achievement

Why I stopped teaching Lifewriting

 

About 27 years ago, I was teaching at UCLA and my students helped me gain a unique insight into the relationship between storytelling and life itself. That, our personal “stories” are the personalized cultural myths, and that those cultural myths are generalized and metaphorically shifted versions of our personal lives.

 

I asked the question: “what if stories are the village elders telling the children `this is what your lives will be’ in one way or another.  This makes huge sense if it is true that there are only two philosophical inquiries: “Who am I?” And “What is true?”

 

Or in storytelling parlance, there are only two things to write about: human beings and the worlds they inhabit.  

 

If this is true, then the stories that have passed down to us over the ages might be seen as the combined wisdom of all the “village elders” on the invisible patterns of life itself.  I decided to test that theory by organizing every bit of “success philosophy” material my mother had pumped into my head in childhood into a ten-step pattern I adapted from Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces.  That pattern was:

 

  1. The Hero Is Confronted With a Challenge
  2. Rejects the challenge
  3. Forced to, or allowed to, accept the challenge
  4. The Road of Trials
  5. Gathering Allies and gaining powers
  6. Confrontation with evil–defeat
  7. The Dark Night of the Soul
  8. The Leap of Faith
  9. Confront Evil–succeed
  10. The Student Becomes the Teacher.

 

Oh, sure, there are other ways to look at this pattern. But this one has worked to teach critical pattern skills to thousands of students for decades, and I’m standing by it until I have a damned good reason to shift.  It works for planning stories, writing stories, guiding life, and even understanding the needs of a target audience.  

 

Around this pattern I clustered techniques of goal setting, mastering fear, raising energy, building relationships, healing emotions…it was natural, elegant, and the beautiful thing is that once you’ve played with it for a while, you can actually see problems BEFORE they arrive. Peek around the corner, as it were.   When I cross-bred it with the yogic Chakras and Musashi’s Nine Principles, it was amazing how powerful the tool became.

 

But…there was a problem. Despite the thousands of courses I sold, and thousands of people I worked with in “Lifewriting” workshops or via the web, the problem was that it was all conceptual.  And without anchoring the principles in heart and body, people could parrot back the principles and keep their ego shells intact.

 

Two things shifted for me.  One was a principle of my guru Sri Chinmoy, who advised his followers to train their bodies, and taught the Ananhata “Heartbeat” meditation I treasure.  What he said was that you could “awaken” a human being from the body “up” or from the heart “out”, but never ever from the head “down.”   

 

Or as my Sufi friend and teacher Mushtaq Ali Al Ansari said, he will no longer teach students who have no physical discipline.

 

Or as Mr Miyagi said, “never trust a spiritual teacher who does not dance.”

 

The head will trick you.  As Shakira said, “hips don’t lie.”

 

I backed away from Lifewriting, despite the value thousands of people had told me they’d gained. (There was another reason too–my life was out of balance after my first marriage dissolved.  But I’ve had that handled for seventeen years, and its time to shake it off and get back in the game!)  There was, frankly, too much room for delusion, for the ego to trick you into thinking that you were making progress, “waking up”, when the only reality was that you were chasing your tail in a circle, “looking where the light is, rather than where you dropped your keys.”

 

What to do?  The people who come to transformational workshops THINK they want to change, but if they don’t move their bodies differently, or change their emotional responses, they’re kidding themselves.  What to do?  I tried encouraging thinkers to move, and frankly, was not happy with the results.

 

So…after twenty years, I’ve figured out how to “get back on the horse.”   I’m going in through the other side of the equation. Rather than training thinkers and feelers to move, I’m going to train movers to feel and think.  I’m starting with the root.   And anchored with the heart-space, I think that is actually my very best route to helping people at the core level.

 

That goal of mine–to guide one million human beings to Awakened Adulthood, is back on the table.

 

To that end, I’m completely rewriting the original Lifewriting material, creating a totally new workshop that will be available online and in live workshops, and the first doorway in is the FIREDANCE TAI CHI workshop.   There, we will explore the relationship between breath, movement, structure and the stress/strain equation. Because if stress does not become strain, and you address your goals in balance, there is NOTHING your nervous system can do but grow more sophisticated. Nothing your spirit can do but evolve.  How rapidly is up to you, and will depend on the quality of coping mechanisms and the efficiency and effectiveness of your modeling.  

