Five Steps to Fulfillment, Duck Dynasty Style

Five Steps to Fulfillment are hiding in plain sight – inside our Fascination with the Fringes.

duck dynasty phil

We keep hearing about the Kardashians – and about Phil Roberts, of “Duck Dynasty”.

In both cases, the people involved activate tribal identity and financial aspirations, as well as envy and contempt. That seems to be a good formula, from a media monetization perspective.

Whenever things get quiet, someone on one of the shows will make a controversial statement – that pushes those tribal affiliation or contempt buttons – preferably both. Each time, the media monetizes our society’s fascination with the fringes.

keep up with the kardashians

Facebook lights up with photos and memes that either celebrate and support – or ridicule and condemn these “colorful” families. Everyone is cheering – or jeering – the “real life”, times, opinions, beliefs, and biases of people they’ve never met – and are unlikely ever to meet – as the fans do the heavy-lifting of publicity for the networks.

Then, like fans of the Mets or Dolphins, they’ll run out and buy baseball hats, or shirts, or purses, or shoes – whatever product placement or merchandising gimmick is being floated that week as part of the “celebrity lottery” these people seem to have won.

In the meantime, most people are working jobs they don’t love, with people they don’t particularly like, producing products or services they don’t particularly believe in – as the show seasons (and years) drift by.

These shows offer relieving distraction from the painful drudge of ordinary life for us “regular people”. We get vicarious adventures and drama – fantasies we can get into. Adventures at the fringes of society are far enough away to let us suspend disbelief, but close enough for us to relate to.

Lost on both show fans haters, these modern parables hide the keys to fulfillment behind the alternately gauche and tacky trappings of “reality” television and the stars that make them.

Let’s pull back the curtain and find a little Motivational Literacy gold:

“Reality” shows aren’t “real”. They don’t show every burp, upset stomach, and stubbed toe. They’re structured to emphasize the bits of life that make for a good adventure:

  • the challenge,
  • the drama (frustration, and anger),
  • the actions taken,
  • the achievement (climax), and
  • the sharing of that achievement with someone.

People in the shows are just people, too. And, the levels of fulfillment they achieve aren’t beyond any of us.

The big cars, and fancy houses and fat bank accounts aren’t fulfillment: They are not measures of success, but BYPRODUCTS of personal adventures that involve achievements.

If we look deeper than the money and colorful characters, and realize that “people are people”, these shows can offer a blueprint for a fulfilling life – instead of a mind-numbing escape from ones we imagine are boring.

The hint is in the scripting or editing I outlined above: the parts of a Well Formed Adventure™ in those five simple steps:

The challenge: There’s always some sort of task or test or problem or goal to be addressed. At some point “things get real”, and people have to stretch and grow and maybe pull together to get the job done.

The drama (frustration, and anger): We usually know “things got real” because we’ve reached frustration and/or anger. Someone is embarrassed for dropping the ball. Someone’s feelings get hurt. Drama happens.

The actions taken: Someone picks up the ball and starts running with it. If there’s personal conflict, that plays-out by fixing the hurt feelings (apologies) – or growing past them (getting over it). Either way, there’s growth and connection.

The achievement (climax): There’s a deadline (television shows are short), and the problem gets solved – with some sort of useful outcome. A project is finished, a loss is prevented – something.

The sharing of achievement: In the end, there’s a sharing of relief – or achievement – and some recognition of what was done. There may be some acknowledgement of lessons learned or growth realized. And, maybe some anticipation of the next adventure.

What most people don’t realize is that these points are actually scripted in every “reality” show – or at least on a check-list for production and editing. The reason for that is THEY ARE THE PARTS OF AN ADVENTURE, and if you watch someone doing them it feels (a little) like you’ve done them yourself.

orange county choppers

These “reality shows” – and others like OC Choppers, Deadliest Catch, etc – offer  modern parables if we will see them in that light. Instead of mind-numbing distractions from our own lives, they could be BLUEPRINTS to the lives of adventure we all deserve.

