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How to unlock your inner genius: PAUL MCKENNA explains how to overcome the psychological limitations that are holding you back, supercharge your confidence and achieve success

  • The Mail is serialising Paul McKenna’s new book Success For Life: The Secret To Achieving Your True Potential 

In the first two parts of our brilliant exclusive series based on Paul McKenna’s book Success For Life: The Secret To Achieving Your True Potential, he revealed how you can think yourself more successful with easy techniques to reprogram the brain. He also helped you reconnect with the happy, joyful person you were born to be while showing you how to remove the energy vampires that drain happiness out of your life.

Today, in the final part of our series, Paul McKenna reveals how easy it is to access your inner genius.

We all have an inner genius. Yet, if I asked you right now: ‘What are you truly brilliant at?’ chances are you would struggle to give me a firm answer.

American psychologist Gay Hendricks calls this ‘The Upper Limit Problem’. It’s effectively a self-applied glass ceiling that curbs your true potential – and something even hugely successful people often don’t realise they are doing.

Today, in the final extract from my new book Success for Life: The Secret to Achieving Your True Potential, I will help you shake loose self-limiting ideas by showing you how to find your own inner genius. That way, you can start reaching for a life that is richer, bigger and better than you have ever allowed yourself to imagine.

Paul McKenna can help you shake loose self-limiting ideas by showing you how to find your own inner genius

Paul McKenna can help you shake loose self-limiting ideas by showing you how to find your own inner genius

Nobody thought a human could run a four-minute mile, until Englishman Roger Bannister did it in 1954. Within 13 months, another six athletes had achieved the remarkable feat

Nobody thought a human could run a four-minute mile, until Englishman Roger Bannister did it in 1954. Within 13 months, another six athletes had achieved the remarkable feat 

One of my favourite examples of breaking an upper limit problem is the four-minute mile – something that experts said for years the human body was simply not capable of doing.

Yet Sir Roger Bannister did it in 1954.

As part of his training, he visualised the achievement. He mentally prepared himself for success. And he deliberately avoided knowing his running times before the big event, instead choosing to harness the power of belief.

What’s really interesting is that within 13 months of his historic race, a further six athletes also broke the four-minute mile. To date, more than 1,650 athletes have accomplished what was once thought to sit beyond the limits of human capability.

So, what changed for so many people to break through that glass ceiling? It’s clearly not that humanity in the space of just over a year became much more physically fit. It’s because others gained self-belief that they too could achieve it, because someone else had proved it was possible.

A story often told about the brilliant inventor Thomas Edison also illustrates the power of self-belief and harnessing your inner genius. Edison created the incandescent light bulb and the motion picture camera as well as improving the telephone. Yet he barely attended school.

One day, the story goes, he took a letter home to his mum Nancy from his teacher. When he asked her what it contained she told him it said: ‘Your son is a genius’ and that he was so clever that she needed to teach him herself.

Which is what she then did.

After his mother died, Edison reportedly found that letter among her personal papers. Instead of containing what she’d claimed, it apparently said he was ‘addled’ – a term used in those days for a lack of clarity of the mind – and he was expelled from school.

But because Edison’s mother had told him he was a genius, she installed self-belief. He wasn’t limited by the beliefs of his former teacher, and instead harnessed his inner genius and went on to achieve astonishing success.

Inventor Thomas Edison, whose mother told him a teacher had called him a 'genius' who should be home-schooled, when in fact the teacher had called him 'addled' and expelled him

Inventor Thomas Edison, whose mother told him a teacher had called him a ‘genius’ who should be home-schooled, when in fact the teacher had called him ‘addled’ and expelled him

Both Edison and Bannister harnessed their inner genius by either ignoring or being oblivious to the perceived limitations on their chances of success.

For you to do the same, you need to think outside the box about yourself and your capabilities.

A few years ago, when I was feeling a bit stuck in life, my friend, life coach and fellow author Michael Neill got me to do a version of what Gay Hendricks calls The Four Zones of Genius exercise.

