Your Greatest Advantage

William James (Jan. 11, 1842 - Aug. 26, 1910).

William “Bud” Hart, of Haverhill, shares “Success Principles”—ideas for living a greater, better and more accomplished life, and building habits that stick. He also coaches clients to incorporate strategies for boosting their mental and physical performance during everyday living.

William “Bud” Hart, of Haverhill, shares “Success Principles”—ideas for living a greater, better and more accomplished life, and building habits that stick. He also coaches clients to incorporate strategies for boosting their mental and physical performance during everyday living.

I recently read a number of pieces from writings by William James an American philosopher and psychologist who greatly influenced the modern course of both philosophy and psychology. One of his notable contributions brought back memories for me.

Have you ever had the dream where you are on a cliff or the ledge of a building with no way out of this predicament? I have. I remember I’d be frozen in place and all I would need to do is make one bad move and I was going to fall, not a very comfortable feeling. Although I have not had this dream in many years there was a time in my life when I had it frequently. Whenever I woke from this dream the vision always seemed so vivid and authentic, I can still think about just how real it seemed as I write this.

Paraphrasing a short William James story, he draws upon his experience as a mountain climber in just such a dilemma. He writes suppose in climbing the Alps you find yourself in a position from which your only escape is a terrible leap. Having no experience or evidence of your ability to make this leap you are faced with a choice. The story goes on to point out that hope and confidence in oneself are emotions that would likely make it possible to execute the jump safely. And on the other hand emotions of fear and mistrust in one’s ability would make it likely that one will hesitate so long that exhausted and trembling they will miss their mark and fall into the abyss.

The moral of the story as James counsels is this, believe and you shall be right for you will save yourself; doubt and you shall again be right for you shall perish. The only difference is to believe is greatly to your advantage.

When I think back to the time that I was often having the dreams of being frozen on a cliff or a ledge it was the period when I was first starting my own business. I later read that dreaming of being unable to move on the edge of a cliff or ledge can mean we are anxious and feeling real danger.  It can represent a difficult situation and indicate that we need to make a decision as to how to deal with this a state of affairs. It can also point to the fact that we possibly may need to be open to taking a risk. This was certainly true in my case.

We are always facing the unknown and we have little control over much of what happens to us day in and day out. That’s the reality of life for all of us. So when you think about the things that do happen, as William James advises choose your thoughts carefully and wisely because that choice determines the way you live your life. And if by chance you ever dream about being in a precarious position, high up on a cliff with the only way out a terrible leap remember his words, “Belief creates the actual fact.”

William “Bud” Hart is a certified “Mindset” Coach, Accountability Partner and Business Consultant. Visit Hart Group, www.hartgroupma.com for more on coaching.