Repeated experience of failure or disappointment has a way of re-conditioning the mind to life reality and possibility. It takes strong willpower, and belief system to not let past painful life experiences shape our future. We all have a story of the hands' life has dealt us, but people who succeed amidst all odds, do not let their past experiences shape or define their life.
Our outlook towards life has some of its element drawn from our past and childhood experiences. As pointed out by Hanan Perez, In order to illustrate how our past experiences (especially childhood) result in the formation of beliefs that strongly affect our behavior, here are some examples
"A child who was abused forms a belief that he is less worthy than others because of the way he was treated. So he is very likely to have a low self-esteem and live with shame for the rest of his life. He may, therefore, become a shy person.
The youngest child in a family receives a lot of attention from everyone around him and so he develops a need to always be at the center of attention. As an adult, he may become a very showy, successful or a famous person just to remain at the center of attention.
A girl whose father abandoned her and her mother may form a belief that men cannot be trusted. So, as an adult, she might find it very hard to trust any man and may have problems forming an intimate relationship with a guy. She might end up sabotaging every relationship she gets into without knowing why.
A boy who always felt financially insecure as a child because his parents always worried about money may develop a strong need to become rich. He may become very ambitious and competitive. If he fails to meet his financial goals, he may become severely depressed.
A kid who was bullied in school may develop a need to become strong and therefore he might become very interested in martial arts or bodybuilding. If you interviewed gym addicts, you’ll find that most of them were either bullied as kids or were involved in a physical fight before. Very few do it just to improve their body image."
Because of the experiences that people go through in life, they develop certain deep-seated beliefs, needs and ways of thinking. In order to fulfill their needs, they develop certain personality traits. They might not be aware of the reason why they have certain personality traits, but their mind is working in the background continually seeking ways to satisfy its needs.
We all are made of our experiences that we encountered in a specific circumstance. If an individual behaves in a particular way, it is because his or her experience thought him these responses and resulting characteristics were born. We all are victims of our life experiences. But we each can change ourselves and others by changing the scars in memories by creating new and positive experiences and circumstances. We can influence opinions, understanding, memories, feelings, responses, love, hatred, prejudice, knowledge and lives by how we chose to behave and the experiences we create for ourselves and others. Your personal experiences are created by how others treat you. Likewise their experiences with you are based on how you treat them. It is a chain of continuous actions and reactions. But to change this link from a negative to a positive one, pressing the “start” button needs to come from you.
A butterfly is safe in its cocoon but it can never reach its full potential staying there. Getting out of the cocoon is tedious, difficult and challenging but it is in the process of coming out the butterfly grows its wings. Change can be scary, change can be painful, but nothing is more painful than staying in a place when the season or opportunities is over. It's challenging launching out to the unknown, it sometimes requires a stretch and sacrifice, because naturally, we all have the tendency to assume the negative of what we don’t know.
John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Change is inevitable. When you embrace change wholeheartedly as an inevitable part of life, looking for ways to use new changes to make your life richer, easier and more fulfilling, your life will work much better. You will experience change as an opportunity for growth and new experience.
Habits are a normal part of every person’s lives. But we are often counterproductive when dealing with change. As humans, we are not very good at changing. We see changes as a negative thing that something creates instability and insecurity. We go through several mental phases when confronted with change; Denial, Frustration and Anger, negotiation and bargaining, depression… Henry Bergson once said, “To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”
What Brings About Change?
Government policies and regulations,
Improvements in technology,
Market situation and
Many fight change because they are afraid of the possible outcome and some fight it because they are not ready to go with the “flow.” The first step to embracing change is acceptance. Things are not always going to be the way they used to be. The human mind grows every day, new innovations, new ideas, creativity and advancement in technology are all pointer to the fact that we live in a world of continuous revolution. Laws are modified, constitutions are rewritten, new ideas are birthed, discoveries are made – change is just inevitable.
When the caterpillar is caught by change, it leaves its cocoon which represents one stage of life in order to become a butterfly so it can spread its wings and fly away. Seasons change from winter to spring so that nature could blossom all over again. No matter how bad the change might appear to be, always stay positive. Lookout for the good in every change, you can sit down and nag about the changes while waiting for the storm to pass, or you can embrace it and learn to dance in the rain.
