How are you? It’s midnight here in Taiwan and I’m going to sleep very soon but first, I must share an important message with you. I can’t leave this until tomorrow because this is something that must be said now.
A few years ago, I was a big fan of a dude called Jordan Belford. I guess you know him. You’ve seen his biopic movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio – “The Wolf of Wall Street”. Funny comedy, wasn’t it?
Well, I knew about Belford long before that movie made tens of millions of people around the globe laugh. I’ve read his biography that he wrote in prison and I was studying his sales techniques for my own benefit.
Now, I don’t like him that much because at the essence, he’s not representing the person I want to be. Sure, if I want to become extremely rich, Belford is the person to follow but if you haven’t got the memo, I’m interested in contribution more than I’m interested in money.
However, there’s something that he said that resonated with me.
“The only thing that stands between where you are and where you want to be is the bullsh*t story you say to yourself.”
This statement alone is worth for me more than his entire sales course and everything he ever wrote.
But before I explain, let me share with you a short episode from my traveling life.
The year was 2016. I was in Budapest, Hungary. It was a sunny spring day. I was happy. The last few days had been amazing. My round the world trip started wonderfully. Just one day before I’ve spent my day with this gorgeous French girl. If this was traveling, I was wondering why I haven’t done this before.
My uncle gives me a call. He invites me to have lunch with some friends of his. I accept. I get there. There’s a huge group. They don’t speak English. They speak Hungarian. Yet, we get along. I eat soup and smile a lot.
Then one of the guys ask me …
“Do you want to go paragliding with me tomorrow?”
I look at him and I say yes.
First of all, I had no idea what paragliding means. Second, he was a stranger I’ve never met before and that I was trusting by proxy. Yet, I haven’t gave up on my normal life to only go to museums. I wanted adventure and excitement – here it was.
The second day, a car picks me up. We go to the mountainside. During the 45 minute trip there, I had mixed feelings. What the hell am I’m doing? My travel insurance doesn’t even cover this thing.
Yet, at the same time, while I could have said no, a part of me was feeling like a kid waiting for Christmas. My inner child was jumping up and down … up and down … we’re going paragliding, hooray!
I get to the top of the mountain. It felt cold. While I had a leather jacket on me, I felt like it was almost winter.
“Okay Razvan … your last chance to say no. Either do it now or go with it”.
The old Razvan would have said no. The old Razvan would have thought about the upside and downside, calculate the probability of something going bad and folding his cards.
But the old Razvan disappeared in the moment that I’ve crossed the border. I’ve got strapped in. My trainer strapped himself in too. He instructed me to run really fast towards the edge.
Yes. He told me that we’re going to jump a cliff that was about 100 meters above ground.
He looks at me.
I show him thumbs up. We run. We jump. We fly. We do this for about 45 minutes. It feels amazing. While I was freezing, my body was filled with adrenaline. All my fear, all my worries were gone. What I was feeling was pure bliss. No drug in this world could give this feeling. I was nervous, I was scared but I was also alive.
And all of this happened for a simple basic reason.
I created a new story for myself. I wasn’t the conservative, intellectual guy who liked to play it safe, as I was for most of my life.
Instead, I was an adventure seeker. I saw myself differently. I created a different narrative for my life. The story I’ve told to myself was that of Indiana Jones and not of a shy person.
I’ve seen this happen many times in life.
You see, soon I’ll have a breakthrough. It may be tomorrow or next week but I can feel it. That feeling of achievement is almost electrifying the air. When I’ll have this breakthrough I won’t be smarter than now. I won’t work harder. I won’t be better looking or more charismatic. I won’t live in a different place.
Only one thing will change – the story of my life. How I see my life. The world will be just the same as it always was but my story of my world will change.
Reality and how we interpret reality are two different things. Things happen. These are facts. But what makes us happy or sad are the interpretation of these facts.
Are we heroes going through tests and challenges in order to ascend to our next version or simply bad things happen in life and we’re the victims of them?
Are we learning important lessons of wisdom through our failures or we’ve simply failed because we were not good enough?
Are we trying new things and giving ourselves a chance for something better or are we taking risks and we’re coquette with risk and failure?
Think of a movie – something like James Bond.
What’s his story?
It is a story of heroism and courage for the greater good or a story of a fool used by the government? It is a story of him preventing evil or a story of risking his life and not changing anything?
Now what’s your story?
If your life would be a movie – would it have inspirational, epic music in the background and the feeling of Braveheart? Or would it be a drama with struggles against a destiny that can’t be bent and that is written and which won’t end nice?
Is your story of a person that dances through life, through failures, through pain and pleasure and gets to the happy ending while enjoying the ride … or a Greek tragedy where you can’t win, no matter what you do?
That’s your story and as Mr. Belford said, the only thing that stands between where you are now and where you want to be is the bullsh*t story that you’re telling to yourself.
