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“Success demands singleness of purpose.”

–Vince Lombardi

One of the books I am reading recently is a never-before-released Napoleon Hill book titled, “Outwitting the Devil.”  It is considered a controversial book in the “New Thought” realm, and in fact he and then his wife and later nephew’s did not want to publish it for this exact reason. It wasn’t until the nephew’s wife died that it was then published in 2011, approximately 73 years later.

Those that know me well know that a belief in a physical devil, red-skinned, horned, and pitched forked does not at all exist in my world of reality.  And Hill I feel rides the fence here and is perhaps purposely ambiguous, perhaps to be heard/understood by all parties.  One could read this book as religious, spiritual, or psychological, and all three I find challenge by beliefs and understandings up until now…which is exactly what appeals to me.  I find the parallels of ideas in Steven Pressfield‘s, ” The War of Art” to be striking, which is significant to me personally since I just “happened upon” both of these books.

I’m not going to give a full on book report or dissertation, but want to note something specific that struck me.  In this book, he states how “definiteness of purpose” is the key to being a “non-drifter,” how to succeed in one’s life.  He defines “hypnotic rhythm” as a natural law, which is then how the majority (he states 98%) fall into the habits of “drifters” because of their indefiniteness, and how the other 2% of the population uses this law in collaboration with their definiteness of purpose to habitually live the life of the “non-drifter.”  You can easily know which you are currently (although you could be moving towards one or the other either by conscious decision and commitment) by taking a look at your life:  your finances, your health, your relationships, how you feel about your work, etc.  To be in the population of the 2% non-drifters, all areas of one’s life must contain the through line of one’s purpose.  The reason that there is such a large percentage of drifters is because most don’t consciously know or ask themselves (or believe that they can/are allowed) what their purpose is.  The truth, however, is that every single person has their own individualized purpose and that this purpose can be easily accessed;  all one really has to do is do that 2nd grade mantra: “Stop, Look, and Listen.”

I bring this up now not because this is new information to me, but because an “aha!” light went on this morning when pondering these concepts.  I was inspired to pull out the book I created from the Intentions Retreat I went on in 2010.  I flipped to the page of my “purpose statement” and reread what I wrote, comparing it with my current 2012 Intentions journal.  I’m not going to share what I wrote in 2010 here, as I am realizing there is power for me in keeping it to myself (much like one would in acting out a scene in theatre;  there is often more power in the unsaid and in the doing).  But I want to note that even at that time, there was a word in my statement that came to me, but looking back I get that it was too big for me to grasp and accept at the time (or better said, so I thought).  I remember battling with this word, bringing it up in the group, and even embarrassed and feeling that I was being completely brazen for even suggesting it (as in a “who am I kidding or trying to fool”).  I scratched the word out and changed it more than once (even in the final copy of my book).  In my 2011 and 2012 books, that word didn’t come back, and suddenly this morning while reading all of this I GOT IT. And I don’t know how quite to explain, other than in perhaps acting terms.  The purpose of one’s life is like their intention.  When you have a play, you have all kinds of beats, scenes, acts;  you can look at the whole of the play and you can break it up into these smaller and smaller chunks.  Each chunk can have its individualized tactic, but during the entirety of the play your character is going after one big SPECIFIC centralized intention/objective.  And it’s always about doing/action and it’s always about in order to affect outside of oneself.   Living one’s passion alone (with the focus on “what I will get from it”) will never lead to enduring success.  I focus on the word enduring because obviously it is possible to reach temporary success on passion alone, as we have seen with so many.  But only those who find and ground themselves in their purpose will be able to stay there.  For enduring success the focus must be on one’s purpose, which allows the freedom to continuously live out the passions.  The purpose is the intention of one’s life; the passion is the chosen method of joy in how this purpose is achieved (I say “chosen” although in truth the passion almost always “chooses” us).  While often the passion is what is initially ignited and then opens one’s eyes to their purpose (although if they access their life, they will usually see how they were already unconsciously living it), it is the purpose, not the passion, that must be so alive in a person that the stakes are then raised so high that they are  then free in the faith of said purpose.  This leads to the willingness to risk their full vulnerability(giving-ness) of self in the how of their tactic(s)/passion(s).

I probably could actually write an entire dissertation on this and go on and on and on (you know, like I just did), but for now I’m going to leave it at that.  I get that this understanding has come to light in conjunction with all of the recent action I have been taking in my life.  And now I get, as in GET get that Master Key that keeps that flame burning.  It was a question that had been rolling around in my brain for so long in frustration because I was only obtaining grasps of the answer in a very generalized way.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you

exchange for it.”

–Henry David Thoreau

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(Find out more about “Being Elmo” here.)

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IMAGINATION IS EVERYTHING

 

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”

–Albert Einstein

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One of the blogs that I follow is The Better Man Project, and a few days ago he wrote a blog entry on  escalation of commitment.  I enjoy his posts overall, but was especially intrigued by this one because I had never come across this term before.  Feeling the pull to learn more, I first stumbled upon this Wikipedia explanation:

 

Escalation of commitment was first described by Barry M. Staw in his 1976 paper, “Knee deep in the big muddy: A study of escalating commitment to a chosen course of action”.  More recently the term sunk cost fallacy has been used to describe the phenomenon where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the cost, starting today, of continuing the decision outweighs the expected benefit.

 

This led me to an abundance of psychological economic terms, including progress trap, dollar auction (fascinating!), “pot committed” (one of my favorites I found, used in poker  and referring to staying in a hand due to earlier bets, despite increasing likelihood that you will lose),  and lock-in (regarding decision making, “the escalating commitment of decision-makers to an ineffective course of action”).

 

Another article I found on escalation of commitment said this:

 

“Individuals often persist unduly with unsuccessful initiatives or courses of action. To illustrate, some advertisements do not increase the sales or reputation of the products they promote. Likewise, initiatives that are intended to raise productivity sometimes impair rather than enhance performance. Unfortunately, managers and employees often persist with advertisements or initiatives despite these failures. This tendency to maintain these floundering pursuits-especially endeavors in which they have invested heavily-is called escalation of commitment….. or sometimes entrapment”

 

According to this article, there are many reasons that escalation of commitment occurs:  mental accounting, inference of commitment or ownership, justification of behavior, self affirmation and justification of behavior, prospect theory, rule governance, and construal of the future.  It is clear to see how escalation of commitment is not limited soley to economics, but rather can easily be translated in the sociology and psychology of day-to-day life.  From my understanding, I believe some of the reasons (listed above) for it occurring can and do intertwine, and all of them are based on ego (which is self consciousness of either the head or the heart; Wisdom, in the truest sense of the word, can only exist when the head (intelligence) and the heart are combined).  It comes from a belief in lack and limitation rather than abundance and opportunity.  Getting locked-in as a result of escalation of commitment leaves a person or persons unable to see the other paths and possibilities towards what they truly desire.  It also blocks their vision from being able to see that rather than investing what they do not have towards the end goal, understanding that they already truly have what they need.  Escalation of commitment gives up the power to the ego and the “out there” rather than embracing the power and truth that already and always exists.  Better said, I am reminded of what a dear friend said to me recently– “What if you already have everything you need?”

 

While reading and learning about this concept(s), one of my biggest personal examples came to mind.  I was nineteen years old, engaged for only a few hours to a twenty-three year old “man” I had known for only 6 months, had dated for 4, and we were on an airplane to Las Vegas to secretly elope.  Not 24 hours prior we had been broken-up.  Once on the plane, I was internally vomiting.  Looking back I can see that I obviously knew it was not the right decision, but I did not consciously acknowledge that at the time.  I had already said yes.  We were already on the plane.  We had spent $1400 to get the tickets last minute.  “Obvious” reasons for why I couldn’t possibly “back down.”  After returning to real life, and reality setting in, it’s not surprising that problems soon arose.   Even then, my escalation of commitment was steadfast, as by then I was already married.  I had made the commitment, and I couldn’t just walk away from that.  But it was more that than, it was not wanting to admit fault, not wanting to be alone (even if for the wrong reasons), not wanting to be seen as a failure once again in my parents’ eyes.  It was 1000% ego, head heart (separately, but both), and not understanding that none of what I was letting rule my decisions and actions had any true power but that what I gave it.  Had I been more grounded in my True Self at that time, I wouldn’t have made the irrational decision to get on the plane to begin with, but had I even gotten that far and known, I would have acted upon the Truth that I am enough; that no thing or person outside of me was needed to verify or validate this Truth, nor could anyone’s judgments or ideas or beliefs take that away from me.

 

While this is one of my monster examples, I do have many more, both big and small, as does most likely every single human being on this planet.  It’s part of the human experience, and can be a means to a bigger end in the learning process.  I cannot in any way say that I regret the course of actions that I took because I absolutely and sincerely do not.  Each second and step in my life has led me right to where I am today, and for every bit of that, I am grateful.  But *IF* I could go back and do things differently, that I would do.  Because that is Wisdom realized.  Not because I would want to change the goodness that is in my life now;  all of that would have happened anyway.  The difference is, with Wisdom realized, it would have occurred with more ease and grace.  I think this is the difference between will and faith, between holding steadfast to only the head or only the heart in pursuit of an end, rather than using both, accepting what is in front of you as the gift rather than the obstacle, and understanding that you have all within you to be there, be That, already and always.  Escalation of commitment is useful because we learn from our mistakes and failures are merely the stepping stones to success.  But learn (with self compassion) from these stepping stones is the key word here, for if we don’t, rather than climb up the staircase to success, we end up going around in circles.

 

 

 

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It’s actually been  more than a week, but here goes.  I have a lot to write about, or perhaps more accurately said, a lot brewing.  For tonight, though, I will keep this brief as Breaking Bad episodes, season 2 via Netflix are waiting (thank you dear sister for this new ADDICTION).  Normally it would still wait, but it’s Jack’s one day off this week, and while he knows I have self commitments I am wanting to stick to, I also want to capitalize on the time with him.:)

The 30 minutes exercise daily has been getting the least attention, definitely not by choice, as I’ve been pretty sick  this past week+ (and actually was ordered to have bed rest).   In addition to the “calcification” or whatevertheheck is trying to exit my body, I also woke up on Monday with an oh-joy cold/sore throat/sinus infection medley.  Doc says this is actually good as my body is trying to cleanse itself. Well cleanse away body. CLEANSE AWAY.

The daily creative writing has been mostly good….I did miss 2 days this week, but it was due to low energy level and how I was feeling those days health-wise.  Yesterday was one of them, which I also missed doing a blog post (the only day missed so far, however).  The writing I am LOVING and am fascinated by the themes that keep showing up (as well as what keeps showing up in my life to feed these themes): spirituality, religion, honne and tatemae, authenticity and/vs audacity, grace vs nature, ho’oponopono, shame, blocks, cleansing, release, lies, truth, etc.  As my goal was to have this daily writing prepare myself for work on my solo performance work (and beyond), I find these themes to be exciting and I am open and ready for what is to come.

Through my morning pages, meditation, and constructive rest, I am reflecting and opening to how this all relates to me personally as well as my life’s work.  The shoulder still has not healed and I have opened up to the possibility that it actually might not heal enough for me to return to restaurant work.  I’m not as stressed out about this as I was in the beginning, but rather continuing my work (along with my healing) and being open and actively inquisitive as to “ok, then, if not that then what’s next?”

I have stayed 100% vegan:  SUCCESS!  I have cooked up some pretty incredible vegan dishes this week, so keeping Jack happy in the process= double success.  Constructive rest has happened daily without fail, and I am really noticing the difference it is making in my body and my awareness (where I unconsciously have been holding tension, aka “protecting”).   There is a definite shift happening in my back and neck, and so I am completely motivated to keep this up and feeling all around pretty good about that.

Staying off Facebook and websites of the like has been easy (I did go on to  “exit the conversation” of a couple of mass emails (that I’m not able to participate in at this time, as I was constantly getting emails as a result).  While I do not miss the inundating myself with constant information that drowns out my own creative voice and/or using it as a huge mode of procrastination, I DO  greatly miss the connection with my family and friends.  This has become exponentially true with the isolation(even though I’ve still been in touch with many) of being at home so much to due to injury and illness.  There is one friend in particular that I think about daily as she is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and has been very forthcoming in her moment to moment experience of it all via facebook.  Her status updates (and those of others like her) being trended would be a lot more beneficial to the spreading of true awareness of breast cancer and the likes than silly little hidden messages in status updates that really don’t mean or do jack shit (sorry but it’s true!).  I know that’s harsh, and I have a number of friends actually participating in this facebook status trend (which I know about from the emails until I logged in to drop out), but I feel like if people want to spread awareness, do it in a way that is real and deep and actually has some meaning and the potential to really impact and awaken people to something they don’t already know.  It’s not like breast cancer is some big secret.  We are all perfectly aware it’s there.  But my friend (who is undergoing treatment) and the sharing of her experience…now THAT’S some effective awareness spreading right there.  I’m just sayin’.

Ok, off soap box.  The only thing that truly got neglected this week was the working on my PATH. Oh wait, that is somewhat a lie…..I did buy a new 2012 planner.  I just didn’t do anything with it other than admire its newness and beauty.  So that is something for me to really look at  and think about why and how it can be approached differently.   We’ll see what new news I have to report about it next week.  To finish off, daily meditation and morning pages happened without issue (and I have found myself already lengthening my meditation time), as did my artist date (which is in my last blog post).  I am already aware of a pretty big shift happening in myself;  a slowing down to notice details so much more as I am doing things even mundane tasks, an increased calmness, a new sense of enjoyment of  even the smallest things.  I’m laughing a lot more, too.  This is good and is keeping me motivated and focused toward my daily tasks and I look forward to more and more and more.   As I wrote out today, every writing or meditation or creation of every kind doesn’t have to be golden.  It’s awesome when it is, but it’s obviously not always going to work out that way.  What’s important is the practice itself, showing up, and how you show up(and sometimes just saying “hey, I’m here okay” has to be enough, and that’s okay, too).  The rest will eventually somehow, in Its Own Way, start to work Itself out.

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