The Power to Transform: 90 Days to a New You

The Power to Transform: 90 Days to a New You

by Chris Majer, John Brandt

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594869518
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Chris Majer is founder and CEO of The Human Potential Project, a pioneer in the design and delivery of transformational education for athletes, the military, and corporate organizations. Majer's innovative work has been written about in Time, Esquire, and Leaders Magazine. As a result of his stunning successes, he has been featured on Today, The News Hour, and Charlie Rose. He resides in Spokane, Washington.

John Brant is a frequent contributor to Inc., the New York Times Play Magazine, Runner's World, and Best Life. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two children.

Read an Excerpt

ONE

THE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN POTENTIAL PROJECT

THE GREATEST DISCOVERY OF MY GENERATION IS THAT HUMAN BEINGS CAN ALTER THEIR LIVES BY ALTERING THEIR ATTITUDES OF MIND.

--WILLIAM JAMES

This is a book for and about you.

It is for the you who watches in amazement as what you once thought to be solid and permanent institutions, businesses, and beliefs dissolve in front of your eyes, as you wonder if you have the capacity to cope with all of the change. It is for the you that asks if this is all there is to life, if you are somehow missing out on possibilities for something more meaningful. It is for all of you who have the desire to create a better life for yourselves and those that you care for and about. It is for the you that believes deep down inside that it must be possible to realize more of your human potential and use it to make a difference in the world. It is for the you that longs for a life filled with passion, power, and purpose. What you have in your hands is a handbook for an internal transformation: a rapid and substantial change in who you are, how you experience life, what you are capable of, and what you can accomplish.

This book will provide you with some insight into how you have become the you that you are. More importantly, it will open the possibility of both designing and delivering a new future for the you that you want to become: a new you. I intend to enable you to become that you, the you that you always wanted to be.

I have set out to lead you through a process that is meant to enable you to create a new and improved version of yourself: a more expanded, competent, and satisfied you. I know that right now you may not believe that it is possible to change who you are and have a future that is radically different from the one you are currently facing, but 25 years of experience tells me that it is possible. With that experience to back me up, I will believe it for you until you are ready to take over.

To realize more of your potential will require that you trust me to take you through the process detailed in the pages that follow. If you complete all of the work as set out, you can move through the process in 3 to 6 months. I know that as soon as you hear those charged words, "trust me," you probably start to get twitchy, most likely with good reason. Any number of speakers, writers, and would-be gurus make that same request. I'm sure many of you have spent valuable time and money in the pursuit of your potential, only to be disappointed. You found that change was nowhere near as easy as you had been led to believe, and this often-spoken-of potential of yours proved to be a bit elusive.

While authentic, lasting change may seem like the hardest thing in the world, that's because the current wisdom about how to make change happen is largely wrong. Before I tell you why I believe that, and why you can trust me to help you craft a new version of you and a new future for yourself, I want to start by introducing myself and explaining why I'm uniquely qualified to help you through this process.

With perfectly straight posture, his battle fatigues crisp and immaculate, and his fingers lightly laced together on the table in front of him, General John Woodmansee, a West Point graduate, Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, and commander of the Second Armored Division, United States Army, sat in a conference room in Fort Hood, Texas, waiting to hear how I could help transform his troops into stronger, faster, and more lethal soldiers.

Thirteen years earlier, with my hair down to my shoulders and my fist punching the air, I had marched down Seattle's freeways, participating in and eventually leading student protests against the Vietnam War while I was at the University of Washington. I had arrived on campus as a freshman in the fall of 1969, and by the spring of 1970 everything, including me, had changed. I participated fully in what seemed to be a new golden era. I played rugby, experimented with the exotic offerings of the day (yes, I even inhaled), and was social chairman of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house. At the same time, I earned my "student radical" moniker and, like many of my peers, set my sights on changing the world.

I had been protesting the Vietnam War while Woodmansee fought it. Now, in the spring of 1983, I found myself standing in front of the general and his staff, hoping to do business with them.

As head of a Seattle-based company then called SportsMind (the original incarnation of the Human Potential Project), I, along with my team, had used a collection of practices we bundled together as Mental Fitness to show athletes how they could make their games and their lives more satisfying, meaningful, and triumphant. We combined our work on mental fitness with contemporary physical-training methodologies, and, in conjunction with work on developing passion, belief systems, and values, we offered a new and potent mind-body-spirit approach to sports performance. Our success with athletes had earned us a shot at convincing the leaders at Fort Hood to adapt our comprehensive approach for their troops. I knew we could help the Army. I just had to convince them.

The base's current physical training program was a relic from World War II and had proven woefully inadequate for the demands of the late 20th century. The troops were trained and tested on a set of exercises unrelated to situations they would face in combat and were evaluated by fixed scores. Failing to hit a benchmark filled a soldier with anxiety, as it singled him or her out for remedial work. Despite the exceedingly modest standards of the physical training test, a shocking number did fail, which resulted in our invitation to Fort Hood. Once there, we learned that the Army faced a host of other issues as well: generally low morale, too many overweight soldiers, too many sick calls, and rising levels of alcohol and substance abuse.

