Let's Get Off Our Buts

Part Five:
If It's Written on the Wind, Bring Your Camera

They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.


Keep track of your successes--the achievement of the interim goals on the way to the Big One.

At the end of the day, list all your accomplishments for that day. This is more than checking off what you did on various "to-do" lists. We usually accomplish more than we set out to do. Listing all accomplishments at the end of the day--those planned, those spontaneous, and those serendipitous--gives a more accurate picture of progress.

As this list grows, it becomes a testament to your power, your creativity, your achievement. Soon, the evidence becomes overwhelming: you will achieve your Dream. It's a logical outcome of the direction you are obviously heading.

It's also a good idea to document certain victories--with photos, video, mementos, newspaper clippings, or paperwork. This helps show your direction and relative invincibility to others who may need some persuading along the way.

Besides, in the years to come, your many biographers will appreciate all the help you can give them.

Shortcuts to Success

It is a good idea to obey all the rules when you're young just so you'll have the strength to break them when you're old.


People, books, tapes, videos, magazines, etc. are all shortcuts to success. Learn from the accumulated wisdom of the ages. That's what it's been accumulating for.

A doctor, for example, is a shortcut to health. A teacher, a shortcut to learning. Any expert is a shortcut to success.

A picture may be worth 10,000 words, but a bit of advice from someone who has achieved a goal similar to yours is worth 10,000 pictures.

Sometimes you learn how to do something by following advice. Other times, you learn to do precisely the opposite of what is recommended. Knowing a source of consistently bad advice is a godsend. Consult it regularly, then do the contrary. As the churchgoer once said, "Father, your sermons are like water to a drowning man."

When others give advice, they do you a favor. When you put that advice to good use, the favor is returned.

Freedom Is Found in Discipline, Not Rebellion

In the last analysis, our only freedom is the freedom to discipline ourselves.


When young, we are asked to follow rules that often lead us someplace we do not care to go. No wonder so many people learn to rebel against rules.

In following your Dream, however, you will probably notice that you have more rules than ever before. What's going on? Isn't your Dream supposed to bring freedom?

Yes, and freedom is found in discipline. Discipline comes from the word disciple-- being a devoted student. Think of discipline as a container. Once a container is constructed--and maintained--it can envelop your Dream.

A rule is a tool, as a drinking glass is a tool. Using the drinking glass, we can hold, carry, and consume water. Rules are restrictions, just as a drinking glass is a restriction. If we say, "I don't want any rules, because I don't want any restrictions," then we might as well say, "I don't want any restrictions on my water, either." Then it's a lot harder to drink.

There are rules--lots of rules--that we use daily for pursuing our Dream: walking, talking, reading, writing, and so many others. When we accept the rules of a given discipline and make them our own, we are no longer the disciple--we take a step toward mastery.

What Have You Learned?

If your parents didn't have any children, there is a good chance that you won't have any.


You've been fulfilling dreams for quite some time. They may have been your dreams, or they may have been the dreams of others. Either way, the process of dream fulfillment remains the same.

Review your list of accomplishments--the list you made about twenty years ago in the chapter "What Have You Accomplished?" For each achievement, ask yourself, "How did I do this? What did it take for me to fulfill that dream? What worked? What didn't?"

Begin to formulate your own set of "rules" on how you best achieve dreams. To fulfill our Dream, we need only examine our life, and do two things:


Nurture Yourself

Leisure time is the five or six hours when you sleep at night.


It's important to nurture yourself while you're nurturing your Dream. In the large sense, of course, pursuing your dream is nurturing yourself. Along the way to your Dream, however, take time to be good to yourself.

Self-nurturing is not the same as self-indulgence. One of the most misused statements I've heard lately is, "I'm doing this to take care of myself." Usually, when people say this, they're running their old limitations under a new banner.

Succumbing to the comfort zone's demands is not "taking care of yourself."

Nurturing yourself means taking care of yourself while you do what needs to be done . This might mean working twenty hours on a project you could complete in fifteen. It does not mean not doing the project.

Learn to take the pressure off while you do what you do. When you think of recreation, think of re-creating your attitude toward the work at hand.

Rehabilitate your attitude toward words such as work, vacation, and time off. The idea that we need "time off" comes from working for another to fulfill another's dreams. Now your life is directed toward fulfilling your Dream. Why would you want to take "time off" from that?

Some activities on your path are more enjoyable than others. Alternate these more pleasant activities with the more bothersome ones.

INTERVIEWER: Your Holiness, how many people work in the Vatican?
POPE JOHN XXIII: About half.

Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price.


Learn to seek satisfaction in a job well done, rather than seek diversion in activities designed to distract you from the "harsh reality of work." That sort of diversion may be necessary for those who work for others. Remember, however: you're working for yourself now.

True nurturing is learning to enjoy the path, the process, the journey toward your Dream.


Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.


Nothing succeeds like persistence. The common denominator of all successful people is their persistence.

Said Calvin Coolidge,

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Coolidge could be a role model for those who think one needs a sparkling personality to fulfill a Dream. "Silent Cal," as he was known, was so laid back that Dorothy Parker, when told of his death, asked, "How could they tell?"

"Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal," wrote Louis Pasteur. "My strength lies solely in my tenacity."

This same message rings throughout history--to win: persevere. The ancients knew it. "He who labors diligently need never despair," wrote Menander, "for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor." "The drops of rain make a hole in the stone," said Lucretius, "not by violence, but by oft falling."

Goethe: "Austere perseverance, harsh and continuous, may be employed by the least of us and rarely fails of its purpose, for its silent power grows irreversibly greater with time." Longfellow: "Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody."

Fall seven times, stand up eight.


A persistence rhyme from Edmund Cooke:

You are beaten to earth?
Well, well, what's that?
Come up with a smiling face,
It's nothing against you to fall down flat
But to lie there--that's disgrace.

I will spare you what Napoleon, George Gobel, Churchill, Lincoln, Socrates, Orson Welles, Richard Nixon, and the Lennon sisters had to say about persistence. It's the same theme: "Keep going and you will win."

Persistence is a simple process:

  3. REMOVE Remove can be replaced by Disregard or Ignore. > THE OBSTACLE.
  5. GO TO 1.

Without persistence, we may end up doing our Marlon Brando imitation: "I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody. Instead of a bum, which is what I am."

Enthusiasm and Joy

The real secret of success is enthusiasm.


Rather than comfort and joy, try enthusiasm and joy. Enthusiasm and joy are Siamese twins--it's hard to find one without the other.

Enthusiasm comes from the Latin en theos-- one with the energy of the divine. "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm," wrote Emerson.

"I rate enthusiasm even above professional skill," said Sir Edward Appleton.

"Every production of genius," wrote Benjamin Disraeli, "must be the production of enthusiasm."

Joy is a feeling we can feel no matter what else isgoing on. The way to create joy is to do things joyfully. It's one of the easiest feelings to create. We need only remember to create it.

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