Get Unreal: 5 Ways Fantasy and Fiction Will Forge Your Future
I believe in finding the path to success through uncommon means.
By thinking and acting as unconventionally as any fantasy heroine, I escaped a tough childhood, became the first person in my family to finish college, and managed to earn my Ph.D as a single mother working full time.
Even though I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 21 years ago, I have gone on to defy the odds and today display no visible signs of the degenerative disease. I even teach a fitness boot camp!
In these days of fantasy heroes like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games protagonist Katniss Everdeen, our world looks to the fantastic and extraordinary as an escape from the conventions of “real life.”
By borrowing a page or two from the book of unreality, I believe that individuals can break barriers and reach for the seemingly impossible.
What’s so great about the badge of real anyway? The greatest stuff gets done, the best businesses are built, and the gnarliest problems are solved by the unreal thinkers in the world. It’s high time you joined us!
Challenge. Think of any great, notable breakthrough in human history, and behind it you will find a person who had the courage and capacity to Get Unreal.
This is the opposite of what we’re told to do by parents, teachers, bosses, and other authorities. Here are some of my Unreal Rules:
1. Don Your Bully Proof Vest
Ready to permanently de-bullify your life? Any and every jerkhead who thumps their finger against your chest and tries to hold you back or hold you down—anyone who deliberately tries to make you less or smashes your precious optimism when you’re trying hard to be more—that’s a bully.
Think of your favorite superhero. Probably a vulnerable, flawed human being, trying to do what’s right, to triumph good over evil. Then there’s that moment when they enter their Bat Cave, or phone booth, or take their secret elixir, to rise up, to become impervious to, or even to crush that finger thumping against their, or anyone’s chest.
No Bat Cave nearby? A little low on post-nuclear glowing green goo?
“At heart,” author George Orwell said, “most people are heroic.” At least you can be, the moment you slide on your bully-proof vest. Remember no one can hurt you without your permission.
2. Create a Life-Lie.
Facts fail us. Turns out that, when compared to optimists, pessimists are far more factually accurate about their situation in life. They are also twice as likely to suffer depression, heart disease, and a whole host of life-sucking ailments.
The truth hurts...so why be a masochist? Fib wildly to yourself about your childhood, your relationships or career, fabricate your life story to match your dreams.
Build a life-lie. A Life Lie is a story we tell only to ourselves. There is no need for anyone else to know the whopper you are creating.
A life-lie is the story we actually believe about our lives that lets us ignore reality and focus on a glorious future.
My memoir, Little Miss Merit Badge, is all about how and why I had my very own life-lie as early as first grade. I made up a “story of me” that was bigger and better than the life I had been given, and it spurred me on to make that life genuine!
So, even if your Life Lie isn’t real, your happiness is. In the end that’s all that matters. Which epitaph do you prefer? “She accepted and succumbed to life’s brutal truth…” or “She invented an amazing (worthy) life lie she somehow made true.”
3. Kidnap Your Kid.
Hold it hostage. Don’t let it escape. Make it talk. Reprogram it. Spend some “quality time.”
Research shows that the simple act of reflecting on who you were as a youngster can make you measurably happier, brighter, and more successful today.
Those who blow by, ignore, abandon, or worse yet forget that little snot-nose punk are more prone to darker days.
4. Don’t Believe It and You Might Achieve It
Wanna make history? Employ some deliberate insanity. It will scare your loved ones, and besides, it’s serious fun. Here’s how: First, think of anything important you’d love to achieve.
Second, list all the good, viable reasons people smarter than you declare it simply cannot (or should not) be done.
Then, the next step is essential…refuse to believe, let alone listen to them, especially the most credible. Flagrantly ignore their truths, and entire new worlds will open up in front of you.
Steve Jobs was a master of the reality distortion field. Every time some of the world’s top engineers and experts explained precisely why what he wanted to create was impossible or impractical, he politely, (and often not-so-politely) ignored them and then consistently proved them wrong.
You can delude your way to greatness. Oh, and bring your unicorn, or “IHorse.”
5. Blast the Past
It’s time to go Vegas, baby! The big boys don’t give old casinos facelifts. They obliterate them and rebuild from scratch.
So, if your “history” (think baggage) is holding you down like granite swim trunks, you have two options. A) You can suck away years (and your life’s savings) therapizing your way to “letting go”, or B) You can simply dynamite and rebuild the life-that-was.
When the Romans invaded Alexandria in Cleopatra’s time, the first thing they did, (after visiting her extensive harem) was to demolish the royal library and archives. Why?
Destroy the records, rewrite history, and you can build a landmark life.
The first recipient of the NEA’s Art of Teaching award, Dr. Ronda Beaman is the mother of USA Today’s Most Creative Family. Author of the award-winning books, You’re Only Young Twice and Little Miss Merit Badge, she is also director of Leadership Studies at California Polytechnic University, and a highly sought after speaker, life coach and fitness trainer. She is Chief Creative Officer for the research and consulting firm PEAK, Learning, Inc. and earned her doctorate in leadership, paying her way by singing telegrams dressed in a gorilla suit. She has been Professor of the Year at three universities and named one of the Top Ten Outstanding Women in America.