Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Price of Change


Yes, change is possible! This is the good news. But personal change always comes with a price. Such costs are measured in time, effort, sacrifice, and to an extent, discomfort and pain.

Bookstores, libraries, and the Internet are littered with literature promising dramatic results related to personal change with little or no effort on your part. Salespeople, marketers, and politicians are especially clever and seductive in their marketing ploys:

“Buy our product and you’ll see immediate results!”
          “Purchase our service and your problems will vanish!”
                    “Vote for me and all your dreams will come true!”

Diet plans are infamously alluring. “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days without getting out of your Lazy Boy,” they preposterously purport.

My older sister, Jody, once put forth the simplest and truest solution I’ve ever heard for losing weight and staying in shape. Her formula: eat healthy and exercise regularly. This perennially unpopular, yet perpetually profound method will never become a best-selling book, partly because five words don’t constitute a book, and partly because any author will be hard-pressed to find an audience interested in such an inconvenient weight-loss method—no matter how true and effective.

This book makes no promises of quick or easy answers to personal problems or change efforts. In fact, the only thing I will guarantee is that personal problem solving and change is often difficult and time consuming. Why then, would anyone want to buy and read this book? Because I believe YOU are willing to do what it takes to change and grow, and I believe a LOT of other people are too.


SIMPLE TRUTHS vs. EASY ANSWERS


There is a difference between a simple truth and an easy answer. This book provides simple truths to solving life’s deepest defeats, discouragements, and dilemmas. But it cannot provide you with easy answers to such things, because easy answers to perplexing problems don’t exist; anyone who tells you otherwise is selling snake oil. If you aren’t willing to work hard and suffer a little—or maybe even a lot—then change is likely out of your reach, and reading this book will be a relatively meaningless experience.

Understanding the principles outlined in this book will likely be a fairly simple exercise for you. Effectively applying them, on the other hand, will NOT be easy. I therefore caution you: Do not let the intellectual simplicity of SAL concepts fool you into thinking they are easy. Ironically, SAL is as difficult as it is simple, and vice versa.


STRUGGLES vs. SUCCESSES


With such a dour declaration of difficulty, why in the world would you want to read on? Because if you are willing to pay the price and perpetually live the process, the results are astoundingly worth whatever effort is required. I know because I’ve experienced ample portions of victories on the other side of my life’s variety of vicissitudes.

The Vicissitudes: I have struggled with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Depression for over two decades (Mental Health). I failed 130 times with 80 different women before successfully winning my wife’s heart (Romantic Relationships). My career path has included countless failures, rejections, and tens of thousands of dollars of debt.
The Victories: I have learned to effectively manage both OCD and Depression in my life. Both demons of my mind, once fearsome fiends in the forefront of my life’s experience, are now weak whispers in the wings. I am married to a brilliant, beautiful, talented, caring, angel of a wife who is my most trusted mortal advisor and best friend. I am blessed with a wonderful little son and daughter who are the joy of my days. I enjoy authentic and enriching relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues. In my career, I am truly living the dream. My wife and I are financially secure—free of debt and prospering. Substantively speaking, my life lacks for nothing. Things aren’t perfect—they never are in this world—but most of the time I can truthfully say I am salubrious and content.

I do not share this information to impress you. I include it to impress upon you the reality of adversity combined with the power of persistently and consistently practicing SAL over long periods of time. There is nothing special about me; everything, however, is special about the principles.

I have not always enjoyed what I have now. My blessings and prosperity were not inherited, nor have I ever won the lottery—or even bought a lottery ticket for that matter. I have been practicing SAL diligently for 27 years. It has been 23 years since the onset of my life’s first major challenge (OCD). That is a long time. We’re talking 276 months, 1,196 weeks, 8,372 days, 200,928 hours, 12,055,680 minutes, and 723,340,800 seconds. This protracted waiting period was filled with untold hours of conscious planning and diligent effort. It also presented countless moments of frustration, disappointment, rejection, anxiety, and failure.


TRUE PRINCIPLES


In threading this tapestry of tribulation, I do not wish to portray myself as having it harder than everyone else. Everybody has it hard in different ways. No one gets out of this life without his or her share of deep adversity.

I also do not wish to suggest the past two-and-a-half decades of my life were completely devoid of satisfactions, joys, and achievements. Nor do I wish to imply that my life is now challenge-free. Nevertheless, the better part of the past 23 years have been sufficiently difficult and painful to provide a stark contrast to where I am and what I enjoy in my life now. No one’s life changes entirely overnight. It is a gradual process of piecemeal progress that develops by degrees over time as you choose to follow True Principles.

TRUE PRINCIPLES:Universal laws that lead to long-term happiness, fulfillment, and Existential Growth.

Everything that can be earned in life comes with a price tag set by True Principles. Whether it is scoring an ‘A’ in a class, winning a race, making a promotion at work, losing weight, building a meaningful relationship, or earning Existential Growth, a price in time, effort, and/or money must be paid for the acquisition of anything. Wise self-action leaders learn everything they can, as fast as they can, about True Principles, and then obey the edicts set forth thereby. True Principles describe the way things really are in life, the world, and the universe. The fundamental purpose of the SAL Theory & Model is to identify and describe True Principles that govern Existential Growth.

“We are too inclined to think of law as something merely restrictive—something hemming us in. We sometimes think of law as the opposite of liberty. But that is a false conception. [The law] is meant to govern and it is also meant to educate.”[1]
Cecil B. DeMille(1881-1959)


Consistently following True Principles leads to personal achievement and growth. Following True Principles is not easy, but the rewards of Existential Growth far outweigh the price of earning them—as difficult and high as the price often seems when you are in the protracted midst of paying it.

