If I close my eyes at this moment, I can hear a gentle breeze quietly tickling the pine branches above and the slight slosh of water hitting the dock. It’s heavenly. So peaceful. So quiet.
Opening my eyes after a deep breath of the freshest air I’ve ever breathed, I feast my eyes on a large, pink billowing cloud, about 30 stories tall, floating just to the east of us and carrying a rainstorm with it in the distance. I can hear an occasional distant rumble and can see a gray sheet of rain falling below it. The pink morning sun is coloring the deep green trees, yet if I were to run and get my easel to capture the mood, it would be gone within moments. I’ll just try to imprint it in my memory.
On the dock across the lake I can see two red spots — Adirondack chairs that glow when the sun hits them, and then are barely visible when it tucks behind a cloud. The red against the green is the perfect color harmony.
When I was back in Austin for PleinAir Live, I mentioned how eager I was to return here when someone said, “You’re lucky. I’ll never see an opportunity like that.”
I quickly, and gently, responded that he would in fact see it if he wanted to, and that my luck had more to do with 40 years of 18-hour workdays. His response … “I will never see it because I’ve been dealt a bad hand.”
Born Into It?
Clearly I was not going to change his mind easily, nor was he going to be open to having his mind changed, but it made me stop and think. Was my success because of the draw of the cards? Because I was born into it somehow?
If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t know if I would have achieved the success I have experienced if it had not been for the mentorship of my dad. I was not born into money … they had none, but I did have the benefit of overhearing conversations and being invited into business meetings and watching him build his business from nothing to something. So maybe I did get a lucky card. I certainly consider myself lucky to be born into a family with an artist mother and a creative entrepreneur father.
But is it all the luck of the draw?
Looking back on friendships and acquaintances, I know people who have truly had luck in their favor, but did nothing with it. People who were born with a silver spoon, but are unhappy, unsuccessful, and who grumble about the cards they were dealt. One once told me “being born rich was a curse.” Another told me that because he grew up with money, he wants to be poor because he hates rich people.
What Are You Wearing?
Whoever we are, no matter how we grew up, we don’t have to wear our circumstances. I can pretty much meet someone for the first time and know the stories they are telling themselves about their bad luck.
When talking about ideology, my friend and mentor Jay Abraham says, “Whatever you think, you’re right.”
Why is it that someone born rich can fail at everything in life and someone born poor can become a billionaire?
It all boils down to what we’re telling ourselves.
One of my kids says, “Dad, I’m going to be rich once I get out of college,” and my response is, “What’s stopping you from starting now?” The story he is telling himself is that college is the first step. My fear is that once college is done, there will be another step he has to take to make things perfect before he can start. Then another.
My best advice to him was to start now. Nothing happens easily, nothing falls in your lap, so why not use this time to work toward your success? My overnight success in radio, for instance, started at age 14. Today I’ve been associated with the radio industry for 51 years. Time is on my side.
I’ll see some kids I meet working three jobs, selling things on the side, and doing all they can to get started now. The only roadblock is the one between our ears.
No Easy Path
I’ve come to understand that no path is ever paved, no conditions are ever perfect, and that the only thing that determines your success is your thinking. There is not some sudden lightning bolt that makes things better – unless you win the lottery. I don’t play the lottery because I don’t believe in luck. I believe luck is a byproduct of thinking and action.
Zip My Lips
I love my friends dearly, but when they complain about their conditions and not having anything, I’m tempted to suggest that a change in their attitude would make a huge difference. But usually I zip my lip and try to enjoy their company.
The most powerful thing impacting the outcome of our lives is our thinking.
- If you think you can’t succeed because you had bad parents, you’re right.
- If you think success isn’t possible because no one in your family ever succeeded, you’re right.
- If you resent your parents’ success so much that you think you can never succeed, you’re right.
- If you think “I’m too old to do anything more with my life now,” you’re right.
I can list 50 excuses right now for why success isn’t possible for me. I’d be right about all of them … if I allowed myself to fall into that deadly trap.
But what if you told yourself your disadvantaged upbringing was an advantage?
What if your screwed-up wife-beating alcoholic father made you stronger and improved your chances of success?
What if being from the wrong side of the tracks taught you street smarts that would make you more successful?
As Tony Robbins says, “You can’t change your past. All you can do is change your future.”
For every failure excuse, there is a success response.
If you look for it, you’ll find it.
Is it time to ask yourself if you have blind spots?
Those blind spots are killing your potential because you’re allowing them to.
Every successful person I know has been kicked in the teeth, gets up, gets kicked down again, gets up, gets kicked down again, and keeps getting up. EVERY one.
Do You Really Want to Live This Way?
For all the wonderful things you may think about someone like me, I can share some horrible things I’ve gone through that might make it OK for me to cower in the corner out of fear and do nothing with my life. Admittedly, there were times I gave up and gave in, but I eventually told myself to get back into the fight.
It may be your health. It may be depression. It may be the loss of a limb. It may be a horrible past.
I don’t want to make light of any of those things, but I know that you can overcome them, or work with them to turn them into strengths.
For every person I know who is stuck because of the ideas they are telling themselves, there are others who ignore those ideas and move forward, no matter how frightening or painful.
Being a member of a lucky birth club isn’t even a guarantee of success. I know people living on trust funds who have more money than I’ve made in my life, and who are miserable.
Your Ship Won’t Come In
If you’re saying, “I’ll be happy when my ship comes in,” or, “I’ll be happy once I make my first million,” or, “I’ll be happy once XYZ changes,” you won’t be happy. I’ve had my ship come in only to have it sail away. I’ve made money, until I lost it all by making stupid decisions.
We are born with brains. Yet too often we settle in, not realizing our brains are pliable. Your brain can grow, can change, and you can change ANY circumstance if you set your mind to it.
No, it’s not easy. The only thing that’s easy is accepting who we are and not changing it. Is that what you want from your life? Or do you want better?
Listen to Your Heart
Your spirit is quietly screaming for you to stop accepting your lot in life, ignore the cards you’ve been dealt, and create a new you. It’s never too late. Is it scary? Yes. But which is scarier? Being stuck knowing you could have tried — or trying?
Today is the day to move away from the past and move toward the future. You have it in you.
PS: My mindset was pretty negative. Six income-producing events were canceled. My business has been struggling. Facing three kids going into college at once (triplets) and knowing that if I did not make a change, I’d disrupt the families of those who worked with me.
Mentally, I was not sure how I’d survive. I was scared. I was finding a lot of reasons it was too hard to do, but I gathered my strength, took a deep breath and jumped in to create the world’s first virtual art summit. I was not sure I could succeed, but I had no choice but to try.
The good news is that the event was a huge, worldwide success, and it is allowing me to continue my business, and if I can make one more event a success, we can make it.
Last week after PleinAir Live, I announced Realism Live, the first virtual realism art conference. If it can be created in realism, we’ll be teaching it, including drawing, painting, portraits, figures, florals, still life, landscape, and more. And we’ll have a beginner’s day.
When we announced it, we immediately had 600 sign up. We need 1,000 more to make it work, and I believe we will.
If art has been in your mind and you’ve wanted to try it, or you want a chance to learn from the best of the best, please explore www.realismlive.com. It’s in October. Your participation will make a big difference.