Refusing to walk “The Green Mile”

 

We had a recent discussion of the “Magical Negro” film trope, most specifically a movie like “The Green Mile” where a solitary black character with supernatural powers exists only to enlighten white characters.   “Bruce Almighty”, “Bagger Vance” and most egregiously “The Green Mile” are examples of this. There are no reverse instances that I know of.  I’ve seen countless examples of this unfortunate pattern, and believe it represents both a simultaneous dehumanization and idealization, a way for white audiences and artists to deal with their fear and guilt of The Other.  The conversation went around and around, and one black reader offered the following thought that I believe should be parsed in the light of the “Five Fold Path” to healing I’ve been speaking of.   Although this was specifically about race, it shouldn’t take much to adapt it to any other cause or injustice you wish to address in life.  The name of the poster has been removed, but if the poster wishes to identify themselves, that is their choice.

 

Steven, I’ve given your post a lot of thought. My response is really too big to fit into a FB comment box. To put it simply, I seldom see White people who are really invested in combating the racist foundations of this country. I see people who TALK about it, but those discussions often lack integrity. They don’t have a dog in this fight, and ultimately their fragility becomes more important than the wellbeing of our children. There are exceptions to this, of course. Hardly enough people to constitute a critical mass. I watch your wall. I see your approach. It’s not something that I am capable of. At a certain point, it’s unhealthy to prioritize someone else’s fragility above my own emotional wellbeing. Honestly, they want a magical negro to remove racism from their hearts without hurting their feelings. That’s a sword that I will not fall on.

 

My answer:

I think you may have misunderstood me.   In fact, if you think I suggest that you “prioritize someone else’s fragility” above your own emotional well-being, I KNOW you have. Please note the pattern of healing:

 

  1. Love yourself. Which included protecting yourself.  Only then
  2. Expand your sense of self to include others.  At least one person, as it is simply not possible to move forward in life without the aid and cooperation of others, especially a Significant Other to form the basis of your mastermind.
  3. Understand the flow of history without guilt, blame, or shame.  If you don’t really love yourself, you will not be able to do this. But to see how all human actions stem from universal emergent qualities we can see all over the world, through all history, is sobering and enlightening.  Human beings are both wonderful and driven by fear and greed.  We are our own best allies and worst enemies. If you can forgive yourself, you can forgive the rest of us as well. That does NOT mean allowing people to hurt or wrong you.
  4. Find your tribe.  Avoid the “Sleeping” and shun or deal with the Monsters.
  5. Succeed.  Massively, if possible.  In balance, in alignment with both your childhood dreams and ultimate values.  Let your light shine: illegitimi non carborundum, mock-Latin for “don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

 

Following this pattern, you would never, EVER put another person’s welfare above your own.    It might or might not look like that to someone else, but that’s irrelevant.  With this pattern, I can look at your very honest paragraph and break it down:

 

  1. To put it simply, I seldom see White people who are really invested in combating the racist foundations of this country. I see people who TALK about it, but those discussions often lack integrity. They don’t have a dog in this fight, and ultimately their fragility becomes more important than the wellbeing of our children.”–Human beings are rarely invested in other people’s interests. They do what they do for THEIR reasons, not yours. As you do things for YOUR reasons, not theirs.  There are so many “isms” or positions–racism, sexism,  homophobia, speciesism (expressed, perhaps, in the urge to avoid eating meat), nationalism, ageism, etc.   We all have advantages in some arenas, disadvantages in others.  It is impossible to be aware of all of them, or to care equally about all of them.   It would drive you insane and paralyze you, like someone who wishes to avoid killing ANYTHING.  “Eat only fruit, walk only on rocks”.  Yeah, and don’t breathe lest you inhale and kill innocent little microorganisms.  But don’t die, lest the flora and fauna within your body suffer…oh, it’s ultimately absurd.      So your comments can be expressed as “human beings are rarely invested in solving problems that are not theirs.”    You and I and everyone else fall into this category, and you have to get past it to understand humanity, and human history, and our own lives and actions without guilt, blame, or shame (principle #3)
  2. Hardly enough people to constitute a critical mass.” The truth is that it takes a small group of aligned, committed human beings to sway a crowd. All you have to do is be able to sincerely speak to their self-interest.  Do YOU believe that moving away from racism is good for everyone?  I certainly believe that about, say, sexism, and I’m not in the slightest guilty about being male.  If you believe that racism is a blight on the human race, then although it has hurt the victims the worst, it damages the perpetrators as well.  If you believe that racism is GOOD for the perpetrators…then I think you’ve not gone deeply enough into principle #2–extending your definition of “self” to include others. Which, of course, is based upon principle #1–loving yourself.  Until you do, you will never find that spark of divinity within you, and will fall into the illusion of essential sin and corruption that warps so many lives.
  3. At a certain point, it’s unhealthy to prioritize someone else’s fragility above my own emotional wellbeing.”  It is ALWAYS unhealthy to do this.  Love yourself as you would your own most beloved child. Would you prioritize the needs of an abusive adult to abuse your daughter above your daughter’s need to be safe?  I thought not.   So principle #1. You must love yourself enough to evoke a spirit of protectiveness. But ANY anger you feel toward the world is based in fear, and fear implies a lack of faith to protect yourself.  So you MUST start there, and go deeply enough to know that you will do WHATEVER IT TAKES to defend your spirit, your essence, with integrity. Period.  No compromise. You will either protect your essence, or take an aggressor with you into death.  You will NOT be abused, or used.   But…once you have gone deeply enough to do this (and starting now, give yourself at least a year to master this. But many have accomplished this in a single day’s contemplation of mortality) you can move on to step #2–safely beginning to see how other people connect to you, how we are one soul looking out through many eyes.  Do NOT fall into the thought patterns of your adversary!  THEY cannot see your humanity.  If YOU can see theirs, you are ahead of the game.  You understand them, and they do not understand you.  Keep your emotional balance, and you will win any confrontation.
  4.  “Honestly, they want a magical negro to remove racism from their hearts without hurting their feelings. That’s a sword that I will not fall on.”  And I’m not asking you to.  They want, in other words, to remain asleep, to believe you are “other” in a way that comforts them. They have not gone through step #1, or #2, now have they?  And you?  You follow step #4–avoid the sleeping, but grasp that they are locked in a nightmare of separation from the divine, and from the rest of humanity.  If you can find ONE person to Mastermind with, you are hugely ahead of the game.   In fact, you have found Tribe right here, if you accept these principles.     If not, you MUST have unity within yourself, so that you know you can protect your integrity, and are willing to do Whatever It Takes to do so with love AND strength. You must start there.  Avoid the sleeping and deal with the monsters (if they cannot be avoided…but the truth is that if you are ready to die and they are not, they will avoid YOU.)
  5. Don’t “fall on your sword” at all. Succeed. Thrive.  Begin with loving yourself enough to commit to your own life, and let NO ONE define you as less than the stars. Ever.   

