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9 Things You Simply MUST DO to SUCCEED in LOVE and LIFEA Psychologist Probes the Mystery of Why Some Lives Really Work and Others Don't
By HENRY CLOUD
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Dr. Henry Cloud
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDÉJÁ VU PEOPLE
I do not remember when it first happened, but I do remember the feeling. It was like being in an episode of The X-Files. Or, more accurately, a strong déjà vu. I would be talking with someone, either in therapy or a consulting role, or even in a business situation, and I would think, Wait a minute ... I've met this person before. I would try to remember where, and quickly I would realize that I could never have met that person in any other context. The feeling was an illusion. I would chalk it up to lack of sleep and move on.
But the experience kept repeating itself. And each time it had the same feel. It seemed like a moment in which time almost stopped. It always had that ring of I know you from somewhere.
As this sort of thing kept happening, I began to pay more attention to it. I had to know what was going on. I did not believe in people living past lives, but at certain times, certain people would seem so familiar that I was all but convinced that I knew them from somewhere-a different time and place. At least they reminded me of someone I had known before. But who could it be?
Then one day I noticed something. I was working on a business deal, and a particular situation came up. One of my friends in the deal said he would take care of the thing we were all discussing. He offered a way of handling it, and we moved on to the next issue. Everyone else at the table paid little attention, except to notice the fact that he had a good idea. But I had that same feeling again. Why does this seem so familiar? I asked myself. Then I realized that I did not know this man from somewhere else, nor did he remind me of anyone from my past. I had no familiarity with him other than what I had acquired during the time we had been friends and partners in this deal. What I felt had nothing to do with him as a person, or with anyone else for that matter. It had to do with what he did. It was the way he handled that situation. That was what I had seen before! It was what he did that seemed to stand out as familiar.
I had seen someone else do that same thing only a week before. I thought back to the previous situation. It was true: the man I was with at the moment and the person I had been with the week before, in similar circumstances and facing a similar dilemma, had responded in exactly the same way.
It was not who they were that gave me the sense of déjà vu. In fact, it was not really even the specifics of the actions they took and the solutions they proposed. Such details were unimportant to the larger principle I was observing. My feelings of déjà vu came from my growing sense that certain kinds of people, given certain circumstances, always face and resolve situations in the same way.
Then, I went on a little memory trip, and the mystery started to unravel a bit. The previous week was not the first time I had seen someone do what this business partner had done. I had seen other people in similar situations who had done exactly what my friend had done. And they had done it in a very similar manner. It was as if all these people were the same person, in a way.
But here is the interesting thing, and the thing that added to the confusion: all these people were very different from one another. They had different backgrounds, different personalities, different kinds of lives, different economic circumstances, and different abilities. But, they were the same in that they shared this particular way of handling life. And that commonality, I realized, was the déjà vu I kept experiencing. I was not encountering the same person over and over again; I was encountering a way of performing-a way of doing things that was so profound, and at the same time so simple and subtle, that it both stood out and was concealed at the same time.
Realization Number One
As I reflected upon the people who possessed this one pattern in common, something else became evident: they were all successful in life.
Now, admittedly, there are a lot of definitions of success, and I am not trying to tell you which definition you should adopt. What I am saying here is that all of these people in my déjà vu experience tended to accomplish success in love and life in the ways that they defined success. They moved forward. They did not stay stuck, repeating the same mistakes over and over again. They reached their goals and found what they were looking for in life. There must be a connection, I thought, with their success and this particular pattern of behavior that I kept observing.
I realized that I was not looking at a person; I was looking at a pattern. A way of behaving. Now that I recognized the pattern, I decided to look for it even more. A path that successful people took, given a certain set of choices.
This was realization number one for me:
The answer to "Who is this person?" was not a person at all. It was a way.
Realization Number Two
I thought I had pretty much solved the mystery. I just figured I had stumbled on some sort of personality type that superseded other clinical ways of categorizing people. I was recognizing a "successful" personality type. I could spot him or her by this way of behaving I had begun to identify.
