A crew of sailors.

You Are Not Dumb or a Failure. You Are Misguided.

How you set yourself up to fail, and what to do instead.

“Can everyone just be quiet!” you shout over the roar of the crew. You know it’s not possible, but it seems as if everyone in your employ is jammed into the cabin alongside you. Their chatter is loud and incessant. “Captain!” one shouts, “Have you ever been to Hawaii? Let’s head there next!” Another chimes in, “Captain! It’s about the rooms. We should really paint them. The walls are looking shabby.” And still another says, “Captain! I don’t like this course you chartered. I think we should head back.” Your face gradients into an increasingly darker shade of red.

“Enough!” you shout again. “Everyone out!” You’ve had enough of their opinions, wishes, and “hot takes.” “Where’s my first mate?” you call out as the crew exits the room. “Yes, Captain,” the first mate says, sidling up to you amongst the passersby. “How is the engine coming along?” “Nearly fixed, Captain,” the first mate replies. “Good,” you say, “Have the lead engineer visit me as soon as possible.” The engineer appears before you, hearing their name over the mumbles of the still departing bodies.

“You rang?” the engineer asks. “Yes,” you say. “What’s the status of the engine?” The engineer replies, “Better than it has been. Though I could really use some supplies. I highly recommend stopping at the next available port.” You nod and dismiss the engineer and first mate to resume their duties. You update your course. Next step: port.


A needed rest

You stand on a hill. Barefoot, you feel the grass between your toes. You focus intently on the sensation, trying to feel each individual blade that pricks you. Your mind is quiet. All of your attention is focused on where your feet meet the ground. A sudden wave of fatigue washes over you. Your day’s been so busy, you feel as though you’ve had no time to rest: there was the meeting this morning, the report that’s dragged on for weeks, and the client that refuses to stop calling. He’s been more of a headache than it’s worth. Regardless, you feel exhausted.

You sit down. It’s a lovely day after all. And you work for yourself so no one will even notice. Might as well take advantage of the summer air. Your head reclines, resting contently against a tree. Shade covers your body. Your legs stretch out before you, pieces of wet grass stuck here and there. You look around at the wonder of the scene. You take a deep breath in, hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale. All the while, you imagine breathing in all the beauty that surrounds you.

It was just the rest you needed. The stress of the day has calmed down in your head. You feel like you can finally think clearly again. You spend the next few minutes picturing your dream business. Seeing yourself amongst a pool of employees that all look to you with respect and admiration. You see yourself smiling as you report the earnings for the month. You hear the applause, the cheers. While you do this, your head slowly reclines even more. Becoming distracted, the applause fades into an observation of the branches way above. Of the knots in the wood, the veins of the leaves, the shade it produces.

I could stare at this tree all day, but it’s been a while, you think, I should probably get back to work.


Ready to depart

“Captain,” the engineer says entering the room. “Yes?” you say. “We got everything we needed. Thank you. The ship is fueled and we are able to send and receive transmissions again. We should be all set to move forward without delay.” “Fantastic,” you reply. Your first mate stands within earshot, fidgeting with something on a nearby panel. You snap a few times and signal them to come over. “Captain,” the first mate says addressing you.

You say, “Let’s get moving. Hopefully that stop didn’t delay us too much. Are we ready to depart?” “Yes, Captain,” the first mate says. “Good. Everything in order with the crew?” you ask. “Yes, Captain.” “Great,” you say, walking over to your chair. You flip a switch and begin to talk. Your voice suddenly gets broadcast throughout the entire ship. “This is your Captain speaking,” you say. “Before we depart, I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am to each and every one of you. I may be the one behind the wheel, but without you, we’d be lost at sea. And for that, I wanted to say thank you. Our course has been chartered and, with your efforts, we will get there sooner than originally hoped for. Let’s get to it.”

You give the order and the ship begins to move. It’s not long before you’re back in the open waters. Already you see some good news ahead. Off in the distance are clear skies, calm waters, and an indication you’re moving in the right direction even faster than expected.


The seed sprouts

Your chair squeaks as you sit down at your desk. You weren’t away for all that long yet somehow your email has piled up. It’s mostly junk. However, one email stands out as you scroll. The subject says, “Interested in your services.” That’s not a big deal though. You’ve been getting those emails more and more lately. A sign you’re doing something right. What’s strange is the name of the sender. It says it’s from Oakland Pine. It was just moments before that you were laying in the grass, staring up at the tree that you so admired. A pine tree.

What a coincidence, you think. You have more pressing matters, but you have a feeling about this one. You open their email. It’s the standard “We’d love to work with you… assuming the price is right,” kind of schtick. They included a phone number in the email signature in case you wanted to reach out. You do. Not stopping for fear that you might falter taking action, you type in the number and start to call.

The line rings a few times. You panic, thinking you’ll have to leave a voicemail unprepared. Then the line picks up, “Oakland Pine. How can I help you?” You sigh with relief. You always prefer speaking with a person over a machine. After some back and forth, you learn the company has been wanting to reach out for a long time. They even were about to submit a form on your site a few months back but wanted to do more research on you first. They’re sure you’re the right fit. They want to hire you for your services. ASAP.

After haggling over the price, you agree to the terms and send over a contract. It gets signed and returned immediately. They talked you down from where you would’ve liked to have been, but it’s not a big deal. In fact, it won’t matter much at all. They’re a huge get. You smile to yourself as you send the first invoice. It might be time to think about expanding.


Author’s Note

Imagine the captain of the ship is your conscious mind. The crew is your subconscious. As the captain, you can direct the crew as desired. And the crew, in turn, is tasked with bringing those orders to fruition. In reality, we do this all the time without realizing it. You say, “This isn’t going to work,” and then are pleasantly disappointed when you fail. “I told you so!” you gloat to your roommate while stuffing your face with sadness ice cream.

But when you become aware of this phenomenon, you can take advantage of it. Instead of unknowingly issuing commands of destruction, you can align them with your desires.

In any shortcoming, you may feel like a fool, a failure, or a dummy, but when you realize the role your mind plays, it stands to reason your biggest mistake is ignorance, not effort or intelligence. Your fault is that you applied a misguided understanding of how you thought you needed to do things. The norm is that to achieve your goals you must suffer. You must struggle and cry and despair. But what if that notion is actually self-fulfilling? By telling yourself you must struggle, you cause yourself to struggle. Yet what if you did the opposite?


Learn more about this nonsense

I know this sounds silly. I know this sounds lame. As someone who poo-pooed these ideas for years, I know first-hand how hard your eyes must be rolling right now. However, there is something to this. I’ve been experimenting with these concepts over the last eight months. And well… things have happened. Good things. Positive things. Things that are too random and too wonderful to call chance. I’m still learning and reading and applying, but I felt it my responsibility to share what I’ve learned so far. Particularly as a parable so as easier to digest.

If this article has piqued your interest and you want to dive further down this rabbit hole, I recommend the following books:

  • The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy: for understanding the captain and the crew.
  • The Secret by Rhonda Byrne: to learn about directing the crew.
  • The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield: for learning how to stop for supplies.
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle: to learn how to clear everyone out so that you can speak to the best person in that moment.

Want to hear more from me?