18 September, 2003


Susan Ford Collins was studying dysfunction for a year at the National Institute of Mental Health before it occurred to her: why not study the habits of highly successful people instead? That was the seed that started her on her path to writing the Joy of Success.
What is success? What skills make people successful? And how can these skills be taught? These ideas led her to shadow hundreds of successful people in all fields. She narrowed down her findings to quantifiable skills that she observed in her subjects, and started to teach these skills in workshops. Within months, she started getting calls from major corporations like IBM, Dow Chemical and Digital who wanted her to come down and share her process with their employees.
Susan Ford Collins is an animated woman, talking about her subject with tremendous energy. "It takes a lot of passion to make your dream come true," she starts off. Her first research subject was no other than Buckminister Fuller, who used to lecture for hours without stopping. "I want to follow you around for three months," she told him. He agreed.
Success is a word that most people shun. Success, usually defined only in material terms - the job, the money, the title, the car - is seen to be a process that takes over one's life, alienates one from family and society, and leads people into misery. But this, says Ford Collins, is a misleading concept. This is also the success that other people have in mind for you, but not the true success of what you might yourself want to do with your life.
Success, accord to Ford Collins, is three simple acts. Success is completion - completion of everyday tasks that take up our lives, like getting up in the morning, doing what we say we will do, going shopping for food, cleaning the house etc. Success is deletion - it is deleting all the unnecessary plans, ideas, wishes and goals that are no longer necessary or useful, and only clutter up our mental space. Deletion is also knowing when to say "no" to plans you do not want to be included in. Divorce, for instance, can be a successful act for somebody who no longer wants to be in that marriage. And success is creation - being able to share with other people a visual dream of what you want to achieve and create in the future.
Ford Collins advises keeping a "Success File" - a mental or physical file in which you file your successes. When your file is full, you feel successful, but when its empty, you can feel your life has gone drastically wrong, even though you may be the most materially successful person in the neighborhood. Success in the past leads to successes in the futures, because only by remembering what it felt like in the past can you imagine what it will feel like in the future. She also tells you that mistakes are not failures, they are "the universe redirecting us" to future directions.
Her other metaphor is the gears. Like cars, success also has gears that you have to shift manually. First gear is when you learn the ropes of almost anything, following basic rules. Second gear is when things start to pick up, and start taking on a life of its own. Third gear is sharing that vision of first and second gear with the rest of the world, creating something larger than just yourself. Most people get stuck in first and second gear - the trick, says Ford Collins, is to move into the third.
Moving into third gear requires a well constructed dream, one that has to be visualized to the last detail. Ford Collins draws upon an interesting scientific notion of the hologram for her visualization technique. Holograms are pictures that look 3D - we've seen them before. If you cut a photo negative into pieces, each piece would show part of a tree. If you cut up a hologram, each piece would show a whole tree. Neurosurgeon Dr. Karl Pribram and physicist Dr. David Bohm "have come to the conclusion that our universe is a hologram; therefore we can never directly know it because we can only experience it through our senses… They challenge us to look more seriously at what Eastern philosophy has been saying: Reality, at the highest level, is Maya. And what is Maya? Maya is simply a series of wavelike interference patterns, a series of holomovements and vortices."
Ford Collins goes on to explain that a sensory and detailed hologram of your dream, if shared with "co-creators", often has a high possibility of becoming real. Michael Talbot, author of The Holographic Universe, quotes Pribram from an article in Psychology Today, "It isn't that the world of appearances is wrong; it isn't that there aren't objects out there, at one level of reality. Its that if you penetrate through and look at the universe with a holographic system, you arrive at a different view, a different reality. And that other reality can explain things that have hitherto remained inexplicable scientifically: paranormal phenomena, synchronicities, the apparently meaningful coincidence of events."
When we experience synchronicity, that apparently random co-incidence of events that lead to most successes, theoretical physicist F. David Peat explains in Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Mind and Matter, that - "…what we are really experiencing is the human mind operating, for a moment, in its true order and extending throughout society and nature, moving through orders of increasing subtlety, reaching past the source of mind and matter to creativity itself."
Like Martin Luther King, who shared his vision through his "I have a dream" speech with the world and started the Civil Rights movement for blacks in the US, and like John Lennon, who shared his dream and created a whole planet of co-dreamers through a simple song and ushered in an global movement of peace, it is possible, Ford Collins suggests, for all of us to dream a successful dream and change the planet. The criteria is simple - first we have to start experiencing that joy by balancing our own lives into successful creations.

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