Creating Your Perfect Path

Steven Barnes
5 min readNov 17, 2023

“Don’t bother practicing martial arts. I know people who did, and they still lost fights.”

“Traditional martial arts don’t work. Try MMA.”

“Don’t carry a knife…it can be taken away from you.”

“Don’t fight back against a bully. You’ll just get hurt worse.”

“Don’t resist the invader. Your population will suffer.”

“Don’t prepare for war. You simply increase the chances thereof.”

Ummm…I think every martial artist, probably most adults, have heard some version of these. A mature response includes the notion that these arts just multiply your efficiency and effectiveness in physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual ways which increase CHANCES of success, as well as decrease the chances of conflict. And the benefits go far, far beyond “winning the next fight.” God willing and the river don’t rise, I’ll never hurt another human being in my life. Its FUN to disarm someone’s anger by addressing their fear. Most of the time they never even realize you’ve done it. You can walk away chuckling.


The same things get said about education, dieting, financial plans, starting a business, seeking love. ANYTHING, any pattern of action, will attract certain people, and repell others. “Thick face, black heart” people. You have to harden your heart to their criticism. So long as your behaviors pass the Three Gates to the best of your ability, you have the right to live your life.

This is important today, because Jason is ripe. He’s feeling enough pain in relation to his negative behavior patterns that he is willing, and quite possibly ready, to try something new. To really listen to what I’m saying.

I have to act as if this is the only chance I’m getting, and I have to bring my “A” Game. To that end, the structure of FIREDANCE is:

  1. Five minute miracle. 60 seconds of diaphragmatic breathing per hour, at least 5 X a day.
  2. Morning Ritual of movement, emotion, spoken affirmation and visualization, 10–20 minutes a day. Incorporate the “MAGIC” formula, with an intent to improve 1% per week.
  3. The Ancient Child, the integration of child, adult, and elder with Belly Brain, Heart Center, and Head Center. This is real magic once you get this far. I AM WILLING TO BET THAT ANYONE WHO GETS THIS FAR WILL START EXPERIENCING “LUCK”. It is spooky. Experiment and see for yourself.
  4. Anger is a Mask over Fear. FASCINATES me how many people get stuck on this one — especially aggressive guys. I will allow the student to speculate: “if this is true, what might cause this reaction? And why is the reaction strongest in the most aggressive males?” I can point to a dozen different cases that are remarkably similar.
  5. Lifewriting. This is the “dynamic sphere” created by the Hero’s Journey and the Chakras. Once you see and feel this, your life will never be the same.

OK. Let me go deeper. It is possible that the most refined and tested model extracted from all of this is the Lifewritng for Writers pattern for newbie scribblers:

  1. Write a sentence a day
  2. Write 1–4 short stories a month
  3. Polish and submit 1 per month
  4. Don’t re-write except to editorial request
  5. Read 10X what you write
  6. Repeat this pattern 100X

So far, no student who has followed this pattern has gotten past story #27 without selling.

Does this guarantee a sale? No, but it comes closer to such a perfection than anything else I know.

Does selling one story guarantee selling a second? No, but your chances went up drastically

Does selling stories guarantee making enough money to make a real difference in your life? No. But you are on a serious path, where you can jump to writing and selling novels if you pay attention and keep learning.

Does selling novels guarantee a full-time career? No…but if you keep studying, you’ll be wise to focus on marketing and sales AS A DISCIPLINE SEPARATE FROM WRITING. And the better you get with this “adult” aspect of the career, the more the “child’s” creative efforts have a chance to earn enough money to make it a full-time occupation.

Beyond that point: bestsellers, awards, becoming a literary giant or immortal, or getting Stephen King bucks…you are asking to be struck by lightning. Its certainly possible to increase your CHANCES of being struck by lightning, but that would take a massive amount of research, luck, mentoring, hard work, and courage.

But do you “get” how the path is there? That, like learning martial arts, you can diagram a path that leverages your time and energy optimally? CHILDREN want guarantees. ADULTS learn to play the odds. If you enjoy writing, then just publishing a story from time to time gets you in the society of writers, and you belong there as much as Shakespeare. Enjoy.

Can you look at these six step, and see how the MAGIC formula created it? I leave this as an exercise for the intelligent and creative student.

What I have to do is build something as intelligent for Jason’s online business. If I can…he will incrementally step onto the actual path of adulthood: learning to be responsible for his emotions, actions, and financial results, such that he can support three people. If he can, if he has that power, he will be able to attract and hold a good woman with self-respect.. If he is also beautiful (which he is, dammit), he will be able to attract a POWERFUL woman, who can also support herself and two others. Now you have a power couple, capable of supporting SIX people, and brothers and sisters, that is, frankly, a whole different level.

I don’t know exactly how to do it, but I’m going to take a shot at creating analogs for all six steps, in terms of building and promoting his business.

I could lay out that pattern for writing and martial arts. And a more complex pattern for relationships (having a healthy relationship is a bit of magic, and there are few direct sources of study for it. You need to start with a hypothesis, and then study a dozen different healthy relationships to see if your hypothesis holds up.”

IF I can create that incremental path:

  1. Measurable results daily. Small opportunities to learn and either reinforce or change actions.
  2. Refining your instincts and intuition.
  3. Knowing when to push forward, and when to quit one project and try something else.
  4. Learning how to learn. And how to measure when you AREN’T learning
  5. Market research. Determining his perfect customer and learning how to identify their pain and communicate your solution.
  6. Learning how to deal with the inevitable “dark nights” when you feel nothing is happening, and others start quitting.

Those MIGHT be analogs. I have to go deeper. And tomorrow, on FIREDANCE, I’m going to do just that. It won’t be perfect. It won’t be pretty.

But it will be heartfelt — my belove son’s life is at stake, and I will NOT fail him.




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Steven Barnes

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