Breaking the Habit of Being Smart to Have Your Best Success
I dropped out of college. Lived on the floor of an efficiency apartment on Webbs Chapel Extension in Dallas, Texas with a boyfriend who beat me up almost everyday. I worked at a Mexican restaurant at night and a steak house during the day to earn a living. I walked to work whether it was raining or cold or hot because I had left my car my parents purchased for me at my sister’s house in Houston when I made what others in my family called a “dumb” decision to be with him in Dallas.
I was unhappy in Dallas but I had a point to prove that I wasn’t dumb, and that me and this guy were in love and that love could conquer all the obstacles we faced to have a a happy life together. That pride in staying was short lived when he pushed me down a flight of stairs after I caught him at his friend’s apartment cheating on me with another girl.
With body aches and scratches on my body from the concrete, I humbly called my dad from the phone booth on the corner and asked him to buy me a plane ticket so I could come home and get back in college. My dad eagerly obliged my request by sending me funds through Western Union. And just like that I was back in college by the next semester, but this time with a new determination to be “smart”. I didn’t want to make anymore dumb decisions, so my focus in life became being smart and getting a good job. I begin to internalize that smartness could get me the life I wanted.
I studied hard to make good grades in school. And with those good grades came high praise from my parents and family. I then went to law school and later got my masters in law all while making good grades. Unknowingly to me, I had created a habit of being smart needing others to approve of me. I needed to hear my dad tell me I was smart. I needed to hear my teacher say you got an A. But after I graduated and started working, grades no longer mattered to success.
After I begin working, my need to be smart turned into an internal subtle belief that all the answers to my success were written in a book. And if I didn’t find it, it was because I wasn’t smart enough.
I believed that others held the secret to my success. I learned very quickly that the practice of law was very different from the study of law. The study of law had its place to learn terminology, but the practice of law is instinctive based. But because I had characterized internally my prior decisions of the heart as dumb, I resisted trusting my instincts. I felt that what I instinctively wanted was bad or sinful. I tried my best to only have experiences that could be characterize as smart. I read books, went to church, prayed to god, and listened to all the gurus. I needed to have assurance before I could be confident in saying or doing something. This put me at a slight disadvantage as a lawyer, but most importantly a grave disadvantage as a human being desiring to live her best life in this world. My need to be smart handicapped me from being my best.
When you believe all the answers of your life are in a book or held by others, you forget that this is your life. And you ignore that whoever wrote the words of the book had their own instinctive-based experiences that taught them failure after failure after failure that crystallized into what others call success.
Instead of seeking your own trial and error experiences, you begin to seek methods, blueprints, and how to’s from others. This is seemingly the smart thing to do. And it seems smart to look at how someone else did what they did so you can avoid certain mistakes. But truth be told if they were 100% honest, they don’t even know how they achieved success. And their greatest mistakes they are teaching you to avoid, maybe the very experiences you need to have to unlock the key to your success.
They had a North Star that pulled them towards something to be something or to do something or to be someone . And with every perceived mistake, they tried again and again. With every perceived brick wall, they either climbed over it, drilled a hole threw it, went around it, dug a hole underneath it or went down another path. And then one day, the path they took got them somewhere others call success.
They were floundering the entire time until something clicked. The picture of who they were finally revealed itself. The pieces of all of their mistakes connected into something that looks like success to us. But truth be told he or she can’t really tell you how their success was actually achieved. So any blueprint or how to or method given by others is always missing critical information necessary for you to duplicate their success. You can’t duplicate other people’s success. You can only create your own success based on your destination plan for your life. If you have no destination plans, you will surely fail and remain frustrated while failing.
What do you want? Let your wants be your North Star that create your experiences. Let the energy of your North Star pull you. And yes you will make some choices that don’t turn out as good as you want. But those experiences fit the picture of being you. And there is no need to label your experiences along the way as good or bad, smart or dumb, or right or wrong. They are just your experiences that make up the story of you being successfully you.
Success of others may leave clues but the secret of your success is found only in the freedom of the experiences you allow yourself to have as your North Star pulls you towards it.
Learning to trust your own wants as the guide to your destination place maybe the greatest gift you can give yourself to have your best success in this life.
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