True Principles apply to more than just earning Existential Growth. They also apply to maintaining it. Maintenance is just as important as continued growth, and in some ways, even more important. One of my life’s greatest anxieties stems from a fear that I will someday allow success to seduce me into choosing thoughts, words, and actions that are not in harmony with the very principles that created my success in the first place. Indeed, I often picture myself having to stand before family, friends, and other audiences to apologize for embarrassing and hurtful behavior that explicitly contradict the SAL principles I champion in this book. It is not a pretty picture, and one I zealously—even obsessively—desire and strive to avoid painting.

History is littered with preachers (religious and secular) who have hypocritically disregarded the very doctrine they themselves declared. I ardently desire to be an exception to this tragic pattern, which has ensnared so many of the world’s otherwise greatest men and women. Nevertheless, a deep anxiety resides in my heart from the recognition that I am not exempt from the seductive precariousness of life’s endless temptations, nor have I fully conquered my remaining capacity for capitulation. Indeed, I am vigilantly aware of my own potential for hypocrisy, and it terrifies me. No one is perfect; I’m certainly not. But I do believe that following SAL principles can empower us to learn from minor errors in order to circumvent major blunders. I also believe it can help us to overcome both minor and major mistakes we do make.

The journey to higher levels of Existential Growth is not easy for anyone. It was not, and is not, easy for me; and it will not be easy for you. But it is always possible through the exercise of your own will, the help of others, and the blessings of Serendipity. That is the good news of this book. And personal changes that accompany Existential Growth are only the beginning. Change in all life arenas—in relationships, families, classrooms, teams, departments, organizations, communities, regions, states, nations, even the world-at-large—are possible through personal change. Indeed, all macro improvement begin with micro, personal changes. It starts with you and me. It all begins with the one. Will you choose to be one of the diminishing few authentic human beings who stop making excuses and decide[2] to make necessary personal changes for the benefit of yourself and all groups in which you play a role? I hope so, because if you desire to…

Overcome a bad habit,
   Gain self-confidence,
      Establish or regain mental hygiene,
         Strengthen personal integrity,
            Develop emotional intelligence & resiliency,
               Turn a weakness into a strength,
                  Earn Existential Growth,
                     Transform a relationship,
                        Reorient an undesirable natural inclination;

Acquire knowledge and skills,
   Earn professional success,
      Become a person you like and respect,
         Influence others,
            Make a difference,
               Leave a positive and lasting legacy for your posterity
                  Become great in the eyes of those you most respect
                     Live,
                        Love,
                           Win,
                              And take
                                 Charge of
                                    Your
                                       Life,

THEN YOU CAN!

But only if you want to change more than you want to remain as you are.

For change will
   Not be easy,
      Come quickly,
         Or prove painless.
            It will take time,
               Demand your very best efforts,
                   The help of others where needed,
                      And Serendipity,
BUT…

Change is always possible if change is what you most want.

So don’t let anyone steal your self-sovereignty.

This is your life to Win or lose…
You choose!
You have the power.

Why?

Because You Are
Sovereign.

Whatever your desires for change are, there is hope. Despite what countless voices contrarily croon, I can change and you can change, but only if we really want to, and only if we are willing to pay the high price that change demands.

If, on the other hand, you do not desire to change, then you cannot change, even if you try. But if you desire it badly enough, are willing to pay the price set by True Principles, and accept help from other people and Serendipity as needed, change is not only possible, but a welcomed inevitability—and an adventure of a lifetime.



THE TRUE MEANING OF COURAGE


Great quantities of courage are required to earn Existential Growth. Courage means different things to different people. To me, courage means submitting your will to the edicts of True Principles, especially when doing so is unpleasant or unpopular. The most enlightened human actions involve exercising your will to deny yourself from engaging in natural inclinations that are wrong, especially when it is personally difficult or socially unfashionable. And the harder it is to resist, or the scarier it is to speak up and out, the more courageous and noble your actions are—and the greater your reward will be in the end.

“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1883)


YOU ARE FREE TO CHOOSE


Before going on, let’s reiterate a vital point. If you do not want to change, you don’t have to. And if you don’t want to do what is right, you are free to do what is wrong.

The purpose of this book is not to try and coerce anyone to follow True Principles. Its purpose is to provide a caveat of consequences. Consequences don’t care what you, I, or anyone else thinks, says, or does. They simply follow through on their end of the deal--always. In the end, consequences will determine all of our destinies based on what we choose. We are powerless to alter their omnipotent courses. Our only liberty and power lies in making choices; we have zero freedom and power over the long-term consequences of our choices. We therefore disrespect consequences at our peril.

Yes, you are free to choose to change, or to choose to remain as you are. But remember that all choices carry commensurate consequences—whether you know it or not, and whether you like it or not. So…

Choose wisely!


Next Blog Post: Wednesday, November 19, 2014: Your Responsibility to Change




[1] This quote was part of a speech given by DeMille at a 1957 Commencement Address at Brigham Young University, where he was awarded an honorary Doctorate.  DeMille was a Hollywood director and producer.  He directed and co-produced the Academy Award winning film, The Ten Commandments (1956). 
[2] The word “decide,” like homicide, suicide, and fratricide, connotes the “killing off” of all other options. To truly decide, therefore, means that you are fully committed to a course of action.

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