“Accept everything about yourself. I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end. No apologies. No regrets.”
“Success requires no explanations, failure permits no alibis.”
“Be what you are.
This is the first step towards becoming better than you are.”
J. C. Hare
Clarity is the most critical aspect of setting and achieving your goal.
In 1704, a Scottish sailor named Alexander Selkirk was marooned on a deserted island off the coast of Chile. Selkirk’s ship was destroyed by the sea, leaving him with a rifle, small knife, and some carpentry tools. After regaining some of his strength, Selkirk explored the interior of the island looking for supplies, but all he found were goats, feral cats, and large rats. Feeling lost and hopeless, Selkirk returned to the shoreline and slept in a cave. After about a month of laying around and catching fish, he became severely depressed and ill. Selkirk drowned in his sorrows by imagining all of the things that could have happened differently in the days, weeks, and months before he was shipwrecked. He cursed the heavens for his bad luck and blamed God and the world for being against him.
Then, one day, while Selkirk was lying sick in his cave, he looked out and saw sea lions invading the shoreline to mate with one another. He was forced to move inland or be killed. With the last of his energy, Selkirk moved to the island’s interior and began to explore the forest again. However, this time, he saw things in a different light. Instead of sulking, Selkirk started to evaluate his current position without regard to the past or his emotions. He stopped asking, “Why me?” and “What do I need?,” and started asking, “What do I have, right here and right now?” Instantly, Selkirk saw opportunity. First, remembering the carpentry tools he had, Selkirk built a series of huts out of the native woods. Next, he domesticated the feral cats, which provided him with companionship and protected him from the large rats. Finally, by trial and error, he taught himself to hunt the goats and learned to make clothes out of their hides. Each productive action helped Selkirk generate confidence and increase happiness. He thrived on the island until his rescue many years later.
Drop A Clarity Bomb On Your Life
Define where you are and what you have, without prejudice, and you will be ready to define your purpose of living. The above story is told by Robert Greene in The 50th Law and illustrates an important point: seeing your current position clearly is the first step to moving forward and fulfilling your purpose in life. Regardless of what you want to accomplish, achieving your goal requires that you take careful stock of what you have, where you are, and who you are in your life right now. The reason that most people have a hard time explaining what they want in life is because they don’t know what they already have. How can you set a goal and strive towards a future position if you don’t know your current position? Before you decide on a purpose in life, before you even begin to nail down your purpose of living, you must identify and name your current reality. Here’s how:
1. Eliminate Prejudices
The only way to characterize your current reality is to completely erase your past and eliminate the pull of emotions from your mind. This step is much more difficult than it seems. Every decision that you make during the day is colored by your past experiences and your emotions. Normally, this is a good thing because it keeps you from repeating the same mistakes and prevents you from wasting time evaluating the same events over and over. However, in order to define where you are right now, in this exact moment, in order to see your current reality with complete clarity, you must forget the past and treat your emotions as a kind of disease. Any feelings, especially those of fear, anger, sadness, or guilt, will prevent you from objectively measuring your current station in life. And this will ultimately prevent you from achieving your goal, no matter what it is.
Once you’ve cleared your mind and are totally present, imagine that you were dropped from the sky into your life as it stands right now. See your life from the viewpoint of an astronaut returning to Earth after hundreds of years in outer space. How would this complete stranger describe you and your life right now, with no knowledge of your past successes or failures, and no knowledge of your emotions or desires? Carefully measure your assets and liabilities, as well as your strengths and your limitations. Do this from a personal perspective, as well as from a business and entrepreneurship perspective. For example, if you are an award-winning chef, make note of the cooking skills you have, as well as those you do not have, but ignore your past awards because they are of no use to you presently. Now, like Selkirk on the deserted island, find opportunity in your current situation. Where do opportunities exist in your life right now, in this moment, with no regard to the past or your feelings?
2. Judge Actions
Achieving your goal relies on self-honesty. Once you’ve visualized your life with an objective eye, and identified the opportunities you currently hold in your hand, start taking stock of your actions. Keep your emotions turned off but let your past come into play now. What have you accomplished? What have you failed to accomplish? Ignore any excuses that come into your head, ignore your emotions, and ignore any attempts your mind makes to justify what you are in the process of accomplishing. Judge yourself by finished deeds only. No amount of eloquence or talk from others or your own internal influences can explain away a defeat. What you say about yourself does not matter. It’s only what you have done that matters. Deeds don’t lie. It’s in your own best interest to be completely honest with yourself. Refuse to evade reality and pretend that things are one way when they are really another. Only then will you truly be able to see where you stand and how far you are from achieving your goal. Take careful notice of your victories and your defeats. Are there any patterns? What have you been particularly successful at? Do your failures have anything in common?
3. Own It
Now that you know where you are and who you are, own it. Realize that only you are responsible for both the good and bad in your life. It is your own bad strategies, not God, the universe, or the unfair opponent that is to blame for your failures. This mindset will free you from excuses and open up your mind to the numerous possibilities that exist in your life right now. Instead of getting defensive about your past mistakes and failures, learn from them and search out new opportunities to face and surmount similar challenges. Once you do this, you will start creating second chances that will bring you closer to achieving your goal. This process will also help you improve self-confidence and develop leadership skills. Understand: your biggest obstacle is always yourself. Stop trying to change external factors and focus on changing yourself. Take complete responsibility for the person that you are right now, including everything that you have or have not accomplished in life. Taking responsibility in this way will help you consolidate your current lot in life with complete confidence and integrity. And now that you know exactly where you are and who you are, you can figure out where you want to go and who you want to be. In my next post, I will help you give a name to your overall purpose in life.