We all yearn for connection and validation; yet the truth is:
Only when we love unconditionally and share selflessly;
Can we laugh freely, create magnificently, and live fully.
Only then do we fulfill our purpose for being in this world.
Have you ever heard the story: Acres of Diamonds?
Acres of Diamonds is a grand tale Russell Conwell, the founder and first president of Temple University, told to audiences around the world thousands of times in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The story goes:
A wealthy Persian landowner was living a full and contented life – until, until he learned of the magnificence and power of diamonds.
The landowner, obsessed by the prospect of possessing such radiant jewels, concluded his life was not that full after all.
He sold off his property, abandoned his family – in short, he risked everything, vainly seeking something he believed he lacked.
He scoured the Middle East, northern Africa, and even southern Europe. Desperate and broke after years of searching, he cast himself into the sea.
The tragedy of the tale is that after that formerly wealthy landowner began his quest, the new owner of his property discovered, in a stream the former landowner had often cooled himself beside, the richest deposit of diamonds in the world.
That man had literally walked away from acres of diamonds, ending his life in despair, because he did not know what treasure he possessed.
Is this a true story?
It's a story that has been lived millions of times by millions of people. People willingly abandon their greatest assets in search of something they mistakenly believe they lack.
Success is something we all desire; but what exactly is success?
When you think of success, what comes to mind?
Wealth? Health? Influence? Great Relationships? Fame? Enlightenment? Freedom? All of this and more?
How do you define "success" for you?
In our material culture, we equate prosperity – and often success – with having more – more stuff: property, possessions, relationships, prestige. Well, "having more" is what life is about. The irresistible force in every living thing desires to have more life.
Success is different things to different people. But it always is more; not necessarily more stuff. Success is the fullness of life.
Success is a feeling; a good feeling.
Every life is a life of promise. Every adventure is filled with potential. Success is recognizing that promise and fulfilling that potential.
Success is a choice. You can choose more life, or you can resist.
Success need not be affluence in the form of stuff.
Success is simpler than that – closer than that – beyond the trappings of the material world.
Sometimes success manifests in a smile or a nod or a fleeting gesture. Success is realizing a moment of joy in the mayhem. Success is connecting despite forces seeking to divide. Success is uncomplicated, effortless, and true. Success is a feeling – a good feeling.
Well, why can't I be more successful?
Is it a matter of nature? Is it luck, fate, chance, that sets the doers, the achievers, apart from the also-rans?
If only I'd been born into the right family – one with resources and means.
Perhaps it's genetics.
Do I lack strength, endurance, speed; a beautiful physique, and a striking image?
Could it be brains? What if I'm shackled with an average IQ?
If only I could learn more quickly and know more.
Maybe there aren't any opportunities left. Everything worth doing has been done. Timing is everything. Was I born at the wrong time, in the wrong place?
I can't win friends and influence people. Some people naturally are liked and popular. I'm not one of them. I'm not a natural leader. I couldn't get anyone to follow me out of a burning building. How could I ever succeed?
Doubt clouds our minds.
Success is not a matter of nature, or family, race or religion, status, or birth order. It doesn't matter what you inherited or what environment you find yourself in now. You are meant to succeed.
Sounds good, doesn't it?
Well, I know success is not about stuff. And I know my success is up to me.
Yet I still ask myself: why can't I have it all? Stuff and enlightenment. Money and freedom. Do you know what I mean?
As I struggle with this idea of "having it all," I've come to rationalize my "big four" excuses for why I'm not there yet; why I've not achieved all I desire. See if any of these excuses resonate with you?
Number one: Perhaps I don't have what it takes; I'm just not capable enough. I don't have what all those successful people have.
Number two: Perhaps I haven't worked hard enough; I haven't yet paid the price or found the right path. Maybe I'll find it in the next book or educational program or project.
Do either of these sound familiar?
Number three: Maybe the time or circumstances aren't quite right. I'm not sure when or if the time and circumstances will be right, but so far – not yet.
And finally, the big one – number four of my big four excuses. This is the excuse where I can disown all responsibility:
Number four: It's not meant to be. For whatever reason, the grand plan doesn't include me getting what I'm seeking – what I want.
Have you ever used one of these "big four" excuses for why you haven't arrived yet?
We're missing the boat if we wallow in excuses. Life is too short for excuses.
Success is not a point it's a process; it's not a destination; it's a journey.
Often we think we're powerless; but you see, we, you and I, have the greatest power in life. We get to decide how we feel. We get to decide to be happy, to feel content and satisfied and joyful.
We decide how we feel, every moment of every day. And we don't have to wait to feel happy or satisfied or joyful. We don't have to wait to decide how we feel now.
Life is the journey you are on now. You are a success machine. The only time you have is now. You succeed – move in the right direction – when you choose. You decide how you feel. Choose to feel successful.
Maybe I'll never be a billionaire, maybe I'll never be a sought after lover, or a sports superstar, or an international celebrity.
Maybe I'll never become a political leader, or a musical genius, or a bona fide hero.
I won't conquer or triumph, or amass immense wealth.
I may never display any discernible talent.
At the end of my days, I'll fade away into obscurity.
My mark will be that I experienced the opportunity, I breathed the air, I absorbed the warmth of the sun, I felt the hope of each new day. I trusted in the promise.
Though I may not have embraced my full potential, I took a chance, I made a leap. I got to feel life.
No monument will ever be dedicated to my achievements, no parade or holiday will ever be devoted to my memory.
Yet, despite it all, I did a small part. I journeyed here.
In my imperfect way, I lived, I loved, I yearned to express more life. For in being alive, I succeeded.
You are alive. You breathe the air. You yearn for something. You feel.
Embrace this moment and succeed. You are guaranteed to succeed.
You already possess acres of diamonds. Recognize and count the blessings you have.
Succeeding is journeying well.
So what's the secret to a successful journey?
We'll find out in the next session. Meet you in lesson three.