“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
That’s a famous quote about luck, attributed to Thomas Jefferson. I’ve also heard dozens of similar quotes, from sports superstars, business leaders, motivational speakers, and other high performers.
But I’ve also heard another wild side of this quote.
And often, it comes from the same person who champions the hard work. They insist it’s not just that hard work creates results that others see as lucky. Rather, when you’re showing up, setting intentions, and doing the work, the world somehow rewards that with auspicious synchronicities. Which means, good things coming to you in ways that feel like random coincidences.
Some have gone so far as to admit believing there’s something almost magical going on.
Hence otherwise “sane and logical” high achievers doing something like a vision board, and seeing all those things come into their life. Or, for example, writing down a description of their perfect partner (romantic, business, or… ?) and having that person enter their life ready for the partnership, in some seemingly random way. Or simply sitting and imagining a future scenario, feeling as if it’s real, and expecting it to become so.
I believe in what I call Practical Manifestation…
I believe that, for the most part, things come to us because of the actions we take.
For example, if you want a bunch of money to show up in your mailbox, you can just imagine it. Or, you can put an offer into the marketplace, and ask people to send money to you in exchange for a product.
Just imagining — with all the feeling in the world — COULD be followed by the money showing up.
But if you follow that imaginative act with action in pursuit of your desired outcome, you have perhaps an even greater potential to get it that way, too.
And in the chance circumstance that the money shows up even before you’re done doing what you thought you’d need to do to make it appear… Well, even better!
I believe, and I’ve met many other high-achievers who believe, in the approach of imagining plus doing.
We imagine a future we want to see become true. Whether that’s a business, or a product, or a cash windfall, or a healthy body, or some new personal achievement, or a relationship, or… Whatever.
Then, we go about making it happen. We work hard toward that. And we keep working, until we have it. Sometimes we can trace the exact steps we took to the outcome. Other times, there seems to be luck or fortune or pure randomness working in our favor.
Either way, we make it happen. And we do this over and over again. From imagining what we want for lunch, to imagining success on a big project, to imagining a breakthrough new product, to anything we set our minds to.
I’ve been back in “Getting Things Done” mode…
And here I’m referring to David Allen’s book and methodology of Getting Things Done, or GTD.
I try to do a good job of implementing the GTD methodology in my work. When I do, it completely lights me up. Because it’s designed to help you stay on top of the massive and ever-changing nature of work and inputs in our modern life.
And recently, I created a reminder every 3 months to re-listen to at least one GTD audiobook, to constantly refine my system. Plus, I use this as a reminder to catch up with other GTD materials, including the podcast.
What does this all have to do with Practical Manifestation?
Well, on a recent episode of the GTD podcast (I already forget which one), David Allen mentioned that he absolutely believes in Practical Manifestation, too. (Although he didn’t use this term.)
Here’s a guy who literally wrote the book on managing the million-and-one commitments of life and work, and doing all the necessary physical action steps to set a goal and do the hard work to get it done.
And yet, he also believes that much of what you desire will come to you completely synchronistically, if you’re doing all the right things.
For example, he told the story of wanting a very specific house. He wrote down the details. He imagined it vividly. Then, he back-burnered it. “Someday maybe.” He DID do some work. He shared this vision with a Realtor. But even after having done this, there was no guarantee he’d ever get it. There was no guarantee the perfect house existed!
But a couple months later, he got a call from that Realtor, they said they found the house, and David and his wife drove out that day and made an instant decision. It was the house they’d envisioned, down to specifics about the barn on the property.
David says he has countless stories like this — including some that seem far more unbelievable.
Me too. That’s the whole point of Practical Manifestation.
Yes, you’re always doing to make things happen.
But then sometimes those things happen with far less effort or in ways you’d never imagined.
There’s a really simple process to Practical Manifestation…
On another episode of the GTD podcast, David was interviewing a high-ranking Air Force officer, who used GTD as his primary method for staying on top of running an entire base.
And although today he uses GTD, he was turned onto one of its core principles by an older business book that’s now on my must-read (or listen) list: The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt.
The Goal is what’s called a “business novel.”
It’s a story, a parable, about business. Meant to teach some important points. One of the big points this Air Force officer took away from it was a set of three simple questions.
— What to change?
— What to change to?
— How to cause that change to happen?
If you have a problem… If you have a project… If you have a desired outcome in your business… What you really want is a change.
You want something to be different.
You want to make more leads come in the door. You want the change of launching a new product. You want the change of hiring someone. Whatever…
In order to make that happen, you start with these three questions.
What to change? What to change to? How to cause that change to happen?
Most people don’t do that work. They don’t ask those questions. (Including me, more often than I’d like to admit.) They just create some vague sense of what they need to do, and start beating their head against that wall.
But if you get specific and clear about what change you want to create, and then decide what you need to do to make it most likely that it will happen, then you have a path.
You start walking that path, and you may get feedback. Maybe there’s more to do. Maybe there’s a bend in the path, taking you in a new direction. Maybe the result seems further or closer than you think.
You don’t know until you clearly define what you want (to manifest) and then think about how you can be the cause (that’s the practical part).
Which, to me — means these are fundamentally the three questions you need to answer for Practical Manifestation of any goal or positive change you’d like to create…
GTD makes it even simpler…
I’m on a simplicity kick recently. Make things as simple as they can be while remaining accurate or effective.
For this reason, my primary workout every morning is just two exercises: the kettlebell swing, and the kettlebell Turkish Get-Up. (This is Pavel’s Simple & Sinister 2.0 program for anyone in the know.) And yes, it’s practically manifesting my best fitness level ever.
GTD effectively simplifies those 3 questions for Practical Manifestation down to two.
— What do I want to be true?
— What’s the next physical action step?
If you ask yourself the answer for every project and obligation you have in front of you, store that information in a trusted system, review it on a regular basis, and use it to decide and take those actions (replacing next actions with another as they are completed, until you’ve created the outcome you desire)…
You’ll become a Practical Manifestation master.
You’ll be getting a whole lot of stuff done.
You’ll create a whole pile of results in your life.
But while you do that, you’ll likely notice something else. More and more of what you want will start coming to you more easily.
Whether through luck or as a simple byproduct of all you’re doing, things will line up.
You’ll even have things you eventually wanted to work towards that arrive before you even start work — things you put on your “Someday Maybe” lists arrive without you lifting a finger.
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
Makes me wonder how much of this Thomas Jefferson experienced, too.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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