 

Tai Chi originates from ancient Chinese martial techniques rooted in Indian spiritual disciplines.   Someone realized that even if you remove the martial applications, the health and meditative aspects are simply wonderful.  So even if you don’t believe any of the mental aspects, the system evolves. You don’t have to believe. Simply changing the way you physically address stress and conflict while in balance will change your life.

 

Yes, I’ll use other tools such as Be Breathed, Joint Mobility and the Five Tibetans.  But Tai Chi, which I’ve practiced and taught for almost 35 years, is the doorway.  Almost fifty years of martial arts practice and almost six decades of yoga, combined with almost forty years of professional writing have given me a unique perspective on a way “up the mountain” and I want to do everything I can with it, for as long as I have to live, and help as many people as possible.

 

On April 17th we’re doing our first full-day FIREDANCE TAI CHI workshop in Bothell Washington.  Please come. If after two hours you feel this is not for you, I’ll happily refund every penny.  

 

But I promise you won’t ask for that refund.  Promise to give you absolutely 100% of everything I have, every minute you’re there, and that you’ll leave with a new plan for your life, and the tools to make it happen.  To move away from pain: physical, emotional, financial…and toward pleasure. The joy you deserve.

 

Make me prove it.  Take the challenge.

 

April 17th, Bothell Washington.  Hope to see you there.

 

www.firedancetaichi.com

 

Namaste,

Steve

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Octavia Butler’s Life and Legacy

octavia-butler_612x380

This month celebrates Octavia Butler’s life and legacy. I find myself pulled into numerous discussions on the subject, although I’m not a scholar of her work: she was my friend, my big sister, my neighbor, my colleague. Sigh. It is good to see people finally recognizing what we had walking among us, but also just a little sad. TELL THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE THAT YOU LOVE THEM WHILE THEY ARE ALIVE will you please???

Octavia was a hard-SF writer who was driven by questions about sexuality, gender relations, race relations, human violence, and our misuse of the environment. “Who are we?” and “What is true?” To me, although she certainly had politics, she was far far more philosophical, genuinely wondering if humanity had what it would take to survive, given our hierarchical and egotistical tendencies. And…her massive research into realms biological suggested to me that she was searching the natural world for answers. Were we animals? And if so, were our flaws outgrowths of our survival traits? Or our destructive traits? Or something else?

Hard, hard questions, and very few writers have gone as deeply into these questions, let alone written of them with grace and power. She was one of a kind.

Tananarive and I visited with her as often as possible, and for years Octavia and I lived walking distance from each other, and frequently got together for dinner, lunch, and conversation. She didn’t drive, and I often took her to speaking engagements so that she’d not have to take the bus.

This Friday, we’re going to discuss her life and legacy, art and craft, politics and philosophy in our ongoing exploration of how the inner and outer worlds of the artist combine to create genius. This Friday, 6pm pst on Lifewriting

Join us!

https://lifewriting.leadpages.co/octaviabutlerlessons/

 

Namaste,

Steve

What times zero equals one?

 

When I was in high school, I flunked a math class (mostly through laziness) and ended up in summer school at Dorsey High School.  There went my summer!   What was worse, is that I resented the fact that so many of the math problems would have been SOOOO much easier if you’d just been able to do the impossible: multiply or divide by zero.

 

Hated that.  Well, we came to the end of the semester, and our final exam.  I sat there looking at the test paper, and knew I was going to fail.  I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the math.   So…I cheated.   No, I didn’t crib from another student, or sneak a peek at the textbook.  I remembered that the teacher was a very nice guy with a wild sense of humor and a bit of a nutty streak.  So I took a chance.

 

Right there, on the paper, I created a new number system.  Called it “Superla”, and “Superla” was the multiplicative identity of zero.  In other words “S” x 0 = 1.

 

I was grinning at the absurdity of it, but after establishing my premise, I whipped through the test, giving every answer in terms of “Superla” and turned in my paper.  And then held my breath…

 

And when my grades came back, the teacher had given me a “C” on that test, with a note that he had greater admiration for my imagination than my study habits.  I’d passed.  Whew!!

 

###

 

In reality of course, “Zero” times anything equals “Zero”. This is why the “Secret Formula” is so interesting to me.  Not that there aren’t more factors than GOALS, FAITH, ACTION, and GRATITUDE, but that if you have a “zero” in any category, no matter how hard you work in the others, you will crap out.

