For years I referred to myself as a person who struggles with business. I developed a whole argument to support this way of thinking and ensure that it would always be so. This was not just something that I said. This was something that I believed. I practiced saying it to the point where it moved from a belief to a truth. I actually developed mastery in convincing myself that learning to become competent in business was beyond me.
I believed that a head that was good for art, could not be good for business. Somewhere along the line I bought into this belief. I had to struggle because I saw myself as trying to make a square peg fit a round hole. I struggled because I believed that such an impossible dream required a Herculean effort. I struggled so that others could appreciate and see how hard I was working and not hold it against me when I failed. I knew I was going to fail. Struggle was my insurance card against all the eyes I imagined were watching and judging me, especially the ones who advised me to play it safe and stay in the old job where my paycheck was certain.
I fought against the idea of not following my dreams. What I am trying to say is that I believed that one should find the courage to follow one’s dreams so I quit teaching and began the journey, but because I believed as I did, I knew success could not really be mine. Struggle? You want to speak of struggle?? I was in the struggle of my life! I wanted success but knew I could not have it. The compromise was this: I decided I would be a gallant warrior. I was determined to go out and fight the good fight trying to attain the impossible dream. I would stand for something. I would hold to the ideal even if I couldn’t have the prize. Wow. I’m surprised that the years of this internal madness didn’t kill me.
Fear and Doubt took up residency in my head so long ago that they claimed squatter’s rights. This belief was responsible for self-doubt and stress. Just thinking about business made me weak. Come to find out I was not struggling with business at all. I have been struggling, there is no doubt about that. I was struggling with my notion of business. I was busy trying to cushion the inevitable failure. The struggle, I realize, is not only not necessary, it is non-productive. Business is an arena to be understood, learned, and mastered, but my fear of it created new dragons to slay. My belief was that business success belonged to people whose brains were wired differently. This belief was the culprit. When this myth became a truth for me it became impossible to challenge. I’m learning that trying to argue myself into new ways of thinking does not work, no matter how much logic I employ. I’m learning that beating myself up, trying to shame myself into action does not work. I’m even learning that working hard to change does not work. Change does not happen because I work hard to change. Change happens when I manage to see things differently. The moment I see differently is the moment of change. Now all that is left to do is practice to refine my new view. I can do that. The culprit has been a myth, nothing but a myth, a boogey-man, a paralyzing irrational fear, a tenant who moved in eons ago, a tenant who didn’t pay rent but insisted on moving his relatives in each of whom took turns scaring the crap out of me every day.
In the words of Malcolm Gladwell, all that remains is my ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery. The journey as a dragon slayer is challenging. First you have to recognize the dragon, even though he’s huge you still may not recognize who and what he is.
Some upon hearing the story ask me how long the hunt for these particular dragons has gone on. The answer is, most of my life but the last two and a half years of turning to face them was the most intense. They died not very long ago. I thought I would remember every detail of the moment of their death but I don’t and it’s so strange trying to understand the terror I felt for so long. I now feel a lightness of spirit as well as a sense of spaciousness. Not surprising really, dragons occupy a lot of room.
Bob Marley said ‘None but ourselves can free our minds’
The bible says ‘ As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’
James Allen says ‘They who have conquered doubt and fear have conquered failure.’
A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And he adapts his mind to that regulating factor,he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.”
James Allen- As A Man Thinketh
And the moral of the story is: Whatever we believe in becomes our truth, not THE truth, but OUR truth. May the force be with you as you summon the courage to slay your dragons.
The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, As A Man Thinketh by James Allen are excellent reads.