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.




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.




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?





Putting it all together


So let’s put  the entire “Secret Ritual” (the “Secret Formula” plus the “Daily Ritual” all together, shall we?


GOALS: Are dreams with deadlines and plans for their accomplishment.  Write them down.  The S.M.A.R.T. acronym works just fine:



AS-IF NOW (“I have” not, “I will have”)

REALISTIC (if anyone else has ever accomplished your goal, starting from where you are, it is reasonable for you to hold that goal.  OR: there are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic time-frames)

TIME-BOUND: set a date for completion. Make a picture in your head of how it will look.


A three-year goal can work beautifully.  Then set an intermediate one-year goal. Then a six month. Three month. One month. One week.  Then most importantly, what do you have to do TODAY to be on track to that perfect week, month, three month, six month, one year, three years?


What is the daily activity which, maintained for 1000 days, would take you to your dream?


FAITH.  The hero’s journey states clearly that in the accomplishment of any worthy goal, you will “hit the wall” and face failure.  The “Dark night of the soul.” What gets you through is your faith, your belief, and it is, (again, according to the HJ) faith in one of three things:

  1. Faith in yourself
  2. Faith in your companions (friends, family, allies, mentors)
  3. Faith in a higher power.


The most successful people I know have all three. But you need at least one, minimum, and it has to work even when you are flat on your back.  It is like a spare tire when you are taking a long road trip.


ACTION. This is the daily action that will, if maintained for 1000 days, will take you to your goal in three years.  Constant action.  The “machine” of accomplishment.


How much STUDY every day?  How much MODELING of those who are more successful?

How much WORK?  

How much EXERCISE and STRESS RELIEF to keep you healthy and sane?

How much SUBMISSION OF YOUR WORK to the market, or to competition, to test your quality and reassess your efforts?

How much RECREATION and SLEEP to recover?  Remember: your body and mind grow while resting, not while working.


GRATITUDE.  Don’t think you’ll accomplish and be happy.  BE HAPPY AND THEN ACCOMPLISH.   I’ve lost track of the number of highly successful people who postponed love, family, happiness or ignored health and emotional balance while pursuing external success.  And then when they accomplished it, clawed their way to the top of the heap…found that there was nothing there.


This formula: GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE is the single most powerful tool I know of. The only question is: how do you apply it to your life?


THE DAILY RITUAL is a fantastic way.  Basically, the quality of your life is the quality of your rituals, the habits, the things that you do every single day.  Preferably FIRST THING IN THE MORNING before the world gets ahold of you.


Simply put, you move your body for 10-60 minutes EVERY MORNING.  Walking is great.  Dancing, yoga, rebounding, Five Tibetans…all great. I use Tai Chi.


WHILE YOU ARE MOVING you move through the four stages, chanting aloud and visualizing, and moving your body with power and ACTING AS IF you believe what you are saying.   My own pattern runs:


GRATITUDE:   (“I’m so grateful for…” my children, my health, my wife, my friends, etc.)

GOALS: (“I’m grateful for…” my long term accomplishments: body, career, family, finances)

ACTION:  (What I have to do TODAY to make it happen. And here you pull a great “trick”.  You started by giving thanks for the things in your past and present, right?  Now your task is to move, think, and feel the same way about what you are GOING to do, the things your are GOING to accomplish.  “I’m so happy that meeting went perfectly!  I’m so grateful I wrote five fantastic pages!  I’m so happy I exercised for thirty minutes!” and so forth.

FAITH: this is usually an affirmation: “All I need is within me now.  All the (energy, courage, creativity, strength, etc) is within me now…)


I spend about five minutes on each of these, and it sets up my entire day for victory, by implanting the “Secret Formula” at the deepest level. The more passionate, committed, positive, and dynamic you are, the better. Want to pretend to be someone else, someone who could easily master your obstacles and reach your goals?  Great!  Move, breathe, speak, and FEEL like them.  Step out of yourself, and into your dreams.