Over the years, we’ve all been hearing about climate change, top government officials around the world holding meetings, forums, and conferences on how it can be tackled. However, there are still many out there who don’t have a clue about what this is all about and how they can be personally affected by this change in temperature. In my opinion, I think it is everybody’s responsibility to personally observe their environment, notice the changes, and proffer a solution while the governments are still working out the modalities.
In five years to this time, do you see a machine being invented or a software program being written that could do perfectly exactly what you are doing or even better? If yes, why not start forging ahead right now before a little tiny machine makes you lose relevance in the market place. Are there any new courses in your profession that you can do to give you an edge in the marketplace? If yes, I will recommend you go for it as soon as you can.
Don’t just run after the ball aimlessly, go position yourself to where the ball is going so you can get the right passes and make the score. Not all changes are bad, but you need to create the readiness to welcome them. Getting fired from a job may not be as bad as you think it is, dropping out of college may not also be devastating, some change might be difficult to embrace but when we look deeply we can learn our lessons and bring out a better version of ourselves. In order to aim for the best, sometimes, we need to let go of the chains that keep us on to a routine, or the fear of trying something new.
After all, how would you develop and grow wise if you keep living in the old familiar, constantly doing the same things. We resist change because we are afraid of change.
In his book, “Who moved my cheese? By Dr. Spencer Johnson” He wrote:
If you do not change, you can become extinct. The earlier we embrace change the better. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come. The danger of not adapting faster is that you might as well not adapt at all. The biggest inhibitor to change lies within yourself and that nothing gets better until you change. Some fears should be respected as it can keep you out of real danger. But you need to realize most fears were irrational and can keep you from changing when you needed to.”
When change happens, you can either cooperate with it and learn how to benefit from it or you can resist it and eventually get run over by it. It’s your choice. In his book The Success Principles, Jack Canfield wrote:
To help embrace any change, ask yourself the following questions:
What’s changing in my life that I’m currently resisting?
Why am I resisting that change?
What am I afraid of with respect to this change?
What am I afraid might happen to me?
What’s the payoff for my keeping things the way they are?
What’s the cost I’m paying for keeping things the way they are?
What benefits might there be in this change?
What would I have to do to cooperate with this change?
What’s the next step I could take to cooperate with this change?
When will I take it?
Though, it is easy to be preachy about change. It is easy to tell others to change their habits, attitudes, and behaviour. But one can only make a partial adjustment to their personality. And of course, that requires loads of inspiration.
Nothing robs a man of his colorful destiny than hoping someday things will get better without an intentional plan and strategic action. Hope has its place in the pursuit of any dream, but it should be kept in perspective.
No one gets healthy by hoping to be healthy, it takes a healthy diet and regular exercise to stay healthy. No one gets rich by hoping to be rich, it takes planning, investing, saving and strategies to be wealthy. Hope! A virtue we all share in common. The rich hope, the middle class, the poor, everyone hopes. But what is the missing link between hoping and accomplishment? Why would everyone hope for a better future and some have it while others don't?
Hope has its place and it should be kept in perspective. There is a clear distinction between hoping and planning and that’s the missing link for so many. Hope would give anyone reason to believe tomorrow would be better, but planning will take you step by step towards the better tomorrow. Hope without strategic action and plan is an illusion. It would be self-sabotaging to keep hoping without planning.
Don’t put your future on hold hoping that someday things would get better, yes, it might, but that would be leaving your success to chances. Put hope in perspective, hope can serve as a fuel to your pursuit, but if you are passive about it, it can also hold you down. Hope has the capacity to keep a lazy man happy, an ignorant man excited, and a mediocre mind motivated. The future does not only rest in the arms of hope, but the future would also become a reality through strategic planning, action, faith, doggedness, persistence, and prayer.
Take some time out to ask yourself: What are my current goals and what are the steps being taking towards their accomplishment? Don’t be fooled by hoping, be action-oriented and result inclined. It’s good to keep one’s hope alive because without it there would be no drive of pursuit. However, hope is not all it takes to make a dream a reality.
