When you find your true purpose, and fully commit,
it becomes your Magnificent Obsession.
All else is superfluous to your One Thing.
I remember having dinner with a friend and his girlfriend. She had just met me and didn’t really know me beyond seeing some of my video training programs, books, and such.
This woman is the quintessential socializer. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s who she is. It’s not however who I am—nor have I ever been.
I had no “childhood” in the traditional sense of playing games with friends.
I attempted to fit in and go out for organized sports. Once. But I failed miserably and the truth be told, I was only doing it because it was “the thing to do.” But as a child, I was still attempting to find myself… so therefore often looked for myself by attempting to “fit in.”
It’s hard to categorize the person of mastery,
for the master tends to create his own category.
Instead, I spent hours upon hours alone in my bedroom reading great books. I had an absolute obsession from a very young age to learn the secrets and the keys of the Universe and to contribute something of greatness in the form of work. Even if that work at the tender age of six (when I began my first job), was to sell “Grit” newspapers (seems fitting as a metaphorical name. Grit is a fundamental characteristic of mastery) on the corner at the local supermarket.
I’ve worked nearly every single day since that time.
It’s who I am, and now it’s very clear to me. I love who I am. Even though you may misunderstand me or never fully “get” me. Many don’t.
I hope you love who you are as well.
Not in an arrogant or narcissistic way mind you.
Rather in a “God has made me unique, and has given me innate abilities and talents. I love that. I’m grateful for that. I’m going to embrace what I’ve been given and use it to the fullest! And I’m going to master my unique genius and my craft, and contribute value in my own way and live—really live!”
No one does a better you than you.
Personally, I’ve got “me” down.
Do you have your “me” down? Are you a master of it?
The biggest challenge that my years of dealing with, and mentoring, hundreds of thousands of people have taught me is that:
- Most people don’t really know who they are. They don’t know their innate abilities; and they have not, and most probably will not, take the time to find out.
- Those who do know… don’t love and appreciate themselves for their own gifts and genius. Opting instead to desire versus aspire. Desiring to be “successful” by societies’ measure… or what they think will “make them a lot of money”… or what they or others think they “should be.”
Anyway, back to dinner… this socializing young lady was obviously very excited to make me her friend. And of course, a friend in her way… certainly not in mine.
She was obsessing about kayaking.
I’ve been kayaking. In level 5 rapids; and I loved it. Just I and Mother Nature dancing head to head and toe to toe with each other as equal partners. In an all-or-nothing tango of wits, brawn, reflexes, intelligence, and strategy.
Of course, Mother Nature is stronger. But man is smart enough (when masterful), to marry her; dance with her; and in this symbiotic and respectful union to lead and direct her in the dance. To both his and her mutual advantage. And by the way, she loves it!
Please read that again for it says a lot. (Maybe an entire blog topic?) That’s how I kayak!
The socializer, on the other hand, was talking about “a group” kayaking down what I knew to be a lazy river.
In a nanosecond, I daydreamed that a lazy river, with time to contemplate life might be nice, relaxing, and peaceful—but alone!
Now, if you happen to have a group of philosophers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and great thinkers lined up that I don’t know about who wants to float… give me a call.
Again, if you really know me then you know. If you don’t, you probably don’t know me and don’t understand me.
My long-time friend (her new boyfriend), who knows me pretty well, said to her:
“Honey, I don’t think you’re going to get James to go kayaking.”
She turned to me with all her best salesmanship (obviously a woman who is used to getting what she wants from men), and said, “James you’ll go kayaking with us won’t you?”
I in my typical blunt and direct (and extremely honest) fashion responded, “Probably not.”
She looked shocked!
She continued with determination, “But, James what do you do for fun!?”
I responded, “I do my work. I read, write and think.”
She was completely aghast. This definitely did not compute in her worldview. Like the pinball machines, I used to play with as a kid… the “tilt” sign was flashing bright red in her eyes.
She thought maybe I didn’t understand the question so she asked again, “But what do you do socially?”
I replied, “This dinner is pretty nice.”
But I have to admit (as I glanced at my watch), it was circling the drain fast.
Those who master their craft invariably spend countless hours in solitude. Yes, that means alone!
In the moments of solitude,
we find the keys to the kingdom of the muse.
There are two qualities of true mastery that are at play here:
- Solitude and silence
Let’s discuss the first one. They’re both vital to understand.