Whew.  Over the last few days, I’ve gotten out a lifetime of basic knowledge about how to direct your energy for maximum effectiveness and efficiency (I.D.E.A.), used the “Lifewriting” approach to planning your future and anchoring it in your daily efforts. And more, much more.    I need to let it simmer for a bit, and then I’ll be ready to do a webinar on the subject.  If you want to go more deeply into this, or ask more questions, or just absorb the information through a different representational system, please join me.


But until then…why not try this for just thirty days, and let me know what happens. Thirty days to change your life.  Yes, I believe that strongly that that is just what will happen.


Be the hero in the adventure of YOUR lifetime.  No one else can.




Part four: The First Miracle


O.K….let’s talk about the actual application of the SECRET FORMULA, the first time I noticed that there was something special about it.  VERY special.  Read carefully.


Four years ago, T and I made our short film, DANGER WORD.  We had each participated in local Atlanta film festivals and contests, looked at what people were doing, and said: “hey, we could do that!”   We allied ourselves with T’s dear friend and director Luchina Fisher and Luchina’s producer Zainab Ali .  Together, we figured that to produce the movie we wanted, we’d need a total of thirty thousand dollars.  About 15-20 of that for pre-production and production, about 10-15 for post production and promotion.  Our own salaries were modest…the vast majority of that money went directly into crew, equipment, transportation, and so forth.


A core principle of film is do NOT use your own money.  People go broke like that very quickly. One of the reasons is very simple: if you can’t enroll other people in funding your project, what makes you think you can sell tickets later?  You may have an ego project no one wants to see, and funding it out of your own pocket is an avoidance of reality, and a path to disaster. So we decided to crowd fund, both because we were short on cash, and to test our sales chops. If there was an audience that wanted to see this film, we would find out pretty quick.


And…we were VERY gratified to see a powerful, positive response from social media. Between our email and Facebook and Twitter and blogging audiences, T (who spearheaded the effort) and I raised about sixteen thousand dollars on the “Indiegogo” platform!  Enough for pre-production and production, hiring our crew and three actors at decent rates (our actors were angels, yes, we paid them, but obviously couldn’t come close to paying their worth.  They believed in our project!)  By describing our project not   just as a “zombie” movie but as a tale of an old man (Frankie Faison) desperately trying to protect his emotionally traumatized grand-daughter (Saoirse Scott ) in a post-apocalyptic world, people saw the HEART of our peace, and responded with money, time, and energy.


So we went to Upstate New York, and over three intense days, filmed our movie.  That was an adventure in itself, I can promise you, and on re-considering it, there were mini-cycles of the same “SECRET FORMULA” process encoded within.  More on that another time.


But here is the upshoot: we finished, came back home, and cut together a trailer from our footage.  We figured we’d use that trailer to raise the rest of the money that we needed for post-production (editing, music, titles and credits, promotion and distribution, etc.). I designed a trailer I thought would work well, had  Saoirse  record “Amazing Grace” to play over it (taking a cue from the movie) and cut it together. It was great!  People loved it!


And…we got a little more money, and then…nothing. The well had dried up.  Tapped out.  Our circle of fans and friends had given generously, believing in us and the project, but it now seemed we’d reached the point of diminishing returns. The harder we pushed, the less we got.  


Dead end.  A pall of depression settled over us.  We were, it seemed, dead in the water. What were we going to do?


We scheduled a conference call to discuss our options, and believe me, we were glum.  I decided that I had to function as more than a writer/producer.  I wanted to function as the spiritual core of the project, take it upon myself to lift everyone’s spirits.  But…how?


Well…I’d just finished reading a book called THE SCIENCE OF GETTING RICH, had boiled out this “Secret Formula” thingie.  And decided that this was the perfect opportunity to try it out.


And committed to doing just that.




Just kidding. This time, I’m taking it all the way to a conclusion. This might be the first time I’ve put this down in writing, and I want to get it out there.


I think that call was on a Tuesday.  And I acknowledged everyone’s efforts, thanked them for their work, and then got down to business, keeping my tone positive.


And went right down the line.


GOAL: What were we committed to?  Finishing our movie. Getting it out there.  What was necessary to get it done?  We had to raise fifteen thousand dollars.   I bored down more deeply.   DID WE REALLY HAVE TO RAISE FIFTEEN THOUSAND?  Really?