 

No GOALS?   You drift aimlessly, or waste your efforts.  Drive in a circle until you run out of gas.  Only the rarest of human beings, some mutant combination of Zen awareness and perfect conditioning or potential, can simply drift through life and still evolve and succeed.   Rare.  Dangerous, because it is as misleading as a Ray Bradbury short story.  It looks so easy…

 

No FAITH?  If you don’t believe you can and SHOULD pursue and achieve your goals, you cannot find the motivation to “give everything” or indeed to get started at all.  The path of success DEMANDS that you empty yourself out. That point of emptying will create panic. It feels like death.   And unless you believe either that you have reserves beyond conscious awareness, or that your path is worth dying for, you will never, ever pass this barrier, and fall back to the previous level like someone eternally “losing weight” but losing and regaining the same twenty pounds again and again.

 

No ACTION?   Do I need to tell you how angry I am at the people who preach that all you need to succeed is to “want” it enough?   “Think about it” enough?   I could take some very specific actions on their buttocks, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.   But…how about this?  How about if we ask the next question: “how do you know if you want it enough?”    If the answer is “if it feels right” you are pretty much on the Buttocks Brigade.  But if your answer is: “I want it enough if I can’t wait to get up in the morning and GET TO WORK making it happen. Take ACTIONS every day, notice the results I get, and if they aren’t working take DIFFERENT ACTIONS based on modeling successful people, until I get what the @#$$ I demand from life!”   And you develop that level of “oomph” by having clear goals that align with your values, see the path to their accomplishment, and believe that “going for it” will bring more pleasure than pain.   In fact, it is impossible not to take action if you have these things.  Reverse engineering says that any time you meet someone who ISN’T taking action, they either lack clear goals, clear values, haven’t aligned goals with values, or have lost faith that they can achieve it.

 

No GRATITUDE?   Well, then you’ve lost before you begin.   Because you can win the whole outer world, but unless you feel grateful for love, for life, for opportunity, for all of the wonders we experience every day…you have little or nothing.  Anyone who can read these words has more, much more than some in this world who live life with full happy hearts.  You may ignore your blessings, they may seem insignificant in comparison with your travails, but that is ego.  In the nastiest septic tank, there is clean water. Just as in the cleanest aquifer there is fecal material.   It is up to you what you concentrate upon.

 

Have a “1” in every category (as a minimum) and at least you’re in the game.  But have a “zero” in any category, and everything else falls apart.   Make it a must, an absolute requirement of yourself, that you have at least a bit of a goal, a little faith, a minimal action, a dab of gratitude.  Needless to say, this is thin ice. But if you can “amp up” the other areas and maintain at least a “1” in the others, you can make progress, and move forward.

 

And if you’ve chosen your goals in balance (body, mind, emotions, finances) you will heal and move beyond petty fear.  Fill your heart with gratitude and love, and begin to expand.   And as you do, you grow.   

 

I think the political divide is largely those who begin from survival, and those who begin from their hearts.   EITHER WAY WORKS. What you cannot do it begin from your concepts alone. Your head isn’t smart enough without heart and action and the feedback of engaging with the world.

 

It is hard.  Brutally hard at times…which is why you need faith and gratitude.

 

It all fits together, really.    Repeat after me: “There is no Superla.  Zero times a million equals Zero.    I will begin every day being certain to have at least a “1” in every category.”

 

Please, do this.  Try this for just a month. It costs you nothing, and can gain you everything.

 

There is no Superla.

 

Namaste,

Steve

How O.J. won us the Image Award

Yesterday I gave my reasons why it was and is far simpler and more logical to believe O.J. “did it” than any alternative scenario that has ever been offered.    It simply wouldn’t make sense, and in fact would make hash of much I believe about human nature.   But it was all heresay and supposition.  There was nothing to be done with it.  To be that certain of the identity of a monster and be unable to do squat about it really ate at me.

 

But as some of you may have noticed, I’m a writer.    

 

Tananarive and I had created, with actor Blair Underwood, the detective novel “Casanegra”, a tale of a former actor turned bodyguard and detective, solving the murder of the most prominent female rapper.  It had been very well received, and we wondered what to do next.   The idea of the series was to take events in Hollywood and turn them into Roman a clef mysteries.     

