Ford Prefect was a Genius

In Western Society we're taught that how you achieve your goal is the Holy Grail of success. But as it turns out, this approach is complete and utter twaddle.

We are conditioned from a very early age that knowing how to do something is the key to ‘getting things done’ and becoming successful. This process is carried through into our working lives, where we are so focused on the ‘how’ that we lose sight of why we’re doing it in the first place - apart of course from the need to make money at the end of it.

But the truth is that when we open up to ‘why’ - we actually need to suspend the ‘how.’ Yes I know that sounds crazy - but it’s what I’ve personally been struggling with for the past 2 years, and I finally feel like I’m starting to understand it. 

The problem with obsessing with ‘how’ is that it leaves no room for what some people refer to as ‘chance,’ and what I refer to as ‘quantum physics.’

For example let’s say you decide to set a goal of changing Japanese public opinion about whale hunting from an ‘annihilable right to self-determination’ to say ‘a barbaric activity that should be outlawed immediately.’ You might decide that a campaign of full page advertisements in the Asahi Shimbun was the way to go, and you go ahead and book the media space. This plan may be admirable – and I have nothing against the editorial or adverting team at Asahi Shimbun.

However let me suggest an alternative approach. First you focus your mind on this goal – and get really clear on why it’s so important to you to make this change. You write this goal down – along with your ‘why’ and you plaster it all over your living and work space. Then you share this goal, and why it’s so important, with your friends and colleagues.

You still believe that some form of broadcast media is the way to go – but you are open to the best way of achieving your goal. You have put your intention out there to the universe – and on a practical level, to your friends and colleagues. Instead of booking media space straight away, you leave it a week to see what shows up. The phone rings – ‘chance’ meetings occur – things happen to help you discover the best way (how) of doing this. Before you know it, you’ve been connected with someone on the other side of the planet who shares your goal and who has a better idea for how to achieve it. On top of that, there are another five people in different locations who have a budget 10 times bigger than yours who will help make your dream happen.

Now I’m not just talking about using the internet and crowd sourcing to achieve your goal. I’m talking about letting go of the ‘How.’

The best analogy I have for this comes from So Long and Thanks for all The Fish - a great book by the science fiction ‘comedian’ Douglas Adams (RIP).

The hero Arthur Dent is being taught how to fly by his friend Ford Prefect (who turns out not to be from Reigate - but from the planet Betelgeuse Seven). Ford explains that the trick is to aim at the ground and miss. 

“The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."  He smiled weakly.  He pointed at the knees of his trousers and held his arms up to show the elbows.  They were all torn and worn through." "I haven't done very well so far," he said. 

The key to success lies in being distracted by an object other than the ground before you hit it. Of course this is totally counter-intuitive. Just as counter-intuitive as the idea that you can have a clear (or even vague) understanding of your goal - but not to be worried about ‘How’ to achieve it.

What happens is that you focus totally on achieving your purpose (flying) while avoiding worrying about how you’re going to achieve it (the ground), while the universe (using quantum physics) works out the most efficient way of delivering the best process – the ‘how’ to achieve it. The trick is to hold the energy of your purpose and wait for the right opportunities to show up. Et voila - you’re flying.

OK so like Ford Prefect I’ve hit the ground a number of times - but last week - for the first time - I managed a few seconds of airtime. I’m not quite ready for a loop-the-loop, but it’s on my to-do list. 

Now I imagine this may sound fantastic to you right now - but I’m hoping there’s enough in there to keep you intrigued.

The big question is: Are you ready to fly?

Justin Cooper