Full Text of Draw Your Future, Take Control of Your Life by Patti Dobrowolski at TEDxRainier conference.
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Patti Dobrowolski – Visual Thinker + Change Activator
Maya Angelou once said, “A solitary fantasy can transform a million realities.”
What dream or vision do you want to turn into reality? I always wanted to go into business for myself. I could be a consultant. I’m going to go gluten free, right after I eat that last piece of chocolate cake. You know, one day I’m going to stand up to that crabby boss. I look good on paper, I should feel great. I just know there’s more.
You know it because you feel it. You lie awake at night. You talk about your dreams with your partner and your friends, but more often than not, you continue to do those same behaviors that keep you from making the change. You ask yourself, “How can I make it happen?”
Research shows, the odds against you making a change in your life — 9 to 1. 9 to 1, even if you’re facing a life-threatening illness. But let me show you how to beat those odds.
You can live the life you desire. It’s right there in front of you. But in order to achieve it, you must first see it, then believe it, and then you must graciously ask and train your brain to help you execute your vision.
So how do we see our vision? Through a picture. A picture can create movement. A picture can unite nations, a picture can pull at your heart and fill you with a deep desire to do something.
At Roche Pharmaceuticals, the President asked us to create a picture of his vision. Prior to having one, less than 40% of the employees understood the company’s vision and strategy. After seeing this picture, 96% understood it, and 84% understood how what they did everyday align to that picture.
So how can you use a picture to get what you want? By simply drawing one. You don’t have to be an artist or know how to draw. As naive as your drawings might be, when you draw where you are, your current state, and where you want to be, your desired new reality. Suddenly, you have a roadmap for change.
So what is your current state? Well, let’s say you’re Joe. Joe has a good job. Joe has a lovely wife, Amy. Joe makes good money, but like many of us, Joe wants more from life. And he’d like to get rid of a couple of things. Maybe that intense workload, maybe that negative boss. Maybe Joe has a higher purpose; he’s just not sure how to get there. So, now, Joe’s current state is visual.
We remember things better when they’re attached to a picture. 65% better to be exact.
So now let’s imagine that Joe wants to change something in his current state. He wants to build that desired new reality that he dreams about. In order for Joe to freely dream, he must first trick his brain. Because the left side of your brain, as you know, houses the critic, who is forever trying to keep you safe from harm, make sure you don’t do anything dangerous or stupid. So let’s have Joe tell the critic that he’s just going to use his imagination.
Using your imagination activates the right side of your brain, which makes you creative and filled with possibility. So now, let’s dream Joe’s new life.
In the best case scenario, one year from today, what is Joe’s life like? Hey, Joe has a new job. Great. Joe has a new boss, himself. Joe has a couple of great collaborators, and Joe is just bursting with creativity and ideas, and all of those things we dream about. Connection, and purpose, and freedom, and love.
Now I’m drawing this picture as the favor to Joe today. But in real life, he’d have to draw his own picture. Because he can’t afford me. Actually, because you get the most power when you paint your own picture.
So now, Joe has his drawing, so now he’s got to soak it in. He has to fill it with color. He has to fill it with emotion. He has to get inside of it, as if he’s on the inside, looking out. Your brain actually emits serotonin and Oxytocin when you draw and dream. So you feel happy, capable, creative. You feel cool.
So now, we have Joe’s current state and Joe’s desired new reality. So how can Joe get from here to there in just three bold steps? Three bold steps?
If I knew how to get from here to there in three bold steps, I would have done it 25 years ago when I had a mullet.
Here is where the magic begins. Your brain knows you. It’s cataloged everything you’ve ever seen, heard, experienced, real, or imagined. You just have to ask it to put the pieces together for you. It’s as simple as that.
We live in a three-dimensional world, but the light falls on the retina in a two-dimensional fashion, and the brain, it has to cope with it.
So how does it deal with this extra dimension? It guesses. It guesses! And just as it can guess where your cup of coffee is when it goes to pick it up, it can correctly guess what the three bold steps are that you should take. All you have to do is look at your picture and then close your eyes. This allows the brain to recycle what it sees and reconstruct it, add to it everything you’ve ever seen, heard, experienced, or fantasized about, and then it will serve you up with the best possible solution.
If you just relax and you ask it, now what’s the boldest thing I could do to get from here to there? Boom, immediately it will tell you. See it, believe it, act on it.
Now, the danger is, if any of those three bold steps are too scary, this instinctual rational side of your brain is going to try to talk you out of this. Oh, no, no, no, I don’t want to do that. Oh, that desk it’s not too small, my legs aren’t cramped under there. Oh, 20,000 a year, oh, that’s a decent salary. Oh, that boss, he’s not that mean to me. You know what, I’m just going to stay right here. I feel really comfortable here.
So how can you get yourself to do the boldest thing? By drawing the most compelling picture, so when you look here, you’re in pain, it hurts. When you’re here, you’re ecstatic, it’s fantastic, you’re already living inside that connected and free life you drew. So, everyday, you get up, you soak in your picture, you step into the possibility, and this is the most important part, you act on it.
You do one small thing. You call up that friend you know who started her own business, you ask her “How did you do it?”
You ask Amy, “Will you support me in my vision?”
You go to your boss and you ask him for a raise. And you become that one person out of ten to make change happen.
Now, I put this template on your chairs, so that you can do for yourself what I just did for Joe. You’ve seen some fantastic ideas today that have inspired your dream. I dare you to draw that dream into that template. I double dare you to choose a symbol in your drawing that represents that desired new reality, take a picture of it with your phone and send it to us at TEDxRainier.