First…how much money did we have in the bank, left from the previous effort? About eighteen hundred, I recall.  All right, that meant we had to raise what, about 13.2 thou, right?


O.K.  Next.   Let’s brainstorm about this.  We’d raised all our money from social media, and though we got a few contributions of a thousand dollars, the average was about 100.   We’d raised that on VAPOR, sheer trust, nothing but social capital for collateral.  


But now we had footage. GOOD footage.  Could we cut together a rough version, with the resources we had?  It would cost…


Or would it?  Terence Taylor, our wonderful editor, might be willing to do that rough cut on account, to be repaid after we raised the rest of the money.  But…how would we raise that money?  How would we be able to honestly promise Terence that his work would be repaid?


Well…there are completion funds available in the world.  Grants, loans, investments, film-school funds.    If we could put together a presentation package, we could identify 100 sources of film money, at the highest level we could reach.   Send them all packages.  In other words, we’d raised the first 15 from grass roots–the “bottom up.”   What would it take to create a package that would allow us to approach people from the “top down”?  



It would take a lot less than fifteen thousand, I can tell you that.   And the instant we realized that, the tension started breaking.  We kept thinking about it, brain-storming about it.  We could defer costs. Get volunteers.  Find people who would make trades, or work for credit.  The price kept coming down and down…until we realized we could create a “demo” rough version of DANGER WORD for just a few thousand dollars.


Note how the GOAL had sharpened, so that we saw what actually needed to be accomplished, and once we faced the dragon squarely, it shrank?


That impacted our FAITH. Because once we saw that we only needed to raise about three thousand dollars cash, I said: “is there any one of us who doesn’t believe we can do that?  We’d raised FIFTEEN thousand dollars with NOTHING!   Surely we can raise THREE with the leverage of our footage! And now we were laughing.   We KNEW we could do it. Hell, we could put that on our credit cards!


Which led to ACTION.  We created an action plan. Tananarive, Luchina, Zainab and I would draw plans, make calls, create lists, reach out to high-level allies and potential investors.   Organizations who had the ability, or the contacts, to “write a check” for the entire amount.  Grass roots up, then top-down, right?


The mood was now jubilant. Party time!  We knew we could do it!   And note that we didn’t need “luck”, we needed work.   We KNEW that if we knocked on enough doors, someone would say “yes.”   It was just a numbers game.  How many doors?  A dozen? A hundred?  A thousand?  Whatever it was, we were gonna do it.    IT ISN’T LUCK.  IT IS PLAYING THE NUMBERS.


Get it?  Remember that picture of the  vultures sitting on the branch?  THAT has to be your attitude.  




Knock on enough doors, constantly modeling the techniques of the world’s great door-knockers?  

Somebody’s gonna let you in.

And the last step was GRATITUDE.  “Look how far we’ve come!”  I said.   “We can accomplish anything!”   We were now a fountain of optimism, creativity, energy.   Bubbling over.  In one hour we had totally turned the tide.  We ended the phone call with a general love-fest for each other.


And…can you guess what happened after we hung up?


Sure you can. Because on some level you understand the actual rules of the Universe.  

And those are: when you don’t have a sweetheart, you can’t get one.  Until you’ve got one, and then suddenly everybody is interested.


When you don’t have a job, you can’t get a job. Until you’ve got one, and then the phone won’t stop ringing.


When you don’t have credit, you can’t get credit.  Until you heal your credit and DON’T NEED IT, at which point people fall all over themselves to offer you cards and freebies.


It is absolutely perverse. Remember “Broadcast News” where Albert Brooks says “wouldn’t it be great if `needy” were a turn on?


Yeah.  Well, it ain’t.   Not to anyone healthy. To predators, sure.  But health attracts health.    When you are desperate, it is as if you are invisible.  But when you are confident, when you have clarity, faith, gratitude, and have that “patience my ass!” attitude, it is as if you gain psychic mass, begin to “bend” the space around you like a planet bends space-time, creating a gravity well.  Objects are not really “attracted” per se, but they enter your field and cannot escape.  You become a “luck magnet.”  


