1.Turn scars into stars
Read the life histories of people who have turned a negative into a positive, adversity into advantage, stumbling blocks into stepping stones. They refused to let disappointment and failures pull them down. Some of the best music was composed by Beethoven. What was his handicap? He was deaf. Some of the best poetry written on nature was written by Milton. What was his handicap? He was blind. One of the greatest world leaders was US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. What was his handicap? He served from a wheelchair.
What a lesson to be learnt from the histories some of successful people – it teaches us that successful people do it in spite of, not in absence of, problems. When we hear or read stories of people who have turned adversity into opportunity, doesn’t it motivate us? If we regularly read biographies and autobiographies of such people, won’t we stay motivated?
2.Learn intelligent ignorance
Education teaches us what we can do and also teaches us what we cannot do. I am looking for a lot of men with an infinite capacity for not knowing what cannot be done.
Henry Ford gave this world the V8 engine. He did not have much formal education. In fact, he did not go to school beyond the age of 14. He was intelligent enough to know there had to be a V8 engine but he was ignorant and didn’t know how to build it. So he asked his highly qualified, educated people to build one. But they told him what could be done and what couldn’t. According to them, a V8 was impossibility. But Henry Ford insisted on having his V8. A few months later he asked his people if they had the V8 and they replied, “We know what can be done and we also know what cannot be done and V8 is impossibility”. This went on for many months till Henry said, “I want my V8”. And shortly thereafter the same people produced his V8 engine. How come? They let their imagination run beyond academic limitation. Education teaches us what can be done and sometimes also teaches us false limitations.
The bumblebee – We need to learn from nature. According to scientists, the bumblebee’s body is too heavy and its wing span too small. Aerodynamically, the bumblebee can’t fly. But the bumblebee doesn’t know that and it keeps flying. When you don’t know your limitations, you go out and surprise yourself. In hindsight, you wonder if you had any limitations. The only limitations a person has are those that are self-imposed. Don’t let education put limitations on you.
3.Do something for others who cannot repay you in cah or kind
Be a volunteer. It builds self-worth. Helping others as you would expect others to help you gives a feeling of gratification. It is a good feeling which represents high self-esteem. The process of giving without having expectations or getting anything in return raises one’s self-esteem. A healthy personality has the need not only to get but also to give.
4.Learn to give and receive compliments
Don’t miss out on any opportunity to give sincere compliments. Remember, the key word is sincerity. When others give you a compliment, accept it graciously and gracefully with two words, “Thank You”. That is a sign of humility.
We need to accept responsibility for our behavior and our actions and insulate ourselves from excuses. Don’t be like the student who failed just because he didn’t like the teacher or the subject. Who is hearting the most? We have to accept responsibility and stop blaming others, then, and only then, will productivity and quality of life improve.
Our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities.
John F. Kennedy
Excuses make the problem worse than the problem itself. We owe responsibility:
- To self
- To family
- To work
- To society
We can add to the greenery by planting trees, stopping soil erosion, preserving naturally beauty. We cannot live as if we have another world we can move to. On daily basis, we need to do something that makes this world a better place to live. We are custodians for the future generations. If we do not behave responsibly, how can future generations forgive us?
If the average life expectancy of a person is 75 years and if you are 40 years old, you have 365 days X 35 years, to live. Asking yourself this question: What are going to do with this time? When we accept or add responsibility, we make ourselves more valuable. Don’t we?
Self-discipline does not kill joy but builds it. You see people with talent and ability, and yet they are unsuccessful. They are frustrated and the same behavior pattern affects their business, their health, and their relationships with others. They are dissatisfied and blame it on luck without realizing that many problems are caused by lack of discipline.
Well-defined goals give a person a sense of direction, a feeling of accomplishment when he reaches his goals. More important than goals is a sense of purpose and vision. It gives meaning and fulfillment to life. What we get upon achieving our goals is a lot less important than what we become. It is the becoming which gives us a good feeling. That is what self-esteem is all about. In goal-setting, we need to be realistic. Unrealistic goals remain unaccomplished, leading to poor self-esteem, whereas realistic goals are encouraging and build high self-esteem.
8.Associate with people of high moral character
Associate yourself with people of good quality if you esteem your reputation, for it is better to be alone than to be in bad company.
Test of friendship – Negative influences come in the form of peer pressure. People say, “Aren’t you my friend?” Remember, true friends never want to see their friends hurt. It is common to see people doing the wrong things to get accepted, saying, “it is cool,” not realizing they will be left cold. What starts as peer pressure may be in reality a test of friendship. Where will they be when we are in trouble? How far will they go to help you? And the biggest question is: if they don’t have the character today, how will they have the character tomorrow to help you? Associating with people of high moral character helps build self-esteem.
Peer pressures – When the desire to belong to the herd becomes stronger than the desire to stand up for what is right, it is evident that what is lacking is courage and character. It is less controversial. Going along to get along is a safer way, keeps one’s peers happy and one does not risk being laughed at. That is where people with high self-esteem draw the line. That is what separates the men from the boys. Examples:
- School kids conform because they do not want to be laughed at
- They don’t give the answers because others will make fun for them
- Factory workers keep performance low to keep peers happy
Moderation – Many people say, “In moderation, it is OK. I try a little and quit”. The question is, “In moderation, it is really okay?”
