Three essential questions to succeed at life
Question 1. What do you want?
Being clear about exactly what you want and setting well formed goals around these desires is completely non-negotiable to doing life well.
Knowing what you want and why you want it is the ultimate leverage to get you out of your story. The key is to focus on what it is you want rather than focus on the problem or what you don’t want. We’ve all had setbacks and had to deal with unfortunate challenges, trial, trouble, pain, hurt, misfortune, the bad behaviour of others, and unfair situations. You have every right to live out of that story and play that card as the reason why you can’t, or it’s too hard, or too late etc. The only problem with that story is that it can’t serve you in getting more of what you want. You must leave it behind in order to reach for your future.
While the question “What do you want?” may sound simple and easy, it is anything but. I’m convinced that is actually the most dangerous, confronting and yet important question we get to ask ourselves as human beings.
Being willing to clearly articulate what it is you want in life is a dangerous and risky because the moment you put it out there, you set up the potential for failure, rejection and disappointment. Knowing what you want may also put you in direct conflict with what others want! However…no matter what the potential hazard, lose sight of your goals or smother your dream at your own peril. That is a by far more dangerous!
If you don’t know what you want in life, you will end up serving the agenda of those who do. Without clear goals and direction, the only other option is to settle and survive.
Take a moment to fully consider question 1.
What do you want?
How would you like your life to be?
If everything was as it should be for you, what would be happening?
What would excite you?
If it was impossible to fail, and you had unlimited resources, what would you be doing?
How would you like your relationships, finances, health career etc to be?
Question 2. Why do you want it?
Once the “what” is as clear as possible, the “why” must be discovered. Knowing the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ greatly increases our motivation, drive and inner resourcefulness in making the outcome happen.
Knowing the intention behind the outcome also allows us to further refine what we really want, rather than becoming attached to a specific vehicle that may never actually be able to deliver.
When the why becomes big enough, the how takes care of itself.
Almost everything we enjoy in today’s world was totally impossible at some point in history. Yet some bold creature got it in their head that the world needed their invention and then created a way for it to become possible – a solution that had never been conceived of before.
Necessity is the mother of all invention; if you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
For all your answers to question 1, now take a moment to explore the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’.
Why do you want that?
If you had that, what would that give you?
So what is this really about?
Why is that important to you?
What’s the highest intention behind this desire or goal?
Question 3. Who do I need to be?
Once we are really clear about what we want and why we want it, the game-changing question in not what do I need to do?’ but who do I need to be?
Another way of asking this question is - what kind of a person would have access to these kind of outcomes?
For example, let’s say I want to write a book that’s a best-seller. Only 2% of all authors will ever sell enough copies of their book to justify the time, money and energy they’ve spent in writing it. It’s not simply the best books that get published, just like it’s not the most talented sportsperson, artist or businessperson that ends up on top of the pile. Despite what most people think, the best don’t always finish first. So simply doing my best isn’t likely to deliver the results I am looking for. I need to find out what kind of person gets their book published and sold when most others don’t. The question I need to ask myself is, “Who do I need to be to write a best-seller?”
What kind of person makes it in their field of expertise, when most work hard for very little recognition or reward? What must they believe about themselves? How do they dress? What is their relationship with money? What story do they live out of? How do they walk when they enter a room?
If I can be this kind of person, then I can have access to the same results as they do.
The Be Do Have model really unpacks how this works in the real world. It is one of my favourite coaching tools and I'd love to know who invented it. Both Stephen Covey and Anthony Robbins use it in their writing, yet I believe it predates both of them.
Be Do Have
There are three common approaches to trying to get ahead in life as understood by the simple but powerful “be do have” model.
Let’s call them:
• The Victim,
• The Worker
• The Winner
The victim arranges their life in the order HAVE DO BE
They say, “When I HAVE enough time, money and support, then I’ll DO the things I’ve always wanted to, and then I’ll BE happy and successful. The problem is I don’t HAVE yet. If I had what that person had, I’d certainly be as successful as them, but I don’t so I’m not.“ The victim is always waiting for externals to change before they can move ahead in life.
The worker is all about DO HAVE BE
They say, “The more I DO, the more I’ll HAVE. The more I’ll HAVE, the happier I’ll BE. The problem is, the more I do, the more there is still to do and the more I have to more there is still to have. I am defined by what I do so I become driven, busy and tired. The more I have, the more there is to lose so the harder I work.” We all know that the link between having more things and being happier is a myth, so being happy never arrives.
The winner orients their life quite differently: BE DO HAVE
They say, “It is not what do I need to HAVE before I can start, or what work do I need to DO… but who do I need to BE? What kind of person would have access to the kind of outcomes I want? Then being that kind of person, what would I be doing? And then the having takes care of itself.”
Be Do Have is definitely the rarest of the three lifestyles and the most abstract, yet it is the only one that works.
Once you are clear about exactly who you need to be to give you access to the outcomes you really desire one of the most effective ways of stepping in to that ‘Be-ing’ is in the way you talk to yourself.
Everyone talks to themselves, but few really pay attention to what they are saying. Successful people are very careful about what they say to themselves. You may have heard of people using positive affirmations as a strategy for living well. This strategy works, not just because the affirmations are positive, but because they help to reprogram our thinking. They help us be who we need to be to get the outcomes we desire.
Shad Helmstetter in his book “What to Say When You Are Talking to Yourself,” says that the relationship between the conscious mind and the subconscious is like that of the captain of the ship and the engine room worker. The captain gives the orders (the words that he speaks) and worker simply follows the instructions. The potential problem with this is that often our self-talk (the captain’s orders) is quite negative and disempowering. For example, you might say to yourself: “I’m just not a very creative person…” or, “I don’t make friends easily…” or, “I really suck at sports.” Your subconscious hears these words as instructions and sets to work, saying, “OK great, I need to go work out how to not be a creative person…” or, “I must find a way to be terrible at making friends…” or, “It’s time to be uncoordinated...” Then surprise, surprise, these are the exact results you experience, which serves to prove to you that your negative self-talk is right!
The key with self-programming is to be clear about what you really want (go back to the outcome piece) and then start talking to yourself like you are that person already. This is not simply an exercise in positive affirmations, but clear programing for the results you’re looking for. It’s your conscious mind giving your subconscious clear instructions to carry out.
1.What do you want?
2.Why do you want it?
3.Who do you need to be to get it?
These three questions are not easy, but they are also not complicated. If success is important to you, then use these three as your constant companions.
 Shad Helmstetter, “What to say when you are talking to yourself”, Thorsons, London, 1991 p 18