Leather Spinsters Newsletter June 2006 Edition

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1. Articles

    A. Create Success

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Everyone seek the key to happiness outwardly
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Create: Success-With Whatever You Have! 7 Practices for Creating What Matters Most In Life & Work Belief In Yourself

Have you heard about the stranger in New York who wanted to visit Carnegie Hall?

When no one would stop to give him directions, he approached a man carrying a violin case.

"Sir," he asked, "what's the best way to get to Carnegie Hall?"

Jascha Heifetz, one of the world's finest violinists, leaned forward, tapped the visitor on the chest, and said, "There is only one way to get to Carnegie Hall-practice, practice, practice!"


These 7 practices are no magic formula. But they will help you create outstanding results-with whatever you start with.

1. Create a clear, compelling vision of what you want to create.

Focus on the result you want to create.

"Lose weight," becomes "A lean, athletic body."

"Quit smoking," becomes "A non-smoker with clean, healthy lungs."

"Get out debt," become "$10,000 per month doing what I love."

It's fine to start with concepts such as "success," or "a better business." However, power comes from focusing concepts into visions. Picture the specifics of what you want to create.

What would it look like if you were successful? How would your business be better?

Which is more compelling? The concept, "A new car," or the vision, "A candy-apple red, Miata convertible with a black top, beige leather seats, and a six-speaker Alpine CD system?"

Vision does not have to be realistic; it has to be what you truly want. So, stretch for what matters; let your aspirations soar. Grounding vision in reality is the next step.

2. Assess Reality Accurately and Objectively

Vision by itself has little power. Unless it is grounded in reality, it is wishful thinking.

You need to know your destination AND starting point. If you want to go to Denver, and think you are in LA but are actually in Boston, you will not succeed.

Judging it reality distorts it. For example, we say, "Everything is screwed up," when only a part is not going well. Or, "Everything is great," when it isn't. Distorting reality creates a shaky foundation for action.

The key is to describe reality accurately and objectively. Instead of "Everything is screwed up," say, "This part is not working; the rest is."

Describing reality establishes a solid foundation for successful action.

3. Hold Vision and Reality Together to Set Up Creative Tension

Holding vision and reality together sets up a gap out of which a useful, creative tension emerges. Creative tension is the engine of creating.

It replaces the emotional tension and generates the energy to move from where you are to where you want to be.

Imagine a rubber band stretched between Vision and Current Reality. The tension in it can resolve in three ways.

Let go of your vision and give up your goals.

Lower your vision and compromise your goals.

Or hold vision firmly and change reality so you move toward the result you want to create.

Holding vision and reality together sets up an organizing framework in which you can experiment, learn from experience, and shape results.

Your job is to resolve creative tension by making choices and taking actions that support your results.

4. Take Small Steps. Create and adjust.

Many of us are closet perfectionists. We demand first steps be perfect. So, either we give up when we falter, or fear of failing prevents us from getting started.

To get started, take small steps. Work backward from vision to first steps by asking, "Can I do this today?" If you can't do it, ask, "What must I do first?"

If your vision is to be fit enough to run a half-marathon but you get winded walking up stairs, you obviously can't do it today. So what must you do first?

Build an aerobic base. Can you do that today? No. What must you do first?

Use the questions to work back to small, easy steps you can do today. Taking them increase confidence, builds momentum, and helps you stretch toward larger steps.

5. Build Momentum

Momentum is more important than motivation. It generates energy that keeps you going when motivation fades. If you get stuck, or things don't go well, try this:

1. Notice what is happening and what you say about it, others, and yourself.

2. Does what you say support what you want? Is it true? Is it accurate and objective? If it isn't, make it so.

3. Then ask, "What DO I want?" Envision your result fully completed.

4. Choose whatever action occurs to you and try it.

5. Keep trying-create and adjust-until you complete the result.

Like rocking a car, you can use this technique to get unstuck when you are angry, frustrated, depressed, or facing adversity. It shifts your focus from problem solving to creating. It flips your mood from negative to energetic.

Most important, it keeps you moving and builds momentum toward results.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Few of us are born with the skills and talent to achieve our visions. But we are learners. We can try, adjust our actions, and practice until the new becomes natural.

Practice may not make you perfect, but it will make you better. The road to success always runs through better.

