D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

Monday, July 28, 2008 8:41 PM

This post is part of a series called Ignite Your Life. For background info on the series, please refer to previous posts on introducing the series and The 5 R's.

Albert Einstein called reality a very persistent illusion. That’s a pretty deep statement to make, and one that I won’t dive into in this blog post. But when we consider it relationally, who we are and what we present to people is definitely an illusion. Nobody knows our inner thoughts, nobody knows what the drivers are of our life. What we offer to people is an illusion: We determine what they see and how they perceive us (or at least we try to alter that to our favor as much as possible).

We also subconsciously (or consciously) present ourselves with an illusion of who we are and what we can become. The limits we put on ourselves are entirely based on the illusion we allow ourselves to own.

I play Dungeons and Dragons with a couple of different groups. Playing a role-playing game is interesting because it allows people a chance to create a character different from themselves. We’re going to pretend for a second that you are part of a D&D game that I’m running. You are going to be one of the heroes of the adventure, and I want you to write down some things:

Name
Some background (be creative)
Physical Appearance (hair, eyes, build, skin tone)
Abilities and Talents

Got your character done? Good. In D&D your character is your illusion. It’s the way that you see yourself if you were in this fantastic adventure in some far away land. Look at the things you wrote down about physical appearance, abilities, talents, and (if you added it) your background information. Why did you pick those things? What made you envision your “hero” to hold those traits? Do you think that you could ever achieve those things for yourself in real life?

“Well of COURSE not D’Arcy, magic isn’t real!”

Ok, point taken. Remember what Einstein said, that reality is an illusion. If reality is an illusion, that means that we have the power to mold ourselves…our character…into anything we want to. We hold that power. So let’s use the D&D example, but change it. Consider my character below:

D’Arcy Lussier
D’Arcy is a world renowned expert in Silverlight and BizTalk and travels the world helping companies with their SOA implementations. In addition he is an accomplished speaker and has done talks at Tech Ed and various code camps.
Physical Appearance: Size 38 pants, muscular physique.
Abilities and Talents: TS: Biz Talk, TS: Silverlight, MCPD-Web

None of that is true (I’m a 42” at the waist). But let me tell you something, it sure does sound good doesn’t it! Here’s the thing: the difference between our fantasy D&D characters and the one I just explained is that the latter IS POSSIBLE. I’m free to select an illusion for my life…to declare it…to intend it…to CHOOSE it! Then once I’ve nailed it down, I just need to do what it takes to succeed in making that illusion a reality.

If you want to ignite your life, you don’t need to roll dice and hang out with friends in a basement somewhere playing “what if”. That’s fine for slaughtering goblins and warlocks, but if you want to live out a heroic life in the real world…friend, know that you can CHOOSE IT!. Select an illusion that’s empowering and focus on it until you become it.

In closing, a word of warning: If you don’t select an illusion of your own, rest assured someone will choose one for you. Someone will tell you what you are and aren’t good at, what you can and can’t do, and what your limitations are…and many of us already have believed what we’ve been told.

I used to work at a restaurant in the kitchen, but I really wanted to be a server…I knew I could be a great server. The manager heard about this and pulled me into his office. He told me that he thought I’d be a great busser, but didn’t see me as server material. I applied at a restaurant across the street for a waiter position. I met with a manager and was turned down (not enough experience). Through a brother of a friend of my wife’s, I got a second interview with a different manager. That manager was sick that day, so I ended up interviewing with the manager from my first interview. “Didn’t I interview you already?” He said I got an A for effort.

I got a call back for a second interview for the waiter job. I got the call a few days later saying I had landed it. A few months later, I was promoted to certified trainer.

If I had listened to that first manager, I’d have just bussed tables or stayed in the kitchen. Instead, I focused on what it was I wanted to become and I went out and took it! You can do that in your life as well. Choose your own illusion, don’t let others dictate it.

Next up: Discover Your Inner Power.

