I've got a Little List

Just about everybody knows about the song from the Mikado…“I’ve got a little list, and they’ll none of them be missed.” Santa’s famous list of boys and girls is always checked twice, and everyone working on self fulfillment has heard of the Harvard MBA group who were asked to write down their goals. Only 3% of them did, and when a follow up of the class was done years later, the income of those 3% was as great as the collective income of the other 97%. There are now hundreds of books and motivational sources that insist that the way to success is to write down your goals. Great fortunes have been made in every media by telling other people to write down their goals, and how to do it for optimum psychological effect.

I have written extensively about people who cannot visualize, a group pretty much ignored by most writers. And here is another pretty much ignored group… there are people who have a psychological block about writing down their goals. They pick up their pen to obey the instruction to write down one hundred goals without bothering about their practicality, and their mind freezes.

Left brain takes over and blocks the imaginative power of the subdued right brain. The words are so important to the left brain that the person cannot write down something that seems to be nonsense to the inner critic who lives there monitoring every so-important word.

I must confess to being one of those people and it has taken me years, decades in fact to figure it out. I’m writing this little piece to subtract those years of less than optimum performance from your life span, to add years, in effect, to the successful following of your goals. Maybe that last paragraph is all you will need.

The interference of left brain with right brain first hit me fifty years ago…yes, I’m a slow learner in some areas though brilliant in others. I was working with a correspondence course from Builders of the Adytum, an amazing course in alchemy, Tarot, astrology,Kabbalah, gematria and much else, written by Paul Foster Case, an eminent figure in magick and occult work. I had already acquired a local reputation in these areas and expected no problems. This course is still available, and some of my occult students have taken it and are taking it with excellent results. Check BOTA on the web.

But I still remember that day, just over half a century ago when as a pretty accomplished student of mathematics, sciences, languages and literature I read the first page of lesson one. I expected it to be another easy conquest of unknown data which my then photographic memory would allow me to pursue with ease. Instead I received a perceptible shock that stopped me in my tracks.

At the bottom of page one it said to follow this instruction before turning the page. The instruction was to write down the answer to the question, “What do you want?”

It was like being hit over the head with a cosmic two by four. My solar plexus cramped up. My censor crashed into the room to ensure that every word would be true. I could not think of anything whatever to write down.

The whole idea of actually being so selfish as to WANT anything was too frightening. I had lived through the Great Depression as a child when any kind of want was instantly dismissed because it needed money, and there was none. I had learned very well that wanting something, and saying it gave great sorrow to loving parents who had absolutely no means of fulfilling such a want. Wanting became a No-no. That is not the only reason for the hang up, but it is one that anyone reading this who was brought up in poverty might understand, even if, as I hope, they have since conquered the problem legally.

Try as I might I could not write down one single thing that would pass the inner censor test. I ended up by just turning over the page and getting on with what I could do easily, which was memorize the enormous amounts of data in the words of the occult sciences. But that was all. I did not get the major benefit of the course which entailed answering that first question.

Another clue came much later, decades later, when I read the astonishing work of Douglas Susu-Mago, an eminent voice coach, recommended to me by a professional singer and musician, Tricia Alexander. She has a voice of amazing tonal quality and range. She knew about my voice problems. Sometimes I can sing, and be heard across a forty acre field. Sometimes I can’t be heard across a table in a noisy restaurant. And in my head there is absolutely no difference in the sound production. It is much easier for me to sing in foreign languages than in English, which should have been a clue if I had been super alert.

Susu-Mago gave me that ultimate clue. He had a shy girl student who thought that learning to sing would cure her shyness. He gave her a few lessons and she was able to produce a sweet tone and do scales with ease. At that time in his career the next obvious step was to teach her a simple song. He taught it to her. She sang it. Here in his exact words is another amazing clue:

“The results were stunningly bad.
The smoothness she had demonstrated in scale exercises? — all gone.
That sweet tone?— vanished
Rhythm?—not a shred!
Expression?— on life support, and flat lined!! "

He was mystified and spent the time before her next lesson trying to figure out why, what to him seemed a simple and obvious progression from scales to song just didn’t happen. He followed the clue for 25 years and became able to help even the most accomplished singers because of his discovery.

The crux of the matter was that the girl worked as an accountant and was right handed. The combination of one of the most left brained jobs there are and her use of the right hand, which is controlled by the left brain, practically ensured that she arrived for her lesson with her right brain pretty much asleep. And the smoothness, the tone, the rhythm and expression are all products of the right brain.

Her singing problems arose because the words of the song had meanings. And the left brain always tries to take charge of words and meanings, and it has no talent at all in the four realms labeled. She could probably, like me, have sung very well by learning a song in a foreign language by rote, without knowing the meaning of the words. Nonsense syllables are not monitored by the left brain. Singing is easy.

His book is called “Song Without Words” …Freeing the Voice from the left brain

I became very excited when reading this book, and being excited is not something that happens to me. My emotional responses to anything have usually approximated the emotional responses of a cinder block, a characteristic that has saved my life on several occasions or enabled me to survive sudden challenges without interference from the emotions, but not very useful in some important areas of life. It looks like an ability to keep your head in emergencies, so it is not something obvious to think about changing.

The clincher for me came later in the book when the author played tennis and realized that his right forearm was beginning to look like Popeye’s and the left looked undeveloped. So he asked his coach to help him use his left hand. He noticed immediately that he could learn everything about a left handed stroke in one go, while learning a right handed stroke had to be done in increments. And furthermore, when he had learned a stroke with his left hand he learned it almost instantly with his right. There was an immediate transfer.

Here was the same clue as he found in the student. The right side of the brain has no trouble learning dozens of things at once. Speed reading is a right brained skill enabling people to read whole pages at a glance. The left brain is linear. Stuff is processed a bit at a time, however swiftly.

Several people in history who are famous for their accomplishments have been able to access right and left brain with ease. Leonardo could write backwards, forwards or mirror with either hand. Count Saint Germain, the alchemist, on one occasion wrote the same letter on two pieces of paper with both hands simultaneously, and even the signatures were the same. That is historically recorded.

Susu-Mago followed his tennis discovery and found that if right handed people moved their left hand while they sang just about everything improved. Now I kicked myself when I read that because I have taught many students how to make their dreams lucid by looking at their right hand in the dream and moving it. The sleeping left brain enters the dream, and it can then be controlled by the dreamer. I didn’t go the other step and think what moving the left hand could do.

So, if you had or have any of the problems that beset me, then looking at some of the above material may be helpful. But what about those without those problems, who have no problems making lists. Well it’s always a good idea to choose an extreme example at each end of the spectrum of whatever topic you are discussing. I gave myself as an example of an extreme left brainer, handicapped by an unusual skill with words. I couldn’t write a single thing on my list. Enter John Goddard.

When John Goddard was fifteen years old he got into a little bit of trouble at school and was told to mend his ways or he wouldn’t amount to anything. When he got home and reported his day at school he got another reaming from his parents saying that if he didn’t mend his ways he wouldn’t amount to anything.

There are many biographies in which something said to a young person inspired them instead of crushing them, and in John’s case he was inspired to figure out what he wanted from life instead of listening to other people’s ideas about his future.

This fifteen year old sat down and wrote out 127 goals of what he wanted to be and do.

In achieving 108 of them he became well known in many different circles. Here are a few of his achievements, all of which were written out in that list when he was fifteen.I have used the same numbering that he did.

The first four were about exploring rivers, 1. * Nile River, 2. * Amazon River,
3. * Congo River, 4. * Colorado River. The asterisk means he did it. He was the first man to paddle the whole 4200 miles of the Nile in a kayak. He had another companion on the trip. It was a tapeworm that he named Rodney.

The next part of his list involved exploring primitive and aboriginal cultures. He did them all and more. He has lived with 260 different tribal groups ranging from head hunters of New Guinea, natives of Ethiopia and Alaska and the pygmies and other tribes of Central Africa.

After the primitive cultures on was a list of mountains he intended to climb. Here are those he eventually did climb: 24. * Mt. Hauscaran, Peru. 25. * Mt. Kilimanjaro. 26. * Mt. Ararat, Turkey. 27. * Mt. Kenya. 29. * Mt. Popocatepetl, Mexico 30. * The Matterhorn 31. * Mt. Rainier. 32. * Mt. Fuji 33. * Mt. Vesuvius 34. * Mt. Bromo, Java 35. * Grand Tetons 36. * Mt. Baldy, California

He didn’t just climb the Matterhorn. He did it in a blizzard when all the professional guides said they couldn’t do it in that weather.

Running down the list we come to: 40. * Learn to fly a plane. 41. * Ride horse in Rose Parade. Remember that asterisks mean he accomplished the goal.

Like the Matterhorn goal he didn’t just learn to fly a plane. He has flown 47 different types of plane, and holds a civilian air-speed record of 1,500 miles an hour in an F111 Fighter Bomber. He flew an F-106 as a civilian and holds the altitude record for civilians of 63,000 feet. As far as I know this record still stands.

His list included following the historical paths of Marco Polo and Alexander the Great. He did it. That was #47 on the list he wrote that afternoon.

Having listed a great many above sea level activities he added underwater exploration to his list and accomplished all of these: 48. * Coral reefs of Florida. 49. * Great Barrier Reef, Australia. 50. * Red Sea. 51. * Fiji Islands 52. * The Bahamas. 53. * Explore Okefenokee Swamp and the Everglades . All of these he explored and photographed. While swimming in the Great Barrier Reef he took a famous photograph of a 300 pound clam.

After this came a long list of things and places he wanted to visit, like the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China. Then came a few places where he wanted to swim in the waters of famous lakes: 68. * Lake Victoria. 69. * Lake Superior.70. * Lake Tanganyika. 71. * Lake Titicaca, S. America. 72. * Lake Nicaragua

I have to confess that when I was fifteen I didn’t know anything about some of the places on his list up to this point. But he had always wanted to be an explorer.

Among the accomplishments he listed were these: 73. * Become an Eagle Scout
74. * Dive in a submarine. 75. * Land on and take of from an aircraft carrier.76. * Fly in a blimp, balloon and glider.77. * Ride an elephant, camel, ostrich and bronco.78. * Skin dive to 40 feet and hold breath two and a half minutes underwater.79. * Catch a ten-pound lobster and a ten-inch abalone. 80. * Play flute and violin. 81. * Type 50 words a minute. 82. * Make a parachute jump..83. * Learn water and snow skiing. 84. * Go on a church mission. 85. * Follow the John Muir trail. 86. * Study native medicines and bring back useful ones. 87. * Bag camera trophies of elephant, lion, rhino, cheetah, cape buffalo and whale. 88. * Learn to fence. 89. * Learn jujitsu. 90. * Teach a college course
91. * Watch a cremation ceremony in Bali

All of these he accomplished. Coming further down the list we have: 96. * Build own telescope. 97. * Write a book (On Nile trip) .98. * Publish an article in National Geographic Magazine.99. * High jump five feet. 100. * Broad jump 15 feet. 101. * Run mile in five minutes .102. * Weigh 175 pounds stripped (he still does) 103. * Perform 200 sit-ups and 20 pull-ups 104. * Learn French, Spanish and Arabic.

And now, coming round the bend into the straight, some of the final items, all accomplished: 113.* Become proficient in the use of a plane, motorcycle, tractor, surfboard, rifle, pistol, canoe, microscope, football, basketball, bow and arrow, lariat and boomerang. 114. * Compose music.115. * Play Clair de Lune on the piano .116. * Watch fire-walking ceremony (In Bali and Surinam) 117. * Milk a poisonous snake (bitten by the rattlesnake he was milking during photo session) 118. * Light a match with .22 rifle. 119. * Visit a movie studio.120. * Climb Cheops' pyramid. 121. * Become a member of the Explorer's Club and the Adventure's Club. 122. * Learn to play polo. 123. * Travel through the Grand Canyon on foot and by boat. 124. * Circumnavigate the globe (four times) .126. * Marry and have children (has five children) 127. * Live to see the 21st century.

Some, like visiting the moon are still not checked off but we can’t put anything past someone like John Goddard. His current list extends to over 600 items and he has accomplished 520 of them at last count. We about the same age he and I. Imagine my in the twenties clever persona unable to write even one want or goal, and this fifteen year old able to produce 127 and accomplish so many of them.

He majored in anthropology and psychology at the University of Southern California. His honors include: being honored by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce as one of California's outstanding young men, he was the youngest member ever to belong to the Adventurers' Club of Los Angeles, the Adventurer's Club of Chicago, the Explorers' Club of New York, the Savage Club of London, the Royal Geographic Society, he is the only American member ofthe French Explorers' Society, the Archaeological Society, the Mach II club, the Sigma Chi Fraternity, of which he is a life member.

Unlike so many people today who get corporate sponsors to pay their expenses to try remarkable feats, John Goddard financed everything himself.

This remarkable man is a staple mention of motivational speakers who are trying to show their audiences how to set goals and then go for them. One of them who was inspired to go one better than John is a man called Dax Moy. Google the name and you will find out about him.

He was inspired to write his own list after hearing a motivational speaker talk about Goddard and was astonished to find that he petered out around 35. Then he thought that Goddard had indeed done amazing things but had taken about 40 years to do so. Dax didn’t think he had the patience to do that, but still wanted to accomplish things. He fretted about it day and night until he got his inspiration while shaving, my wife gets hers during showers.

He was given the clue of 100. He contemplated that and came up with the idea of accomplishing 100 goals in 100 days. He has published a course on how to do just that, entitled The Magic 100. If you are inspired to make a list, but don’t have decades left statistically, you might benefit by Googling Dax and checking him out.

And while you are googling, don’t forget Douglas Susu-Mago and Tricia Alexander. Tricia has a whole first page to herself and her voice was already amazing and unique when she took lessons from Mago who showed her how to ‘hone’ it, as she said. She is also an accomplished composer and Reiki Master, for those of you who need someone who knows about energies.

Good luck with your list. Please contact me by comment if you find that this helped you.