I’m going to teach you how to make gold.
Not the kind you’d find in a wedding band—this gold is better. It’s the priceless journey that takes place as you transform from mortal to Spartan.
I call it “gold” because this progression looks a lot like the ancient process of alchemy, or the transformation of a base metal like iron or lead to a precious metal like gold or platinum.
Like alchemy, personal transformation happens in seven stages. And while this progression can occur naturally over time, taking a more deliberate path to growth can change your ordinary consciousness (iron) to a fully enlightened soul (gold) much faster.
Warning: I can’t promise that this journey will be easy or quick. I know because my own personal journey—which continues to this day—has been filled with pain, hardship, and struggle. But I can promise that it’ll be worth it.
Are you ready for the challenge? Let the journey begin.
Stage #1: Calcination
The first stage is about setting fire to your ego. It’s harder than it sounds, usually because it happens after a traumatic or intense experience.
It happened to me after one of my businesses failed. Almost overnight, I lost everything. My money, my pride, and my ego were all gone. But instead of dwelling in my failure, I fell forward.
Calcination is about breaking things down into their component parts. Losing my business tested my resilience, made me humble, and helped me identify my weaknesses.
They say you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. I suppose that’s true. But the bigger lesson for me: Money, pride, and ego are false measures of success.
Looking back, that experience might have been the best thing to ever happen to me.
Stage #2: Dissolution
When you successfully burn your ego, the ashes contain the good and bad of your self. When my business failed, my emotions become unhinged. I didn’t know how to feel, what to do, or where to turn.
Dissolution is the state of turmoil where all your emotions are swirling together and it’s difficult to identify right from wrong, up from down.
With such lack of clarity, all I had left to trust was my gut. I needed to let my subconscious call the shots. And after doing so, I could finally see who I was at the core of my being.
Chaos is a painful but essential stage of growth that you cannot skip on the way to enlightenment.
Stage #3: Separation
Now, let the solution settle.
After you’ve been through the trying and traumatic stages before this, all of the different elements of the situation will begin to clarify and separate.
When I reached this stage, I witnessed all of my strengths and weaknesses rise to the surface. However, this separation is useless without taking conscious action toward improvement.
Let go of all the impurities in your character. They don’t exist anymore. Focus on your strengths so you can forge a better path forward.
Stage #4: Conjunction
Halfway home, and it’s time to bring all the pieces together.
The conjunction stage is when you discover the new order of things, finding harmony in your personality and developing clarity on how to move forward.
I quickly learned that crushing your negative thoughts and starting with a fresh blackboard is crucial at this stage. It requires a strong sense of dedication to accomplish your new vision, bringing together all the elements of strength you discovered earlier in this evolutionary process.
Stage #5: Fermentation
Calcination helps you weed out the major impurities in your soul, but it’s fermentation that identifies and destroys the subtler elements holding you from success.
Fermenting means allowing something to “heat up” and mature to the point where anything corruptible or transitory will rot away. Here, you let your ideas and attitudes mature in a warm, slow process that eliminates any final impurities or subtle imbalances. It is driven by an internal fire lit by a higher vision of perfection.
In simple terms, it’s a process of refining your subtle weaknesses and clearing the path forward. For me, it was letting go of negative thoughts, like not wanting to be a failure and being afraid of looking weak.
When you let go of your weaknesses, you can focus on the things that will really propel you to success.
Stage #6: Distillation
Think about what physical distillation is like: After a liquid is heated (hint, hint, fermentation), it evaporates until it re-condenses into a purer, denser, and more refined state. The same thing happens as you go through the process of personal growth.
For me, distillation is realizing that we’re all fallible beings. When we embrace what makes us human, it makes it easier for us to keep our eyes set on our goals, and for others to respect, understand, and help us achieve them.
Stage #7: Coagulation
Finally, everything congeals into perfect form. You have achieved clarity of purpose, uncovered your ultimate source of strength, and formed an understanding of how to accomplish your goals.
Reaching this level typically requires several rounds of the previous six steps. And while I’m not quite there yet, I believe that I am getting closer every day. The sooner you adopt the same positive attitude, the better.
In the end, I can’t be your Rumpelstiltskin. You need to spin your own gold on the road to self-actualization.
Developing a rational approach to consistently improving myself has been invaluable in helping me find success, and it will surely do the same for you too.
Don’t think it’s a one-and-done kind of deal. You will be repeating these seven stages over and over as you move through life, and it’s a sign of serious integrity to keep moving forward.
Again, it won’t be easy. Just worth it. Will you rise to the challenge?