The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Yesterday was one of the best days of my life

Because I saw "Couple's Retreat" (2009)!!

Psyche. I would rather have my eyeballs ripped out and rolled in salt than see this movie, concerning four couples and their attempt to heal their respective relationships. Starring seven attractive, sexy people and one morbidly obese black man. Thank you, America.


When you look at the four principles at the core of Think And Grow Rich

(1) A definite purpose backed by a burning desire for its fulfillment.

2) A definite plan expressed in continuous action

3) A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences, including negative input from friends, family, and acquaintances.

4)A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.)

If you have a hard time grasping their importance, let's look at the reverse, and the consequences of NOT having these four in place. This is vital, because the unconscious mind is always reaching toward a result, always trying to reduce the pain in your life and increase the pleasure. If you don't have a positive set of values and resources, it will naturally, and inevitably, gravitate toward negative ones.

1) No focussed purpose. No desire. This describes most people, frankly. They only know what they don't want, and are afraid to feel real passion, trying to protect themselves from disappointment or embarrassment.

2) No real plans. Vague dreams at best: "if only someone would give me a chance" "if only someone would give me money for my project" "I'd love to own a company" "If only I could Y, W, or Z." And if they have, they have no "continuous action" built in, so there is no connection between today's actions and tomorrow's dreams. You need to have a clear sense of what you will do TODAY, and TOMORROW to create the life of your dreams.

3) A tendency to "go with the flow" socially, remaining susceptible to the fears of those around you. Vulnerable to the voices in your own head, and the suggestions of negative, fearful, saboteurs. Feeling that you need other people more than you need an authentic relationship with your own essence. This is lethal to your dreams, and trust me: it will destroy your relationships as well. You will end up with nothing, not even a sense of being true to yourself.

4) No allies or meaningful supportive relationships. You only ABSOLUTELY need one: yourself. But for success in the external world, there is nothing that takes the place of one other person you can share your dreams with, who will hold you to the highest standards, remind you of your values, and call you on your bullshit. A Mastermind group makes it possible to accomplish things beyond your own personal capacity. This other person doesn't need to be a genius, but they do have to be willing to explore the possibilities of greater achievement and fulfilment.

I have seen so many talented, intelligent people utterly flounder in their lives for lack of even two of these four principles. I have never, ever seen anyone succeed without having at least two of them in place. Never. And I've never seen anyone who had all four of them who did not accomplish WAY above average. Note that you don't need to be brilliant, rich, educated, or almost anything else to use this system. But you do need a definite purpose, a plan expressed in continuous action, a tightly focused mind, and at least one person to share your vision.


Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. I was at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills for a lunch meeting, waiting in the bar. And right past me walked...Sidney Poitier. One of my all-time heroes, arguably the most socially important actor in the history of Hollywood, a man who carried himself with immense dignity when he was the only bankable black actor in the world, at a time when the little stage spotlights in studios were still called "niggers." I cannot even imagine how much strength it took to carry himself without a single misstep. He was incredibly gracious, seemed totally healthy, alert, with a wry sense of humor and a serious twinkle in his eye. His film "In The Heat of the Night" was the very first film I'd ever seen where a black man stood up for himself as a human being. The first. And by a happy coincidence, I had a copy of "In the Night of the Heat" with me! Because he was one of Blair's mentors, I had specific things I could say to him rather than just fumble-tonguing my way through the exchange. According to the friend who was with me, I didn't make a total fool of myself. God, I hope not.

If I made a list of the ten living people I would most like to meet, Sidney Poitier would have been near the top of the list (the top? Possibly Nelson Mandela). Yesterday was a very, very good day indeed.


Daniel Keys Moran said...

:-) Congratulations. That sounds very cool.

I do like your approach of showing both the benefits and harms of adopting/not adopting a particular set of attitudes. The single most memorable thing out of lifewriting (which I preached whole cloth to a young man I had lunch with the other day) ... was the compound interest exercise.

Here's what your life looks like when you improve things a little bit every year:

1 x 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 .... = ~2.4

If your life gets just a little bit worse each year ...

1 x .9 x .9 x .9 x .9 x .9 x .9 x .9 x .9 x .9 ... = ~.38

After 9 years, the person who improved his life a little bit each year is doing 2-1/2 times better than the person whose life stayed the same, and 6 times better than the person whose life got just a little bit worse each year ....

I wrote that out on the back of a napkin at the restaurant and did the math for this young man. Not sure it registered, but it is one of the half dozen things I know for sure will make a huge difference in a person's life, if applied.

A couple others are "Do what's in front of you," and "Give each day your best effort." Maybe they wouldn't work for everyone, but they've sure worked for me.

Steve Perry said...

Way cool, Steve.

When I saw "In the Heat of the Night," I was living in L.A.. Black guy at my office who grew up on the west coast said to me, "Is that how it really is down south? That bad?"

Afraid so, I said. And that wasn't as bad as it gets.

But boy, how could anybody not admire Poitier after that role?