 

I hope that this helps explain my position a little better.  And I wish you well.  I also hope that others reading this can see how these principles apply to ANY “ism” or cause, regardless of politics, requiring only the philosophy that we are as human beings connected in a web, and that only fear and lack of faith separates us.    Even if you never find a partner (step #2) you get to live your life in happiness, health, and success on your own terms, because you BEGIN with the sense of love and fulfillment that most people feel they can only have at the end.  To begin this process, I suggest “Heartbeat meditation,” journaling and contemplation of the child self within.

 

If you, or anyone else, have any questions about any of this, I am totally open to the conversation.

 

Namaste,

Steve

A Five-Fold Path to healing

After almost sixty years of contemplation, I honestly believe I have come as close as I can come to finding a way out of our current social maze, a way to cut the Gordian Knot.   What I asked my unconscious for was an approach to change that works AUTOMATICALLY on either a personal or social level, without ideology or politics being necessary, but supporting any ethical and positive use of either if that is the tendency of the individual.
It would have to apply to simply succeeding…or battling any negative “ism” or promoting any cause or position.  That means racism, sexism, homophobia, and anything else I could think of.   There had to be a minimum of moving parts, and I set it at the low end of the amount of data people can handle at one time: five.      It is a five-point plan that can be used by individuals, families, or groups, and requires nothing more than the willingness to succeed in life, be healthy and happy and loved.  Basically, the five steps (which should  be addressed in order) are:
1) Love yourself.  Deal with your personal stress and commit to being the happy, loving person you were born to be.
2) Expand your sense of “self” to include others.  The Koisan belief in “num” covers this: the concept that there is one soul looking out through many eyes.
3) Understand human behavior and world history without guilt, blame, or shame.  Rise above the dualities, and see that if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive other human beings for the terrible things we do and have done to ourselves…and each other.  Human beings have done the best we can, given how we mobilize fear with anger, and that most social rules are not about individual rights, but getting the maximum number of grandchildren into the next generation.     We can now do much better, but to do so we have to understand how we got here, and  without rancor. This is only possible if you start with the first two steps.
4) Gather your tribe.  You don’t need everyone in the world to agree with you. We only need to create “Mastermind” groups, people aligned for the good of all, working in a spirit of loving  harmony for mutual benefit and welfare.  Awakened Adults. I BELIEVE THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY, WE HAVE THAT CRITICAL MASS.  The truth of common spiritual unity is emerging, and it SCARES THE PISS OUT OF SOME.   Their anger is the result.      Most of these people are just asleep.  Let them sleep.  Be kind to them as, with a combination of love and strength we take back the world, building a world that will work for all our grandchildren. But…we have to be aware that there are snakes, smiling monsters who are not “asleep”… they are genuinely evil.  I’d say this is less than 1%.  But we must be strong enough to confront them. We can do that by being committed, loving ourselves enough to stop taking shit, but loving others enough to be compassionate…but also strong enough to step on a snake if it tries to slither into the nursery. Remember that your “Master Mind” must be people working together in a spirit of PERFECT HARMONY.  If in relationship, they need to believe in love. If in busienss, they need to believe you can and should succeed, and be willing to lend their own perspectives and resources to your victory (and you must be willing to reciprocate, of course!) In social change, detect snakes by asking if they believe in human equality, and work to phrase your simple question so that a bigot cannot honestly say “yes.” At that point you have them trapped, and can simply ask them to align their attitudes and actions with that belief.  If they do not or cannot, you know what you’re dealing with.
5) SUCCEED.  Nothing, NOTHING is as attractive as success, health, happiness, love.  Especially when we see someone who is successful, in a loving relationship AND healthy all in alignment with their deepest values. Such people have a “light” inside them.  Everyone wants to know how they do it!  This is the way to teach directly or indirectly through example.
In other words, if you seek to succeed, be happy and healthy and loved…you can use your most selfish drives to change the world for the better.
In late July I woke up from a dream of having swum across an oily river to the far shore, and realized that it felt like I had an answer, not just for “how did we get here?”  but “how do we move forward?” with power, love, grace, and consciousness. the practical and the spiritual in one divine braid.   But then I asked myself: how do I share this?  I decided to use THINK AND GROW RICH, which is now in the public domain, to annotate a complete edition of it weaving these ideas in so that anyone, from a successful business person to someone mired in the inner city, can either align their business with spirit and community service, or lift themselves out of poverty have they the will and heart to do so.
I have a very specific goal: to create ONE MILLION awake, aware adult human beings.  Loving and powerful.   Changing the world but respectful of the rights and humanity even of those too asleep to see the truth. And strong enough to protect the innocent from the Smiling Monsters who walk among us.
It is critical that, if my reasoning is flawed, that people poke holes in it NOW.  Where am I wrong? What am I not considering?
I ask for your comments.
Namaste,
Steve

“Don’t Breathe” (2016)

Dont-Breathe.jpg

Imagine suspense classic  Wait Until Dark turned upside down so that the invaders are the victims. Add a 21st century Grindhouse sensibility and some genuinely sinuous camerawork, tight direction, and subtly effective art direction and sound design and you have this nasty little piece of work. Not a classic, but the tensest movie I’ve seen all year.  Maybe last year, too.  “Don’t Breathe” flat out works.   A trio of housebreakers (notably a terrific and game Jane Levy) leverages knowledge of security alarms to pull of low-rent robberies, and accidentally find out about a major score, 300k hidden in the house of a blind Iraqi vet (a terrific Stephen Lang). Lets just say that they get more than they bargained for, and that breaking in is easier than breaking out.  Don’t watch the trailer.  Unless you have a phobic response to confined spaces or Rottweilers (oops, did I say that out loud) this R-rated suspenser delivers the goods with less blood than you might expect (given the  writer-director, Fede Alvarez’s last project, the  Evil Dead remake (2013).  But trust me, its not for the faint of heart, has twists and turns galore, and at least one scene that will have you jumping and screaming “I can’t BELIEVE they did that!”  Yeah, they did that.  And I loved it.   An “A”.

Making Imagination work for you

“You are now engaged in the task of trying to profit by Nature’s method. You are (sincerely and earnestly, we hope), trying to adapt yourself to Nature’s laws, by endeavoring to convert DESIRE into its physical or monetary equivalent.”–Napoleon Hill

TAGR is filled with “read between the lines” material.   If indeed it is the clearest statement ever written of the means of material success, obviously that secret cannot be much reduced, or expressed with total simplicity, or everyone would know it already.