 

I’m not saying  the story of “T.D. Jackson”  in IN THE NIGHT OF THE HEAT (yes, each title was a play on a famous movie) bears any resemblance at all to O.J.’s tale, but I will say that plotting it was an enormous joy.     The core aspects of the tale certainly did resemble core elements of the Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman murders, but due to circumstances beyond his control, after an initial appearance at a black Fraternity reunion, good old T.D., actor and former football hero, was sadly murdered.  Sob sob.

 

So the story was not “did he do it?” but rather “did he do it? And if he did, how and why? And if he did, did it somehow lead to his death, and at who’s hands?”  Which allowed us to not merely vent the poison in my own heart, but say some things we believed about the cult of celebrity, sports, politics, the weight of old money, and small-town psychology.   Once we laid out the core, wrapping the rest of the story around that chewy center was a dream.

 

Readers loved it, and it won the NAACP Image Award (Stacey Dash can bite me) so I think that all’s well that ends well. IN THE NIGHT OF THE HEAT was a combination of:

 

  1. Skilled writing (We plotted together but T wrote the first draft, to place the vulnerability and heart at the core of the character)
  2. Passion.  I really CARED about this story.
  3. Specialized knowledge.  Ask John Grisham if this doesn’t matter.   Audiences love feeling that you’ve “pulled the curtain aside” for them.  And boy, did I have a story to tell!

 

We wrote four novels in the Tennyson Hardwick series. There may be no more.  But in many ways, I think the entire series existed so that HEAT could be written.

 

###

Tonight, T goes to the Image Awards for the third time, to see if her collection “GHOST SUMMER” wins.   Fingers crossed. But if it’s someone else’s turn…

 

Hey, we’ve got ours!

 

Image

 

Namaste,

Steve

(ain’t it purty?)

“The People Versus O.J. Simpson”

 

Yeah, I thought he was innocent too.  But it didn’t’ take long for me to come to very different conclusions, and as the years went by, more and more evidence came my way, until I reached my current level of conviction that he is a murdering bastard.  And no, I don’t think the “Not guilty” verdict meant any more there than it did with George Zimmerman.

 

I felt total fury at the fact that I knew I couldn’t prove anything, but T and I laid out our case in the Tennyson Hardwick novel IN THE NIGHT OF THE HEAT, in which we punished his fictional avatar.  Perhaps coincidentally, that book won the NAACP Image Award.  Gee, you think maybe there were some other pissed people?

 

At any rate, as the television movie is about to hit, I thought I’d lay out my case.   Every word I’m saying is true so far as I know it.

 

  1. My first thought when I heard of the murders, and the fact that the cops were looking at him, was that he was much too smart to do it.  If anything, he would have hired it done.   The first crack in the image came when I heard the phone conversation in the White Bronco driven by his good ol’ pal Al Cowlings. I believe that  the Bronco chase took place when he didn’t want to turn himself in to the police, and that bizarre slow-motion chase, the LAPD giving him so much rope you could have woven him a cocoon out of it, was all the evidence I needed that yes, as I had heard, the cops LOVED O.J.  Adored him.   Any way, the cell phone conversation was  basically self-pitying:  “sob sob”  I hope my children remember me as I was, and not this miserable creature here today…” or something of the like.

 

And…the hair on the back of my neck stood up.   Something wasn’t right.  I called about five male friends and asked them the following question: “say you’re divorced from your wife, who you still love. She and a friend are BUTCHERED in the driveway of her house, while your children are asleep upstairs.  What is your first thought?”

And every single one of them, EVERY ONE, said: “OMG!  The Mansons must have gone after my family!   Protect those children!”   That was the first thought of any man I knew.   There would only be one reason I could accept for that not to hit anyone with a spoon of testosterone (hell, or estrogen): you knew who did it, and knew that there was no risk to the kids.

 

Under what circumstances would O.J. KNOW who did it, but not speak, allowing the life he had spent decades building to be utterly destroyed?  Who could that be?   His son? His brother?  A friend?  I don’t believe any of that.   Get that close friend or relative the best legal defense in the world?  Sure.  While O.J. is out eating steak and screwing starlets.  Not for a fraction of an instant to I believe that man loved anyone or anything enough to destroy his own life to protect him.

 

How about the theory that a drug ring did it, and his children would only be safe so long as he remained quiet?  All I can say is that anyone who believes that has seen entirely too many direct to video movies.

 

No, at that moment I realized that I would respect him MORE if he killed his wife than any scenario I could think of if he didn’t. There was simply no way he could know who did it and not speak. And if he didn’t know who did it, there was no way he wouldn’t think his children could be next, and be concerned.

