Tag Archive | success

Repost: The 9 Qualities That Help You Thrive Under Pressure

This morning I found this wonderful article from Time about traits that make a person successful.  Here is that article, reposted in full:

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young plantIn new and challenging situations, some people fold under pressure and some manage to squeak by. And then there are the people who really thrive—blossoming in the face of uncertainty or adversity. Now, researchers say they’ve pinpointed a number of personality traits and external factors that, when combined, can predict a person’s chances of thriving.

For their recent paper, published in the journal European Psychologist, scientists from the University of Bath in the U.K. reviewed a wide variety of research on what makes people thrive in all types of circumstances—physically, professionally, athletically, artistically and academically, to name a few. From those studies, they came up with two lists of variables—nine personal traits and six outside influences—that are common among people who continuously grow, learn and succeed in life.

People don’t have to possess every component on these lists in order to thrive, say the authors, but a combination of a few from each list could certainly help. That formula could include any or all of the following:

Qualities

The person should be …

  • optimistic
  • spiritual or religious
  • motivated
  • proactive
  • someone who enjoys learning
  • flexible
  • adaptable
  • socially competent
  • someone with self-confidence and self-esteem

External factors

The person should have …

  • opportunity
  • support from employers, family, or others
  • a manageable level of challenges and difficulties
  • a calm environment
  • a high degree of autonomy
  • the trust of others

These lists may not be very surprising—but the authors say that until now, there has been no real consensus for exactly what characteristics and circumstances help people thrive, or what we can do to increase our chances of doing so.

To sum up their research, lead author Daniel Brown, now a sport and exercise scientist at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K., says that the act of thriving seems to come down to “feeling good about life and yourself and being good at something.”

While some people maybe more naturally prone to thriving than others, Brown says there are things we can do to cultivate these important traits within ourselves. For starters, he recommends relying on internal motivations (things that are truly important to you) rather than external ones (things society says should be important to you), and trying to always look at new situations as opportunities for gain and growth.

There may be ways we can encourage thriving in others, as well—like our kids, our partners, or our employees. “It’s likely to be important for individuals to feel they have a choice in what they are doing, that they hold close and supportive relationships with people around them, and that they perceive themselves having some level of competence in the tasks they are completing,” Brown told Health via email.

More studies are needed to determine which factors are most important for thriving in specific scenarios, and the differences between thriving under serious adversity versus everyday stress, the authors wrote in their paper. But they hope their research is a good stepping-stone for understanding the psychology behind what it takes to be our best selves, no matter what life throws our way.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

 

 

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Repost: 10 Brutal Truths About Success No One Wants to Hear

Today I found this article from Inc. on Twitter about finding success–both personally and professionally. I really love it and I think you will too! Author: Jeff Haden.

canstockphoto11484943.jpg

“Ask successful people how they achieved their success and you’ll hear words like “hard work,” “sacrifice,” and “persistence.”

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find some other common attitudes and habits, like these:

1. They know their success was only inevitable in hindsight.

Read stories of successful entrepreneurs and it’s easy to think they have some intangible entrepreneurial something–ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity, whatever–that you don’t have.

Wrong. Success is inevitable only in hindsight. It’s easy to look back on an entrepreneurial path to greatness and assume that every vision was clear, every plan was perfect, every step was executed flawlessly, and tremendous success was a foregone conclusion.

It wasn’t. Success is never assured. Only in hindsight does it appear that way.

If you’re willing to work hard and persevere, who you are is more than enough. Don’t measure yourself against other people.

Pick a goal and measure yourself against that goal–that is the only comparison that matters.

2. They decided to choose themselves.

Once you had to wait: to be accepted, to be promoted, to be selected–to somehow be “discovered.”

Not anymore. Access is nearly unlimited; you can connect with almost anyone through social media. You can publish your own work, distribute your own music, create your own products, attract your own funding.

You can do almost anything you want–and you don’t have to wait for someone else to discover your talents.

The only thing holding you back is you–and your willingness to try.

3. They help others succeed, knowing that ensures they will succeed.

No one accomplishes anything worthwhile on his or her own. Great bosses focus on providing the tools and training to help their employees better do their jobs–and achieve their own goals. Great consultants put their clients’ needs first. Great businesses go out of their way to help and serve their customers.

