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Reinventing Yourself, Your Work, Your Relationships, & Your Life

By Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D. MFCC

There are certain rules and principles that seemed to make sense in the past, during a time when
reason and logic ruled. But today, in a very chaotic and ever changing world, that moves very fast,
evolutionary extinction is a constant real threat. In order to facilitate desirable change, we need to think
seriously about creating the right set of conditions that can provoke the emergence of higher order
possibilities through revolutionary concepts. The purpose of this article is to try to show that certain rules
and principles can apply to the fields of personal growth, human relationships, business, professional
and individual life.

Rule No. 1:
Set Unreasonable Goals and Expectations
In my psychotherapy profession, I was told to set reasonable expectations and goals for my clients
and myself. On the surface, that sounds wonderful. I'm glad that I did not follow those rules even though
my professional organizations reinforced such ideas. I tried to follow those rules as best as I could and
for all intents and purposes I complied very well. I tried to follow the dictum of safety first and do no
harm. Now, that sounds wonderful, logical and even reasonable. But there was a catch. My greatest
discoveries about myself, my life and my growth, came about through extremely expansive thinking and
unlimited goals. I was too ignorant to believe that I had limitations. Therefore, I accomplished things
beyond my wildest dreams. I did this because I did not accept any ceiling for that which is possible. I
passionately embraced the principal that there were infinite possibilities and that my mind did not
entertain or possess any limitations...

Yesterday I asked my wife, "Did you ever believe that in your wildest dreams, you would ever
achieve this kind of happiness and this kind of Joy inside of your self, your marriage and your family?''
Her response was a resounding ''NO!''

I can only say that my approach to my life, my marriage and my profession has been swashbuckling
and outlandish. I try to tolerate the ordinary, mundane rules of life, institutions and society in general.
Because of this open ended, unlimited style, I choose to do things differently, much to the consternation
of many people. To that extent, I do not believe that I could be a perfect organization man for very long.
Now don't get me wrong! In my writings, I have tried to articulate my ideas in a fashion that would be
comprehensible and acceptable to some, if not all people. However at this point of my life, I believe that
organizations, institutions, small groups etc. can and need to benefit from unlimited, risk-taking thinking.

Now let me get to the point! In this day and age, models change overnight. Thus, innovation is
imperative. Now here is where I expect to arouse some reactions. In the fields of counseling and
psychotherapy, I have noticed that an enormous amount of ideas and literature has been produced over
the last few years. But where are the great innovators? Where are the great names? Sigmund Freud
spawned a great wave of innovative and outlandish psychotherapists. And that statement is not meant
to ignore so many other contributors to modern psychotherapeutic thought.

I have another question/statement. Was there a subtle, unrecognizable movement in the 1980's that
professionalized and institutionalized all forms of psychotherapy, including the radical innovators? In our
quest to become safe, did we also cut off the periphery, where new ideas are forged in the furnace of
challenge and discovery? One may argue that regulation has many benefits and I certainly wouldn't try
to disclaim that premise. In our quest for professional identity, did we submit to conformity at the
expense of great discovery? Maybe, like every movement, we, like our institutions and professional
organizations, have gone the inevitable way of linear maturity and conservatism.

As I look around me for new challenges and mountains to climb, I believe that people, in whatever
part of their lives that they choose, can build new lives, new relationships, new business concepts,
based on deep innovation and revolution; thus, reinventing themselves and their businesses over and
Reinventing Yourself
Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.

over again. In order for this aspiration to become credible, people must outperform the average and to
do this, role models will have to demonstrate real examples. So what does this mean? It means never
accepting someone else's definition of who you are and what is possible in your life.... And if you
recognize that there are unlimited possibilities, you will not be seduced into taking shortcuts or doing
anything that would sabotage reaching for your stars!

Rule No. 2
Stretch Your Definitions of Who You Are, Your Relationships and Your
Defining who you are is a very personal question. So, I will leave that to you to do what ever you
see fit to do with this question. I want to take this question to another direction which will help you define
yourself in a business and professional sense. You and probably the organizations that you work for and
with, usually define yourself by what you do rather than by what you know and what you own. To
describe what you know will require that you pinpoint and explain your core competencies.