And if you get no luck?  To hell with it: play the numbers.  Every vacuum cleaner salesman knows that if they knock on enough doors, they will sell a unit.  They don’t take refusals personally.  They play the damned numbers.

Ask enough girls for a kiss, sure, you’ll get your face slapped, but you’re also gonna get smooched.

Play the numbers.

And I bet you can guess what happened once we had GOALS, FAITH, GRATITUDE and had committed to focused, determined, no-b.s. ACTION without a drop of self-pity.


Yeah, that’s right.  To make a long story short, within HOURS Indiegogo told us that we had a FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR donation. I kid you not.  And within a few days, the wonderful lady who had given us that had motivated her mother to donate ANOTHER five thousand dollars.  Unreal.  Flabbergasting.  And neither of them had had the slightest idea of our phone conversation.


And if it hadn’t happened?  We’d have handled it anyway. THAT is what made it happen.


I’ve applied this “formula” about five more times, specifically, since then, and every time it has worked, snatched victory from apparent defeat.   Not always this spectacularly.  Sometimes we had to knock on more doors…but it work, produced “luck” BECAUSE WE DIDN’T NEED LUCK.


It works. It is the closest thing to “Magic” I’ve ever seen.  Please, try it.  Prove me wrong, if you can.


Well defined written GOALS with plans for their accomplishment.

FAITH that you CAN and SHOULD have this goal, that the efforts to accomplish it will produce more pleasure than pain.

DAILY ACTIONS that will take you to that goal if you can only stay on track. An “If it’s to be, it’s up to me” attitude.  A “Whatever It Takes” attitude.   A “Patience My Ass, I’m Gonna Kill Something” attitude.  A “Screw `luck’–I’m playing the Numbers” attitude.

And GRATITUDE.   Be happy.  Joyful. Celebrate your life, your existence, your family and friends. The mentors and allies who have helped you along the path.  In that way, no matter what happens…you’ve already won. And winning becomes a habit.


That’s the Secret Formula.   Tomorrow I’ll talk about how to integrate it into a Daily Ritual, but you already have everything you need.  Everything.   The only question is: are you willing to step out of your excuses? Are you ready to put 100% of yourself into making your life surpass your dreams?   Can you handle temporary defeat for ultimate victory?   ARE YOU READY TO BE HAPPY?


If so…there’s the Path, my friend. There’s the path.




The “Secret Formula” part 3

I told you I tell you a story about the first “miracle” created by the SECRET FORMULA.  But realized I need a bit more foundation first.


O.K., yesterday I described exactly how I “boiled down” the book THE SCIENCE OF GETTING RICH by Wallace D. Wattles to a five word formula: GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS.   It became clear that the reason I didn’t want to understand it is that I didn’t want to release my anger and resentment about being in Atlanta (due to a family emergency).    There was another realization, that relates to WHY I chose this book in the first place.


In my frantic efforts to gain perspective and get my butt moving out of depression and anger, one of the bodies of knowledge I looked into was “The Secret,” a very popular success and achievement philosophy. But when I looked into it, I kept seeing people saying basically that “if you want something badly enough, focus on it strongly enough, it will be drawn to you.”


On one level I believed this, but on another level, I noticed that people seemed to think that thinking and “feeling” about it was ALL they had to do.


In other words, someone like Oprah Winfrey speaks of believing in “The Secret” and people say: “ah!  She’s so successful because of her visualizations.”  And because she speaks and moves with great congruence, it is easy to believe her.  Well, I have no reason to believe she is lying. What then, is the disconnect?


Simple.   We forget how we got where we are.  Masters are often terrible at teaching beginners–they have forgotten how much they know, because in order to be able to function at the level of mastery, all basics must be integrated at the level of “unconscious competence.”


(Remember that?   The pattern goes from Unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence to conscious competence to the “look Ma, no hands!” of Unconscious competence.  THIS is the level you must move any skill into to reach a flow state.  And only in flow state do you access your deepest wells of skill.)


