The Secret

September 8th, 2009 by Sharon Larsen

Life gives you what you expect it to.

If you expect success, everything you do translates into success—even your failures. If you expect failure, everything you do translates into failures—even your successes. If you expect to be loved, you will be loved; and if you expect to be taken advantage of you will be taken advantage of. Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This concept seems to be popping up everywhere lately.  I attempted to trace it back to its origin, the law of attraction. I found it in Buddhism, Confucianism, in the philosophy and psychology of William James, and the 2006 bestseller called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

My conclusion: this truth resonates throughout time and applies to our lives today.  We all know people who seem to get all the breaks: the woman down the street who wins all the beauty contests, the guy in the office across the hallway whose putts always fall. Everything they touch turns platinum.

Contrastingly, you likely know people who fill the casting call for the “Eeyores” of life.  You’re not sure whether to pity them or appreciate how sparkling your personality seems in comparison. They have low expectations and their mood persistently commiserates with the dismal, melancholy little rain cloud that seems to hover over them everywhere they go.

What made them this way? Luck of the draw? Lightning bolts on the equator? The truth is it’s no accident. It doesn’t just happen. They’ve expected nothing less, or more precisely, nothing more! They have used their will to make it so.

I don’t watch a lot of television, but on more than one occasion I’ve come home to find my wife queuing up the TIVO and commanding me to sit down and watch Oprah. I’ve witnessed, from a distance, Oprah’s amazing ability to live this principle. From my perspective, she chose to expect the best from life. She chose to love. She chose to succeed. She chose to forgive. She will get everything from life she expects. And if you think she has fulfilled her expectations by now, my bet is that you’re very wrong. I conclude that Oprah expects more great things of herself and the world she lives in and loves, and always will.

Golfing great Jack Nicklaus seemed to convey genuine surprise every time he missed a shot. He literally expected each and every shot to be a winner. He knew what he could do, and did not waste time timidly hoping the putt might fall.

Decide what you want out of life! Write your expectations down. Call them goals, call them resolutions, call them whatever you want. Get your dreams down on paper, write them in your heart. Believe you will achieve them and go after them.

Viktor Frankl, survivor of the horrors that took place in Auschwitz and Dachau under a Nazi regime, wrote a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning.” This book is required reading for my team. In the midst of the worst possible scenarios he chose to expect the most out of life. His works kept him alive to become a paragon of this principle.  “We can’t always choose what happens to us but we can choose how to respond to what happens to us. It is our ultimate and final freedom. I had wanted simply to convey to the reader by way of concrete example that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones. And I thought that if the point were demonstrated in a situation as extreme as that in a concentration camp, my book might gain a hearing. I therefore felt responsible for writing down what I had gone through, for I thought it might be helpful to people who are prone to despair.”  (Frankl, Viktor E. “Man’s Search for Meaning”)

I add my humble but zealous voice to those who have, do, and will yet live life against the backdrop of this truth: life gives you what you expect it to.

Porter’s Points – The Secret

  • Internalize this truth: Life really does give you what you expect it to.
  • Employ your will to make your success a reality.
  • It is not enough to just dream about what your success looks like. Exert the discipline required to achieve your dream.

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