Summary: “You are in control of your own destiny.”
I started True Potential Publishing to address how we define success and human potential in this culture. Before founding the publishing company I had been in business for several years and had been in full time sales for years before that. As a young, energetic, thinking salesman I gravitated toward books and audio tapes about how to become more successful in my career and in life.
All of the success literature I read and listened to had pretty much the same message. “You are in control of your own destiny.” Their action steps were pretty similar as well:
1. I deserve and I can accomplish anything I can imagine.
2. I will determine that nothing will get in the way accomplishing my goal.
3. I will make a plan for my life.
4. I will execute my plan – every day, every week, every month, every year – until I accomplish my goal.
5. I will look in the mirror every morning and tell myself, “I am good.” “I am worthy.” “I deserve success.” “I can accomplish anything.”
6. Putting myself first will enable me to help others later.
See a common theme here? The words “I” and “me” come up a lot don’t they? I am in control, I decide, I make it happen, I deserve it, I am the center of my own universe; it’s all about me.
As I studied I could see the self-serving and self-absorbed focus of this kind of success literature. I had been raised in a Christian home, believed that Christ was my savior and down inside knew that there had to be something a little more to success in life than “I” and “me.” So I went looking for the success guys who claimed to be, or at least hinted at being, Christians. But I was disappointed. What I found was the same old “I” philosophy dressed in “God” verbiage.
If you dress a pig in a tutu you haven’t turned it into a ballerina; it’s just a pig in a tutu. You can’t make a carnal philosophy holy by dressing it in religious words or preaching it from a pulpit. No matter how you dress it up, it’s still a pig in a tutu.
I had to completely dump everything I had learned about “success” and “human potential” and begin again from an entirely different perspective – God’s.
The ancient Greeks came up with the idea that the earth is the center of the universe and all celestial bodies - the other planets, the sun and the stars revolve around it. This belief persisted for a long time; nearly two thousand years.
The idea that the universe revolves around the earth made sense to pretty much everyone; it seemed true from where they were standing. The sun came up in the east every morning and went down in the west. Likewise the moon rose and set in an arc across the sky. The stars, from their observation, rotated around them in the heavens. From their perspective, everything seemed to rotate in its orbit around the earth.
It was also evident to them that the earth didn’t move. If a man jumped off the ground he landed in the same spot he jumped from - not two feet away. If the earth traveled in an orbit around the sun, they reasoned, it would be moving so fast that surely everyone would be flung into space. The earth didn’t move, therefore it must be the center of the universe.
Another reason the idea of the earth being the center of the universe hung around so long was that it just appealed to folks. The earth being the center of the universe and man being the dominant inhabitant of the earth meant, by extension, that man was also the center of the universe. Thinking this way puts me, being the man I’m most closely acquainted with, in essence, at the center of the universe. What a nice thought!
Until Copernicus came along in 1514 and proposed that the earth really revolves around the sun and isn’t the center of the universe after all. Drat!
Well, today’s humanist philosophy and most success and human potential gurus prefer the old view; being the center of the universe works well for them and they’d like to stay that way.
Problem is, as Copernicus found out, we’re not. Not only is the earth not at the center of cosmos, I’m not at the center of my own little universe – although I tend to act like it sometimes.
So if I’m not at the center of the universe and fulfilling my purpose and achieving my potential as a human being isn’t about me, me, me … what is it about? As I said, I had to throw out everything I learned about success, purpose and human potential from the “gurus” and go back square one.