When was the last time you asked for a miracle?

When was the last time you asked for a miracle? Putting religious interpretations of miracles aside as well as scientific, historical or cultural vantage points, I am thinking about expectations.

What does modern man, scratch that, post-post-modern man expect from his world? Past the age of reason, past the enlightenment, have we become disenchanted thanks to our focus on facts? In general, I think the answer is, yes. It seems that besides Santa Claus, we have painted ourselves into a corner.

The idea that anything could happen to me in this great big, mysterious world is what excited me as a child. That excitement translated into dreams and those dreams nourished a desire to be the first one out the door every day. Every plane that hung from the sky, every car that whizzed by populated my world with possibilities. Does it sound over the top if I say that I expect my life to be miraculous?

What do we lose in our rational preference for things we can prove?

If you don't ask, you don't get, as the saying goes. Years ago, in my previous career, a co-worker who was more successful at what he did than I was, walked me through an intriguing exercise. It went something like this:

"Picture yourself down the road, years from now," he said. "Let's say you're 30. How much money do you want to be making by then?"

I replied, "$30,000."

"OK, now that you have that in your head," he said, "you'll figure it out."

I thought it was an absurdly brief and arbitrary exercise. I picked that number to be my future salary because it sounded like a lot of money at the time. As it turned out, the goal wasn't a hard one to achieve. My friend's method worked.

It sounded like a shot in the dark to me at the time. How would I go from making $24,000 to $30,000 in just a few years, especially since I found my way into that company as a temp?

The path forward was unknown to me. Without the aid of facts, it was a leap. But what if I chose to be a realist?

The odds that a temp, who knew nothing about the field in which he landed, would be able to bump up his salary in such a short time seemed low. A realist might have assessed himself at the bottom of the totem-pole and thought lower expectations would be prudent. In the end, I overshot my goal by a lot and boosted my salary by about 40 percent by my deadline. What you believe has a huge hand in determining the outcome.

Are people's hopes these days big enough?

When was the last time you asked for a miracle? Is there one that you wish were possible?

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