Clay Staires: This is Clay Staires, Podcast Number Three. We’ve been on this topic of personal development, talking in our last podcastabout how our thoughts lead to our feelings or our emotions, which lead to our belief system, our beliefs lead to our actions, and our actions then turn into results in our life, and how important it is that if we want to change the results, if we want the output that’s going on in our life, we have to go all the way back to our thoughts, the way that we think.
It was very interesting, if you ever heard of a guy named George Barna, from the Barna Research Group, he came out with some findings that said that in essence, what you believe– this is research of thousands of people, what you believe is true, by the time you were 13, is what you’ll believe is true when you die. That’s how strong these beliefs can be, that’s how strong– what we believe by the time we’re 13, those are the belief systems that we have in place around our entire life until we die.
If you’ve ever been in that place, you know of somebody that’s in that place, they are in their 40s, and they are still trying to make their life fit into their conclusions, into their mindset, and it’s not working very well. They’re doing everything they can, they’re running around crazy, trying to get their life to fit into their mind, into their conclusions, into their interpretation, and it just doesn’t, life continues to break out.
George Barna uses this research to emphasize the importance of raising kids and training kids at a young age. I think that’s good, I think it’s great, but, catch this guys, your brain doesn’t fully develop until you’re 25 years old, 25, even if I can get my 13-year-old to have some good conclusions, they’re still 13, they are still clueless on how life works. They’re still clueless on how the cycles of life work and how emotions work in life, they are only 13. Business Speaker Tulsa
I am a huge fan and a huge proponent, and do a lot of coaching on this and a lot of training on this, because I think it is vital for us, at 18, when we transplant from high school, living at home, to living outside of the house either going to college or getting your own apartment and getting a job, when you transplant from your home, it is important to have a season of your life where you have somebody that is helping you evaluate your thoughts, evaluate your truth, your conclusions, what you believe, the B in the [unintelligible 00:02:46], your belief system.
I did this my daughter Maddie, and she came out of high school getting ready to head into life. “Oh my gosh,” again, she was a wonderful girl at that age, she still is a wonderful girl, but, at that age, she was a wonderful girl, but she didn’t have a clue. Was that because I was a bad father? No. It’s just because she was immature, she just didn’t know, she didn’t know what she didn’t know. So at 18, we spent a full year in her life, evaluating, and that doesn’t mean that every year or every day were sitting down, “Okay, tell me what you think.” But, we just entered into an intentional season in her life where we would have conversations that would lead to her revealing her belief system. Business Speaker Tulsa
Have you ever old proverb that says, as a man thinks, so he does, or how about this, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. These are two phrases that I use quite a bit, whether be in my personal life or whether in my business speaker Tulsa life. If you can listen to what a person says and watch what they do, they will give you a window into what is inside of their heart and what is inside their heads. If you can put a discerning eye, and a discerning ear, on what people do and what they say, you will be able to see, without them telling you, you will be able to discover what they are thinking about life, and what they believe to be true about life.
We entered into a deliberate season when she was 18 and 19 years old. We knew that she needed to have a certain measure or a certain degree of education, but she also needed to have a certain degree of experiences in your life and help me become well-rounded. It wasn’t just about education, it was about experiences, but then she also needed to have that very important element of evaluation. That’s where you’re actually, “Okay, tell me what you think about this.” “Well, I think that person’s — I just don’t think they like me, I think that they are mean, I think my boss is really mean because he got onto me today.” Business Speaker Tulsa
That is a belief system that is incorrect, so we have to tap into it, we have to talk about that. We have to talk about why this is an incorrect way of thinking, because, if you continue thinking that way, your 20s are going to be very difficult. Because I promise you, your 20s, you will not be able to succeed well in your 20s, with a seventeen-year-old mind, just doesn’t work. But then, once again, when you turn 28, it’s time again, for you to go through another check up, another season of evaluation. Where the mindsets, my conclusions, — because, again, for most people, the 20s can be pretty rocky. Business Speaker Tulsa
You’re out there, trying things, getting experiences for the first time, and sometimes, those experiences, especially if you are like me, sometimes those experiences can be pretty rough. If we’re not careful, we will draw conclusions about life according to the struggles that we went through, and that can be very unfortunate and can cause us to be very limited, it can cause us to develop mindsets that will limit us as we move into our 30s and into our 40s. So when we are 28, once again, we go through an evaluation season, with a person in our life. With a Yoda, with a Gandalf, with a Morpheus, with a Zorro, with a Mr. Miyagi, somebody in our life that can help us look at our conclusions, what we are concluding about ourselves, what we are concluding about others, what we are concluding about truth, what we are concluding about God.
