I have loved many things in this life, mostly people, some ideas, but also things.
One of my fierce childhood loves that still holds a place in my heart are books by Agatha Christie. Reading those books is one of my fondest memories of childhood, and to this day I own the very same copies I’ve had since childhood, which survived decades and several moves, some even across continents.
For any mystery lover with a smidgeon of taste, Christie’s books are a must-try (or in my case, a must-love). There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a mystery coming to a close, the big reveal at the end, loose ends tied up.
Till today, she remains the best-selling novelist of all time (far, far more than even the beloved J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter), so I know I’m far from alone in my book love, awe, adoration.
Impressive, to say the least.
Even more impressive is that she did this ages before social media, without easy clicks or a giant platform to stand on. This lady still made her way through the boys’ clubs, despite numerous personal and public struggles, and made her name and shone in her craft.
Of course, I love other books too.
But it is a wonder to me that so many books today, particularly business or advice books, speak of success and failure in neat little boxes. Sometimes I can’t tell whether I’m reading non-fiction or fiction; they promise predictable results and have all the answers, with every loop closed and tied neatly with a bow. All you need is a logical approach, a healthy dose of will power and iron-clad hustle. Mystery solved!
This trend of intellectualizing success and failure occurs with not so much as an acknowledgement of the very present and very human elements of feelings and emotions.
While I’m all for strategies and tools and such, without placing them in the grander context of our core values and truths (or considering them subservient or irrelevant), they feel hollow and, frankly, become mere short-term sprints falling before long-desired dreams.
Success and failure cannot be strained out, separated and managed in isolation.
When considering a goal or challenge, or even when putting your nose to the grindstone, do feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty not flit by? How about fear of things not working out, or working out fabulously, which can be just as terrifying?
It is hardly an either-or situation.
As we relentlessly march on the path toward top results and fast growth gripping the ‘it-must-be-measurable’ credo for dear life, it is inevitable that we’ll have to contend with the pesky elements of feelings and emotions, like stress, frustration, fear and anxiety.
Out of book is not out of mind. It’s a package deal.
So the next time a book insists that your success is just a 7-point plan away (theirs, naturally), I hope you’ll recognize that as a clue and become highly suspicious.
Instead, I suggest playing detective to your own situation, use your heart as well as your little grey cells, and get cracking.
In the words of Hercule Poirot,
Ah, but life is like that! it does not permit you to arrange and order it as you will. It will not permit you to escape emotion, to live by the intellect and by reason! You cannot say, ‘I will feel so much and no more.’