity, how can you feel good about yourself?

Solution: Point in a direction and shoot. Find out what you’re passionate about and pursue it. What are you willing to give your life to? What do you love to do so much you’d do it for free?  It has to be something you’re not willing to quit, something you’re going to either do or die trying; something that, if you looked back when you’re 90 years old and you never did it, you’d feel your life was a waste. It has to have that kind of intensity and importance to you. Anything less and you’ll quit when it gets hard. When you have a direction you’re pointed to and a goal you’re working toward, it gives you unstoppable confidence. When you have a direction and purpose, you ride life rather than letting life ride you.

5) Lack of courage. Many people are afraid to say what’s on their mind for fear of judgement or being laughed at. They’re afraid of conflict, so they avoid problems and are inhibited when expressing what’s on their mind. When you fail to express what’s inside you, your self-esteem suffers.

Solution: Be brave with yourself and speak your mind. This doesn’t mean rudely blurt out every thought that comes into your mind and insult people with a justification of “I’m just telling you the truth.” What it does mean is being willing to speak up when you have a thought you want to express, or saying a joke even if you’re afraid it may be inappropriate, or complimenting a stranger for the sake of making them feel good. It takes courage to act or speak your mind when you fear conflict or being judged or are afraid of what others might think of you. Every time you fail to act or express what’s on your mind, you give into your insecurities and your self-esteem dies just a bit.

6) Failure. Often when we fail, we think it defines us. It doesn’t matter how many times we hear stories of famous people who have failed their whole lives, when it comes to ourselves, we feel like a failure.

Solution: Fail your way to success. Use failure as a means to success. I often learn what works by doing what doesn’t work. You will fail at things your whole life. Learn from them. If you fail 99 times and succeed once, the world will say you’re an overnight success. Failure can make you strong. When you get up from failure and keep going, it shows your commitment to the task at hand and expresses your resolve to keep going. This builds your dignity. And strengthens your spine. And forms you into the person you need to be for when you do succeed. Stop identifying with the failure itself and start identifying with the power and dignity it gives you.

7) Self control. We all have emotions tied in with our decision-making. But when you make decisions based on your emotions, it’s rarely an empowered decision. Rationally, we make emotional decisions and justify those decisions with logic. “I really needed that purse(that I couldn’t afford) because my other purse is too small” or “I really wanted that triple-decker ice cream sundae because I deserve it.”

Solution: Wait it out. Use emotion as the gas, not the steering wheel. Self-control really means controlling your emotions. If there’s something you’re really feeling emotional about doing or getting, wait a day or two until the emotion has passed. Then, if you still want to act, then do so. Your emotion is an energy meant to fuel your empowered decisions, they’re not to make your decisions; they’re not meant to drive your car. Don’t be their slave. When you control acting on your emotions, they take a back seat to the real driver: you. This is the essence of self-control.

I hope some of these concepts can help you, I know they’ve helped me.

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A Request to Filmmakers

Hollywood is becoming the land of remakes. Wanting a guaranteed fan base of the original film to solidify profit, they create remakes of films nobody asked for. The quote “It’s better to be a first class you than a second class somebody else” applies to films as well. No matter how good it is, it can never capture what the original captured.

The allure of safe movies seems to be affecting indie filmmakers as well. A film festival I went to recently was excruciatingly painful. People in film don’t seem to takes chances and push themselves anymore. Some films just had terrible writing….okay…MOST films; but others had potential, but played it safe and ruined any hope of greatness. We need great writers to step up and get into film. We need people who have a powerful vision and don’t compromise on that vision.

Hollywood is out of ideas. They rehash old tv series and remake movies to make a quick buck. They look to the novels indie writers have written and to the comic books indie artists have created to make a movie from. They don’t challenge themselves with original thought, and often shun it because it’s too risky. We need the new James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino and Steven Speilberg.

Only not THEM, but YOU: we need your boldness and unwavering faith in your vision and your relentlessness to MAKE IT HAPPEN, even when you doubt yourself, NEVER doubt your vision, also never be afraid to get the opinions of those you respect and make it a team sport, cuz it ain’t about you, brother. It’s about allowing that spirit of vision to express itself THROUGH you. You are the cause. Make no mistakes, we are the original thinkers of nothing, all the ideas are out there floating in the cosmos, and we simply channel it through and express it to the world. But if YOU don’t express it, someone else will.

Is is OUR role to take the lead and express that vision. As independent filmmakers, the future is OURS, not Hollywood’s. We can NOT afford to play it safe. It is OUR time to light the sky and lead the way. It is time to burn our ships, because there is no going back.There is NO Plan B. Either we press on, or we die.

Filmmakers and writers: STEP UP YOUR GAME! The world needs your boldness.

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Joy and the Art of Film

One of my favorite parts of filmmaking is working with new people; there’s always a special appreciation in my heart for people who strive to excel in any endeavor, and to see people in this industry work their guts out to perform their role, whether it’s as an actor or as the crew, it warms my soul. And I love being around greatness.

 I feel that some people take their ‘careers’ or lives too seriously though. If I ever get to the point where I no longer tell storeies for enjoyment, where I look at the paycheck before looking at the fulfillment, where it becomes more about business and less about expression and storytelling, that’s the day I will get out of filmmaking.

Yes, it is a business. The entertainment business makes a lot of money. But your life is not about money or business. And when you’re on your death bed looking back, you won’t care about how much you got paid, you will only care about whether your life mattered; were you fulfilled and authentic? Were people glad you were around? Was your life and example an inspiration to others? Were you proud of the person you became, were your friends proud of you…was your mom?

I’ve never known a singer who does it for the money, she does it for the love. And that love, that passion, has translated to money. But it’s just a bonus, it’s not what drives her to be on stage. She follows her bliss. That is what’s important. And she would sing even if no one would pay her. In fact, she would pay others to let her sing. And that is the brilliance and paradox of life.

I’ve never known a director to get into film because he wanted to get rich. When he created worlds as a child in his mind, he did not think of ‘business’ and ‘getting what’s mine.’ No, he thought of creating, of imagination, of joy.

I’ve often heard of producers or directors being jerks to their cast and crew, and throwing tantrums on set. Even James Cameron had this reputation when he first started out. It’s very stressful as a filmmaker, there’s a lot you’re responsible for and a lot you have to do. I have to remind myself in that moment of anger or frustration that it is, after all, just a movie. How I treat people and who I am being is far more important than any film.

Money, business, being ‘serious’…these are just worldly concepts we grab hold of to give ourselves self-importance and meaning…but they’re not real. And they’re certainly not important.

I am a storyteller. I love to tell powerful, rich, stories. Whether as filmmaker or as an artist with comic books. Film is the the ultimate realization for any story; there is a certain satisfaction with seeing your imagination come to life in this way, the impact it has on people, and film stretches you to expand who you are since you always have to push yourself to work with others and learn new things and meet new people.

Life is never about what you do, it’s about what you are. Enjoy life. Follow the thing that makes your soul sing. Be alive. Have fun. Life is too short not to.

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