And as a result, they reap the rewards.

If you’re in it only for yourself, then someday you will be by yourself. If you’re in it for others, you’ll not only achieve success. You’ll also have plenty of real friends.

4. They know that sometimes the best way to finish first is to be the last.

Success is often the result of perseverance. When others give up, leave, stop trying, or compromise their principles and values, the last person left is often the person who wins. Other people may be smarter, better connected, more talented, or better funded. But they can’t win if they aren’t around at the end.

Sometimes it makes sense to give up on ideas, projects, and even businesses–but it never makes sense to give up on yourself.

The one thing you can always be is the last person to give up on yourself.

5. They do what no one else is willing to do.

The extra mile is a lonely place, because almost no one goes there.

Go there–as often as you can.

6. They don’t network. They truly connect.

Often the process of building a network takes on a life of its own and becomes a numbers game.

You don’t need numbers. You need real connections: people you can help, people you can trust, people who care.

So forget numbers. Reach out to the people whom you want to be part of your life–even if just your professional life–for a long time. When you do, forget about receiving and focus on providing; that’s the only way to establish a real connection and relationship.

Make lasting connections and you create an extended professional family. You’ll be there when they need you, and they will be there when you need them.

7. They think, but more important, they do.

Strategy is not a product. Binders are filled with strategies that were never implemented.

Develop an idea. Create a strategy. Set up a rudimentary system of operations. Then execute, adapt, execute some more, and build a solid operation based on what works.

Success isn’t built on strategy. Success is built through execution.

Incredibly successful people focus on executing incredibly well.

8. They know “leader” is a title that is earned, not given.

“Leaders” aren’t just the guys who double the stock price in six months, or the gals who coerce local officials into approving too-generous tax breaks and incentives, or the guys who are brave enough to boldly go where no man has gone before.

(If you don’t get that last reference, you’re too young. Or I’m too old. Probably both.)

Those are examples of leadership–but typically the kind of leadership that is situational and short-lived.

Real leaders consistently inspire, motivate, and make you feel better about yourself than you might even think you have a right to feel. They’re the kind of people you’ll follow not because you have to but because you want to.

You’ll follow them anywhere–and you’ll follow them forever, because they have a knack for making you feel like you aren’t actually following. Wherever you’re headed, you always feel like you’re going there together.

Creating that bond takes time.

9. They see success as an outcome, not a driver.

Ever heard someone say, “If I got promoted, then I would work harder”? Or, “If the customer paid more, then I would do more”? Or, “If I thought there would be a bigger payoff, I would be willing to sacrifice more”?

Successful people earn promotions by first working harder. Successful businesses earn higher revenue by first delivering greater value. Successful entrepreneurs earn bigger payoffs by first working hard, well before any potential return is in sight.

Most people expect to be compensated more before they will even consider working harder.

Incredibly successful people see compensation as the reward for exceptional effort, not the driver–whether that reward is financial or personal or simply the satisfaction that comes from achieving what you worked incredibly hard to achieve.

10. They wish you knew there really are no dirty little secrets.

Except this one: There are no magic bullets. There are no shortcuts. There are no hacks.

Success–in whatever you choose to pursue–is always achieved through hard work and persistence.

It’s easier to assume that other people succeed because they have something you don’t have. But in reality, the primary difference is that they are willing to do something you won’t do.

So go do it.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
PUBLISHED ON: NOV 21, 2016″

Repost: 11 Things Truly Successful People Never Do

This morning I found this article from Inc. about success.  The information is so good I have to share!

the universe will remove

“1. Successful people refuse to fit in a box.

“Thinking outside the box” is a business cliché writ large. But truly successful people do more than that–they live outside the box.

They don’t let other people define them, whether those other people are malicious or well-meaning. They don’t listen to the jealous boss who tells them that they’ll never be a leader. Perhaps more important, they don’t hedge their ambitions because a parent or a teacher told them that–for example–they’re “good with numbers” but not creative, or an excellent team player but not a leader. They don’t just develop their strengths. They define their strengths.

Challenge: What external expectation do you need to let go of?

2. Successful people don’t bear grudges.

It takes a lot of effort to win a battle. But when you bear grudges, it’s like you’re fighting a war that only one side even knows about.

Sure, if we bothered, most of us could probably dig deep into our pasts and find a time when we were wronged–almost unforgivably wronged. Even thinking about it, however, hands another victory to whoever wronged you. Direct your energy at something else–the things you truly care about.

Challenge: We all hold on to some things too long. What transgression do you need to forgive?

3. Successful people refuse to argue over “nothings.”

Again: wasted energy.

You’re not going to convince that diehard Trump/Hillary/Bernie supporter on Facebook to change his or her mind. Truly successful people spend their energy on things they can truly affect.

Challenge: What deeply held conviction holds you back? Are you prepared to let it go?

4. Successful people refuse to quit.

Successful people are often more successful simply because they work harder. And they work harder in part because the work they do doesn’t feel like work–at least, it doesn’t feel like drudgery. Their work is the kind of thing they’d do even if they weren’t paid for it (and sometimes, they aren’t!).

However, whether it’s rewarding or not, they don’t ignore the important work that needs to be done.

Challenge: You don’t have to say it aloud, but when was the last time you blew off something important and covered it with excuses? Are you planning to do it again anytime soon?

5. Successful people never betray their values.

At the end of everything, what else do you have besides your deeply held values?

Maybe you have a deep religious faith. Maybe you think it’s wrong to eat meat. Maybe you’d never root for an American League baseball team because you think the designated hitter ruined the sport. These are your values, not mine, my friend–and I’m sure they’re tested all the time. Truly successful people don’t have a lot of non-negotiables, but the ones they do have are sacrosanct.

Challenge: Can you articulate your core values? Even more important, are they obvious to others?

6. Successful people never betray friends or family.

Of course, this doesn’t mean letting yourself be rolled over. You have to stick up for yourself. However, truly successful people know that if your close family and true friends can’t trust you, why would anyone else?

Challenge: Um, when was the last time you called your folks?

7. Successful people never lose sight of their goals.

Identifying and pursuing your goals means the difference between spinning your wheels and actually getting somewhere. You’ll put in the same effort regardless of how well you focus on objectives, but if your aim is deficient, chances are that you’ll just be helping someone else achieve his or her goals.

Challenge: Can you articulate your three most important goals? What have you done today to make them come true?

8. Successful people combat self-doubt in all its forms.

Fear is normal, even healthy–but defeatism is a disease. I’m not sure where it comes from, but we all face it. Successful people refuse to give in, but what’s more, they make it part of their mission to help other people overcome self-doubt, too.

The easiest way to do that? Demonstrate respect for others in all that you do.

Challenge: Have you built up someone else’s ego today? If not, is it because you’re afraid that doing so will tear down your own self-worth? (Overcome that!)

9. Successful people refuse to betray their health.

Another non-negotiable. None of us lives forever, yet the temptation is always there to trade fitness, or sleep, or well-being for a pauper’s price–a few extra bucks, a little bit of esteem in a boss’s eyes. Truly successful people have no room for that in their lives. Their health is one of their top priorities.

Challenge: What’s the one thing you should do differently to ensure you have a better chance at living a long time–and well?

10. Successful people refuse to be dominated by others.

We all face bullies in our lives. Truly successful people don’t put up with them. They find ways to prevail. They don’t necessarily fight the other guy on his turf, but they find a way to win.

Beware that you don’t contradict the rule about not holding grudges with this one, but successful people find that standing up for themselves often means standing up to someone else.

Challenge: Who are the bullies you know? What have you done to offset their impact on others?

11. Successful people never give in to competition.

This is a multifaceted element. Successful people never run from competition–but they don’t let themselves be suckered into being measured by somebody else’s rules. They understand the wisdom of the reverse of that old lottery slogan: “You can’t lose if you refuse to play.”

At the same time, when they win, they can take a compliment. Truly successful people don’t gloat, but they also don’t minimize their contributions when other people are eager to offer them praise.

Challenge: What competitions are you engaging in that aren’t truly worthwhile?”

Donald Trump and What “Conservative” Really Means

trump-768x512If you live in the United States you are probably already sick and tired about hearing about the campaign deciding who will be the next president of the United States.  As a matter of fact odds are good you have now heard the name “Trump” even more times than you have heard another name I never want to hear again — KARDASHIAN.  Yes we are over-saturated with reality TV stars — which is exactly what “The Donald” actually is.

