Mega Genius® Intelligence Briefing 
If you would like to wish upon a star and make your dream come true, this Mega Genius® Intelligence Briefing is specifically for you.
The most basic reason for anyone’s failure is that he gave up.
In Mega Genius® Intelligence Briefing No. 27, “How to succeed at anything,” I expanded on that when I told you that the only reason for anyone’s failure is that he was unable or unwilling to persist (he gave up) in learning the correct technology and using it.
The second most basic reason for anyone’s failure is that he neglected to mind his ducks.
To clarify that, I will tell you about two of my friends with whom I have recently spent some time. One I have known personally for just a few days and the other for more than half a century. They have never met, and their lives have progressed in significantly different ways, but they have something elementary and imperative in common. I will explain what it is and what it has to do with minding your ducks.
While in Las Vegas a few days ago, I received a telephone call from the manager of actor, comedian, and game-show host Howie Mandel, who proposed that Howie and I meet at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino to discuss a personal matter. Later, after our meeting back stage at The Hollywood Theater, Howie invited me to watch his sold-out show that evening from the theater’s “lighting booth.” There, beside the “lighting boards” and spotlights, I had a grand view of the entire audience and stage area below, and of Howie’s extremely humorous performance. Meanwhile I recalled his unique introduction to the entertainment field nearly 30 years before.
To put that into perspective, we should go back even 40 years before that. In 1939, six years before Hollywood Reporter publisher Billy Wilkerson (not gangster “Bugsy” Siegel, as is commonly believed) created the famous Pink Flamingo Hotel & Casino, in Las Vegas, Billy opened a ritzy nightclub for motion picture stars, at 8433 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, California. Billy called his soon-to-become legendary nightspot Ciro’s. For the next two decades, Ciro’s was the Hollywood focal point for all the rich and famous to be, and to be seen, including Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Fifi D’Orsay and Gary Cooper, Betty Grable and Harry James, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, Lana Turner, Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, Jack Benny, George Burns, Judy Garland, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Mae West, Andy Williams, Jimmy Stewart, Sophie Tucker, Pearl Bailey, and countless others.
What was not as prominently exposed were the rackets run out of Ciro’s back room — and the breaking of knuckles, knees, and legs, and the murders reportedly carried out in the basement — by Mickey Cohen, head of the Los Angeles crime syndicate’s gambling operations, and by other mobsters. Incidentally, I happen to have one of the nightclub’s original globular drinking glasses in my hand right now — etched simply “CIRO’S HOLLYWOOD” — and I am wondering who drank from it … and who may have taken from it the last drink of his life.
In 1972, the Ciro’s building was transformed into The Comedy Store, which became a renowned showcase for many rising comedians and major stars, including Dave Letterman, Jay Leno, Paul Rodriguez, Louie Anderson, George Carlin, Roseanne Barr, Eddie Murphy, Bob Saget, Garry Shandling, Richard Pryor, Jim Carrey, (Leo) Gallagher, Redd Foxx, Freddie Prinze, Sam Kinison and Robin Williams.
In 1979, while in Los Angeles on a carpet-selling trip, 23-year-old Howard Mandel happened to visit The Comedy Store, on “pot luck night,” when friends dared him to step up on stage and to try to make the audience laugh. Howie accepted the dare, the audience howled at his humor, and a producer in the crowd immediately hired him to appear on the game show “Make Me Laugh.”
Shortly thereafter, Howie became singer Diana Ross’ opening act, and subsequently appeared for six seasons as “Dr. Wayne Fiscus” on the Emmy-Award winning NBC drama “St. Elsewhere.” Then he created, and for eight seasons executively produced, his own Emmy-Award nominated children’s series, “Bobby’s World,” now in syndication in 65 countries. Howie has also hosted his own syndicated talk show, “The Howie Mandel Show,” and performed in numerous television comedy specials.