When I say define yourself by what you own, I mean defining your strategic assets. A strategic asset
could be a respected brand name. When I first tried to answer this latter question for my video
production company, I proudly stated my most prized and beloved technical equipment; such as a three
chip digital camera and a nonlinear editing system based on a very fast, high-end Dell Computer.

Rule No. 3
Accept Superstar Status and Don't Compromise
A superstar is someone who excels at some particular endeavor or a quality or trait. A superstar is
one who rises to the top of a particular endeavor, activity or realm of personal accomplishment. A
superstar is a winner; one who masters a particular skill or quality. It does not matter what that activity,
skill or trait may be. Through extensive effort, experimentation and practice, a superstar achieves a level
of competence that far exceeds the general criteria for average performance. A superstar stands out
and rises to the pinnacle of achievement and excellence.

It also stands to reason that the attainment of superstar status provides a person with enormous
tangible and internal rewards. Thus, there is something great and gratifying to be attained by investing
enormous effort into an activity or skill. It also does not matter what that activity or endeavor may be. It
could be the attainment of the highest level in business, sports, the arts, a profession, vocation,
relationships or something internal; like personal growth, spiritual attainment, emotional clarity, cognitive
wisdom, parenthood, family life, marital bliss or even a very fulfilling and successful single life.

If you can focus and invest a large portion of your spiritual, physical, financial and emotional
energies into accomplishing one particular skill or activity, you can achieve superstar status. The rest of
the world may not even notice that you have achieved this superstar status. It may be that only you and
those who are closest to you will recognize your superstar achievement.

If you are interested in what it takes to become a superstar, first you must accept the concept that
there is such a thing as a superstar. Look at different people, in different fields and different walks of life,
who have achieved an outstanding and unique position in some particular activity. What makes these
people so different and successful? I believe that these superstars made a choice to fully be themselves
and to pursue their truth with incredible passion, direction, resources and specific activities. I don't wish
to mislead you into thinking that vast fame and recognition is the only kind of superstar status. You can
become a superstar in your own right and circle of influence. A great spouse is a superstar. A great
basketball player is a superstar. One who gets the most out of a deep therapeutic endeavor and
practice, can become a superstar in life.

It is important that you recognize the possibility that you could become a superstar in one activity
and a loser in another. Charlie Parker the great saxophone player, achieved superstar status with his

Reinventing Yourself
Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.

music, but failed miserably in his personal life. I mention this because there is always the ever present
possibility that one can be on the road to superstar status and have something happen in their life that
creates an enormous downward spiral into depression, failure and despair. I have seen many people
who seem to be well on their way to superstar status, only to have something happen in their lives that
creates personal disaster. So, with a warning, I mention all of the wonderful possible rewards that you
can receive by pursuing excellence in your endeavors. Nobody plans for disaster and failure. But if you
study the successful attitudes and practices of certain superstars, you will internalize their character
traits and passionate devotion to achieving excellent results.

I also recommend that you seek out the tutelage and mentorship of one who already knows and has
achieved the superstar level that you seek. In my own field of psychotherapy, I have had the privilege
and the opportunity to watch and participate in the growth of so many people who have worked so hard
to master the emotional, spiritual, cognitive and interpersonal skills that psychotherapy has to offer. It
has been very gratifying to me to be able to participate in a field where my efforts and skills have helped
other people come from the lowest realms of despair, emotional pain and interpersonal failure to the
heights of interpersonal, emotional, spiritual, professional, creative and personal bliss.

It is important to note, that the journey to superstar status, always begins at the bottom, where
incompetence and lack of skill predominates. The road to absolute excellence proceeds through a
series of fits and starts with many crags and obstacles along the way. However, each one of these
hurdles has a lesson and a message to be learned and mastered along the path to superstardom. It is
also important to realize that many of your attitudes and beliefs about achievement and excellence
depend upon the inputs and attitudes of your parents. Your style for achieving stardom is usually a
product of the combined styles of your parents. You will probably excel in those areas where you were
initially encouraged by those who were charged with your care and upbringing. Their failures and
successes will have to be dealt with and overcome by your motivation and desire to seek the ultimate
for yourself.

