By Eric Schumacher:
He was 18 years old, and here he was standing outside of a nightclub having been talked into trying to fake his way inside, even though he was underage.
“When you get to the door, just pretend that you lost your ID. Tell them you’re 21 years old. You look older than me, for crying out loud. You’re an actor, you can pull it off,” said Hank, his 21-year-old friend who’d promised that this would be an exciting night of meeting attractive, sophisticated women and dancing with them, drinking, and maybe even a one-night stand if someone likes you enough.
In addition to his full, rich mustache, the 18 year old had a general demeanor that seemed out of place in an 18 year old. In fact, no one ever believed him when he said he was only 18. This should be easy, and untold wonders lay on the other side of the door to the nightclub, just past the huge, very tough-looking bouncer.
His friends presented their IDs (one of which was fake), and their hands were stamped. His friends looked at him expectantly from the threshold of the night club. He looked into the eyes of the very mean-looking bouncer, who glared back. The 18 year old opened his wallet, ready to feign surprise that this ID was missing.
He couldn’t do it.
“I’m 18,” he blurted out to the bouncer as his friends gave him a horrified look. It seemed that there would be no exciting night and no one-night stand with a sophisticated woman for him. No drinking and dancing. In fact, by the way the bouncer was looking at him, it looked like he might be about to experience a whole new world of hurt. . .
We’d all like to believe the world is a fair and safe place where good, honest hard work, being respectful, humble, and compassionate will lead us to success in life. What we see every day, however, is a continuous stream of high-profile, arrogant corporate moguls; corrupt politicians; dictators; gang leaders; con artists; hackers; out-of-control sports figures; and out of touch with reality, reality TV stars doing a series of the most horrible things for which there seem to be no consequences. In fact, they actually seem to get pretty much everything they want in life.
They even seem to have better clothes. I mean, in Star Wars, look at the stormtroopers versus the rebel soldiers; the Empire’s stylin’!
So do you have to be a total dirt bag in order have even the tiniest bit of success in life?
Yes the world is a difficult place. Yes it takes a great deal of savvy and effort and a driven, sometimes competitive, spirit to survive and thrive in it. We all know that sometimes the rules are unjust and need to be broken.
But before we can declare that being a total, heartless jerk is the way to go, let’s take a step back. We need to ask ourselves what we really want and why we want it.
My kung-fu Grandmaster and Master both often said, “The true martial artist works so hard on the inner self because he or she knows that it is all too easy to become an efficient killing machine, with nothing inside worth defending.”
When I began studying martial arts, I think on some level I just wanted to be thought of as powerful so that I would be less likely to be subject to the derision of others and because I was very afraid of physical conflict. I’m not exactly a huge guy. Likewise, as an actor and a filmmaker, I was always in love with the art itself, but I also had a desire to be famous, which I believe was motivated in part by a desire to be taken seriously so that I could feel good about myself. A desire to prove that I could be loved. Ultimately, what I wasn’t aware of was that I was working to achieve things out of fear. And when fear is your primary motivator, almost anything seems like a reasonable way to attain your goals.
You might try, in fact, to falsely build yourself up by crushing others. You might justify almost anything to get rid of that terrible feeling of fear. But I’ve got news for you, if you don’t get to know your true motivators and live from a place of truth, those fears will never quite disappear. In fact, even if you attain the goals you set out to attain, you may find that:
You never know if there’s anyone you can actually trust.
You never know if anyone actually loves you.
You might live in a constant state of fear that others will discover the methods you used to attain success and publicize it.
You might wake up one day to find that everything you have lied and cheated and destroyed others to obtain wasn’t what you really wanted after all and that by losing the security that such ill-gotten wealth has gained you, you would be entirely vulnerable to those who hate you, who may be numerous.
In other words, you may be trapped in fear anyway.
In my martial arts path, after some deep introspection, I discovered a true love for the art of martial and a joy in pushing myself beyond limits and in teaching others to be empowered through that training. I found it rarely necessary to defend myself physically or emotionally. When someone doesn’t look like a target, they are rarely mistaken for one.
As an actor and filmmaker, I learned that by being excellent at my art, true to my own artistic instincts, and supportive to my fellow artists, I got more work and tended to have a much better time doing the work. I realized that fame is something that’s useful and necessary to give one greater options in their career and to create more opportunities to share one’s art in ways that might also be appreciated by an audience. The more I focused on those things for those reasons, the more my career started to grow in ways I hadn’t anticipated. Slowly but surely, I was starting to reach an audience who even liked a lot of my work.
So what can you do to keep yourself on a path of true success?
Know yourself: Really look within and get to know you. Observe yourself. This means that you will actually be fulfilled when you attain your goals because you are achieving what you really, in the depths of your soul, want.
Empowering Others as Part of Your Pathway to Success: Never tear others down. Then, people will actually like you and, as you help others to achieve their dreams, they might even hire you someday.
Be a Strategist, and a Visionary: Rather than wasting a lot of time figuring out how to beat others down and how to destroy your competition, find creative ways to succeed by doing something that is beneficial to others and likewise beneficial to you and that fills a gap or solves a problem in a creative way. Use a good strategy based on giving something rather than taking.
Reassess Things Regularly and Be Grateful: As you grow and mature in your awareness of your own desires and the motivations for them, your goals will naturally change. Embrace those changes and adapt quickly. Be grateful for every accomplishment and every friend in your life and every moment you have that includes them and the pursuit of your dreams and, bam, you’ll have a little more fulfillment.
Now, back to that nightclub. Of course the 18 year old was me. After I told the bouncer that I was 18, he pulled me out of the line and said to me:
“You were honest with me, and I respect that. I’m going to let you in the nightclub. You will buy at least two nonalcoholic drinks, and you will tip the serving staff very well. You will not tell anyone what your age is, and believe me you will not break any of these rules because I’m far worse than the police if you betray me. Do you hear me?”
“Yes, sir,” I said.
I joined my friends in the nightclub in our search for an exciting experience. I followed his rules to the letter. However, when I got inside and looked around, I had a revelation. I hated nightclubs. I hated the whole pick-up scene. I wasn’t a fan of dancing unless it was part of a performance as an actor. I didn’t like alcohol much. I didn’t want a one-nighter. I’m a nerd for crying out loud and a hopeless romantic. What I wanted was a deep conversation about something nerdy with a very nice nerdy, artsy girl, probably including some romantic poetry. Maybe a sonnet. I left early.
Later, I married a nerdy, artsy girl, and we don’t go to nightclubs unless I'm performing or a friend is performing at one. Sometimes we read sonnets.
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Now go do something amazing!
The text of this article © 2018 Eric Schumacher
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