Editor’s note: This article is based on the new book, Waiting for Jack: Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie: How to Stop Waiting and Start Living Your Life
The first time I met Jack, I ripped a $100 bill out of his hand.
On a cold winter day in Denver, I waited in line to see one of my heroes, Jack Canfield, the co-author of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series and the author of The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.
Where I wanted to be was a version of what Jack had become – an author, a speaker, an inspiration to thousands of people. He was the whole package – successful, kind – a visionary for what is possible in the world. I thought, “If I can get to know him, I will become that.”
When I saw the opportunity, I grabbed it. Literally. During his presentation, Jack reached for his wallet, pulled out a $100 bill, and said, “Who wants this?” Hands shot up in the audience; people leaned forward to see whom Jack would choose. But I leapt up, ran up the stairs to the stage, and grabbed the bill from his hand. As I was launching myself in the air, thoughts raced through my mind. Was I about to be humiliated in front of 800 people? Would they call security and haul me from the stage? But my desire for bold action was louder than any voice of doubt.
As I plucked the bill from his hand, he turned to me and said, “Yes, that’s it! We can’t wait around for the opportunities to come to us. We must take action to create what we want!”
After his talk, I waited in line to formally meet Jack and boldly asked for his personal e-mail address. Over the next several months, I sent him lengthy e-mails sharing my vision and dreams. He kindly e-mailed back one-liners of encouragement such as, “Keep thinking and playing bigger; it’s much more fun that way. Love, Jack.” Then my life got busy with other things. I lost sight of my inspiration and I stopped e-mailing Jack.
A year later, my dreams had grown stale. I had this idea if I got back in touch with Jack, he might just provide the perfect, inspiring nudge I needed. I was looking for something that would spur me into action, like a giant arrow that would show me the way.
I emailed him, and then emailed him again – but got no response. As I sat down at my computer to check my email for the fifth time in 15 minutes, I suddenly woke up.
What was I doing?
I was waiting! And this time I was waiting for Jack. I realized waiting was a behavior that began when I was a little girl. I waited to be older – surely freedom would begin when I had my first boyfriend, first kiss, got my driver’s license, graduated from high school and went to college. Then I waited to know what to do with my life. I had always waited, thinking the great prize of life was just around the corner. And I had started to believe Jack was the answer; that knowing him would provide something I thought I was missing internally.
I remembered the crowd, most likely desiring that $100 bill, while they sat glued to their chairs. What were they waiting for? An Oliver Wendell Holmes quote ran through my mind, “Many people die with their music still inside them.” Instantly, I knew I needed to do something about all this waiting. The inspiration came like lightning: I was going to write a book! A book about waiting and call it “Waiting for Jack!” Instantly, ideas and chapter titles came to me.
It all sounded good but then reality hit, I was writing a book. …Some nights I cried and wanted to give up; others I celebrated my courage. I wrote, re-wrote, ripped it all up, burned what was left and started over. I hired editors, changed directions then changed back. I danced in the moonlight and curled up in a ball on the floor. I told everyone I was writing, and then wished I hadn’t. I grew, contracted, then grew again, stretching further than I ever thought possible.
Fortunately, I have surrounded myself with a life of personal development and I have access to all the tools anyone could ever want. I know I can “feel the fear and do it anyway.” I know how to take action. I know how to move forward even when every molecule in my body tells me to stop.
We all have a “Jack” for whom we wait – whether it’s a person, a place or a thing. We falsely believe the gifts of life are just around the corner; that anywhere is better than here; that one day we will arrive and everything will be okay. So we don’t try, we give up, we sell out, we forget who we are. We are afraid to succeed, afraid to fail and afraid to say we are afraid. But as Wayne Gretzky said: “You’ll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take!”
So I stopped waiting and I wrote.
Three years later, Waiting for Jack is a best-seller on Amazon! I have grown in ways I never expected. I know that I am capable of so much more than I ever knew before.
Now I ask you, what are you waiting for?