Michel Fortin: No, I think if you want to look at optimism in the best way is to look at it as an educational process. Learning is part of it… sitting down with people, talking with them, spending time with them, reading books, spending your time on learning as much as you possibly can.
You will be able to go down the right road. Fast or slow doesn't matter and that's not optimism. That's just being. That's just following your conscience. That's just being a realist. It's not being a pessimist. It's not being optimist. It's probably an optimal point of looking at it, an optimal point or way to look at things, but it's not necessarily optimistic.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you think it takes courage to pursue new ideas?
It absolutely takes courage. You know courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to take risks when there is fear. As the old saying goes for people who, like speakers when they speak onstage, they say you'll never be able to get rid of those butterflies. Your job is to make those butterflies dance in formation and that is courage.
Ralph Zuranski: How important is prayer?
Michel Fortin: If I pray to any one God or any one Spirit or any one process in this world, I pray for three major things strength, courage and wisdom. I pray for the strength to be able to do what is necessary, the courage to be able to go ahead and do it, the courage to be able to also accept defeat when you need to accept defeat, and wisdom.
Exactly, that's the prayer of serenity that they use for example in “Alcoholics' Anonymous,” And that's the most beautiful prayer in the world because then you have the wisdom to know the difference, the wisdom to know what to do, when to do it, how to do it, who to say it to, at what time, and when not to do things, when to shut up, when to stop yourself from doing things that you shouldn't be doing and stuff like that. So to me courage, yeah, that's it, absolutely.
If you have a new idea, you're always pushing the envelope in every day of your life because you're always growing and evolving. The problem is are you going to be pushing it by a millimeter today or are you going to be pushing it by a yard. And that takes courage. It also takes courage to realize that in the first place, not just the courage to do it. That takes strength but to me courage is absolutely necessary, absolutely.
Ralph Zuranski: Do you think that in the process of pursuing new ideas and using that courage that you're going to experience discomfort in the pursuit of your dreams?
Michel Fortin: Well, absolutely. It's going through life. If you're ever going to do something, you have to take the goods and the bads with it. The good will outweigh the bad, of course, but there will always be bad. There's always going to be discomfort.
Here's the point. If you do what you love. If you do something that you have zest and passion for and you're so fully absorbed in the process, you tend to not even think of the discomfort even though you are actually feeling it. Your body is feeling it. If I'm doing something that I love I'm going to finish this because it's important.
If I do something that I love, the discomfort level will be on the back burner in my mind, although it will always be there. Yanni, a very famous composer who writes New Age-type music, he's like me in a certain way. Whenever he writes a whole CD or a new song or even a new kind of symphony, he locks himself in his room for two, three weeks at a time. He forgets to bathe. He forgets to eat. He forgets to sleep, because he is so engrossed in the moment.
Discomfort, yes, but are you actually focused on your discomfort? No, if you do something you love, then you'll have a chance to look at all the things that are uncomfortable, drudgery, perfunctory or even painful, as things that are important to you. They're part of something that gives you purpose. You will turn the important into the urgent.
You will turn the discomfort into comfort. It's a natural, physical knee-jerk reaction. I can't really express it well enough in words. Essentially you'll be able to turn the uncomfortable into the comfort. Or you'll be able to accept or have a tolerance level higher if you were doing something you absolutely love because that purpose drives you. Everything that happens to you, that may be bad or may make you uncomfortable, is so in the back of your mind, you just trudge along. You will be going wherever you want to go.
Ralph Zuranski: How important is the belief that your dreams will actually become reality?
Michel Fortin: First of all it is extremely important, but it's not important to the degree that you might think. I don't feel people should believe that their dreams become reality because belief is something you can't change on a whim. How can you believe something that you don't believe?
Can you force yourself to believe in something? Can you believe in your dream? No, you can't. It's not something you can change on a whim. If I don't like asparagus today, do I have to force myself to like asparagus? No, I mean, I can't change the way I feel. If I don't believe in my dreams today, I can't switch it just like with one flick of a switch and say, “I'm believing in my dream,” but here's the difference.
If I have dreams and I do tiny little things that will make me consciously purposeful every single day as I head towards my dreams, the more and more this internal switch will flick on for you, not only to believe in your dreams but to know that your dreams will become reality. And there's a big difference between belief and knowing.
Ralph Zuranski: That's a profound point. When you are trying to achieve your dreams there's a tremendous amount of doubts and fears. And, a lot of people in your life will try to crush your dream because they don't want you to change for fear of having to change themselves. How did you overcome your doubts and fears?
