I am blessed by some of the collective wisdom of several other writers I follow, and one email this morning touched me more than most. The writer, Neil Strauss, was talking about how we are so goal-oriented, that we focus so much on “outcomes” and how all these “good” and “bad” decisions are sometimes illusions.
I nearly fell off my chair as I read his words. He doesn't know it, but he writes for me, as if I am his only fan. Of course, I am not!
I've trained under people who have followed Earl Nightingale, Zig Ziglar, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and others. I've always been a goal-oriented person, with family, our businesses, especially real estate and investing, and now with romance writing.
I track sales, follow the “steps” deemed necessary to progress to the next levels, etc. There are so many “must do's” and “epic fail” mistakes that are touted. Some of them I've agreed with, and many not. Some have worked, others not. At times, it's confusing.
Neil's email this morning made me understand that wisdom of “doing the best I can” as the centerpoint I always seem to drift back to between mastermind sessions, conventions or author get-togethers. It's my reset button, back to the middle, square one. There is only one outcome you can control: And that’s doing your best job at any particular project, given who you are today, and completing it to the best of your abilities.
We often overlook what these pundits have been saying, and now I see the lessons learned coming from a different angle. Neil's right: the outcome is not the outcome. I love that saying, “There is a happily ever after. If it's not, then you haven't gone far enough.” Some of my worst tragedies have brought be the greatest enjoyment, or breakthroughs. I had to be reduced to a 1000 SF apartment after our house fire in order to begin my journey into writing–or I never would have tried. Out of the ashes comes the victory.
This decision to sell our big property, and move into an apartment (AGAIN!) and travel in a deluxe coach is indeed like walking through this next doorway. Things change. Who knows what new adventure awaits? I can but guess, and be excited for the future.
But if I drag the history of my past mistakes with me, it will affect the outcome, not the decision itself.
MY FOCUS NEEDS TO BE WHAT I'M DOING RIGHT NOW, not what I did, or what I might do. Here's what he says:
The outcome of a project or life event opens up a new door, path, or change.
And whether the project succeeds or fails by your standards doesn’t actually matter. It still leads you to the next event in your life.
I've been wondering when it will hit me that perhaps I'll miss this place. You know what? There might be times when I will. But I'm beginning to think that I won't.
Each result in your life is just a fork on a path that is endlessly forking. And it is impossible to predict where it is leading.
I said good-bye to some good friends last night at a party at our home – our last one. “I'm not going anywhere,” I told them. “I'm just going to greet you through another doorway.”
Just like any of our decisions, it isn't good-bye to the past or our lives as we know it, it's hello to the next chapter.
Here, in his words, is the parable he wrote about:
Once there was a poor, hard-working farmer, and one day his horse—the only horse he owned—ran away.
His neighbors consoled him, “Such bad luck, I’m so sorry.”
“Maybe,” the farmer replied. “Who knows whether it’s bad or good.”
The next day, the horse returned, and it brought with it three wild horses.
“Wow,” the farmer’s neighbors exclaimed. “You’re so lucky.”
“Maybe,” the farmer replied. “Who knows.”
The next day, the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses, and he was thrown off and broke his leg.
“That’s a shame,” the farmer’s neighbors said. “I’m sorry for your misfortune.”
“Maybe it’s misfortune, maybe it isn’t,” the farmer replied. “Who knows.”
The next day, war broke out, and there was a draft. The authorities came to the house to enlist the farmer’s son. But when they saw that his leg was broken and he couldn’t walk, they let him stay at home and he didn’t have to go fight in the bloody war.
“Wow, you really got lucky there,” the neighbors told the farmer. “You must be so glad that horse threw your son.”
“Maybe,” the farmer said. “Who knows…”
This story could go on forever.
And the point is…
The outcome is not the outcome.
Thank you, Neil.
What about you? Our futures are always under construction, right?