There’s been a battle waging inside me for decades that I think some of you might recognize in yourselves: the battle between what I was raised to believe and what I want to believe.
Ever since I first stumbled upon Richard Bach’s strange little parable, Illusions, over 30 years ago, I became a “shelf”-help fan. From topics that included creative visualization, NLP, EFT and others, and authors from Jack Canfield to Zig Ziglar and numerous others alphabetically in between, I’ve spent countless learning about concepts, tips and techniques for creating an amazing life. A life on purpose. A life that matters.
I’ve consumed volumes of books and recordings about the habits, practices and mindsets of the truly successful beings who walk among us–or rather, who drive really, really nice cars and have never come anywhere near most of us. I’ve created vision boards, kept gratitude journals, and written goal cards that I’ve carried with me. I collect inspirational quotes to this day, and continue to line my bookcase with tomes that have purpose, passion, abundance, focus and success in their titles.
Yeah, you could call me a self-help junkie.
Today, I attended my umpteenth motivational seminar, this time bringing along my youngest nephew Eric. For less than the cost of a dinner out, at Applebee’s no less, he and I spent eight hours listening to one speaker after another tell incredible stories and shower the audience with golden nuggets of wisdom, hope, humor and inspiration.
The line up included Bob Harrison, Dave Martin, Omar Periu, Keith Johnson and Willey Jolley. Our own Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim gave a talk. And while unable to appear in person, Les Brown ended the program via video.
Many of the concepts from today’s program–and even some of the stories the speakers told–I had heard before. What I loved about today was watching my young nephew listen to what the speakers had to say, nod in agreement and furiously take notes. Although he had already begun to study and follow success stories from his own generation, I could see that some of the people from mine, or not much younger than me, were having an impact on him.
And yet as I looked at Eric I still felt the conflict: was I helping or hurting him by opening up this gateway to all things possible, when I had yet to achieve anything close to success myself?
Was I urging him to follow a provocative but fruitless path, to drink the Kool-Aid of prosperity and triumph that only a few people seem to ever attain?
Or was I encouraging him to look at life in a way that, outside of my books and tapes, no one had ever told me was possible when I was his age?
A treasure chest or a Pandora’s box?
Now mind you, not one of the speakers indicated that his or her road had been easy. In fact, far from it. Most of them had stories that included poverty, abandonment, public humiliation, failure and other huge obstacles that stood between where they were and where they wanted to be.
In fact, come to think of it, most of them had childhoods or faced hurdles far more difficult than any that I had personally experienced.
And yet they persevered. They became successful. And more than that, they went on to careers in helping others do the same.
No one there today pitched a high priced program. In fact, most of them didn’t pitch any products or programs at all. And the ones who did had offerings that ranged from $59 to $99 for three-day seminars that even included free software and/or follow up coaching–and one of those speakers gives all the seminar money raised to the American Diabetes Association.
It was certainly a far cry from some of the offers I’d heard at other seminars where I had paid much more to attend, only to be pitched $5,000 upsells, $10,000 one day retreats or $100,000 mastermind memberships.
No, today was totally refreshing. It cost me $20 for two tickets, $5 for parking and $99 to sponsor my nephew in a program that I hope he can benefit from.
Plus I got to hear a lot of good stuff. Stuff that I can still put to good use.
And I got to see the look of determination and possibility on the face of a young man. That in itself was priceless.
It’s so hard to stay focused on the big dream when everyone around you is playing it safe. But, as I’ve written about previously, how much would we all have lost if everyone had always played it safe? It’s the dreamers and doers who have made the most profound impacts on our lives and on the world as a whole.
What Eric does with his experience today is entirely up to him. Me, I came home and tweaked a plan of my own I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and made it more defined. Because what I do with my experience today is entirely up to me as well.
If ingesting positive messaging is indeed drinking the Kool-Aid, well, it’s delicious and refreshing–and it certainly helps to offset the bitter, terrible sadness that we see in the news day in and day out. That said, you can make mine a double.
The world needs all the Kool-Aid it can get.