There are times when insight strikes without warning. That happened to me recently when I read the simple wisdom for success in a quote by Chief Justice Earl Warren. “To get what you want, stop doing what isn’t working”. It’s that simple! To create a successful life, the day will come when you realize that you have to stop doing what isn’t working.
I have been writing for years about how to create a successful life. How to become the person we were born to be. How to live the life we have always dreamed about living. Despite all the great concepts and daily practices for success that I have learned over the years from some of the world’s most successful people, none were as simple and concise as this quote by Chief Justice Earl Warren….. “To get what you want, stop doing what isn’t working”.
One of my dreams and goals in life was to be a writer. Looking back over my life I realized that becoming a writer was a dream that began in grammar school. I wrote short stories that somehow got the attention of my third-grade teacher. I don’t remember exactly how that happened, or what the stories were about, but I do remember her encouraging me to read my stories to my classmates.
And then the years passed.
I earned a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering and worked as a Manufacturing Engineer for a while. Didn’t like that life. So I worked with an uncle to develop a small manufacturing company. We eventually took the company public on the over the counter stock exchange and got bought out by some local investors. Never made much money from the company, but did long work hours for several years getting the company started.
Then I started a pizza shop in the town of Clifton Springs, NY and began writing as a stringer for a local newspaper. I liked that job, but the paper was struggling financially, so they were no longer able to pay me for my writing.
Then I decided to homestead on the 27 acres I owned in Italy Valley, NY for a few years. We grew most of our own food, milked goats, raised pigs, and built a small rough-sawn oak house and barn. It was a good five years, but I realized that the “good old days” when people were self-reliant, was a euphemism that meant working from dawn to dusk seven days a week.
I eventually decided to begin attending classes at Colgate Rochester Seminary where I met the professor that would change my life. His name was Dr. Jim Ashbrook. He was head of the Pastoral Counseling program at Colgate Rochester. The day I walked into his class, I knew that I’d found my profession and calling. I was eventually ordained as a Pastor in the United Methodist Church and worked as Chaplain and Counselor at Keuka College for four years before opening a counseling office in Naples, NY.
I loved my career as a mental health therapist, but I was still avoiding the deeper passion…..the call to write. That is until the day I sat down to write an article on the mental health dangers of inflexible, religious beliefs. Giving voice to that inner conflict that I’d been struggling with for years, helped me realize that I’d finally come full circle. I was back to writing….the passion of my childhood.
I was ten years from retirement, but I was finally living the life that I knew I was meant to live in third grade. Talk about being a slow learner! “To get what you want, stop doing what isn’t working”. What wasn’t working for me was too much listening to my head and too little listening to my heart. So today I work as a life coach and writer encouraging my clients, and the readers of my Stonyhill-Nugget blog, to stop doing what isn’t working and begin listening to their hearts.
But there is also a deeper wisdom that I struggled with for a while once I re-discovered my calling and began writing again…..the knowledge and awareness that sometimes it takes a long time to acquire the life experiences required to follow your passion. In my case, the life experiences needed to be an effective writer. And this insight is especially true if you are called to be a non-fiction writer. For me, it took most of my life to build the life experiences and insights I needed to be helpful for others.
We all have a calling. And for most of us, just as it was for me…..we often know early in life what that calling might be. It may take time to develop the skills and knowledge required to fully embrace that calling, but eventually “to get what you want in life, you will need to stop doing what isn’t working”….and then do whatever it requires to follow the calling of your heart.