This is a book my lady bought for me for my birthday. It was written in 1938, but not published until 2011. Why? The author’s family thought it be too controversial to publish.
Why would that be? This book questions a lot of what we think about education, religion, and thinking in general. Which I feel is healthy. No matter what you believe spiritually, this book speaks to the inner devils we all fight with.
It gives us practical advice to fight the evils of fear, doubt, and anger. I highly recommend reading this.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This is a pretty cool picture right? What do you see? What race are the people in the picture? What are they up to? What does all of this matter anyway?
Let me share a few facts with you about the above photo and how we can put them to good use. The picture was taken by Margie, my amazing lady. It is of my friend Travis and myself. So it is a picture of two friends. Travis is African-American, I am Native American. In this picture you cannot tell that. The point this makes is that when it comes to friendship race should not matter. When I look at my friends this is a very accurate version of what I see, no attention to color.
What are we up to? This was taken backstage before what was to be my very first seminar. If you see the look of contemplation it is because we were both about to speak and were a little nervous and going through what we were about to do in our heads. What this makes me think of is that when we are along in the darkness of our own minds focusing on what we have to do, quite often we have the company and support of our friends. I recall the moments before and after this picture was taken you could hear a pin drop. Totally silent. Still, in that moment a bond was being formed and strengthened for what was to happen next.
What did happen next could not have been predicted by any of the three people there. The lady in charge of the venue had a complete meltdown and threw all of our stuff on the street. This happened even as people were beginning to show up for the seminar. It was a very stressful time. Not only did I have to focus on delivering the contents of my seminar for the very first time, but suddenly I had to find a new venue and convince and inform all of the people attending to do the same.
What happened less was nothing short of a miracle! One of the gentleman attending, Mark, owned an office building that although was a good distance away was available that very moment. He allowed us to use it, thus cementing a feeling of gratitude I still carry to this day. Both Travis and Margie pitched in to not only keep me calm, but to move everything to the new location. The folks who I was able to contact and who did attend were able to see an example of the very principles I teach in action. Something they would not have been able to see without the challenges we faced. It also was a perfect storm for my very first seminar and has allowed me to know if I made it through that the rest would be far easier.
Did I really get all of that from this one picture? Oh yes, and much more. There were funny moments of people falling of chairs and a million other memories. The point being is this one picture can motivate me so much. Is there a picture that might do the same for you? Print it out, hang in somewhere you will see everyday.
This is one of my favorite quotes. Here is why, it is something that I used to be victim to quite often. As someone who takes great pride in his knowledge and always strives to learn new things, there is one thing I really dislike. The one thing that I try my best to avoid is looking foolish. I suppose on the surface that may not really be a bad thing. After all who wants to look foolish right? This is true to a point. My fear of looking foolish stemmed from doubting myself. What happened then?
Here is what the fear of looking foolish, and doubting myself did for me. Often times it kept me from trying something new. Everything we learn to do we go through a period where we are not yet skilled. Think of the job you work at right now. Recall your first day there, did you know everything you know now? Of course not. Even things like finding your way around, or knowing where the bathroom is. One cannot expect to start something new and know it all. Intellectually I knew this, yet emotionally that is what I did to myself. If what I was thinking of trying included a period of looking foolish before you got it right I would do one of two things. Either I would wait to try it until few or nobody was around, or worse yet I would skip trying it at all. Some of you may feel that same way.
So how does one face this fear and more importantly overcome it? Begin to look at things in two ways. One, think of all you will miss by not doing what you fear and two, think of all you will gain by doing it. It also wouldn’t hurt to consider other things in your life you might have overcome the new/learning period to become capable or even quite good at. One of my favorite examples is snorkeling. I love the tropics and love the ocean. I also happen to enjoy rum. So while on vacation I always saw snorkeling available. All my mind focused on was not knowing a thing about it from what equipment is good, to how to not drown while learning. That kept me from ever trying it. That is until one day when a nice young man by the name of captain Morgan whispered in my ear that I should give it a try. The first trip out took some getting used to, but by the end of that trip I learned how to dive under water with a snorkel, how best to swim and a million other things. Now when I go to the tropics about 8 hours of my day is spent in the ocean, a lot of that with a snorkel on. I could kick myself for all the fun I missed before all because I was afraid to try.
So think about your doubts, what are they keeping you from trying? You may discover a new passion, some new friends or a new skill you never knew you had. Now if you will excuse me I am going to put on my snorkel, get in the bathtub and dream of Jamaica.
This is a line I hear in the beginning of the show Ghost Adventures which I must confess came to mind as I read my daily inspirational calendar. It simply said “Sit with it” like many bits of inspiration this one can be interpreted in many different ways. Here is the way I chose to take it. Many of us spend our entire lives running from things we find unpleasant. Are you guilty of this at all in your life? I know I am. A lot of us run from our fears. Run from our disappointments, run from our crazy family members. Ok, sometimes that last one might not be a bad idea. The point is if we run from things we often miss the lessons they may be trying to teach us or may continue to give them control over us. Fear for example, as long as we run from it we cannot be at peace with ourselves. It is out there. It is lurking it is scary. When we sit down with our fears for a cup of tea or in my case a rum and coke, and say look you scare the hell out of me, why is that? Why are clowns so terribly frightening? They are just circus performers in costumes right? Ok well I’m still working on that one. The point is here when we stop running we take back control of our lives, the future seems a lot more certain and we often gain a very valuable lesson. So ask yourself, “What am I always running from?” Are you going to let it continue to control you? Are you going to continue to miss the lesson it is trying to teach you? Instead of running from it, try what my calendar suggests and “Sit with it”. Now if you’ll excuse me I must pour a rum and coke for the clown and I.