The truth is that you’re the director. You decide what the movie’s going to be. You decide if your life is a divine comedy, a painful drama, a thriller movie, a suspense movie where you never know what happens or anything in between.
You’re also the scriptwriter and the actor. There’s no role defined for you. You’re not your country, your city, your family, your job or your school. You’re whoever or whatever you want to be. If I ask you “who are you?”, then don’t answer me “I’m Matthew, a CPA”. Answer me “I’m a human being going through life seeking happiness” because this is the only answer that makes sense.
You write the story of your life.
One of the most inspiring human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of studying is Viktor Frankl. Chances are that you know who he is. If you don’t, he was a professor of psychology who was taken, together with his family and relatives into the Nazi death camps. These camps were extermination machines – killing Jews and under “undesirables” during World War Two.
He was his family die. He saw everyone he loved die. He was humiliated. He never knew if he’s going to live one more day. This man was in more pain that you or I can ever imagine.
Yet, he built a story in which all of this made sense. He decided to stay alive. A man that lost everything doesn’t have many reasons to do so. However, he decided that he’ll stay alive so he can teach the world about the horrific things that happened here so they never happen again in human history.
This story kept him going when many gave up. He formed the school of logo-therapy (logo means reason in Ancient Greek) and he accomplished his goal. He could have simply accepted his fate, that of a dead man that is going to die at the hand of a power hungry monster. He didn’t. He decided to survive to tell the story.
And that’s how we change. Skills matter. Circumstances matter. But what makes the biggest difference is when we change the story about our life, when we change the narrative of what’s happening and why is happening.
Every day I have a choice. I can say that my story is of a normal person who struggles against destiny and will lose. Or I can see myself as the heroic character in my own story, who challenges the status quo of life and succeeds – no matter how long it takes. Both can be true.
Confucius said a long time ago …
“The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can not, they are both right”.
He knew since ancient times that how we frame our story builds our story.
So let me part with you with this …
Please build a story that empowers you. Build a story that makes sense and the only sense is the one that makes you happy, fulfilled and satisfied.
I don’t know who you are or what you do.
I don’t know how easy or hard it is for you.
But please build a story for yourself that makes you grow, that makes you strive. Build the movie of your life in which you are the MAN (or WOMAN) and in which you succeed against all odds. Build the story in which you are strong as a tank and that not even a wall can stop you, you’ll smash through it. Build the narrative of a person that is tried by life and grows with every trial and challenges how things are with a big smile on his or her face.
Build a story with charm, magic, comedy, passion and desire. A story in which you never stop striving for the stars and in which you know that no matter how big the wall is in front of you, you’ll succeed.
When I go to the cinema to see a James Bond movie, I know he’ll succeed. I’m not going there to see him fail. I’m not expecting to see how the terrorists win and everyone good dies. I have the feeling of positive expectancy and I am 100% sure that no matter how many explosions and bullets are shot, he’s going to make it through.
Now, if I can expect this of James Bond, why can’t I expect this of myself? Why can I simply see that no matter how many challenges life throws me, I’m going to succeed and I’m also going to love the journey?
And most importantly – why should your story be of someone who was tried by life and gave up?
You are better than this. You are amazing. You are extraordinary. You are the hero. You are Arnie and Van Damme and James Bond and the guy from Die Hard combined. You are the kind of person that if life puts a wall in front of you, you’re going to climb over, go under, go around or blast the wall to pieces – but life’s not going to stop you.
I trust you for this.
I believe in you. You’re awesome mate.
But my trust in you is not enough. Your story about your life must also confirm this.
So do this. Become the hero. Make James Bond look like a wimp when he is compared to the tenacity, to the focus, to the passion, to the desire you bring to your life.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
PS: What’s a story without a good soundtrack?
The music of a movie matters so much towards that movie’s quality … doesn’t it?
So you certainly must have a soundtrack for your own.
Here’s what I suggest.
You are strong. You are powerful. You can enter any situation with courage and confidence. You don’t even conceive the idea of failure. Yes, there are going to be obstacles but you’ll overcome them. You enter each day like an eagle soaring towards the sky.
Flight of the Valkyries by Wagner suits you perfectly.
Life will put obstacles in front of you and sometimes it is going to feel like a rollercoaster ride. Yet, you are the hero in this story. A hero goes through obstacles and drama and gets on top. You’re not going to let life defeat you but rejoice in its intrigue and dynamism.
I think what suits this is O Fortuna by Carmina Burana.
Nobody believed in you but you’ve believed in yourself. You’ve won. You’re there. Good job. I knew that you could do it. Even when nobody ever saw how you’re going to be a champion, in your mind, each and every day, you saw yourself as one.
For this, the best sound track ever is 1812 Overture (the ending) by Tchaikovsky. The cannons at the end are for you. This is the best victory soundtrack money can buy.