Here is the full text of organizational psychologist Benjamin Hardy’s talk titled “The 100 Percent Rule That Will Change Your Life” at TEDxKlagenfurt conference. In this TEDx talk, he shares the secret on how making a radical change is not only possible but required to live a life of integrity, meaning, and purpose.
Listen to the MP3 Audio:
This is my friend right here. His name is Tom Hartman. Tom is over 400 pounds, just barely got divorced, has very little confidence of what we’re just talking about. And he has a very persistent brother.
His brother has been trying to convince him for a few years to come to a motivational conference, actually by a person named Zig Ziglar. And this is a couple of decades ago.
After a lot of prodding, Tom finally gets convinced and he goes to this Zig Ziglar motivational conference. And he is not comfortable in that environment. It’s the last place he wants to be. He’s around all sorts of people who are motivated, all sorts of people who are excited. He sees this guy up on stage, cheering rah rah, and he’s just very uncomfortable.
And he’s very resistant actually to what’s being taught. But over time just listening over the first 90 minutes, Zig is up there teaching about self-image, about how you see yourself, and about how most people view themselves in a very powerless way. They have a very negative story about themselves.
And how your story about who you are and how you see yourself is generally a direct correlation with how you perform in the world. How you see yourself is how you act.
And he was listening to these ideas and he was hearing about how Zig was talking about how it’s important to go from powerlessness to powerful, where you see yourself not from your current circumstances but from the circumstances that you hope to have. And a lot of his shells got broken down during those first 90 minutes.
And actually after the first session he asked his brother, he said, “Is it all right if we go and buy some of the tapes that are in the back?” Because there was tapes that he could buy near the end, and if he couldn’t afford it he had no money. He was pretty much out of a job, just got divorced. His whole life was kind of in shambles.
And his brother really liked the idea of him getting these tapes and so his brother got him the tapes. After the conference he ended up listening for five hours that day, seven hours the next day and ended up listening for over and over. He was listening to these things on repeat, essentially rewiring his belief system.
There’s a really good idea that your input shapes your outlook, and your outlook shapes your behavior. And so he was changing his input rather than listening to the radio or rather than listening to things that were kind of low energy, low level. He was just listening to stuff that was completely retraining him to see himself differently.
Because of this input, he decided to do something very bold. And the bold behavior that he did ultimately led him to having a peak experience. And that peak experience altered his identity. And there’s a lot of really interesting science behind the bold behavior that he did.
So ultimately what happened was after about a week of the Zig conference, he got the idea that he wanted to go and buy some suits. He bought two very nice fitted suits. He actually had to put a down payment on these suits… over $700. And he had them fitted. Obviously he couldn’t have them fitted on himself but he bought two smaller suits.
And the person selling the suit said, “Tom, who are you buying these for?”
And he said, “Well, I’m buying them for myself.”
And the guy who was selling the suits had to hold back a laugh because he just couldn’t believe it. You know, Tom was still over 400 pounds at the time.
But what’s very interesting about this behavior is, is that Tom was investing money into his future identity. He was not investing money into his current identity. And he was actually saying in a very real way with his words what he was going to do.
There’s a few things that are very powerful about this.
Number one is that the story that he was telling to the clerk was a story based on his future, whereas all of the stories he had previously been telling people were based on his past. He was explaining himself in former conversations: This is why I am the way I am.
Now his story was: This is who I’m going to be.
And there’s a lot of really interesting science behind the idea of spending money on your goals. So for the last four or five years I’ve been getting my PhD in organizational psychology. And one of the research studies that I did was studying the difference between wannabe entrepreneurs and actual entrepreneurs, people who had been successful.
And I asked them a bunch of questions, trying to figure out what is the difference between these two populations.
And one of the questions that I asked the wannabe entrepreneurs and the actual entrepreneurs was: Have you ever had a point of no return experience?”
And almost all of the wannabe entrepreneurs said no. A lot of them hinted to the idea that they hoped to have that experience one day.
Almost all of the entrepreneurs said yes, and not only were the entrepreneurs, I asked lots of authors, professional people at all scales and they all said: “Yes. I’ve had them and at multiple stages have I had a point of no return experience.”
So my follow-up question was: Well, what happened after that experience?
And actually I was interested firstly in what was that experience? What was the point of no-return? What created that shift? Then my next question was what happened after that?