You don’t have to be out on the “fringe” to be in an adventure. The only reason adventure STORIES are set that way is to make it easier to disconnect from your own life.

But, you are in your own reality show every day. It even has a custom soundtrack: What music do you listen to? If you don’t have some, open a Pandora tab – or get an MP3 player and make one!

deadliest catch

For many, the five parts of a Well Formed Adventure™ outlined above are in our lives now. We are doing them all the time – we just don’t notice that frustration and anger and crisis and social blow-ups are that part of OUR adventures.

And, when we apologize or “get over” hurt feelings – when we stretch and learn and change – that personal transformation is the same as the people we watch. Your adventures are just as interesting and distracting as any others – to someone who isn’t you.

So, the only thing missing for you is you noticing that YOU are the star of your reality.

We are “those people” in real adventures. And, we are “on the fringe” – compared to anyone who isn’t in the same line of work as you.

Think about that: From someone’s perspective, you and your life are totally “fringe” – totally unusual, outrageous, and fascinating. If only you were to notice…

For the people who aren’t finding those five major parts of a Well Formed Adventure™ in their lives, there’s a HIDDEN DIFFERENCE.

There’s something not the same for them and the people they’re watching in shows – instead of living real adventures for themselves. And, it’s not money or fame.

THE ONE HIDDEN DIFFERENCE is that people in reality shows on the fringe aren’t avoiding their challenges, fears, frustrations, and social crises the way most of us do. By NOT avoiding those things, they enter adventures head-on; get into the process of adventure; and wind up with achievement and sharing the outcome with others.

The difference between being a spectator to adventure and actually living it is in just two things:

STOP AVOIDING challenge, fears, frustrations, and social situations. GO INTO those things. They will be scary; they will be difficult; and they will require you to change, learn, adapt, and “get over it” – whatever “it” is.

RECOGNIZE and enjoy those experiences for the REAL LIFE ADVENTURE you are living. Notice “this is the frustration part” – and how you deal with that. Notice “this is the fixing hurt feelings part” – and how you can do that. Notice “this is the achievement part” – and feel good about that. And, always make sure you notice and enjoy the “sharing the outcome” part with people who helped or cheered.

What challenge, fear, frustration or social situation have you been avoiding? And, what’s the first step you could take to JUST DOING IT?

Which of those those parts of real life adventure have you been taking for granted? And, how quickly are you going to notice and appreciate it next time?

Which victory have  you recently given short shrift? And, who can you go celebrate that with? Who will you celebrate the next one with?

If you’re not sure about this, experiment with it for a week, and see what happens…

Please leave your questions and comments below. I’ll do my best to answer.

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The Origin of Motivational Literacy ®

People ask about where Motivational Literacy® came from, and that opens a collection of stories that include my life-long curiosity to understand what makes people tick – and how they perform.

Being a small and sickly child, I was in more than my share of punch-ups as a kid. Being a bit brainy, I always pursued the smartest strategy I could find to be more successful.

From Karate school to Aikido school to Skydiving and to Bodyguard school, I studied how people perform under acute stress – and how that can be improved.

Later, I thought to extend performance enhancement beyond the physical or the violent and into the business, health, and wellbeing aspects of life.

I started with Tony Robbins’ material, following that by training with NLP creator Richard Bandler and his partner John LaValle, then hypnosis masters Michael Bennett, Janis Erikson, and several others.

Opening the Clinic

My wife and I opened Transforming Changes Hypnosis clinic in 2001, and continued intensive study, constantly putting both our brains into every case either of us worked on. I couldn’t have had a better partner for that adventure. Together, through both clinical practice and formal study, we began to unravel a number of secrets.

One of our studies was about “state chains” – a concept that’s been around for a while. The idea is that it’s easier to make a small shift of mood than a large one, and that many small shifts, or baby-steps, in the same direction will add up to a big change.

state chain

There’s also the idea that people tend to form habits: If someone had an existing habit of going from one mood to another, we could discover that and use it for a mood-shifting free ride, so to speak.

We planned to map-out client-specific patterns for use in hypnosis coaching. But, we quickly found the answers to our survey questions were incredibly consistent. So, we followed up by gathering a larger sample, surveying a few thousand people. We provided an emotion-word and asked them for the emotion that comes next for them.anger and frustration


For instance, the most common emotion after frustration is … anger.



motivational literacyWe organized the results by writing emotions on note cards and sorting them on the floor of our martial arts school, according to popularity of answer, and used strings to show the connections.

This became our map of the emotional landscape – a spatial reference to emotional states and how they connect and flow into each other. The arrangements and patterns we discovered made perfect sense from a biology perspective – and in the primitive context where our brains developed.

This simple discovery also opened the door to something profound: Navigating the emotional landscape is a bit like the old child’s game “Chutes and Ladders” in that when you land on certain emotional states, it’s natural and easy to slide directly into others. There seems to be a biological bias or a chemical inertia to do so…

Negative Emotion Vortex

One of the most important discoveries we made was about how “negative” emotions show that bias into other ineffective states. Once we are in an unpleasant or unproductive emotion there is a high probability that the next one we enter will also be unpleasant or ineffective.

anger management

For instance, immediately after intense anger the body feels tired or weak. And, many people feel embarrassment. Neither of those things contribute to effective interaction, creativity, or productivity.

anger and blame anger managementDuring our studies, we’ve discovered a number of circular patterns of negative emotions that we now call vortexes. Once a person is doing one of those patterns, there is a strong tendency to repeat them.

Motivational Literacy offers the opportunity to recognize – and the tools to exit such patterns. (There are also positively-charged vortexes – which we cultivate and use.)

For more on this – and specifically the issue of anger management through Motivational Literacy, see my blog post on that subject.

The Path of Fulfillment

Once again, we planned to make specific profiles for evaluating clients and tracking their progress. We interviewed them about their problem areas, tracking their paths in the landscape – and then about their most effective areas of life, tracking those as well.

What we found was striking: Though people had creative pathways for ineffectiveness and aggravation, everyone’s “path of fulfillment” was identical. There were no exceptions. Is this the biological basis for our experience of fulfillment? We think so…

The name Motivational Literacy comes from three things:

  1. We believe a basic understanding of the emotional landscape should be part of every human’s fundamental literacy – for knowing who they are; how they function; and how to get where they want to go – to the fulfilling life they are biologically entitled to living.
  2. The map is easy to navigate through language. The language we use spontaneously discloses our location, while a deliberate use of language can steer our course through the landscape.
  3. That use of language involves using one’s literacy through both reading and writing techniques – activities that enrich one’s life even as they help guide it’s growth.

One of the most wonderful things about Motivational Literacy is the discovery that if a person has ever done something that was fulfilling – that perhaps made them proud – the details of the fulfilling path are already within them. All they need to experience of fulfillment are the tools to navigate that pathway again. And if they have no such experience, they can use the same tools to follow the well-worn pathway established by others.

Motivational Literacy® offers those tools. They are so simple and easy to use that anyone who can read and write can put them to work and change their life.

I’d like to know about how helpful this post is – and how I can contribute to your success with whatever you’re struggling with right now. Participate in the community by leaving a comment below!

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Change Your Life With Facebook #1

change  your life with facebookThis is one of a series on How to Change Your Life With Facebook using Motivational Literacy.

This morning, I was scrolling the FaceBook feed, looking for some mental breakfast – some savory mental morsel to jump-start the neurons.

Of course, I was greeted by the usual parade of violence, outrage, shock, conspiracy, partisanship, and paranoia.

There was even a fantasy about being the devil – which seemed an odd posting for one of those uber-Christian types. You’d think they’d be pretending themselves a saint, or angel, or even God – rather than the devil.

What do political rants, conspiracy theories, and end-times prophecy have in common – besides not creating good emotions to accompany an actual breakfast?

Then, I came across a posting from a Yoga teacher friend, talking about finding one’s balance through (her) Hot Yoga class – which, on the surface, could look like self-promotion. But, an invitation to someone’s hot yoga class is far more than some hipster version of Amway.