Across 2015 we’ve been treated to a renewed and very vocal outcry of white power, anti-immigrant sentiment (let’s include Britain’s UKIP party here).  Trump’s obstinate rudeness in the name of not being “politically correct” has ended all pretenses of civility and human decency as thousands flock to hear and echo his race baiting and misogyny, messages that are designed to put the rest of us in our “proper” place.

Respected journalist Jorge Ramos confronting Trump on his immigration policies on 26 Aug 2015.

Respected journalist Jorge Ramos confronting Trump on his immigration policies on 26 Aug 2015.

Sadly Trump is not alone in his spiteful and scapegoating rhetoric.  As reported this week in The Guardian, other GOP contenders including Ben Carson have joined the racist Trump bandwagon, railing against racial minorities.  Those that have not expressed blazoned racism have joined Trump in their sexist, including many recent remarks by Jeb Bush.  All of this designed to appeal to their conservative vote base.

Which begs the question, “what exactly are they trying to preserve?”

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines conservative as

“Believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society : relating to or supporting political conservatism. of or relating to the conservative party in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada: not liking or accepting changes or new ideas.”

What are these ideas then?  What is Trump trying to take us back to in order to “make America great again?”

June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver was the ideal 1950s woman.

June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver was the ideal 1950s woman.

Sadly I think what he wants is to bring America back to the 1950s, a time when women were fired from the jobs they held in support of the war effort of the 1940s in order to return to their “proper” place as wives and mothers.  The 1950s were a time when racial segregation and Jim Crowe was the law and racial mixing, especially in the bedroom, was explicitly forbidden.  It was a time when arbitrary laws denied the “wrong people” (meaning racial minorities) their rights to vote.  The few women who worked outside the home were demeaned and paid pennies on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. University education for women was rare and typically focused on home economics and the skills they would need to be successful wives and mothers.

DonDraperMadMenThe 1950s were a time where white, affluent men literally ruled the western world, where the rest of the society was expected to serve their interests without question and without deviation from their desires.  It was a time of de facto slavery and where failure to serve the white male masters was punished viciously.  It was a time where women and minorities were considered too intellectually inept to make decisions about their own bodies and incapable of being educated past the most remedial of vocational skills.  In nearly all respects except technology, it was a time where Plato, Aristotle, Julius Caesar, and dozens of famous and infamous Roman leaders would have felt perfectly at home.

In many ways it is easy to understand why these conservatives want us to live in the 1950s again.  To be conservative is to resist change, change that works against the interests of the same men who are asking for our consent to become the next American emperor.  They intrude into women’s bodies because women are presumed to be incapable of managing them — we are too stupid, too poorly educated to make good choices for ourselves.  They undermine the voting rights of racial minorities, the poor, and the elderly because such votes express opinions different from theirs — utterly intolerable in their mindset.  They demean and dismiss everyone that is not them because they are living in their 1950s paradise and want to keep it forever. And they genuinely think that we are all too stupid and afraid to speak up for ourselves, that we will continue to tolerate them and obey them.  What are we but their slaves, slaves who do not want to be free?

Therefore I ask you all to join with me in standing together.  Their 1950s conservative paradise is built on the enslavement of 99% of the population. Through extreme wealth inequities they have convinced us to fight each other for crumbs, to become moochers killing each other in zero sum scenarios of their creation — much like gladiators fighting each other for their amusement.  They have convinced us that they are our friends and it’s other people who are different from us that are the problem.

Bernie Sanders

That is a lie, folks, classic divide and conquer.  Because they know that when we stand together, they lose their power.  For centuries they’ve convinced us that everything is “win-lose,” that success only comes at the expense of someone else. Except that success actually comes by taking on a “win-win” mindset — something I learned in my months in the Law of Attraction movement.  Cooperation and teamwork is “win-win.”  The more we cooperate and help each other, the stronger we become and the less power they possess.

I for one will not play their economic and social gladiatorial games anymore.  Who’s with me?

Reblog: What Are the REAL Odds of Being a Successful Author?

