If you follow my Instagram stories, then you may have noticed lately that I’ve been posting quite a lot of quotes from James Altucher’s book, Reinvent Yourself. I’ve been a fan of his for a while now and when I saw the book advertised on his Instagram feed, I thought it’d make an excellent New Year’s gift to myself ;-). I’m halfway in and I haven’t been disappointed!
In the book, Altucher shares pearls upon pearls of wisdom and inspiration, as well as specific “reinvention” techniques, from some of today’s most successful businessmen, artists, entrepreneurs and mentors. In the section I read last night, Altucher reflects on a conversation with the late American philosopher, self-help author, and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer.
Dyer quit his “safe job” as a professor with tenure to write a book (Your Erroneous Zones). Then, when he became dissatisfied with his publisher (his book only sold 5,000 copies), he bought out the remainder of his book’s inventory and loaded them into the trunk of his station wagon. He drove all over the United States begging bookstores to take his books. The book has since sold 35 million copies!
Dyer had a vision, a deep-seated, unwavering belief in his book.
He believed in it so much that he hand-delivered it to countless bookstores and later smuggled it into Prague because it had been banned in all countries behind the Iron Curtain.
He was so passionate about his vision that he was willing to take small, thankless low-paying jobs, like carrying grocery bags for supermarket customers, to support himself until he made enough doing what he loved.
He was so dedicated to his mission that he never let excuses stop him. If something wasn’t working in his life, he told himself “it must be because I haven’t used enough determination, or I haven’t been fearless enough, or I haven’t been willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.”
This, to me, is a sure sign of both wisdom and humility. I don’t know about you, but often my initial reaction when something doesn’t go my way is to throw a kindergarten-level hissy fit and point accusatory fingers at sabotaging circumstances, bad advice, or sometimes, the nearest human being whom I don’t know at all, but could very well have been sent by The League of Clandestine Day-Ruiners Days to, well, ruin my day.
Instead of looking within myself, I look around myself, convinced that something in my surroundings must be faulty, and therefore blameworthy.
This is a terrible, and might I add extremely prideful attitude to assume. It prevents us from ever identifying the true roots of our frustration, which, as Dyer pointed out, are often linked to our own internal deficiencies, such as a dearth of determination, a lack of courage, or downright laziness.
I love what Altucher has to say on taking responsibility for our actions, both the successful ones and the ginormous flops:
“You choose yourself one choice at a time. You choose yourself every day. You choose yourself with all of your fears and hopes mixed together and nobody knows what’s going to happen. But if you do it with a sense of mission, a belief in your vision, what happens may not be what you expect, but you will never say, ‘I wonder what would have happened…’” (emphasis mine)
An unwillingness to take responsibility, paired with an unhealthy tendency to hang our hopes on other flawed and fallible people, is what holds so many of us back from continuously striving for our dreams, as Dyer did.
What would have happened had he settled for tenure at age 35? What would have happened had he settled for 5,000 copies sold? What if he’d let setbacks, failures, and naysayers stop him? He certainly wouldn’t have made a worldwide impact and built a classroom that spanned the seven seas and continues to flourish after his death.
What might happen if you and I throw off the bowlines, as Mark Twain wrote, and sail away from the safe harbor of our inhibitions, our self-consciousness, our fears of failure and embarrassment?
Let’s find out, shall we?
PS: Giveaway Guy and I have partnered to give away a $50 Amazon gift card! To enter to win, head over to his blog HERE!
PPS: Book 2 in The Petros Chronicles is now available for pre-order! You can purchase your copy HERE for 99 cents!