The 7 Cs of Success

[Credit: I totally stole these from Ryan Holiday at Daily Stoic. In turn, he got them from an interview with the modern philosopher Tom Morris.]

  1. A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
  2. A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain that goal.
  3. A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach our goal.
  4. A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision.
  5. An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we’re doing.
  6. A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
  7. A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.

I’d add to that list: A strong COFFEE! šŸ˜€

I’ve Found My Life’s Purpose

People nowadays rightfully expect more from their lives than in previous generations. It’s not enough to merely have a good job, car, partner and a nice place to live.

Young people these days are crying out for something more. They’re looking for meaning.

Lots of us still dream of a fat pay cheque and getting rich. But many of us also realise that money, fame and success are ultimately hollow.

Once you have a roof over your head and can pay your bills, more money doesn’t make you happier.

For a while now, I’ve been trying to scratch an itch… I’ve been wanting to fulfil my potential. And I’ve been looking into different ways in which I might achieve that goal.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a pair of blog posts in which I explored this issue:

For almost 3 months, I’ve been attending a 12 Steps fellowship for my issues with drug addiction. It’s been a revelation. I’m changing massively.

“I used to think that drugs were the problem, but they weren’t. It was me that was the problem… me and my fucked up thinking.”

Bollinger, R. (2019)

Lofty goals can be worthwhile. But they’re by no means the most important thing.

Rather than trying to earn X amount of money, or achieve a certain level of success in my career, here’s what I’ve realised…

Who I am on a day-to-day basis is way more important than my job title or how much I earn. It’s my character, my everyday behaviour and the type of person I am that’s truly important.”

Bollinger, R. (2019)

My Life’s Purpose

I want to live every day in alignment with a set of spiritual principles, which include:

  • Honesty
  • Courage
  • Love, Compassion & Kindness
  • Gratitude
  • Awareness & Attention
  • Humility & Open-mindedness

And where I can, I want to help others to fulfil their own potential.

I also want to keep a primary focus on the here & now (the present), rather than worrying about the future or getting depressed about the past. Mindfulness will be my primary tool for achieving that.

Success as a By-Product

As long as I’m living according to the above principles, then I expect success (however you want to define that) will follow as a by-product.

I won’t need to chase money, status or prestige. If I have the right attitude towards myself and others, those things will come naturally.

At least, that’s my hope. I have faith in myself and my Higher Power.

What’s Your Intention?

Is your past holding you back? Here’s how to get over it and move on with your life.

I’m a huge fan of Richard Grannon AKA Spartan Lifecoach. He really knows his stuff (coaching and psychology).

And just check out the production quality on this video… all shot on an iPhone!

Where I am Today

So much has been changing for me recently. On certain matters it feels like I change my mind daily. But far from feeling uncertain or adrift, I’m feeling confident that I’m on the right path.

I thought it might be useful briefly to recap where I am today and some of my beliefs. These are subject to change and revision!

I’ve started reading about the work of psychologist Carl Jung – it’s fascinating. Many of his ideas seem to chime with intuitions or part-formed ideas I’ve been mulling over recently.

We each hold a divine spark within ourselves, in our unconscious mind. Some people can go their whole lives without realising it’s there. But others of us, myself included, keep getting hints and fleeting connections with our inner divinity.

This divine spark is potentially God-like. It’s like a physical embodiment of what we’re all capable of. It’s pointing the way to being the very best me.

Now, when I think of God, I’m referring to this God-like potential inside myself, this little slice of heaven.

One way (maybe the best way) we can get in touch with the God inside us is through meditation. When we’re still and pay attention… we can start to feel a deep inner peace. We “wake up” in a very real sense.

I now view meditation as an essential part of my spiritual journey.

In mid-August, I took a huge quantity of DXM. I refer to the following 2-3 weeks as a Spiritual Awakening. Chemically, something happened inside my brain which enabled me to become more closely in touch with my unconscious mind, including the spark of God or Higher Power within me.

My Spiritual Awakening isn’t just a singular moment in time. It’s an ongoing process. Every day, I’m waking up more. There’s also a tight correlation with another kind of waking up… every time I bring my conscious awareness back to the present moment (i.e. being mindful), that’s another form of waking up.

Through these two forms of waking, I’m getting closer to the real me and also the me that I’m capable of becoming – the best version of myself.

I’m now thinking that this true purpose of life… or at least the true purpose of my life. It’s to manifest the divine spark within me as much as possible in my everyday life. It’s to become Holy – the best version of me possible.

This won’t happen overnight. It’s a daily process, requiring continual effort.

I will make mistakes, I will forget things and need to re-learn them. I’m embracing a model of “two steps forward and one step back.” In other words, I’m being kind and patient with myself. I’m not going to quit just because things don’t seem to be working so well on a particular day.

I still have some reservations and reluctance regarding the official 12 Steps and the associated “stepwork”. I really dislike dogma – it’s necessary to be generic in order to deliver teachings in a way that’s suitable for the masses. But I am not the masses.

