the distraction of success

The Distraction of Success 

From a spiritual perspective, success can be failure and failure can be success.

When we fail we naturally review our behavior to see what led to our failure.

When we succeed, the opposite happens. We assume that the actions we took created the outcome, which is very understandable, but from a spiritual perspective it is a trap. Our vision becomes focused on what we did and we leave out all the other things involved like luck and the deeper parts of us that drive our lives.

The more we repeat our actions and have the same success the more certain we become we have found the winning formula. What we don’t realise is that inside certainty is a calcification that stifles our soul.

If we don’t notice all this happening we fall under the spell of feeling like we have it figured out and charge forward ready to “teach” anyone who will listen, for the early bird price of $99.99, how to be successful.


For children, everything is new and full of wonder.
They have no certainty about anything.
Success leads to a feeling of knowing how things work and with that feeling comes the death of wonder.  

If you are certain about gravity you will never learn how to fly.

There is immense satisfaction in figuring something out or in mastering a skill and it is right and good to enjoy the benefit of that acquired knowledge. 

The challenge is to include a sense of wonder in the process. When you include wonder in the process it remains just that, a process and it doesn’t become a conclusion.  When you include wonder in the process it changes from, “This is how it works,“ to, “This is what works for now.“

Our attachment to our success is very understandable.  It may have taken us years to figure something out, and those years were painful and difficult, and we don’t want to risk returning to where we were. 
In an uncertain world, we want a little island of certainty to hang onto. 
I get it.

Freefall is Flying by another name.

In the spiritual life, there is nothing to hang on to. We are faced with and have to face the knowledge that nothing is certain. It is why I talk about the mystery so much and why I call it the mystery because it is the ultimate uncertainty.

If we try to nail down the mystery with definitions and certainties it disappears in a puff of smoke, or mist, or fairy dust.

The mystery won’t be quantified or categorised or named. 
It won’t tolerate any certainty.
To enter the mystery as fully as possible requires me to preen myself of certainty.

Lou Tzu said it way better than me 3,000 years ago. 

“The world teems around the sage who, to the very center, does not know. Others seem to know but the sage knows nothing. Others are clear and certain and confident but the sage is confused and directionless, a fool lost in thought and the world.”

Listen to the gurus, teachers, and coaches talking with certainty and you will know they have lost their way. 
Listen to yourself as you listen to them and hear your hunger for certainty. 

Listen to yourself when you succeed and hear the comforting seduction of certainty. When you hear it gently steer your heart away from certainty and allow it to return to wonder.






Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash


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