In 2004, the cable television channel Comedy Central selected Howie Mandel as one of the greatest standup comedians of all time.
Howie performs some 200 concerts a year and hosts the hour-long United States version of the international television phenomenon “Deal or No Deal,” currently the highest rated show on NBC.
Howie Mandel is one of the most successful entertainers in the world today.
Some people seem to just fall right into a pot of jam!
Now I will tell you about my other friend, and his remarkably different life. In April of 1960, during my senior year of high school, in a small rural town in North Central Ohio, I asked a trigonometric classmate, “Bob, what are you going to do after you graduate?”
Bob looked directly at me and asserted, “I’m going to the United States Naval Academy and then I’m going to become an astronaut.”
Now I should put Bob’s exclamation into perspective, because going to the United States Naval Academy and then becoming an astronaut is not at all like falling into a pot of jam.
First, admission is so competitive that you need a congressional recommendation just for the President of the United States to consider you for an appointment to the Academy.
Second, even if you are astute enough to acquire both the congressional recommendation and the requisite presidential appointment, life at the United States Naval Academy is a four-year ordeal.
Third, you have to get your hair cut short.
Moreover, humanity’s adventure into outer space had not yet begun. Although Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra and Deke Slayton had been selected as America’s “Mercury Seven” astronauts, there were no Soviet cosmonauts yet, and no trainee from any nation had traveled beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. It would be another year before the Soviet Union would launch Yuri Gagarin, their first cosmonaut, into space, and a few weeks after that before Alan Shepard would become the first American in space.
What fate held for Earth’s astronauts in those days was a ricocheting shot in the dark. Before the end of the decade, 10 U.S. astronauts and three Soviet cosmonauts would give their lives for space exploration.
Did my friend Bob have all “the right stuff” for admission to the heroic astronauts’ club? His odds did not look good. Even Brigadier General Charles “Chuck” Yeager, the best of all the test pilots and the first military pilot inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame, could not qualify. In fact, even if Bob spent the next couple of decades successfully attaining every one of the innumerable qualifications to become an astronaut, the odds of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ever choosing him from among other eligible candidates would still be less than one in 500, or less than two-tenths of one percent. By all appearances, he was skipping along the edge of reality.
Nevertheless, Bob already sported a modified type of crew cut known as a flattop (which was also another name for an aircraft carrier), so I thought that he had a chance.
If you are wondering what happened to Bob’s astronomical dream, he was congressionally nominated, and then appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, to the United States Naval Academy, at Annapolis, Maryland. After graduating from there, in 1964, he was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps.
He was trained to fly F-4 Phantom II supersonic long-range fighter-bombers and UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopters, and successfully completed 550 combat missions in Vietnam. He then attended the United States Naval Postgraduate School, and the “Top Gun” United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, and graduated from the United States Navy Test Pilot School, and the Armed Forces Staff College.
Then, after Bob had completed 20 years of additional training after high school and had assumed responsibility for joint operational planning for Marine Forces in NATO and the Middle East, NASA selected him for the Astronaut Candidate training program.
A year later, in August 1981, he did what he had told me he would do. Bob Springer became an astronaut.
In 1984 and 1985, Bob worked in Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, for seven flights, as “CAPCOM,” which is the call sign of the capsule communicator, the single astronaut on the ground through which all communication passes with the astronauts in space.
Then, on 13 March 1989, Bob Springer lifted off on STS-29 Discovery, from Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a five-day Space Shuttle mission, orbiting the Earth 80 times before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
The following year, on 15 November 1990, Bob Springer rocketed again, at night, on STS-38 Atlantis, from Kennedy Space Center, on a five-day 80-orbit Space Shuttle mission, conducting Department of Defense operations and deploying a classified payload, and landing back at the Kennedy Space Center.
