Timmy heard the familiar rattle of his lead and looked up, ears pricked. “Yup! It’s time! The sun is setting, time for my daily dose of enjoying life outside the house!” On his walk, he waited by the road as he saw whizzing cars drive past before safely crossing the road. He did his usual bark at the neighbour’s Dalmatian as he walked past her. He glanced to the top of the left wall in anticipation of the hissing ginger cat. When he got to the park, he ran free avoiding the thick blackberry bush on the right as he was stung there once by a wasp. After his joyous run, he trotted happily beside his guardian and stopped just outside the corner shop as his guardian got his usual coffee.
Timmy’s actions are almost on autopilot out of habit. His habits started from the references he received. The rattle of lead means walk (fun!), road means cars (danger!), neighbour’s gate means white spotty dog (friend!), the wall means cat (scary!), blackberry bush in the park means wasp (pain!) and shop means stop (little rest!). His references provided a framework for his memory and thoughts which led to his actions. Repeated actions formed his habits. He will not know or realise more than what he sees if his references remain the same.
When you do something, invariably, you are governed by your references. What you think, the actions you take, and how you feel are usually depicted by what experiences you had in the past. Remember that events are just events, your experience of that event is personal. Nothing has any meaning except the meaning you give to it. When you got burned touching the boiling kettle, you may check all kettles when touching them in the future. When you see your friend achieving great results, you may see yourself achieving that too. When you walk past the coffee shop where you used to frequent with your ex-partner, you may feel sad.
However, remember when you first woke up that morning, you did not feel any of these until the triggers were present. Your past references have shaped the way you think, do, and feel. A kettle means nothing to someone who has not seen one before. Your friend’s results may not mean anything to a stranger. A coffee shop is simply a shop for another person. However, they are all able to trigger you to think, do and feel something. They are your references and they govern you (if you let them).
Apart from depicting your thoughts, actions, and feelings, references also depict what you can achieve. To run a mile in under four minutes has been the ‘Mount Everest’ in the world of running since 1886 when no athletes despite intensive training have broken it before. However, when Roger Bannister ran the first mile under four minutes in 1954, his rival, John Landy did it too. A year later, three runners ran four-minute miles in a single race. By the end of 1978, over 200 runners had broken the once impossible barrier of the four-minute mile. To date, there have been over 1,400 runners that have done so as well. Roger had provided a reference for those runners that it could be done and hence it was done. The extent of your achievements is usually in line with what you think can be achieved and what you think you can achieve is influenced by what you know and is limited by your experience or exposure.
Why is this important? It is important because if that is the case, what sort of references are you using to achieve your goals? What sort of exposures have you had in the past, experiencing in the present and creating in the future? These exposures will influence how far you go, how much you feel, and possibly how much you think you can achieve in your life. We simply do not know what we do not know. In that case, how can we achieve those results that we are not aware of?
You may be thinking, “But I may not have all that exposure in my life. I do not know anyone that has achieved loads or done remarkable things to provide those references for me. What do I do then? Does it mean that my thoughts, actions, feelings, and results may be limited due to my limited references in my life?” Not at all. There are plenty of ways to obtain references to expand your thoughts that would lead to your actions and feelings taking you a step forward to your results. We are living in an age where (if you want and choose to) you can find almost any bit of information in the palm of your hand. Another valuable resource would be from reading books. Leaders are readers. Reading a book is almost like having a conversation with the author. Last but not least and arguably the most powerful reference generating tool you have is your imagination. References can be completely imaginary. In 1903, the Wright brothers did not have a reference for a flying machine for man. They simply thought of it and spent their time and energy creating one. Their reference was from their imaginations. Their imaginations allowed them to succeed and spawned the age of aviation we know today.
References are nothing more than experiences we had in the past and yet they play a powerful role in our minds affecting our daily actions. Be sure to obtain great references to enable (not limit) you to fulfill your greatest achievements and chase your wildest dreams. Remember that references can be completely made up so be sure to exercise your imagination too. When you achieve the goals you aim for, the sense of success can propel you to greater heights for itself would have provided a reference that you are a person capable of success.
Timmy’s references allow him to keep safe and live a joyous life. Are your references empowering or limiting you?
‘Expand your references and you’ll immediately expand your life.” – Tony Robbins
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