James Gray’s “Two Lovers” with Joaquin Phoenix, Gwenth Paltrow, and Vinessa Shaw was an amusing, but predictable movie. The plot involved a confused young man carrying on with two completely different lovers—one very passionate, slightly out-of-reach relationship with all sorts of possibilities, good and bad, and the other a comfortable love that he could easily grow into. He follows his heart and gets jilted at the last minute in his plans to run away with the hoped-for love, but luckily still has the comfortable, fall-back relationship as an alternative to his suicidal thoughts. He knew the ending ahead of time, but foolishly delayed it.

Brian Tracy, international motivational and success guru, has estimated that we make wrong decisions that lead to failure or disappointment about 70% of the time. Why is this so? The most successful people in life, making the right decisions and choices, practice what Jack Welsh calls the reality principle—they deal with reality head-on the way it is and not the way they would prefer it to be. Since the majority of thinking is unconscious—some say as much as 95%—then most of our decisions are unknown to us too. That possibility is a bit scary.

I imagine that we all have a direct, unconscious perception of the reality principle that we consciously ignore just to see what might happen. In a way, we always know the ending, but doubt that reality, just enough to make things interesting. The trouble is, the more we doubt what really is in favor of what we would like it to be, the more out of practice our perceptions get with their accuracy. This is kind of like the early childhood game of “hide-and-seek” where the object is to hide well enough not to get found too quickly. But if we hide too well, we don’t get found and the game is no fun.

Another potentially dangerous game we play with reality is called the “edge game.” Here, we tiptoe to the edge of a cliff just to see how far we can get to the edge without falling off. There are lots of tragedies in this game and Joaquin Phoenix was nearly one, except for coming to his senses before it was too late. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen in real life.

Now consider the reality that we all seem to need quite a few reality lessons before we come to our senses. There are usually too many broken bones, bruises and bleeding, before we learn how to walk, run and then fly. But for some odd reason, I don’t think anyone of us would have it any other way. We know quite well how to have a happy ending, but if we just walked straight up to it and claimed it from the get-go, then what would we do with all the rest of the time.

In a very peculiar sense, the 70% wrong decisions and disappointing choices, are just leading us to appreciate success more when we finally have the good sense to seize it. The saying “better late than never” comes readily to mind. Never-the-less we don’t often run to embrace this undeniable reality, even when we finally learn to agree with it. That is what is really odd about all this. It all seems to be a gradual, overnight success.

Choosing to use the reality principle to guide your life towards success doesn’t have to be a delayed one getting lost somewhere in the stack of 70% failures. That is a choice you make. We all have to define when enough is enough for ourselves and then start letting the unconscious realities take away their veils and show themselves to our conscious minds. Then something amazing happens: We realize we were born to succeed and prosper in abundance and that failure and scarcity were just very convincing illusions. The opportunity is forever present in the now moment, regardless of past troubles or future worries. This reality is no longer hocus-pocus.

Are you following the reality principle? If yes I bet you are enjoying success; but if not, the question becomes: When will you get to the point of knowing when enough is enough? Follow the reality principle and enjoy success, or don’t and just delay the process. But be very wary of sticking your head under water and then losing consciousness and drowning by mistake.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA and also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living in the peaceful mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000, Getting It, Passwords to The Prosperity Zone, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, Reality Repair Rx, and Reality Repair coming shortly. He can be contacted with comments or questions at 425 454-5011 or bcottringer@pssp.net