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Your objective at this stage is to illuminate three key things:
- Your past reality
- Your current reality
- The gap between your current reality and desired reality
Illumination is all about making things clear and shedding light on your past reality, current reality and the gap between where you are and what you would like to achieve.
Let’s now explore this sub-step in a little more detail.
Your Past Reality
The purpose here is to reflect and learn from the lessons of the past that are relevant and applicable to your current problem and circumstances.
Here, you are basically assessing your understanding of the past in order to gain the necessary knowledge that will help you in the present moment to solve your problem.
It’s important to note that assessing what has worked or hasn’t worked in the past could very well prevent you from seeing new possibilities in the present moment. Therefore be vigilant as you work through this step along The Path. I would suggest that once you assess everything, let it go and look at the current problem with a fresh perspective, because old beliefs could very well prevent you from creating new possibilities. Also keep in mind that you must assess the past reality from your perspective and experience, as well as from other peoples’ perspective and experience.
To begin with, identify whether you have experienced this problem before and then learn from these experiences in order to improve your decision-making process in the present and future.
- Have I experienced this problem before?
Also, consider all the information and knowledge you already have about this problem and how much of this problem you already understand.
- What do I already know about this problem?
A Bigger Problem or Not a Problem at all?
Now, reflect on a time when this wasn’t a problem or when it was potentially a bigger problem than it is today. The answer to these questions could very well offer insights to possible solutions that you may be able to take advantage of in the present moment. Ask yourself:
- Was there a time in the past when this wasn’t a problem?
- Was there a time in the past when this was a bigger problem than it is today?
Other Peoples’ Solutions to the Problem
You must identify how others might have solved this problem before. However, don’t go into too much detail here. Instead, just note down the most relevant points. You can go into more depth during the Investigation Stage. If you’re in business, than you might want to consider how businesses in different industries have solved similar problems.
- Have others experienced this problem before?
- What did they learn?
- How did they solve it?
- What mistakes were made?
It’s also important to note that you should take a look at perspectives of people who might or might not have experienced this problem before. Their insights could very well lead you down new and interesting paths.
Here are some other questions you might like to consider:
- How was the problem solved in the past?
- What was successful?
- What failed and why?
- How effective was the solution?
- What can be learned from this experience?
The Process of Success and Failure
A process is a set of action steps you take to get a particular outcome. You must identify the processes of the past and assess why they succeeded or why they failed. In other words, these are the exact steps that were taken to get a particular outcome.
Once you are clear about the process, you must let got of things that didn’t work in the past or even things that did work in the past but that simply aren’t relevant today to help you solve this problem.
First of all, let’s determine why the process of getting a particular outcome failed, and what you did as a result that led to this failure. Also consider how you could have turned these failures into opportunities. Ask yourself:
- What mistakes were made?
- What did I learn?
- What could I have done differently?
Secondly, determine why the process worked, what you did, and the results you obtained. Specifically assess the unexpected successes and how they came about. Ask yourself:
- Where did I succeed?
- How did I succeed?
- What was unexpected?
- What are my high performance patterns?
Your HPPs (high performance patterns) are the things you did that enabled you to get excellent results in the past that you might want to replicate in the present moment.
Your Current Reality
It’s important to understand your present moment before you take the necessary steps to create your desired future. Within this step along The Path you need to identify a number of key critical elements that will help you pave the way forward. Begin asking yourself:
- How am I currently dealing with the situation or problem?
- What is the conventional wisdom? What is the status quo?
Obstacles Currently Facing
Now consider the obstacles that you are currently facing. These are the obstacles (resistance) that you must overcome in order to solve this problem and experience your desired reality. However, make sure to clarify these obstacles in terms of their magnitude from highest to lowest. Keep in mind that obstacles could be physical, psychological, social, political, financial, etc. Ask yourself:
- What are the potential obstacles I may face?
Turn Obstacles into Objectives
Having clarified your obstacles, it will now help if you take some time to convert them into succinct objectives. You are basically taking your obstacles, turning them inside-out and converting them to specific goals that you would like to achieve. This is an important step, because no longer will you be trying to move away from obstacles along your path, instead you will be working towards a desired outcome.
