commit to outcome

I Was Awakened Underwater... by Golden Light

By Susan Ford Collins

I received a text message that severe thunderstorms were moving into our area. A moment later the sky opened and we seemed to be in the midst of a hurricane punctuated by flashes and crashes. My dog Honey was shaking. An hour later the storm had passed but the power was still off so I decided to walk Honey before it got dark. A quick jaunt around the block and we headed into my side gate and across the stepping stones in my banana jungle as we had hundreds of times before. But this time was different.

Midway across the water, my right foot suddenly slid out from under me. There must have been algae on the rain-covered surface. The next thing I remember was the thunderous sound of the back of my head cracking hard against the edge of the round concrete stepping stone.

I wasn’t aware that I had fallen in the water until my eyes opened and I saw a bright circle of golden light with glistening air bubbles rising up from my mouth to the surface. I realized in a flash that I would drown unless I could raise my head and take a breath... now! 

Knowing how hard my head hit and the sound it made, I was unsure whether my arms and legs were still working. But with one life-intending push I lifted my head out of the water and took at breath! The banana pond is 5 feet deep and the bottom and sides are sharp coral rock. How would I get out before I lost consciousness? I realized my shoe had fallen off so I rummaged around until I found it and began grappling my way out of the dark water. Once standing, I remembered I had my cell phone in a pouch around my waist. It was wet so I couldn’t call for help… besides Albert was away and completely unaware of my predicament.

When I finally got in the house, I lit a couple of candles to see how badly I was injured and figure out what to do next. I pulled off my wet clothes and touched the back of my head with my hand and was stunned to see it come back covered with blood. And, that I had “an extra kneecap” on my right shin… or so it seemed because of the rapid swelling in that area.

Was I neurologically OK? I tried talking and I could. I tried moving my arms and legs up and down and they worked. I seemed to be mentally alert and functional but I was so used to auto-dialing people that I couldn’t remember their phone numbers, and it didn’t matter because, with no power and an internet phone in the house, I had no dial tone. Now what? 

I was focused on one thing… getting to my daughter’s home 10 miles away. Margaret is a doctor and I knew she would know exactly what steps I should take. She had been my medical savior in the past so I was eager to get her input this time as well. I found Honey’s leash and made sure I had my wallet and medical cards, then climbed in my car and carefully headed south to where she lives. They had a new gate installed that afternoon so her first thought was, oh good, Mom’s here to see the gate. Then my teenage grandson met me at the door and saw blood streaming down my neck. “Are you okay?”

No. I’m not, and I began to explain why I couldn’t call from home so they could come get me (the power was off), why I couldn’t call from my cellphone either (it went in the water with me). Then someone handed me an ice pack and a blanket and Margaret came up with a plan. She would drive me to the Urgent Care Center near her home. I felt bad about sending her back to work after she had put in 10 straight exhausting days, but this was a crisis and she assured me that she wouldn’t sleep a wink if we didn’t get my injuries assessed.

When we arrived at the center, I felt safer. After filling out forms and handing them my insurance cards, we were guided back to an examining room and Margaret checked to see who the radiologist on duty was. A friend she deeply trusted so we both relaxed as the nurse took my blood pressure which is typically athletically low but had shot up to 202. The doctor came in and parted my still-wet hair so she could see where I was cut and whether I would need stitches. Yes, but first a CAT Scan of my head and a plain film of my suspected broken right leg. I kept saying, “No, I can walk fine.” But, by the looks of “that extra knee cap,” the evidence seemed to indicate otherwise. When Margaret’s colleague read the X-rays, and she looked at them too. My right leg was whole and there was no bleed in my skull. Whew!

All that remained was cleaning the wound and stapling it closed. Margaret said they look just like office staples. And they do. The bleeding stopped and they handed me a tube of antibiotic cream and told me I could take a quick shower when I got home… one of the advantages of stapling she added.

On the ride back to Margaret’s, she told me she felt much better now that the worst scenarios had been ruled out. I was blessed! I would spend the night at her home. I was exhausted and sleep sounded wonderful, but when I tried to lay my head on the pillow, a sudden new reality set in. The very place where my skull touched the pillow was the very spot where the staples were, and turning my head to either side didn’t work either. I had wrenched my neck too. It ached and pulsed. I drifted off for a couple of minutes but woke up in terror again.

I had left two candles burning in my house! I had to drive home and check! So I woke Margaret and told her I needed help turning off their alarm and finding my keys. I gathered up Honey and headed home with a clear agreement… I would call as soon as I arrived home.

But when I got there, the power was still off even though I had been told it would be back on by 9. I tried plugging in my wired phone… which involved moving my bed, bending over to pug the phone connection in tightly so the circular cover would snap closed… but there was no dial tone. I kept praying for the sound of the AC going on, or the sudden burst of light from a lamp I may have left on when the power went off. But nothing.

