Wednesday, August 8, 2007

It's Simple. Right?

I've been watching a certain video (which shall remain nameless), purporting to have The Answer to every desire of every upright ape on this chunk of rock we call "Earth". I had my doubts from the start, and they were confirmed within a few minutes of pressing "play".

All these self-realization videos, books and lectures have one thing in common. They all simply tell you what's possible. They leave out the percentage of achievement. Otherwise, someone would be missing a financial opportunity. It's an area I, at one time, thought about getting into: whip a crowd into a frenzy, get them to think they're discovering something previously untapped, and sign the book at the exit (with warm regards and a handshake for that new life). $100 a head for the crowd, figure another $40 milked in book and paraphernalia sales, averaging 500 per session, and paying out, say, $3000 for a hall for 2 hours...equals $67,000 in receipts, minus other expenses. Even if I had to get endorsements, my take-home would have been well over $50K for 120 minutes work.

That, my readers, is the real scoop on how to achieve your dreams, IF you have no conscience about the reality that the information, the uplift, the show that you're selling is all available for free. I chose not to take such a route for myself. But some of you might. Hey, the money's good.

Being successful is a combination of many things. Edison said, "Genius is 1% Inspiration, and 99% Perspiration". Persistence is the most common element of success. We have all seen people rise in their chosen field because they become the only one left standing. They don't change jobs much, they show up every day, and they work longer hours spent, not idly, but in practice of and further learning about one's skills.

As we see, another facet of success branches from Persistence, and that is Education. The more you know, the more you can know. True education isn't entirely of the classroom or the text. You have to use what you know as often as possible, to gain proficiency and become expert. To become a better programmer, I didn't just read about code, I wrote it. I learned what commands or compositions worked, and could change and test things. Likewise, you don't get to be a good mechanic by looking at diagrams, nor a good partner in bed by being asexual.

Two aspects of success that could be tied to some metaphysical system remain. The first is Luck. We can define luck as avoidance of obstacles. The higher the percentage, the more "luck" we can assess. Some think we make our own luck; I prefer the thought that synchronicity is tangible and event-driven. If the "event" is you stepping out of your car at the same moment that, directly above, a piano is hurtling from its prior residence on the eighth floor,'s not only tangible, it's fatal. Some have defined luck as the meeting of planning with opportunity. Sometimes, yes, but you can't plan for everything. Elsewise, there'd be no odds at Churchill Downs, nor statements about Iraqis tossing flowers at invasion forces.

The other other-worldly handle on success is Opportunity. Some philosophers divine that we create Opportunity through presence. Unfortunately, financial, spiritual or other Opportunities reside outside my cube for about 9 hours a day. Some we can make up for, so to speak. Others are permanently lost to us. If given the Opportunity to cash in the winning Mega-lotto ticket, I will; yet, I don't expect I'll be in the lottery office to pick up my check presently.

In the end, the only path that leads to success on any level is one that has a Beginning and and End. It's never a straight line, and the outcomes are never guaranteed. One must believe in the successful endgame, but must also be willing to sacrifice time, put forth honest effort, and never assume that it will pan out. The failures will begin to amass in the basement of your life. But if you have your house in order, those failures will never see the light of day again except as reminders of what not to do again.

In conclusion, for no particular reason, I leave you with an anecdotal short story about walking the path.

Many years back, a young man fresh out of school joined a large company with the aim of rising within as high as possible. He was given a minor position which he used as a springboard to achieve greater income and responsibility. Eventually, he had a hand in cost estimation. On one project, he made a mistake in calculation, which cost the company almost a million dollars.

Dejected, he typed up his letter of resignation, and walked to his boss' office to give notice in lieu of dismissal. His boss, seeing him step in, asked him to sit down.

He told him, "I've looked at the week's activities and saw the recent problem. We'll need to play some catch-up next year to even things out. What's next on your schedule?"

The young man was astonished. He thought he'd be forever banished from his dream job, but instead was being prepped to do another project. He said to his boss, "I don't understand...I'm not being fired?"

His boss replied, "Why in the world would I fire you? I just spent a million bucks training you."

The young man immediately regained his confidence. He was grateful for being excused for his error and humbled by the experience. His boss' transformation of the problem into a learning experience enriched him. He vowed to press on and improve everyday. In time, after years of careful work, he became the President of the company.

Persistence, education, opportunity and some luck got him there. And he never sat through anyone's theory on success; he was too busy actually succeeding.

No comments: