Wednesday, September 21, 2011

One Schmuck's Attempt at Giving You Advice for Success in Your Life

If you go on Google and search for something like "How to Make Six Figures", then I know you'll eventually come across a web site with huge, bold, coloured lettering promising to unveil the secrets to success and earning six figures in a year. I'm sure most of you know exactly what type of site I'm talking about, because the internet is full of them. The site promises you will become wealthy if you send out $34.95 (which is an absolute steal, by the way) for the book full of the greatest secrets to ultimate wealth and success.

I've always been intrigued by what is actually contained within these type of 'guaranteed wealth if you follow these secrets' books. I imagine that the 'book' you purchase will end up only being a page. It will say something like, "The key to wealth is to start a website promising the reader ultimate riches if they buy your book for $34.95. Trust me, it is working for me." Though, I'm sure it would be almost impossible to get away with passing that off as a book, so maybe they add on a few extra pages of doodles of cats riding ostriches or something.

I am not sure if you've ever bought one of these books (and I won't mock you too badly if you did -- unless it worked, then I can I borrow some cash?). But I am pretty sure you've had your moments when you've wondered what it takes to be successful or at least, how do you live a life of happiness. The concept of success (and indirectly the idea of happiness, because I think most desire success because they believe it is connected to happiness) has spawned countless million dollar industries.

If you go into any bookstore, you'll find entire aisles devoted to the tips and secrets of financial wealth or small business success or tapping into your potential. There are books about finding your purpose driven life or how envisioning your success will lead to it or outlining how one man became an 'overnight' millionaire. If reading isn't your thing, then you can turn on the TV in the middle of the night and watch infomercials with smooth talkers who promise you "can't miss tips" of unlocking skills and knowledge you never thought possible -- as long as you order their 8 part video series. You can look in the back of magazines or scour the internet, and you'll find out about countless seminars that promise to set you on the road to being the new you (the successful and wealthy you). Even religion attracts flocks of people with promises of achieving a new body and gaining eternal happiness. We are drawn to organizations or people who promise us the secrets of success.

You don't have to look very hard to find these people or organizations promising success. It is all because people are yearning and clamouring to be successful. Everyone wants to have a life that was a success (however, one determines what success means -- which could simply just be having a life that was fulfilling and enjoyable).

Since success is such a hot topic these last few millenniums or so, I thought it was time for me to chime in with my completely unqualified thoughts on the subject. I'm going to give my advice for the extremely low price of free. Even better, if you don't like my advice or if it ends up being a miserable failure, then I promise you a full money back guarantee.

First of all, success means different things to different people. For some, it means they made a whole lot of money. While for others, it means they were just able to feed their family this week. For some others, it means they have people in their life that absolutely love them. I think, for everyone it means that at some level they are happy and content, or at least, feel they've achieved what they need out of this life. I also think success can change depending what stage you're at in life.

Now that we have a piss poor and vague definition of success, we can move forward with my shoddy plan of achieving it. I need to warn you, that at first it is going to sound incredibly simple and vague. But if you bear with me, I'll hopefully have it fleshed out by the end of this thing.

Authenticness.

Which according to my dictionary is an actual word, and obviously, means being authentic.

Now, I know you're probably at the stage of screaming, "This is worse advice than what I got from the oracle who lives in the dumpster behind McDonald's!"

Yeah, but I didn't charge you a Happy Meal and a foot massage. This is free. Plus I asked you to be patient and wait until I elaborate on this.

Being authentic means you're being honest to your real self and getting in touch with your true feelings, desires and thoughts. Yes, I know this sounds like New Age mumbo jumbo, but sometimes New Age mumbo jumbo can have some valuable kernels of truth. I'm not actually telling you how to get in touch with this inner self, because it can probably be different for each person. You can wear yoga pants and hum all afternoon if you think it will get you there. I'm just telling you that being honest with yourself is the key step.

Let me explain by looking at something that is personal to me. Writing. When I write from the heart and express myself in an open and honest way, I feel that is when I create my very best work. When I write in a way that I feel is how 'great writers' write or in a style similar to someone I admire, then my work may still be alright but it fails to reach its true potential. My favourite blog posts (and my most popular posts) are the ones where I didn't worry what others would think or get concerned with how it compared to other great writers, rather I just let my real thoughts and feelings take shape on the page. Now, I still had to proof read. I still had to look it over and make sure it wasn't crap. There still may have been a need for research and real work to make it worthwhile to read. I am not trying to get all hippie here, by claiming I just vomited words on a page and magic happened. But I did write in a way that was honest and true to how I felt about the subject I was writing. If it was fiction, I allowed the characters to act and behave in a real and authentic manner -- or at least, how my observations and experience taught me what were real and authentic. I wrote about what was inspiring me or driving me at the moment. My best pieces are not when I tried to write like my favourite writer or try to create content 'like a professional writer,' or write what I felt was important (rather than feel and know I had to write it). Instead, I followed my own instincts and trusted my style would convey the message best. I wrote it because otherwise, those thoughts and feelings would never truly be released. I had to write it.

I was authentic.

Authenticness is trusting the instincts, feelings, emotions and desires that are inside you and finding the proper way to express them. Authenticness is not allowing societal expectations and pressures to dictate who you are as a person. It is not acting in a way to just please your family or friends, or it is not trying to behave in the way they expect you to rather than following your own natural inclinations. It isn't allowing traditional beliefs to form everything about us, especially if they are contrary to our nature. It is following those inner beliefs and instincts to shape a true authentic self.

