Success: Are You On The Wrong Path?

February 27, 2008

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The Wrong Path
Image by Hamed Saber

Do you believe your success depends directly upon the actions you take? Or is it partly down to luck? I used to believe you made your own luck. But, I now believe that it’s all half luck and half chance.

Let me share a true short story with you. It happened around 19 years ago, but it had a massive impact on my life.

It begins in an ordinary looking kitchen. Two women sit at a small wooden table. The older woman peers through finely rimmed spectacles as she shuffles a plain pack of playing cards.

The younger woman twirls her blonde hair round her right index finger. This is not what she expected. The woman looks quite ordinary - nothing like a fortune teller at all. Not that she cares. She’s only here because she agreed to come with a friend who’s waiting in the room next door. It’s just a bit of a laugh - a load of old cobblers really.

The fortune teller speaks at last and begins to tell the girl about her past. The girl yawns. What’s the point in going on about her past - she already knows all that.

“And you’re far from perfect,” the fortune teller says, and begins to rhyme off the young girls past misdemenours.

This is too much. The girl looks down at the surface of the table, to avoid the fortune tellers glare. This is awful - she doesn’t need to be reminded of her past screw ups. She wants this woman to stop right now.

“Forget all that - what about my future?” the girl interrupts.

The fortune teller slams the cards down on the table, removes her glasses and rubs her eyes.

“What do you want to know?” she asks.

“I’m quite ambitious, so I want to know what I’ll do with my life - will I be successful?”

“You’re going to be very successful.”

“At what?”

The fortune teller ignores the question. “I can tell you one more thing. You must keep away from that girl,” she nods towards the door. “The one who’s waiting for you in the other room. If you don’t, she’s going to do you serious harm.”

The girl shuffles in her seat. She wants to go now. This is ridiculous. Why would anyone harm her and how? Anyway, the old woman hasn’t even looked at the cards for ages - she’s making all this up to scare her.

But, she decides to ask one last question - just in case.

“How much of this is set in stone?”

“It’s basically half luck and half chance,” the fortune teller explains. “Many things are planned out for you, but what actually happens depends upon the choices you make.”

And that was how it happened. I never took a lot of notice of what the fortune teller told me. I didn’t even think about it again for a long time. And I might have forgotten about it all together but some of the things she told me came true.

I don’t know if something in my subconscious made me avoid the girl - the one who was meant to do me serious harm. Maybe our lives just went in opposite directions. But, I barely saw her until our paths crossed again four years later.

And the fortune teller was right. Something terrible did happen - and that girl and some others did cause me serious harm. It was so bad that I was ill for a long time and had to give up work. In fact, sometimes I felt as though my life was over.

But it wasn’t and that’s not why I’m telling you this story. I’m sharing this for another reason. Do you remember how the woman said although some things are planned out for us, not everything is set in stone?

Well, shortly before that terrible thing happened, I had a strong gut feeling that I was going down the wrong path in life. In fact, my behaviour had begun to change - I had become reckless and I knew I should stop. But, I ignored my gut instinct and walked directly into the path of the danger the fortune teller warned me about.

Have you ever had that feeling that you’re on the wrong path? When you do, it’s worth listening to it.

As for the success part - I believe I’ve done well since, but I probably slowed things down when I took the wrong turn. Although I guess I did learn a lot from the experience.

But, I often wondered why the fortune teller didn’t tell me the exact place and situation I should avoid. And why didn’t she tell me what I needed to do to be successful? Perhaps she didn’t know that much detail. Because, as she said - the future also depends on the choices you make. It isn’t set in stone. Besides, even if she had been able to tell me, it wouldn’t have done me much good, because I wouldn’t have learned anything.

Do you believe part of our lives are already mapped out for us? Have you ever had a gut feeling that you’re on the wrong path and need to change direction? Did you listen to it? If not, did something bad happen as a result?

Or do you think it’s all just a bizarre coincidence? I might have done - had the woman not told me exactly who was going to cause me harm. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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23 Responses to “Success: Are You On The Wrong Path?”

  1. Ian Denny on February 27th, 2008 5:52 am

    Well, I’ve had that feeling of being on the wrong path. And I stayed on it. It ended in failure.

    But I’m glad I went through it. The lessons and experiences have really stood me in good stead.

    There’s a fine line between success and failure. Far slimmer than we think.

    I’ve done blistering growth. And I could do it again right now. When you turn the tap on full blast, the sink fills fast, but water splashes everywhere.

    I’ve got the tap on at a steady pace right now, and nothing is spilling.

