What does it take to live the life of your dreams? What sets the “superstar set” apart from the rest of us?
I was doing some reading, recently, in an attempt to better understand the answers to these timeless questions.
Some really sharp authors were discussing the unique personality characteristics that seem to be common among those serial success stories. And what stands in the way of others.
One author wrote that what sets the super-successful apart from everyone else is a powerful sense of curiosity.
Another author wrote about how fear cripples people before they even start to pursue their dreams.
Yet a third author wrote that people fail to learn life’s most important lessons, or to even enjoy life’s most precious moments, because they do not have an open mind.
I sat for a while thinking about what these authors had written. I had heard it all before, of course. I had even written about it myself. But the combination of the three triggered some very old memories. Memories that I never imagined that I would access again.
I remembered something that I had learned in Sunday School.
You see, when I was a kid our family wasn’t overly religious, but my parents would occasionally drag me to church. Especially when we were visiting my grandparents.
The little kid’s Sunday School class at my grandparent’s small country church was run by one of the local parents who seemed to have no idea what he was doing. Even I, a little kid, could see that. We spent most of class coloring sheets of paper with Bible scenes on it.
Perhaps you had a similar experience when you were a child?
Anyway, I don’t remember much from those classes, but one thing that guy talked about did stick in my head for some reason.
It was that business about people becoming a little kid in order to go to heaven. It came from that Bible verse where Jesus of Nazareth is quoted as saying, “Except ye … become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
In those days I thought that this quote was weird. “Old people go to heaven, not kids,” I thought. Then when I got older and more rebellious, I started to find Jesus’ statement offensive.
As a teen and young adult I saw this phrase as a command not to doubt the church, but to just swallow whatever they shoveled at us without question, just like a little kid might do in order to please his parents. We were supposed to do this to “please God.” “How did they know what God wanted?” I thought. To me, these people were simply asking all of us to submit to their rule.
You can imagine how all of this came across to a newly-liberated teenager. It was just this sort of attempt to control my burgeoning mind that helped to destroy my youthful confidence in organized religion.
Yesterday, however, the memory of this Biblical phrase again popped into my mind. But this time, it took on a completely new meaning to me.
What could Jesus have possibly meant when he spoke those words?
Was it just a call for everybody to be naive and ignorant? To surrender our freedom to others who knew better? That doesn’t sound like Jesus the rebel to me.
Then I realized the correlation. It was an Ah Ha! moment. What these authors were writing about was the same thing that Jesus spoke of over two thousand years ago.
It turns out that to find true success and freedom, you need to approach your life as a little kid might.
How can this be?
First, approach your life with unbridled curiosity, or you’ll never get far.
It is curiosity that pulls you into the unknown when others hold back. It is curiosity that separates the super successful from the also-rans. Kids are curious about everything. But as we get older, we start to pull back, and ignore much of what we see.
Second, you must approach life in spite of your fear.
Fear rules most of us adults. Kids have every reason to be afraid, too. They don’t really know anything. But they plow on, in the face of that unknown and with a sparkle in their eye, as they discover what the rest of us take for granted.
Third, kids are completely open and non-judgmental. So should you be.
Kids expect diversity. Practically everyday they discover something they have never seen or known before. So they come to expect such discovery as the norm.
Contrast this childish openness with us older folks, who have already created our own mental model of the way the world is, or at least as we think it should be. New information just confuses things for us adults, so we often reject it before it is even considered.
Every day we adults see the same things that our children see, but we don’t notice them. And that’s the difference between us.
Kids are still discovering life. Adults think that the discovery is over.
I think that Jesus of Nazareth was trying to say that unless we all approach our lives with wide-eyed curiosity, move past our instinctive fear and accept what we find without prejudice, we can never really live. His statement was never about surrendering to the rule of other people.
Jesus was talking about surrendering to what is. Discovering it. Celebrating it. And reveling in it.
I believe that this attitude toward life is the key to success in all of your endeavors, and in life as well.
This approach to life is the key, not to unquestioning slavery, but to unchained freedom.
Thank you, Jesus.
All the best,