Remember, though, "successful" in the way that I define it does not necessarily mean "successful" in the ways the world often defines it. It does not necessarily mean becoming wealthy, although some of the people in my déjà vu experiences were wealthy-even extremely so. Neither does it mean famous, though some of them were that as well. Nor does it mean monstrously accomplished and at the tops of their fields, although many were. I am not defining success by these symbolic measurements. I mean simply that these people were getting from life what they had decided they wanted. This could be in the realm of vocation, relationships, spiritual attainment, or otherwise. Life was working for them.
Then something else happened. I do not know why-maybe because I was no longer confused by the mystery. Whatever it was, I began to notice that, as I watched these people, I had the same sense of déjà vu but with a twist: there were other behaviors these people had in common in addition to the ones I had first witnessed.
I began to identify several "ways" of behaving and responding to situations that successful people had in common-ways that they handled themselves, their relationships, their work, and their lives.
Realization number two was that there was no identifiable personality type common to these successful people. Rather, it was this:
People who found what they were looking for in life seemed to do a certain set of things in common.
There were several identifiable ways that these people "did life," and for the most part, they all practiced them.
Realization Number Three
Now it was getting really interesting. I was becoming a researcher, student, sleuth, and voyeur all in one. Also, I was noticing some of these ways emerging in my own journey as a person as well. Over the years I had seen myself learn, change, and grow in many areas, though I still had some distance to go in others. Even though in no way did I have it all wired, the ways of doing life I saw working for others worked for me as well. They just seemed to be true.
Looking at these people and at my own life brought a further question: where did one learn these things?
Did these people have parents who operated in these patterns and modeled them for them?
Did they just internalize them from their families of origin (a proven psychological possibility), and really were no smarter or wiser than the rest of the pack?
Did they study wisdom material and discover these patterns as part of a diligent search for personal growth and success?
Did they get them from therapy? Were they results of other growth steps they had taken and goals they had achieved (an interesting theoretical dilemma that we will touch upon later)?
Had mentors taught these ways to them as adults?
Had their spiritual development and enlightenment made the patterns available to them?
Did they learn them from reading books or attending seminars?
How did these people discover these principles? That was the operative question. What did they all have in common?
Surprisingly, I could not find any common source where all of these people downloaded the software on how to be so effective. They were from such diverse backgrounds that such a possibility was unthinkable. I would observe one man from a wonderful family who seemed to grow up doing the things I was looking at because his parents lived out those ways so clearly. Then I'd notice a woman who followed the same ways despite coming from a totally whacked-out family where her parents did not practice any of them.
There were others who had a history of not living out these patterns, then through therapy or some sort of growth path, adopted them along the way. And they performed them as effectively as those who had seemed to acquire them naturally. Others had to learn these patterns to survive emotionally, relationally, or vocationally. Then there were the "unconscious competent" types who had no idea what they were doing or why; they just did life this way and things went well for them.
After looking at these people over and over again, it was clear to me that they got these principles from different places-family, mentors, therapy, seeking, spiritual awakening, disaster, and so on. There was no consistent pattern for acquiring them that I could put my teeth into. But that said something even greater than if I had found a special history they all shared. Since there was nothing in common about these people's backgrounds and makeup, genes or histories, race, personality type, economic background, or IQ, these patterns of success do not reside in any one type of person. These patterns transcend all backgrounds, talents, and limitations.
Thus, they exist on their own and are available to all of us. They are not things that one person "possesses" and another does not, like a talent. Instead, we can all learn these patterns that work every time and lead to better lives. Here was my realization number three:
The truth is that no one is excluded. If you were not born with these patterns in place, you can learn them.
My belief is that once you do, life will never be the same.
My Déjà Vu Friends
Over the years I have encountered many people who gave me the déjà vu experience I described above. Even though I now realize that I never saw these people before, I often call them my déjà vu friends or déjà vu people because of having witnessed their successful "ways" over and over again. When I refer to my déjà vu friend or a déjà vu person in the following chapters, I am referring to those persons who practice those ways and enjoy the success that they bring.
I will introduce you to several of these déjà vu people and describe in detail the behaviors that made them successful. You will learn, as I did, why their successful ways of doing life often seem at first to be hidden. Meeting these people will flush their working principles into the open where you can see them in action and adopt them to achieve your own success in life and love.
Excerpted from 9 Things You Simply MUST DO to SUCCEED in LOVE and LIFE by HENRY CLOUD Copyright © 2007 by Dr. Henry Cloud. Excerpted by permission.
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