“Both Poverty and Riches are the Offspring of Thought”–Napoleon Hill.
I’m about 1/4 of the way back through “Think And Grow Rich” and again, Hill has restated his basic proposition in another way. He never directly states the “secret” in the book, and most reviewers agree that that “secret” is something to the effect of “We become what we think about.”
Yeah, well, assuming that you also make detailed plans, align your unconscious mind, find the right role models, create an accurate reality map, and so forth. But the core remains. In Hawaiian Huna magic the same principle is phrased: “Where attention flows, energy goes, and results show.” In general, I believe this to be true, and have lived my life this way. The moment I stop believing this to be true, I falter.
I’ve certainly known people who claimed to have goals, and said that despite years of effort, they hadn’t achieved much. Here’s what I’m saying: if you have a definite chief end, it is easier to move in that direction, much like if you know where you are going on vacation, you are more likely to get there. That doesn’t mean that cars don’t break down along the way, people don’t run out of gas or money, or don’t get lost. It means that if you start with the end in mind, you can have greater confidence in reaching a destination pleasing to you.
Of course, there is another type of person (or life), which is basically drifting on the tide. And I know some folks who have arranged stellar lives this way. But frankly, most of the people I’ve known who have lived lives pleasing to them without particular focus have been BRILLIANT. In other words, they could afford to lack focus because of utterly superior problem-solving and improvisation capacity. Most who have drifted do NOT end up in safe harbor. Frankly, I would never suggest such a path to a child of mine unless I had one hell of a safety net to offer, and those who choose that path…well, they are exceptional, and I wish them well, but Wow, are they ever taking chances.
Of course, most of those who “drifted” or “zenned” their way through didn’t really do that. They didn’t drift their way through school. They were focused enough to get in, attended their classes, took their tests after studying for them. In other words, they were focused to a point…and after that point had earned their right to chill out. I guess I’ve done that to a degree. No year of my life has ever really predicted what the next year would look like. But God help me if I hadn’t been focused enough to continue refining my skills, making contacts, trying to learn by previous mistakes. Most of the chiropractors I’ve known without comparable focus drop out of the field after an initial blaze of glory. I should know, I was one of them. I guess I kind of believed the attitude that one should “burn one’s bridges” and charge forward in life. There are definitely other, and perhaps saner approaches. But that’s been mine.
What would I suggest if I had kids? Have an educational safety net, and then move craftily toward your goal, stalking it with every arrow in an ever-growing quiver. Not the most courageous path…but I guess I’ve seen too many broken bodies along the way, and I think I would love my kids too much to want to see them sprawled at the side of life’s road like shattered marionettes.