Tag Archives: self help

The 5 C’s that will absolutely change how you look at everything!


If you fall from really high up and hit water . . . everyone knows the rest of the story. It’s like hitting concrete. Why? Because of physics. Water takes time to move and if you hit it too fast the molecules don’t have time to separate and the result is . . . it’s very hard.

Conversely, if you push on water very slowly it’s as soft as air. So I’m going to tell you the 5 C’s that absolutely will change how you look at everything from now until the end of your life and that absolutely will change how you progress through your life.

If you are ready to completely alter your perspective on reality, then continue reading. . .

The 5 C’s are Clarity, Certainty, Cost, Contribution and Change.

It’s been said that everything ever created by human beings began as an idea. From things as simple as a pot made out of clay to a rocket to the moon, vision has led the way. First we imagine and then we create. Even things that seem like accidents such as a broken stone that became a knife, are in fact inspiration and ideas before they become reality. The broken stone must be perceived as a knife before it can be used as a tool. Falling into a hole gives someone the idea of a trap and then they build a trap. Inspiration happens all the time, so where ideas come from is not the subject of this blog post. Rather, we are simply acknowledging that ideas lead to action.

Take a look at the 5 C’s and you will see that Clarity is an adjective that describes ideas. Ideas are either clear or not clear. Especially when it comes to complex, multi-step ideas, what may seem like a good idea at first can quickly become blurry and obfuscated by unknowns and questions. Such is the case with virtually all of the great endeavors in human history. You don’t have to look very far to find a good example. Columbus had an idea to sail west. After about 15 minutes of questioning it became clear that he didn’t know exactly what he would find. Hence, it took him a decade of his life to convince someone to fund his voyage. What seems like a good idea in business and in life can quickly lead to a complex jungle of what if’s and unknowns.

When we are beset by too many what if’s and unknowns we lose certainty. And without certainty, nothing happens. This may be the most important concept that you will ever come across in the world of self help or human achievement or motivational speaking or “how to,” or related areas of study, so I’ll say it again. Without Certainty, NOTHING HAPPENS!

Now, is that an exaggeration? If you want to nit pick you could say that that’s not literally true. The world goes on even if you’re not certain. But the point is this: humans don’t take action or do anything in their personal or professional lives without some level of certainty that the choice they are making is the best option at the time. You can always choose to do nothing, but as the saying goes, even this is a choice.

People don’t build bridges unless they are certain that they want to and that it will be successful. People don’t start companies unless they have some degree of certainty that there is an opportunity to make money. People don’t follow a leader unless they are certain that the leader has a plan and is steering them in the right direction. People don’t choose a box of cereal unless they are certain that they, or someone they’re buying it for, might like it.

Nothing happens without certainty. Without certainty we hesitate and we wait for more information and we don’t take action. We wait for more urgency. We wait to see what others do. We wait for someone to tell us what to do. We wait and see because we don’t want to make a mistake and we don’t want to fail and we don’t want to waste resources. We would rather wait.

And how do we get to Certainty? Through Clarity. Clarity leads to Certainty. Clarity is the wind machine that blows away the fog of uncertainty and illuminates the path into the future for as far as we can possibly see. Clarity shows us the way and the steps and the end result and gives us the certainty we need to take action. Clarity shows us the “what if we do’s” and “what if we don’t’s,” and helps us decide.

So the path to all action and achievement starts with Clarity which leads to Certainty. The path then can be quantified and this quantification is Cost. Cost is the price that each step along the way will exact upon our resources be they monetary resources, time, energy, emotional reserves or whatever. If we follow this path, this is what we can expect. It will be easy. It will be hard. It will cost a lot. It will be cheap. It will quickly lead into the unknown so we have to be prepared and bring extra supplies and capabilities. It will be over in 5 minutes and uneventful so I’ll just run out in my slippers and make it happen. We naturally assess costs but the process of assessing costs is critical and becomes more critical when we attempt more and more complex endeavors that entail more risk and more unknowns and take longer and have built in uncertainties along the way. The more clearly we can predict costs, the more this will reinforce our certainty and allow us to commence the next phase which is Contribution.

Contribution is what we do after we determine costs. We make a contribution. In other words we take action and begin expending energy and resources. We may have to solicit contributions. We may have to find money and in kind donations or sponsors who add value in non-monetary ways. We may have to hire people to get more human energy focused on the goal or we may be able to find volunteers, depending on the nature of our project and our organization and our vision and goal. But without contribution, nothing gets done. We can have Clarity and Certainty and know our Costs, but our vision will remain undeveloped without Contribution.

Add all of these together and you can begin to see how they will beget Change. When humans take action and make a contribution, things get done. When they know the costs and prepare for them and acquire the necessary resources, things get done. When we have certainty, that paves the way for determining costs and acquiring contribution, and so things get done. When we have Clarity, that leads to Certainty which set the other pieces in motion and things get done. When all of the first 4 C’s are in place then Change happens. Slowly the contribution of many pushes against the universal soup, the matter and energy that we live in, and we begin to transform resources into products and vision into organized productivity. We make Change.

The 5 C’s can be applied to any and ALL aspects of human achievement from the smallest pot, or the individual painting, or the new relationship, or the makeover of our physical selves or the organization of others into a company or volunteer group or non-profit, or the organization of a sporting league or the creation of a new television show or the production of a movie or the founding of a nation or a global movement for universal literacy for all children.

The 5 C’s are grounded in physics and neuroscience and Zen. They are grounded in the physics of transforming matter and energy. They are grounded in the neuropsychology of human decision making. And they are grounded in the fundamental Buddhist philosophy that all things change, nothing is permanent, that life and matter and Earth are also like water. Push on them slowly, steadily, with Clarity, Certainty. Know the Cost. Rally the Contribution . . . and you will affect Change.


Author, Kali Woodward (that’s me), is the founder and executive director of the American Youth Literacy Foundation. Every 6 years 18 million illiterate children drop out of America’s schools. “We are reversing the literacy crisis and CHANGING the education paradigm in America.”  Join us at http://www.YouthLit.org