Begin With the End In Mind

“All you need is love” — John Lennon

We are about to wrap up the Core recordings for the SOULMATE PROCESS (you can still join the group at the last recording coming this Saturday. We’ve explored the basic framework, which is NOT some short term “how to pick up chicks” or “how to make a man fall in love with you” nonsense, but rather the notion that healthy animals don’t have much trouble mating. While the “pick up” crap is about faking being healthy, sexy, and available, the process of actually BEING healthy, open-hearted and energetic is vastly superior because not only are you maxing out your chances of finding a partner, but even if you don’t find one, you already have the ultimate goal: joy. Happiness. Feeling connected to your loving heart.

I also had conversations with people who felt they could not achieve their goals because they had no “insider” resources. What was most curious is that he was arguing, in real time, with TWO people who were…wait for it…insider resources. HE COULDN’T SEE THE RESOURCE THAT WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. I started my career with NO contact with any “insiders”, but what I did have was a sense of urgency and necessity, a belief in myself, a LOVE of myself that made me willing to push for my own dreams as hard as I would fight for the people I loved. Why? Because I saw how accomplishing my dreams would SERVE the people I loved, if in no other way because I would be filled with joy, and would be able to communicate that joy to them, use it to POWER my connection with them.

Another conversation had to do with the power of finding a mentor. In saying that that connection can blow your limited self-concept out of the water, you are threatening the ego. If I tell a black belt that I can’t move, fight, handle fear or focus the way the black belts do, the unspoken assumption is: “people with these abilities are a different breed.”

If one of them takes me aside and tells me his story, that he started where I did, and that someone told HIM that if I will just define the five things I think black belts have that is most critical to their capacity, and focus getting just 1% better at ONE of those things in every class, work on that ONE thing just a few minutes every day, and commit to hitting three classes a week for one year and journaling their thoughts, feelings, and learnings…

That at the end of that year, he promises that I will understand. I’ll be in a new place in my life. And if I BELIEVE him? If I can find the faith to believe that the others have the same humanity, the same insecurities, once were clumsy or slow or weak or fearful, no matter how godlike they seem to my beginner’s eyes?

If I LOVE MYSELF enough to risk the pain of failure, the way I would risk walking through fire to save my children? If I can find enough faith to take another step?

Its like driving in the fog. You can only see for ten feet. But if you drive ten feet, you will see another ten feet.

All of the above is in my experience true. But just grasping that your life COULD have been different can trigger grief. The road not taken. Fear, for the shortened road ahead. Anger, at the people who promised help and didn’t deliver. Or SHOULD have been there to help you…but weren’t.

Anger is fear. The antidote for fear…is love.


Yesterday I posted a video of a masterful young Tai Chi player. Maybe ten years old. And wished that my parents had given me the gift of such body-mind unity at such an early age. And my friend Steve Perry asked if I was happy with what I had now. He was encouraging me to check in: was I happy with who I was?


Then you have to honor the road that brought you to this point. To grasp that the person I was was a direct reaction to and the result of the challenges I”ve met in my life. That the precise same focus, drive, tolerance for disappointment and exploration of fear that worked in this arena helped me succeed in my writing career, and have the courage to open my heart again and again after disappointments and disasters to enable me to find Tananarive.

Same struggles. Same guy. It’s ALL part of the same thing. It took me SEVENTEEN YEARS to work through the fear to earn my first black belt.

And because of that, there is nothing you, or him, or her, or ANYONE can tell me about their disappointment, and grief, and pain that doesn’t resonate with my own journey. No, I won’t agree with any of them that they cannot have their dreams. I’m not built that way.

Because I come from love. For myself, and the child within me. And because I see myself in them. IN EVERYONE. And everyone in me.


I just saw a conversation about political opponents, where the basic agreement was that the opposition were coming from sub-human, horrible motivations. And it is easier to say: go deeper. If anger is fear, and you ask what people are afraid of, most of it boils down to personal or genetic death. Hind-brain stuff, connected to faith-based perceptions on the basic nature of humanity: people who believe in equality, REALLY believe in it, see themselves in others. Those who don’t, who fear the “Other”, who cannot see the humanity of their political opponents…

Aren’t they the same people struggling with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia? No matter what they SAY can’t you see the struggle within them to live up to their principles, to be a Ghandi, or MLK, or JFK, or Lincoln, or Buddha or Jesus Christ or Mother Teresa, or whoever or whatever else they hold as an ideal? Under it all, can’t you feel the grief and fear of not living up to that ideal, and the sense of falling short of the glory that fills their eyes and hearts and minds when they fix themselves on that ideal..?

I am not enough. I judge others as I would not wish to be judged. I am a sinner, and can only pray no one sees what is really corrupted and broken inside me…

Anger is fear, remember. Ask what they are afraid of…

But you cannot do that if you are at war within yourself. First love yourself. Then see yourself in others. The rest is just details.


That starting point works for so many things, in so many ways, that it is in essence a miracle. Right in your hands. Right in your hearts. At ANY moment of your life you can commit to loving yourself. You will know you do when you have the energy, fearlessness, and faith you have when giving to your family or children, when you protect your dreams the way you would fight for them. When people spit venom at you and you see their fear rather than their rage.

Love really is the answer. It does not make you weak. Rather, it connects you to the animal survival drives that turn you into an absolute BEAST if your core values, or those you love, are threatened. That mother lifting a car off her child? That’s the beast. Would you want to screw around with someone that committed?

No? Then if you would be safe in the world…if you would be loving or influential or courageous or energetic or evolved…

Start with love. Begin with the end in mind. And always, the end is joy, and peace…

And love.



Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.