    Bad analogies aside, if I was meant to spectacularly fail, it’s been a good thing on balance. I now feel as though I’m on the right path.

    Weirdly, I’ve felt blogging isn’t right of late. And I’ve slowed that down too. I can’t explain it, but I’ve listened to that gut feeling of caution and turned the tap down to spend more time elsewhere. And chill a little!

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Ordinary People Taste Ubericious Small Business Success: My 3 Tips

  2. Barbara on February 27th, 2008 6:06 am

    Hi Catherine,

    That’s a very well written, captivating and thought provoking story.

    I do believe the choices we make (both good and bad) lead to consequences (both good and bad). We also become the person we are, based on past experiences.

    I have learned to trust my gut feelings, and when I didn’t, later I was sorry (for me, it was usually a minor “set back”)

    And, I do believe God has a hand in my life, so I would have to say, I think part of my life is “mapped out”, and that’s why we are often put in the right place at the right time.

    Barbara’s last blog post..Blogging? Watch Your Language

  3. Nicole on February 27th, 2008 6:38 am

    Yes, I do believe that part of our path is set, but it’s us that make the decisions and either go for it or don’t.
    It’s far more complex than just a few words could explain.

    Very interesting story though and a very wise lady you met there.

  4. sterling okura on February 27th, 2008 6:41 am

    Very vivid story telling, I loved being there in the room w/ the fortune teller.

    Catherine, you, Ian, and Barbara all trust and listen to your gut. How much of an impact do you think following your gut has on luck & chance?

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story.

    sterling okura’s last blog post..Fishing With David Lynch: Creating Value From Nothing

  5. Harrison McLeod on February 27th, 2008 6:41 am

    I should be on my way to bed right now, but this post grabbed me and pulled me back to the keyboard.

    Why didn’t the reader tell you the specifics? I’ll tell you why. This woman was a professional, not some cheesy psychic friend out to make a quick buck. Our paths not being set in stone is something I used to stress to people I read for. What a reader sees is like driving down a highway with many exits. You have a choice, you can take that exit, or you can go on to the next one. The signs are right there, big and bold, in green and white. It’s up to you whether or not you act on the information given.

    You pinpointed it exactly when you said if she told you everything, you wouldn’t have learned anything at all. Some people take positive information (like being successful or meeting the man or woman of their dreams) and figure, “Okay, I don’t have to do anything at all. I can sit back and have it all handed to me. The reader said so.”

    Well, you have to do your part too, you have to work for it and keep your eyes open for the opportunity when it presents itself. If you sit back and do nothing, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

    I always listen to my gut instinct and it isn’t always easy to follow. The hardest part is to have faith and stick to your choices.

    Harrison McLeod’s last blog post..Have You Become a Statistic?

  6. cathlawson on February 27th, 2008 12:24 pm
    @ Ian - oh well at least you’ve learned to listen to it now.

    @ Barbara. Thank you. That is interesting that listening or not listening to your instinct worked the same for you.

    The right place at the right time feeling is strange isn’t it? It’s weird how you often get that feeling.

    @ Nicole. She was very wise. And it’s true - it’s far more complicated than I imagined.

    @ Sterling. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And to answer your questions, I think the decisions you make mean a world of difference.

    I’ve ignored my instincts many times in the past and each time, I’ve suffered the consequences. In fact, sometimes I feel as though there’s an invisible cord pulling me back towards what I’m meant to be doing.

    @ Harrison - I’m glad I grabbed you, because I know you’re not easily grabbed. And thank you for explaining this to me. I often wondered what they could actually see.

    And it’s interesting that you do this too. How long have you done it for? Do you do it for friends, or just for yourself.

    The woman - her name was Mrs Green (I get the feeling she won’t mind me telling you her name), didn’t advertise and she wouldn’t take more than a couple of pounds for doing the reading.

    In fact, she said that anyone who charges a fortune isn’t genuine. And she’s right. I’ve met a few of thos gypsy types since with crystal balls and flowing gowns and they’re just huxters.

    But, what you say is so true Harry - having the faith to follow your gut and stick to it is the hardest part. And I don’t think I’ll truly move ahead until I learn to do that.

  7. Joanna Young on February 27th, 2008 2:36 pm

    Cath, thanks for sharing this experience.

    I don’t know what the answer is - but I do believe that (as Shakespeare once said) there are more things in heaven and earth (Horatio) than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    Sometimes I think for all our progress we’re only just at the start of understanding what really goes on, and how things work.


    Joanna Young’s last blog post..Recharging Your Writing Batteries

  8. Deb on February 27th, 2008 2:40 pm

    I believe in free will. God has mapped out a path for us as much as I do for my children. I try to guide them along the right path, but sometimes the only way we can learn is to go down the wrong path and make mistakes. I’ve taken the wrong path many times. I’ve made some horrible mistakes, but I’ve been lucky to get back on the right path.

    I believe nothing is handed to us on a silver platter. We have to work for what we want, but there is a certain amount of luck involved as well. Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time.

    Deb’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday - The Demise of Frosty

  9. cathlawson on February 27th, 2008 2:51 pm
    @ Joanna - I hesitated to publish this, then I saw your comment on Liz Strauss’s blog and I hoped it would help.

    And I believe you’re right. We have limited understanding of what goes on and much of it is just guess work.

    I don’t know if you’ve read it, but I think you’d find Life Lessons by Dr Elizabeth Kubler Ross interesting.

    @ Deb - that is interesting. It does seem that many of you are finding that things go wrong when we have the feeling we’re on the wrong path.

    And you are the second person who’s mentioned the feeling of being in the right place at the right time.

  10. Hunter Nuttall on February 27th, 2008 4:27 pm

    I think we have free will. If not, then I’m under a very convincing and persistent illusion. But sometimes I can’t shake the feeling that certain things are supposed to happen, and if you get off course then you’ll receive signs to point you in the right direction. I try to take a balanced approach, making my own luck but also welcoming unexpected luck.

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..Free Ebook: The Zen Of Blogging

  11. cathlawson on February 27th, 2008 6:46 pm
    Hi Hunter - That is a very positive approach.
  12. Harrison McLeod - Men with Pens on February 27th, 2008 10:25 pm

    @Catherine: You have yourself a gem of a reader there. She sounds a lot like me. I used to read professionally (at the New York Renaissance Fair several years ago - and I’ve been reading since I was 9) and while it was fun, I don’t read for money or the public anymore. It somehow didn’t feel right at all to get paid for reading. It’s so easy to lose sight of what you’re supposed to be doing (helping people) and get caught up in the almighty pursuit of the dollar.

    Usually when I read now, it’s for friends, or friends of friends who want a little guidance in their lives at the moment - and the less I know about what’s going on in their lives, the better the reading.

    During my pro years, I saw a lot of con artists. I despised the way they would spout off generalities to a client and the client would think the reader was fantastic, when in fact, the information could apply to anybody.

    I’ve noticed that the genuine articles often of fade into the background, knowing those who need us, find us.

    Harrison McLeod - Men with Pens’s last blog post..The Importance of Suspending Disbelief

  13. Mrs. Micah on February 27th, 2008 10:31 pm

    My two cents as someone who has hung out with some tarot readers/cartomancers: They say that it’s hard to get specifics and details of a situation. It’s more of an “as things stand now.” Which may enable them to say “You’re on the right path” or “Steer clear of this person.”

    For example, she could have drawn the 3 of cups reversed and the tower with a 5 of pentacles to back it up (or playing cards with similar meanings). That would basically say that there is something wrong with female friends (I suppose it would need some psychic power to determine which one) and that if you stick with them, something dreadful is going to happen. And it’ll leave you in a financially/socially/physically disadvantaged situation. Unfortunately, no specifics in that example, except that it’s bad.

    Let’s just say the Tower card is the only one that scares me. Much worse than the Death card (which doesn’t always mean dying). But on the plus side, when things fall apart, you can always put them back together—as you have done.

    3C: (reversed can indicate opposite of this)



  14. dawn on February 28th, 2008 2:03 am

    Thanks for sharing Catherine - I’m sure glad you didn’t let your bad experience keep you down. You have too much wisdom to give to the world - and I’m glad for that :-)

  15. RacerX on February 28th, 2008 5:43 am

    “God doesn’t Play Dice” - Albert Einstein

    RacerX’s last blog post..Personal Finance QuickTake: Another Rate Cut Coming

  16. cathlawson on February 28th, 2008 7:08 am
    @ Harrison - I don’t think she does it now. I called a few years ago and her family said she’d moved away and was too poorly to do a reading.

    Since age 9 is a long time. What made you begin doing it?

    @ Mrs M - She didn’t use Tarot cards she used real ones. And the weird thing was - it wasn’t like she seemed to take a whole heap of notice of the cards.

    And I’m not sure she used the “as things stand now” approach because it didn’t happen until four years later. Weird huh? Mind you, I always got the impression that girl was jealous of me - but not jealous enough to cause the harm she caused.

    Hi Dawn - thanks. I’m ashamed to say I did let it get me down for longer than I should. I made some really bad decisions after it happened and wound up moving away and isolating myself from everyone who could help.

    Hi Racer - Interesting quote. Did you ever read the Diceman? It was based on a true story about some guy who used a dice to make every single decision.

  17. Harrison McLeod on February 28th, 2008 3:05 pm

    This woman sounds better each time you tell me something new. Many good readers don’t pay too much attention to the cards. The cards are only a point of focus for the mind, the same as a crystal ball, or bowl of water. These tools are a way to teach your mind to let go and reach out.

    After doing readings for so long, the cards became a prop that the client expected to see and felt disappointed if I didn’t bring them out.

    I started reading out of curiosity. I remember the day I got my first deck as if it were yesterday. It was a standard Waite-Rider deck I bought in a department store with my birthday money. At first I just played with them, making up stories about each card and how they all related, driving my parents and brother nuts doing “readings” for them.

    Play turned to intense study when I started to explore the meanings of the symbols and the different types of spreads. My Dad was always interested in psychic phenomenon so that made me want to do it even more.

    Harrison McLeod’s last blog post..How to be Cool with Your Network Contacts

  18. cathlawson on February 28th, 2008 3:27 pm
    Hi Harry - she was amazing. It was as if she saw everything as clear as day. There was no pretending and she didn’t ask me questions to see if she was right when she brought up things about my past - you could tell that she knew she was right.

    It’s great how you got into it at such a young age. I got myself some tarot cards a few years ago and I enjoyed trying to interpret them for myself - but a friend of my ex-husband borrowed them and when they came back - I got really bad vibes when I touched them - so they had to go.

    Do you think these readings are something most people could learn if they opened their minds to it Harry, or would it only work for certain people?

  19. Barbara Rozgonyi on February 28th, 2008 6:46 pm

    Found my way here from Liz’s blog. Enjoyed browsing through several posts and landed on this one.

    My earliest experience with a fortune teller was in a cab ride in Chicago with my sister.

    We were in our early 20s at the time, both starting out and not knowing where we would go in life - let alone that night.

    As the cabbie drove us around town, he revealed what he saw in our future. Most of what he said - all good prophecy - came true.

    Was it because we were young and impressionable and followed his suggestions or because he was right? I’ll never know, but I wish I’d taped the conversation.

    Barbara Rozgonyi’s last blog post..10 Ways Blogs Grow Business Online

  20. cathlawson on February 28th, 2008 7:09 pm
    Hi Barbara - thanks for dropping by. I love Liz’s blog - she’s v wise and inspirational:

    That is so amazing that a cabbie told you all those things. I think it’s so interesting these people can see these things. And it makes me wonder if we don’t all have that capability but we just don’t use it.

    I hope more people drop by with stories like this - it’s great to know that others have had similar experiences.

  21. Harrison McLeod on February 28th, 2008 7:37 pm

    I’ve always maintained everyone has this ability, they only have to work on developing it. I read much in the same manner as your reader did. I’ve learned to say what comes to the top of my head and going with it and it usually ends up being right.

    It all goes back to trusting that gut instinct ;)
    Harrison McLeod’s last blog post..How to be Cool with Your Network Contacts

  22. Kelly Rigby@ SHE-POWER on February 28th, 2008 11:32 pm

    Hi Catherine, hi all

    This was a beautiful article and a great discussion. I was raised by a mother who always stressed tapping into my “higher knowledge” and so I have always accepted the wisdom of my intuition. That does not however mean I have never gone against it, and like Catherine said, when have gone against my gut I have always fallen down, so to speak. Not that I think this is a bad thing. I try believe life is a process to enjoy. Its’ not what you achieve or do that makes you have a happy and successful life, it’s the way you see that life. So all mistakes have merit and are part of making you who you are.

    But if you want life to be easier, then fostering and trusting your intuition is essential. I don’t do tarots, but I do read runes and follow numerology and I have had readings with psychics before who were so detailed and accurate about my life that even now it blows my mind!

    ‘:) Kelly

    Kelly Rigby@ SHE-POWER’s last blog post..SHE-POWER FICTION: The Dilemma

  23. cathlawson on February 28th, 2008 11:58 pm

    Harrison - that is brilliant news. I think I may get a new deck. I would love to be able to learn it the way you can do it.

    Hi Kelly - thank you for dropping by. I love the way you explain this. So even when you go against your gut and make mistakes, it shapes who you are.

    That is a good thing. We all want to try to avoid mistakes, but learning is so important to.

    By the way, if anyone didn’t see it - you need to check out this post of Kelly’s:

    cathlawson’s last blog post..5 Business Writing Tips You Can Profit From

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