Again, it’s not a one-time sit-down, “Well, tell me what you are concluding about God.” It doesn’t work that way, it’s got to be over a season, where you are willing to allow somebody to bring new thoughts to replace the old thoughts. If you’re not careful, you’ll just read a book, and do add-on thinking, you’ll go to a workshop, do add-on thinking, you’ll go to church, do add-on thinking, you’ll go to a summer camp, do add on thinking, you’ll go a seminar add-on thinking. It’s only when we have a person, walking with us, in our life intentionally, deliberately, and consistently, that we are actually able to transplant thinking, transform thinking, replace thinking.
Those are my thoughts on George Barna’s research on, you die with the beliefs that you have developed at 13. How unfortunate, I do not want to die with belief systems that I development when I was 13, I want to continue to grow, but you guys that happens all the time, you know it people, you might even be in this position yourself. You know of people that are in their 20s, in their 30s, in their 40s, and their responsibilities, their life has gotten bigger than their thinking and they can barely keep up.
You talk to them, “Oh, I am busy. I’m overwhelmed. Crazy busy. I’m just running.” “Where’re you going?” “I don’t know, I’m just going. I am just treading water.” If you ask them to give you a metaphor, or if you tell them about a metaphor. “Okay, let me give this picture here, the hamster running on a wheel. Does that look familiar to you?” You guys, so often, traveling across the country, I show this picture, 75 to 80% of the group raises the hand. “Yes, it looks familiar to me.” Same thing, treading water with your head, just above the water. There’re so many people that identify with that picture, that’s because their life has gotten bigger than them. They are living in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, with a 13-year-old capacity.
You have to increase your capacity, so you can process greater amounts of complexity, or else as you get older, as you grow, as you expand, as you promote, the responsibility and the complexity life, will crush you, because, you don’t have the capacity for it, we definitely don’t want to stop at 13, we want our conclusions to grow as we grow.
How do you see personal growth? Here’s a question for you, how do you see personal growth happening? A lot of people see learning, sitting reading a book, sitting going to a workshop. I want to ask you a few questions here, one of two key ingredients in personal growth is discipline, how do you define discipline? When you think of discipline, what definition comes into your mind? What a picture — when you think of discipline, what picture comes into your mind? I have a working definition when I am training people in personal growth, a working definition of discipline. Discipline is simply, staying within the boundaries, period, that’s all it is. If there’re certain boundaries, to help you, to lose weight, stay within the boundaries.
If there are certain boundaries in life to help you gain weight, stay within the boundaries. If there are certain boundaries that you need to have, to make a certain grade in college, stay within the boundaries. If there are boundaries to grow in a relationship with somebody, stay within the boundaries. That’s called discipline. It’s remaining in the boundaries. It’s not going off, and eating the Twinkies when you’re trying to lose weight, that’s outside the boundaries. “Oh, it’s so hard Clay.” I know, it’s hard. It’s called discipline.
Especially when we live in a society that rejects discipline. I want to have what I want, and it does not matter that I’m not working for it, it doesn’t matter that I’m not putting forth the effort, I still deserve this, that is the society that we live in. Anytime we see somebody that has achieved something through massive amounts of discipline, our very first thing is to think, “Oh, my God, I could never do that.” Right behind that is, “Well, they’re are a freak, they’re just different.”
“The reason why they’re able to have the discipline to do that athletic event, or they were able to have the discipline to have that money, or they have the discipline to have the life that they are living, that’s because they are different than me,” and you guys, that isn’t true. They made choices, every single day, to remain disciplined, they stayed within boundaries. Again it doesn’t always mean that they stayed within every boundary, but, they stayed within the boundaries they needed to stay within, to achieve their goal.
Question to you, have identified those boundaries? To achieve the goals that you want to achieve, personally, financially, vocationally, educationally, relationship wise, spiritually, physically, have you identified those boundaries are going to be? Number one, and number two, are willing to remain in those boundaries? Because, if you are not willing to stay within the boundaries, you’re not going to get the output that you are looking for, it’s very important. Question, again, as you step into this thing called personal development, this journey, discipline is going to be a key element of you moving forward.
Discipline, staying on the path even though it’s difficult. How about this, staying on the path even though it’s easy, even though you’re going through a season of great success and great favor, will you stay on the path? or will you say, “Things are going so good, I think, I will take a little detour.” It happens all the time, people get off the track.