With the caveat that any interpretation on my part is hobbled by my own limitations, I’m going to say that the above quote is saying that if you wish to succeed, you must align your efforts and emotions with nature.

The “I.D.E.A.” Concept: Instinctive Designation of Energy and Attention is the same thought: that as a sailer learns to  use the wind and tide to reach his destination, this is what we must do in order to succeed, especially if we don’t have massive resources which turn us into the equivalent of power boats.

In Hollywood, executives typically are not creative people, but they constantly try to have creative input. Is this stupid?  I say “no.”

Executives are like officers who interface with the money people: they keep their eyes on how much things will cost, whether they are likely to return an investment, and how a project might influence the other projects on their slate.  The very worst situation is when they are producing a film they have no interest in (they would never see it themselves) and have no respect for the genre or perceived audience. The best situation is when they themselves enjoy the kind of movie or television show you’re making, so that they can give you a “gut sense” of what the audience wants. They ARE that audience. 

When asked why so many Hollywood films suck, I get a little defensive: this is my industry. I love it.  And in my opinion, Hollywood does as well as any other national media industry.  If you’ve traveled much and turned on television in other countries, you’ll quickly see that the reason some people think that country X or Y has better film or television is that they only import their best.   On average?  Just as bland or stupid as anything you’ll ever see in America.   At best.

So the problem is the nature of collaboration. Well, you say, why don’t they just hand a blank check to a filmmaker and let them go make their movies?  Because experience tells them it is a disastrous approach. Any director gets more and more power as their films succeed.  And as they do, it is often like writers who are edited less and less as their careers spiral upward. The usual thought is that writer X was best when working with a strong editor.

And a book is far less of an investment than a film.  Why don’t filmmakers just use their own money?  Because they are too smart to do that. Except for a few very very rare instances, that is a fast-track to going broke.  IF YOU CANNOT ATTRACT INVESTORS, WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THERE IS AN AUDIENCE?

So we have investors, and uber-execs who run the studios, and the “suits” who sit in the meetings and act as guardians at the gate.   If you think they are Philistines, they think you are a spoiled brat, wanting to spend their money without caring about their day-to-day experience of how things work.

Or, you could side-step that by seeing execs as potential allies. Find the right ones, and they will see you as the door to advancing THEIR career. And then you’ve got it: it is to their ADVANTAGE to getting your project made. And that can be an amazing feeling.

To do this properly, you will need to seek allies who are in essence part of your MasterMind group (more on that later).  But here, what I want to impress upon you is that you need to seek to combine their creativity with yours.  Why?

1) Because they are the ones who write the checks. They know what their bosses will say “yes” to.

2) Because you want them to be PERSONALLY INVESTED in your project.  If they can feel their DNA in your project, it is now a joint project, and they will fight for it.

3) Because if they are smart (and most of them are pretty smart, even if they are fumbling in the creative arena) they at least reflect the potential audience for your project.

If they aren’t smart, if they are antagonistic to your idea or you, or other factors, you will have to go on to the next one, and then the next one, until you find someone simpatico. You may have to create your own project AND THEN MARKET IT to prove you can make money with it before you attract a studio.

But when things are going pretty well, you can listen to their ideas, find some that appeal to you, and incorporate them into your project (as long as you don’t damage your original concept) and thereby increase your chance to succeed by bonding an ally to you.

And also, you have enhanced your functional creativity.  If you are sitting by yourself, you still have multiple “voices” in your head representing different possible actions or perspectives. They bang and crash into each other, argue, and you choose among them to take another step along the creative road.

When you have a creative partnership, even with an exec, something similar to this process takes place, and to the degree that you can find harmony, you can not only succeed, but will sometimes stimulate your own creativity in unexpected ways. I’ve been in countless meetings where someone said something smart, that worked, and actually improved the project.

But there are other times when people say something that just doesn’t work, and you have to stand your ground.   Collaborative creativity, even between parts of your own personality, is a matter of satisfying BOTH your creative (child) selves and your deepest values (elder) in alignment with your workaday (adult) self. 

Add a partner or partners? It is like threading a series of needles. While they are moving.  You are trying to get YOUR idea past all of THEIR filters.   

When I wrote for THE OUTER LIMITS, I pitched them an idea I originally called “Recidivist” about a woman who develops an approach to time travel. She waits until a serial killer has been executed, then goes back in the past and kills him before he’s killed his first victim, thereby creating her own series of impossible murders…

It turned into the award-nominated (Best Screenplay) and Emmy-Winning (Best Supporting Actress Amanda Plummer) episode entitled “A Stitch In Time” and I have to say that I was treated well, the entire cast and crew did a fine job, and that the changes (there are always changes) only improved the story.

But there was one moment when I had to stand my ground.  You see, the scientist (Amanda Plummer) was killing these men to work up the strength to confront the man who had kidnapped and raped her as a girl.When she finally confronts him, she kills him thereby changing her own future…and changing the timeline so that none of the other serial killers are killed.

The execs on the show wanted me to have her walk away.  Realize that if she did that, all those other victims would die.  They were all convinced they were right.

And I was convinced they were wrong.   I pointed out something about their assumption: every one of them in that room was a man.  Every one.  I told them to go home and ask their wives about that.  That if the wives agreed, I’d go along.

A couple of days later, I got a rather sheepish call saying yep, the wives had agreed with me.  Regardless of the cost to others, the primary emotional drive would be to undo the damage that had devastated her own life, turning her into an asexual “brain in a box”.

I’d taken a risk, but was in alignment with my values, my own sense of how human beings operate.  I’d respected my creativity, and as a result was rewarded with a deeper connection to my own flow.

I didn’t always have that courage.  If you haven’t heard the story about “Friday the 13th” and “Purple Heart” I’ll tell you sometime.

But right now, pay attention to the WAY you unleash your creativity, by holding to your values as well as generating tons of ideas through brainstorming or masterminding.   Remember that you will have to live with this project for weeks or months, and with their results for years or a lifetime. Respect yourself.

But also, when as all possible, respect all the warring parts of your personality, your partners, and the guardians at the financial gates.

Its work but it really is possible.

Namaste,

Steve

When is knowledge power?

“As knowledge is acquired it must be organized and put into use, for a definite purpose, through practical plans. Knowledge has no value except that which can be gained from its application toward some worthy end.”–Napoleon Hill

Every piece of this puzzle fits into all the others. 

Remember that you want your goals to dovetail with your values, and that you are committed to mastering your path.  Mastering your path includes the “student becomes the teacher” step, meaning that you know you are going to be at least a role model to others.   

