I used to be a college football coach. That was one of the 11 jobs that I had after I graduated from college. (Reminder: Those 11 jobs were unceremoniously crammed into 11 years.)
I started out as a volunteer coach at Blinn College, a small junior college between Houston and Austin. The second that I stepped foot on campus, I was named the wide receivers coach and forced to learn the ins and outs of coaching on the fly.
I guess I did all right. After each season, I received a promotion – going from a volunteer coach to an unpaid graduate assistant and eventually to a full-time coach.
It definitely was a mind-blowing whirlwind of events.
The story: One day, I woke up and said that I wanted to be a football coach…I quit my job….and I just did it. I won’t go as far to say it was “easy,” but once I made up mind that’s what I wanted – it just happened.
But after three seasons of coaching at the junior college level, I wanted more. Just like all of our players at Blinn, I had dreams of “going Division I.” They wanted to play at schools like University of Texas, LSU and Oklahoma, and I wanted to coach at those same type of schools. Division I football is the biggest stage of college sports.
The bad news: I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to accomplish that goal.
The good news: My subconscious was already working overtime to make this dream a reality.
This is when I accidentally fell in love with the psychological technique of autosuggestion, which was developed by E’mile Coue’ in the early 20th Century. He wrote:
“… autosuggestion is an instrument that we possess at birth, and in this instrument, or rather in this force, resides a marvelous and incalculable power, which according to circumstances produces the best or the worst results.”
Let me dumb it down even more:
Step 1: Figure out what you want.
Step 2: Focus on it.
Step 3: Say out loud that you will get it.
Step 4: Believe in your heart that you will get it.
Step 5: Repeat Steps 2-4
Expanding on Mr. Hill’s explanation, you’re influencing your subconscious mind to get exactly what you want.
One of the most famous autosuggestion stories is about actor Jim Carey writing himself a $10 million check when he was a struggling comedian in Hollywood. He said he wrote the check to make him feel better. He postdated it 10 years and put it in his wallet.
It was for “acting services rendered,” and obviously Carey’s “mind trick” worked. In 1996, he was paid $15 million for the sequel to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
For me, as a junior college football coach in Central Texas, it wasn’t about what I wanted…it was about where I wanted to go.
I wanted to coach at Texas Christian University, an up and coming power in college football. More importantly, TCU was the “hometown team” in Dallas/Fort Worth. That’s where I grew up and where my immediate family still lived. I wanted go home and coach for the Horned Frogs. (Step 1 – check)
That’s when I quickly raced through Steps 2-4 without even knowing what I was doing.
One of our players was being recruited by TCU, and he received a postcard in the mail from one of the Horned Frog coaches. On the postcard was a picture TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium at dusk. There were no players on the field and no fans in the bleachers, but the lights were shining bright on this college football temple.
After reading the postcard, our recruit threw it away. (They received a lot of mail from a lot of different schools. It happened all the time.)
This time, however, I picked it out of the trash and hung the photo on my bulletin board. I whispered to myself:
“That’s where I want to go.”
Every time that I sat down at my desk, I would look at that postcard. My dream of coaching at TCU was in my face every single day. (Step 2 – check)
Later that season, I was introduced to the TCU football program firsthand. We were on our way to play a road game in Oklahoma, and we arranged to practice at the Horned Frogs’ facilities on our way.
This gave me my first glimpse inside a Division I football program. When I stepped back on the team bus after our walk-thru, I told the rest of the Blinn coaching staff: “This is where I’m going…and I’m never coming back.” (Step 3 – completed)
It was a brash and bold statement, but I was dead serious. I believed deep down in my soul that’s where I was going. (Step 4 – check)
During the spring of 2004, I got a call from TCU’s Director of Football Operations. His assistant position had come open and he remembered me expressing interest at one point. (While my subconscious was working its angles…I wasn’t just sitting on my thumbs.)
I interviewed and I was offered the job, Assistant Director of Football Operations and Recruiting Coordinator.
At the rehearsal dinner for my wedding, I announced to family and friends that I got the job. The day I got back from my honeymoon, I was officially a TCU Horned Frog.
The crazy part of the story, it wasn’t until years later when I actually thought about the role autosuggestion played in me getting to TCU.