So Oprah is like a woman driving a Rolls Royce down the street, steering it with one finger. A pedestrian with no money, no car, and no driving experience looks at the tiny amount of effort she uses to steer, and says: “ah!  It takes no effort to travel in style.  All I have to do is want it enough!” Without seeing the massive amount of work it takes to make the money to BUY the car, or the skills it takes to design and build the car, or the number of hours it takes to practice your driving so that you can steer your perfectly balanced vehicle with a single finger, with as little effort as it takes to steer a planche on a Ouija board.






The missing piece was ACTION.  They had goals, faith, and gratitude, but not ACTION.  Constant, focused ACTION with feedback from their environment and constant modeling of successful patterns.  One might say that you know you have visualized your goals enough, have faith enough, IF YOU GET YOUR BUTT OFF THE COUCH.  I mean, if you aren’t motivated enough to ACT, what in the world makes you think “the Universe” is going to bend and fold itself to provide your needs?   So that is your measure.  Your GOAL is not really clear unless it motivates you to ACT.   Got it?




Well, I chose THE SCIENCE OF GETTING RICH because a few references suggested that THE SECRET had been based upon it, at least in part. And studying it, I saw the missing piece.  And if I had “deleted” the entire piece about gratitude, I could easily believe that others could “delete” the information about taking action. They had extracted what they wanted to see.  You know, when you were a kid, all you had to do was communicate your desire to your parents, and they might get you that bike, or take you to that movie, or buy you that ice cream cone, or give you a hug.


The adult world isn’t like that.  You have to DO.  Just recently, I conversed with a guy who is out of shape, and near-broke, and wonders why he cannot attract the women he is drawn to.  He made it clear: “I’m only attracted to beautiful women.  Gee, I used to attract them when I was younger. What’s wrong?”

Well,  the biggest is that he’s not willing to meet his own standards.

Well, two things leap immediately to mind.   The first is that younger people are naive. They literally don’t know how the world works as well as they will twenty years later.  Another is “potential”.  We love babies, despite their helplessness, because they are pure potential.  But as they grow, they begin to express that potential through actions taken consistently over time.  We measure older people by what they have DONE, not “what they might do in the future if they get themselves together.”  


And a beautiful YOUNG woman was given a gift of nature.   A beautiful MATURE woman is expressing constant actions carried out on a daily basis: creativity, discipline, self-respect, self-love, emotional health, capacity to postpone gratification, and so forth.  There is nothing, in my opinion, more beautiful than a woman over 40 who has taken care of herself.  Wow!


So those younger women have dreams and hopes and aspirations, and she sees him and says: “We might walk the Path together.  Let’s check this out!”  But the more mature woman says “My emotions, beliefs and values determine my daily behaviors.  My daily behaviors have brought me to where I am.  This man is not on my path and will either drain my energy trying to lift him up, or he will tear me down to his level so that he won’t be afraid of losing me.”


And want nothing to do with him.   He has the nerve, in other words, to say he is attracted “to beauty” without being willing to invest the same energy and time to either increase his resources or develop his own beauty.  He’s trying to “cheat” life.  Doesn’t work, not long-term.


And too many people who are studying metaphysical approaches to success are also trying to “cheat.”   


“I want it!” they say.  “Why can’t I have it?”

“People used to say I was so talented!  Why won’t they buy my stuff now?”


I promise that the 99% chance is that the people who are out-performing you put more focused time into the ADULT part of the equation. They model the behaviors of more successful people, and look at the price they pay.  And commit to paying it.   They not only increase their skills constantly, but understand that if they want MONEY, if they are in a discipline where excellence or success is measured by cash they must master Marketing and Sales, and if you think they are any less demanding a discipline than any other art or science, you are very much mistaken.


If you know marketing and sales well enough, you will ALWAYS make sales.   Even if your quality sucks.   If your quality sucks, but your marketing and sales are pro-level, you get demands for refund, and that is an indicator that you were either selling to the wrong market, or your quality needs to improve.  So if money is the issue, you must take action to


  1. Improve the quality of your product or service.
  2. Study Marketing, the science of finding the audience who wants your product, or educating a market as to its value
  3. Master SALES, the science of appealing to human nature such that people believe they want to exchange their time and energy (money) for yours (product or service) NOW.  That they will feel more joy and less pain if they make that exchange.


