Let’s look again at the second chapter of THINK AND GROW RICH, in the context of creating BOTH personal success and social change. The first principle of success is A BURNING DESIRE. And the method of clarifying and stoking this desire is to create a mission statement, as follows (quoting from the book itself):
“First. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire. It is not sufficient merely to say “I want plenty of money.” Be definite as to the amount. (There is a psychological reason for definiteness which will be described in a subsequent chapter).
Second. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. (There is no such reality as “something for nothing.)
Third. Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire.
Fourth. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.
Fifth. Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.
Sixth. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. AS YOU READ—SEE AND FEEL AND BELIEVE YOURSELF ALREADY IN POSSESSION OF THE MONEY.
It is important that you follow the instructions described in these six steps. It is especially important that you observe, and follow the instructions in the sixth paragraph. You may complain that it is impossible for you to “see yourself in possession of money” before you actually have it. Here is where a BURNING DESIRE will come to your aid. If you truly DESIRE money so keenly that your desire is an obsession, you will have no difficulty in convincing yourself that you will acquire it. The object is to want money, and to become so determined to have it that you CONVINCE yourself you will have it.”
Let’s apply this to the concept of social change. Octavia Butler used this technique to guide herself through dark and discouraging days—the lot of the artist. She and I spoke of Think And Grow Rich, and it is my memory that she had heard of it before we met, so I can’t take responsibility.
Here is the mission statement she read twice a day, in her own handwriting:
“I shall be a bestselling writer. After Imago, each of my books will be on the bestseller lists of L.A.T, NYT, PW, WP, etc. My novels will go onto the awards list Whether publishers push them hard or not, whether I’m paid a high advance or not, whether I ever win another award or not.
This is my life. I write bestselling novels. My novels go onto the bestseller lists on or shortly after publication. My novels each travel up to the top of the bestseller lists and they reach the top an they stay on top for months (at least two). Each of my novels does this. So Be It! I will find the way to do it! See to it! See to it!”
When we look at this in terms of the Five Principles ( love yourself; love others; see the history of humanity as a balanced unfolding without guilt, blame or shame; share your social dreams only with awakened adults on the path of human equality; succeed to the limits of your ability) It is clear that she was on her way.
1) Octavia was living her deepest dream, and therefore her writing was loving the little girl inside her.
2) Nothing explicit in the goals speaks to “loving others” but her work itself spoke of power and healing.
3) Octavia was obsessed with gender and race relations, expressed as SF metaphor in her work. We spent countless hours discussing how humanity came to be what it is today, and how we move forward. This means that while the search for understanding is explicit in her work, it is implicit in her goals.
4) She didn’t care if the publishers promoted her work, or paid her hugely—she trusted that there was an audience that would respond, if she did her very best.
5) She was totally committed to success, and her light burned so brightly that we love her more today than we did while she was alive.
What does this mean? That the “line” between power and spirit was clear. Can you see it? If you want ONLY money, it still benefits you to seek to serve a higher purpose (even if that our purpose is “only” to relieve stress through entertainment). Even if you want ONLY to change the world, you still need to have access to organs of distribution (publishers, mass media) or a way to communicate your message (entertainment works well) and the more important the message is, the more important that you ground it in simple emotions. Also, people do NOT appreciate what they get for free—if you aren’t making money, people are not valuing your work.
See how it works? If you have “selfish” goals, plan in advance for them to benefit enough people to create massive success. If you have “selfless” goals be sure that they can enrich you. There is nothing noble about being unable to feed your children. And…nothing is more attractive to masses of people than success. They will want to know how you did it, especially if they see you didn’t “sell out” in the process.
The “read twice a day” is treading the same territory as the “Morning Ritual.” I would suggest that if you have serious goals, a burning need to accomplish them, that you do BOTH: read your statement twice a day, perform your Morning Ritual as well. Why take chances?
If you do all of this, can you still fail? Absolutely. Just as if you travel West you may not ever see the Pacific. The point is to maximize your journey’s chance to bring you joy by being super-clear on the What, Why, How, Who, and When of your goals. By making them meaningful enough to get you up early in the morning and keep you up late at night.
A last thought? Balance your goals. I suggest that you have goals in the Financial, Emotional, AND physical arenas, covering health, security, success, and loving connections. That’s your minimum, the foundation of your efforts. Want to add more? Fantastic. But if you just do this much, and see how your goals benefit you AND the world, you become a beacon whether you ever raise your voice as a SJW or not. You are saying “this path works” whether you ever proclaim yourself a guide or not.
And others will follow you. All that is necessary is for you to care for yourself and your family, and leave a trail of bread crumbs for others to follow. As individuals, human beings aren’t much smarter than Chimps. As societies, we are a linked network sharing and saving more information than we lose from generation to generation.
Love yourself. Love others. See our history as an expression of the same survival drives that we’ve had since the Veldt, and you will be one of the few who can see the way to the future. Don’t wake up the sleeping children, and be strong and wise enough to avoid or repel the smiling monsters. And…succeed, to the limits of your dreams and capacity.
For the good of all.