 

The simplest conclusion: he did it.    I wasn’t quite sure yet…and the next piece came months later.

2. Ronnie Ship was the LAPD cop who claimed O.J. was partying after the murder.  O.J.’s defense team made him out a liar.  The problem is that I went to Alta Loma elementary school with Ronnie Ship. He was a straight-shooter, a protector of the weak even then, and used to pull bullies off me.   My oldest friend, Lee Taylor, called me one day and told me to turn on the television. The trial was on.  Ronnie Ship was on the stand.   He was testifying, but looked heartbroken.   I watched him look directly at Simpson and silently mouth the words:  “tell the truth, O.J.”  Whoa.

3.  Let’s say that due to a series of coincidences, I came to know a “very” good friend of a friend of O.J.’s., call him “Driver”.     This person told me that QUITE soon after the murders,  “Driver” showed up at their door in an extremely agitated state.    And said that there was nothing in the world as stimulating as cutting a woman’s throat.

 

4)   In O.J.’s book, “If I Did It” he lays out a hypothetical scenario for the night of the murders.  In it, he says that a friend went with him that night, and helped him execute the crime.

5)   I was standing in line at a grocery store, and picked up a tabloid newspaper, one of the ones that actually has a reputation for breaking real (if lurid) stories.   On a back page was a column of short articles.   One said that a woman in the same line of work as the person  in #3, a friend of White Bronco owner Al Cowlings said that the reason the infamous Bloody Glove didn’t fit was that it belonged to good old Al.

6.  Following the acquittal, he has behaved precisely as I would expect someone with an exploded ego and a shitload of guilt to act: simultaneously considering himself invulnerable, and seeking redemption through punishment.

 

Look–none of this is likely to change any minds.  I’m just saying that in combination, we have precisely my reason to consider him a monster.  Others are welcome to think of him what they will.

 

But as with Zimmerman, to me he is a walking pusticle, and I couldn’t wait to watch the world fall on him.  It did.

 

Batter up, G.Z.

 

Steve

(and tomorrow, I’ll talk about how T and I channeled our outrage into the book!)

 

Should we compare ourselves to others?

The “road” of trials” aspect of the Hero’s Journey is the distance you have to travel between where you are and where you need to be in order to accomplish your goals.  This is determined by studying at least three of the people who have already accomplished it, and seeing what they all have in common.

 

Specifically, what DAILY behaviors will, in sufficient time, uncover your own maximum potential.  You must focus only on doing YOUR best.  This is what you keep in foveal “first attention” focus. The magic happens in peripheral “2nd Attention.”  Every moment you spend worrying about how you rank against other people is a moment when your attention is split, when you are not doing the very thing that gets you there.

 

But…is it unreasonable to wonder how you are in comparison with others?  No, it is not. But this evaluation takes place out of “flow” or performance state.   It can help you see where you are on the map, but not what helps you drive fastest and safest.   The way to avoid the fear of never being “the best” is to be sure you are enjoying the trip along the way.    So…

 

GOAL is clear and sharp, powerful enough to motivate you.  If you have no goal, your first goal is to get a goal!

 

FAITH is your belief that you CAN and SHOULD achieve your goal.  Unless you can find a spark of faith, you cannot build a roaring blaze of accomplishment, or even a heart-warming little cookfire.   Everyone able to read these words has had successes in life.  Associate deeply with them, and you will find your belief in possibility.

 

ACTION is the key we’re talking about.  You cannot change yesterday, and cannot live in tomorrow…yet.  All you can do is take care of today, as close to perfectly as possible. And then do it again tomorrow.  The idea is to define clearly: “If I do X (or X and Y and Z) every day for 1000 days, will I reach the next level?   No?  Then study and design action more carefully.  Yes?  Then all that needs doing is to increase my clarity (GOAL), faith, and gratitude to empower those daily actions. The more you increase these things, the more motivation and the less resistance.  If you aren’t taking action, you don’t believe pursuit of your goal will bring more pleasure than pain. When we believe this, we ALWAYS take action.  That’s our wiring.   Works with any animal with a nervous system.   If you could properly adjust pain and pleasure associations, you could teach slime-molds to Samba.   If you can keep your goal clearly in mind, and BELIEVE that today’s small action will take you one step closer, you can do it.

