“Dad, how many Santa Clauses are there in the world?”
Here’s the backstory. Since I had my 5 yr old, I have been dreading the one day that I have to finally break it to him that Santa isn’t real. Growing up in an immigrant household, there was no concept of Santa Claus. It just wasn’t practical. My parents never went through the pretense that there could ever be a fat old guy sliding down our chimney to deliver presents. For free. So they never had to break it to me, because I never had the luxury of believing in Santa Claus right from the get-go.
Fast forward 40 years later. When my son was 3, he once asked me if Santa Claus was real. What you have to know about me is that I vowed never to lie to my son, hence dreading the Santa Claus question. But one pensive Saturday afternoon, a 3-year-old, while playing with his lego dinosaurs asked me,
“Mama, is Santa Claus real?”
I thought for a moment, and replied, “Well, he’s more of an idea. He is like the idea of gift giving at Christmas time because it’s a warm and kind thing to do, especially for the holidays.”
I never knew if he actually got my message. But throughout the next two years, I would periodically test to see if the myth had somehow dispelled itself, saving me from the trouble.
“Honey, do you think Santa Claus real?”
The answer came back: “Yes. He’s real. I saw him at the mall. With Charlotte and Agata. (Our nanny)”
It was almost as if the more I tested his faith, the more I ended up nurturing his conviction in old Kris Kringle. Now he takes every opportunity to convince me that Santa is real with the empirical evidence he’s collected.
“Mama, if you want to meet Santa Claus, all you have to do is go to a mall. Any mall. Then you walk through the door, and you walk through the door (because there are two), and find the line-up and stand in line. Then you can talk to Santa.”
This is how he has added to the theory of Santa in that there has to be multiple Santa Claus’ all over the world, because how can he possibly be at every mall at the exact same time?
I feel like this type of thinking will serve him well in the future: the more he gets questioned, the more convicted he becomes in his beliefs. That to me, is a fundamental mindset in making it in the entrepreneurial world. Scratch that. That’s a fundamental mindset in becoming a confident person in any profession, regardless your employment status.
The Naked Truth About Making it in the World
To know yourself, and to know without a shadow of doubt of your strengths and your abilities is core foundation of being a self-confident individual who can serve society.
There are way too many of us who are exactly the opposite. We forgo opportunities. We don’t even bother applying for the position that is the logical next step in our career. That annoying little voice in our head keeps bullying us into succumbing to the status quo.
“What makes you think you’re good enough?”
“What if you don’t get make it?”
“There are a ton of people who are better than you, smarter than you, smell better than you.” “Why would you even bother trying?”
I’ve been in that boat before. Occasionally, I return to that boat. But over years of personal development, plain old getting old, and generally giving less of a flying frack, this mental dialog now appears where doubt and retreat once stood:
“What’s the worst that could happen?”
Would I die?
Would I get fired?
Would I catch chlamydia?
Related: The Funny Thing About Motivation
It ends off with “Don’t be ridiculous.” … because the answers to these three questions are:
“Not in the likeliest.”
Really here’s the most likely two outcomes:
I would either be successful. Or I would not be successful. And in the latter case, I would find myself in the exact same boat as I was before. But, I would gain something from it. I would learn from it. With all this upside, and very little downside, what’s the harm in going for it?
That my friends, is the mental dialog that has given my sail the gust of wind that it needed to advance to every next step.
It’s Human Nature to Kill Possibility
Eight years ago, I took the Landmark Forum. It’s an intense transformational personal development course series. Its intent is to help you wrap your mind around whatever mental barrier you have, in order to achieve what you want in life. I remember the facilitator explaining how humanity handles progress:
Whenever a new idea comes to life, even if it’s an amazing idea, humanity goes through these three responses:
- They are first violently opposed to it.
- They will do everything they can to shut it down.
- If they can’t shut it down, eventually, they finally accept it as new truth
Think of all the world’s disrupters in the last thousand years: Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Galileo, Nelson Mandela, to name but a few. Galileo was imprisoned for his discovery that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe (and was not flat). In fact, the sun was. And the planets, including Earth were revolving around the sun. Nelson Mandela was spent a third of his life on Robbin Island because of his new ideal to fight apartheid. Jesus Christ, to put in a few words, was persecuted for his new ideal that was very anti-government at the time. And well… we all know how that ended.
All of these individuals had a new ideal. All of them disrupted the status quo. All of these folks were persecuted, mostly to the death.
It’s our human nature to kill possibility in order to protect the status quo.
Believing is Seeing
The vast majority of people on the face of this planet operate with the philosophy of “Seeing is Believing.” I really think it’s with the intent to manage their expectations. They protect themselves in case they don’t end up making it, they figure it couldn’t be real after all.
On the other hand, the one thing that all of these catalytic individuals had in common is that they knew that believing is seeing. The people who changed the world are the people who saw an opportunity when few others did. They saw the vision of how they can transform the future for the better. Such is the progress of humanity, despite our best efforts to kill possibility.
Last night, I was watching clip that was floating around Facebook. Someone was interviewing Elon Musk on Tesla and his SpaceX venture. In its infancy stages, it ran significant risks of going bankrupt. No one said that it could be done. When he had the idea to fly civilians to space, everyone around him – I mean everyone – rained on his parade. Poured. Even Neil Armstrong and people who originally inspired Musk to embark on this venture spoke out against him.
We don’t need to finish the video to know how it ends. Telsa hits the markets. They make billions. SpaceX is close to being ready to transport people to space. Now, other companies to pursue the same dream: Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Naveen Jain’s MoonExpress, of course, possibly even others.
Whatever you dream of doing, be it starting space expedition company, or even becoming your own boss and calling your own shots, the belief of possibility is crucial to get out of the starting gates. At every possible step, you will be tested for your faith in your idea. You will face adversity. People around you will kill possibility because that is what we are designed to do for protection. But that’s no excuse not to pursue.
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