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Author's Perspective with Brian Biro

March 1, 2011

On February 28, Brian D. Biro visited Averett University as part of Averett's Authors on Campus series. Biro, a renowned motivational speaker and leadership coach, is the author of "Beyond Success: The 15 Secrets of a Winning Life!" and "Through the Eyes of a Coach: The New Vision for Parenting, Leading, Loving and Living!" as well as five other books. Biro spent a few minutes before his discussion talking with Randy King, Averett's director of marketing and communications.

Q. In your work you help people find their "breakthrough" moment. What would you define as your breakthrough moment?

A. The one that strikes me the strongest was a moment when I was alone, at what was probably the most down moment of my life. I've always been a pretty happy person, but I was just getting ready to graduate from college and I was really down on myself. I drove off by myself, behind the Stanford campus, and I took out a pen and paper and I was writing down what a rotten guy I was, you know. And that didn't do much good. And then I started to get more constructive, and really began to think about what is it that is making me feel so empty or alone? And I realized clearly that my whole life I had been living very much by comparison. What I mean is that I evaluated myself by how other people looked at me. I had a very strong need for approval.

I realized that day that as long as you are driven by a need for approval, you're probably never going to feel good enough inside. The transformation - the breakthrough moment - was really a difference between two words. That day I realized that my whole life I had been living to be "The best." No matter what I was doing, I had to beat everybody else. It was never good enough, it was never fulfilling; I was not a lot of fun. The transformation came that day when I realized the transformation was from "the" to "my," and I started to focus more on simply being fulfilled through being "My best." No longer did I have to look outside. This breakthrough allowed me to strive to learn and grow for what it felt like inside, instead of worrying so much about what other people thought.

Q. What are the top one or two things that you see most frequently holding people back from achieving what they want to achieve?

A. The first is the one that was my breakthrough moment: a lot of people are crippled by a need for approval. Again, when you understand who you are, and evaluate yourself on the basis of comparison to everybody else; when you are driven by the need to receive - it's really difficult to know yourself. That's a huge one - get beyond the need for approval.

Ultimately, there are two factors. There is fear and there is love. Fear is what holds us back in some form, whether it's fear of not receiving approval or of losing control, of failure, of success - fear manifests itself in different emotions and behaviors. Ultimately when I talk about breaking through, it's about breaking through fear. It is the main thing that holds us back.

The last thing is the concept of being completely present. So many people spend so much of their time either going back over the past or worrying about the future that they miss the present. When you are fully present with other people, it makes them feel like they're important, it makes them feel like they're significant. The same is true with yourself. And when you're not present, it makes others feel worth less. To me, a lot of people could enhance the quality of their lives by being 100 percent present. That means that all of your mind, body and spirit is completely where you are at that moment.

Q. Our tagline at Averett is: Big Dreams BOLD FUTURES. What advice do you have for college students or those about to graduate, for going after their big dreams?

A. The first is to recognize the importance of vision. By that I mean that what you focus on is what you create. If you focus on the obstacle or what could go wrong, it will draw to you magnetically. So, as you're focusing on those big dreams, focus on them as if they are real right now. Focus on the possibility rather than the limits.

Secondly, take personal responsibility. If you live from a place that says if it's to be it's up to me, you won't feel that people are pulling your big dreams away from you. You constantly look at what you can do, how can you adjust your path? You avoid blame, which is crippling, or potentially giving up because you think that everything outside of you is controlling you.

Whether it's true or not, it's a very empowering place to be. As soon as you focus on the things that you can control rather than all the things that you cannot control, you generate a lot more momentum in your life. It's the best way to turn a downward spiral into an upward spiral, because now you're doing something and that leads to the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing.

Another thing I would say to young people about to go out and take on this world: understand that your energy is a choice. To everyone we touch, our energy is who we are. When you understand that your energy is a choice and that you can cultivate a higher level of consistent energy, you have such an opportunity to make a difference, to move in the direction of your dreams.

Lastly, at this point in a college student's life they are probably focused largely on themselves, because their whole life is about to change and they wonder what is next. But I'd say, spend at least a little time each day in gratitude. Really be grateful for all the gifts you have been given. Be grateful for the opportunity to go to college. Be grateful equally for the obstacles in your way. Because often times when you look back, you realize, whoa! Those are the things that really helped me grow the most. It was not the stuff that came really easy. If you live with an attitude of gratitude, it opens your eyes to possibilities rather than limits.

So, energy, gratitude and remembering that what you focus on is what you create when it comes to vision. If you have those three things going, it will make a big difference - to prospective employers, to your coworkers once you're hired, to potential customers if you decide to start your own business. Believe me; they will be more excited about you based on your energy, your presence and your gratitude than they will be about anything else.

Authors on Campus

Averett's Authors on Campus series is a component of the University's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Reading Critically for Success. The series is facilitated by Dr. Stephen Hecox, director of the writing center and assistant professor.

Click here to read the Author's Perspective with Marc Wortman, author of "The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta" and "The Millionaires' Unit: The Aristocratic Flyboys Who Fought the Great War and Invented American Air Power."