Nick Cownie

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O: Hello and welcome to Stellar Life Podcast. I’m your host, Orion, love coach, transformation coach, and the founder of Orion’s method. My guest today is somebody who helps me with my mindset. I love listening to his guided meditations. He uses NLP techniques to really shift your mindset and help you anchor really good states, help you with clearing your operating system, clearing the junk and focusing on what you really want. Nick Cownie is Australia’s super fast mindset change expert, author of 7 Minute Mindset an in demand speaker, coach, and mentor to thousands all over the planet. Nick is an award winning entrepreneur known for his unconventional approach for rapid mindset improvement, sales strategy and lifestyle business design. Nick is amazing, I have to tell you that. He’s so brilliant. You truly have to get his book, go on his mailing list, find any way you can to just learn from him because he can really create a big change in your life because everything is mindset. Everything is mindset. When you have the right mindset, you can conquer almost everything and achieve everything that you want. Now, without further ado, onto the show. Hi, Nick, and welcome to Stellar Life podcast. How are you today?

N: I’m fantastic, Orion. Thank you very much for having me on. I’m really excited about talking with you today.

O: I’m excited about talking to you because we’re going to eliminate fear, procrastination, and failure. You’re going to teach us the secrets on how to do so. Before we dive in, can you share a little bit about yourself and what you do?

N: Absolutely. What I do is I run a company called Success Dynamics Institute. The whole point of that company is kind of summed up in the name. It’s about what I term success dynamics which are one of the underlying principles of success in any area of life that you choose to focus on. Typically, for me, the way I came to doing what I’m doing, and maybe we’ll talk a bit more about this when we get into the actual strategies on things like eliminating fear, procrastination, failure, and stuff like that, is my journey started around about 13 years old. I was in high school at the time. I had a terrible hair cut. My face was covered in acne. I had braces. I was taller and skinnier than everyone else so I was very, very attractive as a young teenage boy as you can imagine. I also came from a family that didn’t have a lot of money. My dad, here in Australia, he was in the police force and all over the world, police don’t get paid enough money. I’m sure it’s the same in the states but here in Australia, for the job that is, they definitely don’t get paid enough so we were pretty much struggling. I was broke and unattractive as a teenager which is a good combination so I had a hard time meeting girls and making friends. I figured out early on that if I’m going to have any kind of chance of getting ahead in life, I need to understand people. I was lucky that a friend of mine gave me a book on body language and that is really the turning point, one of the main turning points in my life. When I got that book, I really dove head first into understanding people, people reading, that led me down the path of studying hypnosis, neuro linguistic programming, psychology. I’ve got 30 different therapies. I trained intensively for four years as a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner. I spent a bit of time working in a hospital in China. I’ve had a few different lives. The second major turning point that led me to what I do now is when I started university, I was 20. During that first year of uni, I turned 21. The day after I turned 21, I covered this in quite a bit of detail in the first chapter of my book, 7 Minute Mindset, I was held up by three guys at gun point so I thought I was going to die. I had a gun pressed against my head. I ended up with post traumatic stress disorder which I struggled with for probably the next five or six years. Through that struggle, anything as simple as a car backfiring as it was driving on the street, I’d be triggered and I’d be curled up in the corner rocking backwards and forwards, basically freaking out. I realized I couldn’t live my life like that. That spurred my journey into studying more away from Chinese medicine into personal development, which then allowed me to create my business and learn marketing and sales and apply everything I’d learned previously to business and create really an amazing life. That’s probably the two minute version of what’s taken me 20, 25 years. It’s been quite a wild journey really.

O: It sounds very traumatic. What did you do to get over your PTSD?

N: The first thing I did is hide in my room for months on end. I almost failed university as a result. I didn’t go I think for a couple of months. Progressively, I would push the boundaries, this is before I had any training or any actual assistance, I pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone, which at first were really small. I wouldn’t leave my bedroom at first then after a while I’d be comfortable in my house. I wouldn’t want to leave the house and I wouldn’t want to leave the actual yard around my house. I knew that I didn’t want to fail university so eventually, after I think a month or two, I had to go back or I was really at risk of being flunked. I’d always make sure that I was home before the streetlights came on in the evening. I’d never be out after dark. I’d always take main roads. I was living a pretty obsessive compulsive life for a while. After five years of struggling like that, I knew I had to change something. I went and saw a doctor. He referred me to a psychologist. The psychologist told me something that spurred my self reliance, I suppose is a good way to put it. The psychologist told me that A, the post traumatic stress would never go away, which I was unhappy to hear. B, after about seven years of stereotypical laying on my back on a couch and talking about all my problems, I could at best hope to be able to manage the symptoms when I get triggered with the post traumatic stress. I actually thought that that was rubbish so I thought seven years was way too long to not have any kind of resolution. I spent the next 12 months going probably somewhere between 30 and 50 different types of personal development workshops. They all helped and chipped away at the problem. Somewhere along the way, one of the workshops that I went to was an NLP training. There are about 100 people in the room. One of the presenters at the front asked for a volunteer to demonstrate a technique. They said that this technique is great for fears and phobias and things like that. If you’ve got any kind of understanding of NLP, you probably know it as the fast phobia cure. As an offhand comment, they also mentioned it’s been effective with post traumatic stress disorder in certain cases. I volunteered to be the demonstration subject for that. The whole process took about 10 minutes start to finish. At the end, you compare this to the seven years that the psychologist told me it was going to take, after 10 minutes, I couldn’t find a trace of post traumatic stress in my body anymore. I tried to find the fear and it was just gone. That blew me away and I realized at that point, this is something that I absolutely need to learn. It still amazes me to this day. That’s how I was able to overcome the post traumatic stress in 10 minutes.

O: Wow, that’s amazing. Traditional therapy takes years and years of—it’s kind of like going back to what happened, why it happens, and what happened. It’s almost like reliving the trauma over and over again. The healing is very slow most of the time. People spend years and years in therapy. It’s got its place but the whole world of positive psychology and things like NLP, EMDR are new technologies that are much quicker and even in many cases more effective. What is the fast phobia cure from NLP?

N: I don’t remember who termed it the fast phobia cure. Some NLP personality along the line gave it that name. In actual NLP trainings, it’s referred to as visual kinesthetic disassociation. The idea being that visual meaning whenever you see something that triggers the trauma or you imagined something is usually what happens because often we visualize something related to it or imagine something that’s going to happen or go wrong. It gets triggered in some way and kinesthetic is relating to the feelings. The visualization and the feelings become linked. When you have two senses that overlap like that, that’s called synesthesia. Disassociation means to separate those two. Effectively, what the technique does is it disconnects the link between the visualization or the trigger and the resulting feeling which is the response when you are triggered and the trauma’s brought back up. The way I like to think about it is the trigger is like pushing a button and then you have a wire that connects to some kind of alarm or alert, that’s the problem and the technique just snips the wire. There are quite a lot of NLP techniques that work like that. I don’t do strict NLP these days, if there even is such a thing, the way that it’s typically taught or done. Honestly, I find this a little fluff in the industry in general in a way that most people do which is why when I wrote my book a few years ago, 7 Minute Mindset, the whole concept behind that book was how do we make these techniques work even faster, more effectively so that there’s less of a failure, without heading both into techniques and the teaching of the techniques with pseudo science, woo-woo and fluff, that a lot of people put in to basically make the trainings take longer so they can charge more money. I became a little bit unpopular in the industry for a while with this approach because anytime you point out that there’s a better way to do things, it’s met with a bit of opposition but ultimately, it prevailed because people prefer to learn techniques like the one we’re talking about, visual kinaesthetic dissociation, without any fluff associated to it. You get in. You get the technique. You get out and you have the change and it’s effective. That is a really great technique.

O: What’s an example for a technique that can be fluffed compared to something that you do?

N: Absolutely any technique can be fluffed, in my experience.

O: How do they do that? How do they make it more than what it is?

N: It’s such a good question. I’ve got a lot of love for NLP practitioners and trainers. In my estimation date, none of them do this on purpose. It’s not that they take something that’s great and then add fluff to it. It’s that it’s already a little bit fluffy, and because that’s the way they were taught, that’s the way they either train other people or use the technique. Going back to why I named the company Success Dynamics Institute, looking at what are the underlying principles of success here, is one of the main skills that I learned in traditional Chinese medicine when I trained as an acupuncturist is Chinese medicine has 10 separate diagnostic systems. All of them are based on a concept known as pattern identification or pattern recognition. I became very, very skilled at pattern recognition. When I applied that to looking at how does an NLP technique, for example, actually work, I could understand the structure behind it and realize that even though there might be let’s call it 13 steps in this technique, there are only 5 steps that actually need to be there, that are the effective steps that are producing the result. The other steps aren’t really necessary, which means if you’re doing a scripted process, you can cut out probably half of the script, which means it takes half the time to do the technique and you still get the same result. If you can do it two ways and get the same result both ways, but one is twice as fast, it makes only sense that that’s the one that you’d use.

O: Amazing. What type of challenges do your clients have?