Okay, you have your new year’s resolution all set!  Now you are ready to go make a splash professionally.  Before you look at site statistics and let yourself feel overwhelmed, please take a look at what Kristen Lamb has to say about the odds of your success and how much control you really have over it.

 

I do not agree with everything in this article, but it is certainly worth thinking about.

What Are the REAL Odds of Being a Successful Author?

didn’t even consider becoming a writer until 1999 after my father passed away suddenly. Funny how death can make us take a hard look at life, right? Anyway, I recall feeling soooo overwhelmed. I mean my odds of even getting published were about as good as winning the lottery. And the odds of becoming a best-selling author? Well, mathematically speaking, I had a slightly greater chance of being mauled by a black bear and polar bear on the same day.

It was all I could do not to give up before I began.

But, after over 14 years doing this “writer thing,” I have a new perspective. Often it feels like we are the victims of fate, at the mercy of the universe, when actually it is pretty shocking how much of our own destiny we control.The good news is that if we can get in a habit of making good choices, it is staggering how certain habits can tip the odds of success in our favor.

Time to take a REAL look at our odds of success. Just so you know, this is highly unscientific, but I still think it will paint a pretty accurate picture. I will show you a bit of my own journey. And, to be blunt, this DOES NOT ONLY APPLY TO WRITERS.

Did you know most entrepreneurs fail at least three times before getting traction? Most new businesses don’t make it a year. They are fortunate to survive THREE years and if they can hit The Golden Six? Smoother from there. But WHY?

The 5% Rule

It has been statistically demonstrated that only 5% of any population is capable of sustained change.

I remember when I was a rather young writer and NYTBSA Bob Mayer introduced me to this idea. I was AGHAST! No, writers just needed nurturing, cuddling, and help. Trust me, it pains me to say he was/is right.

***But Bob is generally right and that is often why it ticks me off to admit this.***

I worked for years with self-professed writers who refused to learn, listen or even work. They had the skin of a grape and wanted to make it in an often undervalued profession that is NO place for the idle or thin-skinned.

Thus, with that in mind…

When we start out wanting to write, we are up against presumably millions of other people who want the same dream. We very literally have better odds of being elected to Congress than hitting the NY Times best-selling list. But I think that statement is biased and doesn’t take into account the choices we make.

As I just said, in the beginning, we are up against presumably millions of others who desire to write. Yes, millions. It is estimated that over ¾ of Americans say that they would one day like to write a book. And that is only ONE continent. Much of Europe, Australia and New Zealand are burgeoning markets in the new digital paradigm.

That’s a LOT of people. Ah, but how many do? How many decide to look beyond that day job? How many dare to take that next step?

Statistically? 5%

So only 5% of the millions of people who desire to write will ever even take the notion seriously. This brings us to the hundreds of thousands. But of the hundreds of thousands, how many who start writing a book will actually FINISH a book? How many will be able to take their dream seriously enough to lay boundaries for friends and family and hold themselves to a self-imposed deadline?

Statistically? 5%

Of that 5%, how many will join a critique group—A GOOD ONE—and learn instead of sulking?

5%

Okay, well now we are down to the tens of thousands. Looking a bit better. But, finishing a book isn’t all that is required. We have to be able to write a book that is publishable and meets industry/reader standards. When I first started writing, I thought that everyone who attended a writing critique group would be published. I mean they were saying they wanted to be best-selling authors.

But did they?

Or, were they more in love with the idea of being a best-selling author than actually doing whatever it took to succeed? I would love to say that I was a doer and not a talker, but I don’t want to get hit by lightning. There were a number of years that I grew very comfortable with being in a writing group as a writer…but not necessarily a professional writer.

I was still querying the same book that had been rejected time and time and time again.  I wrote when I felt inspired and didn’t approach my craft like a professional. I was, at best, a hobbyist and, at worst, hopelessly delusional.

I didn’t need craft books *snort* I spoke English, so I knew how to write. Geesh! *rolls eyes*

I was a member of two writing groups, and had grown very fond of this “writer life.” We hung out at I-Hop and drank lots of coffee. We’d all chat about what we’d do with our millions once we were bigger than Dan Brown. We talked about new ideas for books that never seemed to get written. Or if we ever did sit to write one of these ideas, we would get about 30,000 words in and then hit a wall.

