Yesterday my daughter needed to use the soon-to-expire Barnes and Noble gift certificate she’d earned tasting chocolate at the consumer testing center at the mall. As she was deciding what to buy, I picked up a self-help book to browse. I figured I could change my life in 20 minutes or so and still have time to food shop and catch Jeopardy, which is tricky since it’s on at 7 in NJ and I’m used to the 7:30 North Carolina time slot. (Note: you can look really intelligent if you live in NC and call someone in NJ at 7:22 and get the answer to Final Jeopardy. I once casually said, “Oh, duh, Richard the Third” to an astounded room. Of course I came clean during the credits, but it was fun while it lasted.)

The guy on the cover looked really pulled together and in possession of The Answer. They’ve all looked like that and yet I’m still Claudia the Questioning after reading all of their books.

He said that it is very important to take ownership of your life. OK. Then he said that it is very important to acknowledge that you are responsible for every result in your life—whether it’s good or bad. Well, I didn’t agree. I’ve been trying to not think in terms of results at all—I am focusing on intent, working toward, etc. My main problem is that I thought I had more control than I actually do.

But here it was on Page 2 or 3. If it happened to you, you caused it. Good or bad. And he looked so confident.

But then I saw that he didn’t even believe it.

There, still on Page 3, he said that he had been fortunate enough to work for some company…

It wasn’t his hard work on his resume or his perseverance in networking or his excellence in prior positions that led up to the golden opportunity. It was fortune.

I put him back on his display.

No problem. I was just browsing. I wasn’t buying.