Of course, if your truest desire is to 'wear a hockey mask, arm yourself with a knife and chase scantily clad women' then you're one sick puppy. You need help. In your case, you shouldn't follow your deepest desires, because there is a malfunction at the junction. I am not encouraging depravity or insanity. I'm not saying follow your lust or dark desires. We still do live in a society and we need to respect others. I am not endorsing complete anarchy and depravity.

I do think some of our good natural desires and skills and uniqueness can be suppressed by what society makes us think we should be doing. We may convince ourselves we want something, when really it is contrary to what we've really been wired to be in our life.

I am saying that if you're authentic and you trust your passions, beliefs and instincts, then you might actually find what you truly love. If you find what you love, then you may just find what you were meant for. If you find what you were meant for, you might just achieve success.

Or at least, you will if my rambling have any merit whatsoever. I like to think they do, or otherwise I just wasted a decent part of my day rambling semi coherently (which actually, isn't that far off from what I do anyway).

It also takes us back to what success actually means. If you define it as being filthy rich, then I can't promise you that being authentic is the way. Let's face it; some shady and dishonest people have made mountains of cash. But will that dishonesty catch up to them? Will they ruin their legacy? Are they truly happy? I don't know. I do think that real success can't be defined by just how people see you or by achieving high standing among society elites. I think it has to be determined within yourself. You have to look at yourself and say, "This life was fulfilling and I achieved what I wanted.' Success is leaving some kind of mark and legacy, but again, it may only be one that your family or close friend or even an absolutely stranger (who you impacted by feeding them one night) knows about.

If you’re authentic, I think you can achieve your dreams. You can actually do what you want in your life. I am not saying you can do anything if you put your mind to it, but you can do what you deep down really want to do if you work hard. There is a big difference.

I had a friend in high school who decided he wanted to be a rock star. He had dreams of touring the world and releasing hit albums. He told me he really wanted to get into the music industry. He started up a band in Grade 11, and even got to perform at one of the school dances. They were pretty good. They ended up getting a few gigs at bars, and they competed at 'battle of the bands.' Near the end of high school, the band was getting less and less gigs. By the time high school was done, they had broken up. My friend was bummed out. In University, he formed another band, but I don't think they ever did anything more than playing at friend's parties or mess around in his parents garage. By the time he was done university, he wasn't even playing his guitar anymore. He gave up his rock dream, and became a solid believer that you can't always achieve your dreams. He has a family now, and seems pretty happy with his sales job. His musical aspirations are long over.

I look at that story, and I think he failed because it wasn't his real dream. If it was, he would still be playing. If his dream and desire was to play music, then he wouldn't be able to stop. I am not saying he would become a world famous rock star, but I am saying he would still be playing guitar. He'd still be finding every possible way to play in front of an audience. It would still be a huge part of his life. It would be something he couldn't shake. It would be something he would think about night and day. He would believe it was something worth fighting for and sacrificing time for. He wouldn't be happy unless he was playing music. He failed because it was something that he wanted, or thought would give him riches, but it wasn't something his inner core absolutely needed.

Stephen King talks about how a story idea pops in his head. He says the idea just grows inside his brain and continues to torment him, until he finally writes the story. He cannot shake that idea, until he allows it to become a story. He also says he loves to write and tell stories. He says he has done it his entire life. He says he would do it for free. This means that if Carrie was only a mild success and King wasn't able to become a full time author, he probably would still be writing stories. Even if he wasn't making money off his stories, he would still be writing them. It is his passion. It is what he is wired to do. It is probably why he is such a huge success. He didn't do it for money, but he did it because he loved it. He had to do it in order to find peace and happiness.

That is how you find success. You need to dig deep inside, and figure out what it is that you need to do. You may have a passion to feed the poor. You may absolutely love teaching and molding young children. You may constantly be engrossed in cinema and want to do nothing more than act out fictional characters. You may be your happiest when you run. You could also be a hard working person who loves coming home to their loving spouse and children, who you then devote the evening to (when they go to bed, you're happy to look over your stamp collection).

If you discover what it is that drives you and encompasses your entire being, then you've found success. It isn't what others say drives you. Or it isn't what society makes you think should drive you. It is something you would do even if you can't make money from it. You do it because you have to do it. The act is what makes you fulfilled and happy.

The most famous and successful icons in their field, are people who pursued something they absolutely loved. Usually something they failed at many times and had to survive through many doubts. They kept on doing it, even when others said they weren't good enough. They didn't stop, because they needed to do it. It was a part of them.

I am not just talking about Bill Gates or Will Smith or the Beatles or JK Rowling. I'm also talking about Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King and Gandhi. These are people who shaped the world, while being authentic with themselves. They knew what they believed and felt, and then they shared it with the world. Maybe they changed the world, but maybe they only changed the lives of those close to them. Maybe they only ever impacted one person. Or maybe it wasn't even a person, but it was a dog or a park. They ignored what society deemed important or valuable, but instead decided what was authentic and real to them. Then they reached success -- as defined by themselves. They were able to look back on their life and say, "I failed lots. I messed up too much. I was hurt far too often. I worked really hard, and sometimes, I worked too hard. I had my moments when I wanted to quit. I even quit. . . for a bit. But my dream wouldn't leave me. I couldn't stop thinking about it, even when I wanted to let it all go. I kept with my dream and followed my vision. Even then it was really hard. But I stuck with it. I did what I wanted with my life. I was successful in what mattered to me."

So, that is how you achieve success in life.

Or I am totally full of crap.

Either way, it didn't cost you $34.95, at least.

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad I didn't have to pay 34.95...but I thought it was very good advice!! Wonderfully written.

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  2. But you can still pay me the $34.95, if you want. I'm glad you enjoyed the piece. It was fun to write.

    ReplyDelete