Keep your hope alive, but remember it takes more than hope to live the future you dreamed of.
Percy Ross once said “You’ve got to ask. Asking, in my opinion, is the world’s most powerful and neglected secret to success and happiness.” People are afraid to ask because they don’t want to look needy, foolish or stupid. They are afraid of experiencing rejection. They are afraid of hearing the word No. The sad thing is that they’ve actually rejected themselves in advance. They are saying no to themselves before anyone else even has a chance to. Never assume people will not help you until they personally say so. Don’t underestimate the power of asking.
Don’t assume that you are going to get a No. Take the risk to ask for whatever you need and want. If they say no, you are not worse off than when you started. If they say yes, you are a lot better off. The universe is filled with endless options for you. Whatever you would like to have is yours for the asking. It can be about relationships, finance, career, freedom or anything. The most important thing is that you take the time to be very clear about what you really want in your life before you ask the universe for anything.
Many people ask and they don’t get what they ask for because they don’t ask with the right expectation. Ask as if you expect to get it. Ask with a positive expectation. Don’t live in pretense. Be humble enough to understand that there are things you will never have until you ask for them. Don’t let your ego trick your brain, men can sometimes be egotistical. They overvalue who they are not and undervalue who they truly are. Asking for help does not reduce your value neither does it reduce your worth. In fact, asking for help shows a sign of maturity and humility.
Try as much as possible not to be vague in your request. Vague request produces vague results. Be clear and specific about what you are asking for. Even when all odds are against you, go ahead and ask with a positive expectation. If you cannot beat the deadline, ask if you can be specially considered. Successful people ask for help, average people ask for help. It doesn’t make any difference. Ask with confidence and boldness, the worst you can get is No.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask for details, ask for help, ask for information, ask about the terms and condition, ask for samples, ask for alternatives, ask for Terms of reference, ask for the previous record, ask when ask how ask where and ask why? You have nothing to lose by asking. In a study on problem-solving, it was discovered that one of the best ways in solving any problem is by asking ‘Why’ in five times. Why, why, why, why and why! Consider this case study.
Problem: I am obese – Obesity. 1st Why: Why am I obese?Answer: Because I eat junks and don’t exercise.
2nd Why: Why do I eat junks and don’t exercise?Answer: Because am too busy at work and hardly have time to eat healthy
3rd Why: Why am I too busy that I don’t have time to eat healthily?Answer: Because I don’t delegate and others can’t do it as perfect as I can.
4th Why: Why do I think others can’t do it as perfect as I can?Answer: Because they have not been trained to, and they don’t have the wealth of experience I have.
5th Why: Why were they not trained and employed when they lack the necessary experience for the job?Answer: ???
The ‘why’ can be more than five, but it is preferable to stop at the 5th why to avoid the analysis being clustered. Every answer provided is a solution on its own to the problem. That is the power of asking why. Ask for answers even when you think you know it. What you think as the answer might have become obsolete and outdated.
Every invention was invented by a curiosity in the mind of the inventors. Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web by asking the question of ‘Connectivity’, Mark Zuckerberg co-invented Facebook by asking the question of ‘Social Interaction’, Charles Darwin propounded the evolution theory by asking the question of ‘Human Existence’, Isaac Newton propounded the law of gravity by asking the question about the possibility of ‘an object staying on the air and why they fall’. Curiosity is the mother of invention. However, every curiosity starts with the willingness to ask.
A study in marketing shows that most sales are made after the fifth call to the prospective buyer. To be successful you have to ask, ask, ask, ask and ask. Ask why the team is not meeting its target. Ask why the children are so wayward, ask why you are not financially independent, ask why you live in that environment, and ask why you took that job. Asking some few questions about your life brings more clarity to your journey to success.
Don’t stop asking. Information is the key to transformation. You have nothing to lose you only have more to gain. Ask about government allocation for SME in your country, ask about government grants, ask about college fund/loan, ask if your interest rate can be negotiated and ask if you can get the property without a down payment. No question should be tagged foolish, silly or stupid.
