I have had two different experiences in my life where I had huge, unexpected success. These events seem to break all the rules that are taught by success experts and gurus, and I have pondered for years how they came about and how to reproduce them. A few years ago I started to write a book called, “Unexpected Success,” I thought I had it figured out. But as I was at the point where I thought I was nearly finished with the book, the results in my life told me that I did not have it all figured out. What was the missing piece? I still wasn’t sure. Recently I have been reading a new book by Brent Satterfield, “Faith To Produce Miracles”, and he helped me find a missing key.
First let me give you a brief overview of the two events in my life. One was when I got on the Ballroom Dance Team at BYU in January, 1984. I really wanted to be on the dance team, but I was not a student at BYU. I had applied to admitted on the winter block, which meant that I would start school in February. In the fall of 1983, I snuck into a beginning ballroom dance class, but that was not nearly enough preparation to be on the team. In January I went to the Ballroom Dance Team tryouts just to see what they were like, I wanted to go through the experience once so I would be better prepared if I were too try out another time. I knew I couldn’t get on the team, I wasn’t good enough and I had not started school yet. But I went through the tryout process and just had fun. In the end I got on the team, even though I wasn’t good enough and wasn’t in school yet. That is crazy! How did that happen?
The other unexpected success was a bowling game. Around Thanksgiving, I think it was 2005, I took my family bowling. I am not very good at bowling, my score is usually over 100, if I get 120 that is a really good game for me. I will usually get 1 or 2 strikes in a game, 3 strikes would be really good for me. The bowling ally was having a turkey give away; if a person bowled 3 strikes in a row, they would win a turkey. Even though I had never bowled 3 strikes in a row, I thought it would be fun to win a turkey. It turned out that I bowled 8 strikes in a row! That is crazy! How did that happen? I have bowled a number of times since then, and has always been like before, 1 or 2 strikes in a game.
As I have analyzed these events, here are some things they both have in common.
- I wasn’t worried about failure, I felt no stress or pressure.
- I was looking forward to it, even though I wasn’t good enough.
- I knew I would be OK even though I would likely fail.
Now here is the missing piece I stumbled onto in Brent Satterfield’s book. I brushed across this idea, but had never quite hit the nail on the head. It was this:
4. I knew that I was not good enough to succeed! And I was still at peace with myself.
Most success gurus will tell you that you have to believe that you can do it. Yet, if anyone had asked me before the dance tryouts if I thought I would make the team, I would have answered, “There is not a chance I will get on the team tonight. It is impossible” The same would have gone for the bowling game; if someone had asked me, “Do you think can win a turkey with 3 strikes in a row?” I would have said, “Small chance, but maybe if I am lucky.” If they had asked, “Do you think you can bowl 8 strikes in a row?” I would have said, “There is no way I could do that.” So I knew I wasn’t good enough, and yet at the same time I was at peace with myself. There were no feelings of frustration, or inadequacy. I was OK with who I was even though I knew I wasn’t good enough.
But there is another nugget I got from Satterfield’s book that I didn’t recognize.
5. God can do it, whatever “it” is. There is nothing too hard for the Lord.
When Moses parted the Red Sea, he had to know that he could not do it, but God could. When Elijah called fire down from heaven to burn his sacrifice, he had to know he couldn’t, but God could. When the brother of Jared presented his 16 stones to the Lord, he had to know he could not make them luminescent, but God could. None of these prophets could have even begun to accomplish what transpired without God’s help. They did take action, and they exercised faith, but the victory goes to God. When we truly have an eye single to the glory of God and surrender our ego, our desire to make things happen, our desire to be successful and the praise of man, and recognize that even with our best efforts we are still unprofitable servants (Mosiah 2), then God can open the windows of heaven to create a miracle far beyond our capacity.
Christ taught these principles in John 15, when he referred to himself as the vine, and us as the branches. A branch cut from the vine produces nothing. He even said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” We need to be connected to the Savior Jesus Christ, his strength, his wisdom, his power, and then all things become possible.
This is in stark contrast to Korihor’s philosphy of man succeeding because of his strength, intelligence, and management ability (Alma 30). In a nutshell Korihor outlined how the world teaches us to be successful; work hard, be smarter than your competition, overpower obstacles, believe you can do it, persevere and you will win. We do need to work and persevere, but what is we should be working at? Christ taught us to, “Take no thought what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink. Consider the lillies of the field; they toil not…. seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.” So we should be working, but most people are working really hard to secure for themselves what God said he would provide if we would seek to build his kingdom. If we consider how lillies grow, they are at ease. They don’t stress. They flow with the process of growing. They don’t worry or fear. We need to trust that as God has provided for the lillies, and the birds, and all of his creations, he will provide for us in ways we don’t even know about.
There is much more that could be said about all of this. But that is enough for now. Feel free to share your thoughts, I will probably return to this subject later.