I learned about the powerful concept of Be, Do, Have several years ago.
Most of us think we need to have a certain things (more money, love, time, experience, etc.), so that we can finally do what we truly want to do (go for a promotion, pursue our passion, start a business, go on vacation, create a relationship, buy a home, etc.), in order to be what we truly want to be (peaceful, successful, fulfilled, inspired, generous, in love, etc.). In actuality, it works the other way around.
When we focus on being what we want (joyful, confident, abundant, accomplished, and more), we can start doing things from this powerful state of being – and soon we discover that what we’re doing winds up bringing us the things we’ve always wanted to have.
Whether or not this concept is new to you and even if on the surface it may seem either counter-intuitive or confusing (or both), it’s actually life-altering when we really get it and practice it in our lives.
I have personally experienced the profound impact of living in alignment with this Be, Do, Have paradigm – although sometimes I forget, don’t trust it, or simply assume it can’t really work like this.
Over the past few years while dealing with lots of challenges and uncertainty, I’ve seen myself fall into a familiar, but unhealthy pattern. Sometimes when I get stressed or anxious, I go unconscious, hunker down, and try to grind things out – assuming that if I just work harder, make things happen, and get on top of my long to-do list, everything will work out. This usually doesn’t work so well, and it can be exhausting.
In addition, in the midst of my hustling and fear, the cynic in me comes out and says, “All of this psychobabble is meaningless – it’s really all about discipline, focus, and luck.”
Maybe you relate to this?
Well, as I’ve learned throughout my life, being cynical and resigned (two states of being I’m not a huge fan of but seem to have quite a bit of experience with), doesn’t usually help us manifest our dreams or live in a state of fulfillment, gratitude, or peace.
Making our most important goals happen is supposed to be hard, painful, and dramatic, right? Well, maybe it doesn’t have to be.
Living in alignment with the principle of Be, Do, Have
What if we were able to live in alignment with this powerful principle of Be, Do, Have more of the time? What if we remembered that we have the capacity to experience any state of being at any time – not just when things work out perfectly or we achieve exactly what we’re after.
There’s nothing wrong with us pursuing our dreams with passion. However, when we erroneously think that the accomplishment of any particular goal will give us what we truly want to have in life, we delude ourselves and set ourselves up for failure, disappointment, and pain.
Remembering to focus on how we truly want to be creates the context for how we think, feel, and act (some of the key raw materials for how we ultimately create our reality) which gives us access to what we’re really after.
We don’t have to suffer and struggle as much as we do, we actually have the capacity to live our life with a true sense of elegance (the deeper meaning of this word is not about the appearance of something but is about being able to put forth a small amount of focused effort, and manifest an abundant result).
How to remember and practice being who we want to be
Here are a few things we can do to practice being who and how we want to be in life.
1. Think of one of your biggest goals right now.
What is it that you think the accomplishment of this goal will bring you (i.e. fulfillment, joy, abundance, peace, success, freedom, etc.)
2. Start embodying the state of being that you assume will come from the accomplishment of this goal now.
For example, you may start being joyful. It’s not about “faking it,” it’s about authentically embodying the desired state of being you truly want in your life.
3. From this state of being, think and talk about the kinds of specific actions you might want to take.
Allow yourself to sit with this for a while, don’t be in too much of a hurry. If you really give yourself permission to come from this empowered state of being, the actions will start to show up with ease and your ability to both take them and allow them to work will increase exponentially.
4. Have fun with this, get support, and know that you will probably trip and fall along the way.
As we’ve all heard many times, but it is important to reiterate here, we are human beings, not human doings. When we remember this, our life can really take off in a profound and fulfilling way.
Feel free to leave a comment, question, or response to this post in the comments section.
Mike Robbins is the author of five books, including his latest, We’re All in This Together: Creating a Team Culture of High Performance, Trust, and Belonging. He’s a thought leader and sought-after speaker whose clients include Google, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Schwab, eBay, Genentech, the Oakland A’s, and many others.
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This article was originally published in October 2009 and updated for 2023.