Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Now that the groundwork has been established in Part I, we can move on the real meat of this topic: how the truth about consequences will incontrovertibly make you or break you.
The Beauty in the Beast
Like Janus, consequences have a truly dichotomous nature. And like Janus, consequences allow you to look back at the end results of particular choices and apply that knowledge to future decisions. The law of outcomes is an unstoppable beast, and only you can determine whether that beast will devour you or empower you. There is no alternative. Every choice – every choice – you make will result in a predetermined outcome of benefit or detriment. You never get to opt for a “resultsless” decision, nor can you hope for a different outcome when a past decision is repeated:
- Lie to your friends, lose their trust.
- Run an extra mile, get a better race time.
- Waste an hour in front of the television, lose that hour forever.
- Study the bonus material, improve your final grade.
The results – for better or worse – unavoidably follow the actions, and the same results will follow the same actions with nearly circadian predictability. It is now that we come full circle to the foundational postulation: you can predict your future with absolute certainty, provided that you
think in terms of consequences rather than in terms of choices.
This manner of living – living by the guideposts of outcomes instead of options – demands a radical paradigm shift, a complete departure from ordinary patterns of human behavior.
The Rule of Consequences
The lesson here is to not make laborious decisions about your words and actions until you make concrete decisions about the types of outcomes you want to obtain. Is it not just as foolish to select a consequence after choosing the action as to select a target after releasing the arrow?
You may chose to read a book because you understand the general concept that reading is a prerequisite for success, but is that really the case? Does the key lie simply in the act of reading, or does it lie in what you are reading towards? Should you not first determine who you desire to become – an accomplished poet? a magnificent orator? a preeminent physicist? – and then discerningly select the materials and manner of reading which will nurture the garden of your mind into a towering forest of knowledge capable of supporting the bold and powerful future for which you so deeply hunger? Only then will you begin to see growth beyond the limitations of an ordinary life. It is this Rule of Consequences that forms the foundation of success’s great palace.
The Feast of Your Future
So this it it. It’s time to determine who you want to become. In every aspect. Mental, emotional, financial, relational, vocational. Dream. Envision. Get specific and lay it out in black and white. Let the paper know exactly the man or woman you long to see looking back at you from the fog on your morning mirror. Then take time to understand how specific actions exert their resulting forces upon the cultivation of your faculties, and only engage in those actions which directly move you towards the great heights to which you aspire.
There is no time for meandering, no excuses for aimless triviality. An extraordinary life demands the fullness of all your energies and the force of all your will. Nothing less will suffice. Hour by hour, choice by choice, you are preparing a feast of consequences of which you will one day be compelled to partake.
Will your banquet be filled with triumphal successes or painful regrets?