Creating futures that are compelling

Creating compelling futures is a topic of ongoing interest, yet a large number of people operate from the assumption that they have no chance of living the life they want. Others believe they are stuck in an ongoing and unsatisfactory present with no way out short of a miracle, while some can’t wrap their minds around determining what they want in the first place. Creating anything seems to be a chancy business. What is the difference between a creation that succeeds and one that disappears without trace?

Successful entrepreneurs come to our attention when their businesses take off, after they have had an idea, researched and realised it and marketed it in a manner that got the attention and customers they needed to succeed. By the time we know about their endeavours, it looks like a TV chef taking a completed example of a complex dish out of the oven with the words, “Here’s one I prepared earlier.”

Rock musicians who make it seem to appear on the scene fully formed, but with some of them, there are stories of the years of effort, practise, and day jobs they lived before the song that first got the public’s attention. For example, the Rolling Stones were just another London rock group playing the college ball and pub circuit until their first hit made them famous, apparently overnight. That gave them the start to success that continued for decades.

A casual observer might be forgiven for thinking talent, skill, planning, and execution have less to do with creating a stellar future than luck, given so many examples of someone breaking into public awareness suddenly and apparently overnight. How does one author’s book make it onto the best-seller lists when another, at least as worthwhile, sinks into obscurity? What makes a mediocre teacher wildly popular while a skilled and knowledgeable teacher struggles to survive?

Elite athletes compete for honours that mean a lot to them. The differences in capacity and performance at the very top are reputed to be minimal. The difference we hear about is; “You have to want it more than anyone else does.” This proposes that those who want to be first most push that little bit more and maintain the desire consistently and for longer than everyone else.

The capacity to do that is predicated on the athlete’s beliefs, their state and how they imagine their future in the short to medium term. They have to believe it is possible and possible for them. They have to generate continuing motivation to train, refine, and practise their skills to peak at the right time. They have to produce the quality of attention that will enable them to train effectively over time and perform at their best on the day, the next, and the one after that.

Cathy Freeman and Elon Musk are household names. They both rose to prominence for having ideas, dreams, the ability to engage appropriate skilled help, unwavering belief in themselves, and their capacity to realise their creations. The biggest difference between them is not subject matter, gender, or intellect. It is that Elon Musk always has a dream beyond the current project, and Cathy Freeman had nothing in place to motivate her beyond the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

According to the publicity, Elon Musk’s dream beyond the dream is to create a colony on Mars. Earlier iterations include building the transport and infrastructure to take people to Mars safely and enable them to stay there long enough to make a permanent habitat and renewable resources. He wants to create a backup for humans in case Earth becomes uninhabitable.

“I think the most important thing is to create a self-sustaining city on Mars, That’s, I think, the critical thing for maximising the life of humanity; how long will our civilization last.”
– Elon Musk

Musk’s current endeavours include Tesla, which makes fast, responsive, long-range luxury electric cars and battery packs for storing electricity; Spacex, which manufactures and deploys cost-effective rockets for commercial applications; Sun City Solar Energy; and now the Boring Company, which makes tunnels deep underground for transporting vehicles. All of these align with Musk’s desire to increase sustainable resource use and infrastructure on earth, as well as contributing to the likelihood of his Mars project. No doubt, as the Mars project gets closer, Musk will extend his dream beyond the dream.

For Cathy Freeman, the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games represented the pinnacle of her ambition as a runner. It took place in front of her home crowd; she was at the top of her game, and there was nowhere more important to race after that. Training and preparation took up all her attention for several years, and somehow, what would happen next or later was overlooked. In a runner’s career, there is always another event to prepare for. Until they retire from racing, the future is handled. At the Sydney Olympics, Freeman won gold and was given additional honours. She was picked to carry the flag in the opening and closing parades and to light the stadium Olympic Flame. Then nothing.

How to create a compelling future

Creating a compelling future is a process, and it starts with discovering or determining what you want in your future. It is important to be willing to consider any options that really attract you, even if you think they are impossible for you at this time. The turn-on factor is vital. You do not want to pursue something that leaves you cold, however worthy. 

If you know what you want, you are ready to consider what you want it for. This is something people often leave out. Yet the intention for having what you want can increase the compelling nature of the desire. It also opens up more paths to achievement. If you don’t know what you want, “I wish I could be, do or have something” may be a useful starting point. Even if the wish is not that good on closer inspection, there is an intention for having it. That intention is probably worth having in its own right and the intention for something with a turn-on factor will also have one. Another starting point is; “If I had this resource, I would be able to have that experience.”

As an example, let us consider financial independence. This will involve different sums of money for different people, but it works as a concept. Financial independence can provide peace of mind, a sense of security, freedom, choice, and access to a range of experiences without reference to anyone else. Do you want your own house, or a new car, or a boat? Would you like to retire from work with a comfortable income stream? Would you like to travel for extended periods in comfort? If you had any or all of these, what would that do for you? What other experiences would open up through having financial independence?

Do you immediately discover objections to achieving financial independence? What if you believe, on reasonable historical grounds, that your earning capacity is not up to it? What if your normal way of creating income is being eroded through structural changes in the economy? What if you have fallen foul of government intervention that wrecked your prospects? This is where discovering the intention for having what you want can be valuable.

Back to the example: if financial independence initially seems too hard, go to the intention. Let us say you want financial independence to experience freedom in your life. If you believe you can only have freedom through financial independence, that will dictate your next move. However, if you are aware that freedom is a sense that comes from within and is not predicated on external circumstances, you can approach it through this class of exploration. At this point, you can argue that if you continue to live life as it is currently and you have not been experiencing a sense of freedom, then to experience a sense of freedom in your current context would be delusional or require resources that would take years of self-discipline to obtain. Not so; it requires access to internal resources of which you are not aware yet, combined with the capacity to suspend your disbelief for a few minutes.

The intention for exploring financial independence and freedom as above is to flush out some common, very plausible limiting beliefs that stop some people from even considering the possibility. In the Classic Code of NLP, the obvious next step would be to change the beliefs directly. This is not a good idea. What we do is create an experience as if you had financial independence. You can explore your outcome as if you were there for real, standing in it with the context unfolding around you, life-size in all senses. The experience is; “This is what it is like to live with financial independence.” From this, you can refine it, discover longer-term benefits and any costs you might have overlooked, and find your own intention for having it.

The exploration process is called “Outcome, Intention, and Consequences,” and it enables people to discover what they really want, to have a living experience of it and then to explore the intention for having the outcome. You can repeat the process with higher levels of intention to discover a broad, overarching intention that will support all the lower levels. Then, when you return to a practical outcome, which may be different from the original outcome, you will have something you can plan, believe in and find very attractive. This is the first stage of creating a compelling future.

Check our course Creating a Compelling Future

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