Each of these areas is a science of its own.  Practicing your art or discipline is often the “child” part of your personality, with the mastery of business–the Marketing and Sales–the “adult” part. If your child is screaming “pay attention to me!  Why won’t you buy my stuff!  How come those beautiful/powerful people aren’t interested in me?  Waaaaah!”


Well, you may have a goal, and you may have faith you can and should attain it.  You may feel gratitude. But what you are NOT doing is taking focused, modeled, adult, constant action toward your goal.  You have abdicated your adult responsibility to the “child” within you. If your child wants to dance, your adult must either create a safe place for that child to dance (get a job to pay the bills) or manage that child’s energy and time to take her to professional level and then manage the contracts and money and marketing (the stereotypical “show biz parent”).  Those are your choices, unless you can find an agent or manager willing to take the “adult” responsibility while you have the fun of remaining a “kid”. And they’re gonna want a big slice of your pie for that.  You have zero right to resent their chunk of your money, and need to expect that they, the agents, editors, producers and managers, will look at you as a big kid.   Big profitable kid, but a kid.



Those are the costs of not taking that action.  Even worse, the cost of neglecting to take action without realizing that you have neglected a critical step.    RESULTS COME FROM TAKING ACTIONS, AND TAKING THE RIGHT ACTIONS, EVERY DAMNED DAY OVER A PERIOD OF THOUSANDS OF FOCUSED HOURS.    Do that, focus like that, and what you’ll find is that you are the one steering that luxury car down the street, musing to yourself about the vast, almost incalculable costs you have paid over the course of your life, smiling (hopefully) to think it was all worth while, that you have created a safe place for your “child” to play.


But people watching from the sidewalk, unless they have vision, will see only the result, and think either “look at that lucky S.O.B.” or worse…


“If I only want it enough, I can have it.”  That simply isn’t true…unless your measure of “do I want it enough?” is “If I really want it enough, I’ll get up early, stay up late, sacrifice trivialities, be willing to push through frustration and despair, tell myself the painful truths, and CONSTANTLY LEARN how to improve my skills, marketing, and sales.”  And when all those things, that process, is at the level of Unconscious Competence for thousands of hours, you too will be a “natural”, an “overnight success” who “just got lucky.”


And you’ll laugh, because otherwise, you’d cry.




Anyway, tomorrow I’ll tell you that story about the SECRET FORMULA’S first miracle…





Let’s Make 2016 the best year ever!

I had a wonderful time in 2015.  More connection with friends and family, as if some invisible wound is healing in my life.    But I also saw more damage, people dealing with loss and separation, aging, financial strain.  And it made me want to empty myself out, share the things that have made the greatest difference him my life RAPIDLY, whether that is health, love, happiness, success, fitness, or whatever.  “What are you waiting for, Steve?  You can do MORE!”


Yes, I can.  And I will.


So I’m starting with the SECRET FORMULA and the MORNING RITUAL.  The combination is simple dynamite, and if you will practice them, you will make serious positive changes in your life, period.   I’ve worked with hundred and thousands of students and clients on these concepts. They dovetail beautifully, can be applied to anything you care to work on in life, and they cost nothing to implement.   I wish I could say: “practice them for 30 days, and if you don’t like the results, I’ll give you your time back.”  But I can’t.   All I can say is that if you will trust your heart, and extend just a little faith, you can discover for yourself if you should ever listen to me again. I’ll put 100% of my reputation on the line here.  Do it. Try it.   You have nothing to lose but your excuses.


I’ll be able to “cluster” other technologies: Lifewriting (application of the Hero’s Journey to life), I.D.E.A. (Instinctive Designation of Energy and Attention: using balance to calibrate instinct), Musashi’s Principles, Intermittent Fasting, The Ancient Child and more around these two.  And you can cluster any techniques or philosophies you treasure in your own life.  But let me start here, with these two, and see where we go.


