About ten years ago, I returned to California from a decade in the Northwest. I figured that I would pick up the pieces of my career and barrel forward. I got some bad news:
My beloved agent, Jonathan Westover told me that in the time I’d been gone, that the structure of Hollywood had changed, and they were no longer buying scripts from freelancers–it was all done by staff. And that they didn’t hire anyone over 40 for staff positions! I was 55.
Worse…he was retiring from the business, and that made me an orphan, without decent representation. I realized I’d moved my family to the most expensive part of the country with little means of supporting them. Tamping down the panic, I focused on what I could do, day by day: care for my family, keep my body healthy, write, and seek openings and opportunities. It took SIX YEARS, but I managed to piece together enough work to move, one step at a time, toward healing the damage. I had just created the “Tacfit Warrior” program with Scott Sonnon, finished a stint at BET as story editor, gotten an animation agent, and started feeling that maybe I’d survive…
And then Tananarive’s mother in Florida was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and everything went out the window. My entire life plan, from childhood, was DESTROYED. I was lost. The ONLY thing I knew was that I loved my family. I had lost my sense of self, and lost the plan of action that had carried me all my life…but I knew I loved them. I remember at one point curling up on the floor, sobbing my eyes out, no idea how I was going to survive…
But I loved my family. My son. My wife, who was just doing what a good daughter is supposed to do: comfort her mother in her final days. I was ripped to shreds with self-pity and despair.
But…I loved my family. I KNEW that. I had NO DOUBT of that. I was willing to die for them.
The question was…was I willing to step out of the wreckage of my dreams and LIVE for them?
Yes, I was…but HOW? WHAT COULD I DO?
What I could do was have FAITH that there was a way through this, even if I couldn’t see it. Faith. I could take another step, just one more step…if I had enough faith. In myself. In my family. In God, or the divine order of the universe, or The Force, dammit. Something bigger than me.
But what would that first step be? Research. How do you find an answer? You have to take actions, lots of actions, trying different things, until you find something that works.
But taking actions requires BELIEF AND POSITIVE EMOTIONS. Without them, you stagnate. So…how could I control my emotions?
And the life time of research on human performance began to come back to me. I “judo’d” myself: “Steve…if one day your son, your daughter, came to you in this situation, what would you tell them?”
I’d sure as HELL not tell them to curl up and die. NO way. So…what would I say?
FIRST SHIFT YOUR EMOTIONS. But again, how? And researching, I clicked to something I already knew: Your emotions are controlled by three things:
- What you focus on.
- How you move your body
- Your internal language.
If you focus on the pain, if you hunch your back and frown, if your internal voices are doom and despair, you will spiral into the negative, stop taking action, and create a feedback loop that drags you down and drowns you.
But…THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE AS WELL. If you focus on joy, if you hold your posture and facial expressions with power and purpose and gratitude, and if you deliberately use positive language, you will create an UPWARD spiral of actions, feedback, positive results, and positive emotions.
But…THAT TAKES ENERGY. The natural tendency is for things to fall apart UNLESS ANIMATED BY LIFE FORCE. Emotional energy. “Where attention goes energy flows and results show” as Tim Piering said.
What to do?
That was the day I began my Morning Ritual. 10-20 MINUTES of positive motion, emotion, and mental focus, all while doing Tai Chi. Six days a week. NEVER less than Five Minutes. And…it saved me. Saved my heart.
I could set myself up in 5-20 minutes to be the father, husband, writer, son-in-law, martial artist I was committed to being. I could guarantee myself a great day just by controlling the first five mintues. And seven great days made a great week. Fifty-two great weeks made a great year…
I’d found my way out, if only I could keep a simple promise to myself: “For a minimum of 300 seconds a day, I WILL MOVE, THINK, AND FOCUS only positively. I will do this for seven days, come hell or high water. At the end of that seven days, I will let myself look at the results, but not before then. For seven days, I will have faith that the wonderful men and women who trained me were right.”
Saved me, and changed my life. A month ago I discovered “How To Double Your Child’s Grades” by Eugene Schwartz, which detailed a FIVE MINUTE PLAN to help children succeed in school. And in the month we’ve been using it, I’ve been absolutely shocked:
- Jason’s homework has improved 100%
- He is now positive about learning.
- He is spontaneously practicing his basketball shots (!)
- He is more polite and loving.
- He hasn’t had a single “brain fart”
- We’ve gotten a note from his Learning Center teacher in essence asking “what the #$%% are you DOING???”
THIS IS AMAZEBALLS. Never seen anything like this. And…I remembered Atlanta. And how I saved myself. And something just “clicked.”
So…I’m going to be doing a webinar, hopefully tonight (I think I can get ready in time) on “Five Minute Mastery for your Child (and the Child within you).” Totally free. I have to make final plans after I get back from Larry Niven’s house (we’re finishing the very last Niven-Pournelle-Barnes collaboration, and want it to be as close to perfect as possible). But…I really want to share this. Because this might be the breakthrough I’ve been looking for, the door to creating those ONE MILLION AWAKE AWARE ADULT human beings: a system that you can prove for yourself in just five minutes and one week.
I CANNOT just connect our hearts and pour my blood into you. Wish to God I could. But I can’t. But I think that if you’ll give yourself a single week, you can determine for yourself if I’m right. And then…
Oh, the fun we’re going to have!