Next question for you, or next component of this path, is character. Again, how would you define character? To get a picture in your mind, someone that you think has great character. How do you define that? How would you explain that to somebody else? It could be very easy that we all, “Okay, I know what character is.” But when you are actually asked to define it, how you define character? Once again, I have a working definition that I work with throughout workshops and seminars that I do on this topic.
Character is discipline over a long period of time, simple enough. It’s staying within the boundaries over a long period of time. How about this, character is staying within the boundaries when no one else is around. Now we’re getting into an integrity issue. Doesn’t matter if my boss is in the room, I’m still going to do this because I have character and integrity. I have a discipline to it and because I’m able to do it over a long period of time that builds my character.
We can help children build character, early on in their lives, by holding them to certain disciplines. You need to do chores, you need to do this, you need to make a certain grade, you need to study this much, you need to eat this food, you need to do certain things around the house, you need to be with certain friends and not be with certain friends, you need to do certain activities to help you grow, to help you develop, to help you develop character. “Well, it’s not easy, it is hard, I don’t want to do it, it’s hard.”
But, so many times, we as parents in our attempt to comfort our children, in our attempt to help our children, we remove the struggle from them, and they never learn discipline and as a result, they lose the opportunity to grow in character. It’s very unfortunate, but, it is very real and very present in our houses today. So, character, is simply remaining disciplined over a long period time. Very interesting, is an ancient proverb that talks about the importance to rejoice in your sufferings. “Ah, what are you talking? That’s crazy talk.” Business Speaker Tulsa
Rejoice in your sufferings, but, here is the reason why? The reason why you rejoice, the reason why you embrace difficulty, the reason why you embrace suffering, is because suffering will produce perseverance if you will embrace it. But, if you resist it like I did for years in my life — I always interpreted difficulty and struggle as a negative thing, therefore, when natural difficulty and struggle came along, I rejected it. I thought as a leader, a leader’s life should be easy.
A leader’s life should be smooth, a leader’s life should not difficult and therefore, when struggle came along, my thoughts, lead me to a belief system, that, this negativity means, that I am not a good leader. That’s how I connected it to. I did not want to be a bad leader, and rather than learning how to overcome the struggle, I would resist the struggle. I did that for years, probably 35 years of my life, I resisted struggle. But, this proverb talks about,– this is like an ancient saying, this is like days of old, these are the old the old desert fathers, coming out of the desert going, “Rejoice in your suffering,” type of thing.
It’s like Yoda talk here, because you’re suffering, you’re suffering produces perseverance and catch this, perseverance produces character and it is character that produces hope. There’s a sequence in that. How do I get to a place where I am hopeful? How do I get to this place where I have built the foundation, the strong foundation of character, so that I can build a life of hope? It all begins with embracing struggle.
I talk to many people, hundreds of people every single year, across the country, they’re in a place where they have lost their hope. They look at their future and they see their future as just more of today. I was just talking with a girl just last week, says “Clay, I guess, what I need to do here, I guess I got to have to put on my big girl panties, suck it up for the next eight years until I retire.
Yes, probably, will break down my health but, hey, at least I got good health insurance.” Are you kidding me? This is a person that has come to a belief system that it can be no better. Their thoughts have played on their feelings, their feelings have supported their thoughts, their thoughts have led to more feelings, those feelings have supported more thoughts, which eventually has developed into a full-on belief system, a conclusion, that my life will never be different.
As a result, she made the choice to not to move forward with coaching. “Clay, it’s been nice talking to you for a month, but, I don’t think this is for me. I think just need to put on my big girl’s panties, suck it up for the next eight years and retire.” That’s unfortunate, but, again that’s how it works. Thoughts lead to feelings, lead to beliefs, actions and results. There’s a progression in this, embracing struggle, embracing difficulty. Again, she has just gone through six weeks of struggle on her path, but the struggle was bigger than her. Why?
Her whine became bigger than her why. How do you get to hope? How is character built? When do I persevere? You persevere through struggling, through difficulty, through suffering. This one is a rule or system of rules that governs our activities. It keeps us in boundaries.
