Last year, I spent three days in NYC for a mind-blowing event called The Landmark Forum.
This wasn’t your typical “self-help” seminar. No flowery language or singing around the campfire.
It was actually, as one attendee called it, “simple common sense delivered in an environment of startling intensity.”
Don’t worry: I’m not going to bore you with any of my personal issues.
But I do want to share ONE takeaway from Landmark that made me sit up straight and think “DIY Degree students N-E-E-D to hear this.”
How your storytelling buries you beneath a false reality
One by one, people walked up to the stage to share the obstacles holding them back in life, expecting to be comforted and coddled…
…only to be shown how THEY were responsible (in some way) for whatever problem they presented.
That’s because, lurking beneath everything we perceive to be a problem is a story we tell ourselves.
Worst of all, we don’t see our stories as stories. To us, the stories we tell are perfect representations of reality, and not just the way we color our experiences.
Take, for instance, someone whose father abandoned his family at a young age.
From childhood forward, this person sees anyone who gets close to him through skeptical eyes, often sabotaging the relationship because “they were going to leave eventually” and “no one can be trusted” and “it’s better to do the hurting than get hurt yourself.”
To him these are FACTS. Just like gravity, the changing of the seasons or the due date for paying your taxes.
As the years go by this person will explain every interpersonal failure through the lens of these apparently “obvious” truths.
But there is actually just ONE fact in his entire story.
“My dad left.”
That’s it. Three words. Everything else was an interpretation.
There is no law of life which says every human relationship must follow the dysfunctional patterns you experienced as a child.
Our fictional person literally made those interpretations true by carrying them forward, uncritically, into the future.
After hearing person upon person commit this same basic error (and remembering the many times I had done so myself) I stood up to share an observation with the audience.
“In statistics, the first thing you learn is not to draw meaningful conclusions from small samples of data. Yet we humans draw the biggest conclusions of our lives from the tiniest snapshots of our experience.”
“Exactly”, the forum leader said. “I need to start using that analogy!”
What story are you telling yourself about college?
It’s probably easy for you to grasp this insight about our fictional person above.
After all, he isn’t you.
(It’s always so much easier to spot what someone else is doing wrong, isn’t it?)
So now I want to shine this spotlight on YOUR thinking as it relates to earning a degree.
Here a story I see constantly:
“I work so much. There’s no way I could fit studying into my schedule. And even if I could, it’s not like there’s any way I could afford it. And even if I could, I’ve been out of school for so long that my mind probably couldn’t keep up anyway. So why bother?”
Can you spot the FACTS in this story?
Fact #1: I have a job.
Fact #2: College costs money.
Fact #3: I have been out of school for X many years.
Everything else is your story. No evidence supports these inferences, but you see them as utterly valid and unquestionable.
The question is: does that story empower you?
Do you feel motivated to make life-changing moves after explaining your lack of a degree in these terms?
If so, keep it.
If not, PICK A NEW STORY!
Here are some of the stories my DIY Degree graduates choose:
Story #1: “I DO work a lot, but everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. Someone out there is living a life like mine. They figured it out. Why can’t I?”
Story# 2: “Sure, college is expensive the way most people do it, but there have to be some ways to cut the cost. I could probably find one that works for me.”
Story #3: “Yes, studying does scare me after all these years, but I have come this far in life, and with the correct study system, I can score as well as the next guy.”
We humans are meaning-making machines.
The choice is not whether to tell stories about the events in our lives. The choice is which stories we tell — and whether we reject the stories that don’t serve us.
If you want to challenge your constructed story about college, our team can build you a personalized roadmap for earning your bachelor’s degree in 1 year or less.
Courtesy notice: we’re raising prices (from $297 to $497) on September 26th.
If you aren’t ready to begin your college journey, that’s fine.
For now, I simply want you to consider the possibility that the story you tell yourself about college has no NECESSARY connection to reality — and at worse, could be completely detached from reality — despite how real it feels to you.
How’s that for something to chew on this weekend? 🙂
P.S. Do you have a long-standing internal story about college that has held you back? Please email me ([email protected]) and tell me!