I think many of you know the story of how the SECRET FORMULA was developed.  Basically, Tananarive’s mother was terminally ill, and T needed to be in Atlanta to care for her…and say good-bye. To say this was not part of my life plan would be like saying elephants are somewhat larger than fleas.   I was totally off-balance and seeking answers in every arena of my life, especially money, as my income stream had been trashed.  I was studying everything I could get my hands on, and came across the book THE SCIENCE OF GETTING RICH   by Wallace D. Wattles.  It’s an odd book, filled with scientific inaccuracies and some serious woo-woo stuff. But I’ve learned to look through that, and ask: “what is the author trying to say?  Is he representing some real phenomenon with the wrong language?  Trying to represent an ineffable truth with language as his only, and inadequate tool?”


So I waded through it (short wade–the book is less than 100 pages), and then…read it again. And…


I couldn’t remember a word.  Not a single concept.   I stared at the book on my desk, and said “WTF”???


Something was very very wrong.  No matter what, my memory had never been THAT bad.  What had just happened?


I remembered something that had happened thirty years earlier, when I had gone through the original EST program. You know, the one where they don’t let you go to the bathroom?  (Not really, but you were STRONGLY encouraged to wait for the breaks.  They weren’t sadists.  Exactly).  Well, it was a two-weekend workshop, quite intense, and the reality is that they actually did coordinate what I’d call a “micro-tear” in your reality.  It was fascinating, but I’m convinced it was real–you really did get an extraordinary clarity after those four days.   It didn’t LAST of course, but that doesn’t mean it was invalid. It was a little like having a paranormal experience, or the “new eyes” with which you see the world after a near-death experience or holding your newborn child for the first time.  Or falling madly in love.


Things change, for a while. Unless it’s reinforced, of course, that “tear” heals up again, and you’re right back where you started…well, maybe a few steps further along the path.  If you’re smart, lucky, and well prepared, when those moments happen you use them to check your position in the “real” world, like taking a compass reading or spotting a familiar landmark before the fog descends again.  (By the way, in my opinion, this is why EST graduates would go to workshop after workshop, seeking to reinforce that breakthrough.  The course was more context than content in that sense–not a bad thing, just something that didn’t “click” with the way I operate.  Give me the content, and I”ll create my own contexts.)


At any rate, it was maybe 2am in the morning on the second weekend.  We were all exhausted. The trainer was talking about money, and about ¼ of the room looked asleep. Then he shifted the subject to Sex.  And…most of the sleeping people awakened, and another whole swath of the room fell asleep. You could see it, like a wave sweeping the room.   I can tell you I woke the hell up, but I wasn’t just listening to the trainer, I was watching the room (I do that).  A few minutes later the trainer changed the subject again: Physical Vibrancy and weight, I believe.  And…a DIFFERENT swath of attendees woke up, and a DIFFERENT group dropped off to sleep.


This happened several more times before the session ended, and I was entranced. And thought about what had happened for days.  Now, there are several different conclusions I might have come to, but the one that stuck with me was: “when people don’t want to hear something, they go unconscious.  The more the new information challenges their paradigm, or would cause them to deal with something they aren’t ready to deal with, the more the mind struggles to avoid dealing with that information.”


When we don’t want to hear something, we go to sleep.  We create schotoma, “blind spots” in the visual or auditory or conceptual field.  The new information is simply…erased.  


I remembered that as I sat in my office, staring at THE SCIENCE OF GETTING RICH, and made one of my most important life decisions.  I decided to believe that there was something in that book that some part of me desperately wanted to ignore.  NEEDED to ignore.


And that I had to know what it was.  But if my mind wouldn’t absorb what was on the page, what the hell was I going to do?  And…what the HELL could be so extreme that my mind wouldn’t absorb it?


More tomorrow…



Six Harsh Truths

I published this article, without realizing it was “hijacked” from   I apologize to the original author, and confess ignorance that this was even an issue.

To repeat, the values expressed in this article have to do with the material world, the “dream” world as it were.  But the safest path to personal growth is to master this world FIRST before moving onward to higher, deeper, more esoteric values.

About 90% of the personal problems faced by human beings are the result of

#1–not mastering the basics.

#2–not growing once those basics have been mastered.

So there are equal problems in trying to go directly for being spiritual and intellectual without mastering your basic sensory/rooting apparatus, or in mastering those basics and not going on to open your heart and expand your sense of self.   The safest path is probably to “root” first. The most fulfilling path may well be to open your heart first.  But the most dangerous path is to develop an intellectual or spiritual model of the world without the capacity to error-check.  That…is a road to savage cynicism, sociopathy and megalomania, as well as “All That Jazz” levels of self destructive behavior.

