Friday, May 20, 2011

5/20/11—Finding the Secret to Success

Today's Draw: King of Pentacles from Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night. What do you believe about how success is made? How do you feel about people around you that seem to be successful? And how do you even define success?

The King of Pentacles indicates a successful man who has earned his wealth and respect. And this particular King is, despite his pallor, quite warm, putting relationships ahead of business. In fact, the quality of his relationships help fuel his success. His competence, determination and interactions have determined his destiny.

It's interesting that I drew this card today because just last night I was talking to a friend about a couple of different aspects relevant to this card. The first has to do with a couple of women I know who are relentless networkers. But much of their networking is done in a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" kind of way. There is nothing beyond the surface. The friendships they share are friendships of convenience that shift with the tides of power. And they are very concerned about being proper and professional.

As a result, they've always had little use for me. The investments I made in our relationships did not yield friendships, nor any other lingering connections, despite the fact that I've known them for years and was involved with them in a spiritually intimate capacity. Bottom line—I have nothing to offer them, so there is no point in wasting their time on me. This hurt my feelings at one time, because the secrets we shared drew me closer to them. But they have a different definition of what friends are about and, ultimately, I'm fortunate to have not fallen into their "tribe".

In contrast, I don't really "work" my network. I could care less if my business contacts are ever able to help me in my career. Instead, they're people I like and respect. People who make me laugh. And I'm not the most proper professional in the world. I often say the wrong things and dress more casually than I should. Yet, oddly, I don't seem to struggle as much with my business as they do with theirs.  I have a strong stream of referrals and, while not by any means "well off", I manage to pay my mortgage and support my deck collecting habit.

Which brings me to my next point. Someone once told me that I'm very lucky to have been able to be self-employed for so many years doing what many consider to be a fun job. And my reply is "lucky my ass!" I'm the kind of person who takes full responsibility for my mistakes and flaws. And I'm also the kind of person that takes responsibility for my successes. If my failures are not "unlucky", then my successes are not "lucky". And while it's considered arrogant to say so, I've earned every aspect of my life, good and bad.

It wasn't luck that I quit my job and took a risk 15 years ago. It wasn't luck that I devoted time to making cold calls, sending out letters and creating mailers to promote my business. And it's not luck that clients have followed me for the past decade and half as they move from job to job. It's not luck that they like me. And it's not luck that they know they can count on me to do good work.

Years ago I heard a saying that I think is very true—the people who have what you want, have it because they were willing to do what you weren't willing to do to get it. When we write things off to luck—or even God's grace—we take our personal responsibility out of the equation. We become victims to whichever way the breezes blow.

The King of Pentacles paves his path, rather than waiting for something else to clear the way before him. But he paves it thoughtfully, kindly, without stepping on the many other travelers along the way. He uses respect, rather than force. His intentions are to benefit all, rather than just himself. And, this is key, instead of filling his mind with strategies for manipulation, he keeps it clear to receive intuitions about which way to proceed next.

We have this notion that, to be successful, we have to claw our way to the top. But our friend Oprah is a good example of a billionaire who did it intentionally, with kindness and respect. She's also an example of someone who would say "lucky my ass" if it were suggested that she got to where she is via the route of luck. Which is different from feeling fortunate and having gratitude, mind you. She clearly feels those things. But she paved every step along her path with the quality of her work, her intuitions, her relationships and her intentions. And I don't choose Oprah as an example of success merely because she's a billionaire. That's one measure, yes. But look at her partnership with Stedman and her friendship with Gayle...the respect she gets from her colleagues and those who work for her. Success isn't a number, it's the feeling of knowing you've gotten wherever you are with a clean conscience.

So this is a long one today. And thank you for indulging me in it. But I think these are very important considerations. We can get the things we want by usury and manipulation. Or we can get them by genuinely inspiring people and situations to cooperate. As we move forward in our evolution as human beings, these are the things we must consider along the way.

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