One night after training in the martial arts, I went out to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant with another student who also happened to be a bonafide personal development guru with a pretty huge following. Jokingly, I use to say he was kind of a cross between Tony Robbins and Mike Myers', The Love Guru.
But only half-jokingly, 'cause he did have a significant and extremely loyal following and his website really did remind me of the Love Guru. I giggled every time I scrolled through the pages, because I just knew him as this guy I would battle with on the mat, every week and have drinks with after training.
However, in talking to him, I learned that he had extensive experience and understanding in some esoteric religious philosophies.
Over some carnitas and margaritas, we struck up a pretty interesting conversation which I can’t really remember too well… ha ha ha… except for a couple of things…
One, of course, the margaritas and the slow pleasant buzz that came over me. Mmmmm… margaritas…
And two, something he said which gave me a moment of clarity, which instantly transformed my views of religion and it’s intersection with personal development.
Growing up, my faith came from my father, who had done extensive religious studies when he was younger in a Catholic seminary in Mexico, along with my uncle.
My dad, viewed his faith not simply as something that would help him get into heaven, but as a deep philosophical guide for living. He practiced his faith, unlike any Catholic or Christian I’ve ever met… meaning without judgement, without dogma, and he derived a very nuanced philosophy on how he lived and treated others, yet was secure enough to open himself up to learning about other faiths.
In his closet, which served as his bookshelf, I would find copies of the Koran, Book of Mormon, pamphlets given to him by Jehovah's Witnesses and other non-catholic religious reads.
My father was our family’s moral and spiritual mentor until he suddenly passed away when I was 13.
His death was tragic for my family – after all, my siblings and I had lost our father and my mother lost the love of her life – but also unsettling was the spiritual flux we found ourselves in.
Without our spiritual guide, we settled for a much more simplistic version of the faith to follow – the dogma – which was very powerful in terms of the fear and guilt, which it uses to control behavior (or keeping you from sinning), but lacked depth… at least for me.
Between 2006 (when I started my business) and in 2011 (when I sat down for dinner with my friend), I had done extensive training in personal development, with the most powerful sources being martial arts, John Maxwell, The Landmark Forum and reading powerful books like The War of Art, The Richest Man in Babylon, and too many more to name.
I can honestly say that without this work…
- I would NOT have succeeded in my Internet business and certainly would not be writing this post today.
- I would NOT have been equipped to handle the rejection I experienced as a network marketer, nor the criticism I received later from friends for being one of those “Internet scammers.”
- I would NOT have had the willingness to invest over a hundred thousand dollars in marketing training courses, live events and ad campaigns to grow my business online.
- I would NOT have mustered up the courage to defy my family and quit my secure and well-paying engineering job, to go full-time in my business.
- I would NOT have had the courage to take on the biggest financial liability of my life, in organizing the first No Excuses Summit event and negotiating a deal with The Venetian, Las Vegas, a billion dollar company, risking hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You see, at different points between 2006 and 2011, I had made drastically different choices, than most other people would have made when confronted with similar opportunities and certainly far different than the choices I personally would have made prior to this personal development training.
Going back to the moment in the Mexican Restaurant with my friend, we got to talking about religion and ‘sin.’ He commented that in the Kabbalistic tradition of Judaism, ‘sin' is viewed as “a way of living, which keeps you from realizing your human potential,” or something to that effect.
That statement helped me see my life in a whole new context.
You see, the dogma I learned after my father's death, actually uses fear and negativity to keep people operating within certain boundaries to keep society or at least “the flock” from devolving into chaos or disorder, but not really intended to help them thrive. Thus conditioning you to use fear as a compass for what you should NOT do (i.e. so you can survive or in the case of Christianity, not go to hell).
When someone who lives their life dogmatically and is faced with an opportunity to invest in themselves at a price which makes them uncomfortable, fear sets in… fear that they might not make their money back and therefore lose that money… especially if money is tight… then reason backs up the validity of that fear… and one concludes that it’s an unnecessary risk.
This person, by definition, would be sinning according to my friend, but would likely not know they are. That’s the tricky part of this idea because it’s no longer simply based on individual action or rules. It’s far more nuanced.
If a credible possibility exists that they could gain something from that opportunity, which could positively influence their business and help them thrive, they should be jumping at the opportunity.
And in making that choice, they also understand that there is a risk that they may not get anything from it, but decide that it’s worth the risk.
There were many points in my business, where I could have easily said “no” and I never would have known about the opportunity which waited on the other side of those choices.
I would have never known about the life that awaited me. I’d still be at an engineering job I hated and never grow my business online up to 7 figures.
Now obviously, one does not need to be a Kabbalist to see the power of this idea. In fact, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. you'd find similar ideas in your faith's teachings, but is less obvious than following a list of commandments.
Conversations with the ‘Devil'
Napoleon Hill’s Outwitting the Devil is the transcript of an actual interview with the Devil. (Or maybe a metaphor… we'll never know.)
Here, the devil confesses to Hill…
“(Fear) controls people by making negative thinking and destructive actions pleasing to them… One of my cleverest devices for mind control is fear… the fear of poverty, criticism, ill health, loss of love, old age, and death.”
The Devil goes on later…
“It is a sin to permit one's mind to be dominated by negative thoughts of envy, greed, fear, hatred, intolerance, vanity, self-pity, or discouragement, because these states of mind lead to the habit of drifting.” Drifters are people without purpose whose mind is consumed by fear.
However, if religion is not your thing, similar ideas exist in secular personal development such as in the Landmark Forum, which teaches that at our core, humans are excuse making, fear mongering, self-doubting, insecure biological machines who are predisposed to prioritize survival above all else. It is only with educating our conscious mind that we discover what is possible for us and create a greater vision for our lives, then consciously make the difficult choices needed to go against what we naturally want to do and strive for more ambitious goals!
One of my absolute favorite quotes on fear, comes from The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield:
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That's a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That's why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no Resistance.”
So this begs the question, how do we make the choices which will help us thrive, instead of “living in sin” or “in fear?”
Obviously, saying “YES” to everything that is put in front of you, could result in unnecessary expense, confusion, frustration and overwhelm (i.e. shiny object syndrome), which can be counterproductive and just as “sinful.”
Well, if your goal is to start making results-oriented choices, the only force I’ve found, capable of squashing that ‘demon of self-doubt,’ which lives in all of us…
Squashing the ‘Demon of Self-Doubt'
You see, your conscious mind actually values input to make the choices it thinks are best for you. In the absence of outside input (or in the presence of bad outside input), that ‘demon’ will seize on the opportunity to raise your fears, self-doubt, insecurities, memories of past experienced, etc., literally anything it can throw at you, to keep you complacent with your ordinary life and in fear of losing the little you got.
However, in the presence of a trusted & confident mentor, that ‘demon,' while still actively attempting to sabotage your progress, has to fight a lot harder to keep you down. And as your mentor assists you in producing life-enhancing results, that ‘demon' will begin to lose credibility, and as it retreats, your results will accelerate. (This is called ‘confidence'!)
Every one of us lives with this ‘demon of self-doubt,' whether you believe it is an actual spiritual being or simply what remains of the animal brain we’ve evolved out of. But ultimately YOU have the final say in everything you choose in this life, but a mentor has the potential of making you ‘bulletproof!'
Right now, you have a choice to make…
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