Eating the elephant in the living room

You were instructed, in the last of the six steps described in the chapter on Desire, to read ALOUD twice daily the WRITTEN statement of your DESIRE FOR MONEY, and to SEE AND FEEL yourself ALREADY in possession of the money! By following these instructions, you communicate the object of your DESIRE directly to your SUBCONSCIOUS mind in a spirit of absolute FAITH. Through repetition of this procedure, you voluntarily create thought habits which are favorable to your efforts to transmute desire into its monetary equivalent.”—Napoleon Hill

At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home. All right, questions?”–Mark Watney (“The Martian”)


If you combined Napoleon Hill and Mark Watney’s advice, I suspect life would have a very hard time slowing you down.      So intense and compact is Hill’s paragraph that I want to dissect a key sentence:

You were instructed, in the last of the six steps described in the chapter on Desire, to read ALOUD twice daily the WRITTEN statement of your DESIRE FOR MONEY, and to SEE AND FEEL yourself ALREADY in possession of the money!” 

Wow.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times high-performing people have  talked about how there is a part of their minds that is ALWAYS thinking about their goal.  Martial artists who have a little space in their heads where a guy is always doing kata, or looking at every human being’s body language. A writer who is listening to people speaking around him, or keeping a notebook to write down impressions.  I remember Linda Miller, a wonderful animator I knew in college, constantly carrying a notebook and drawing ALL THE TIME.

Note that you are told to read aloud a written statement.   That means that you have engaged kinesthetic, visual and auditory mechanisms ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  Flooding all your senses.   Feel yourself already in possession?   Lots of reasons: but one of them is that if you have 100% confidence, you take your brakes off.   You don’t “hold back” for fear of failure.

Guess what? You’ll survive failure.  People do every day. But if you don’t believe you can accomplish something, the doubts and demons in your mind will absolutely eviscerate you.

If you visualize yourself accomplishing something (say, publishing a book that rises to the top of the best-seller list) then you have imagined a successful end-point of a long process.  Back up to the point where you see yourself promoting the book: radio interviews, internet chats, bookstore appearances.

Back up to seeing yourself turning the book in. When?  What date?  How long is the book?  Divide by the number of days until your deadline, and you can see how many pages you need to finish per day to make that goal.

Back up to the writing process.  How much research are you doing?  How about ten pages of research for every page you write?  Can you see and feel that work?  Can you see yourself ENJOYING THE PROCESS?   Making the time, organizing, shepherding your energy?

How about your emotions?  Do you BELIEVE everything you are imagining?

If you take twenty minutes a day to visualize these things, its like programming your GPS before you set out on a trip. Can you see what you need to do today?  Every step? Feel the emotions that would support it?

Then, all you have to do is chart, every day, whether or not you are on the right path.

The “Morning Ritual” takes this and combined it with physical movement.   If you have a goal of peak performance, and your physical health is part of that (and it should be, in a “braid”), and your chosen movement system is a part of that goal, then “just” performing the Ritual itself is actually succeeding, day by day.

Then… “mere” affirmation becomes process.   When you perform the Ritual you are, right then and there, creating your dream. The demons in your head will snap at you, scream at you, insist that your goals are worthless and impossible…but if you actually ARE fulfilling your goal as you speak, those voices begin to sound foolish. You begin to realize that all your life, they have spoken lies to you, and you’ve given them power.

There is NO arena of human pursuit to which this sort of auto-suggestion has not been applied: spiritual, financial, emotional, physical, social.

Prayer, journaling, affirmations, visualization, anchoring, whatever you want to call it, its all the same: aligning actions, emotions, intents all in the same direction. Breaking long-term goals into short-term daily actions. The fear that holds you back from your dreams obscures the elephant in the living room—the desires you’ve had for a better life, a better world, all your life.

How do you eat that elephant?   One bite at a time.

You head toward your goals.  Every day, just do THAT DAY’S work.   Solve the problems you can.  “Science the shit” out of your life (as Dr. Watney said!), studying the lives of people who have accomplished your goals, and DO WHAT THEY DID if you can extract the “critical path”, the most important actions, attitudes, and concepts they applied.    

One step, one action, one forkful at a time.  Emotions, thoughts, actions all aligned.  THIS is the power of the “Morning ritual”—doing every day what you can do THAT day.  No more. No less.


We’ll be crafting and designing our life dreams and morning rituals at the FIREDANCE TAI CHI workshop on November 5.  I hope that you’ll join us.


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