1) You have tapped into your passion (desire) to create a goal, and have written out a statement of its pursuit and acquisition.  The passion should be such that you are willing to invest at least a thousand hours in its pursuit.  (In many cases you can get started with as few as ten hours of study, or a hundred. But a thousand will make you an expert in most activities.)

2) You have faith that you can and should pursue your goal.

3) You strengthen your faith through auto-suggesion (Daily Ritual, emotionalized affirmation, etc.)

4) And you gain SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE of the arena in which you have decided to invest your thousand hours.

How do you do this?  Model.   Study people who have achieved your goal, starting as close to your own point of origin as possible.  Determine their

1) Belief systems.  What do they beleive about the activity, and their capacity to master it?   In all probability they find it fascinating, valuable, in alignment with their values.  They believe they CAN and SHOULD do it.

2) Mental Syntax.  In what order do they perform their tasks? Build their careers? Writers usually read thousands of books before they begin to write. Then the formula:

A) Read 10X what you write

B) Write a story a week, or every other week

C) Put them in the mail, keep them in the mail

D) Don’t rewrite except to editorial request.

E) Repeat for 100 stories

Makes sense. It is a “Machine” that will take you to publication, as well as take you as close to your own optimal expression of craft and art.  There are similar “Machines” for almost any human activity you can name.  By studying successful people, you will build yours.

3) Use of physiology.  There are breathing and movement patterns that accompany different physical activities.  And that means anything you do in your body.  That means everything, so long as you are alive.   Patterns of diet, exercise, posture, facial expression…and on and on.

“Modeling” breaks down even more.  For a writer, again, the physical aspects are generalized (moderate fitness to provide energy, circulation, stress relief, etc.) but the mental aspects (spelling, grammar, structure, time management, market research, general knowledge) and belief systems (emotions: how do you deal with frustration, sloth, fear, boredom) are more primary.  In fact, there are countless thousands of books and classes dealing with them. Get started.  Build your plan.

##

What if you are just starting out in life, and have no specific skills and are looking for your first job?  Or a new job?

Gain specialized knowledge of the position you want.  Remember that you’ve created your goal, which is something you care about deeply enough to be willing to put in that thousand hours.  Maybe you want to become a lawyer. But to get there you have to work your way through school (at least partially…some would say you cannot work your way through a decent law school, you MUST have massive debt). 

So you need a job.   That means that:

1) You choose a job path that will teach you things that will help in your future position, teaching you about an industry, and so forth.  Or:

2) You choose a job you can get, that makes decent money, and will support you while you make your other “moves” toward your dream.

In either case, you can either put in a lot of applications everywhere, or you can do the Think And Grow Rich approach:

1) Find a position you’d like, or an industry you’d like to work in and CREATE the position you want.

2) Study it until you can see very clearly what benefit you can bring to that business. Remember: a potential boss doesn’t care AT ALL that you need to pay the bills.  He needs to pay HIS bills, and the only, the ONLY reason he will hire you 99% of the time is that he believes you can help him do that.  Most people look for a job.  Separate yourself from the pack: give employers an opportunity to tap into your well of energy, enthusiasm, and intelligence. 

3)  Position yourself as the answer to their problems.  With your study, and your self knowledge, create a very clear document detailing how and why you can increase his income and decrease his stress. You are there to do something for HIM, not begging for “a paycheck.”

If there is one thing you have to get through your head, one thing CRITICAL to your financial success, it is this:

You are NOT in the business of being a doctor, a lawyer, a secretary, an auto repairman, a landscaper, a writer, a painter. Those are your skills, crafts, or art.

You ARE in the business of SELLING AND MARKETING your skill, craft, or art.   

Get this through your head.   Write it on an index card and tack it on the wall.  Look at it and read it aloud twice a day. 

And what is sales?  The transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another.  In other words, communicating the value.  Amatuer vacuum cleaner salesmen talk about features of the mechanical structure.  Pros paint a picture of clean homes, healthy children, and happy spouses.  THAT’S sales.

What is marketing?  Understanding the unique value you have to offer (your Unique Selling Proposition) and your perfect audience, the person who needs YOU (your “Avatar”).

Once you’ve found this person? Selling to them is merely a matter of convincing them that they will get more pleasure from dealing with you than pain.  That taking a chance on you is worth the risk.

The only way to do that is to KNOW THEIR BUSINESS. What do they make? What service do they provide? What are the steps in making that service, or developing the skills to provide the service?

And remember what THEIR real business is: selling their product or service.

Do you really, really want to be constantly employed?  Be a DAMNED good salesperson and/or marketer.   This means not only being able to sell a product or service, but being able to sell a prospective employer that you can help them do precisely that.

Too many people have a very negative attitude toward sales, and it kills their ability to function in the business world. They have no confidence in their ability to move from one job to another (to “sell themselves”).  And as a result must take whatever they are offered.

ANY business will hire you if they BELIEVE that you will bring in two hundred dollars for every hundred dollars they pay you, at no increase in stress for them.  They would be IDIOTS not to.  Wouldn’t you pay a hundred dollar to get two hundred?  How many times a day would you make THAT transaction?

That’s the position you need to put a prospective employer in.   SALES IS A TRANSFER OF ENTHUSIASM FROM ONE PERSON TO ANOTHER.  If all you have to sell is personal services, you must BELIEVE in yourself.   Know that you can add value.  If you haven’t skills, then have ENERGY, HONESTY, CREATIVITY, LOYALTY.  If you have a hard time believing in yourself, use AUTO-SUGGESTION to drown out the negative voices.   By gathering SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE of the chosen arena, you are walking in with ideas and value before they’ve even trained you.

(Be careful here…you must also “empty your cup”–be willing to learn, to put aside what you think you know about the busness, because even if you’ve worked in a shoe store before, a new store will have its own processes and systems.)

But more than anything else, more than EVERYTHING else when it comes to making money, understand that statement: YOU ARE NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF PROVIDING   GOODS OR SERVICES.  YOU ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF SELLING AND MARKETING GOODS AND SERVICES.

Focus your acquisition of specialized knowledge on this. On finding a way to fall in love with sales and marketing.  Here’s a hint: if you were selling antibiotics in a fever ward, wouldn’t you believe in what you were doing?  Wouldn’t you see the value?  Wouldn’t you communicate that value to the doctors or patients in every way you could, if you cared about those people?

Would you sell your product or service to your mother, brother, sister, children?  Would you use it yourself? Then what PRECISELY is the obstacle?

And if you wouldn’t…WHY NOT?   If you are selling crap goods and services, IMPROVE. Study. Find something new to sell.  If you haven’t the skill or smarts to create something find someone who can, and offer your loyalty and energy to them.