Learn the Basic Fundamentals of Allocating Time, Energy, and Resources

Superstars invest and expend all of their energies, resources, intellect, soul and money into
achieving their goals. Other people invest somewhat less of these things and achieve substantial
outcomes. The average person invests a lot less and achieves an average outcome. There are also
those who hold back and do not invest all of their energies, hard work, passion and financial resources.
These people usually end up failing and wonder why success in some endeavor has never come their
way. But the truth of the matter is, that they don't have the right stuff when it comes to putting everything
into the fulfillment of a dream.

Winners put everything on the line and don't hold back anything when it comes to fulfilling their
dreams and goals. They are usually willing to fail and pick themselves up and try again, in order to
reach the pinnacle of their superstar ambitions. Nothing seems to stop these winners. Losers usually
make excuses and unconsciously refuse to put in the extra effort and energy that it takes to achieve
success. The superstar is willing to pay any price in order to reach the top of the mountain. Less
successful people will only invest just so much and their accomplishments and failures reflect a certain
level of drive, motivation and passion.

I know of one woman whom I refused to give treatment, because she didn't meet the entrance
requirements to our program. She insisted that I treat her and she gave me very powerful arguments for
admitting her into the program. I am very glad that I did. She not only worked very hard at the therapy,
she remained persistent, assertive, indefatigable and determined to reach the top of her potential. She
was willing to pay the price for a goal that she could dimly see, but firmly believe in. She became a
superstar with all the benefits derived through great effort, belief and passion.

I also know of other people who did not wish to put in a superstar effort into their therapy and their
outcome reflected their lack of hard work. The same holds true in all walks of life. If you are willing to
work hard, putting in the time, passion, financial resources and effort, you can achieve things beyond

Reinventing Yourself
Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.

your wildest dreams. There are infinite possibilities and you will only be thwarted by your lack of
commitment, investment, effort, thinking and desire.

I like to use a sports metaphor for describing the superstar phenomenon. A well known basketball
player, during the off-season, shoots 2000 baskets a day. This season his team has annihilated all
opposition, while he took them to the championship. This superstar has been willing to work hard, go
beyond the call of duty and invest an enormous amount of himself and his energies to achieving his
superstar capabilities. You too can invest yourself to such an extent, in your own particular area of
desire and achieve unique and marvelous results. You can get only what you are willing to pay for....

Rule No. 4
Reality: All Relationships Have Difficulties and Problems
There are multiple realities and some realities seem more real than others. Your reality will be based
on your perceptions and these perceptions are better served when you understand and accept certain
ground rules and laws. Pay attention to this law. 1. Every situation that involves human beings has
difficulties and problems. If you get that, you won't fall into the idealism trap and find yourself wandering
from one situation to another. Let's review this law. Every situation has crap in it. There is no such thing
as an ideal situation. There are some situations that are better than others. But, there are no perfect
situations. Without being pessimistic and cynical, sometimes you are better off picking your own poison
and learning from it. If you accept and live with this perception, you can take any situation and shape it
to your advantage. Wherever and whatever situation you find yourself in, make it work for you. Mold it
so that you extract something positive from it.

You will come across people, including authorities, who do not know what they're doing and who
may even be doing the wrong things. You, yourself, may think that you are doing the right thing and then
realize that you did the wrong thing. Sometimes, with hindsight, you realize that you may have behaved
badly or against your own interests and well-being. If you apply the wrong knowledge and questionable
methods to a situation, they may backfire on you. It doesn't matter if your intentions were good or not.
Nobody is interested in your intentions. It is your actions that count. Results are what people look at, not

Many years ago, I went through a very messy divorce. Our society looks down on divorce as some
kind of failure. I disagree with that perception. Although it was painful for awhile, I ended up with a very
successful divorce, where I finally got what I truly wanted. I shaped the situation to my advantage,
where I eventually emotionally and spiritually, ended up with much more than I started with. There are
certain situations that only go so far and come to a standstill, a roadblock. I had reached that point in
that relationship and I knew that I could go on and do much better. I, eventually, met the girl of my
dreams and we have been blissfully married ever since. Not only did I get what I always wanted, but I
got a beautiful son in the bargain. Good intentions are wonderful! But, it's the results that count. If you
don't know what you really want how can you devise strategies for attaining peace of mind, success and
happiness. When my marriage was breaking up, I learned what I didn't want and set about finding ways
to attaining what I truly wanted and needed. In fact, it amazes me how much my wife is everything I
would ever want and need in a woman. Guess what? She thinks and feels the same way towards me.
Notice, that I didn't say that everything is perfect. But it is perfect, for me.