N: That’s a great question. Like I said, I don’t strictly do NLP anymore. Most of my clients these days are looking to dramatically increase the effectiveness of their sales team. We tend to work with individuals or with large events, so I do a lot of training. I don’t really do one on one. I don’t really have the time and it wouldn’t be cost effective if you would’ve tried to hire me one on one as a coach because it would be very expensive these days. I spend my time in training and in consulting. In terms of training, again looking at what’s the underlying thing here, you can trace almost any issue that anyone has back to one of two things. The first one is fear and the second is an issue around worthiness. I’ve worked with well over 100,000 people over the last decade and I think you could probably say 95% of cases, if you dig deep enough, the problem comes back to either fear or a lack of self worth. Even those two have a cyclical relationship. It’s a fear that I’m not good enough and/or a lack of self worth creates fear: fear of being judged, fear of not belonging, fear of not being significant, those kinds of things. On the personal side of things, that’s what we deal with. On the professional side with consulting, the focus is more on how do we improve results. Looking again at the underlying dynamics of how these techniques work, there’s really only two types of change that a person can make. The first is what I call remedial and the second is generative. If you imagine a line, a slider where we’ve got minus 10 on one side and plus 10 on the other side and 0 in the middle. If someone has a fear of self worth issue, then let’s assume they’re at minus 10 and 0 is the base line where there’s no problems but they’re also not living the perfect life for them. If you ask that person who’s at a minus 10 on the scale where they want to be, almost 100% of the time, they’ll say that they want to be at the plus 10 side of the scale. No one wants to get back to zero and then build up from there but that’s an unrealistic gap to jump with just a couple of techniques. There’s quite a bit of personal work that needs to go into that. Getting from the minus 10 back to 0, we need to remedy the problems so that’s the remedial change. It’s quite common that people will come and they don’t have a lot of issues, their life is generally going okay but they want to improve dramatically. You have someone who’s at that roundabout, that zero point or minus one, plus one, just in that range, to get them from where they are to living an exceptional life or having a better career or improving their business or their sales or whatever it is they want to work on, that’s called generative change. It’s a completely different approach to making change. With people and their personal lives, I find typically we tend to do remedial change. With companies, we don’t tend to focus so much on the remedial change. We identify their top performers, we’ll talk about sales for a moment, we go into a company, they might have 1,000 sales reps distributed worldwide, we’ll identify their top 10 top performing sales people who are responsible for 80%, 90% of the income from the entire sales team because of the imbalance in distribution. We’ll take those 10 people. We will determine what happens on a subconscious level that allows them with the same actual step by step sales process and skills as everyone else, what is it on the mindset level that allows them to perform at such a high level. Extract that. Turn that into a reproducible model and then install that into the rest of the sales team so that everyone else can dramatically increase their results. And then we’ll also work with the top sales people and make sure that the what I guess you could call a supermodel, is installed into all of them so that they can all dramatically increase their results as well. If they’re already producing say 80% of the income for the company, then even a 1% increase from their top 10 sales people is going to have a huge flow on effect. For me, I can see how they’re completely related but it can, from an outside view, you work with people with fear and self worth issues and then with these huge companies who want to dramatically increase sales team productivity and sales revenues, that’s completely different but underlying it all, it’s all the rapid mindset change and elite performance psychology.

O: What will be your approach for somebody who is in a place of minus 10, for example? I know you work with companies, not so much with individuals, but when you work with individuals, how do you approach somebody who is in a minus 10 in that place?

N: Very few people are in a true minus 10 scenario. I would just like to point that out first is that for most people, even if they feel like they’re at the full minus 10, they’re probably only at around about a 5 or a 6, that would be a really terrible life situation. The general principle is we need to look at that person, where they’re at right now, what’s showing up for them in their life and it’s important to look at what’s happening on a subconscious level but also what are they actually consciously doing, how they’re spending their time, are they doing anything to dull the symptoms that would make it harder to help them like drinking too much, a lot of people retreat into drinking. I’m not talking about full on alcoholism, just a little bit too much alcohol when life gets hard. It makes it quite difficult to help that person if they’re using that as a crutch. The most important thing however is to find out what’s going on on a subconscious level that either through that person’s actions or inactions, has allowed the situation to occur, and if that is not resolved on a subconscious level, even if we fix the problem now, it will cause it to re occur. When I wrote 7 Minute Mindset, I didn’t actually intend to write the book originally, I was doing this research for myself because it was really interesting. At the time, I was still working in clinics so I was actively working as an acupuncturist and a Chinese medicine practitioner and I was doing NLP and hypnosis sessions. I found that there are some people who were just really living amazing lives but they were probably maximum 5% of people. The other 95% of people were really struggling and then trying to mask that and appear like they weren’t struggling. But as soon as you get them in a situation where they feel safe enough to open up and talk about what life is really like, people who look like they have their life together are often really, really struggling and find it difficult to talk about. I started studying not only what is it that allows people to become massive and successful but what are the typical patterns and processes that people are running in their lives that cause them to essentially fail. My definition of failure is to not live the life that you want to be living. I’m not talking about laying face down in the gutter, broken, homeless, and drug addicted. That would be failure at an extreme level. My definition is literally not living the life that you want to be living. What I found is there are seven things that people do that cause them to live life in that way. Do you want me to talk about that in a little bit of detail because this really goes to how can you help these people on a one on one personal level and for everyone listening, you can use this as a bit of a checklist to assess what are the things that I’m potentially putting in my own way in life where if I was to resolve just these seven things, everything would open up for me. Do you think it would be worthwhile to go through that in a little bit of detail?

