My hand unerringly seemed to move to just the right book about the life story of some famous personality, who went from failure to failure until something finally clicked for them. I used to think my hand possessed a supernatural ability to choose the perfect rags-to-riches story to buoy my spirits. Until I had read enough of these biographies to realize they all began to have a ring of familiarity to them. In retrospect, I also realized there is no such thing as a thin biography book. There is no such thing as a story that goes:
“Born into wealth, I proceeded to become even more successful until I retired in boredom and decided to write an autobiography – My Life on Easy Street” – The End.
Like many people I suppose, I used to think success required unusual good fortune to begin with. Or that only a certain type of personality managed to discover the magic formula for success. It is with great relief then that I realized even I could stagger my way to success if only I followed the footsteps of someone who had blazed the trail before me. And in the process, I would find the true meaning of success was not what I had expected.
Two rules seemed to stand out like a neon sign from those who reported on finding their way through the maze of disappointments and wrong turns. Only two rules? Could it truly be so simple I wondered?
Rule #1 – Find your passion for which you would gladly spend your life working on without any pay whatsoever, and do only that.
Rule #2 – No matter what advice anyone gives you to the contrary, to give up on your life’s work, pursue it anyway and with even greater vigor, beyond any failure of the moment, to your greatest achievement.
But there is so much left out of the above rules on how to turn your life’s work into wealth. It almost seems beyond simplistic; even inanely idealistic. And yet, almost every biography I have ever read has those simple two concepts chiseled into them at the level of bedrock.
There are few exceptions to these rules. And oddly enough, even those who start out on the wrong path, somehow manage to find their passion in spite of themselves and end up fulfilling their life’s dream; and in the process find they have come full circle once more to 1 and 2 above.
Mark Twain was particularly good at summing up our fears as well as our dreams to achieve something special within ourselves. One quote comes to mind in particular that always seems to provide just the right words anyone can be inspired by.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Michael Eisner, the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, even lectures on planned failure being part of a success formula and the only way to really achieve greatness is to stretch beyond your self-imposed boundaries, to take risks and to explore your true potential, without fear of failure. Coming from the man running one of the greatest dream machines in the world, I find his concepts hugely refreshing.
In the end, whether we spend our life working on something we would gladly do for free, or end up turning it into success beyond our wildest dreams, we are the winner. Better for your health, your relationships, your family and more than probably, your wallet. Truly, what could be better than an inspired life worth living?