Do you really know what you want and what you do not want out of life and other people? Do you
know when it is time to tell someone to get lost? Did you choose the wrong person or the wrong place?
Do you know how to choose the right person and the right place? The good news is that you can learn
from your mistakes. But, please make sure that you do learn the right strategies from your mistakes. In
the above examples, I kept going until I found the right answers and the right strategies for enriching my
life. My wife is the right person and we are now in the right place for doing our present work.

Reinventing Yourself
Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.

Rule No. 5
Prepare Yourself: Nothing Stays the Same and Challenge Is a Given
When you were a child, you had no choice, where you lived, who would be your parents and what
schools you would attend. Everybody else made those choices and decisions for you. The good news
is, today, at this very moment, you do have a choice where you work and where you may want to live.
Times and people change. At one point in your life, you may have been very happy working and living in
a particular place. But, human beings are restless creatures and always looking for new territories and
challenges. Our prehistoric ancestors wandered all over the globe, constantly looking for new places to
live and new territories to hunt. You, probably live in a geographical area, where your ancestors settled,
after migrating from another part of the world. You probably still have blood relatives who live in the old
country who never got a chance or saw a reason to move to a new world and a new reality.

How many times have you thought about changing jobs and/or careers? How many times have you
moved from one house and one neighborhood to another? By now, you have probably figured it out, that
you are a migratory creature who periodically seeks out new environments and new occupational
positions. Go over, in your mind, the reasons that you made such important decisions to change your
situation, by moving and finding a newer, fresher environmental challenge. What were the influences
that caused you to make such moves and changes? I'll bet that there was some sort of dissatisfaction
with a particular situation that drove you to making significant changes. Some of these influences may
have motivated you in a particular direction, because they were out of your control and you had to take
a particular course of action.

I remember when I quit my executive position at a large eastern mental hospital, in order to go into
private practice. I had always wanted and dreamed of going into independent private practice, ever
since my undergraduate college days. I also knew that the institution where I worked would eventually
close its doors and shut down. My family became very nervous when I decided to leave a secure
paycheck and seek out the adventurous and uncertain future of running my own business and private
practice. I was just seeking to fulfill my dream and I was willing to sacrifice the security of a steady job
and income. I never regretted that decision, because I succeeded way beyond my wildest dreams. The
secret to that kind of confidence was my ability to be able to passionately visualize and propel myself
towards my goals. After I had succeeded at achieving most of my goals, I found myself looking around
for more challenges and new territories, in order to enhance my life. I, eventually, moved to Florida,
where I succeeded in building a very successful program. After twelve years in Florida, I started to
experience some boredom for which I took full and complete responsibility. I, then, decided to move my
practice to Southern California and start over again. That also proved to be a great strategy. The
Southern California lifestyle seemed to fit the changes that were taking place in my life and in my mind
and heart.

Is it time for you to make major changes in your life and perhaps move on to new turf? If you are
stuck in a job or a profession that doesn't fulfill your future aspirations, how would a major change
impact your life and your situation? If you have thought about making a significant move, what will you
have to give up or lose altogether? I say this with complete compassion and understanding that making
a major decision will put you in conflict over the possible losses and gains. Can you afford to give up
something in order to get something else? In order to get out of the wrong place and into the right place,
there will be a trade off. Can you be strong enough to withstand the losses that you will incur when you
make a big move? You do have your place in the sun and it may change from time to time, depending
upon your inner feelings and external circumstances. Remember, that no great move can be
accomplished successfully, without extensive research, personal on site experience and the
development of a very effective strategy. You will also have to consider what effect such a move might
have at any particular stage of your life on yourself and significant others. Nothing stays the same and
you will have to devise new strategies for different circumstances and different periods of your life.
Prepare yourself! Challenge is a given and everything changes.

Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D. MFCC  PsychotherapyHELP   818-882-7404