I first heard Brian Tracy use this term in my late twenties, on one of his excellent audio programs .
It struck me as strict and puritanical and severe. Just not for me. It was as if I had no way to receive it.
Other people might be blindly ambitious, overly materialistic or hell-bent on success, but I was a go-with-the-flow kind of guy.
I just didn’t see things in black and white like that.
And I had loads of time ahead of me to get “serious” if and when I wanted to.
I was happy making small improvements here and there, but this was too extreme. Brian Tracy just needed to chill out.
Then, I remember one sunny morning in May, having dropped my mother-in-law at the airport at around 5 am, I came back to our flat and was sitting at our tiny square Ikea table in the kitchen, feeling a bit spaced out. Disrupting sleep can sometimes cause interesting shifts in perspective.
Suddenly these lines from “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, which I think Brian Tracy had quoted, came to mind:
“I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”
It was just a tiny glimpse. But by stepping out of the cloud of my automatic thinking, emotional reactions and physical habits, in my mind I saw all this like a ship out at sea. And I had the realisation that if I could see it, not only was this not all of me, but that something in me could actually choose to give it direction. I’d never felt that before.
And if I could choose from a place outside of all of the stories that made up my ship, my “identity”, maybe I could actually set an intentional course for my life.
And so if I wasn’t actually rudderless, what other stories was I believing about myself that might not be true?
Maybe none of them were true. Maybe something in me had an independent power to choose what to think and therefore nobody else was to blame for how I thought and felt and acted.
Maybe I could be 100% responsible.
This all came in a flash of clarity. I felt elated, lightweight and totally free. And then a little frightened that I might have to do something with it. Something bold. Something I would have to take responsibility for.
But it faded during the day. I would always remember it, but couldn’t quite “get back there”. And I think many years passed before I had such a clear sense of it again. But that was a glimpse of something extraordinary.
So for me, it starts with this.
Questioning everything, over and over, all the time. That means everything you’ve ever read, everything your parents told you was true, everything your teachers, bosses, politicians, scientists and spiritual leaders have said. Everything you think you’ve made up your mind about. Everything you’re thinking and doing right now. It doesn’t mean it’s true or not true. It just means you choose. Whether you’re aware you’re choosing or not.
You take 100% responsibility. Start small. Just a suggestion.