We live in a society that drives us to be social and continually “doing.” But very few people realize that what we can only do is based upon who we are. Do you follow?
To give to others and the world
you must first give to yourself.
You cannot give what you don’t have.
Einstein was well known for spending countless hours in solitude. Likewise, solitude was frequent for Emerson, Whitman, Spielberg, and most others who achieve a high level of mastery. Even the Bible tells us that Jesus frequently left his disciples to spend time alone.
You see, masters, understand that constant noise, chatter, and activity will never allow them to access their internal genius… much less harness it and fully master it. Even neuroscience proves this (more on this to come).
I’ve always been my own best friend.
Ponder this: If you can’t spend an hour alone in your own living room: with no television, no smartphone, no book, no music, no conversation, no food, no pet, no people; no distraction of any kind… just you and you…
Then you don’t like yourself very much.
Oh, and by the way… you have to stay awake during that hour! (gotcha)
If you’re a very social person, socializing might just be who you are. Some people are that way. I respect that. I honor that, and yet it’s every bit as possible that you’ve been conditioned that way. There’s low value in today’s world for the power of solitude and silence.
Most are extremely uncomfortable with it.
The fact is that an extremely social person rarely if ever fully masters their craft (and rarely is being generous). Unless of course being social is their craft.
By the way, there’s a huge difference between “networking” and socializing. Stay tuned for a future blog in this series where we’ll discuss these differences in more detail.
Mastery takes focus, hard work, and complete commitment. But it’s more than hard work, it’s intelligent work.
Masters work hard but it hardly work.
They’re doing what they love.
Einstein was frequently seen alone in his little dingy on the lake. I can only imagine how many people see him sitting there in silence, staring off into the sky (being conditioned in the “must be social/must be active” paradigm), thinking “Boy he’s weird. What the hell is he doing?”
My guess is that he was thinking.
True thinking is the highest ROI activity in which a master can invest.
Most people rarely think. Most people think they think.
True thinking is instantaneous and creative.
All else is running old programs from the past.
I have to think of time on my daily schedule. Do you?
If you were to walk into my office at certain times of the day and see me staring off into apparent space, you might just think I’m daydreaming or being lazy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I remember back in my former company, when I had 29 people on my team, my executive assistant knew to block off at least an hour minimum each and every day just for me to think.
It was usually more than that.
Sometimes people would come to the office (outsiders of course, for my team members, already knew), and ask my assistant Amy, “Can I speak with James real quick?” To which she would reply, “He’s in a meeting.” This was what I had instructed her to do.
Often they would glance through the narrow floor-to-ceiling window in my office just over her right shoulder, and see me sitting at my desk alone in silence. “But he’s alone in there, I can see him.”
“Yes,” she would reply, “He’s in a meeting with himself.”
Maybe for some.
Not for me.
I choose to model the great ones.
The reason that the master spends so much time alone
is that he realizes that he never truly is.
The Law of Cause and Effect tells us that like causes produce like effects.
Do you say that it would be really challenging, maybe boring to sit in complete silence every day as I described above? That’s fine.
My internal response to people who state “I’m bored” is, “No… maybe you’re boring!”
Only boring people get bored.
If I’m in the mentoring mode, and they’ve asked me to be as such, I won’t just think it… I’ll say it.
My job as a mentor is not to always make you feel better…
It’s to make you be better. When you are better, you’ll automatically feel better.
How could you ever be bored? Seriously?!
I wasn’t even bored in solitary confinement. Not even without any book, magazine, writing instrument, pad… nothing! Just me, and those piss and excrement smelling concrete floors and walls.
Beyond the shock and the smell, there were many things about it that were quite nice. That’s the Law of Polarity at work if you’re aware enough to see it.
Of course I’ve had a lifetime of practice (sometimes I still screw it up).
In my marvelous mind I traveled the cosmos. No bars and no walls can contain your spirit.
Let me boldly submit that if you won’t spend time in solitude.
If you must be continually active and social. That’s fine. I’m not suggesting that you should do differently.
I respect your choice; live your life; and please know… that being said, you most probably won’t actualize your full potential. And chances are next to impossible that you’ll ever reach a level of mastery.
For it’s in the kingdom of mind that true genius is born. Silence and solitude awaken the muse; and it won’t be found in the marketplace.
Something to ponder.
And the journey continues….
Be a Leader. Live Your Purpose, and Take Your Power Back!
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