There’s LOTS more going on here. And, it’s the stuff that makes the difference in lives, in fulfillment, even physical health. It reminds me of a story my Aikido instructor used to tell:

An old man lived on top of a mountain, greeting travelers as 
they passed. 

One asked: "What are the people like in that next valley?"

The old man thought a moment and then inquired: "What are the 
people like where you are from?"

The traveler replied: "They are greedy, deceitful, mean-spirited, 
and not to be trusted."

The old man said: "I think the people you meet will be just like 
the ones you're used to."

The next day, another traveler asked the same question: "Old man, 
what are the people like in that next valley?"

Again, the old man inquired: "What are the people like where 
you are from?"

The traveler replied: "They are friendly, helpful, and mostly 

And, the old man again said: "I think the people you meet will be 
just like the ones you're used to."

That’s a fun fable about finding what we expect – what we are already looking for.

But, how is it useful?

In Motivational Literacy, we study the relationship between what we notice (pay attention to) and what we feel, emotionally. We say: “Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.

All emotional states are “performance states”, because whatever our state, it’s the performance state for whatever we’re doing. And, the brain is a predicting machine to prepare us for our activity.

The three step process:

  1. Collect information to interpret;
  2. Interpret the information (assign meaning);
  3. Set the body’s automatic systems and brain chemistry (performance state).

Once in a state, we tend to select information that helps maintain a continuity of experience – a seamless flow of emotion. We don’t notice it doing that because it’s automatic.

The only time we notice an abrupt shift of emotion is if we’re surprised – or in the case of humor. The structure of humor is to set up one state and then abruptly shift it to:

A rubber chicken is always funny – because it’s always a wild change of context.

So, Canadians have an ability to notice the things nobody else is thinking of. They’re good at being constantly just a bit out-of-context – especially from unhappy things. (Yes, I changed “comedians” for “Canadians” on purpose – it’s out of context – see how that changed your focus?)

Which brings us back to the FaceBook feed.

What do political rants, conspiracy theories, and end-times prophecy have in common?

  1. They offer information that helps produce emotions like shock, outrage, anger – and especially fear.
  2. They focus attention on things that are scary – and about which we have no real control. That fear is useful for getting us to hand-over money – to politicians, or churches – or for the purchase of upset stomach medicine.

Once in a state of outrage or fear, there’s a natural, survival-based tendency to seek more similar information from our environment. In nature, that would be fine – the fear one gets at hearing a rattlesnake sound is useful for generating a sharp visual search for the snake itself.

Connected to the Internet, this natural tendency quickly runs amok – and the search engine filters even help – by providing “related links” to whatever we searched for.

Like the first traveler above, we will find lots more of whatever we already found.

An invitation to a hot yoga class, on the other hand, is like that other traveler:

  1. We begin by finding something that promotes emotions like calmness, relaxation, and self-acceptance.
  2. It is also about something ACTIONABLE – something within our power to do and create a change immediately.

Two things: class of emotions, and actionability.

Our biology-based handicap is – following one fearful bit of information to another was once a survival-enhancing strategy. We found that poisonous snake – and then went on about our day. And, it wasn’t a big deal, once relaxed, to find more things to be relaxed about.

That was then, this is now – when more people are killed by stress-related illness than by all the rattlesnakes, robbers, and plane-crashes combined.

So, next time you have the entire planet just a mouse-click away, don’t mindlessly consume “interesting”: A strange insect is “interesting” – that doesn’t mean it would be good to consume it: Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.

Remember whatever you consume creates your state – and will bias your attention to “similar links”.

If you really want to maximize your personal fulfillment, follow links that meet just two rules:

  1. The KIND of information they offer will lead to USEFUL emotional performance states.
  2. The KIND of information they offer will lead to ACTIONS you can do to immediately improve yourself or your corner of the universe.

Studies have demonstrated biology will do the rest. The more you notice – and act – on what’s possible to do now, the more new possibilities you will notice.

Which part of this post was most useful or interesting or unexpected?

How are you going to use it?

What are you struggling with right now that Motivational Literacy could help with?

When you share below I’ll reply..

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