While soldiers lacked a sense of purpose and confidence, officers were being sent to business school to learn how to be managers. Still suffering an emotional hangover from the Vietnam War, the Army had lost touch with some of its vital history, and in its rush to learn how to manage, had forgotten how to lead. To its credit, the Army was clear that things needed to change and was willing to try our methods to solve its problems. We proposed techniques for enhancing spirit, passion, and teamwork along with our innovative process of building physical and mental fitness. We were, in short, using contemporary methods to reconnect the Army with its own core values.

"Your biggest dilemma is that you've been operating as if all your problems are separate and unrelated," I told Woodmansee at the briefing. "You're taking the business-school approach and putting poor physical-training scores in one box, low morale in another box, too many sick calls in a separate box, and drug and alcohol abuse in still another. You then have a remedial program designed to attend to each of the boxes. That burns a lot of time and money. You are pulling all of the threads apart, forgetting that they are part of the same cloth."

The notion that physical fitness could be "achieved" via exercises and techniques, for example, was a false, self-defeating premise. Fitness, I explained, was a process rather than a product; a way of life, not an achievement. The physical, mental, and spiritual development of each soldier and each unit were intertwined, contributing to morale, cohesiveness, and mission performance.

"Because all of your issues are related," I continued, "they can't be resolved with a series of narrowly focused remedial programs. We propose to help you solve all your problems at once."

This was a bold statement, and it caught the attention of everyone in the room. However, in order for General Woodmansee to accept it, he would have to believe in me and my team. We needed to present ourselves as living, breathing examples of the qualities we extolled. We had to model the states of being focused and centered, as well as to demonstrate the power of clear, accountable communication. Again, I was confident. I had embodied these practices in my own life, through my experiences with the Japanese martial art of aikido, in first-division rugby competition, and also in my business career. I believed 100 percent in what I was saying and doing, and I had equal faith in my teammates. I had special confidence in our next presenter, Horst Abraham.

Horst was a native of Austria. A small boy during World War II, he'd been sent to a Nazi concentration camp. At war's end, the camp was liberated by the Americans and turned over to the Soviets, who promptly imprisoned Horst again. Eventually he was freed and years later made his way to the United States, where he'd distinguished himself as a scholar and ski coach. He had published two influential books on skiing and served as a developer of coaches for the U.S. ski team. The eldest member of our team at Fort Hood (I was the youngest), Horst was an expert on fitness, peak performance, and nutrition. Tall, with a distinguished appearance and a courtly, old-world bearing, Horst Abraham was the kind of man who would impress General Woodmansee.

As I was preparing to turn things over to Horst for his portion of the briefing, however, I noticed that something wasn't quite right. Horst failed to radiate his usual grace and confidence. He looked pale and wouldn't make eye contact with General Woodmansee or the other officers. Instead of filling the room with his cultured, resonant, Austrian-accented voice, all he could do was stand rigid and drawn, barely moving and not saying a word.

We later learned what had happened: Confronted for the first time since the war with a roomful of men in military uniforms, Horst had suffered a paralyzing flashback to his searing experiences as a boy. My team and I were trying to convince Woodmansee that we could help his troops effectively perform in life-and-death situations, and now, during a routine briefing, one of our key people had turned to stone.

In a life liberally if not intentionally seasoned with more than my share of "oh shit" moments, this one loomed large. It was hot in Texas, and despite the air conditioning in the briefing room, I could feel sweat beading at the small of my back and my breathing becoming fast and shallow. My sympathetic nervous system was kicking in with the stress response. From years of both learning and teaching the practice of centering, which means being fully present in the moment, powerfully relaxed, and connected mind to body and self to the world, I realized that, at that moment, I was way off-center. Luckily, I also knew what to do to bring myself back.

Instead of trying to stifle my anxiety, which would only have made the situation worse, I took a deep breath. On the inhalation I relaxed the tension in my shoulders and neck, and let it go with the exhalation. I brought my attention back to my physical center--the point that lies roughly one hand's span below the navel and equidistant between the front and back of the body. Coming back to center generated a subtle but profound shift in my perspective. The situation remained unsettled, of course, but I was now free from the grip of anxiety and able to act with focus and clarity. Okay, I thought: Horst has frozen. Seemingly certain success now teetered on the brink of an embarrassing failure. But I could still make powerful choices and maintain the dignity and identity of our team.

"Excuse me, sir," I said to the general. "Is it okay if we take a quick break before we move on to the next section?"

He agreed. The officers stepped outside for some air while my team urgently huddled. Horst was quick to apologize for what was happening, and when the rest of us understood what he was experiencing, we realized that blaming him would be cruel and futile. I mention this not to advertise our virtue, but to point out that, like centering, accountability, avoiding the impulse to blame others for our problems, is a valuable skill, one requiring practice, but which yields great dividends.

We decided that I'd pinch-hit for Horst. I was generally familiar with his material but was hardly an expert. I had never practiced, let alone delivered, this section of the briefing.