At daylight I walked Honey, hoping to see a neighbor so I could use his phone but no one was up and no lights were on. When I started a second loop, a friend came out of his house to pick up the paper and I waved and shouted, “I need help.” I used his cell phone to call Margaret, but she had finally fallen asleep and didn’t answer. At least I had done everything I could to keep my agreement. An hour later the power came on, and the air conditioner and the lights I had left on. And I could finally call to explain what had happened and let them that I was safe and OK.

The candles had burned out on their own, leaving a long wine-colored trail of wax on the table as evidence.

Now I could look back and rethink what had happened. I walked over to the stepping stones to figure out how I had fallen back-first into the water. And one life-saving memory kept blazing in my mind… that bright golden light-filled image of glistening bubbles coming up from my mouth as I lay there in shock in the water. The golden image that alerted me to lift my head and take a breath… now! I wondered where that golden light had come from. When I fell it was dusk and overcast and the banana pond was under a huge leafy sapodilla tree. Why wasn’t it dark when I looked up? With a chill I knew the answer… that golden light was Spirit coming to my rescue, empowering me to take action to save my life. Reminding me that I still had work to do. It wasn’t my time to leave.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

* For more on Committing to Outcome, go to Success Skill 7 in The Joy of Success or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

And a Turtle Woke Me Up

By Susan Ford Collins

Childhood dreams seem to get buried in adult realities. Early passions and talents appear to get dulled and pushed aside as we rush about being responsible spouses, parents and employees. But it doesn’t always take life-and-death experiences to reawaken us. It could be something far more simple, like a small round-shelled creature.

A roadside reawakening

A turtle woke me up as he strode clumsily across the road when I was driving home one rainy morning. Seeing that turtle suddenly woke up the child-in-me, the one who had huge dreams, who couldn’t sleep when she was excited, who would take whatever actions were needed, who would get so involved in whatever she felt passionate about that she would wear herself out.

In that moment, the-little-girl-in-me wanted that turtle, remembering box turtles she used to pick up along the roadside when her family spent summers in Tidewater Virginia, when she begged her Dad to stop the car so she could pick that turtle up and take him home.

Her Dad usually said no, of course, but when occasionally he said yes, she would rummage around in their back shed to find just the right sturdy box or crate. She would scavenge bits of hamburger from the refrigerator and cut up juicy chunks of fresh tomato to offer its new-found tenant. Then the little girl in me would sit cross-legged in awe, watching that turtle’s sharpened jaw cut into her welcome-offering with great relish. At the beach, she would dig long winding channels in the sand, just deep enough for the ocean to start filling them, and then let her turtle sun, swim and explore. After a few days, she would let him (or her) go ceremoniously.

Caught up in these childhood memories, my adult heart started pounding just as it had all those years before. I pulled over to the side of the road, opened the car door and firmly (and albeit a bit cautiously) picked that turtle up and sat him down safely on the floor in front of the back seat.

When I slid in behind the wheel and headed home again, my adult mind came back on and, like a judgmental parent, it overwhelmed my excited inner-child. “If you take this turtle home with you and let it loose in your pond, there’ll be diseases. Besides this turtle will bite your Koi. Or eat your plants. Or dig holes in your yard. Or...”

The little-girl-in-me was shocked, catching my adult-self in this fear-bound declaration. And she shouted loudly enough for both of us to hear.

“STOP. STOP being so reasonable and practical and logical and delaying and busy... AND START LIVING AGAIN!”

And, in a moment of childhood defiance and adult recommitment, I picked that turtle up, with all its legs walking mid-air, and proudly took him in my house and let him loose in my pond.

He acclimated quickly and I would regularly catch a glimpse of him as he sunned along the edge of the pond. My Koi were fine and so were my plants. And best of all, so was I!

With that turtle living in my pond as a reminder, the rest of me “came to” from errands and tasks, credit cards and mortgage payments, pre-scheduled appointments committed to months before I knew how I’d feel when that day finally came. And something inside me danced once again. And dreamed and screamed and raced... I’M ALIVE! And what do I want? What do I really want?

What had I let go of while I was in that adult trance? While I was so committed to everyone else’s wants and dreams that I had completely forgotten about mine? While I was so predetermined and disciplined that I hadn’t even noticed that my energy for living had gone down... way down. Of course, next to others I always looked energetic, not needing a lot of sleep and always cranking out new ideas. But inside I knew the truth.

And the truth was that I had rheostated down from a 200 watt bulb to a twenty. Even though I was lit, it was barely. Until that turtle woke me up to vibrant life again... to choosing what I really want and taking action for it!

