Sam walked into the coffee shop, ordered coffee, and looked around. He saw his buddy, Zak, waiting for him at the usual place. You see, it was Thursday, 7 pm, and Sam and Zak meet each week at the same time and place. They get together to catch up on what is going on in each of their lives, share ideas and experiences, and provoke a broader vision by questioning each other’s ideas. Here’s a glimpse of what unfolded at today’s get together:
Zak: “Can you tell me about the Success Seminar you attended yesterday?”
Sam: “I enjoyed it and snagged some useful insights. The presenter asked the group what they wanted from life and the attendees gave the usual answers: success, lots of money, happiness, a new house, a promotion, a new career, a life partner, good health.
“The presenter then surprised everyone by saying, ‘What you really want is what you have right now.’ Some members of the audience objected. ‘I don’t want to have a poor job,’ someone said. ‘Nor do I want to live in a tiny apartment,’ another chimed in.”
Zak: “I don’t blame them for dissenting. After all, no one wants to be broke. No one wants to have a crummy job. It’s silly to say that what we have is what we want.”
Sam: “Then, you don’t believe what the seminar leader said?”
Zak: “No, I don’t.”
Sam: “Well, let me put it this way. Your beliefs brought you where you are today, and the presenter’s beliefs brought him where he is, which is a best-selling author of three books and a highly paid corporate seminar leader that travels across the country. And like you, my beliefs have brought me where I am today. Who would you say is more successful, me or the seminar leader?”
Zak: “Why, the seminar leader, of course.”
Sam: “That being so, whose beliefs should I follow, mine or the presenter’s?”
Zak: “Okay, I got your point. But how did the presenter answer the objections raised by audience members?”
Sam: “He explained it this way, ‘Although you say you want a bigger house or better job, what you really want is what you now have, which is an easy life. That is, you don’t want to work hard or exert yourself, which is what successful people have to do. When you say you want a bigger house, you really mean you would like to have one, if you can get it without working hard. Simply put, you are not willing to pay the price for success. And until you accept this fact and agree to do whatever it takes to succeed, you won’t.’”
2. Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior
Zak: “But isn’t it true that we engage in self-defeating behaviour because of the negative programming we have received in childhood? It’s not my fault if I lack confidence and have self-doubt or low self-esteem, is it?”
Sam: “No, that’s not your fault, but it is your fault if you do nothing about it.”
Zak: But what can I do?
Sam: “Look, our negative programming is not etched in stone. We can change it. We are ruled by our subconscious programming only when we act on auto pilot. But if we remain aware of our thoughts and feelings, we can stop before we act, and choose to do what is best for us.
“Our subconscious sabotages us by creating resistance; that is, we lose all desire to do what’s necessary for success. The way to break free from our subconscious programming is simply to train ourselves to do what needs to be done, even when we don’t feel like doing it. In other words, we need to develop self-discipline (self-leadership or self-empowerment.) Overcoming the resistance to succeed is the price we have to pay for success. And each success we experience chips away at the subconscious negative programming and resistance, opening the way for more success.
“To help us break free from self-sabotage, the presenter recommended, I Know What to Do, So Why Don't I Do It? The New Science of Self Discipline! by Nick Hall, Ph.D., which you can find here or here or here.”
3. How Can I Succeed when No One Is Helping Me?
Zak: “Did the seminar leader explain what we should do if no one is helping us to succeed?”
Sam: “He said that ‘No one is helping me succeed’ is not a reason for failure, but an excuse for failure. You see, people aren't supposed to help us; we're supposed to help people. That’s how we learn, gain experience, and win opportunities. In a word, when we give our best, we receive the best.”
4. I Know What to Do, but I Lack the Energy to Act.
Zak: “But what do we do if we lack the energy to act?”
Sam: “We don’t stop acting because we lack energy, but we lack energy because we stop acting. The less we do the less energy we will have. Also, don't confuse wants with needs. You may not WANT to do anything, but you NEED to do something to remain mentally and physically fit.
“To remain energetic, regularly exercise, eat balanced meals, get sufficient sleep, and get in a stress reduction program as stress is a leading cause of energy loss.”
5. Don’t Pursue What You Wish Were True Instead of What Is True
Sam: “The presenter also cautioned against living in a dream world instead of the real world. In dreams people may succeed by participating in a get-rich-quick scheme, winning the lottery, or waiting for a lucky break. But in the real world, people succeed because of old-fashioned hard work and a commitment to success.”
6. Take Time to Stop and Reflect
Zak: “Did he make any other interesting comments?”
Sam: “Yes, he said some people are so busy surviving, they have no time for living. To lead a rewarding life, we need to occasionally stop and reflect on the journey we are taking. We need to ask ourselves questions, such as where do I go from here? What can I do to rise to another level? Can I contribute more to life by doing something different? Am I being led by my fears or guided by my vision?
“The question we need to ask is not what would we do if we had the means, time, connections, education, and opportunities, but what will we do with what we now have, and when will we do it?”
7. Using ‘Failure’ as an Excuse instead of a Learning Opportunity
Sam: “The presenter also pointed out that the only people not experiencing failure are those who are not trying hard enough to succeed. The odd thing is that failure is a sign that we are trying hard enough, for we are not playing it safe, but taking chances and trying to break new ground. The key is to remember that ‘failure’ is not a reason to quit, but a lesson to learn, for as the Founder of Honda Motor Corporation said, ‘Many people dream of success. To me success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection.’” (Soichiro Honda, 1906~1991)
8. Do We Succeed by What We Know, What We Do, or What We Are?
Sam: “In his concluding remarks, the presenter said that successful people owe their success not to what they know or do, but to what they are.”
Zak: “To what they ARE?”
Sam: “Yes, they ARE resilient, patient, courageous, resourceful, enthusiastic, disciplined, and ambitious. In other words, they owe their success to their strong character. And this is something we can emulate.”
As we leave Sam and Zak, I would just like to add that we don't automatically know all there is to know about the principles of success, so if we work alone, we may overlook some important or even critical factors. For this reason, seminars, audio courses, and good books are highly recommended. Here is a good place to begin.