The officers filed back into the room. Muttering a quick prayer that no one would pin me down with detailed questions, I took another deep breath, looked to my teammates for reassurance, and then let it roll.

The next few minutes unfolded with a natural rhythm and fluidity; no one could have guessed that I'd never delivered this material before. Even I was a bit taken back by the power that was unlocked by honoring this moment's possibility, rather than cowering before its threat. My "oh shit" moment had been transformed into an opportunity to realize more of my human potential. When I finished speaking, the general turned to his staff, nodding in approval. He was impressed enough that he offered us a contract with the Army. We were assigned a test unit and deployed to Fort Hood. Before our pilot program concluded, the commander of a neighboring brigade, the famous Tiger Brigade, General George Patton's old unit, demanded to be next in line for our services.

At that point, without letting us know, the Army decided to test our program against its internally designed Master Fitness Trainer program, which it had taken 6 years to develop. The test was conducted using three different units, each consisting of roughly 1,500 troops. One brigade received the standard, World War II-vintage training, another underwent the Master Fitness Trainer regimen, and the Tiger Brigade followed our Combat Fitness program.

They tested the three brigades both before our program started and again 6 months after we completed it. Results showed no change in the fitness level of the control group. More surprising (and to the chagrin of the program's designers), the brigade using the Master Fitness Trainer program also showed no change. The Tiger Brigade, by contrast, which deployed our program, showed a 66 percent reduction in overweight troops, a 50 percent reduction in sick calls, a 60 percent reduction in drug and alcohol abuse, and a 25-point average increase in physical-training test scores. In a front-page story announcing the results in the Army Times, Tiger Brigade commanders also reported a dramatic increase in troop morale.

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The Power to Transform: 90 Days to a New You 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Unnati More than 1 year ago
Unlike many self-help books, The Power to Transform does not promise to turn you into a super achiever overnight. However, what the book does seek to do is to give you more of yourself, not with a sudden force but in a gradual, systematic fashion, a little bit every day. What it does essentially promise is a new you, a transformed you. While many authors and management thinkers have addressed change management, in The Power to Transform author Chris Majer addresses a more vital process. Unlike change, which refers to adaptation and reaction, without necessarily involving any newness of being, transformation involves much more than mere adaptation to outer manipulation. Majer takes a step backward and analyzes the very heart of all transformation - the human being. He asks a critical question about human existence. What if you could design your future instead of having it just happen to you? The Power to Transform acknowledges and addresses the thin line between reacting to life and shaping your own life. It simplifies and teaches you the strategies that corporate, military and sports leaders have used to translate positive energy flowing from the center into a new, creative power. Having designed large scale transformational programs for the US Army and Marine Corps, Amgen, AT&T, Microsoft, Intel, Allianz and Capital One, and a host of others successfully for over two decades, Majer has now come up with his fantastic tailor made program for you, the individual. With his novel ideas, he clarifies many fundamental misconceptions. For instance, Majer points out that learning is not about 'knowing and understanding'. It is the development of 'embodied competence', the ability to take new actions without having to stop and think. Thus, the book successfully creates new approaches in the mind of the reader, which it reinforces through the task based assignments at the end of each chapter. Majer's assignments are not just an exercise to be put on your 'to do' list and forgotten about. Rather, they are interesting, compelling and encourage out of the box thinking. For instance one task requires reading a different newspaper everyday for identifying complete assertions so as to understand how language shapes reality. The book works into your psyche unconsciously gripping your everyday habits that you never before took note of. It is simple. You read. You practice. You learn and you grow. The most innovative feature at the heart of these authentic learning practices is Majer's suggestion of completing these assignments with a partner. It keeps you motivated and on your toes! While Majer's The Power to Transform sets new precedents for self-help books, the success of these innovative methods is largely contingent upon how you put them to practise. Though the broad guidelines are impeccable, when you actually get down to applying them, there are many 'enemies of learning' you will need to fight. For a relatively less bumpy ride into moving out of your comfort zone, I suggest careful and frequent reading of chapter two 'How to Use this book'. Like much of Majer's book, this chapter is a jewel in itself, the shining star that will guide you to a transformed you!
KLOM More than 1 year ago
Like a lot of people, I have spent time and money on books and programs that promised big results in terms of changing my life but didn't deliver much in the way of RESULTS. I was a bit skeptical when I saw another one, but this is something completely new. While I am just getting into it - it is already obvious that Chris Majer has an entirely new and much more effective way to develop people. His record with athletes, soldiers, and corporate types is very impressive and he clearly knows what he is talking about. What I find especially powerful is the website he has set up for this book http://www.thepowertotransform.net/p2t.php I signed up right away and I'm here to tell you: it is a whole new way of learning for me. It's VERY helpful, motivating, user-friendly & is really keeping me on track. You can work on your own or you can work as a member of a team. You can even create a team of specific people. I will have more to say when I get through the entire process but my first impressions are very positive as I believe this is a powerful innovation.