The life of an astronaut is not always a bowl of cherries though, or even a freeze-dried, semi-liquid, spoonful of them in an aluminum toothpaste-type tube. Being an astronaut is fraught with danger. Compared with other planets that humanity is in the process of discovering, we will soon realize that Earth has an unusually thick atmosphere. Just rocketing up through that dense anomaly into space, with the primitive technique that NASA is using today, is akin to riding atop a controlled explosion.
Even when everything appears to go right for an astronaut, he invariably has difficulties, and everything did not always go right for Bob, either. For instance, he suffered from space sickness, or what academia prefers to complicate by calling “space adaptation syndrome.” Space sickness was virtually unknown during the earliest spaceflights, when astronauts were cramped in tiny capsules. Later, though, when Frank Borman, on Apollo 8, and Rusty Schweickart, on Apollo 9, had more room to move about, space sickness began to interfere with the flights.
Although about 80 percent of all astronauts experience some space sickness, only some 10 percent suffer severely. An extreme case was that of U.S. Senator Edwin “Jake” Garn, of Utah, the world’s first space tourist and the first member of the United States Congress to fly in space. Senator Garn’s space sickness was so relentless when he flew aboard the STS-51 Discovery, in 1985, that the non-functional astronaut had to be “velcroed” to the bulkhead of the space capsule, just to keep him immobile and out of the way.
NASA subsequently “honored” the astronaut who became known as “Barfin’ Jake” by naming the “Garn scale” of space sickness after him. As the former senator and retired Brigadier General later explained, “It’s a Garn one, Garn two, Garn three. It’s a measurement of how sick you are.” Although the scale normally runs from one, which is “not feeling too well,” to 10, which is “commence the autopsy,” Jake Garn rated himself 13.
Bob Springer had spent more than three decades preparing to be launched, and had foreseen the possibility of space sickness. He was familiar with the Garn scale. He recognized the feeling of nausea as it crept over him. He was aware of the futility of resisting it. He even immediately remembered which pocket contained his barf bag, which NASA preferred to call an “Emesis Bag Assembly (Part No. Jo10B-10082-02),” a cream-colored, resealable, plastic storage bag, with a moist towelette.
Bob knew what to do. He removed the bag and held the open end tightly around his mouth and nose. He remembered that it was important to ensure that every bit of particulate matter remained confined within the bag, so that nothing could escape to float about the cabin, in the weightlessness of space, and around the other four crew members.
Bob was on top of things, as usual. He understood what was happening, knew precisely what to do, and had an exceptional memory. Bob only forgot one thing: Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion. As published more than 300 years earlier, in 1687, and as I am translating from Latin, it reads, “All forces occur in pairs, and these two forces are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.” Or, as is commonly stated today, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Now, is it really important to keep in mind Newton’s third law of motion when you are preoccupied with barfing your guts out? Well, probably not so much on Earth, but if you doubt the value of remaining mindful of that law in space, just ask Bob Springer.
Whenever you see an astronaut in a spacecraft demonstrating a condition of weightlessness, or what NASA calls microgravity, you will notice that he appears to be in slow motion. As he floats about, he will continually push off the walls of the vehicle slowly and ever so gently, for a good reason. Without gravity, the force that he exerts pushing himself away from one wall is the same amount of force with which his body will soon collide with the opposite wall. The rule is simple: easy does it.
Then, abruptly, all hell broke loose as Bob’s stomach contents exploded into his barf bag, impacted violently against the far side of the small container and, in the weightlessness of space, instantly detonated with equal force straight back into his mouth and nose. (Houston, we have another problem!) Bob told me later (over lunch, no less), “I thought, ‘Oh, great! Now I’m going down in history as the first astronaut who drowned in his vomit.’”
Nevertheless, Bob Springer survived that, too, and today his awards and honors total in the dozens, including various Vietnam Campaign ribbons and service awards, a Navy Unit Citation, a Combat Action Ribbon, 21 Air Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals, a Presidential Unit Citation, a Navy Achievement Medal, and a NASA Space Flight Medal.