O: Yes and I also think you’re a psychic because that was my next question.

N: Fantastic. I find you can give people information, and  if it’s not easy to remember, then it’s also not easy to apply. When I identified these seven things, I’ve put them into an acronym for the word failure. Each of these seven things starts with one of the letters from the word failure. The reason for that is that makes it easy to remember. When it’s easy to remember, it’s easy to apply. When it’s easy to apply, it’s easy to get results. The first thing that stops people from living the kind of life that they want to live based on what I’ve said so far, people probably guessed this one already, it’s fear. F stands for fear. Fear is important. You look up any information on fear and you’ll find that it’s actually impossible to completely eliminate fear. The only people who don’t experience fear are probably psychopaths or sociopaths. It’s an actual psychological problem if you don’t experience fear but that doesn’t mean that fear can’t be managed very, very effectively. We have a part in our brain, they amygdala, it’s the early threat detection system. It’s designed to trigger the fear state in us when something is potentially life threatening or has the ability to hurt or injure us. The problem is these days, that fear detection system is triggered by anxiety more than actual fear. To draw the line between fear and anxiety is fear arises in the moment in response to an actual threat. If you’re about to step out on the road and a truck comes flowing along and you get back just in time and then you’re in the fight or flight response, the fear has kicked in, that’s appropriate because there was a real world in the moment danger. However, if you need to do a presentation on a stage in front of 100 people next week and you’re worried about it and you’re going to the fight or flight response, that’s actually anxiety. That’s projected imagined fear in the future. It’s not a real world immediate threat to your safety and survival. Most people trigger their fear response in response to anxiety these days, which is why a lot of people end up not taking action and burning out. Fear is a massive one. If you’re stuck with fear, there’s some very easy things that you can do that I’m happy to talk about after we go through the other six if you like.

O: Yeah, absolutely. Fear is a big thing.

N: It’s so important, isn’t it? You’ve probably had experiences in your own life where you come up against fear and I can see those fear experiences as decision points. They’re very, very important because the more you give into the fear, or these days, the anxiety, the more it creates what’s called an actualized neural network in your brain which basically means, you probably heard sayings like neurons that fight together, wire together. These are different ways of saying that when you run a specific pattern or a program over and over and over again, our body and our brain takes the path of least resistance. When faced with the situation, this thing might be a little bit scary or I might feel anxiety. The pathway that your brain is most used to taking is going down into the fear response. It gets triggered again. A lot of what we do on a personal level is again disconnecting that trigger from resulting in the fear response so that instead of taking that path of least resistance, we create a new path that doesn’t result in going into paralyzing fear. Very, very cool.

O: What is A?

N: A stands for attention displacement. In the world of social media, this one’s immediately apparent I think. The word displacement, I really like this one, I got this from a chiropractor. When chiropractors look at your spine and they assess how imbalanced or how straight it is, if everything is where it should be, if one of the vertebrae is out of place, they refer to that as a vertebral displacement. Displacement means not in the right place. Attention displacement means your attention isn’t in the right place. It’s on the wrong thing at the wrong time. This is more a habit. Fear is something that we can’t get rid of. It’s a inbuilt psychological necessity to keep us alive but attention displacement is not. It’s a learned habit and the opposite of attention displacement is essentially focus. I call it selective focus and I’ll talk about that in a moment as well. Attention displacement, putting your attention of the wrong things at the wrong time. A really common example these days is when someone has some important work to do and instead of doing that work, they’re on Facebook. You get on Facebook. You get stuck in the news feed. You scroll for ages, end up feeling guilty and frustrated. It’s all because the selective focus wasn’t there to selectively focus on the task that you should’ve been focusing on. We allow ourselves to be distracted and put our attention on the wrong thing. It’s a very easy thing to understand. For a lot of people, it’s a very hard thing to control. That’s attention displacement. I stands for indecision. In general, people who become successful make decisions quickly and change them very, very slowly once they’ve made the decision and people who struggle with living the kind of life that they want will take a long time to make up their mind, procrastinate on the decision. Once they’ve made it, they’re prone to changing their mind very quickly. I actually came across a very interesting quote that I incorporated into my training. I’m pretty sure it’s in the book as well. I’ve been studying martial arts since I was about 10 years old, specifically jiu-jitsu which is a Japanese martial arts, the unarmed martial art of the samurai. Years ago, I used to read a lot of ancient samurai training manuals which funny enough, you can get on Amazon these days. Gotta love the internet. In one of these books, I read an awesome quote by an old samurai master who was living alone in a cave at the end of his life as the story goes. He’s dictating a 17 volume set of instructions to a young samurai and one of the things that he said is every decision should be made within the space of 7 breaths. This is going back hundreds of years, this concept from the samurai is that samurai, they walk around with swords on their hips all day everyday. Every moment, there’s the opportunity that I could get into a sword fight to the death. The idea that you have the luxury of procrastinating on decisions didn’t exist for them. If you count how long it takes the average person to take seven breaths, it’s about one minute. Putting that in modern terms, we’d say, every decision should be made within roughly 60 seconds, which is absolutely fascinating. I decided to test this out in my own life when I came across it and I think within a 12 month period, I married my now wonderful wife of almost 10 years. We met and then we got married 11 months to the day afterwards because I made the decision.