Don’t ask what if I fail. You will. A better question is when I fail, then what? This may not seem to positive at first glance, telling you that you are going to fail and all. Still, failure is only absolute if we learn nothing from it. Believe me when I tell you I was as guilty as anyone of being afraid of failure. I was especially afraid to try new things for the fear I may fail. Then I realized that by being a slave to my fear I was failing to try. Plus, what is the worst thing about failing? People laughing at you? Well first of all that seldom happens, we all have failed and know what it is like. Feeling like a failure? This is something that happens internally. We must understand failure is a lesson. Instead of becoming depressed we must learn to become curious. Why did I not succeed? What can I learn from this experience? These questions actually give us power when we do fall short and give us valuable lessons to move us forward. In fact failure is one of the best teachers. So when you fail realize you just became smarter. Like a lot of other things in life, the secret is learning to use failure, not letting failure use you. So this weekend when things do not go your way, get excited! Ask yourself what you can learn to make your future brighter and to limit or eliminate this sort of challenge from occurring again.
Adaptation of above image illustrating an Internet meme (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I do a lot of talking about goals on this blog, which in a strange way is rather ironic. If you had asked me 2 years ago about goals the mere sound of the word would’ve caused me to go in the opposite direction. Goals brought up a feeling of deadlines and the possibility of failure. Neither of which sounded overly pleasurable to me. What if I don’t make this deadline? Do I want that hanging over my head? What if the deadline comes and I fall short? What if I fail? Sound familiar? I actually found myself fearing goals. If I never set a goal I could never fail. One problem with this. I am also a procrastinator. I never realized that part of my reasoning for not setting goals was that it would force me to take action which I was uncomfortable doing. Then I heard a couple of phrases that changed the way I view goals altogether. Funny thing is they were not about goals or goal setting. They were about the one thing I feared the most – failure. Who wants to fail? You look foolish, people think less of you, it may discourage you from trying new things. That is what I thought. Then I heard the phrase “the key to success is massive failure” I couldn’t comprehend that Until I listened to one of my favorite motivational speakers, Tony Robbins. How can failure lead to success? Well in my own world I notice my fear of failure was actually keeping me from trying new things. If I never tried, I could never fail. Then I had to question my definition of the word failure. In essence to me it meant not achieving a certain end you had set out to accomplish. Now it may mean something slightly different to you, but in general I think we are close here. I realized by fearing failure I had not tried, therefore I had not accomplished much of anything. It was keeping me from learning and growing. I also had to ask myself the tough question “what happens when I do fail to reach my goal? What happens when I fail?” Again I thought of Edison and his quote about having to try 10,000 different materials to find one that worked as a filament in a light bulb. When someone asked him how he could keep going after failing so many times. he responded “I didn’t fail, I just discovered 10,000 ways that didn’t work” I always read that and thought I am not sure if after 100 times of trying something I would keep going…maybe even after 50 or 25 depending on the situation. Yet look what having a deadline does to most of us. As a deadline draws nearer our action intensifies, we begin to try anything and everything to get this accomplished. Have you ever done this? maybe the night before an exam? Even if we fall a little short we walk away with more knowledge and a far better chance of succeeding next time. An example from my personal life is as follows. Let’s say i set a certain amount of my book I would like to sell in a month. As the end of the month grows closer I will try many different methods to get my book in the hands of as many people as I can. Some may work, some may not. Now if the end of the month comes and i am short of my number should I feel terrible? Like a letdown? No! I sold more books than if I had no goal at all. Than if I had been afraid to try and afraid to fail. I also will have learned some new marketing tools and some that may be a waste of time and money. All because I wasn’t afraid to fail. Think of your own life. What are you fearing doing? What may you learn if you embrace that possibility of failing? Why are goals so damn important anyway? That is what we will look at tomorrow!
Why on earth would a blog about living a fulfilling and positive life be encouraging fear? Two reasons. First, it is Halloween and it is generally a time when spirits and ghost stories receive front page press. Second fear plays a great deal in determining the quality of our life. Fear of death and illness can keep many people from stepping outside their comfort zone and trying things that may bring amazing things into their lives. Fear of differences and personal rejection may stop people from starting conversations with new and unique people who could bring a great deal into their lives. Fear of failure can often paralyze people from pursuing their dreams and bringing not only joy to their world, but light and beauty to the world in general. Feeling inspired yet? Ok, neither am I, but the truth is that is only the dark side of fear. That is only half of the picture. Fear has another side as well. Fear can be protective. Fear of injury keeps most of us from driving reckless. Fear of hurting another person’s feelings can often keep us from saying hurtful things and finding a more productive way to resolve conflicts. That same fear of failure can motivate us to better prepare. When you hear news your job may be a victim of a layoff it can motivate you to search for additional sources of income or examine your budget and spending habits. The fear of suffering the same health issues that plagued your family can inspire you to live a healthier life. The point here is simple. Fear, like many other emotions can either be our servant or our master. It all depends on how we handle it. Does a fear of public speaking cause you to freeze up or to review your notes one final time? Does the fear of a culture you do not understand prevent you from associating with those people or does it motivate you to educate yourself on aspects of that culture to demystify your thoughts? Think of some of your fears, do they control you or do you employ them in your journey toward a more rewarding life? We all have a mix of both, but the goal is to start attacking our fears one by one and making them serve us instead of the other way around. The earlier we face our fears, before they have a chance to take hold in our minds the easier to conquer them. Of course the feeling of overcoming a life-long free gives us freedom that is almost unequaled. So this Halloween while enjoying your favorite ghost story or scary movie ponder your own fears and how you can use them to assist you.