Hmmm…and I thought that idea had so much promise.

Yet, after four years hearing the same talk from the same people shopping the same novels, I had a rude awakening. Maybe I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. Maybe being a copy writer and technical writer and editor didn’t automatically make me a novel-writing genius. Maybe I needed to take this dream of being a best-selling writer a tad more seriously and not rely on bluster, BS and glitter. Maybe I needed to read craft books and scrape up enough money to go to a conference.

So, of the tens of thousands of writers who write a novel, how many read craft books and get serious enough to take classes, listen to thoughtful critique, and attend conferences?

You guys are good….5%

And of those who attend a conference (and want to traditionally publish), who are asked to send in page requests, how many follow through?

Likely, 5%

How many will land an agent right away?

5%

And of all of those authors rejected, how many writers, determined to impress, are willing to GUT their novel and wage wholesale slaughter on entire villages of Little Darlings? How many are willing to put that first novel in a drawer, learn from the experience and move forward with a new book…which they FINISH?

5%

And of the writers who land an agent or are brave enough to go indie or self-publish, how many of them get dead-serious about building a large social media platform?

Again? Probably 5%.

And of those writers who are published and doing social media, how many of them are effectively branding their names so their name alone will become a bankable asset (versus taking the easy way and spamming everyone in sight)?

5%

Of those who self-publish, how many will keep writing more books and better books until they hit a tipping point for success? (versus beating marketing one book to death)

5%

Of writers who self-publish, how many will invest in professional editing and cover art?

5%

Thus, when we really put this dream under some scrutiny, it is shocking to see all the different legs we control.

We control:

Taking the Decision Seriously

Writing the Book

Editing the Book

Finishing the Book

Learning the Craft

Developing RHINO SKIN

Networking

Following Through

Not Giving Up in the Face of Rejection

Writing Books

Writing More Books

Yes, Writing Even MORE Books

Doing Everything in Our Power to Lay a Foundation for a Successful Career

I am not saying that finishing a book is easy. None of this is easy.

This job is a lot of hard work and sacrifice, which is exactly why most people will never be genuine competition. When we start out and see all the millions of other writers I think we are in danger of giving up or getting overwhelmed. Actually, if we focus on the decisions we control, our odds improve drastically.

This job is like one giant funnel. Toss in a few million people with a dream and only a handful will shake out at the end. Is it because fortune smiled on them? A few, yes. But, for most, the harder they worked, the “luckier” they got. They stuck it out and made the tough choices.

In the Sahara there is a particularly long stretch of desert that is completely flat. There are no distinguishing landmarks and it is very easy to get lost. To combat the problem, the French Foreign Legion placed large black oil drums every mile so that travelers could find their way across this massive expanse of wasteland one oil drum at a time.

Are we there yet?

 

Want to be a successful author?

Take it one oil drum at a time.

What are some oil drums you now see ahead? Does your journey to author success seem easier now? What makes you feel overwhelmed? What inspires you?

Followup News: Booklinker REVERSES advertising policy

Blogging makes a difference!  After reporting on 4th October 2014 regarding Booklinker’s new plan to charge authors a monthly fee to use their links without intrusive advertisements before customers can reach Amazon.com, Booklinker has JUST REVERSED their decision,

“Laurel A. Rockefeller,

This is just a quick email to let you know that we at BookLinker have reversed our decision to use advertising as a means to fund our service.

This means that all BookLinker links are now completely back to the way they were a few days ago – i.e. no advertising whatsoever.

After having reviewed the situation, we are now uninanmously committed to an ad-free BookLinker forever.

Many thanks to those of you who provided us with feedback, and we have already refunded everyone who had already signed up for the premium plan.

It was at least encouraging to realise just how much our service is appreciated!”

 

Will this change my marketing strategy?  Probably not; I already deleted every viewbook.at link address from my files.  But this does represent a clear victory for the power of  our voices.  Change DOES HAPPEN when we band together and say “no” to something.

 

Let us continue to use our voices together to make the market place more fair to everyone, removing all thoughts of competition from our mind and replacing these with a sense of community.  Together we all sell more books.  Together we all make a difference to our world.

Aisin-gioro Pu Yi Is Dead

1922 at the age of 16. Emperor in name only.

One hundred years ago, I lived in the Forbidden City.  From 7th February 1906 to 17th October 1967, my spirit was known by the name Aisin-gioro Pu Yi, the Xuan Tong Emperor.  I was the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, a life that was used against me early in this life, as if being reborn as Laurel A. Rockefeller was merely a continuation of who and what I was before.

Can it be any wonder that in “The Ghosts of the Past” many of my characters have exactly the same problem, continuing in each new incarnation as if they still lived as each previous self?

 

I remember one of the earliest rituals done to me as a little girl, memories burned into my mind because they were so hurtful.  In a circle of candles a small Manchu-style crown was placed.  The dagger used to cut my throat just below the left ear was covered in Chinese characters in a message conveying some sort of evil purpose.  In the ritual, my former life was evoked many times.  I was still responsible for my mistakes, they said, mistakes born out of a very different time and situation.  On my head they placed guilt, claiming that I was responsible for the millions slaughtered in my name as the Emperor of Manchukuo — a paper emperor.

I was a coward, unwilling or unable to stand up for myself, to counter the relentless humiliations and bullying.  On one hand, people flattered me with “wan sui,” the traditional salute calling for an emperor to reign ten thousand years.  They bowed and called me by honorific titles.  But at the same time, they bullied me and demeaned me, constantly playing mind games and controlling me.

My spirit never broke, but I found myself very lost.

 

Evoking the past made me start this life feeling just as lost as I was in the 1940s.  That was by design, of course, to make me think that God hated me for “letting” the Japanese commit their crimes.  As if I could really be responsible for the concentration camps across Manchuria.  As if my hand slaughtered the countless civilians in 1937 in Nanjing.  Guilt, sorrow, despair.  How can a three year old be yoked with such as these?

As emperor of Manchukuo

On top of this, my church called me “evil sorceress” for saying no when my body was sexually violated.  What their logic was, I cannot understand.  No three year old is a sexual wanton!

 

Still through these dark times, I remember feeling as if someone watched over me in a truly kind and loving way.  In my dreams, I saw him in the guise of a medieval knight like in the stories of King Arthur, my own appearance like a fine English princess locked up in a tower like in the storybooks.

In my dreams, my “prince charming” told me all was not lost, that I was me, not Pu Yi.  He said he did not know where I was, but he would find me and rescue me from my despair.  He said he loved me.  He said he has always loved me across every life, every incarnation.  Fear not!  Believe in tomorrow!  Believe in love and true love’s kiss.  For he would never stop searching for me until he found me — even unto the ends of the world.

 

I only heard him in my dreams.  I only knew him on the deepest levels of my mind.  But he never left me.  I still feel him in my dreams.  Only this time I know he lives in England.  This time I have a clue who he is.

 

With my feelings of loss and isolation over the completion of Boudicca, I chose to watch the movie, The Last Emperor, the story of the life I lived as Henry Pu Yi.  One might call that emotional torture — not the thing you really want to watch when you are already feeling lonely and sad.  But I am rather pleased with how I handled it.  Before I would get lost in those memories.  Tonight I finished the movie (half last night; half tonight) mostly feeling just the weight of all that bullying.

I have been told that I am too humble, that I do not credit myself enough for my abilities and my accomplishments.  What really struck me about the movie was just how relentlessly I was bullied and controlled.I was never granted the freedom of normal men; everyone used me for something.

In some ways, it feels like not much has changed.  And yet it has.  Pu Yi is dead.  Laurel is alive.

How can I ever soar on the wings of success as long as I feel chained into the ground by that yoke put upon me as a little girl.

 

But here is news and this I hereby affirm:  Pu Yi is dead.  When he died, all responsibility for his actions died with him.  Whatever cowardice characterized his life, I have a new start as Laurel.  His life is his.  My life is mine.  I am Laurel.  I am Laurel.

As Laurel, I get to decide my own future.  I refuse to live Pu Yi’s life anymore.

I live mine.

Love will come to me.  Success is mine already.  My writing is beautiful.  I am beautiful.  Rest in peace, Pu Yi.  Your life is over.  Laurel’s has just begun.

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