O: Your wife is lovely.

N: Thank you very much. She thinks the same of you.

O: I really like her.

N: She talks about you all the time.

O: Really?

N: Absolutely.

O: We should connect more.

N: You really should. She’d love that. We got married. We also decided to buy a house so we bought our first house. This is all within a 12 month period and then we decided to change direction with our business which my business at the time, which made a huge difference to our lives. I went from struggling as an acupuncturist. I used to actually be ashamed of saying this. In my best year as an acupuncturist, I made $16,000 over the year. That was before tax and expenses. After factoring those things in, it was a very tiny income. I felt like a failure when I used to tie my income to my self-worth which is another big problem that a lot of people struggle with. After embracing this concept of make every decision within the space of seven breaths, we changed track in our business and that’s when I finally decided to let go of being an acupuncturist and focus on the 7 Minute Mindset trainings that I’d wanted to deliver for a long time. We designed a $25,000 coaching program that I sold at a seminar and we sold 4 of those in our first 3 day workshop and made $100,000 in a weekend. To go from $16,000 a year to $100,000 in a weekend is something like a 60,000% increase in income.

O: Nice.

N: So it’s a 60,000% pay rise. It’s pretty fantastic. That was the result of doing the mindset work.

O: Hallelujah.

N: Absolutely. That’s not exactly what we said but we definitely had a party afterwards. Went and got some champagne and some really good cheese because she’s French as you know so food is important.

O: Not only that. When you really help people on that level, when you get people to really invest in you, they get so much more out of that because the more they pay, the more they pay attention. They have skin in the game so they have even stronger and deeper breakthroughs. Because when you give stuff free to people or at low cost, they don’t value what you’re saying and then somebody else can come and charge them a huge amount of money and then all of a sudden they’ll be like, “Oh my God, that’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten.” You didn’t only help yourself. You also helped these people on a deeper level.

N: I completely agree. I found that in my own personal life as well. I know that you and Stephan are quite happy to invest in your own personal and business development. Alexandra and I are exactly the same. The days of downloading free ebooks from the internet for me are gone. We spend tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on our own personal development because for every dollar that you put into it, I think you get $100 back, if not $1,000. The caveat is if you do the work. It’s super important. I completely agree. The people who don’t pay anything, it doesn’t have to be money, but there has to be an equivalent value exchange.

O: Right.

N: One client in particular comes to mind who did not have the money to invest in my training at the time. I was running a course, it was $7,500. A lady really wanted to do it. She was decisive so bringing this back to the seven points of failure, the seven habits of failure I call them. She had fear that her offer to me wasn’t going to be accepted but she put something in front of me. Because she had essentially the guts, I suppose you could call it, to make a bit of an outlandish offer to me, I was intrigued. Essentially, she had pretty much no money. She was very, very much struggling and couldn’t afford the $7,500 for the course but she asked me if there was anything that I really needed help with. At the time, I was really interested in going paperless in our business. I had crates of papers that I wanted to scan. I didn’t want to spend months of my life scanning this myself because it’s an absolute waste of my time. To have it done professionally was going to be really expensive. We had a very expensive quote. I had an equivalent problem. Her problem was she didn’t have the money. My problem was I didn’t have the time and didn’t want to pay the exorbitant charges to have all of this stuff scanned but I really wanted it done so I bought a scanner for $100, couriered it to her house along with the boxes. She spent three months scanning part time, not full time, because she still had to work. She spent three months scanning all these documents for me and I let her to come to my $7,500 course. The equivalent value exchange. I only did that because she wasn’t indecisive and she overcame the fear. It really works. That’s indecision. What’s next? L.

O: Yes.

N: L is lack of action. So far, just to backtrack, we’ve got fear, attention displacement, indecision, and now we’re at lack of action. Lack of action doesn’t really need a large explanation. I think it’s pretty self explanatory. The example I often give in my life trainings is if you go to the gym with the intention of improving your physique and you walk over to the deadlift bar and then you stand there and look at it, nothing is going to change. It doesn’t actually make a difference. The opposite of lack of action is not action. This is also really interesting. We’re talking about the seven letters in the failure habits. On the flip side, I also created an acronym out of the word success with the habits that consistently lead to success and living the life that you want to live. The opposite habit to lack of action is not action, it’s consistent action.

O: Very, very powerful distinction.