 

GRATITUDE is your antidote for fear.    Once the fear is handled, love will pull you toward your goal, a wonderful feeling.

 

How far will you get?  Who knows?  And the part of you engaged in the action doesn’t care.  It simply wants to immerse in flow, doing something it loves.   And if you create that space, just take care of today’s tasks feeling gratitude and faith, you have created a perfect day. And if you pile up seven perfect days you get a perfect week.  Four perfect weeks and you get a perfect month.   Twelve perfect months and you have a perfect year.

 

One day at a time, one step at a time, one action at a time, one breath at a time.   From time to time, stop and look around and measure progress.  But spend most of your time actually acting, and living, and loving.

 

That’s how you build your dream-castle…and move into it.

 

Namaste,

Steve

 

http://amzn.to/201Ndcq

Writers who promote their own work…

There was a question about writers promoting their own work (I suppose it relates to anyone selling anything): if you can’t directly measure the results, you are shooting arrows blindfolded, in a dark room. Your first goal is to find some specific way to measure effectiveness and efficiency in your marketing. And since your goal is selling books, there has to be a direct, measurable result that puts money directly into your pocket. For instance: selling ebooks off your website, offering people a discount if they go to a specific link or page in the next 24-48 hours. THAT can be measured. And can be an effective and efficient use of your time and cash. “In God we trust, all others bring data.”–Wiliam Edwards Deming ‪#‎NOBSsm‬

Problem Solving #3: Mindstorming

 

“Mindstorming” is the same thing as “Brainstorming”, only  in a solitary process.    This is what you have to use if you don’t have an external “Mastermind” to bounce ideas off of.  It is the most primary mode of thought, and where the rubber meets the road.

some thoughts:

  1. Again, it is critical to allow yourself to be silly, stupid, profane, just plain WRONG.  Nothing stops the flow of ideas like the notion that they all have to be “good.” The only way to have a good idea is to come up with a LOT of bad ideas!
  2. voice recorder apps for your cellphone are your friend. As are index cards, post-it notes, Scan Cards (my current favorite: http://mckinleyleather.com/pages/scancard-project-management-system) and other tools are great, as are mind-maps, outliners, and so forth.  
  3. Use multi-sensory techniques, digital, visual, auditory, tactile…anything you can to stimulate thinking.
  4. Give yourself a time-limit of ten minutes and generate a HUNDRED ideas that apply to your problem.    
  5. Practice going into “flow state”.  This is a skill separate from any particular application, and worthy of study.  It is the doorway to esoteric mental attributes, but also high creativity and full use of intelligence.   Tai Chi, Yoga, walking/running, dancing, 60 beat per minute “Largo” rhythm instrumental music, soft jazz…anything that takes you out of language and into visual/tactile thinking will do it.  I feel so sorry for those poor souls who have no idea that they can think without words.  
  6. Think of five people you admire.   Write out what you think each of them would say about your current problem or situation.

 

These are just to get you started. Really, I could go on forever.  And in fact, I invite you readers to add your own ideas in the comment section.  Share and learn!

 

Namaste,

Steve

Problem Solving Part 2: Brainstorming

Brainstorming

Back to idea generation.   The specific term “Brainstorming” is the  process of tapping into flow and snatching out ideas, performed by a “mastermind” of two or more people.  

The “Mastermind” principle is, specifically, two or more people operating in a spirit of harmony, committed to the same goal, or helping each other achieve goals that are not in conflict.  

 

EXERCISE:  Using a digital recorder to track results, you and your partner(s) write the problem on a piece of paper and tack it to the wall.  Now, for fifteen minutes, each of you take turns proposing a solution.  Go FAST!  Prizes for the most answers and the silliest answers.  At the end of fifteen minutes, list the answers and discuss.   You will find hidden gems.

 

It is very important not to judge the quality or utility of the goals until you FINISH.   This is probably the largest stumbling block: the “adult” or “editor” voice wants to jump in and take control.   Let your “kid” play, and be shocked at just how smart she is.

 

Namaste,

Steve
(P.S.–today is the last day to get in on the FREE mindstorming, question-answering early-adopter teleconferences for the SCREENWRITING MACHINE.  Please join us!  www.Hollywoodloophole.com)

Will you win today?

 

In an hour, you can read enough on a subject to ask casual questions about it.

In ten hours, you can study a subject enough to ask serious questions, or hold a serious conversation about it.  Ten hours is also enough of a margin to teach a class to students ten hours behind–as long as you keep refreshing that margin.

