From the archive: This is from my book Refuse to be Afraid.
“Self-help” is an entire category of book; an industry has grown around materials that give people advice about how to live a more successful life. I think the reason more people don’t find success is that they spend more time studying the principles than putting the principles into action.
One question I find frequently in such materials is: What would you do today, right here and right now, if you knew you could not fail? A corollary of the question: What would you do today, right here and right now, if money was no object?
The point of posing these questions is to remove obstacles to your thinking process. Too often creativity is held back by fear of failure or by the perception that a great deal of money is required to launch whatever endeavor you may be considering.
Therefore it’s a liberating and exciting exercise to set your mind free by imagining you can’t fail and/or that you can afford everything you need to succeed. But one more step is necessary to pop your dream over the top and into reality.
Imagine this: You’re not imagining things.
You cannot fail. Money is no object.
I need you to ponder that carefully, I need that to sink in, so I’m going to repeat it.
You cannot fail. Money is no object.
When you set your mind on a vision that fires up your dreams, it’s as if the forces of the universe align to make it happen. Try not to think too hard about why that’s true, but understand it is true.
It’s popular to refer to this as The Law of Attraction. Books have been written about it, most recently and famously The Secret. which brings to a modern audience the concepts Wallace Wattles described in The Science of Getting Rich. I am not sure I buy the idea that a creative universal stuff exists to form the future into what we will, but I do agree with Wattles that we are born to be creative, not competitors, and there’s plenty of stuff for everyone.
And I do know that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. How and why that happens is not necessarily important. Maybe it’s simply that people sense your enthusiasm and are drawn to help. Maybe it’s that catching the fire of your inner passion generates an energy that makes you do what’s necessary. Maybe God rewards the fact that your passion and energy finally align with how He designed you; yep, that’s how I envision it, but if you have issues with the idea of supernatural power, don’t dwell on it. The important thing is overcoming the illusion that you might fail.
Just know that dreams are contagious. When you set your mind on a vision that fires up your dreams, something makes it begin to happen. Understanding that you cannot fail ignites the dreams.
James Allen explained it best in his motivational classic As A Man Thinketh: “All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts. In a justly ordered universe, where loss of equipoise would mean total destruction, individual responsibility must be absolute. A man’s weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are his own, and not another man’s; they are brought about by himself, and not by another; and they can only be altered by himself, never by another. His condition is also his own, and not another man’s. His suffering and his happiness are evolved from within. As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.”
Allen set forth a truth that Henry Ford stated even more succinctly: Whether you think you’ll succeed or you think you’ll fail, you’re right.
Most people — if they even bother to go through the exercise and answer a question like “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” — feel a burst of creative energy, get in touch with their dreams and inner passion, and then step back and think, “Well, that was an interesting exercise. Too bad for all the reasons why I can’t do that stuff.”
The people who succeed find a way to stay in touch with that inner passion. They discover that it wasn’t just a mental exercise.
What would you do today, right now and right here, if you knew you could not fail? Hang onto that thought, because here comes the kicker: It’s true. Refuse to be afraid, free yourself and hang onto your dream, and you cannot fail. So you may as well get started.