Here are some additional questions about obstacles that you might want to consider:
- Who would potentially lose if the problem was solved?
- What financial considerations could limit my creativity?
- What I am most afraid of, moving forward?
Consider any old ways of thinking and doing things that could now be obsolete and impracticable given your present circumstances. Ask yourself:
- What assumptions could limit my forward momentum?
It’s also important at this time that you raise any concerns that you might have about this problem and about the decisions that you will need to make to solve it.
If you are stuck and can’t think of any more obstacles that are currently standing in your way, than consider asking “If only…” questions:
- I would be completely successful in this effort if only…
Assess Your Psychology
Now consider that the obstacles you face could purely be in your head. For this reason, it’s important to quickly assess your psychology by taking into account your strengths, weaknesses, attitudes, qualities, values, beliefs, etc. Determine how these are helping or hindering you moving forward towards your desired reality. I won’t go into much more detail here about this topic. If you are interested in learning more, than please take a look at the MasterMind Matrix.
Assess Your Resource List
Within the present moment, you might not consciously realize it, but you have a plethora of resources at your disposal. These resources could include your strengths, possessions, techniques you use, technology, information, finances, knowledge, mindset, support, contacts, network, competencies, etc. I won’t go into detail here about this. However, if you would like more information, than please read more about Creating Your Life Resource List.
- What resources do I have that could help me resolve this problem?
- How could I take advantage of these resources to solve this problem?
Also consider your strengths and weaknesses and how they could potentially affect how you approach the problem.
- What are my strengths?
- How could they assist me in solving this problem?
- What are my weaknesses?
- How could they hinder me in solving this problem?
For more information, please see How to Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses.
Leverage Your Environment
Next, you must effectively leverage your environment to help you achieve your desired reality and overcome the problem you are facing.
When your environment is well structured, your energy will be channelled into appropriate avenues. On the other hand, if you have an environment that has no structure, your energy will dissipate and scatter. The bottom-line is, that if your environment is not conducive towards overcoming this problem, than you will be spending a lot of energy working against it every single day. Discipline can only take you so far.
An inappropriate environment that isn’t conducive towards your desired reality is filled with distractions, hindrances, annoyances and other factors that focus you away from the solution to your problem.
In order to improve the probability of solving your problem, you must assess your current environment and then take the necessary measures to improve it in ways that will help you to solve the problem or problems you are facing. However, I’m not only talking about your physical environment here. Also consider your computer environment, the communities, organizations and groups you belong to; your social environment; your recreational environment; company culture, etc. Ask yourself:
- How does my current environment support me in solving my problems?
- How does my current environment hinder me when it comes to solving my problems?
- How must I modify my surroundings to help me solve my problems more effectively?
- What kind of environment must I immerse myself in to find an appropriate solution?
Identify the Gaps
Having answered all the above questions, it’s now important to establish what it is you already know and assess the gaps in your knowledge and experience. These are things that you have pinpointed that are necessary for you to know and learn as you move forward towards solving this problem.
Your objective is to bridge the gap between your current reality and your desired reality. To do this, you must consider gaps in your knowledge, skills and practical experience. Ask yourself:
- What do I need to know?
- Why do I need to know this?
- What do I need to learn?
- What skills do I need to develop?
- What habits might I need to cultivate?
- Who could potentially help me know and learn?
Finally consider your support mechanism and find people who could help you work through this problem you are facing. However, keep in mind that this is all about bringing old ideas to people who have never seen them before.
It doesn’t matter whether or not people have solved your type of problem in the past. Ask people for help who have fresh eyes and can throw you a new perspective on the problem. In fact, people who will be most helpful to you throughout this process are the ones who haven’t been exposed to the old ways of doing things that might or might not have worked. Show these failed ideas and problems to these people and they will most likely see them from a completely new angle.
How can I visualize this?
Integrated into this stage is a set of visual thinking techniques, strategies, tools and processes that you can utilize to help you visualize your thoughts on paper or in physical form. These techniques will be revealed and integrated into each stage along The Path over time.