as published in Conway Daily Sun
Don’t you just love it when someone recommends a book you don’t want to read? I did not need a book called The Success Principles. What could one more book teach me that I hadn't read a thousand times already?! This was the dismissive thought running through my mind as a friend was espousing the wisdom of Jack Canfield. I have already been outside of my comfort zone, I was already thinking outside the box, I was already living the dream. I reviewed the official checklist of success items in our culture. My partner and I had already started a business. We had done that 6 times already. We have the house we want, the fancy car, the black lab and a winter home in Florida. I had traveled, tried new things, risked failure, risked success, learned to de-stress, lost weight, embraced nature and enjoy many positive relationships. Leave me alone, my life is perfect!
I had heard it all before. Responsibility, goals, accountability, blah blah blah. To be honest, I went well beyond blah blah blah, I threw in a yada, yada, yada, which is a considerably more refined denunciation of the particulars being discussed.
You don't know what you don’t know... I should have bought the book. I could have had a quick read and put it on the shelf with a thousand other books, each with its promise to be the one that would change my life. That would have been too easy. Instead, I signed up for a year-long train the trainer program with Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles. I thought did not need the principles, but I did want to expand my training business and learn from the master.
I did not know how to admit I was stuck. I did not know how to set a goal that was (up until then) unrealistic. I did not know how to quiet the critical voices in my head. I did not know that everything I knew for sure was subject to change. If I had read the book, it would have confirmed that I already knew it all and nothing would have changed. The experiential version of the same principles landed me on another planet where there is no gravity, energy is visible and emotions ooze out of your pores.
How Jack Canfield ruined my life… My life was perfect, until I knew it wasn't. I went into Jack's classroom, ready to become a world-class trainer and grow my seminar business accordingly. Day one - I am in over my head - this room is full of successful entrepreneurs, authors, speakers and gurus of all types, from all over the world. I have done nothing compared to most of these people. What's that? I shouldn't compare myself? I know, but have you seen these people?! What's that? You want me to state my life purpose? Out loud? What's next, you want me to admit my father didn't love me and my mother didn't breast feed me and my biggest fear is that people will find out that I don't really know what I'm doing? Oh. Okay, I admit it. I have baggage. Lots of baggage packed with fears, beliefs I know to be absolute truth, and a couple of jackets called confidence, that I sometimes wear to cover up everything else. Yes, I also packed a swimsuit, just in case I decided to dive in, and running shoes in case I decided to make a break for it. Yes, I'm still speaking in metaphors while wondering if I had adequate writing skills, should it feel necessary to point them out. My ego was a melted puddle on the floor and my self-esteem was rocking in a fetal position in the corner. What a mess Jack Canfield made of my life!
I was happy, healthy, financially secure, capable and confident. Now, my life is about becoming more authentic, vulnerable, loving, open, and pursuing frightening things. I am risking exposure, failure, success, my identity, my self-concept and my future on something as trite as finding my life purpose and living it completely. I was raised by a man who would say there is no reason to complicate your life with this nonsense. When you have nothing to complain about, just keep your head down and stay out of trouble until you qualify for Social Security and sail off to your funeral. What drives us to yearn for more than simple “Success”, whatever that is? When you have the life everyone else wants, you should be grateful. What if, beyond being grateful, it still doesn’t feel like enough? What is enough? What could be different to make it better instead of just more? How do we get beyond success, to find real meaning and fulfillment in our lives? Is it simply a matter of redefining the word success to include more meaningful concepts? Why are these concepts so universally sought and yet so universally elusive? This is my new quest. To live my life purpose and help others find and live theirs. It will be hard. It will be scary. I am doing it anyway.