I have theories. I'm not very outspoken about them, because formulating theories and living up to them is a different ball game. Today, I'll share one with you. Because it's not a theory about success per se. It's about focusing on what's important and letting go of everything else. Many speakers will offer you the world. They will tickle your emotional core and send you bolting out of their conferences a few hundred bucks lighter and a head full of dreams. This is where I pick things up with my lure theory. After the credits rolled.
How do you keep up? It's easy to set fire to somebody, but keeping the flame alive is the bigger challenge. We live in a world where patience is no longer a virtue. Everything is instant gratification. We expect things to happen, because our attention span has been hijacked by the sales department. I'm not trying to lecture you about the ills of contemporary life here. I'm just telling you it's the hand we've been dealt and that we have to work with it if we want to change it.
So it can be thoroughly frustrating not to succeed immediately. Donald Trump is making money, Mark Zuckerberg is making you spend more time with him than with your family, Aaron Rodgers is throwing touchdown passes and Ryan Gosling is getting all the girls. So why can't you? Are you born in the wrong cast to succeed or are you devoured by the demons on envy, jealousy and that fucking need for instant gratification. Why working towards your dream when your idea of success seems to far away? It's counter-intuitive.
Have you ever watched a greyhound race? One of the greatest greyhounds to ever race was named El Tenor. I don't know much about him, except for two things. First, he won most of his races and second, he probably lived with as much of a burning feeling of dissatisfaction as a dog can have. The main reason why a greyhound runs in a race is to catch the lure. The mechanical bunny at the head of the race. A hound is a dog with a strong hunting instinct. They don't want to win race, they want to catch rabbits.
My point is that in order to be the strongest, fastest, smartest of your kind. To be the best you can be at what you do, you need a lure. Something to chase, to make you run faster than everybody else. Whether you reach it or not isn't important. What you need to understand is that racing is the shitty part of success. It's tiring, it's stressful and when you're in it, you can't wait for it to be over. But you need to get ahead of the pack and you will never do it if your sight is not set on a point ahead.
My lure is Dennis Lehane. Most likely, I will never be as successful as he is. I will never have my stories turned into a movie, even less have three of them adapted to the silver screen by directors like Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood. It's fine. It doesn't matter. Because reaching for this ideal makes me write. It puts my ass on the chair, makes me hammer down words and makes me leap over my self-consciousness and send my work for submission. Because I want what's beyond those three obstacles. They have become easy to overcome in the greater picture.
Whatever is your thing, whatever it is that you do, you always need a lure. It will make your accomplishments seems smaller to you, it's true. But don't forget you're not the sole judge of your success. The people coming to you and telling you how you influenced them, changed their lives. That's the true yardstick of achievement. I like to have Dennis Lehane as a lure. He's far enough to remain an idea. I'm not even sure I want to meet him someday. He serves his purpose to me as a reader and as a writer also. He's being awesome at what he does and makes me want to push myself. That's the two important variables of our lure/hound relationship. But what about you? Who's your lure? Do you have one?