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learning-from-genius

Are you learning from genius (or settling for less)?

When one of the greatest financial genius’ of our time, Warren Buffett, said that “the best investment you can make is in yourself” he really meant it.

Admittedly the quote has probably been overused in marketing for years – with people trying to fill their NLP courses and coaching programs – perhaps even by me 😉

It’s so cliched and exhausted, it’s kind of lost its meaning. So what did he really mean by this, is it true and why should we sit up and take note now?

Given that most of us ‘invest’ in depreciating assets – cars, televisions and the like; and given that some of us invest in appreciating assets – shares, properties and businesses etc – why would it better to invest in ourselves?

What does it actually mean to invest in ourselves anyway?

As I’m sure you already know, depreciating ‘assets’ are those things we buy that depreciate in value – the majority of material things we purchase. When we spend more than we earn and we don’t invest any surplus (say in appreciating assets) we stay in what we all know as the rat race – with never quite enough to escape it. None of us want that.

When we invest in appreciating assets however, these can in time, give us an income that enables us to either reinvest, or spend the money as we like. This gives us a measure of freedom. The wealthy know this ‘secret’ very well. This is what Warren Buffett has done, perhaps better than anyone else alive today. So why would he say there are better investments you can make than the very thing that has made him a billionaire many times over?

Our traditional education system is not fit for purpose for the modern era. As a result, there is a ground swell of opportunity for adults to learn, grow and develop these days – to invest in ourselves – through online and offline training and courses. Never before have we had access to so much knowledge or opportunity.

As adults wanting to mature and develop into our full potential, we have to hunt out the best education we can get for ourselves, because it’s clearly not going to be given to us on a plate. This is what he means by investing in yourself.

But where to begin?open-your-mind

With an overwhelming array of information, content and courses to choose from, how do we choose the best of the best in terms of our own ongoing education?

The thing that has made the biggest difference for me in seeking out the best teachers and trainers in the world has been to match my desire with their genius. Not the marketing. I didn’t do this consciously to begin with, you could say I got lucky. In a way I stumbled across genius, rather than seeking it out in the early days.

It’s not just the results (the book, the business, the money, the stocks and shares or whatever else we are looking for and has tangible results) though that’s normally what marketeers will sell you on. It’s who we become as a result of the life changing journey we embark on – as we put ourselves and our hard earned cash in the trusted hands of someone who will hopefully teach us the ‘secrets of their success’.

I have sought out and continue to model genius I truly admire – leaders of the heart; exceptional coaches and mentors; people who have learned to love, to heal, to laugh, be real, open, ruthlessly honest and to make a real difference in the world.

Yes I’ve got tangible results – the business, the websites, the properties, money and more. What’s more valuable than any of this however, has been the person I have become. As they say, all you’re left with when you die is who you became. You can’t take any of it with you.

John Grinder, one of the founders of NLP (and a genius in his own right) once said that “the relationship between the model and the modeller [i.e. student and teacher] is so intimate that I wouldn’t consider [modelling] someone until I’d been in their presence, personally verified that I recognised genius in what they were doing… and there has to be some sort of movement inside of me at the unconscious level that says ‘YEAH’!”

My criteria for choosing models of excellence, trainers or coaches now – and I’ve chosen some very good and very bad ones in my time – is to choose those who have a congruent ‘why’ or purpose for doing what they do.  One that ‘oozes’ from their very being.

Ultimately this is almost always because it’s what they truly love doing; it’s their calling, their passion, their raison d’etre. Or all of the above! Very rarely do I choose someone because they can help me make money or a bestseller or whatever else it is. I’m sure they can. But when someone’s heart is not in the right place, I’m no longer interested. I’ve lost that gamble too many times.

I need to invest in people who are truly invested in me, themselves and life. Like Grinder, I need to be in their presence, to recognise their genius and have an unconscious pull which says “YEAH!” towards wanting some of what they have. Then it’s a green light. That couldn’t be further from the red light of marketing or sales or positioning that so many educational ‘systems’ or ‘experts’ promote. In fact, you’ll find that most genius’ don’t promote at all. They attract.

Who are you attracted by?

As one of my mentors once said, be careful who you model. You might get more than you bargained for.

Beginning-my-NLP-Journey-blog

Beginning My NLP Journey

I remember the first time ‘I got it’.  I was sitting with a new friend called Dom, on my NLP Business Practitioner course.

It might have been the second day, I can’t remember exactly.  However I do remember that in the space of about five minutes, doing nothing other than asking him some simple questions, his whole state and physiology changed.  He was beaming me a smile.  He was so grateful for me helping him figure something out and I was so grateful for being able to help him.

I had just seen with my own eyes the power of NLP; the simplicity and beauty of it and I wanted more.  I finished my NLP Practitioner a few months later and was a changed man.

A few years prior to this however, I’d never even heard of NLP courses.   I was in a horrible job, selling corporate videos to CEO’s around the world.  I say selling, more accurately trying to sell.  Imagine a London call centre, grey cardboard booths separating people like cattle and lots of falsely impassioned young men and women trying to convince high powered executives at the other end of the phone to part with £16,000 for a corporate video that would be beamed around the world on satellite television channels.  Sales.. sales.. sales… I couldn’t stand it.

Previous to this job I had been running a film production company, fresh out of University. I had no idea what I was doing, but me and a couple of friends thought it would be a fun and good idea to make a film. Fast forward a year and we had produced the most expensive short film of ’97 and a couple of music videos.  I was heavily in debt, so felt I had to bail out and get a job. And this is where I ended up, in a goldfish bowl unable to get out!

Long story short, my friend Alex called me up one beautiful sunny day as I was sat inside my grey cubicle.  The contrast couldn’t have been more stark.   I felt unable to find a way out of my physical, mental and emotional prison. There I was inside my goldfish bowl looking out onto a beautiful and sunny world. I could see and almost touch it, but from my side of the window I couldn’t have it.

In that moment, Alex asks me down the phone “Stan, you fancy going to work in Ibiza for the summer?”  My immediate response was something like “Yeah.. for sure mate.. Let’s get out of here!”  At the time, I had no idea how we’d make it work, I just knew that we would and could and the vision of being in Ibiza selling music was infinitely more inspiring than sitting in a cubicle for the summer doing some incongruent job.  I had been to Ibiza on holiday the year before but truth be told, I had no real idea of how it would work.  I did however see other people making it work when i was on holiday and I knew the pain of remaining in London, was waaaaay more painful than following what felt right in my heart.

Before I left that job, the sales manager mentioned a book that forever changed my life.  He said to me that if there is one book you ever read, make it Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. Funnily enough I didn’t read the book for about 2 or 3 years (I’m a slow learner!) but when I then decided to set up a clothing label (which would become my second ‘failed’ venture into business), I thought it might be a good idea.

It was a page turner. However, it didn’t help me to shift any of the core patterns I’d had from growing up in a highly dysfunctional family. I believe that these things run deeper than any book can fully address.

At the back of the book was a card which I posted, requesting more information. Before I knew it I’d reluctantly signed up for a seminar by Anthony Robbins.  The salesman was very, very good!

That weekend changed the direction of my life forever. Funnily enough, things actually took a turn for the worse after the event, but it had awoken something within me; something I knew to be true, but that had eluded me until then. That within all of us are the seeds of greatness and possibility; that we can all awaken the giant within us.  Until then I had been plagued by self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and more. Yet somehow I knew that life had to make sense somehow. I couldn’t just be destined to a life of limitations and unhappiness.

The experience opened the floodgates of possibility; it gave me an experience of believing that anything was possible; I had a vision and I was determined to achieve it. I had begun my NLP journey without really knowing what it was or how it worked. I just knew there was something in it, in me, that was special, worth exploring and moving towards.

As they say, all great journeys start with the first step. I had taken mine. And my life has never been the same again.

I am often reminded of how profoundly life changing that choice was and how, as a result, I keep on finding deeper levels of personal, emotional and financial freedom that I once deemed impossible.

I’m also reminded of what Bob Gass said. “What we see and hear is what we think about. What we think about is what we feel. What we feel influences our reactions. Reactions become habits and it is our habits that determine our destiny”.

I had a new vision; I was thinking differently; I had control over my destiny because I had begun to see, hear and think about a different possibility for my life. The future was bright and it was mine for the taking. As long as I was prepared to continue doing the ‘inner work’ and removing the barriers I had created through my thoughts, I could create the kind of life I wanted.

Continue the journey… A Way Out At Last

The view from my ‘Lighthouse’ in Ibiza :)