I wonder if you’ve ever had the experience that you had a really grade-A, fantastic, unbeatable idea? Maybe it was the best screenplay ever. Period. Maybe you just got the download for the greatest novel of the century, while you were laying in the bathtub. Perhaps you just figured out a completely new way to plan your garden, or to organize transportation in your neighborhood.
You and me and everyone we know are having ideas all the time. Now sometimes, (and let’s face it, less often than we’d like), everything just goes magically on it’s own. You have your idea, but you need an engineer, and Wham-Bam!, the next day who do you meet on a bus, or a train, or an airplane, but an engineer with time on their hands? Maybe you need some extra cash to implement your plans, and the cash just comes on its own.
When your ideas work out spontaneously like that, it’s a bit like surfing, where your idea is the board. You jump up on top of the board at just the right moment as the wave is approaching. It carries you, fast and easy and fun, to the destination, along with many other enthusiastic surfers by your side. When things go like that, we feel divinely inspired. We feel we have guardian angels watching over us. We feel that the idea came not from us, but through us, and you find yourself laughing all the way to the completion of your project, and sometimes all the way to the bank as well.
And then there are those other times. Yes, you know what I mean. The times when you don’t meet the engineer on the plane or the bus or the train. In fact, these are the times you discover that even the most advanced engineer in the world could never implement what you conceived. These are the times when you get an endless stream of rejection letters from publishers. Or where the great financial planner you had in mind to help you turns out to be a crook. I know you know these times too, because we all do. Now you don’t feel divinely inspired. You lose trust in your own mind completely. Now there’s no guardian angel watching over you. In fact, if anything, you become worried that you’ve been jinxed or cursed. Everything feels disconnected and frustrating, and like you’ve got to start over again, and again.
So what’s the big difference? Everybody has ideas all the time. Some people, like Jack Canfield, got an idea for a book when he was meditating. “Chicken Soup,” the idea said. “Chicken Soup?” He thought to himself, “That’s not a very good name for a book.” And then he saw a hand in a vision, writing on a blackboard, “…for the Soul.”
Jack didn’t have to do much after that. He bumped into an acquaintance from his local church, by the name of Mark Victor Hansen. Mark said, “Hey let me help you out with that book. I know more about marketing and promotion than you do.” Jack thought, “Well, that’s probably true. Most people know more about marketing and promotion than I do.” So they teamed up. They sent their book idea out to every publisher they could find, and got hundreds of rejection letters. “People don’t buy anthologies.” Finally, an infinitesimally small publisher called Health Communications Inc. picked it up, on the condition that there was no advance, and Jack and Mark had to put up their own money for the printing cost. The rest is history. On the last count they have sold 250 million copies of Chicken Soup books, and they’ve just implemented a deal in China, which will push it up to about 400 million.
I could tell you endless stories like that, of people who had an idea, followed it through a few ups and downs, and then sat back and let the rest happen. And of course, we could all tell each other times where things didn’t work out so well at all.
So what’s the difference? That is literally a billion dollar question. What’s the difference? Why do some ideas and some people go nowhere time after time after time, and how come sometimes things are so easy? Some people will tell you it’s just luck, and maybe that’s the truth. But what is “luck”? Have you ever asked yourself? Why are some people so lucky, “born under a lucky star?”
Some people will tell you it’s astrology, or karma, or genetics, or the right use of willpower, and they’ll even sell you a DVD set to teach you how. There are definitely elements beyond our conscious awareness which influence the success or failure of the things we try to do in life. And, of course, to a large degree it’s our willingness to accept these forces as they are that brings us peace of mind.
“God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.”
There is no question that there are ways to get in tune with life, in such a way that a lot more happens with a lot less effort. I’m sure you remember from your childhood the idea of a fairy godmother. She waves her magic wand, and everything’s okay. You find some equivalent of that idea in almost every culture on the planet. It’s the magic guest at the party. If she shows up, everything’s cool. Everyone has a great time, and “lives happily ever after.” If she fails to show up, the outcome is more dicey.
She’s not quite the way she was described in the children’s fairy story, but she’s real all the same. Her name is Grace, although no one seems to know her last name, email address or cell phone number. There are many ways to connect with her, however. Enter the company of someone who is closer to her than you are, and it becomes infectious. Learn to drill deeper than the habitual layers of thought and reactive motion, and you connect with her there too. Make small shifts in your life that bring you more in tune with the natural balance of things, and she takes another step towards you. Find the unique way you were destined to give your unique gift to the world, and now she’s almost standing by your side.
This Friday, February 17th, at 6pm, I want to talk more with you about this subject. I want to pass on to you some tried and tested ways to invoke Grace in your life.