Every time I think about that postcard hanging on that bulletin board or that bold statement I made to the rest of the Blinn coaching staff – it makes me smile.
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Even if you only make it to Step 2, autosuggestion can impact your life.
As my Live the List Project begins to evolve, I see this more and more. I talk to people who made a life list years ago and then put in a drawer. When I ask them if we can go through the list together, it’s amazing the number of things they’ve actually accomplished.
They thought about what they wanted and they wrote it down. Their subconscious did all the heavy lifting to make it happen.
A cousin of autosuggestion is the law of attraction – made famous by the New York Times Best Seller The Secret. The author claims that “as we think and feel, a corresponding frequency is sent out into the universe that attracts back to us events and circumstances on that same frequency.”
For example, if you think angry thoughts you will attract back events and circumstances that cause you to feel more anger. On the other hand, if you are positive, you will attract back positive events and circumstances.
Confession: I struggle with the phrase “send it out into the universe.” It’s in direct conflict with my faith.
I share ALL of this with you – E’mile Coue’, Napoleon Hill, The Secret, etc. – because I’m formulating my own “psychological technique,” taking pieces of each puzzle and turning it into something spiritual.
Then, I’m infusing it into my Live the List Project, which is an informal road map to living a bold, adventurous and intentional life. Just like with other components of The Project, I’m trying to build on a solid foundation that puts God in the spotlight. That’s the only way Live the List will be sustainable.
A couple of reminders before I tie this up with a pretty red bow:
• God is the conductor of this amazing symphony called life (not “the universe”),
• The premise of Live the List Project is about putting God first and others second – all under the umbrella of a grateful heart.
• It’s OK to ask God for things you want (Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and he shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”)
I’ve turned my autosuggestion into an intentional prayer. I’ve tweaked the steps a little:
Step 1: Figure out what you want.
Step 2: Focus on it.
Step 3: Ask God for direction and guidance to receive it.
Step 4: Believe in your heart that He will deliver when the time is just right.
Step 5: Repeat Steps 2-4
In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill encourages people to write a statement, expressing their desire for money. He instructs his readers to say exactly how much they want, when they will receive it and what they intend to give in return for this money.
“read ALOUD twice daily the WRITTEN statement of your DESIRE FOR MONEY, and to SEE AND FEEL yourself ALREADY in possession of the money! By following these instructions, you communicate the object of your DESIRE directly to your SUBCONSCIOUS mind in a spirit of absolute FAITH. Through repetition of this procedure, you voluntarily create thought habits which are favorable to your efforts to transmute desire into its monetary equivalent.”
Nothing about God.
Nothing about faith.
I couldn’t participate in this exercise without those elements. So, I infused Matthew 7:7 – “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and he shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” – and I started to take autosuggestion to a new level.
Here’s my prayer – a.k.a. the big red bow that will tie all of this together:
Through your direction and guidance, Heavenly Father, I will have $75,000 by Dec. 31, 2014. This will come to me in various amounts from time to time between now and then.
In return for this money, I will finally use the gift of writing that you bestowed on me.
With You leading the charge….I believe that I will have this money in my possession. My faith in You is so strong that I can see the money. Because of your love and grace, I can touch it with my hands. I will have this money when I uphold my end of the bargain AND continue to put You first. I am awaiting your plan by which to accumulate this money, and I will follow your guidance once it’s received.
I will use this money to honor and glorify You. I will provide for my family. I will pay my debts. I will use this money to give back to those less fortunate.
In the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
– – –
I felt a little strange about praying for money, but I re-read Matthew 7:7. There is no disclaimer about monetary requests.
Like I explain in my prayer – the money is a means to an end. In order to finish my book and introduce The Live the List Project to the masses, I have to have it. My family still needs a roof over its head. We need food on the table.
I’m not asking for millions and millions of dollars OR to win the lottery; I’m asking for enough to give Live the List the time and attention it deserves.
I’m not asking for someone to write me or check OR to find a sack of money on the side of the road; I’m willing to work my tail off to get it.
I’m not asking for this money so I can sit on the couch and turn my brain to mush with hours and hours of television; I’m determined to use it to help make the world a better place.
I know what I want.
I’m focused on it.
I’ve asked God for the guidance and direction to receive it.
I believe – with all my heart and soul – that He will make this happen when the time is right.