THE BLOG
12/15/2011 03:15 pm ET | Updated Feb 14, 2012

The Real Secret Is You

There are hundreds of motivational books preaching the rules for better living. Classics
like Think and Grow Rich, modern touchstones like Awaken The Giant Within, New
Age versions like The Secret, folksy versions like Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and
even quantum physics versions. But for me the most powerful motivational books are
those where someone takes you through their own personal journey, whether it's fiction
or non-fiction.

That doesn't mean that I wanted to take such a journey myself. I would've been perfectly
happy to continue reading about the voyages of others and applying their advice.

But then tragedy struck and everything changed. At the height of my screenwriting
career, I lost my young daughter, and with her, much of what I believed about my life,
my career, and the outside world.

So I was forced to go on my own journey to find a way to live my life again. And that
voyage was hard and the way was dark.

But now that I'm back where there's light, I can tell you what I discovered. You have to
test all motivational principles for yourself. There is true wisdom and false wisdom, but
the strange thing is that it's the same wisdom. The key to what makes it true or false is
you.

One perfect example is the famous aphorism, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, and
try again." As a universal law, it's excellent advice. But when it applies to you, you
should also take into account the W.C. Fields' version, "If at first you don't succeed, try,
try, and try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it."

There are times when you should do everything in your power to achieve a goal, but
there are just as many times when you shouldn't. Why? Because the goal you've set for
yourself isn't the right goal. For you. During my journey, I discovered that W.C. Fields'
advice was just as valid as the advice of the motivational gurus who preach determination
in the face of all obstacles.

Another example is the power of belief or faith. Belief is one of the universal truths that's
stood the test of time. From pagan religions to Christianity to New Age thought. But
there's another component and, as the centuries have passed, that component has been
kicked to the curb. Some modern gurus leave it out completely.

It's action. And action is the part of belief and faith that you generate yourself. It's how
this universal truth becomes individualized. You can't draw anything to yourself with
just belief. It's your actions that translate that belief into something real. Even God had to
send his only begotten Son to make his point.

On my voyage, I discovered many other examples of how universal wisdom applies to
each of us individually, and I'll leave you with one more. It's right there in the title of the
book that chronicles my journey, Under An Orange Sun, Some Days are Blue.

Life is bittersweet. But many motivational gurus and religious figures don't preach that.
They say that there's always a reason for the bad things that happen in your life. But that's
not always the case. You have to judge for yourself. Sometimes good will come out of
something bad. And sometimes it won't. And when it doesn't, you have to stop looking
for that silver lining. Some days are blue.

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