He was also awarded the Bronze Star, for his “heroic or meritorious achievement or service,” and the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, for distinguishing himself in combat by “heroism or extraordinary achievement” (initially awarded to Captain Charles Lindbergh for his 3600 mile solo flight across the Atlantic, in 1927).
Colonel Robert C. Springer, USMC, is a true American hero.
The American expression “putting your ducks in a row,” which originated in 1979, refers to a mother duck leading her ducklings in an orderly row, such as through a busy intersection. The phrase means that you are becoming well organized and efficient. Moreover, people often say that a successful person has his ducks in a row, meaning that he is orderly, effective and triumphant.
Both Howie Mandel and Bob Springer have achieved remarkable degrees of success, although they did it quite differently. It seemed that Howie had not put his ducks in a row and that he happened to stumble into success, although he was the one who courageously decided to accept the dare from his friends and exhibit his refined ability to make others laugh. On the other hand, Bob spent more than two decades aligning his ducks precisely.
Do not be fooled though! The two men have something elementary in common that made all the difference between success and failure: Sooner or later, each of them minded his ducks … and minded them well. Otherwise, Howie Mandel would have had 15 minutes of fame in the midst of a lifetime of selling carpeting and Bob Springer would be daydreaming today about a great adventure that might have been.
When a duck attempts to move her trailing brood across an intersection, her success or failure in obtaining her objective, which is having her family on the other side, depends utterly on her ability to follow her purpose, which is to move them there. Moreover, her ability to follow her purpose depends on three factors:
1. Her intention to move her family across the intersection.
A duck does not move herself and her brood across an intersection without creating and maintaining an intention to do so. If she gives up on that intention, she has condemned herself to failure. If her intention is weak, so is her chance of obtaining her objective. However, if her intention is intense, her chance of quickly moving her ducklings across the intersection and having them safely on the other side is very high. It all depends on her degree of intention.
2. Her ability to eliminate intentions not to move across the intersection.
A duck does not move herself and her brood across an intersection if she intends not to move them there. Even if she intends to move them across an intersection, if she equally intends for them not to move across the intersection, they will not. Objects trying equally to move in opposite directions simultaneously will not move. Furthermore, a situation in which two ducklings are willing to move with their mother, but another duckling is afraid to cross, and another duckling intends to sleep, and another duckling is in the process of emptying its digestive tract, will not work. Success involves eliminating all intentions not to move across the intersection.
3. Her ability to eliminate intentions to move in other directions.
A duck does not move herself and her brood across an intersection if she and her brood have intentions to move in other directions. If halfway across the intersection she changes her mind about where she is going, or if she also has the intention of following the centerline in the road, or if her ducklings begin setting their own objectives, the family will find itself “off purpose” and not at all likely to end up on the other side. Aligned intentions invariably work better than crossed intentions.
Now, we are not ducks. Nevertheless, viruses, amoebas, ladybugs, rats, ducks, dogs, horses and humans are all subject to the same universal laws, according to which three steps are crucial to attaining any objective, including that of you attaining your dream:
1. Intention to attain your objective.
Imagination is undervalued, but merely wishing upon a star is a fanciful notion. For any dream to become a reality, it must be given life, and life breathed into a dream is called intention.
2. Elimination of contradictory intention.
Trying to reach your star “thisaway” while you are also trying to go “thataway” is called wasting time and fuel.
3. Elimination of extraneous intention.
Maximizing progress toward your star is called having all your “rocket engine nozzles” pointing in the same direction.
By enlivening your dream with intention, and by eliminating both counter intentions and extraneous intentions, you can become a butcher, or a baker, or a candlestick maker … or you can do, or obtain, anything that you can dream. The laws of the universe were set up that way.
It is even possible to become a superstar in the entertainment world or an astronaut.
It is all a matter of fancifully wishing upon a star, and then practically minding your ducks.
1 May 2006
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