The things every high-achiever should know
In: Motivation21 Dec 2010
Driven to a Tipping Point
“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”
In his bestselling book, “The Tipping Point”, Malcolm Gladwell discusses tipping points as they relate to trends in society. How does a seemingly silly fashion item suddenly take off? Or why does one show become insanely popular, while a clearly better show is cancelled three weeks later? While tipping points in society are very noticeable because of the scale on which they take place, personal tipping points are just as powerful an occurrence, but are seldom discussed. Tim Ferriss, a New York Times best-selling author, recently addressed the personal tipping point in his new book, “The 4-Hour Body”, which is what gave me the inspiration for this post.
Ferriss refers to a personal tipping point as a “Harajuka Moment”, which is named after a case study in “The 4-Hour Body” that occurred in Harajuka, Japan. A particular individual, who had been overweight for years, found himself in Harajuka, one of the trendiest areas of Japan. As he stood with his friend outside a clothing store, he heard himself say something to his friend along these lines: “Does it even matter what clothes I wear? I won’t look good in them regardless.” Hearing himself say those words was his tipping point.
Something clicked in his mind. He couldn’t believe he had just said that, and it hit a sensitive nerve. Despite all of the success he had achieved in his career, he still felt helpless in the area of fat-loss. After that moment, he swore to take control of this part of his life. From then on, his motivation never faltered as he worked towards permanently changing his appearance through a healthier lifestyle. Twelve months later, he successfully hit his weight goal.
The Cause of a Personal Tipping Point
Many people I’ve spoken to who have made one or more drastic, beneficial lifestyle changes found the motivation to do so because of an emotionally-charged moment that endured in their minds for years to follow. I call this powerful moment a moment of clarity. It is during this brief moment that the entire implications of your habits – long term, short term, emotional, physical, and mental implications – suddenly become crystal clear.
Imagine you’ve been walking around with horrible eye-sight for years and then a doctor finally puts on your first pair of glasses. You can finally see the world around you with infinitely better clarity. When you experience this effect through a moment of clarity, it is the emotional impact of this clarity, and the lasting impact that it leaves on you, that pushes you past your tipping point.
In his classic book “Psycho-Cybernetics”, Dr. Maxwell Maltz tells a similar story of a lifelong smoker who finally made the decision to quit. He did so because of a powerful moment of clarity that permanently changed his perspective. Living in a rural area, most errands were done on foot. A particular errand he needed to do was 5 miles away. After having walked 3 out of the 5 miles, he realized he left his cigarettes at home, so without thinking, he immediately spun around and began walking back to go get them. At that instant, he had his moment of clarity.
He finally saw, plainly and clearly, that tobacco had such a strong grip on his thoughts and behavior that he was instantly willing to go 6 miles out of his way (3 miles home and 3 miles back to where he was standing) just to be able to have them close by. He felt a mixture of anger and frustration for letting something have such control over him. From then on, he never lost the drive to quit smoking.
Constructing your own moment of clarity is incredibly difficult. In fact, the reason a moment of clarity is so powerful, is because it hits your emotions very hard. As the saying goes: “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” A powerful emotional experience can endure for years, which can be channeled for positive use in the case of a moment of clarity. However, it’s incredibly difficult to plan out something to appeal to your emotions so powerfully. If it were easy, marketers and advertisers would take advantage of it on a daily basis. But despite the level of difficulty, I will attempt to dissect a method that works when done properly.
Generating a Strong Emotional Response
In order to figure out your best bet of generating a planned moment of clarity, let’s first take a look at the methods of people who are paid to elicit specific emotions in people: advertisers. When you see a commercial of a happy family sitting around the table, advertisers are trying to bring a warm, happy feeling to you. An advertiser will then tie that in to whatever product they are selling, such as a tomato sauce that the whole family enjoys. The key to a highly effective advertisement is the use of an image or scene that creates a strong enough emotional response to convince you to buy the product or service.
Note: Appealing to logic has also been shown to work, but emotional appeals have a more lasting impact. Here is an excellent example of an emotionally-driven advertisement that Google used during the Super Bowl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnsSUqgkDwU
However, you need not rely on an advertisement to generate such emotional responses. You can do it yourself by using visualizations. As silly as that might sound, there is a lot of research behind the use of positive visualizations. If I had to summarize the research on the subject in one sentence, it would be this: the brain cannot tell the difference between a real and a vividly imagined experience. For more on this topic, I highly recommend reading “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz (affiliate link).
If you can vividly imagine yourself having achieved your goal – whether it’s to be a successful entrepreneur, lose weight, or save money to go on a vacation to Europe – your brain will start to interpret this as a real experience. This does two things:
1) It breaks down any long-standing negative beliefs stored in your subconscious, since these beliefs directly contradict an experience your brain believes to be real.
2) It shocks you out of your comfort zone when your brain starts realizing the stark difference between your life having achieved your goal and your life having NOT achieved your goal. And this is where a moment of clarity may show itself. Since your brain tends to adapt to its circumstances and consider those circumstances “normal”, such visualizations are needed to recalibrate your brain’s perception.
So how do you go about “vividly imagining” something?
Simple. Dedicate 10 minutes a day to sitting down somewhere comfortable and free of distractions. Close your eyes and try and picture yourself having achieved your goal. At first, this will feel awkward and you may have difficulty picturing this scenario. But just like any skill, you will get better at this over time. Make sure you can feel, smell, taste, see, and hear everything in your mind. Make it as real as possible. It will be at that point that your brain will start interpreting your visualizations as reality. And that is where the magic happens.
Logic is usually not enough to change stubborn habits and poor lifestyle choices. We all know that we should eat better, exercise more, or have that difficult conversation. Since we’re emotionally-driven creatures, emotions are our best bet for motivating us to do something. A moment of clarity, which usually results in a large emotional response, can be one of the most powerful ways to do so. However, since these moments are few and far between, your best bet for generating your own is through visualization techniques that jump-start your brain into noticing the difference between your current situation and your ideal future situation. This stark comparison is, based on my knowledge, one of the few ways to generate a controlled moment of clarity response.
However, I’d be shocked if my method is the only one out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts on experiencing moments of clarity or your techniques for motivating yourself through emotions.
And as always, if you are interested in mastering the subject of motivation, I encourage you to check out Unlimited Drive, my free e-book that effectively summarizes hundreds of hours of research on the subject. Not only do I discuss all of the research in an easy-to-understand manner, but I also create a set of techniques and exercises to help you incorporate the research into your own life. After all, research is useless unless it’s applied properly.
Many people have used the techniques in Unlimited Drive to find the motivation they needed to accomplish their most challenging goals. You can be one of those people.
I'm Jon Guerrera, a life hacker at heart, and the man behind the scenes here at Living For Improvement. This blog documents all of my successes, failures, experiments and lessons learned as I hack my way to happiness, fulfillment and success.
I also wrote an ebook. If you like what I write on the blog, you should definitely check it out below. Oh, and it's free.
Unlimited Drive is the result of four years of diligent research on what drives people to achieve great things. I always wondered how the most successful people in the world could reach such high levels of success and accomplishment. Well, I found the answer and wrote an ebook so I could pass it on to you (for free).
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