N: It’s really important because to use the weightlifting metaphor again, if you go to the gym, if you pick up that barrel one time and do one dead lift, that’s better than never taking action but if that’s all you ever do, you can claim yes, I took action, but it’s the consistency that produces the results. Any bodybuilder or weightlifter knows this. I know you do quite a bit on exercise and diet with people from memory. You’d know this.

O: I used to. I used to do more wellness where I help people get the body of their dreams but now I incorporated it to what I do now which is more mindset coaching and love coaching. But I have a method that I call Orion’s Method. It’s a mind, body, and spirit. I see the person as a whole so it’s all connected. Working on the body is not my main focus but it is a very important part of transformation in my eyes.

N: Absolutely. Even with love and relationships, it’s possible to be nice to your partner one time but that’s not really going to cut it. It’s the consistency of action. Doing the small things repeatedly that produce results, and the big things. I think taking massive action is better than taking small action most of the time but for a lot of people, they struggle with this. This comes back to one of the things we talked about earlier where there’s a lot of fluff in the personal development industry. You hear a lot of people say something very motivating about how you must take massive action and go for your dreams and do the biggest thing possible and all this kind of stuff and whilst it’s true and excellent advice, it’s also very difficult for a lot of people to apply practically in their day to day life. You can take an action but can you take a massive action consistently? What I found when you look at the science and the psychology behind personal change and specifically habit change, it’s actually the total opposite of take massive action that gets the results. It’s what’s the smallest reproducible change that I can commit to taking consistently without resistance. If someone wants to improve their body for example, and they ask for my advice, the first piece of advice I would say is make sure you put your shoes on, your gym shoes on. If you do that, then you can tick day one as complete. Anything after that is cream on top. That’s a bonus. But if you put your gym shoes on, you’ve successfully completed the day. And then add another micro commitment the next day. Put your gym shoes on and go and sit in your car. Obviously, no one’s actually going to do this. On the first day, they’re pumped so they’re going to get dressed head to toe, they’re going to go to the gym. They’re probably going to work out too hard if anything but the key to making it sustainable is not overwhelming yourself and making it so that it becomes impossible to stick to. That’s L, lack of action and the flip side which is consistent action. What are we up to? U. U stands for unrealistic expectations. This one’s very, very, very common, unrealistic expectations, especially in the era of internet marketers.

O: Self development.

N: Yup. Self development and internet marketing. I’ve no problem with internet marketers. I am an internet marketer. I actually love the concepts. What I’m saying is the way these things are marketed. I’m not saying this is a bad piece of advice or even a bad movie but something that really stood out to me about the movie The Secret, which I’m sure most people have seen these days, is the underlying theme of The Secret which I’m sure a lot of people are saying is it’s about the law of attraction. What you think about, comes about, that kind of thing. Is that true? Yes, it’s true. Is it true in the way it was presented in that movie? I’m not so sure. The movie goes for about three hours. At one point in the movie, and this is something that I’ve given to a bunch of people. I think it’s very motivating and it’s worthwhile if people have nothing else. There’s one point in that movie where one of the guys says, at one point, all I was getting was bills in the mail and I decided that I wanted checks in the mail so I started visualizing that and then magically checks started appearing in the mail. He didn’t mention any work that he would’ve done to make that happen.

O: I know.

N: It’s crazy, right?

O: Yeah, that sounds so cheesy. I interviewed Dr. Demartini here on Stellar Life podcast. He was one of the teachers in The Secret. He was sharing with us. He was like, “I was taping for 10 hours and then they took one little clip and they made it sound so simple but you definitely have to take intentional action.” Yesterday I saw a video clip from Jim Carrey and he understands the law of attraction and there is that place where you do want to think and manifest things into your reality and he said that when he was just starting out, he wrote himself a check for $10 million, put a date on it for 5 years, imagined himself there, felt that feeling, and then that date arrived, he found out that he’s going to get $10 million dollars on his first movie. I think it was Dumb and Dumber or something like that. He also mentions, “So you visualize but you can’t just say, oh, I want it. And visualize and then go and have a sandwich. You got to work for it.”

N: That’s fantastic. Go and have a sandwich, very Jim Carrey way to end the quote.

O: What is R?

N: Really quick. There’s just one thing I want to say about U. On the unrealistic expectations, in The Secret, when they say just visualize the checks in the mail and then they’re going to appear, after I saw that, I watched it again about a week later to see how many times they tell people that you should take action. Dr. Joe Vitale, there’s one moment where they cut to him sitting on a stool and he says you have to take some action and then they cut away from that. For three seconds…

O: Yay! Joe Vitale. But you know I’m sure all the teachers said that. It’s just that they just cut their tape.

