Give Me Success . . . or Death??!By
I received the following message from a subscriber who listened to my radio show Logical Soul Talk this past Tuesday. It was such a great question, in fact, I want to share it with you . . .
“Hi, Michael –
I listened in to the “Branding from the Inside Out” yesterday
which had me totally intrigued – enough to go back and listen
to other podcasts – such a rich resource there, really.
Question/Comment: When defining ‘passion’ you asked the question, ‘Is it something you are willing to die for?’ I am passionate about encouraging and coaching other artists to find their authentic creative paths but I am not willing to die for it.
Similarly, I am passionate about my own art and developing web presences for others, but not so much that I would die for it. I have businesses related to both and am marketing them with increasing success.
Were you speaking metaphorically? As in : death to a life without success surrounding your passion? Or lack of life energy or loss of joy if you couldn’t participate in what you are passionate about?”
Dear subscriber: To answer your question, I will refer you to Will Smith’s video featured on the June 2nd Blog Post. During an interview, Will basically said he was willing to “die for the truth,” i.e., what he believes in, or what he is committed to. Take 10 minutes to listen to that video – it will open your eyes.
Will Smith is very successful. Tony Robbins is successful. John Travolta, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and Mohamed Ali are successful. What do they all have in common? They all share the same quality of total commitment that can only bring success . . . or annihilation. Looking to history, we find this quality present mostly in the movers and shakers of their era: General George Patton, Mahatma Ghandi, Harriet Tubman, Alexander the Great, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others like them. All of these great ones played the same high-stakes game of “do or die.”
What sets each of these people apart from 97% of humanity is that they do NOT compromise when it comes to their deepest values . . . even if it means their physical death! When they focus on something, it gets done. Period. Their passion drives them towards success. Nothing else matters.
If you can look at your career or life goals with the same conviction, you will succeed. If not, you will always have an “out.” Your chances for lasting success, therefore, are reduced.
The fact is, very few of our options (unless we are committed to extreme sports or sky-diving) will lead to physical death. That’s the good news. The bad news is: there is a part of our brain that can’t tell the difference, and will continue to fight to keep us “safe.”
Does this mean you can’t have a measure of success? No. What it DOES mean, however, is that you will NOT be playing the same game on the same world stage as the super-achievers.
If that’s not important to you, I understand. Your passion is for survival, as it is for most of us. This is not wrong; its just the way things are. You can still achieve your own measure of success and happiness, so long as you know this is the game you are playing . . . so play it all out! “Death” to you might mean something like public speaking, cold call selling, or doing something you believe in that risks criticism. So do something that invites personal transformation.
This “passion for survival” can understood as part of our evolution as a species. Even if we no longer have to face daily threats like invading tribes and saber-toothed tigers, we still carry that awareness of threat within us. Facing danger in the past meant annihilation. Therefore, our ability to commit to any perceived suicide – real or imagined – has essentially been bred out of us over the millenia.
Fears of death – whether it be to the body, emotions, ego, or even basic beliefs – all appear to us equally frightening, and the part of our brain that makes this ultimate “passion decision” is very old. The limbic system – usually oversimplified as our “animal brain” – is programmed to make us survive at all costs.
In ancient times, when saber-toothed tigers roamed the earth, this meant either learning to either fight the tiger – and sure-fire way to get killed – or flee from the tiger and have a much better chance to survive. This “fight-or-flight” reaction, coined by Walter B. Cannon in the 1920’s, has also created a type of human schizophrenia.
While we WANT success, we HAVE TO survive! Our “passion thermostat,” therefore, is set for low. In our society, only the Alpha Males (and Females) actually attempt to kill the saber-tooth . . . or die trying. They become our leaders, or our deceased heroes. The rest of us are ruled by “common sense” . . . . something we’ve passed down to our descendants for millions of years.
So what does all this mean?
It means one of two things:
- we live according to the evolutionary cards
we were dealt, or
- we change our survival decision setting.
Believe it or not, there is a way to change our evolutionary survival setting . . . but it takes time and a commitment to personal transformation. You must be willing to give up many of the time-honored “truths” you have held for most of your life, and be able to embrace a feeling of emptiness – at least for a short time. This vacuum – coupled with a deep intent towards success – will invite that transformation.
For some, this might mean quitting your job to pursue your passion – a kind of “death” that still implies danger to our limbic system. Some make it; some don’t. Only by truly embracing your real passion can this work out. If you quit your job to pursue the IDEA of what you THINK is your passion, you will fail. The good news is that you will probably still be alive and can regroup and try again later.
There are ways to actually LINK the passion for survival with a strong desire to succeed in a given field of endeavor. This is, in fact, a little less risky, and is the essence of “Branding from the Soul.” Without a firm (and deep) commitment, however, our “passion” will remain just a word.
So thanks for the question!
Yours for Outrageous Success,