I’m determined to keep thinking critically and keep integrating the 12 Steps teachings in ways which resonate deeply with my other beliefs. I’m not just going to accept things on blind faith – that’s simply not who I am. I would be insulting my inner divinity by uncritically accepting everything I’m told.

I do have a “self”, but it’s not constant. In fact, in my case, it seems to change more frequently and more radically than most people’s. I don;t see that as a weakness, I see it as a strength.

I think of my sense of self as like an eddy in a stream. Over time, it may appear to hold a mostly consistent form, but it’s also ever-changing in many small ways.

Having a loose sense of self makes it easier for me to ignore my ego, which often just gets in the way of my spiritual development. It’s important for me to stay humble and open-minded, willing to re-evaluate my thinking at any point in time.

I don’t need to be right all the time. It’s far more important for me to be kind, both to myself and to others.

I want to embody the spiritual principles of Truth, Love, Courage and Humility in everything that I do. Again, I don’t expect to be perfect. I will make mistakes. But these mistakes are necessary and I’ll welcome them. Every “mistake” is an opportunity for learning.

I’m going to keep building the gap between stimulus and response in my own mind. I’ll do this through a daily meditation practice. This will have a huge effect on reducing any feelings of anxiety, depression or addiction. In essence, I’ll become free.

I’ll take personal responsibility for my life. I’ll pray for guidance on how best to do this. When I pray, I’m praying to the inner God-like potential that lives in my unconscious.

I’ll use the Serenity Prayer – this seems to embody the concept of personal responsibility.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer

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My Biggest Problem with Life Coaching

Me as a Customer

I’ve been a paying customer of 4 or 5 different coaches. I learned something from all of them, though it’s fair to say each had their own strengths and weaknesses.

Me as a Coach

I’ve also been trained to be a life coach by an industry veteran, my good friend Tim Brownson. I’ve also sat in on Tim’s training of other new and aspiring life coaches (multiple times), occasionally offering some of my own nuggets of wisdom.

For a while, I tried to run a business of my own as The Depression Coach – I wanted to help people like me who have depression. Although I’m not a qualified counsellor, I felt there was a gap in the market to offer coaching to people with mild to moderate mental health issues.

Unfortunately, I really dislike marketing, so that business never went anywhere.

Me as a Listener

I’ve also volunteered as a Listener for a well-known suicide prevention charity. It taught me some really valuable skills which complement those of a coach.

Anyway, what I’m trying to explain is that I think I have a pretty good idea about what life coaches do, what they can offer, and the value they can deliver.

So What’s My Problem with Coaching?

You’d think with all my industry experience, I’d be a firm advocate of life coaching.

And I am… kinda…

Life coaches genuinely help people to make big, powerful improvements to their lives.

My issue is… the cost.

Coaching is great for people who have the cash to spare. But plenty of people who could benefit from coaching simply can’t justify spending that kind of money on it.

Core Skills

The key skills of a good life coach are:

  1. Build rapport with the client.
  2. Ask good questions.
  3. Shut up and listen carefully to the answers.

Note: these are also some of the core skills for anyone working as a listener for a suicide prevention charity.

The Good Old Days

It really troubles me that a few generations ago, the job of life coaches used to be taken care of by a person’s friends and family, or local community. I’m thinking of the wise old grandma or granddad, or the village priest.

But since the 80s, society has been breaking down. Family structures are getting smaller. Many people now spend more time staring at screens than they do socialising face-to-face. Most people are so focussed on their own individuality – there’s far less focus on how they fit into the fabric of society.

Sure, not everyone has the competence or skillset that a trained coach should have. This is why friends sometimes give terrible, though well-meaning, advice.

But I can’t help thinking…

What if more people had basic coaching skills… and offered them to their friends and family for free?

What if everyone was a life coach? (But not as their main career!)

The Greatest Gift

I’ve learned that one of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to listen to them non-judgementally.

That’s it.

Just carve out some time to talk, preferably face-to-face. Remove all distractions. Encourage the other person to talk.


“We have two ears and one mouth, we should use them in that proportion.”

Some wise person

I’ve been blown away by the kindness and compassion I’ve received from friends and family in the last few years.

You soon learn who cares about you… the people who are willing to actually give you the time to sit and talk openly and honestly together.

One of the greatest strengths of 12 Steps fellowships is that everyone listens as each person shares. It builds empathy, understanding and trust.

We don’t try to solve each other’s problems…

… we just LISTEN!

I can’t overstate the power of the simple act of listening.

The Vision

I want to live in a world where no-one pays for a life coach.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think life coaches don’t offer anything valuable – far from it.

But I wish for a time where everyone had the time, willingness and skills to be a life coach to the people around them. For free.

What do you think? Could this ever be a reality?

What if life coaching skills were taught to everyone at school?

Let me know in the comments section below, I’d love to heart from you.

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Losing my Higher Power

In 12 Steps fellowships, we talk a lot about God (however we understand Him). Some people prefer to use the term ‘Higher Power’.

For some people, their ‘Higher Power’ is simply a way of talking about the many benefits that the fellowship brings.

A month ago, I felt I was constantly in touch with my Higher Power. But for the last 2-3 weeks, that feeling became more and more rare, until I started to wonder if I’d ever really felt anything at all or maybe I’d just made it all up.

The good news is that the feeling has fully come back today – I’m in touch with my Higher Power again.

If you’re a scientific thinker, it might seem daft to make decisions based on intangible feelings like being connected to a Higher Power. But if you’re a more intuitive or spiritual type, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

It’s just a kind of knowing. Scientific facts are one kind of knowing, but there are certain things we know just because we feel them.

And I promise you, this type of knowing happens even to the most scientific atheists out there, it’s just that they may not be consciously aware of it.

So, what happened while my faith was wobbling recently? A few things…

  • I believed I could keep myself away from drugs without any external help.
  • I felt I didn’t really need to be part of a 12 Steps fellowship any more.
  • I was resisting doing “step work” – I’m currently on Step 1 of the 12 Steps and there’s a comprehensive workbook I’m gradually making my way through. But it’s hard work and uncomfortable – I was wondering if I really needed to put myself through that discomfort.
  • I was getting a bit fed up with the dogma and some of the slightly weird aspects of the 12 Steps.

So, twice in the last few weeks, I messaged my sponsor to say I felt the 12 Steps were no longer for me and I was going to take care of myself instead.

But as soon as my thumbs had typed those messages, I had a sinking heart and a strong physical sensation that I had made the wrong decision.

I talked it over with my ever-patient and understanding wife. She pointed out that I was focussing heavily on a couple of minor things that I didn’t like about the 12 Steps, whilst ignoring all of its benefits.

In other words, I was throwing the baby out with the bath water.

I decided it would be much better if I could just accept or ignore the small bits which bothered me, and focus instead on all the parts of 12 Steps that I like and find beneficial.

Luckily, veterans at 12 Steps know how difficult it can be for newly clean addicts like me. Both times, my sponsor was understanding and welcomed me back with open arms. I’m really grateful to him.

In the last week, it’s become increasingly clear to me that drugs aren’t my real problem. They’re just a symptom of other underlying issues.

And guess what – those are the kind of issues that 12 Steps fellowships are experts at helping people to overcome.

I said to myself, “There’s this lovely organisation of wonderful people who really seem to understand a lot about addiction, what it’s like to be an addict, the thinking patterns, the self-destructive behaviours… and they want to help me… and it’s basically free too.

It would be mad not to be a part of 12 Steps!

And then I also realised… these addicts, over time some of them might actually grow to become my friends. Maybe even really close friends. With 12 Steps, I’ve got a wonderful method of socialising with people who truly want the best for me. That’s going to help my depression too. And I’ve been saying for years that I need more local friends.

But, at this point, my “Higher Power” was still a sticking point. I had so many doubts. What exactly is it? Why do I need it? What’s the best way for me personally to think about it so that I don’t feel I’m compromising myself?

I think I’m finding some answers now which I feel comfortable with. My Higher Power (God) could be any or all of the following:

  • A part of my unconscious mind which wants the best for me;
  • Fate or Destiny;
  • A way of describing the love, kindness and supportive environment at 12 Steps fellowships.

I realised – I feel intellectually comfortable with any of those definitions. I definitely don’t feel I’m trying to fool myself.

The more I thought about my Higher Power, the more I realised there are some really great benefits in believing in God, especially for addicts.

I’ve mentioned before that I now believe it’s worth holding a belief purely for its utilitarian value, even if part of us suspects it may not be objectively (scientifically) true.

For one thing, at 12 Steps fellowships, we’re encouraged to surrender our will to our Higher Power (however we understand Him/it). On the face of it, surrendering might seem strange. I’m a competent and (mostly) sensible man in my 40s, why do I need to surrender to anyone or anything? But then I realised… that’s just my ego talking. My ego wants to stay in control.

When we surrender to a Higher Power, we release our need to control the outcome of our efforts. Sure, we are still 100% responsible for putting the hard work in. But sometimes our best laid plans fall apart. When our plans go wrong, if we believe it’s the will of a Higher Power, it makes it much easier to avoid getting stressed or upset. This is hugely beneficial!

Another useful psychological function of surrendering: it makes us more humble, more willing to accept our own limitations, more willing to be open-minded and consider new ways of living or being which we’d previously dismissed.

Being humble is a really good thing. It means we accept we don’t have all the answers, making us more willing to learn and change.

So, there you go. I was a Doubting Thomas for a few weeks, but I feel I’m back in touch with God again. And it feels good… really good.


What are you bitter or resentful about? Do you hold any grudges against anyone?

My advice: look closely at any such resentments you harbour in your heart.

Find ways to forgive people. See the other person’s point of view. Assume they were doing their best and didn’t mean to hurt you.

“Holding onto resentments is like drinking a cup of poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Bollinger, R. 2019 (stolen from someone I’m too lazy to Google)

Of course, you have good reasons for that bitterness and resentment. Trust me, I understand.

But take it from someone who has plenty of first-hand experience: bitterness slowly kills you inside. Conversely, letting go of your resentments is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.

Forgive others because it’s good for you… Not to mention the positive effects that forgiveness can have on your relationships with others.

“…Forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us…”

– The Lord’s Prayer

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