N: Yeah, that’s right. The way it’s been edited and then the way it’s been marketed afterwards has set up a lot of unrealistic expectations for people. It’s really important. R is repeating patterns. This is anything mental, emotional, or physical that happens over and over again, that gets in the way of you achieving this specific results that you want. We could go into that in a lot of detail but I think it’s pretty simple as an explanation. It’s just anything that happens over and over again consistently and repeatedly that gets in the way of you achieving what you want. Pretty straight forward. And then all six so far, fear, attention displacement, indecision, lack of action, unrealistic expectations, and repeating patterns, the first six are all internal. The last point is E, which is external negative influences. This is anything outside of you that gets in your way, slows you down, or holds you back, impacts you in some negative way from achieving what you want. I’m a big believer that we are the cause of whatever happens to us in our life. I also believe that external circumstances play their role. You might be well and truly on track for what you want out of your life and then war breaks out. There’s very little you can actually do about that. There are sometimes external influences. That’s an extreme example. Less extreme examples would be unsupportive peer group or family, illness and accidents, like I didn’t plan to be held up at age 21. At the end of last year, I had a infection in my leg. I was 24 hours from basically dying. That’s what the surgeon told me who operated on my leg.

O: Oh my God.

N: Actually 48 hours, sorry, not 24 hours. I had two days to live.

O: Oh my God.

N: That’s a story for another time. Basically, the point of E is two things. One, yes external influences do affect us but it’s out of these seven habits of failure, six are internal and one is external, that also shows the ratio. If we had a tug of war, six people on one side and one person on the other, the six are going to win every time. The internal things are often much more important because we live inside ourselves all day everyday. Those are what I term the seven habits of failure. Like I said earlier, I wrote about this in detail in 7 Minute Mindset. I didn’t make any of this stuff up. This is what I uncovered over about a decade of working with and studying people in detail and identifying the underlying patterns that cause them to not reach their potential and live the life that they want to live.

O: If somebody right now is listening and thinking to him or herself, “Okay, now I know why I fail.” What would be one or two quick processes that they can do to breakthrough these negative habits?

N: There are two ways to go about it. One is like we were talking about, there’s remedial change and there’s generative change. In the past, I used to recommend that first, you remedy whatever is causing the problem, to put in simplest terms. Once you’ve gone from minus 10 to 0, then you can figure out what you really want and go from 0 to plus 10. These days, what I find practically with people is I like to test my own assumptions. For the last few years, I’ve been focusing on what if instead of initially focusing on resolving the underlying problems, we focus on taking people, we assume everyone’s at 0 and try and get them from 0 to plus 10. We actually do what I call generative change or help people with specific processes to believe that they can achieve what they want or that they’re worthy of it or that it’s possible or achievable for them. When you do that, about 50% of the time, there’s no need to resolve the underlying stuff that we would’ve spent time on if we did remedial change because it resolves automatically as a result of the new self perception that the person builds when they start achieving. Does that make sense?

O: Yes. What is something that somebody can do right now to break a pattern or do something that will give them immediate change?

N: Awesome question. There are two things again. There are two ways that change happens. One is inside out and the other is outside in. This is my simple terminology. Inside out is where you do some kind of mindset process. I’ll give an example of one in a second. Change on the inside, change psychologically, and then that will show up in your behaviours. Outside in is if you don’t have access to someone or you don’t know how to create those internal changes is you act as if you are the way you want to be and if you do that successfully, outside in, this is harder, but you do that successfully, then your self-perception changes and the psychology automatically changes. The super simple version is act in the way that you want to be acting. If you’re scared of public speaking, just push through the discomfort and actually do the public speaking. Like I said, that’s the brute force approach. The non brute force approach which is more elegant is to do the inside out change and the fastest most direct route to change there is through changing your emotional state. Something that’s very, very easy to do is to associate into the emotional state that you would be in when you have achieved the outcome that you want to achieve. Let’s make this really concrete for people. I’ll use the public speaking as an example and then if you’re listening, you can take this and apply to whatever it is that you want to be focusing on. Let’s say you need to do a presentation in front of a room full of people and it scares the pants off you. You can, from the outside in approach, jut practice speaking in front of small groups of people. I recommend that you do that to get the skills up. From the inside out approach, close your eyes and imagine what it would be like once you have successfully delivered a rock star presentation where everyone loved it. You get a standing ovation. You feel fantastic afterwards and it’s worked out exactly how you want. The way to associate into that experience is to close your eyes and take yourself into that experience in your mind where you imagine that you are inside your body in that experience, in the here and now. You’re seeing through your own eyes exactly what you’re seeing. You hear the sounds around you as if you are really there and allow yourself to notice where in your body the feeling of having achieved that comes from. I find it’s very useful to give that feeling a name. People would often say it feels great, or confident, or excited, or satisfied, or something along those lines. We’ll just say excited. That feeling you can usually physically locate it as beginning somewhere in your body. For this example I’ll say in the middle of your chest where your heart is, the solar plexus. The next step is to enhance the quality of that experience. You’re going to imagine that feeling inside your body of excitement had a color and allow that color, I like to time this with the breathing. As you breathe in, allow the color to become more vibrant. As you breathe out, allow it to spread and grow throughout your entire body. The idea being symbolically, you’ve linked the color with the emotion so your subconscious understands that wherever that color spreads throughout your body, it takes that feeling of excitement with it. You stay in the moment, seeing what you see at the end of your presentation where you’re getting a standing ovation, you hear the sounds of the applause and the cheering, and you allow that feeling and that color to spread and grow throughout your entire body. That’s the basics of what’s called state elicitation. That is the simplest thing that you can do. When you know how to do this, you can do it in 10 seconds. How is that for fast? If you know how, you can take the next step into what’s called associative conditioning where you actually lock that into a trigger. In NLP and hypnosis, they call this anchoring. I don’t like that terminology so much because it’s used in other fields of psychology that have a different meaning so I prefer the clean terminology of associative conditioning. The idea here being at the peak of that experience where you can’t feel that feeling anymore powerfully, you can do something simple and easily replicated like squeezing one of your fist for two seconds and then release your fist and open your eyes. What will happen is the next time that you need to go back into that emotional state like when you are actually about to do the presentation, you can squeeze your fist. I can explain if you want me to, the actual physiology behind what’s happening on a hormonal and neurological level as to why this happens, but without the explanation, it triggers the feeling to come back in your body. You go back into that extremely resourceful state of feeling excited and then deliver the presentation from the place of being excited and having the feeling knowing that it’s going to go well. That’s like a 10 second solution. That’s a cross contextual approach. You can apply it in any area of your life for any emotional state that you want to associate into. The reason that this is so effective is because when you are being the way that you want to be at successful completion, you have that feeling, the emotional state is inextricably linked to the physiology or how you use your body which means you will perform at a high level which means you’re much more likely to achieve the desired results.

