And, Then, Something Else Happened…
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.
What did you “want to be” when you were about eight years old?
Me? Simple… I wanted to be an astronaut. I was eight in 1967, and back in those days, astronauts were COOL. And, for a skinny, geeky kid like me, being an astronaut seemed to be THE PATH to getting girls. I invested hours in the study of space travel, of astronomy, and even tried to like math. I dreamed about it, I visualized it, and worked my plan toward getting into space. There seemed to be nothing standing in my way.
And, then something else happened.
Not only didn’t I have the mentality to do the math, I got too tall to be a test pilot (6’6″ is too big). Plus, the “military background” needed in those days to qualify for astronaut candidacy didn’t sit well with my I-question-everything personality. The military and me — well, we wouldn’t have gotten along very well.
So… I needed a different path. Both in my personal and professional life! I could moan and blame all day long, but I wasn’t going to get into space. And unless I wanted a very solitary life, I needed to meet girls some other way as well.
Clearly, I’m not an astronaut (but I still love astronomy, cosmology, quantum physics, etc.) — so that path to “getting girls” didn’t pan out too well. However, one incredible girl (Thank you Debi!) did notice me nonetheless, and I’ve been joyfully married to my best friend now for nearly 33 years. Plus, I cannot explain just how wonderful my professional life is. I have the BEST job out there, and am the luckiest person I can imagine.
I wanted one thing, and something else happened.
What about you? Have you ever really, really wanted something — only to have something else happen instead? And if so, how did you respond? Whining? Complaining? Finger pointing?
Or — maybe you went looking for a silver bullet answer, a “secret” instead?
The last time I looked, the book “The Secret” was #127 for all books at Amazon. I’m guessing there are FOUR MILLION books for sale on Amazon, and getting to the top 150 is a giant accomplishment (my book, JUMP! has been in the top 10,000 at one point — and it was a HUGE struggle to get it there!).
In “The Secret” (and its myriad of promotional videos) we see some really smart, successful people say (spoiler alert) the “law of attraction” is THE TOOL they have used over the years to attain their success.
Really? THE TOOL? What about hard work and mastery?
Malcolm Galdwell has made a fortune selling his book “Outliers” (#76 on Amazon) that tells us that we need to invest 10,000 hours in something before we reach a level of mastery. And then, and only then, does “real” success come forward.
So which is it? Getting our thoughts clear and focused toward what we want instead of what we don’t want (i.e, the law of attraction) or spending the equivalent of five years (10,000 hours), working full-time on something before we master it?
Might it be, ahem, both?
I believe “The Secret” (alone) doesn’t work for most people; at least not consistently, and not meaningfully. For many, the book is a huge disappointment because their dreams do NOT come true no matter how much they “think” about things differently. And, I see TONS of people beating the snot out of themselves to work 10,000 hours toward something — and actually achieve little but frustration and disappointment because mastery is a poor surrogate for meaning.
Now — this many sound contradictory — but I am a huge believer in both the law of attraction and the need to dedicate yourself to mastery. However, in my experience I need to use BOTH of these tools together. And then, they work consistently and meaningfully ONLY when I’m in alignment with what “wants to happen” on a grand, we’re-all-in-this-together kind of way.
After all, we can’t ALL have green lights and front row parking (except in some extended, parallel universe kind of way). Nor is effort alone rewarded — except in youth sports where “participation trophies” have become so commonplace. (I’ll save that topic for a different post!)
On the other hand, if our thoughts and actions are in harmony with real “win-win” situations, where the overall benefit to the human condition is clear, the universe will FULLY cooperate with us, and will conspire to make these kinds of dreams come true for us.
Life is a giant “Both, And” thing — where we need to visualize what we want, create positive energy around us, AND work hard toward achieving mastery in our desired outcomes. Oh, and there’s the “little thing” of working toward the common good.
Positive energy? Vital. Thinking thoughts about what we want instead of what we don’t want? Critical. Hard work and mastery? Absolutely necessary. Being aligned with authentic altruism? Real joy and genuine prosperity happen here.
Move away from the “little me,” and into the “big we.” That’s the best, “And, Then, Something Else Happened” kind of thing, and the place where the energy of the universe is filling our sails, floating our boats, and lifting our wings.
It’s thinking, acting, and being in resonance with the big picture of humanity — that’s the “real” secret.