The “Secret Formula” part 2: Faith
In the “hero’s journey”, the way through the “dark night of the soul” is called the “Leap of faith.” It is critical to remember that in the achievement of ANY goal, you will hit a low point. Absolutely inevitable. And some times that low point is horrid, bleak, pale, a well of despair.
But if you know ahead of time that this will happen, you can lay in a stock of the antidote: faith. Now faith, in mythology, is always faith in one of three things:
- Faith in yourself
- Faith in your companions or mentors
- Faith in a higher power.
In the sense of the “Secret Formula”, faith means a belief that regardless of circumstances or appearances, you CAN and SHOULD achieve your goal. That ultimately, it and the attempts to achieve it will bring more pleasure than pain into your life.
Without this belief, you are paralyzed, regardless of your potential. You won’t cross the “critical distance line” in sparring (“I”ll just get hit.”). You won’t ask for that date (“she’ll just say no”). Modify eating and exercise patterns (why bother? I’ll just fail like 90% of other people…), or start that business (“90% of all businesses fail within five years…)
Your internal dialogue will trash you. What you need to move forward is to model the internal dialogue of winners, people who have achieved and reached the goal you achieve. And you only need to find three. Just three people who have succeeded at what you want to do, starting from a similar place. And if you can’t find someone who exactly matches? Back up and take a more generalized view. Don’t be quite as specific.
If you can’t find someone who has become a professional pogo-stick clown, study professional clowns, and professional fringe athletes. You will find some overlaps in their behaviors, beliefs, values. Concentrate on those to create your own path.
It isn’t that faith conquers everything. It is that WITHOUT faith, you can accomplish very little. The idea isn’t to eliminate the possibility of failure, it is to maximize your chances of success.
First, love yourself enough to nurture yourself. If the world rejects your efforts, or if you fail…you’ve still got you. You know you’ll cry, and dust yourself off, and go on with life. If you know you can survive the worst, you are more prepared to throw yourself into the fray again and again.
Someone once asked me: “Steve, your ambitions are so high. What if you fail? How will you deal with the disappointment?”
And the answer is simple: I’m not a child any more. I’m an adult. And adults deal with this stuff, or the children in their lives (and the creative child within them) are not safe. If at the moment of death I achieved absolute clarity, and saw that my ambitions had outpaced my capacities…who cares? I had a hell of a life.
But…if at the moment of death I saw that I could have accomplished more, been more, shared more, helped more…if only I’d had the faith and courage…THAT would break my heart.
Ultimately, I think we all have to make a choice: would you rather your dreams be too large, or too small.
Every one of us has to make that choice.
I choose faith.