Creative mind gives birth to creative questions. Ask, ask and ask. Ask your boss or manager how you can be more productive and add more value to the organization. Ask about your competence level and work evaluation. Ask your spouse how you can love each other the more. Ask about his/her needs; ask how you can create a balance between work and home and how you can create a more harmonious environment.
Ask if you can negotiate the price even when the price tag is boldly written on it. Remember, you’ve got nothing to lose. In his book, Think Like a Billionaire, Donald Trump wrote
“You should also feel comfortable bargaining for goods and services. I do it all the time, and I’m one of the richest men on earth. Even in the high-end shops, I bargain. After all, the more you are paying for something, the more the seller should be able to shove off the price. I hate paying retail, and it makes me cringe when I see other people doing it. I’ve walked into stores and offered $2,000 for a $10,000 item. It can be embarrassing for me (especially since everyone knows that I’m Trump and that I’m wealthy), but you’d be amazed at the discounts you can get if you simply ask. You do have to be willing to walk away, but after you’ve walked away a few times, the price will come down. It’s moronic to be too proud to save money.”
Ask, ask and ask. Ask your friends and close associates about your strength and weaknesses, gift and talents. What do they think you are good at or what you are worst at doing? Remember, you’ve got nothing to lose. Dare to ask, ask with boldness and positive expectation.
At a certain point in our lives, we've all been indecisive about certain things be it, ideas, decisions, proposals, or actions, we over-analyzed and as a result, we find it difficult making up our mind. In the archive of an indecisive person, the following phrases are sure to be found, "Let me sleep over it. Maybe. Am not sure. You decide. I will think about it. Am still thinking about it. Give me more time. to name a few" Oftentimes, I call this "analysis paralysis." When the stakes are high, we often find it difficult making up our mind, but when our indecision becomes repetitive, it starts becoming a pattern.
At the center of every indecision is fear of the unknown, the willingness to know an outcome before taking the step. It was Martin Luther King who said, take the first step in faith, you don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step in faith. Do you know that not taking a decision is still a decision of no decision? There won't be a need for faith, risk, prayer, or God's intervention in the cause of man if we all have a sure predicted outcome of all our decisions.
Isaac Newton's first law of motion states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. Which can also be loosely translated to be "Our life will remain at a constant state of rest, or uniform motion, unless decisive actions are taken or plans are put in place. " The external force sometimes may be making up your mind to take certain steps or actions. When the stakes are high, we always find it difficult making up our mind, and when we are open to too many options, we have the tendencies to be indecisive.
Indecisiveness makes you vulnerable, it projects a lack of self-confidence, poor self-image, lack of self-respect, poor self-esteem, and overly dependence on external validation. I have seen people stuck in a job they don't like, a relationship that is detrimental to their well-being, a conversation they resent, all because they are being indecisive about walking away or taking their stand.
So then, how can we overcome indecision?
1. Use the 10-10-10 rule in decision making: Ask if what you are deciding on would still matter in 10 minutes, 10 months or in 10 years. The longer the benefits of the decision, the better the chances that the decision is really worth taking.
2. Equip yourself with adequate information: The quality of information at your disposal is directly proportionate to the quality of your decisions. More information gives you better insight, a more informed perspective on your decision. Get yourself abreast with all relevant information that will help you fine-tune your thinking process in making up your mind.
3. Write down the pros and cons: Think of the benefits and consequences. Ask, what is the worst case scenario and can you survive or live with it? Yes, there are no guarantees that things will always turn out the way you planned them to turn out, but you wouldn't want to live with the regret of wishing you had tried or make an attempt. Take time to think about your decision or choices through, but don't get stuck at thinking. Be proactive and take a bold step.
4. Seek Counsel: Success leaves clues, so also does failures. Reach out to those who have once taken similar decisions you are about to take. You will learn more from others mistake, than learning from your own experiences.
5. Trust your gut feelings: There is no absolute certainty that things will turn out exactly the way you've planned, sometimes you just have to trust your gut feelings and use your instincts. Ecclesiastes 11:3 quote "If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything."
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