Birth of a lifetime
Every great adventure begins with a single step. Sometimes that single step is obvious and easy to remember. Looking back, my adventure began with as single question derived from working with my patients. The field of psychology is notorious for vague responses to specific questions.
I became a psychologist to help people and people need specific answers to their life questions. People can’t improve or solve problems they don’t see or don’t understand. The most constant question an effective psychologist asks is why.
Unfortunately, most training in my field is tied to how and “behavior-based”. While behavior-based therapy plays a role in helping people solve life problems, it often remains superficial in its effectiveness. I cared about my patients. I cared about providing answers to legitimate questions. Those answers didn’t come from my training. They just weren’t there.
I decided to do my own research. My curiosity led me on a remarkable adventure beyond my wildest imagination. Where it led me was to a powerful understanding of why people do what they do. I discovered the very core of what motivates every human being from their driving core motivation that they bring within their innate souls from birth.
However, speaking of motivations—here’s my first obstacle to overcome. I am motivated by FUN. Doing this research while working full time and managing family life was challenging. I had discovered a powerful personality theory and now I wanted to go play. But clearly my work wasn’t done. Just when I thought my work was done, it had miles yet to go.
What followed was a bunch of stops and starts. I began the arduous ask of writing a book to convey my findings for the world. The last thing this guy wants to do was write a book. I actually told my colleagues at the university where I taught that if anyone of them wanted to write it, I would never claim it was my discovery. I was that determined to be done and free from the burden. My colleagues were determined for me to develop my character and finish what I started.
So I began putting down my insights on yellow pads. Computers were relatively new (yeah, I’m THAT old!). I wrote my book long hand. Three of my close RED colleagues offered to mentor me through the process and I wore each of them down until they finally gave up on me. I remember one of them would meet me at 7 a.m. to review what I had written and coach me. I called her at 11:30 p.m. to cancel the next morning. She called me back and said “You didn’t do your writing did you?!” I told her the truth and she said, “Come and we will talk about it.”
Eventually, I wore her out just as I had everyone else. We all knew I had discovered something very special, but I resisted completing the task. Ironically what made me do my work was my wife. She told me we would not be going out on our weekly date night if I didn’t finish a chapter every week. It’s crazy reflecting back on what caused me to get the book written. The very essence of what I had researched and discovered about personality was the ultimate motivation for me to finish. I wanted FUN and in order to have fun I had to finish my work first.
I would get up at 4 a.m. and write so we could go out on the weekends. My colleagues and friends continued to help me by editing my work. When I completed my writing, a great friend told me that it was such terrific content but in the worst shape he had ever seen laid out in a book. Consequently, he realigned my chapters such as you read them today with his sequential brilliance such that my work could be easily understood.
Just as I was completing my work, my wife and I were in a horrendous automobile accident that nearly took our lives. I suffered severe head trauma. While I was recovering, we decided to go to Hawaii to rest and recuperate. One week after we returned, I decided to review my book written on yellow pages for one final edit. I couldn’t find the book. My wife asked me when the last time was I saw it. I remembered that I had left it in a sports bag under a bench at the Los Angeles airport when we flew home from Hawaii.
I called the Delta agent and asked her to go outside and check to see if it was there. She wouldn’t leave her post but ultimately agreed and found it. This was before 9/11 and security was much less stressed than today. I still laugh when I tell this story suggesting the content wasn’t even worth someone stealing it before it was published.
I asked the agent if she could mail it to me, but my wife quickly intervened and told me I would get in the car and drive 45 minutes to pick it up myself. Sheesh! And the rest, as they say, is history.
Understand how others perceive you and how to play to your strengths rather than fall into patterns that limit your success or damage your reputation. This knowledge can better prepare you for career advancement opportunities now and far into the future.