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“I left the legislature in 2002 after serving 2 years as Caucus Chairman, 9 years as Minority Leader and 7 years as Speaker of the House.  Look what the two of you helped start. …Good luck Rick in your run for the legislature. You will be outstanding.” 

Former State Representative Clyde Ballard
(E. Wenatchee, Washington)

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Paid for by "Rick Olson -
The Voice for the People"
525 Judd Road
Saline, MI 48176

Powerful Personal Development Influences in My Life

In 1988, I participated in a very powerful personal development program, delivered by Context Trainings. During the first part, the Pursuit of Excellence, one of the modules was designed for us to identify our “ineffectives” – the “truths”, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that got in the way of us getting what we want to achieve. One of the things I identified was outbursts of yelling in anger at my youngest son, Kirk, then age 10. I wasn’t physically abusive, but he sure could pull my chain. I realized that what I really wanted with Kirk was a closer relationship, and that my reacting to his behavior was creating the opposite of what I wanted.

The Power of Awareness

One of the concepts we were taught was that we have a choice of how we act in response to a stimulus - that we don’t have to follow the ingrained habits or patterns of the past. We can choose a different action, if that different action is more likely to achieve what we want. The wonderful result of this learning was that several times after that awareness raising, I could feel the old anger rising with Kirk, but chose a more productive response than yelling (except once, yes, I slipped once). The result was a closer relationship between us over time. Wow, just being aware was enough to cause a change. This is just one example of how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be successful, but this was without therapy.

After the Pursuit of Excellence, I attended the four and a half day retreat in the mountains that was called The Wall. Two of the days we could not speak at all, except for a 2 minute period each in the morning. We went through numerous exercises designed to reveal to ourselves what was important to us – what had to be there for us to feel like we were successful, with the goal to write our “Definition of Success” before we left. We could then use this Definition of Success to make clear choices thereafter in many situations. During that introspective time, while thinking back to my childhood, two epiphanies struck me.

The first was that subconsciously, I did not expect to live long. Of us six kids, people always said that I was the most like my Dad, who died at age 56 when I was two and a half months old. I was his height, the only one of the kids to reach that, with the others significantly influenced by Mom’s gene, with her 4’11”. When I was in high school, I wrote out an ideal “life plan”, but in 1988, I realized that plan never went past age 40. I had lived my life on a fast track, graduating from high school at 17, graduating from Michigan State in three years and a summer semester, finishing my Ph.D. coursework at UC, Davis in two years, etc. I walked fast, talked fast, and was always looking how to do things more quickly and efficiently. It came as a shock to me that subconsciously I just did not expect to live long, and if I was going to accomplish anything, it had to happen quickly. That drove me to be impatient. Again, just that realization has allowed me to be more patient, no longer being driven by the subconscious thoughts I was not even aware of. It is a good thing us humans evolved to have the power of self-awareness, to have meta-cognition, to be able to think about our thinking, an ability other animals probably don’t have.

The second realization at the Wall was that although I had convinced myself that growing up on welfare and fatherless did not bother me, subconsciously I had a negative self image. The strange thing was that I realized that the negative self-image manifested itself when I got up to speak in public. I had taken the Dale Carnegie Course and had been in Toastmasters for 9 years, getting up to go to meetings with 5 different clubs over the years to become a better speaker, had served (poorly) as an attorney in several trials while in the private practice of law, and had many, many speaking opportunities up to that point, and I still umm, well, I sucked. However, again after the realization hit me, I was not nervous speaking at the Wall, and have not been nervous in front of a group since, not even when speaking to about 2500 one time. The change was miraculous.

The power of the negative self-image was confirmed when I next went home to the Upper Peninsula. Previously in my infrequent trips to my boyhood home area (none of my immediate family lived there any longer), I never felt good - just kind of uneasy feeling. After the Wall, the next time I went home, that feeling did not come over me. Hmm, so that was what was going on the other times, without my knowing just what was happening. The subconscious just was not comfortable back at home.

Growing Connections With My Boys - With Miraculous Results (biography continued)

Get to know me

My Life Looked at Through a Different Lens

The Beginnings

The Importance of Education: The Huge Potential in All of Us

Mom’s Mental Toughness and What Rubbed Off On Me

Connections To Positive Psychology

My Meandering Career – What’s It All About?

A Formula for Success (a short story of my climb of Mt. McKinley)

One Last Story, but Not About Me