One of my clients wanted to be a "Great public speaker." But, because she judged she was "not good," she felt bad and didn't practice. I helped her see she "wasn't good, yet." I also helped her see that, instead of demanding she be good, she'd do better to focus on getting better. In no time, she was making money as a speaker.

Making success an all or nothing jump often leaves you with nothing.

7. Know When You Reach Your Goal

It's not enough to say, "I want to be successful." Without guidelines for judging results, you are like a dog chasing its tail, seeking success but never knowing when you achieve it.

To harness creating's power, you need to know when you've completed your creation. This is why vision is best when it's specific. Assess your result against the specifics and see if it matches. If it doesn't, keep working at it. If it does, you're done. =Celebrate.

Completing a creation generates new energy you can use to initiate new creations.

So finish fully and celebrate your success. Then, start on your next result. Success builds on success.

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it," Goethe advised, "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

So why not be bold. Stretch for what matters-with whatever you have. Then, practice these techniques, and see if you don't create the geat results you long for.


Bruce Elkin is a writer, coach, and consultant who helps individuals and organizations create what matters most-in spite of problems, circumstances, and adversity. His ebook Emotional Mastery: Manage Your Moods and Create What Matters Most-With Whatever Life Gives You is available on his website at: http://www.BruceElkin.com.



Comments on Self Esteem Developing A Strong Belief In Yourself

We have all been criticised. If not for one thing, then for another. We've got to learn to handle it! It is worthwhile asking "Why am I being criticised?"

In some cases it is honest criticism. You have done something you shouldn't have done or done something you were right to do, but done it badly. It is important to ask yourself whether the criticism is correct, and if it is, you should make your apologies and make sure you do better next time. This critic has done you a favour, he has sharpened up your act.

But in many cases it is not so clear as that. Careful thinking is needed. Your critic says "You are an over-trusting fool". It's not clear whether this is honest criticism or not, so, you should ask for reasons. If he says "Look at the way you trusted X. He will swindle you", then that is something that can be discussed. How often have you been let down by those you have trusted? What is X's history of honesty and betrayal? What temptation is he in? Were his eyes shifty when you made the deal? An honest conversation can be held in these terms. After weighing up all these things, you may still come to different conclusions, but it is an honest disagreement. We all have a right to our opinions, and either you or your critic will be proved right in the end.

In some cases you cannot really challenge your critic, that's a very personal judgement to make. It sometimes happens that family members cannot be challenged. But even family members must sometimes be made to change their minds or at least to accept that other legitimate judgements and points of view exist.

It may seem that you cannot reply in business situations where you are a junior being criticised by a senior, but I don't think that is so. A senior is a senior, he can override your opinions anyway, he doesn't have to get your approval. What's more, many bosses don't want bootlickers, people without backbone. If you lick his boots, then you'll lick others' boots, and the boss wants to know how you handle pressure. This is one way of testing whether you have backbone. If it really might be honest criticism you could write it down as he says it and discuss an action plan for improvement. Maybe he is frightened that you seem better at the job than he is. Or maybe it's simply a misuse of power - some bosses do enjoy that. Decide why he is criticising you and if it's not an honest criticism, you can ignore it.

But if your critic will not or cannot explain his criticism, then why is he criticising you? He makes out that you have such and such shortcomings, which he has not; he is better than you, and you walk away, looking downcast. He feels good. Sadly there are many people in this world, who only feel good about themselves if they feel that they are better than another. Why do they do that? They have probably been put down by others. In some cases, I am sure, they are unsure of their own choices and tastes. They seem to live in a world where you only rise in your own estimation by pushing others down. Very sad, but their problems are not your problems; How do you cope?

I have never have a ready answer for such people, I don't suppose that many of us do, but I go away and think about it, and prepare my questions, I make a list of them, and at a time which suits me, I ask him to say why he says what he does. If he has no good reasons, he may not do it again. Few like to be shown up as poor thinkers. You can deny him the pleasure of seeing you walk away downcast.

There is no possibility of answering critics who say that you are the wrong age, the wrong sex, have the wrong nose shape, things which you cannot change. There is no need to take any notice of these criticisms. Or you can put him on the spot by saying "Tell me how I can change that?"