Study sales and marketing.  It is a distinct skill, separate from the skill of “doing the thing” and if you master it, you will never be without a job, and always be in demand.  SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE in this specific arena will bring you more money than any other part of the equation.    Think of all the people you know who cannot sell themselves.  Even if they are smarter or more talented than you, you can out-perform them financially if you are better at selling yourself.  Of course, you also need to increase the value of your product or service, constantly seek to improve this…but even if you HAVE no product to sell, if you have mastered the service of sales, all you have to do is find someone with a product or service, offer them your skills, demonstrate them by starting on commission, and bingo, instant job.  Zero risk for them, and zero risk for you–IF YOU TRUST YOUR SKILLS.

This is the critical pressure point specifically for money: sales and marketing.  Once you master it the world changes. Gain that specialized knowledge in this specialized area, I beg you.

Master it.  And then…teach others, by the example of your success if nothing else.

Namaste,

Steve

Faith is Fire

“Faith is seeing light with your heart when all your eyes see is darkness.” ~ Anonymous

The eighth step of the Hero’s Journey is “the Leap of Faith”.  It is the way through the “Dark Night of the Soul”, the inevitable “gap” between where you are and where you need to be.  The Dark Night is the result of pushing yourself beyond ordinary limits.  “The only way you know how far you can go is by going too far” as the saying goes. So the performer, the person committed to excellence or growth, MUST be prepared to deal with this…or life will frighten them into retreat.

Those who lift weights are familiar with the concept of training to muscle________.    That’s right, failure.  Failure is the way we tell our minds or bodies that we must grow stronger…IF we are focused and emotionalized, and IF we have FAITH that we can and should pursue our goals.

It’s hard. The fear can be overwhelming.  And the antidote for fear…is faith.

Some are turned off by the word, because of religious implications.  But the dictionary definition of Faith is usually something like “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” And what “someones or somethings” might those be? Need they be supernatural entities?  Hardly.  Here are the three:

1) Faith in yourself. That deep within you there is more strength and wisdom than you commonly express or experience.

2) Faith in your companions.   Your allies, partners, spouse, family. That there are people who will pick you up when you are down…or who believe in you, such that you can trust their opinions and regard or your capacities even when you lose confidence.

3) Faith in a higher power.   This is where “God” concepts come in.   But you could also say nature, the Universe, Universal Mind, any number of other expressions that there is something larger than we are, and that we are a part of it.

When I began my writing career, I modeled two men: Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury.   Combining their advice about writing I came up with the following statement:

I will write a story a week, or a story every other week.  I will put them in the mail and keep them in the mail until they sell, and not re-write except to editorial request.”

I started this program in the mid 70’s, beginning with great enthusiasm and energy.  And then…the rejections began. One after another after another.  And years passed.  And the voices of every person who had ever doubted me, my mother who had torn my stories up and was TERRIFIED that my artistic aspirations would self-destruct as did my father’s, the teachers who mocked me, and the entire culture which gave me not a single example of success in this field that mirrored my ethnicity…

Slowly, my confidence eroded.  Fear began creeping in. What if I can’t?  What if I am not good enough..?

What if they’re right about me?

Sleepless nights.  One of the few saving graces was the woman in my life, Toni Young, who believed in me.  Encouraged me.  Read and enjoyed my stories, and told me I could do it.  Loved me when I was down.

Had FAITH in me.  Bless her.

And one day, I found a way to have faith in myself.  The fourth principle of the Hero’s Journey is the “Road of Trials”, the path you have to traverse to become good enough to face your obstacles and win the day.   “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  But…how MANY steps? How long do you keep trying?  Keep going?  I’d burned my bridges behind me…had I been one of the world’s great fools?

All right.  I would define my road.  I set an arbitrary number: ONE HUNDRED STORIES.  I would write and submit ONE HUNDRED STORIES over the next what…two years?  Four years?  ONE HUNDRED STORIES, starting the count right then, before I allowed the doubting voices in my head any strength over me at all.

And I began.  Now, when I got rejection slips, they had a different meaning: they meant that I was one of the few with the courage to keep getting back to the plate and taking a swing.  They represented the millions of steps I was willing to take to walk the Thousand Mile Road.

Five stories.  Ten.  Fifteen.  I was writing like a demon, humming as I did, eager to get those rejections.  As Tananarive’s teacher said to her: “A REAL writer papers his walls with rejection slips.”  I was a REAL writer!  Not published, not yet, but real!!

Twenty Stories. This was fun!  And then…

At story twenty-three…

I was accepted.  A story called “Trick or Treat”, about a man who gets into an escalating war of nerves with the neighborhood kids every Halloween.  A nasty little piece of work.  Not only that, but I managed to get a copy of it to my idol, Ray Bradbury (Toni created the accompanying illustrations, the sweetheart!) and Ray sent me back a letter telling me he loved the story and encouraging me to go for a career.

OMG!   A real writer, a famous writer, a GREAT writer had said he valued my work?  I cannot tell you what it meant. He thought I had something.  He had FAITH in me!

That was the accelerant I needed, and I never looked back. 

Years later, I was taking a class in writing at UCLA extension from Robert Kirsch, the literary editor of the L.A. Times. Most of the other students were doing literary work, and I was turning out very odd pieces of work, including that story about the compulsive gambler who hocked his pacemaker.  Kirsch didn’t know what to make of that story, and asked if he could show it to “a friend.”  I said sure.

And about five weeks later, I got a letter…from Ray Bradbury.  Telling me he loved it, and encouraging me.  I can’t tell you how much that meant.

Years passed.   I was actually deep in my career, but beginning to fight a creeping sense that I had “sold out” by writing commercial fiction, books and scripts that were written to keep my doors open and a roof over my family’s head while I struggled to find my voice.   I was asked by U.C.L.A.  To create a science fiction symposium, nine weeks I believe, with writers like Octavia Butler, Greg Benford, Larry Niven, Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, and…Ray Bradbury.   I picked Ray up at his house, and took him to dinner before the conference. And while we were talking, I poured my heart out to him, wondering if I had lost my way as an artist.

“Well…” he asked thoughtfully.  “Have you published?”

“Oh yes,” I said, and detailed stories and a dozen books and television scripts and…and he was laughing, gently, deeply, musically.

“Oh, my goodness,” he said, twinkling, “you will have no trouble at all.”

Sigh.   I felt that fear fly out of my mouth like a little bird, because I had faith that HIS faith meant something powerful and positive.

Years passed.   I was asked to host a symposium for the Planetary Society in Pasadena.  Ray was one of the guests, and I got to stand on the stage and tell the crowd my story of what he meant to me.  Ray came up on stage and gave me one of the great hugs of my life.   Wow.  What a moment.

Years passed. Late in 2011 I was told that Ray was very ill, that there was to be a dinner honoring him at the Universal Sheraton, and would I be willing to speak there?  Of course. And so I did, gushing out all he had meant to me as he sat, frail in his wheelchair, watching me with a tiny smile. I cried my eyes out.   He hugged me, for the last time, and I left, sobbing all the way home.

And a few weeks later I recieved my last letter from this great man, thanking me for coming to his “little party”, saying he was very touched by what I’d said, and that “some of your tears are my own.”

A few months later, on June 5 of 2012, Ray passed away.  He touched countless readers, but I’m not sure how many people know how many WRITERS he lifted up with his light.

I was, and am one of them.  He had faith in me. Saw something in a frightened kid with outsized dreams. And because of that faith…I believed in myself.

Faith is fire.   Pass it on.

Namaste,

Steve

Passion is power

Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.”—Rumi

Two weeks ago, I found myself in Los Angeles, driving past the spot where my life changed.  It is on Washington Boulevard, a little west of Crenshaw.   Now as then a nice neighborhood, with a church, well maintained lawns, pleasant white fences.  No evidence that once a long long time ago a boy was utterly humiliated, and from that humiliation created a new life.

I’d been beaten up countless times, but one day when I was at Mt. Vernon Jr. High school was the final straw.  A bully named Rudy, his brother and their friends followed me home along that street, hitting me, spitting on me, cursing at me and challenging me to fight an impossible fight.  Rudy had plagued me since elementary school, pulling out a pair of brass knuckles (!) on me in fifth grade to separate me from my lunch money.

And this day, he decided that I had wronged him, specifically had narked on him to the Vice Principle, and that he was going to beat the truth out of me. 

I couldn’t fight him: I’d never won a fight in my life, and even if I did, I’d have to fight his bigger brother. And if I won THAT fight, I’d have to fight his friends.   Two of them?  Three?  My memory isn’t clear on that.  But it was impossible.  I could do nothing. But with every punch and slap, something was coming apart inside me, some sense of personhood.  Agency. Worth.  They were destroying that young boy, until, trapped between impossible alternatives:

Act?  Be destroyed.  Don’t act?  Be destroyed.

Something snapped inside me.  I put my books down on the ground, and walked out into the street.  Washington Boulevard was the busiest street in that entire area, and I stood in the middle of the double yellow lines, cars and trucks whizzing past me on both sides, and looked at Rudy as if staring at him through a long, long tunnel.   And said to him in a voice that was not my own:

“Come out here and do that.”   He looked at me, and I looked at him, and there was a moment of genuine truth. No games. No play. No social roles.

If he’d come out there, I was going to push him in front of a car and kill him.  And…he knew it, knew that he’d pushed me too far, and that I was ready to die, and ready to take him with me. 

He blinked first.  “Aw, man,” he said, “that nigger’s crazy.”  And he and his friends laughed, and walked on.   

And…he never bothered me again.

I knew on that day that I had found something I’d never known inside myself, and prayed that just maybe this was the space that was discussed in writings on the martial arts, and the various warrior paths of countless cultures throughout history.  And swore right then and there to master it, to find that Way and walk it.   I could NOT go back to being the boy who was so afraid that he let a thug nearly destroy him.

It would be impossible to detail all the pain, and disappointment, fear and shame, self-contempt and emotional turmoil that path brought me.  In addition, though, it also brought joy, self-confidence, friendship, discipline, clarity and energy beyond belief.   I wanted to quit a thousand times, and kept going a thousand and one.

I had a WHITE HOT DESIRE to be me. Just…be myself.  Own my own life. Be able to speak my truth, open my heart.  I was such a friendly, loving, studious little bookworm. And the world would not leave me alone.  There was no tribe to protect me.  I couldn’t even tell my mother what I was going through.  It felt like death. And then…it felt WORSE than death, until death became preferable.

And that is what made life possible.   A desire so deep you are willing to sacrifice, risk EVERYTHING to achieve it, cannot leave you in defeat: you win, or you die.

That is where you must begin.  To be so connected to your desires, your heart, that you are consumed.  This can be difficult, because life does all it can to dampen those flames.

I had a BURNING DESIRE to find love, and was gifted by life with two wonderful women, Toni my first wife and one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and Tananarive, my soul mate.

I had a BURNING DESIRE to have a writing career, and soldiered through every fear and disappointment, knocked on every door, and wrote until my fingers were bloody to create my life.  Am I proud of everything I’ve done?   Fulfilled every dream?  Every CHILDHOOD dream, yes.  And now have new, more adult dreams. But out of the three million words and thirty novels I’ve published, I feel that ten of them actually accomplished what I wanted, spoke my truth, and rose to the level I aspired to.  Not bad at all.

I had a BURNING DESIRE to master the martial arts.   Definitions differ, of course.  But the finest karate man I’ve ever known, a master of masters, champion, street-fighter extraordinaire and tamer of tigers for generations, still a badass at 77, promoted me to one of the highest ranks in his entire system.   Mastery?   I don’t know…but if his definition is correct: “unconscious competence in basics such that you can create spontaneously under pressure” then I suppose so.  I like the notion that mastery is a verb not a noun, a vector, not a position. And that once you have your basic vocabulary, and have committed to the path for a lifetime, you are on the “Path of Mastery” as much as anyone else, even if they are far ahead of you. And the Masters I’ve admired seem to concur. They are just students.  The term “master” is for the benefit of students who need to believe that there is a goal at the end of the discipline and pain.

Doubt will always be a part of the path. And fear. And pain. And failure.  But…if you begin with desire, then the Way itself is the end point. The actions you take on a daily basis ARE the reward.  And you have simultaneously maximized your chances of winning the external rewards as well.

Begin with desire. What do you REALLY want?  I say it is either to express something about yourself, or to create some change in the world.   When you connect these two things, you express or discover something about yourself and the “wake”, the external evidence, the observable result of that expression or discovery is accomplishment observable by others.

But the real reward?  Being yourself.  THAT is what that boy promised to himself that day on Washington Boulevard.

I will be myself.  I will die before I let anyone take “me” away from me, ever again.

From time to time I get discouraged, feel that my goals are out of reach.  And I remember that boy, willing to risk everything just to be an honest expression of himself.  And that is all the power I need.

He didn’t let me down.   And by God, I won’t let him down, either.

Namaste,

Steve

Everything begins somewhere

Back in the late 70’s I was writing my butt off, but not publishing anything much.   This was discouraging to me, because I believed in goal setting, had set my goals and burned my bridges behind me by dropping out of college, wrote and wrote and submitted and submitted…

Maybe this “goal setting” stuff didn’t work!

And then one day I got a terrible joke: my goal had been to be a writer. And I WAS one. I just wasn’t a PUBLISHED writer.

Damn specificity!

So I changed my goal: “I am a published writer…”

And almost as soon as I change it, I did get published. And…paid in contributor’s copies.

Not good enough.  Back to the drawing board: “I am published and paid for my writing…”

And…got paid .2 cents per word.  Arrrgh!

All right.  Changed my goal again.  “I support myself with my writing…”

And did.  Just barely.  I mean starvation wages, but I did it…

This was absurd. I could stair-step my way up.  Or I could create larger goals, and the problem there was that long periods would pass where it seemed that nothing was happening.  The urge to dig up the seeds and see if they were sprouting was overwhelming.  But if you do that, often you kill the sprouts.

The problem was that I was thrashing, milling, didn’t know where or what to do because I knew no one who had ever actually sold any writing, no one who actually made their living at it.

I had the desire. The faith, the “auto-suggestion”.  I didn’t have the Specialized Knowledge.

That was when I went looking for a writer who was on the “other side of that line.”    I remember asking my friend Otis Allred at Pepperdine University where “real” writers might be found, and he mentioned that Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle attended Thursday meetings at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.   

Larry Niven…hmmm…I knew that name.

I went home and looked in my book collection, and found some Niven, specifically a short story collection called “All the Myriad Ways.”  The titular story was a multiple time-track story that was simply brilliant.  And that was what I needed: the ability to look at someone and HONESTLY tell them I admire them. It is best to think and behave and speak as if people can read your mind.

So armed with that, I sallied out to Burbank and searched out Larry.  I’d met him once before and had a brief conversation with him in an art show, but knew he’d never remember me. When he arrived, I said: “Hello, Mr. Niven.  My name is Steven Barnes, and I’m a writer.”

He took a puff on his pipe (he smoked at that time) and said: “O.K.  Tell me a story.”

I was gobsmacked, but luckily I’d just mailed off a story about a compulsive gambler who hocks his pacemaker, and fumbled the details out.  He was sufficiently impressed to continue the conversation.  I later learned that from the way I’d come on to him, I had about ten seconds to prove I wasn’t an asshole.

We talked more, and I asked him if he would be kind enough to read one of my stories. He agreed, and I gave him an envelope that had three stories in it…

And that was the beginning.

##

If you’ve been following my musings on Think And Grow Rich, or the “M.A.G.I.C. Formula” you will recognize a number of principles in what I did, and why it worked.

But the most important ones are that I knew what I wanted, acted, measured my results and knew I wasn’t getting what I wanted, and didn’t lose faith.   Found someone on the other side of the issue and offered him genuine value (honest praise and appreciation for his story once we were engaged in conversation) and then made a polite request.  I had done my homework, and was already good enough to offer him some work that would not embarrass me.  And then I was in enough control of my emotions, had enough confidence to carry this all off without vomiting with fear.

Was I scared?  Hell yes.   But anyone who knew me at the time knows that I was a cocky little bastard.  Had to be: everything in the world told me I couldn’t have, be, or do what I so desperately desired. Only ego sustained me.

In time, I outgrew that ego shell, and it became a strait-jacket I had to shred to grow.  And let me tell you, if you don’t break your ego shells, either life will break them…or they will crush your dreams.

But that’s another story.

This story was about the beginning of my career, the moment at which I did something right, something honest, something in alignment with my dreams and hopes and goals.   

Most of the successful people I’ve known can speak of a teacher, a mentor, a lecture, a book, some specific person who or event which opened the door to a different level of functioning and happiness.   If YOU are stuck, you may need nothing more than clarifying your goals, and finding someone who has clarity on an arena in which you are confused.   Sit them down for an hour: offer them dinner, or honest respect, or in some cases even pay them (what in the heck do you think Life Coaches are doing?) for their time, and you can learn in minutes what might otherwise have taken you years of fumbling.

And then once you’ve learned and accomplished…leave a trail of bread crumbs for others.   Build the bridge for others to cross. That’s how it gets done.

Namaste,

Steve

War Dogs (2016)

I thought “War Dogs” was amusing and disturbing in equal measures. They did a better job than “Wolf of Wall Street” for helping you understand why the actions of these two low-rent arms dealers was not just dishonest but damaging and wrong. “Wolf” basically only showed you all the terrific fun DiCaprio had making tons of money, and never showed us the negative consequences or who any of it was hurting. “War Dogs” could have done better, but at least our protagonists were rather obviously less attractive and appealing,  (Jonah Hill is no DiCaprio by any stretch of the imagination)   and the situations they got into were less amusing and inviting. But it did enjoy walking a moral edge, and ends on one of those “what would YOU do?” situations.

The best line in the movie was in the coming attractions (although it certainly takes on a deeper meaning in context): Bradley Cooper’s uber-arms dealer saying: “I’m not a bad man. But in certain situations I have to ask myself: what would a bad man do?” That’s a great line, it really is. I’d probably give it a “B”.

Flaws in TAGR

It is valuable to ask what flaws might exist in this work.  In no way is TAGR “perfect”…it is, rather, the best of its type ever written, which is quite enough.

But it is also fair to ask what changes an individual might make in any text. Those changes wouldn’t necessarily make the text BETTER, but at least it would be more complete or useful in that one person’s opinion.   Here are some thoughts:

1) The biggest single issue I have personally is that it doesn’t say much about the protection of money once you have it.   The book “Richest Man In Babylon” fills this gap nicely, specifically the recommendation to save 10% of everything you earn for retirement or passing to the next generation. A FABULOUS suggestion, which creates an entire cascade of positive effects.   Man oh man, if I’d done this when I started my career, life would have been HUGELY more stable.  Arguably the largest material flaw of my entire existence.

2) It is incredibly simple considering the amount of information it contains…but still very complicated.    It is possible that some of the aspects of Mind could have been confined in fewer chapters.  Maybe.

3) Some of the book is rather charmingly out of date. I mean, it was written before WW2, and there are scientific, social and psychological theories and are rather quaint, and in some instances, just flat wrong.   This gives room for people to discount the very real and valuable information that is timeless.

4) It can seem overly positive, without admitting that luck and innate capacity play as large a part as they do.  On the other hand, the “Mastermind” can indeed compensate for much, and except in extreme cases, “luck” does favor the prepared mind…and the bold.  This is a fine line.  Ultimately, I think I have to say that we get far, far more urging to limit our dreams than we do to go for it.  If I had to fail to one side or the other, I suppose it is better to be too optimistic.

5) It is unfortunate that the book was written when it was, and the vast majority of its examples are white males.  This can make it difficult to “translate” some of the concepts for POC and women.  In addition, there are quite a few VERY male-centric comments and theories, which may present problems as well. But you know what?  I’ve known dozens of women who adore the book, and not one of them has complained much about this, although they do bring it up humorously. There are a few unfortunate racial comments as well, but frankly I find Hill to have been remarkably “enlightened” about race…for his time.  All in all, far better for it to have been written too early than too late.

6) I wonder what he would have made of some of the more advanced tools: NLP, Eriksonian Hypnosis, Transactional Analysis, Behavioral Modification and other things, as well as tools of meditation from Asian  and other cultures.  Hill’s book seeks to help people align their inner and outer worlds to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness.  And did it so well that virtually every other “success” book can be traced back to it one way or another.  But there ARE better techniques than emotionalized repetition of words and visualizations.  Or…maybe they are merely refinements.  Really, his techniques work.

Overall, what do I think?

1) Nothing can promise you success, just as no driving course can guarantee you won’t have an accident, and no martial art guarantee you won’t lose a fight.  But I cannot imagine anyone using even 10% of the information in this book and not improving their results.  And someone using 90% of it…?

2) Honestly, I’ve never met a successful person who did not deliberately or accidentally, consciously or unconsciously, use the techniques in this book, display the attitudes, hold the beliefs, take the actions in some form.   Not a single one.  In fact, I’ll go far enough to say that you cannot point out a successful individual who does NOT use the principles, and would have a very difficult time finding an unsuccessful individual who uses, say as much as 25% of what is contained in these pages.

###

How does this book relate to social change?  Again, applying the “Five Fold” method (oh, I’ll find a trick acronym to help us remember the steps eventually.  Don’t have it yet though.)

1) Love yourself.  You have to do this to combat fear, convince yourself you are worthy of greater accomplishment, free yourself from needing to get the approval of others.  You are as worth fighting for as your own helpless, beloved child would be.  ANY lesser willingness to give it “everything” is a sign of negative implantation.    In addition, if you BEGIN with the feeling of love and connection, you simply enjoy the process of life far more deeply than those who can only feel “good” if they accomplish.   Don’t “accomplish to be happy” but rather “happily accomplish.”   Any time I council someone in despair or fear about the state of the world, wondering how we will ever survive and heal, I remind them to BE THE CHANGE THEY WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD.  It starts with them. How can they expect their community, or America to heal if THEY cannot? And the antidote for fear…is love.

2) Expand your sense of “self” to include others.  This is the beginning of understanding. The Khoisan “Num” belief, that we are “One soul looking out through many eyes” is a beautiful statement of this.  And it allows us to begin the “Soul Mate” process where you find someone traveling your road, at your speed, and bond with them to create a life partnership or family.  The family has ALWAYS been the primary building block of society. When the family is strong, society is strong. And the opposite is true as well.   Being a strong individual with a strong marriage/partnership is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself…or the world.

3) Understand the flow of human history without guilt, blame, or shame.   In American history, this means  that what happened to black people was not a matter of special evil on the part of whites, and the way blacks responded to that damage was not indicative of incapacity on their part. Europe didn’t “take” Africa because the individuals were superior or inferior, but because accidents of history and geography allowed Europeans to leverage their capacities in amazing and wonderful and sometimes tragic ways.  As you forgive yourself and others, you need to understand animal behavior, the formation of human societies, the flow and development of technology and information systems such that you can release the feelings of inferiority or superiority that cripple your ability to just…see human beings.

Critical. 

What I call the “Southern Matrix” of racism and self-justification is about rationalizing the need for cheap human labor and self-excuse of the violations and abominations related to the institution which evolved to support that need.  Further, the belief systems (racial inferiority) that supported it, and the whole amazing rafts of bullshit to justify the history that followed.  Ugh.  Continued to this day.    Massive amounts of fear and guilt and denial.  And on the other side, anger and hatred on the part of those who suffered…along with a toxic mixture of superiority and inferiority complexes.  SO many black people are secretly afraid that whites are correct in considering them inferior.  Just tragic.  Free yourself. IMO, all that is needed to rid yourself of being intimidated by anyone, ever, is to free yourself from the sense that anyone should be intimidated by you.   

4) Identify your tribe.  Find your “mastermind” among those who believe in human equality, especially those who pass the first three “gates” of perception.  Those who are “awakened adults” or who wish to become awakened: they can be led.  But those asleep dreaming they are awake? Still caught within the illusions of pain and fear?  Build a better world for them to awaken to, but let them sleep. And of course, learn to identify the monsters.  Avoid them when possible, but be prepared to deal with them head-on if necessary. The children are not safe if no one will tread on the snakes. Offer them peace, and if they cannot accept it, and continue to attack, defend yourself.  Most are cowards and will back down.  Those who will not, and are strong enough to hurt you?  There are more of us than there are of Them.  Form alliances.  Make sure you have people to watch your back.  I sure as hell do, and I treasure them.

5) SUCCEED.  Massively as you can, according to your goals and dreams, in alignment with your deepest values. Nothing is as attractive or convincing as success.  If you can radiate “aliveness” and joy…are a healthy animal…have a passionate love relationship and are living your dream people will want to know what you’re doing.  Such people have “charisma.” They are congruent, and can stand before a crowd and speak honestly and openly and spontaneously about their experiences, and inspire thousands.  BE THAT PERSON.  Even if you choose a quiet existence, you show by your very presence that IT IS POSSIBLE TO WIN AND STILL BE A GOOD PERSON. People are desperate to know this.  DESPERATE.  They are so afraid that you have to cheat, steal, lie, or prostitute yourself to accomplish.  To “sell out” to succeed.   That you have to become something you are not.

No.  You have to become what you truly ARE.  This is what you learn if you take step #1, and ONLY if you have consciously or unconsciously taken this step.

So we travel the five steps, each of which could be a lifetime study. And we have juxtaposed it against the thirteen steps of the greatest secular self-improvement book ever written.    I ask you to ask questions, or challenge me on any of these points. Make me prove or extend my thesis. Show me what I’m not considering.  Ask for specific means to utilize these ideas.

Here’s my first suggestion: use the M.A.G.I.C. Formula in connection with a “Morning Ritual” of motion, thought, and emotion:

Magic equals

Action, constant and passionate

Gratitude for the blessings in your life

Intentions, clear and balanced, and

Conviction that you Can and Should pursue your goals successfully.

Again, by grafting these thoughts onto TAGR, I can think of no better way to help individuals or society, in alignment with what I have experienced to be true in life.   And those of you who agree?

You are my tribe, and I love you dearly.

Namaste,

Steve