D




Feedback

# re: Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

Reality is a persistent illusion....

the first half of this post sounds suspiciously like the original definition of an Avatar (not like game character, but as in physical manifestation of a Hindu deity). It the manifestation doesn't have to be you, it can be the aspects of you that you choose.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar 7/29/2008 10:57 AM | Cam

# re: Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

That could very well be. I think that most people will alter themselves somewhat based on their surroundings and situation. Whether that's considered an Avatar (a physical representation of a facet of your being) or an illusion (an intentional altering of yourself that may or may not be a true aspect but one entirely conjured to fit a situation).

Consider the head-strong, ethically questionable businessman who rules his business with an iron hand, and yet is the most gentle of people at church on Sunday. It could very well be that the Sunday appearance is a "show"...a performance...an illusion that allows him to fit into that situation because his true self wouldn't be accepted or jive with that community. That's an example of an illusion more than an Avatar in my mind.

D 7/29/2008 11:13 AM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

Just caught up with your blog posts. I'm enjoying this series! 7/30/2008 6:27 AM | Adam Kahtava

# re: Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

Keep in mind D'Arcy, the iron hand business man persona might also be the illusion. 7/31/2008 6:06 AM | Shaneo

# re: Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

@Shaneo: If it is, its a poor one to select. There's another aspect that I'm saving for my next post in the series, but its the idea that you need to have one and only one set of values that you apply to all aspects of your life, not multiple sets that you apply to different situations.

D 7/31/2008 6:36 AM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

D'Arcy, you are projecting a poor illusion of your own. "its a poor one to select"....but from who's point of view?

I agree with most of the material that has been presented here, BUT, one has to be careful when speaking about "illusions". The word Illusion implies something not real. The main message being presented here (I think) is that one should create a positive image of themselves, define their goals, believe in it strongly enough, and their illusion will become reality for them. Their goal achieved.

I can think of at least one real world person who fits the description you presented above. One cannot argue that this person has had real success in their lives. They have done exactly what has been described here and have been met with real success.

7/31/2008 7:35 AM | Shaneo

# re: Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

Sweet way to squeeze a G 'n R reference in!! Love it!

7/31/2008 9:22 AM | JH

# re: Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

Oh man, there's so much that can be discussed here...

So first off, the example I gave initially was to try and differentiate an illusion from the avatar term Cam used. As I thought about it, illusions are something that is personal to us...that we either hold, or that someone offers us and we accept or reject. i.e. Me wanting to be a waiter while my manager told me I'd only be a good busser.

What we show to people are facades...they're illusions that we bestow on people of who we are, based on the situation and how we want to be perceived.

The danger is that we're given a choice:

1) Select our values, hold them close, and then present ourselves honestly...the facade we provide people matches the illusion that we've chosen for ourselves.

2) Select our values, but use the ability to alter our facade to manipulate things to our advantage.

The first example suggests a more heroic, moral standpoint: no matter what people think of my values, beliefs, or creed, it is what I live by. The second is more deceptive: I will hold values close to me, but I will use people around me and manipulate them to achieve those goals.

The second example is what breeds distrust into organizations (check out the book 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, where one of the biggest issues teams face is a lack of trust in each other) and also into relationships.

So there's a warning for us in this: be careful how you define success...what you choose your goals to be, as well as how you intend to achieve them. You can do it without regard for relationships and other people, or you can do it with respect for others and with a focus on building relationships, friendships, and partnerships.

The former may result it monetary gain while destroying or hurting relationships, respect, public opinion, etc. The latter may result in monetary gain while maintaining, improving, and creating relationships that will outlast any dollar value.

D 7/31/2008 11:10 AM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

"Got your character done? Good. In D&D your character is your illusion. It’s the way that you see yourself if you were in this fantastic adventure in some far away land. Look at the things you wrote down about physical appearance, abilities, talents, and (if you added it) your background information. Why did you pick those things? What made you envision your “hero” to hold those traits? Do you think that you could ever achieve those things for yourself in real life?"

Am I the only one concerned that you play as a female Night Elf on World of Warcraft?

8/3/2008 2:31 PM | Justice~!

# re: Ignite Your Life: Realization – Use Your Illusion

Geeze Justice, why do you spread so many lies?!

I'm not a female night elf!

I'm a female BLOOD elf.

D 8/3/2008 4:07 PM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

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