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

* For more on the 10 Success and Leadership Skills, read The Joy of Success, Success Has Gears, or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com


Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Commit to Outcome and Stay Open to Possibilites

By Susan Ford Collins


Over the years I’ve asked highly successful inventors how they made their discoveries, and the answers they gave me were frequently the same: the chemical spilled; the formula overheated; the wrong ingredients were mixed and—BAM—they invented it. (Latin inventus, “to come upon.”) With their outcome clearly in mind, opportunities came “out of the blue.” And they were able to spot them and use them.

Here's an example. In 1993, David Levy along with Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker spent months in the Palomar Observatory preparing to photograph a comet that had been drawn into Jupiter’s gravitational field and fractured into 21 pieces that would strike its surface like a string of bullets. Everything was ready until they discovered someone had opened the film box by mistake and exposed the film. Doubt set in. It was overcast so seeing the comet at all was highly unlikely but, committed to their outcome, they decided “to go for it.” So they pulled out film exposed along the edges and started shooting, hoping it would be usable in the middle.

When Carolyn inspected the film later, there was the comet in the middle of the first shot! This almost-missed photograph heralded a major astronomical event… the first collision of two solar system bodies ever observed. Because of their persistence and their profound pictures, the comet was named Shoemaker-Levy 9.

There were other challenges connected with photographing this event. The Galileo probe was in the right place at the right time, not because of careful planning and scientific precision, but because its launch had been delayed; its antennae which had been stored too long, failed to open; and Galileo needed to be reprogrammed in flight. Where was the comet when Galileo was finally ready? Straight ahead and perfectly positioned to record the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet crashing into Jupiter, sending up a six-mile high plume and creating a bruise the size of Earth on its surface.

Things went wrong. It looked impossible. They almost lost hope. But with everyone focused on getting those pictures, the process unfolded in divine time and order. Call it intention or prayer… either way the ability to hold an outcome and seize out-of-the-blue opportunities is one of the astounding powers we have been given. And the 7th Success Skill is the one we need to take advantage of this power.

When did obstacles and interferences become reasons to give up your outcome? When did discomfort and disagreement change your mind and course? What other outcome did you end up with... one you wanted, or one that didn't really matter to you? That left you disappointed? And when did you hold an outcome—a mission, commitment, goal or dream—all the way to completion? When did you feel the satisfaction and the power of the 7th Success Skill? Would you like to do it more often?

© 2015 Susan Ford Collins. Contact me for permission to use it.

What Dylan's Birthmark Taught Him About Life

By Susan Ford Collins

By age seven, Dylan had had eleven laser surgeries. He was born with a huge birthmark that, if left untreated, would grow into a raised purple blemish covering his neck and cheek like a man’s beard. One month after birth, Dylan had his first laser treatment, not by choice of course, but because his parents knew the torment their son would endure throughout his life otherwise.

Every surgery was like preliving his untreated future. Hours afterward the whole area was swollen and purple. For weeks, whenever his mother took Dylan to a mall or out in a stroller, people stared not just at him but at her, wondering.

After eleven treatments, Dylan’s birthmark appeared to be gone except for a barely noticeable patch, but the doctors said it would expand and darken as he grew. This time Dylan chose to have surgery himself, a doubly-hard decision because now Dylan knew how painful past procedures had been. But like a brave little soldier he told his Mom, “Please schedule another laser surgery for me.”

This treatment was a group effort. His father, a doctor, visited Dylan’s school to explain the procedure to his teachers and classmates and prepare them for what Dylan would look like for the next few weeks. His mother showed Dylan photos of his shrinking birthmark and helped him visualize it shrinking again, or even disappearing. The night before, Dylan was anxious. No, he hadn’t changed his mind, but memories of that laser striking his tender skin, of burning, bruising and swelling, of people staring kept rushing in.

The next morning in the operating room Dylan held his arm still as the anesthesiologist inserted the needle to put him to sleep. Even though Dylan woke from the anesthesia fighting and screaming, even though he dreaded having his mother apply the prescribed cream to his tender face, even though players on a visiting team called Dylan “a grape head” his first day back on the soccer field, Dylan sailed through the healing process knowing, “I wanted to do that and I did. And I can do that or something even harder again if I have to... as long as I continue to hold my outcome."

Dylan’s birthmark had brought a blessing. He’d learned a Success Skill that would assist him whenever he sat down to do homework, whenever his team was behind on the soccer field, whenever he had to buckle down to do the hard work needed to succeed in business school and life.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. Contact me for permission to use it.

* For more on the 7th Success Skill, how to stay on course to your desired outcomes, read The Joy of Success: 10 Essential Skills for Getting the Success You Want.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins