Friday, July 18, 2008

Other People's Lives Are Highly Over-Rated


I get concerned when I hear a public speaker say, "If you follow my steps and do exactly what I did, you too can become as successful I have become." Having been an educator for over 30 years, I don't think I have ever seen someone copy someone else's steps exactly and become as successful as another person. I can't say I have ever seen two people successfully solve a problem or meet a challenge in the same way.

Take a roomful of only 20 people, break them up into four groups of five, and give them all the same challenge to solve, and they will come up with four different solutions. Furthermore, they'll base those solutions on their own experience, knowledge, and aptitudes.

To be even more fair, take three very successful people in the same field and interview them about how they became successful, and you will hear three distinctly unique stories. You might hear some similar themes, and those are certainly worth noting. However, we are all unique in our aptitudes, skills, experience, beliefs, preferences and our intuitive guidance. What you came here to do is not exactly the same as what I came here to do, even if our goals and fields of interest are the same.

Perhaps even more importantly, how we heal and grow spiritually throughout our various experiences in meeting our earthly goals is what the real journey is all about. If I'm occupied copying someone else's life, I'm not really living my own, am I? I'm not listening for and following Spirit's whisperings in my ear because I'm focused on becoming successful by mapping someone else's journey on to my own life. I'm not attending to the spiritual growth opportunities right in front of me, that ultimately define who I am, because I'm following a prescription to an end goal, not following my own path.

Of course, it is wise to listen to and consider the knowledge of someone more accomplished. If you have engaged a teacher, it only makes sense to get as much out of their programs, steps and methodologies as apply to you. You can benefit greatly by learning from others' successes and mistakes.

Yet, other people's successes usually occurred as they worked through their unique set of challenges that were a result of their personality, aptitudes, skills, experiences, and the spiritual purpose they are here to fulfill. Their ultimate successes create new and unique challenges for them to overcome, and hopefully, those new unique challenges, keep them growing.

Other people's lives are their lives. They aren't meant to be adopted by their friends or students. We can over-rate other people's lives when our own is overwhelming or super challenging for us. It is too easy to assume someone else has figured out the answer to success and all we have to do is follow in their foot-steps. Real spiritual growth and its inherent success comes when we have the courage to learn from the wisdom of others, listen to our own inner guidance from Spirit, and then boldly follow our own course—our own special lives.