Michel Fortin: By journaling is the one way. The other point is to always constantly listen to yourself. Be true to your own self. You know, to thine own self be true, in Shakespeare's “Hamlet.” And the one thing that you have to understand is, this is absolutely so true.
I don't mean to proselytize for any religion. And I don't mean to sound religious, but we are all like Jesus, where we're crucified between two thieves, tomorrow and yesterday… in other words, fear and guilt.
The fear of what's going to happen tomorrow and the guilt of what happened in the past, they are always gonna be. But, like Jesus, he was true to himself. He did what he needed to do. If you have fears and you have doubts, that's perfectly fine as long as you realize that the more focused you are on yourself the more you let the “inner you” tell you what to do, guide you in what you're doing.
Michel Fortin: The more you write to yourself as much as even talking to other people about how you feel about certain things, that is learning process that will give you the ammunition to destroy lack and limitation.
There's also another thing. I know, I think it's the most important. The greatest creator of fear is a low self esteem. Any lack and limitation in your life that are there, you know. They're not just lack and limitations, because they exist. They're lack and limitations because you believe they are lack and limitations.
The only way to circumvent, to overcome, to destroy those fears, at least to reduce it, is to increase the belief that you have in your own self. The more you work on your own self-esteem, the more you have confidence in yourself.
The more you work on having confidence in yourself, all the other fears and all the things that are destroying or attempting to destroy the things that are good to you in your life, the things that you want to do in your life, will almost dissipate by themselves. The reason is because you've become a bigger believer in the best thing that ever happened in this world, and that's you.
Ralph Zuranski: Well, is there anybody that helped give you the willpower to change things in your life for the better?
Michel Fortin: Well, like I said, whenever I grew up, I had a mentor. And I'll tell you one thing that really had the most profound impact in my life. He kept telling me every single day and it may not sound profound, but he said, “turn off the tape recorder”. Okay? Now, let me explain what that means. I was a salesman and as I grew up and I was trying to make sales. I had fears and doubts but a lot of times it was because I was saying that to my self.
There was a tape recorder in my mind that kept telling me, “I'm stupid. I'm a failure. I don't. I'll never amount to much. I will always. I'm going to fail. This is not for me. This is too lofty of an ambition for me. Or, this is impossible for me to reach! Blah, blah, blah.”
My mentor sometimes he would just look at me and I wouldn't even say a word. He would look at me and say, “Turn the tape recorder off, Mike”.
Michel Fortin: And that is the most profound thing that I've ever, ever been taught because we all have tape recorders in our minds. We do become what we think about. You reap what you sow.
If you think you're a failure, if you think that you will fail, if you think that you're not good enough or whatever, then you are. You are what you think! And, a big philosophy that I go by is by the Latin philosopher Rene Descartes. In 1637 he said, “I think, therefore I am”. If you think you're a failure, you are!
If you're thinking you're a success, you are. So that thing that my mentor kept telling me, “turn the tape recorder off” is just a very modern way to look at it. But it's so true! And, that has changed my life.
Ralph Zuranski: How important is it to forgive others who upset, offend or oppose you?
Michel Fortin: Ralph, did you now that forgiveness is a very selfish thing? Did you know that actually forgiving is not because you're doing it for the other person? You, you know, forgiveness is probably the most selfish act you could ever do. And it's a good selfish act because when you forgive you are releasing all the tension, all the bad stuff that you're holding on to that's going to cause you great problems, great turmoil.
If you forgive and you let go, it's unbelievable the release that you get in your life. I used to be stubborn. I would look at each person and the person who would do me wrong. I would be stubborn enough to say, “I hate that person and I'll never talk to that person again.” But who's really being hurt here?
Now, I'm doing it because I'm thinking that I don't want to give the person either the pleasure of my forgiveness or I just don't want to show the person I'm really mad at that person.
Once you forgive, you let go. Guess whose life is going to be more enriched? Both of yours, of course, but the most important person is you. So forgiveness is extremely important because the more you forgive the more you can let go rid of all the nasty stuff and start working on the good stuff in your life.
Ralph Zuranski: How important is service to others as a source of joy? Do you find joy in serving others?
Michel Fortin is a senior marketing specialist, renowned copywriter, and digital marketing expert. For the better part of 30 years, he's produced countless successful marketing communications and profitable campaigns that generated in excess of $300 million in sales. He's broken many industry sales records, including being instrumental behind the first ever “million-dollar day” online marketing campaign in 2004. He's worked with thousands of businesses and entrepreneurs around the world in a wide variety of industries on building their businesses, improving their marketing, and increasing their profits. He's a published author and often speaks at industry events. To connect with him, visit his LinkedIn profile where he is most active.