- To cheat?
- To lie?
- To steal?
- To take drugs?
- To have illicit affairs?
Some people frequently rationalize, “I can quit whenever I want”. They don’t realize that negative influences are more powerful than will-power.
9.Become internally driven, not externally driven
One day, if someone gets up on the right side of the bed and calls me and says, “You are the greatest person on earth. You are doing a great job and I want you to know I am honored to call you a friend,” I know he is sincere. How does it make me feel? Great. But the next day, he gets up on the wrong side of the bed, picks up the phone and says, “You rascal, you cheat, you crook! You are the biggest fraud in town”. How does it make me feel? Terrible.
So the first day when he says, “You are the greatest guy,” I feel great and the next day when he says, you rascal,” I feel terrible. Who is controlling my life? Obviously, he is. Is that the way I want to go through life? Not at all. That is being externally driven.
I want to be internally driven. When he calls me and says I am the greatest guy, it is good to hear those words. But even if he doesn’t say those words, in my own estimation, I am still a good human being. And the next day when he rips me apart, he can’t really, because in my own estimation, I am still a good human being. When people make statements like, “You make me angry,” the focus of control is external. But if I say I am angry or I choose to be angry, the focus of control is internal.
No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.
There is a story about an ancient Indian sage who was called ugly names by a passerby. The sage listened unperturbed till the man ran out of words. He asked the man, “If an offering is not accepted, who it belongs to?” The man replied, “It belongs to the person who offered it”. The sage said, “I refuse to accept your offering,” and walked away, leaving the man dazed. The sage was internally driven.
So long as we blame outside sources, our miseries will continue and we will feel helpless. Unless we accept responsibility for our feelings and behavior, we cannot change. The first step is to ask:
- Why did I get upset?
- Why am I angry?
- Why am I depressed?
Then we start getting the clues to overcome them. Happiness is a result of positive self-esteem. If you ask people what makes them happy, you will get all kinds of answer. Most of them would include material things but that is not really true. Happiness comes from being and not having. One can have everything in life and yet not be happy. The reverse is also true.
Happiness is internal. Happiness is like butterfly. You run after it, it keeps flying away. If you stand still, it comes and sits on your shoulder.
Develop a mind set that brings happiness – Bitterness is a sign of emotional failure. It paralyzes our capacity to do good. Set your own standards. Be honest to yourself. Compete against yourself. Do the following:
- Look for the positive in every person and in every situation
- Resolve to be happy
- Set your own standards judiciously
- Develop an immunity to negative criticism
- Learn to find pleasure in every little thing
- Remember all times are not the same. Ups and downs are part of life
- Make the best of every situation
- Keep yourself constructively occupied
- Help others less fortunate than yourself
- Learn to get over things. Don’t brood
- Forgive yourself and others. Don’t hold guilt or bear grudges
10.Give yourself positive auto-suggestions
Develop the habit of giving yourself positive self-talk. Auto-suggestions alter our belief system by influencing the subconscious mind. Our behavior reflects our belief system. Hence auto-suggestions affect our behavior by influencing our belief system. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Examples:
- I can handle it
- I can do it
- I am good at math
- I have a good memory
11.Our greatest strength can become our greatest weakness
Any strength overextended becomes a weakness. For example, in sales, good speaking ability is strength. It is not uncommon to see salespeople with good speaking ability talk themselves into a sale, then talk too much and talk themselves right out of the sale. Their strength got them into it; however, overextended, it became a weakness and they lost the sale.
Listening is strength. Overextended, however, it could mean that a person listens a lot but does not speak enough. It becomes a weakness.
12.Our geatest weakness can become our greatest strength
Anger is weakness. How can it be turned into strength? One lady demonstrated by getting MADD! MADD! Stands for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. This lady lost her child because of a drunk driver. She got so angry that she resolved not to tolerate this kind of thing in society. She organized people over her states to fight drunk driving. Today she and her association have become a significant force, with thousands of members, and are succeeding in their pursuit to change legislation in Congress. That is turning a negative emotion, like anger, into strength by doing positive.
A lot of time we hear people saying that one exposure to a positive or negative material does not have any impact. That is not true. The difference may not be visible but something is happening.
In China, there is a bamboo tree which is planted, watered, and fertilized for the first four years and nothing happens. There is no visible sign of growth. But sometime during the fifth year, the bamboo tree grows about 90 feet in six weeks. The question is: Did the bamboo tree grow in six weeks or did it takes five years to grow even though there was no visible sign it was taking root in the ground? Certainly not. The bamboo tree would have died. We need to learn from nature and the lesson is pretty clear. Have patience and faith and keep doing the right thing. Even though the results may not visible, something is happening.
14.Take inventory: make a list of all your strengths and weaknesses
Successful people realize their limitations but build on their strengths. Unless we know these things, how can we build on them? Focus on what you want to do and be, rather than what you don’t.
A Little Black Pen