But far more undermining are the negative suggestions which can't be defined. They form a sort of mist in the mind, which can't be put into exact shape, therefore can't be counter-attacked. One masterpiece of undermining criticism attack on me is when I was criticised for the way I sat! "The way you sit is so tense! You can't see it, but I tell you for your own good". How can discuss and defend yourself against that? That is close to criticising you for nothing at all, and the critic has set himself up as the only judge of it. And he has wrapped it in the poison wrapping of "for your own good"? Is there not something deeply personal about being criticised for the way you sit? There is only one defence against that; A good laugh!

Your critic may show his lack of respect for you by a thing such a wordless thing as unnecssarily making a telephone call in the middle of talking to you. This is not a proposition which can be examined or rejected. There are many undermining things like this, such as setting up a situation whose underlying assumption is that you are a person of low value, (though it might take some time to work that out, that's one of the tricks of creating such situations) and getting you to go along with it, thus getting you to confirm your low value.

Another is to put things in such a way as to imply that anybody with a contrary view is a fool. Part of the skill of a skilled attacker is to put into your mind the idea that you should check yourself for certain faults and once you start this, there is no end, you find possible fault where nobody else would find it. It becomes what I came to call a "mind parasite". Nothing is immune to it.


You are not allowed to kill or injure others. But sadly, undermining other's confidence is part of the struggle for power in the school playgound, in the workplace and in the family. It is so nice to be in settings where there is no struggle for the right to hold up your head.

What with one thing and another, there is always going to be some criticism which you cannot answer back to, and although it would be best to walk away from it (it is very wearing to be in the company of people who hold you in low esteem) even that is not always possible. So how do you cope?

Like all of us, I have been attacked by all these tricks and more, and I couldn't hit back. The trick that saved my personality, and indeed my life, was to ask myself "If I were somebody else, looking at me, how would I judge myself"? I look at the situation and ask, "what can I and what can't I know, what can be expected of somebody and what is important and what isn't" and very often I find that I have done nothing wrong.

In my mind there was a vast stack of the accusations dating back to my childhood that had been made against me, I kept them in memory as things that ought to attended "when I get round to it". It seemed a huge threat and fearing what I might find, I hesitated to make a start on it. Then somebody made a criticism of me which was so foolish that I saw straight away that it must be wrong. I decided to make a start on this list of accusations against me by asking myself the simple question "If I were another looking at me, would I find that there was a case to answer?" It seemed a leap of faith to think I could judge myself honestly, but you can't ask somebody else!

To make it real, I would look at somebody who I knew like me in age, experience and general circumstances of life and say "If I were him, how would I judge me?" I had hoped only to clear some of the accusations against me. But to my amazement and delight I found that almost all of them could be cleared. Indeed in many cases, I could see that if there was fault, it was my critic's fault. These were cases of "The pot calling the kettle 'black'" It's a very common ploy. A huge weight came off my mind. I had let a huge number of accusations lie pointing against me and I hadn't faced up to them. Not to face up to things of any kind, accusations or tasks, is always bad policy. The knowledge that they were there unfaced up to had weighed me down. On the whole I found that I was a worthy person, with my faults certainly, but also with many virtues. Like the rest of us.

I have before me the awful example of what failure to do this did to my ex-wife. She wouldn't hear any criticism of herself, no matter how well meant it was. Any criticism was an attack on her. This was not because she had an answer to such criticism, or had looked at her actions and judged them OK. It was because she could not allow any criticism of herself. Not even self-criticism. The result, strangely, but when you think about it, it must follow, was that she had lower self-confidence than I had. I had looked at my actions as honestly as I could, and while I had certainly judged some of them mistakes (with correction for the next time), I had judged most of them OK. She had not done any such appraisal of herself. She had simply given herself a pat on the back for everything she did just because she was herself and she could not allow her confidence to be undermined. So the good marks she had awarded to herself had no value, and she knew it.

In some cases, I judged that she had done rather well but it was obvious that she thought she had done badly. How did I know? If you have been 2 skin thicknesses away from somebody for so long, even somebody you no longer love, you know what the other is thinking. There's the tone of voice, the quality of the laugh, the shake of the head, 1001 little things. And our daughters agree. So, it is no good awarding yourself good marks, just because you are yourself and you need your confidence. That leads to making building your confidence of untested materials and you know it is as frail as a house of cards. It is better to look at accusations (including self-accusations) and judge them honestly by the standards you would apply to others, and you will find that you are indeed a worthy person.

Michael Bell

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