In 100 hours, you are beginning to actually understand a new subject.

In 1000 hours you can be an expert in most subjects

In 10,000 hours most will consider you a master of your discipline.

 

These are just broad statements, but if we accept them (for the sake of discussion) it leads to some simple truths.

 

  1. The process of human evolution proceeds best from our basic survival needs “upward” or from the heart outward.  NEVER from concepts or “spirit” “downward”.  So your first step is to master hunting and gathering, basic sexual and security needs, etc.  This is your foundation.
  2. Equally important is love, beginning with self, and then extending to others. This cannot happen healthfully if we do not feel secure, and love battles with fear…so I think that it is safest and most intelligently “conservative” to work on both at the same time.   Ten hours of heart-centered meditation will give you the ability to touch that sacred place inside yourself, and begin the process of healing.
  3. Whatever you choose to do professionally should either be something you love (enough to study it endlessly) or you need to have your values so clearly defined that doing something unpleasant is considered a sacred duty, and therefore a joy.  I don’t think many men enjoyed going down into the coal mines, but if they had CLARITY that doing so allowed them to support their families, it all makes sense and is worthwhile.
  4. Success comes from “second attention”–the peripheral rather than the “foveal” focus.  For instance, if you concentrate on being the best writer you can be, study and work like a demon, you will get better.  With either a little luck or careful planning, you can also get enough commercial success to supplement or replace your income. With a LOT of luck, you might do very well indeed, in money and/or critical recognition.  But the money cannot be the primary focus, or you lose your connection to the creative impulse and become a “hack”.  The same thing happens in many other arenas: love, health, fitness, and so forth. THE RESULTS ARE SECONDARY.  YOUR ACTIONS ARE PRIMARY.  And your actions are driven by your focus and emotions.
  5. These primary actions  must be UNDER YOUR CONTROL.  Your emphasis is: did i do it?  Did I keep my word to myself?  Tell the truth about this, even if only to yourself.
  6. Design a program that will take you to your goal in 100-1000 days.  The question is: “if I do X every day for this period, will I reach my goal?  Yes?  Begin.  No?  Re-evaluate, study more successful people, refine my map.”
  7. If the answer is “yes”, if you kept your word to yourself for 100-1000 days, then the only question is one of gathering the resources to allow you to do this.  Usually, these will be emotional resources: dealing with fear, confusion, negative voices, depression, conflicted values, etc.  So part of the “work” is outer (doing things) and part is “inner” (cleaning out your mental/emotional closet, healing yourself, silencing or balancing the negative voices, etc.)
  8. THIS is the great strength of the “sentence a day” technique.  (And the “Machine”, so recently adapted to screenwriting)  NO ONE cannot write a sentence a day on any logical basis.   By reducing what must be done to such a small “dead minimum” you are confronted, in micro-form, with every excuse you have ever made for not exercising, meditating, cleaning your house, finishing your book, writing that film.  Your ego will fight like hell, but you’ve flipped over that flat rock, and can look directly at its lies and barricades. The voices that tell you “no” can be revealed for the tinny, cowardly lying vipers they are. The jealous, needy, childish remnants of a “you” you may have left far behind–and NEED to  if you would fulfill your dreams and live life fully.
  9. You have to complete the “Hero’s Journey” in order to move to the next level.  Every day, EVERY SINGLE DAY is an opportunity to do this, if you have defined your goal and path properly.  All you have to do is win TODAY. Did you do what you said you’d do TODAY?  The “Diamond Hour” concept is this: defined properly, you can meditate, exercise, goal set and write a page of fiction in a single hour.  Then if the rest of the day gets away from you, you still win. And in 1000 days?  You’ve written at least two novels, are in good shape, and are balanced in your heart.  
  10. This is a secret.  To do TODAY what can be done today.  Not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow with “foveal” vision, but keeping them in sight “peripherally”.  All action, joy, and aliveness is in the present moment, in “today.”   Every day a new opportunity, every day a new commitment to your own dreams.   It takes planning.  It takes a willingness to own your own life.  Do this, and fear, guilt and limitation dissolve.   All of your attention is on the joy of becoming, or of service to those you love. There is no higher life.

 

And NOTHING, nothing at all, is more important than living your life, in your terms, according to your own deeply held and considered values.

 

One day at a time.   Will you win today?

 

Namaste,

Steve