He drew four squares and in the first one in the top right-hand corner he asked me to put something I was really bad at. In the bottom right square he asked me to put something I wasn’t particularly good or bad at; in the bottom left-hand corner, I put something I was good at and in the top left I put something I was totally brilliant at.

This takes you, in increments, into the sudden realisation that you are actually great at something. That, in turn, propels you towards your true potential by installing self-belief.

Through the years, I’ve done this process with people from all walks of life, including super achievers. Everyone gets to recognise that they are really brilliant at something and often it’s an attribute they had previously taken for granted.

Once you discover yours, it will supercharge your confidence and help you to spiral upwards towards ever increasing success.

Step into your role model to find the genius in you

People often tell me that they struggle to let go of some of the limiting beliefs that are holding them back. You might feel the same way.

If so, it helps to reduce their importance in your own mind. Try to think of them merely as minor glitches in the computer software that is your brain.

In other words, something that can easily be resolved with a bit of basic reprogramming, in the same way you would fix a computer.

Paul McKenna says you should step into the life of someone who is already an ultra-achiever, such as Beyonce or Lionel Messi

Paul McKenna says you should step into the life of someone who is already an ultra-achiever, such as Beyonce or Lionel Messi

A super quick way of doing that is the apply the following technique, which gets you to step into the life of someone who is already an ultra-achiever.

It needs to be someone who is living an optimal life you’d like to emulate. Through visualisation, you can empower yourself with their attributes.

Perhaps, for you, that’s the brilliant artist and performer, Beyonce. Or it could be a football genius such as Lionel Messi. Or a fantastic role model such as Sir David Attenborough.

It doesn’t matter if you know them or not, they simply have to be a model of excellence. It doesn’t even have to be someone famous, it could be your Aunty Gladys, if she is the person whose life you’d love to live.

Borrowing from a confident role model

1. Think of someone who operates at their true potential, or close to it.

2. Now imagine them standing in front of you.

3. Next, imagine stepping into them and see the world through their eyes, hear their internal dialogue and feel how they feel.

4. Notice where they feel best in their body and as you feel that, experience it for yourself.

5. Next, give that good feeling a colour.

6. Now imagine spreading that good feeling up to the top of your head and down to the tip of your toes.

7. Now double the brightness of the colour.

8. Now, while you are in this peak state of mind and body, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together and hold them together while you feel this good. Do this several times to create a strong associational link.

Experiencing your true potential

Having stepped into the mindset of a super achiever, I now want you to step into the new you using the following exercise, which will enable you to see, feel and hear what it’s like to achieve your full potential.

1. Imagine a cinema screen in front of you and imagine a movie is playing featuring the new you – a version of yourself that is operating at your true potential, or close to it.

2. Notice your posture, the expression on your face, the light behind your eyes, the sound of your voice, the way you gesture, connect with others, everything that lets you know you are in an amazing state of mind and body.

3. Now, float over and into that new you on the screen.

4. See through the eyes of your true potential self, hear your internal dialogue and feel how good it feels to be in this amazing state of mind and body.

5. Notice the area where you feel best in your body.

6. Next, give that good feeling a colour.

7. Now imagine spreading that good feeling up to the top of your head and down to the tip of your toes.

8. Now double the brightness of the colour.

Repeat this exercise two more times and then, while you are in a peak state of mind and body, do the anchoring move I showed you in the first part of this series. This means squeezing your thumb and middle finger together and holding them together while you are at the peak of your positive mindset.

Pause in order to fully experience and cement those amazing feelings that you want to anchor. Do this several times to create a strong associational link.

The power of rest

When you think of a truly successful person, it’s easy to imagine that they are the sort who never rests – that their efforts have to be endless in order for them to achieve their goals.

But actually, allowing your consciousness to ebb and flow – at times sharp and focused, at others drifting and free – throughout the course of the day can actually result in you achieving more of what you strive for in life.

