Sometimes, you need to see it to believe it. This is a helpful visualizing exercise that everyone, even celebrities, have done to make their success a reality.
Octavia Butler: “So be it! I will find the way to do this. See to it!”
Octavia Butler is remembered as one of the greatest science-fiction writers of the 20th century, becoming the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur “genius” grant. But in 1988, before the awards and recognition, she wrote an inspirational note to herself in her private journal. In her entry, she described her future success: “This is my life….I will help poor black youngsters go to college. I will get the best of health care for my mother and myself. I will hire a car whenever I want or need to. I will travel whenever and wherever in the world that I choose. My books will be read by millions of people! So be it! See to it!”
This fabulous "note to self" is just a peek into the archive of science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler, whose papers were donated to #TheHuntington in 2008. This year marks the 10th anniversary of her untimely death, and to celebrate her life and work we’ve partnered with @clockshopla to launch “Radio Imagination,” a yearlong series of programs and events in her honor. To read more about her work and the upcoming project, head over to huntingtonblogs.org/2016/01/celebrating-Octavia-Butler/ Handwritten notes on inside cover of one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1988. #RadioImagination #OctaviaButler
She visualized her future success with no compromises or qualifications. Failure was not an option. Verbs were in the present tense. “So be it! See to it!” Butler promised herself she would become a best-selling author, and she did become one.
As life coach and vision-board proponent Martha Beck notes, visualizing works because it asks us to shift our mind’s attention towards our goals, so that they begin to feel more like reality. “When you put your attention on something, you experience more of it. Maybe it is created by a magical force of attention. At the very least, you are going to selectively pay attention to these things you like once you selectively start to gear yourself to focus on them more,” Beck said.
Kendrick Lamar’s rules for success
Today, Kendrick Lamar is recognized as one of the greatest rappers of his generation. In 2011, he was still an up-and-coming rapper recording tracks in his garage.
In this garage, photographer David Black noticed that Lamar had an inspirational board of advice to himself and took a photo of it, which was published in California Sunday. In his inspirational note to himself, Lamar identified five keys to hip-hop success: charisma, substance, lyrics, uniqueness, and a strong work ethic. “The top 5 didn’t get there off mere talent. You match talent with drive,” he wrote under the Work Ethics column. “Take away 50’s ability to make great songs and you still have one of the hardest-working human beings I’ve ever encountered.”
Visualizing how he was going to remain disciplined and centered like his idols worked. With his inspiration board guiding him, Lamar earned four Grammy award nominations for the good kid, m.A.A.d city album that he incubated in this garage.
Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for $10 million
When you don’t have it in your hands, you can still get power out of holding a physical reminder. That’s what comedian and actor Jim Carrey did.
In 1997, he told Oprah Winfrey in an interview that he would drive his Toyota to Hollywood Hills and imagine a world where he wasn’t broke, but a successful actor directors would love to work with.
He took this visualization one step further and wrote himself a future check for “acting services rendered.” The check gave him a deadline of a few years.
“I put it in my wallet and I kept it there and it deteriorated and deteriorated,” Carrey said. “But then just before Thanksgiving 1995, I found out I was going to make $10 million off of ‘Dumb and Dumber.”
Of course, you can’t just rest on visualization alone. Hard work, discipline and talent are the foundation to making this exercise work. But what these notes show is that learning how to inspire yourself is just as necessary too.