The Success Paradox: Programmed to Fail or Fly?
We are now in 2018 and the months ahead are like a fresh notebook. January marks a new start, another chance to go after our dreams and goals. It is human to long for success, yet success can be highly vexing and even more elusive. Why? Simple. We must understand the success paradox or all our noble intentions, our planning, our goals are doomed to fizzle or fail.
Obey the Law
Whether we like it or not, there are underlying forces we can’t see and don’t fully understand that dictate our reality. Certain laws govern behaviors, patterns, habits, causes and yes effects. Understand the laws and work within their confines, and objectives become far easier to obtain.
Laws matter in many areas of life and we dismiss them at our peril. Seriously. Can you imagine NASA ignoring the laws of physics when launching a rocket into space? Or engineers ‘winging it’ while constructing a high-rise? What if pharmaceutical companies just let scientists mix whatever they wanted in a lab heedless to the laws governing chemistry?
I Believe I Can Fly
What’s funny is so many folks will balk at any mention of laws that govern success as a bunch of self-affirmation silliness. Yet these same people have no problem flying in airplanes, taking pictures with their phones, or downloading an app from a satellite…that is IN SPACE.
WITCHES! Burn them!
Just because we don’t see or yet understand a law doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It also doesn’t mean these hidden laws are not fundamentally impacting you or me in a positive or negative way. The paradox of success can make us or break us and we need to get over having to understand everything before we give something a go. Seeing is NOT always believing.
There are plenty of ‘things’ we can’t see that can and will kill us. We can’t see Cesium 137 but I don’t recommend camping trips near Chernobyl.
Some forces are invisible and can only be realized, measured or understood via causation.
What is the Success Paradox?
First, a paradox is a premise that appears absurd or even contradictory to ideas most people accept to be true. If we extend this idea, it means that what’s most commonly thought to be ridiculous regarding success is often the best (or only) way to reach and maintain our goals.
I get it is a brain-bender, but just chillax and we’ll unpack this.
First, just because something appears to make no logical sense doesn’t mean it’s therefore untrue. It means the concept is simply a paradox we’ve yet to fully unlock.
Secondly, if we want to reach our dreams—whatever those dreams may be—then we need to embrace the success paradox and do what’s necessary even when we don’t understand.
If we keep trudging the same path that ‘makes sense’ then it only ‘makes sense’ we’ll end up right in the same spot this time next year. Same list. Same resolutions. Perhaps a different plan but still bewildered why we can’t seem to break free of the cycle.
Hey, I am pointing one finger at you and three at me. We are in this together 😉 .
We must master our thoughts and words or remain enslaved to mediocrity and toxic beliefs. To be clear. NO. I don’t believe we can just believe we’ll be millionaires and money will rain from the sky. Nor do I believe if we simply claim we are already a New York Times best-selling author it magically will happen by Tuesday.
Um, we kind of need to write the book.
To fully embrace the success paradox, however, it’s necessary to reset your brains for 2018, clean out the cache, and maybe even wipe the drive and start anew.
What’s Your Programming?
If I handed you a computer you believed was pristine and functional, yet it was loaded with hidden viruses and malware, would that possibly impact your results?
Think about it.
You obediently sit at your desk and use this infected computer day after day believing you’re doing a great job. Working hard! To your great vexation, however, everything you print out is an unreadable disaster.
Thus, you dedicate more hours, learn to type ten times faster and still everything the computer prints is a mess. You take computer classes, read books, and go to computer seminars. You have a NEW plan! Yet, you return to work using the computer loaded with malware.
The screen freezes, your documents vanish and your pages all print in Pig Latin instead of English. So you buy a new computer and transfer all your files to the new computer, but the same thing keeps happening!
No matter how many hours you work, the programs lock up even on the new computer. The printouts are a mess and all attachments are unreadable.
Sigh. Maybe you decide it’s time to get an MFA, MBA, or a DOA. Clearly you’re just destined to fail. You aren’t a ‘real’ writer after all.
GET RID OF THE MALWARE!
Taking a Quantum Leap
I’m a total science nerd. One reason I believe many of the personal success tenets are so easily dismissed is that these ‘laws’ dictate cause and effect from the quantum scale. Meaning these principles operate in a realm that doesn’t obey laws we’re familiar with in our macro world.
When particles get small enough, these little buggers simply give no figs about how big particles act or react. Strange force does its own thing, and doesn’t take a popularity poll. This is a world very sensitive to wavelengths and energy (refer to Casimir effect) and they have their own laws…or we think they do (science still working on this).
We also are understanding more and more about memory and how what we think about or talk about impacts the human brain. Neuroscientists have an adage that neurons that fire together wire together.
The more we think about something the stronger the wiring becomes. Talk about it? Wiring gets stronger. Add in kinesthetic layer (I.e. practice)? WAY stronger.
Thinking and talking about writing a novel is great. Actually writing one? Even a bad one? WAY BETTER. Thinking and talking about learning to play an instrument is good. Practicing? MUCH BETTER.
This is because the brain contains Glial cells, which have been called the gardeners of the brain. These cells water, fertilize and strengthen certain neurological connections.
Other Glial cells—known as ‘microglial cells—are in charge of cleanup. Unused thoughts, skills, or knowledge are the brain’s detritus. Microglial cells rake up the dead leaves, prune the dead branches and pull weeds.
Ever wonder why you can’t recall Algebra II or remember who or what started the Franco-Prussian War even though school dedicated a lot of time to this stuff? It’s because—unless you work a job requiring you to use Algebra II or apply European history—your microglial cleanup crew gathered up all these factoids into a mind mulch pile or bagged them for recycling.
Creating Our Reality
Why did I dedicate time to discussing quantum rules and Glial cells? Because this is fundamental to grasping the success paradox and to challenge you that maybe just maybe there is something real (and scientifically sound) to this ‘happy thoughts fluff.’
It’s the New Year and generally two camps will surface. One side will jump and shout and push positive affirmations, visualization and manifestation. The other side will tout that positive affirmations are a bunch of bunk and hard work is all we need.
Yet plenty of positive people never have anything to show for happy thoughts. With no plan, no action or unfocused action, the fruits of Happy Thoughts Only Club is eventually a) a person with a reputation as a total flake to avoid at all cost or b) a promising talent who ended up bitter and disillusioned after years of nothing to show for all the positive thoughts.
Simultaneously, countless ‘hard workers’ dismiss that ‘Hippie Guru Positive Manifestation Crappola’ and truly believe elbow grease is all that matters. Yet, with stinking thinking, after a while, they feel trapped on Hell’s Hamster Wheel. The only fruit for their hard work and sacrifice is burnout, bitterness, defeatism and loneliness.
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
It’s impossible for us to believe in nothing. Nothing is a vacuum and what do we know about vacuums? Something will rush in to fill that space. Thus, if something is going to fill that space between our ears, why not be deliberate about it and make it something good? If we’re passive and let whatever wants to fall into our brains take root, then expect more weeds than fruit trees.
Why are thoughts so important? Maybe you’ve heard this quote or some variation.
Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Back to those Glial cells. They will help the success paradox make more sense.
What Are We Planting/Pruning?
If we constantly think about all the ways we will/could fail, mull over our fears, and ruminate over every instance of bad luck or times people wronged us…then these are the thoughts in our minds.
When we speak constant doom and gloom, our words and thoughts signal the Glial cells to reinforce those bad memories and defeatist attitudes. Toxic beliefs act like the malware we discussed earlier. Thoughts and words literally alter our brains’ programming. This ‘negative programming’ then corrupts all we ‘produce’ (actions, habits, results).
The human brain has no opinions. It simply does as it’s told.
If we grouse, complain and rehash every time life went sideways, those memories and beliefs become stronger and stronger…at the very literal expense of the good.
The Glials rush to reinforce all the memories of when we were victims, times we screwed up, the pain of failure, and the hurtful memories of people (probably family) who told us we sucked or didn’t deserve anything.
Our Glial cells will dutifully buttress the list of the hundred ways we are ‘not enough’…which we then speak aloud either in self-criticism or with friends who also like to gripe and complain. This talking, in turn, will make the Glials work even harder to strengthen those ‘ideas’ since they must be important because we think and talk about them so much.
But what a heavy price to pay…
When we adopt stinking thinking, we unwittingly signal the Glials to make all things bad and self-defeating stronger. Simultaneously, we signal microglials to clean up the ‘trash.’ Problem is, we’re unintentionally directing the Glials to keep the weeds, crabgrass and stickers and instructing the microglials to dig up the roses, fruit trees, and flowers and bag ’em.
Thus, the microglials clip steadily away at countless positive memories, feelings and beliefs. Clip, clip, clip. Bit by bit microglials snip away all the good times, the blessings, the joys, the triumphs and pile them on the cerebral mulch pile.
What are we drawing from to create our reality? A garden or a landfill?
The success paradox helps us realize we can only get from life what we sow into it. Plant a field of poison ivy seeds and that’s what we’ll get. People near us won’t break out in the itchies, they’ll break out in the bitchies 😛 .
