The film 'Erin Brockovich' is the true story of one woman's successful initiative to investigate the deaths and illnesses of dozens of individuals through the leakage of poisons into the water supply by the Pacific Gas and Electrical utility company of California. At the end of the story, Erin, working for a legal firm, wins a $333 million settlement for the families of victims, which also includes a very substantial sum for her law firm as well as for herself. It is also a story that each of us can learn from -- especially if we hope to take our lives to the next level of success. The film not only shows her personal struggles that allowed this vast achievement, but also the social obstacles she was forced to overcome.

Although Erin demonstrated several unflattering traits -- including her provocative dress and her too-often vulgar speech -- one trait makes up for all of the others: her great tenacity of purpose. In this instance, Erin not only knew precisely what she wanted -- to uncover the injustice that has befallen the victims -- but pursues that goal with almost super-human effort and determination

In studying the ways individuals accomplish in life, several traits seem to stand out. First, it is imperative to have a clear vision of what one wants to accomplish. Then one is able to develop a plan to make it happen. And finally, one makes an exhaustive effort to see it through. Erin was able to embrace all three in this great period of her life. She not only had a clear vision of what she wanted to occur, not only developed right strategies to bring it about, but then implemented them through an unrelenting, persevering effort. As a result, life cooperated from all quarters -- leading not only to a vast settlement for the suffering families, but to a monumental breakthrough for victim's rights.

In addition to vision, strategies and determined implementation, there is one other factor that played an important role in Erin's stunning achievement -- the adoptions and adherence to deep personal values. At each point, Erin personally identified with the plight of the victims and felt a moral duty to bring them justice. Such deep beliefs and values guided her efforts and in the end drove her to succeed.

If she can bring about such vast results, then each of us can do the same in the areas we are predisposed toward. For example, think about your own situation for a moment, and then consider what it is that you really want to achieve in life. Now ask yourself the following questions: Do you have a very clear vision of what you want to archive? Do you really want to make it happen -- i.e. do you have a deep abiding passion for this to come about? If so, then do have clear strategies to make it happen? Also, are you willing to make an unrelenting, persevering effort to bring it about? If so, and if you follow through at all these levels, then life will surely cooperate with your efforts from all quarters. E.g. life will begin to present you with sudden instances of good fortune; a miraculous-like phenomenon that I call a "life response."

Now let's move on and consider the social dimension of Erin's extraordinary story. When any person ventures to achieve at a higher level in life, one is forced deal with the social milieu. I.e. in these situations, we will see that there are environmental forces that are trying to help us, and there as those conspire or otherwise gather to defeat us. Often that opposition can originate from most unlikely of sources. For example, one thing we notice in Erin's case is that though she is working for the great benefit of the law office, the clients, even society itself, at many points she is directly opposed by these very entities!

When a pioneer individual takes on a work that is not part of the normal routines of that society, it often opposes that individual's efforts -- even if it will, in the end, bring it great benefit! We see this phenomenon at work in various points in Erin's story -- when the lawyers continually show their misgivings about her initiative; when the people in the office are put off by her behavior missing the greater benefit she is creating for them and the victims; when her boyfriend deserts her for a time; and, most dramatically, when the eventual beneficiaries of her initiative -- the victims in the village -- gather at one point and decide to oppose her efforts! This shows how the groundbreaking work of a pioneer will often be opposed by various collectives, including those who stand to gain the most. It is more than an irony; it reflects a fundamental Ignorance and unconsciousness of the society in the face of a great boon. To be aware of these forces is to know the influences of life, which one can overcome through the right capacities -- of strength, attitude, right strategies, and so forth.

Fortunately for all involved, Erin's tenacity of purpose and her great psychological strength overcome the unconscious opposition of the ignorant social forces around her. She is courageous, and never despairs when the social milieu opposes. She is consistently positive in her attitude, believing in the rightness of her cause, and its eventual success. She also has great social skills, demonstrated by her great empathy and communication skills when interviewing the sick victims and their kin. She is not bothered by the social obstacles because in one sense she cares little about conforming to the social order. She is her own person, despite her sometimes boisterous and crude behavior. Fortunately, that offensive behavior in minor compared to the social strength she brings to bear.

By the way, we should also point out that the falsehood of the society is born out even at the end when Erin wins the case. She receives but $2 million out of the $333 million settlement, when she has, for all intents and purposes, single-handedly enabled this great outcome! The law firm, being a social institution, accepts the social custom of only giving Erin money equal to her social status and position, instead of what she really deserved. In addition, the law firm itself collects 40% of the reward. It is another indicator of the negative and false quality of institutions in society that reward the socially-accepted custom instead of that which is right and just.

So we can ask ourselves again: do we have the drive and will to succeed in our endeavors? Are we clear about what we want to achieve, and have the right strategies to make it come about? Do we have the strength and determination to bring our aspirations to fruition? Also, are we directed by our own beliefs, rather than being overly influenced by the social norms; and do we have the strength of purpose to persevere beyond the opposition of the social milieu around us. If we meet these conditions, then we too can bring about successes that rival those of Erin; we too can rise to the highest pinnacles of success.

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