In my world, “racism” is defined…

This has come up a few times recently, and I wanted to be very clear. So far as I am concerned, the most reasonable, useful and denotative definition of “racism” is “attributing differential capacity or worth to groups on the basis of race or ethnicity.” It is not hating all of X, or not admitting that “some X’s” are intelligent or moral, or denying that they “are equal under the law” or “equal in the eyes of God.”

Yes, it is racist “even if it is true.”

On the other side, yes, an “oppressed” person with these attitudes is indeed a racist. I have no respect for shifting language for political purposes, or so that people can feel comfortable with their beliefs. I know some very good, very intelligent people who believe in The Bell Curve, or conversely, that white people are intrinsically morally inferior, on average.

What matters is, if these are your beliefs, how do you treat people? With integrity and kindness? Are you honest with your beliefs, or do you hide them behind weasel words? I have FB friends on both ends of this spectrum, and I respect them, even if I strongly disagree with their conclusions. To me, people are people, for good or ill, on average.

Yes, there is obviously difference between individuals. But with large racial or cultural groups I would only accept the judgement of someone totally outside the system, and no such human beings exist. That is my position on it, I’ve taken heat and pressure from both sides of the spectrum, and that’s fine. Heat and pressure make diamonds, and I’m feeling shiny today.

Can you help me with “The Ancient Child”?

The “Ancient Child” program combines a dozen different incredibly powerful tools into a single “sigil” with (according to comments from students) amazing effectiveness and efficiency.    And because the specific way they came together was suggested by a text I no longer own there are implications beyond my personal experience.

For instance, if we look at the three major aspects involved: Child self, Adult self, “Ancient” self, they are not “objective realities” but rather psychological symbols of different aspects of our personalities, experience, and perceptions and skills or wounds.  By giving them a visualizable status, we can “see”damage as well as growth, and it becomes easier to shift our resources around.

But in addition, there are three major “energy centers” in the body-mind complex.  Again, not necessarily “objective realities” but ways to look at things (this perspective is so powerful in martial arts, however, that I know there is SOMETHING going on there.  What, precisely, is beyond my kin.  Possibly merely shifted perspective.   Or something.)

These three are: Belly Brain (below belly button. Core survival drives), Heart Center (emotions) , Head Center (logic, intelligence, ambition).

Now.   In morning meditations I originally started with my “Child” self in the belly brain (or at the base of my skull), the “Adult” in the heart center, and the “Ancient” in or slightly above the head center.

My morning meditations were then beginning with Anahata (heartbeat) meditation, running a line of “light” down to the belly brain, collecting that light into a “child” self, letting him conduct light up to my heart to create an “Adult” and then running it up to my head to create the “Ancient”.  Very nice.

But I later experimented with other orders.  For instance, I’ve noticed that when I want to concentrate on business, visualizing a triangle at my forehead (point “up”) seems to facilitate a more focused and successful day.   As it is the “adult” self that seems to be connected with worldly success, I could raise the “adult” up there, but that felt a little unbalanced, so I visualized my ‘child” rooting deeply into the earth, on the shoulders of my ancestors.  Nice.


I don’t want to be too specific.  What I want to say is that the three “Energy Centers” can be conceptualized many different ways, sure, but even if they were stable realities, there are at least six different arrangements of the “Ancient Child” three aspects.  And I suspect that each of them is a little different.

So I’m making an open request that those who have been practicing this amazing technique report back their experiences.  I suspect that different arrangements prioritize for:

Success, self-love, emotional healing, physical energy, creative energy, problem solving, sensuality, sheer fun, discipline, focus, and more.  

But…which orders?  Which emphasis?   I honestly don’t know, and even if I was certain what worked for me, I wouldn’t know if that was anything other than my own personal “recipe”, which might shift next year, and may not have any application to others.


Would you please do me the honor of reporting back what you have experienced?  It will help me help others, as well as develop Ancient Child 2.0.