Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Why You're Still On The Ground

The other day I ran across this terrific quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of "The Little Prince":

True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.

Now, if I read that quote a year or two ago, I probably wouldn't have been much impressed.  It would have seemed like an empty feel-good "rah rah" motto to me.

But not any more.

You see, one of the things that I've been learning in the last two years is that "empty feel-good rah-rah" mottos only seem that way to people who aren't living them.

Take "Just do it", for example.  If you have problems with procrastination, perfectionism, or other forms of self-sabotage, you probably HATE that saying with a passion!  (I know I used to!)

You Can't Eat The Menu

But here's the thing.  These mottos are descriptions of a state of being.  And the people who say them, are not using them to create the state of being.  Saying "Just do it" doesn't actually help them any more than it helps you.

What's really happening is that the person who says "just do it", has already decided to "just do it", before they said, "just do it".

In other words, "Just do it" -- and any other motivational phrases or sayings -- are either announcements of a decision that's already happened inside the person, or a reminder to do the deciding.  The saying itself has no other effect.

So, if you haven't actually learned the internal process of a given motto or slogan, the saying itself won't help you much.  It's like climbing into the cockpit of a 747 jumbo jet airplane and chanting, "Fly! Fly! Fly!", when...

You don't even know how to start the engines!

So after you sit there chanting for a while, you say, "I can't fly.  This whole flying thing is a big scam!  I'll bet some people can fly and others can't, and there's nothing anybody can do to help me."

And then you run into a "self-flight guru" who tells you that the secret to flying is motivation: "You've got to turn your engines on, baby!"

So now you sit there and chant "Okay, I've got to turn on my engines!  I've got to turn on my engines!"

But does that work any better?

All that's happened is that you've changed one empty slogan for another.  You're not actually doing anything different.

So you've got to understand this:

Words won't make the plane take off...
unless you're a pilot!

You see, when a pilot goes through his or her pre-flight checklist, the checklist certainly has lots of words on it.  There will be various instruments to check, switches to turn on, and so forth.

But to a non-pilot, most of those words aren't going to mean anything.  To you and I (unless you're a pilot), it's going to look like gibberish: "Fromulate the oscillation overthruster" and things like that.

And we have no clue what that means.  But the pilot knows it means something like "flip the fourth switch on the middle overhead panel", and so he or she does it.

So for someone who actually knows, the words are a reminder, a trigger.  They activate the doing of something.  Specifically, an action that the pilot learned to do in flight school.

And what they would have taught in flight school would be something like this:

First, you learn what the oscillation overthruster is, how it affects the operation of the plane, and why it has to be fromulated before takeoff.

And unfortunately...

This is about as far as most self-help teaching goes!

You're taught the importance of "just doing it" or "having a committed purpose", "being motivated", or some other thing like that...  and that's it!  Go forth and fly, young Skywalker!

But luckily for all of us who travel by air, flight school does not stop with explaining what something is and why you should do something about it!

So the second thing that you learn in flight school about the oscillation overthruster is what controls operate it, and how to fromulate and defromulate it from the control panel.  Maybe you even practice it a little.

And this is about what you get in a good self-help seminar, like my Procrastination Cure workshop or Seven Days to Live Your Dreams.  If you're motivated enough to take what you learn and practice it on your own, you have a good chance of being successful.

But that's still not good enough for flight school.  You see, they're not going to rely on you just happening to remember what order you need to do things in or which things you need to do.  So not only do you get a checklist to follow, you also get...

Instructor-supervised flight...
Hours and hours and hours of it.

The instructor demonstrates things.  The instructor watches you.  The instructor reminds you.

So, only when you have done everything that needs to be learned, and done it more than once, often enough that it's now a part of you, only then can you be called "a pilot".

And guess what?  "Flight school for your life" starts Saturday.  And your pre-flight checklist is the Six Master Keys.

So stop sitting around on the runway shouting slogans at yourself, and start getting your life off the ground, now!

--PJE

P.S.  "You, Version 2.0" is selling out fast; two more copies went out today alone.  And when the last 20 copies are gone, they're gone for good.  Get yours today.