Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Devon Principle

You've probably gathered by now that our children serve as the inspiration for several of my posts. Daughter Devon attuned me to the Ewwww! Factor, and son Macrae was our companion on the Cross-Cultural Journey. Yesterday's lesson from Devon, however, might have provided the best insight of all.

A couple of nights ago, Devon walked into my study in tears. She felt she was falling behind in her schoolwork and not doing as well as she should. Worst of all, she found herself procrastinating over the work, even though she knew it needed to be done. At one point, she referred to herself as "lazy". I reassured her that I'd help her get things done, but the degree of her self-doubt left an impression on me.

Yesterday, out of the blue, Devon received a notice inviting her to a casting call for a movie to be filmed in Chicago. She's done some modeling (see above), but this was the first acting invitation she had gotten. She practically pranced into my study and exclaimed, "Let's do it!" Within minutes, she had chosen the photo to submit and had written a cover letter to go with it.

When I read the cover letter, I was stunned. It was perfect. Far and away the best thing she had ever written. I could not have prepared a better letter myself--and I have a fair amount of writing experience!

Later, I talked with Devon about what had happened. She somewhat shyly admitted that she was *very* proud of her letter. What I pointed out, however, was that she was no longer a "lazy" person who procrastinated and did mediocre work when she pursued something that was meaningful to her. As a student in a math class, she struggles to get work done; the work doesn't speak to her. But acting and modeling? She's never missed a class or assignment.

Reflecting on our talk, I came up with what I'm calling the Devon Principle. Here it is:

Everything we do in life--our work, recreation, relationships--is a mirror. It reflects an image of ourselves back to us. If we're doing the wrong things in life, the mirror reflects a distorted image. Over time, we begin to mistake that image for reality. We really do think of ourselves as lazy or incompetent.

When we do the work we're meant to do, however, the mirror reflects the best of who we are. Over time, we internalize that image and the pride and confidence that go with it.

People who are successful--in life and in markets--find positive mirrors. They have found markets and ways of trading that reflect back to them unique skills and talents. They enjoy relationships that reflect love, caring, and respect and, as a result, they feel those things for themselves. "You are what you eat," is an old saying. The Devon Principle says that we're always eating life experience. We're always internalizing what our activities reflect to us. And we will always live up to the image of that reflection.

So I say to you what I said to Devon: There is some sphere of life in which you already are the person you want to be. The key is to find those activities and relationships and organize your time around them. Find the trading where you're at your best and make that your specialty. Or maybe trading isn't where you're at your best; perhaps a far better mirror awaits you.

The Devon Principle points out that how you feel about yourself is not simply the result of something inside you. It is a function of the relationship you have with your activities: what you actually are doing in your life.

Do the right things, and you will be the hero of your own life story.

Thanks, Dev, for teaching Dad that lesson.