O: That sounds fantastic.

N: And it’s fun.

O: Before we finish, I think we need to have you back because there is so much information.

N: I’d love to.

O: What are your three top tips to living a stellar life?

N: I love this question. I knew this was coming. These are the three big principles that I live my life by. The first one is choose freedom. This is how I sign off every email, every Facebook post and most conversations, this comes up. Choose freedom. The idea is that freedom is possible for anyone. Your personal definition of freedom may differ from mine but no one is going to give it to you. You must choose it and often you must consistently choose it over every other option. Choose freedom is number one. Number two would be defy expectations. It’s not that hard to be the best in the world at what you do. All you need to do is find out who’s already the best and be 1% better than that person and you are already the best. Even if this is a non competitive thing, just be 1% better than you were yesterday at whatever you want to be great at and defy your own expectations. The reason that I say defy expectations is we don’t get what we want in life, we get what we expect. If you expect life to unfold for you a certain way, and those expectations aren’t set very high, that’s what’s going to show up in your life. It’s time to set higher expectations and defy your own limits, which ties back in to choose freedom. The third thing, these are all very closely related, is don’t die waiting. I’ve had now two very, very near death experiences. The first time when I was held up at gunpoint at age 21 and the second one in December last year, 2016, where I almost died of the infection in my leg in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. After the first one, I wasn’t living the life that I wanted. After the last one, I was actually quite at peace because I knew, I’m 36 right now, I’ve already achieved almost everything that I want to achieve in my life. Everything from here on out is cream on top. It’s a bonus for me. But not everyone is fortunate enough to feel that way about their life. Coming back to the samurai principle, everyday is a sword fight. This is true right now. You could step off the curb and get hit by a car and that’s it. It’s game over. Or this is quite timely, the musician Chris Cornell, amazing guy, he passed away. I think it was yesterday or the day before. He’s still quite young. Anyone can die at any moment. That’s the reality of life so don’t die waiting to live the life that you want to live. Those are my three things. Choose freedom, defy expectations, don’t die waiting.

O: Wow, that was so powerful. I love it. I really believe in it. I appreciate you. This was extraordinary. Where can people find you, connect with you, find your book?

N: Awesome. If the book is something that you’re interested in, probably the best place to find me is on my website. the company website is successdynamicsinstitute.com. My personal blog is at nickcownie.com. My book 7 Minute Mindset is readily available on Amazon. You can also get it on any of our websites or of you just want to get in on Amazon, you can get it there.

O: Perfect. You should get it because it’s amazing.

N: Absolutely.

O: Thank you so much, Nick.

N: You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me on, anytime. I’ve really enjoyed it. I loved sharing with you today.

O: Thank you for joining me on my mission to light people up and change lives around the world. I hope today’s conversation inspires you to step up, go after the life of your dreams and be who you want to be. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to go to stellarlifepodcast.com for show notes, transcripts, and other cool stuff. Please subscribe, review, and help spread the word by sharing us on Facebook and Twitter. Have a lovely day. I’ll catch you on the next episode.