"…realize who you are beyond the stories you tell yourself and others – and thus experience your true nature."
We’ve heard the tales. Decent guy works his way up, hits a couple out of the park and gets cocky. He takes one too many big risks with his own and other people’s money, treats a few people badly and suddenly finds himself out of a job. In this case the author, who co-founded and raised funding for three companies, also made and lost $50 million along the way – he did everything big or he didn’t do it at all. He ran at a frenetic, adrenalin-fueled pace with almost total disregard for others and so when he finally crashed, he was really out of gas. And, as is often the case, it’s in extraordinarily adverse circumstances that people learn the lessons necessary to put their life on the right track.
The Business of Wanting More chronicles Brian Gast’s journey from the fast, high-flying and flashy existence of an outwardly successful but inwardly miserable telecom entrepreneur to a life focused on sharing what he learned about achieving self-awareness and happiness. His focus is on the high achiever and the reasons behind failure when and with whom it seems most illogical, and he not only speaks from his own experience but shares the stories of a number of his now clients. Along the way Mr. Gast skims through a number of fairly major therapeutic and human development concepts, tools and principles, putting his own spin on many and consolidating everything into his own model and seven step path to redemption.
Our Bubble Resists Our Growth
"…our bubble is a lens distorting what’s real."
Imagine yourself encased in a bubble constructed of all of your limiting beliefs, gathered from childhood onward. The bubble ensures we present the image we want to present to the world, and equally ensures we are seeing the world only as we choose to see it. Unfortunately, while the bubble helps us create an identity that we believe will be accepted and loved by others (particularly in the case of high achievers), it prevents us from progressing in our development of useful coping strategies and hence restricts our personal growth and maturity. It’s only when we realize that the bubble exists that we are in a position to burst it – a necessary step toward changing patterns that limit us. Gast offers three cues that the bubble is causing trouble – if you’re experiencing upset, if you’re absolutely certain you’re right, or if you’re feeling that something is vitally important – you’re about to be tripped up by a limiting belief. Changing beliefs is hard, takes time and is virtually impossible to do alone, but recognition is the critical first step.
Create a Vision for Your Life
"…consciously or not, we’re always creating a vision for our life."
Creating a vision statement is not a new idea, particularly for high achievers. What’s different here is that the author suggests crafting vision statements for each critical area of your life: business, relationship, leisure activities, family, etc. He accurately distinguishes between a vision (a desired future state of the world, not yet true and lofty but attainable), and a goal (a specific, measurable objective), and offers personal and client examples of how crafting a vision, which might be perceived as New Age fluff by some in the book’s target group, is actually a powerful tool for creating an aligned, fulfilling life. He also suggests aligning personal vision statements with your needs, which can make them that much more motivating. As an example, if you have a need for acceptance, then your vision statement might be something like “I have a deep and natural belief in my inherent value as a person.”
The missed opportunity in this section of the book is that there’s no process for gauging alignment and conflict between the visions statements for the respective life areas. So it’s entirely possible to craft several lovely distinct statements, only to find that they couldn’t possibly co-exist. That said, the author does suggest ways to test the vision statements for authenticity and to gauge barriers to achieving the desired outcomes, so his process is stronger than most. In particular he suggests listing your “vulnerabilities” – the possible negative outcomes or changes that would have to occur should the vision become real. As an example, related to the vision statement shown above, a “vulnerability” might be if you don’t feel the need to prove yourself you might not be motivated at all. Once the potential pitfalls of the vision statements are clearly articulated you can formulate a plan to ensure you address the things that could possibly get in the way.
Build Your Court of Support
"It wasn’t until I faced challenges I couldn’t fix with my intellect, wallet or will that I realized that going it alone was limiting."
By acknowledging that he used to be a “go it alone” achiever, the author creates a connection that many of the readers of this book will relate to instantly. From that empathetic starting point he builds a strong case for creating a roster of relationships designed to support and serve across all key life areas. Helpfully, he also provides selection criteria and interview questions for several of the roles he recommends such as professional coach, mentor and accountability partner, as well as process suggestions for working with the individuals once they’ve been appointed to the team. The process suggestions include things like criteria around meeting frequency and modality (face to face preferred versus telephone) and questions designed to determine that the individual can differentiate between a friendship and a professionally objective role. Perhaps not coincidentally the chapter dedicates some significant portion of its attention to the process of choosing a coach – the author’s new profession – but he does a good job of it and, in my own biased opinion, there is still room in the marketplace for better understanding of who and how to hire when choosing a coach. In this case the author suggests inquiring about the coach’s philosophy (transactional or transformational?), the structure and duration of a typical engagement, the coach’s ability to relate to the client’s situation and whether the process includes a goal-setting component. I don’t necessarily agree with the author’s point of view on each suggestion, but asking more questions is always good.
The Business of Wanting More attempts to cover a huge amount of ground and is a little tough to follow in places. That said, it provides a model and process that will no doubt prove helpful to those who find themselves at that confusing point of “success without significance” that was the author’s jumping off point.