The following power steps structure your thinking to make sure the actions you take will drive you towards success.
Power Step #1: Be In Charge Of Your Life
Caring what other people think of you puts them in charge of your life, instead of you.
‘What will other people think of me?’ slavery is extremely common. Most of us are brought up (rightfully so) to consider others. But, unless we are discerning, we soon find ourselves caught up in a job we can’t stand, or living in a relationship which makes us unhappy, or getting caught up in the spiral of poverty.
‘Trying to please other people all the time’ syndrome begins in childhood. It stems from a desire to be liked and admired. Let’s look at a fairly typical scenario: three boys, Fred, Joe, and Matthew, all five years old, are best pals. They fight to sit together at school and spend their breaks in a group. Fred comes to school one day with a stack of pokemon cards to show his friends. Joe is envious of Fred’s collection and a fight breaks out when Fred refuses to give a prized card to Joe.
There are several resulting scenarios, all with serious implications for Fred’s future. A teacher could break up the fight and make Fred feel guilty for not parting with the prized card. Joe could refuse to talk to Fred even ending the friendship, unless Fred relented. Matthew would side with either Joe or Fred, or be a peacemaker and force the other two to discuss the problem and sort it out amicably.
The biggest danger to Fred, is if the solution entails his giving the card away, when he really doesn’t want to. In other words, if the only reason he gives in, is because he desperately wants to be liked and it really matters what his friends think of him. If they were real friends, of course, Joe would understand Fred’s view and Matthew would not criticise. Fred might even willingly offer Joe another not so valuable card out of his collection.
Over the years thousands of small incidents build up, until by the time we are adults, most of us make a habit of putting what other people think of us before our own personal needs and desires.
The Right Reasons
Before you cut the grass, decorate the house, start a business, go on holiday, always ask yourself, ‘am I doing this for the right reasons?’ Yes, the gardening has to be done, but not if you’re in the middle of crucial market research and if you don’t cut the grass today you’re worried that the neighbour’s will think you’re lazy. Yes, a house has to be decorated, but not if it’s at the expense of your health through shooting your stress level through the roof trying to fit it in between a busy advertising campaign, and it’s only because your partner insists you do it now.
‘Other people’ slavery kills your creativity, your energy and drive towards your own goals and fulfilling your dreams. It stops you from going to places you want to visit and enjoying the kind of entertainment that you enjoy. So, make certain you’re not always driven to do things, merely because you’re worried about what other people think of you. Be confident in who you are!
Step #2: Strive to be Different
Nearly everyone you know will strive to be normal – because it’s socially acceptable. But the normal person goes nowhere special and achieves the mundane.
Using a fictitious character called Norman, here’s an example of his normal expectations of life and mediocre results:
‘I live in a pleasant neighbourhood in an average house (translated as meaning: all the houses and gardens along the street look exactly alike, apart from the odd differences in plants). I own an average car (just another standard box on wheels, which apart from minor differences looks like nearly every other car on the road).’
Norman’s other goals and ambitions: ‘I save up all year round to take my wife and children on holiday, somewhere nice where it’s safe. We usually book a package holiday, so everything is taken care of and we know exactly what to expect. Even the entertainment is all planned for us.
My job is boring, but it pays the bills and the pension is good. It’ll never make me rich, but then I don’t want to be rich (but he wouldn’t give away a lottery win!). Anyone who’s rich has had to lie and cheat their way to the top. I like to sleep at night with a clear conscience. I may not have much but at least it’s honest toil.
I don’t have much to do with the neighbours; I don’t really like them. But, to keep the peace I mow my lawn once a week and keep the garden weeded and tidy, and do the odd job for them. I like to think they view me as a nice guy.
Every other weekend we visit our best friends, Alice and Paul, and they visit us alternate weekends. Like us, they’re your average typical family. Most nights after work I shower, change and after dinner, put my feet up and watch television until bedtime. Every Sunday, we have a roast dinner and every Friday we treat ourselves to a fry up. Am I happy, well, it’s life isn’t it?’
That’s how Norman thinks and lives his life and that’s how many people live their life. The Normans spend their days, grumbling about how they hate their job, get fed up with their bosses and partners, but that’s all they do. The same gripes day in and day out – but taking no action to change their situation, simply because they are slaves to being normal (and ‘what will other people think of me, if I do something unusual?’).
Living in the Fast Lane of the Elite
Let’s compare Norman’s goals and ambitions with another invented character, David. He’s one of the smaller group of people who move forward and live the life of the elite and privileged.
‘My philosophy on life is simple. Life is too short to be little.
I’m not concerned with what other people think of me. If all my neighbours want to cut down their hedges and build short brick walls and block pave their drives, that’s their choice, but I’m not going to have it done just to please them. I like the trees so they’re staying and I prefer to have a shingle drive. I’ve done everything possible to make our house individual.
Often, I ring Sarah from the office and ask her to forget about cooking dinner for that night and how about going out for a meal? We’ve tried all the restaurants within a twenty km radius.
We both love holidays, and I take the family as often as possible. We spend most weekends, exploring new places and trying out different activities.
I love my job, it’s very challenging being a manager. I get to meet and work with people of many different personality traits, from varied backgrounds. Every now and then a junior is obviously aiming to take my job. I don’t find it threatening, I like the challenge. I enjoy working with intelligent people who stretch my potential.
I work hard and I am paid well. Do I feel guilty? No, I expect to be paid handsomely for my efforts, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We live in a large house in an exclusive area and that’s my reward for going the extra mile at work. I don’t automatically go home at the end of the working day. And sometimes I arrive at the office as early as 6am, just to prepare for a meeting with my team.