Think and talk negatively long enough and eventually we’ll find ourselves depressed, wracked with fear, expecting the worst. We’ll self-sabotage in countless ways and our outer world will gradually mirror our inner world.
First, who wants to hang around someone who complains nonstop? Ungrateful people are not a lot of fun. Folks who only can see the bad are unappealing to healthy people but like catnip to losers.
I can say this because I’m a Recovering Debbie Downer. When I was a super negative person, guess what kind of ‘friends’ I had?
Other negative people who shared my favorite hobby…complaining.
If a healthy person came near me and genuinely said I had talent, potential, or skill I pushed them away because their ‘Happy-Joy-Joy-BS’ didn’t line up with my mental programming that I was a hack. Surely they could see the 9,000 ways I totally sucked! It’s all I saw. Who could trust a person that blind? What was their angle? O_o
Is it any wonder I felt trapped and defeated? Since reaching our dreams involves the success paradox—which are behaviors and thoughts that seem to make ZERO sense—I was to fearful to even TRY.
Dare to Be Different
Now let’s flip this. Just because a story starts out badly doesn’t make it automatically a tragedy. It’s how the story finishes that determines if it is a story of triumph or tragedy.
We control our story, but it will take work and intention and probably a lot of feeling silly. Remember the success paradox will seem to make no sense, which is why I needed to help you understand why your mind is going to be critical in the year to come.
Only someone deliberate can embrace then DO the counterintuitive actions necessary to reach higher and higher levels of achievement. The success paradox runs counter to what the world believes is true. Regular people will think we are insane and, in a sense, we are because normal is just another word for average.
Do what average people do, and welcome to average.
The success paradox maintains down is up and up is down because it, too, is a Strange Force. Want more wealth? Let go of money. Want more love? Give more love. Want more peace? Create stronger boundaries. Long for joy, be a blessing. Providence can only move after WE do. Open the hand and only THEN can it be filled.
Today was a longer post. Think of it as wiping the hard drive to make way for all the good stuff in the year to come. We can’t have anything good with corrupted files hanging around. We will talk more about the success paradox but to get rid of malware we need to locate it so we can delete/overwrite it.
Exercise One—Reflect on what you want, then articulate WHY you want it. If you want more wealth, why? If you want to sell more books, why? If you want to be a mega-author, why? If you want to be debt-free, why? If you want to be in better health, why? Y’all get the gist.
Exercise Two—Once you articulate what you want and why, think of people who already have what you want. Without over thinking, what is your first emotional reaction? BE HONEST. If you see someone in the house of your dreams, how do you feel? Or someone your age with a super fit body? Someone your age worth millions? What is your first emotional response?
Exercise Three—If you want to be rich, what do you actually believe about rich people? If you want to be a NYT Best-Selling Author, what do you believe about them? If you want to be fit, trim and healthy, what do you believe about those who are fit?
No judgement and no need to put in comments, but answering these questions honestly will help you get more out of the posts to come 😉 .
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you want success but deep down really don’t believe it is for you? Maybe you don’t deserve it? Did you grow up in a home that fostered a lot of negative thinking? Did this explanation help the idea of affirmations and positive thinking seem less like fluff and more substantial for you? Do you have self-defeating habits and now see your thought life might be partly to blame?
Are you also a Recovering Debbie Downer? I still struggle. Every day is a challenge to will myself to be positive, especially lately. Been flattened with bronchitis and it was horrible!
Not so much being sick but I felt lazy and was beating myself up for being a slacker. I HAD A 101.5 FEVER! But, I am a work in progress too. In my family, resting=lazy. You’re sick? Fine, fold socks.
Come on, this is more than a blog, it’s free group therapy 😛
I love hearing from you and am not above bribery!
What do you WIN? For the month of JANUARY, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
ALSO, NEW CLASS TONIGHT!
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $45 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: January 4th, 2018 7:00 P.M. EST—9:00 P.M. EST
No matter what genre we write, the key to writing unforgettable stories always rests with character. How do we create intriguing characters who hook readers and never let them go? What makes a character unforgettable? How do we write stories that endure?
It is easy to fall into tropes and caricatures if we lack a fundamental understanding of human nature and how this plays out in the dramatic narrative. This class will delve into how to add depth to our characters which will, in turn add, resonance with our plot.
This class will cover:
- Discovering Wounds;
- Understanding Coping Mechanisms;
- How Wounds Collide to Increase Dramatic Tension
- How to Create Dimensional Characters
- Using Character to Plot
***A FREE recording is included with purchase.