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In the early morning mist, with the sun rising behind them, a team of hopeful archers gathers at an open field for a contest of skill.
Drona, the leader of the king's army, is searching for the best marksmen in all the land to serve in the Royal Guard, the most prestigious and honored of military assignments.
As the archers warm up, stretch, and string their bows, Drona arrives galloping on horseback.
With a whinny and bray, Drona dismounts in a billowing cloud of dust and hastily calls the archers to the line.
Without a word, Drona reaches into his saddle bag and presents a wooden bird.
Held high above his head for all to see, Drona paces back and forth in front of the archers displaying the wooden target.
Every feather, vane, rachis, and downy barb is finely painted in great detail, and yet the bird is brown, very plain, and indistinct.
Drona turns his back to the line of eager archers and begins walking across the field.
His imposing size and colorful uniform shrink and diminish with each step across the wide and expansive landscape.
The sun, now risen to mid-sky, beats down upon the hopeful archers as Drona places the wooden bird high in the treeline on the other side of the field.
The archers squint and strain to hold sight of their target as Drona begins his long, anticipated return.
Drona strides to one end of the line and addresses the first hopeful archer.
“Nock!" he barks.
With a shallow breath, Drona leans in. "Now tell me," he says calmly.
"What do you see?”
The first archer speaks.
“I see down the length of my arm, sir. My bow is straight. My arrow true."
"I see my fingertip resting on the tip of my arrow."
"I see the clouds of the sky, the wild birds in the air, the line of trees across the field, and there, in the trees, that one tree there, I see my target.”
Drona raises his arm. Holds... then slices through the air.
"Loose!" he commands.
The archer lets loose his arrow… the arrow flies straight and true... arcs across the sky...
One by one, all the other archers follow suit.
Each describes what they see in great detail. Each lets their arrow fly.
And each misses the mark.
They’re all skilled archers–the best and most experienced in the land.
And they all see the many things leading them to their target.
Yet every one of them misses the mark and fails the test.
Aim smaller still
Drona steps down the line, hesitates, then glares at young Arjuna, the last and final archer.
With a heavy sigh, Drona lazily approaches the youngest, smallest, and most inexperienced of all the hopefuls.
“And what do you see?” Drona groans.
Arjuna inhales, steadies..... and speaks.
“I see the tip of my arrow piercing a diagonal brush stroke in the round, black, painted eye of your wooden bird,” Arjuna replies.
Arjuna holds fast.
Arjuna’s arrow flies high into the air, arcs across the sky, over the expansive field, and pierces the eye of his wooden target, winning the competition.
Dream Big –but aim small.
I read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill as a boy...
–because I had to.
The book was required reading at my house.
My dad bought cases of the classic and handed it out to everyone he knew.
The legend is that after interviewing over 500 millionaires, including Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and Charles Schwab, Napoleon Hill was certain there was a formula for success in any endeavor, and he had found it.
The primary premise of Hill's book:
"What your mind can conceive and believe, you will achieve."
And one of the many exercises in the book was to imagine your greatest desire.
See it in your mind's eye, and feel what it will feel like when you achieve this milestone–feel it deep within every tissue, sinew, and cell.
Once you have your greatest desire crystalized in your mind's eye and can feel it in your soul, write it all down in precise and exacting detail.
Include everything in your written description down to the last goose pimple, penny, proclamation, and prize.
And you must write out your future state as if this reality is here and now.
Keep your written realization with you at all times.
Read it aloud every morning as soon as you wake. And again, nightly before bed.
Memorize the details and repeat them to yourself as you drift off to sleep.
Maybe you've read the book or heard this prescription before, and maybe you haven't, but I can tell you this...
I know it works.
I've accomplished everything I've ever set out to do – some variation or a close approximation of every goal I've ever set has come true.
Not because I'm particularly skilled or talented.
But I work hard. And because it simply works that way.
I'm sure it works that way because I've also accomplished a great many things in life I never intended to–at least not consciously.
But those ideas captured my imagination, and I held those ideas in my subconscious mind and imagined how it would feel for them to become my reality.
And that's enough.
Most of the time
And what about the times I've missed the mark?
Truth be told, I have failed miserably at a great many things in life.
And I've succeeded in many things I wish I'd never attempted.
And when I fail, my failures are caused by:
Not believing in myself (self-doubt and limiting beliefs),
Not believing enough (consistency over time matters here),
Believing in the wrong things (this happens more than you might think),
And by giving up when the journey turned out to be different or more difficult than what I expected.
So what's next?
After following this formula for nearly 50 years (thanks, Dad😊), I've learned the following things.
The more vivid your imagination, the better.
You're crafting your life here and writing your own script.
Dream big and include every detail.
Write down your perfect day, beginning with what time you wake up, where you are, what you do first thing in the morning, what you eat and drink, what you see, and how it all feels.
This may be the most important part of the exercise because you'll rely on this script for the next step.
Don't hide your light.
Begin acting as if you've achieved your dream state, and begin this practice right away.
Acting as if you've achieved your dream will test your self-image, self-confidence, and commitment, but that's why it works.
Look to those who've achieved goals similar to yours, and follow their lead.
How do they dress, speak, and act?
Who do they associate with, and how can you associate with similar like-minded people?
Do whatever you can to spend time and interact with people who are on the same journey as you and who hold the same values and commitments you hold for yourself.
You are the average of the people you spend your time with.
Leveling up your peer group is the fastest way to be inspired and accelerate your growth.
And speaking of leveling up...
The people who receive this email are some of the most inspiring people I've ever met.
They continue to inspire me with their
I asked them for permission to write these stories and deliver them to their inbox (except you, Mandell -you were strong-armed 😉).
And I don't take their permission lightly.
Just knowing the people who inspire me might read my stories makes me work that much harder to provide as much value as I can.
So if you're reading this, Thank you.
I appreciate you.
Hey, if you're stuck creatively or just ready to level up, I can help.
Book a free consult any time to get an outside perspective and explore your options.