I want to be rich and I am prepared to plan and work towards my goals. I look forward to the future. I don’t know what’s around the corner and I don’t care, because whatever happens I will handle the situation. I know I can solve problems – my strength lies within, it does not come from any outside forces. I couldn’t care less whether other people approve of me or not, I know I’m okay and that’s all that matters.’
Two Opposing Philosophies
Norman’s slavery to acting normal (and slavery to what other people think), creates poverty and unhappiness. While David’s striving to be different (and refusal to be a slave to other people’s expectations of him) creates wealth and happiness.
If you are ever tempted to query if David’s attitude is not a tad selfish, then just ask yourself this question, ‘who would you prefer to have as a friend? Norman, who’s bored and unhappy or David who’s exciting and happy?’ Easy isn’t it.
Power Step #3: Look to the Future
If you dwell on your past mistakes your creativity can crash to a grinding halt and you will be unable to move forward. Losing is good if you interpret it correctly.
Demonstration Example: A friend of mine told me how a number of years ago, an acquaintance of his, approached him with a spectacular lead about a stock that was certain to triple in price in the next few weeks. The price was $7.45 a share. So, despite his misgivings he bought 200 shares. From that day the stock dropped. Finally eighteen months later he decided to cut his losses and sell.
He sold the stock for a huge loss at a grand total of $413. He could have let this one bad experience drive him from ever investing in the stock market again. However, this wise man explained, he was glad to have learned such valuable lessons.
It taught him:
1. Ignore the guy who wants to give a hot tip.
2. Check into a company carefully before buying.
3. Sell if it starts dropping too much.
Education of the Highest Merit
Don’t regard mistakes as mistakes. It ceases to be a mistake and loses its power to hold you back if you can learn to be glad that you’ve not failed but learned valuable lessons in life. That attitude will help you to build future successes.
Lost a job? You probably weren’t suited, so take the time out to decide what you really want to do. Built a business and then it crashed? Perhaps you don’t like running your own business. Can’t sell a product? Look for the reason and then act. Either try out other ways to sell it or scrap the product and sell a different one.
Blessed is he who is not discouraged by mistakes. Blessed is he who is glad he makes mistakes. Winning – or losing – is a state of mind.
Power Step #4: It’s Never Too Late
Sadly, the following story is all too common: Bill spent years training to be an engineer, although he never really liked engineering. But he thought it was worth the sacrifice because it was a highly paid skill.
After college, he started a job with an engineering company. Years later he was still working at the same company and still hating it. His excuse was with a mortgage and family ties he was scared to leave the engineering firm and go into a job with lower wages.
After twenty years he was still afraid to correct a mistake made all those years ago. He was now too scared to change jobs, simply because he’d left it too late. He didn’t want to compete with younger men experienced at their job.
If you have a goal and you find yourself saying ‘it’s too late’, the only way to conquer that fear is to ignore it and go ahead and do the thing you fear. It’s NEVER too late if you have the courage and the passion to follow your dream.
Power Step #5: Don’t Crave Security
In ages past we accepted that life was full of hardships. They grappled with huge animals in a desperate bid to kill them for food. The odds were simple; either succeed or starve, kill or be killed.
As civilisations discovered fire and then electricity and gas to keep warm, bought food from markets and built houses of stone, people became less willing to deal with any unexpected events that threatened to turn their cosy life upside down. So, insurance was invented.
The idea of insurance is to cushion the impact of the unexpected. In theory it’s a good idea, but it has turned our society into a population of security seekers. It has weakened our strength as individuals who know we can surmount any problem or situation that life throws our way.
The stifling extent of this slavery is enormous. The more security we have the less psychological freedom we can enjoy and the less our chances are of success and abundance.
Dare to Take a Chance
The only places to find security are a prison or mental hospital. Inmates are assured a roof over their heads, food and warmth and no responsibilities. The price tag for this security? No freedom.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to reel off a list of bad things that could happen to us. For most people it’s easier than thinking of the good things that could happen. People who crave security are slaves to a vivid imagination that conjures up bad news items that could happen to them, and they allow these images to cripple their actions. Too afraid to start that great business idea because of all the things they imagine that could go wrong. Too frightened to sell up and buy a larger house in another area because the house prices could drop or the children won’t like the new schools, or… and so it goes on for an endless list.
Every child loves surprises and life is fun and exciting because of this. As we grow up and we fight for security, we eliminate the risks but in doing so we eliminate the surprises and limit our chances to achieve more than a humdrum life.
If you want to make sure you don’t stifle your need for excitement:
1. Dare to be individual.
2. Dare to develop your own style – instead of following fashion.
3. Dare to study and work to improve yourself in your profession.
4. Dare to have a positive mental attitude and the courage to try.
In other words: Dare to take a chance.
Power Step #6: I Am Certain to Win
Our minds drive us to achieve exactly what we believe we’re capable of achieving. This is good news because once we understand this and master the art of controlled thinking, then we can guide our destinies towards success.
Controlled experiments over many years have proved that children who are considered by their teachers, friends and families to be ‘troublesome or terrors’ actually end up getting into trouble with a high percentage becoming juvenile delinquents. However, the ‘good’ group of boys (in the same age group at the beginning of a study) believed by teachers, friends and families to stay out of trouble and succeed in school, go on to do so. Each group of children achieve in accordance with what people around them believe them capable of doing.
The conclusion of many similar studies is this: thinking does make it so. Only a miracle can make the football team win who starts a game with the ‘we know they’ll beat us,’ attitude.
If you need to break the bonds of ‘I’m certain to fail’ slavery:
1. Hold positive chats with yourself.
2. Surround yourself with positive people.
3. Think, ‘I’m going to succeed’.
4. Think, ‘I’m a winner’.
The only person you will have to convince is yourself. Other people are automatically convinced you’re great and a success, after you have convinced yourself.
By Stuart Goldsmith, Creator of
The Inner Circle Mentoring Program