If you can picture concentric circles, which means a smaller circle with a bigger circle outside of it and a bigger circle outside of that. The way the growth the path is this concentric circles, it is not a linear line, where you start at point A and move to point B and try to get a point C, you screw up. so, you have to go to point A again, along this linear line. No, growth is in concentric circles, it’s the natural pattern of growth in the universe. It starts as a small circle– this is my capacity in a small circle, the small circle contains how I think, how I perceive, how I interpret, but, over time I can expand my circle and I move to that next level, but, to move to the next level, I have to go through the line, I have to go through the barrier, I call those process events.
Life will bring you a process event that you have to work through so that you can get to the next level of the circle, which I call the promotion. We move from process event to promotion, process event to promotion, process event to promotion, but, if you’re like me, for so many years, I interpreted the process event as struggle, and struggle was negative in my mind, so I resisted the process events. I still wanted the benefits of the next level of circle, I still wanted the benefits, I wanted all the fruit of the next level, I want the influence, I wanted the money, I wanted the position, I wanted the fame, I wanted all that stuff for the next level of circle, but I wasn’t willing to go through the process yet. Why? Simply because of the way I interpreted the struggle, I saw it as a negative thing. Therefore, it was a bad thing, it was a thing that I wasn’t supposed to have to deal with. I just didn’t get it.
How much time have you spent frustrated about having to remain within the rules? Here’s a question for you, “Ah, it’s not fair I have to go with the speed limit.”Or at work, “I know that I’m not supposed to, I’m going to cut corners.” “I know how this is done, I know the process, I know the checklist is this, so I’m going to cut corners.” “I know that I was supposed to be here at that time, but I’m just a little bit late.” “I know it’s late, I’m just going to go a little bit out of boundaries.”
That’s how it begins, “I’m just a little bit outside of boundaries.” This is a life that is not filled with discipline. Again, it may not be that big of a deal to just be a little bit late, it may not be, but what you’re doing is you’re training yourself to be just on the other side of the bounds, just on the other side of discipline, and therefore you never learn character.
All of a sudden, the storm comes and you find how unprepared you are for life. The storm comes in a relationship, the storm comes in a marriage, the storm comes with your children, the storm comes at work, the storm comes in your health, the storm comes in your finances, the storm comes in your daily life, and I’m not prepared for it, because, I’m just always a little bit on the other side of boundaries. “But, Clay, you don’t understand my life.” “Yes, you’re right. You’re different than everybody else.”
The thing is that — another way to look at these concentric circle is you can see this inner circle. Let’s make this inner circle really small, not because it is small, but, it always feels small and the way we’re going to interpret it this time, is that the inner circle, that’s the boundaries. Okay, that’s the boundaries. I think every one of us knows what the boundaries are work. Now, again, we want to break the rules, “Oh, I don’t know.” We want to fool ourselves. “Oh, officer, was I going too fast? I didn’t even realize that.” “Is this tweaking on my diet? Oh,I’m sorry.”
We want to fool ourselves, but we know we aren’t fooling ourselves, we know where the boundaries are, but, catch this, that inner circle, –let’s say that’s the boundaries, but, what we want to do is, we want to live in the next level of circle. We don’t want to obey the rules, we don’t want to stay within the boundaries of this one, we want to live in the next level and we go ahead and live in that next level. The boundaries haven’t changed, but, we push and create a new boundary. But, over time that new boundary now that feels a little cramped. “I want more freedom,” is what we say.
“I want to have more freedom,” and so we push the boundary out more. Has the boundary actually changed? No. But we have pushed to the next level of circle and we live there. The boundaries have not changed but we are living in a new created boundary. Then we push it out a little bit more and we push it out a little bit more, things that we feel. The way that I think the boundary should be here. I know they’re not, but I think they should be here. I feel like they should be here. Then I found ten other people that feel the same way, so it must be true.
We push those boundaries and we push those boundaries, until all the sudden, somebody comes out to us and taps us on the shoulders and says, “You see that little dot in the center, that’s the boundary, that’s really where the boundary is.” That little dot is so small, it is so far away from where I am now that it’s impossible for me to go back to it. And immediately I begin to say, “Oh, you’re just being legalistic. You’re just trying to repress me. You just don’t want me to have fun. You’re just a kill joy.” Then we begin to ridicule people that tried to call us back to the boundary and we ridicule people that remain in the boundary. We continue to expand, until all of a sudden, decisions are being made in our lives, and not only personally in our life, but in our society, decisions begin to get made, that are crazy but, they align with the way people feel and the way people think.
This is an interesting talk about discipline and character, as we begin this journey of growth in our personal life. Hope this is helpful for you. How long was that one?
[END OF AUDIO] [00:25:56]

Clay Staires