There’s actual science behind this. Most people are aware of the circadian rhythm, which is our sleep and wake cycle. But there is also a second cycle called the ultradian rhythm, which is just as important.

Discovering your best self

Grab a pen and answer the following questions:

1. How would your life be if you were achieving more of your true potential?

2. How would your mental and physical health be?

3. How would your relationships be?

4. How would your career be?

5. How would your finances be?

6. How happy would you feel?

Visualising the new, empowered you has taken you a step closer to reality. It will help you to manifest a richer life filled with more joy, purpose, passion and fulfilment.

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The word ‘ultradian’ means ‘many times a day’, which is the key to understanding it. This is a natural cycle of rest and alertness that occurs roughly every 90 minutes – tapping into it can give you a healing, restorative break, which in turn boosts physical, mental and emotional health.

One of the problems with modern life is that we don’t recognise the value of our ultradian rhythm. Many people override this message from their body that it’s time to relax a little. Instead, they have another cup of coffee, or they try even harder to concentrate.

Recently, a team of sleep researchers at the Paris Brain Institute, asked 103 volunteers to complete a series of maths problems.

They discovered that those who took mini naps and who reached a sweet spot of sleep onset (where they were in the zone between being awake and asleep) were nearly three times more likely to solve maths problems than those who didn’t.

That ‘in between’ phase was like a creative trigger and led to Eureka moments of genius.

There are times, of course, such as when you are driving or operating machinery, or when you need to meet an important deadline, when you must override it.

But if it’s safe and appropriate to do so, once or twice a day – maybe during a lunch break at work, or just after the kids have gone to bed – when you find yourself daydreaming, you should try to let go and just go with it. It takes about 15 minutes for the body and brain to relax and replenish its energy stores. 

So, next time you find yourself daydreaming, allow your thoughts to slow down and relax into the sweet, soft feeling as your muscles un-tense. Soon, a mini trance-like state will develop; you may even slide into a power nap. Just let your mind wander, and it will be like a battery recharge and a natural reset.

Trust me, you’ll come out of this reverie thinking clearly and feeling mentally reinvigorated. And your inner genius will thank you for it.

Open your mind to possibility

Ask yourself: ‘What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?’

That’s the same question I posed to myself more than 30 years ago, when I was a successful radio DJ. And it changed my life.

At the time, I loved my job but I still had this nagging feeling that something was missing from my life. I knew I wanted something more, but I lacked the self-belief to throw in the towel and change direction.

Then, through my radio work, I met a hypnotist and saw first-hand the potential it had for helping people as a tool for positive change. This blew my mind.

Paul McKenna dreamed of being a hypnotist on TV - and achieved it

Paul McKenna dreamed of being a hypnotist on TV – and achieved it

I asked myself that question – what would I do if I couldn’t fail. Then I let my mind dream up a fantastic life for myself.

That’s when I decided I’d love to be a TV hypnotist on television. And that I wanted to make self-improvement tapes (there was no streaming back then), travel the world and work with amazing people including rock stars, movie icons, athletes and CEOs.

As you can see, I didn’t apply any sort of limits to my imaginings – there was no glass ceiling getting in the way.

By really interrogating myself, I was able to dream big. For the first time in my life, I worked out what I truly wanted. Then I devised a strategy to make it happen and I acted on it.

I went on to make my dream a reality – and if I can do that, then anyone can.

So, now stop for a few moments and ask yourself the same question I did.

Answer it by using the following prompts. The more specific you are, the better. Many people find that it helps to write this down and return to it later so it can inspire them. It will also evolve over time.

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Success For Life: The Secret To Achieving Your True Potential by Paul McKenna (Welbeck Publishing Group, £14.99). © Paul McKenna 2024. To order a copy for £13.49 (offer valid to 17/02/24; UK P&P free on orders over £25) go to www.mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937. 

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