Socrates, the Greek philosopher, was profoundly aware of the weakness in his own nature. Yet he came to realize that people are evolving beings, capable of changing and growing toward an ideal. People can always improve themselves.
That is part of our greatness. And that ability to improve ourselves can develop at any moment in life.
Believe You Can Be Successful
You have to believe you can be successful before you will ever succeed. Sounds like a cliché, doesn’t it? But take time to stop and think about it. Where else can you begin? Your beliefs create your life experience — it’s not the other way around. And no matter what you believed before, you can change your beliefs and change your life. It’s impossible to create success without believing — deeply — that you are capable of being successful.
It’s impossible to live abundantly without believing that you deserve abundance. Our education, society, and other forms of mental conditioning are all, unfortunately, more pessimistic than optimistic. How often has someone told you not to waste your time on pipe dreams, that you have to be realistic, that you can’t have what you want? Because we hear this so often and, as a result, believe it to be true, wealth always seems reserved for the fortunate few. Success seems an exclusive party to which we are cordially not invited.
But this is simply not true. If success and prosperity are an exclusive club, it’s because they are so in the minds of people whose attitudes bar their own entry. Every successful person at some point came to believe that one day he or she would be successful.
Your beliefs about success are, no doubt, deeply ingrained, and you have to be open to changing them before you’ll ever succeed. Examine your beliefs to see how they have affected your life. Many people needlessly sabotage themselves because of unexamined “core beliefs” about how the world operates. Marc Allen sums it up in Visionary Business:
It’s important — in some cases critically important — to regularly take time to examine our lives. The first thing to do is to take a look at our past — as clearly and honestly as we can — and discover the important events and influences that have shaped our lives….Some of these shaping events have led to very good core beliefs — and those moments should be remembered, and those beliefs should be encouraged and supported.
All of us have had someone in our lives who saw our potential and supported us in one way or another. We’ve all had glimpses of our genius, as children, and we’ve all had other forces that have sought to crush our genius, through doubt, through cynicism, through lack of faith.
We need to reflect on these things occasionally.
Those shaping moments that have had a negative impact on us need to be looked at, and we need to discover the negative core beliefs we formed as a result. Once those beliefs are identified, they can be let go of. Because they aren’t true — they’re simply self-fulfilling things that become true if we believe them. This is the process of becoming conscious — becoming aware of the forces that drive us, and learning how to act on those forces, how to shape our destiny, how to become powerful. How to achieve what we want in life.
What Are Your Beliefs About Success?
Don’t be afraid to analyze your thoughts more closely; you may be surprised at the barriers you have put between yourself and success, once you think about it. When you realize that you can change even your most deeply held beliefs, you can come to see that not only is it possible for you to become as successful as you would like — in all areas of your life — but also that it’s easy, much easier than you have ever dreamed possible.
In fact, dozens of opportunities appear to you every day. Profitable ideas flash through your mind, but you usually let them slip away without pursuing them with concrete action. The art of self-suggestion, which is discussed throughout this book, helps you discover how to develop your powers of intuition — the sixth sense for success. You already have these qualities, but you may not be fully aware of their existence. You only need to access them — and you can, quite easily.
Succeeding Is No Harder than Failing
For most people, failure has become a way of life. Failure is a hard habit to break; after all, our social climate has given us high expectations, but our social conditioning has given us low morale. It’s a vicious cycle. In order to become successful, we have to understand that success is basically no more difficult than failure. It’s simply based on a different kind of mental programming, one to which the subconscious mind is not inherently opposed.
Doesn’t every failure involve a highly complex combination of circumstances? Consider what it takes to miss perfect opportunities, to misfire every time you attempt something, to avoid meeting the people who can help you on your path of success, to dismiss your ideas as useless when they could lead to something worthwhile, and to continually repeat the motions that lead to defeat.
It’s quite an achievement to fail, and yet the subconscious mind accepts defeat as natural. Throughout this book, we analyze the vital role the subconscious plays in manifesting success. When we understand how to get the power of our subconscious mind working on success rather than failure, we will succeed. It is inevitable.
We create all sorts of excuses to block our success. How many of these thoughts creep into your mind?
Everything was much easier in the good old days.
This excuse is proven wrong every single day of the year. While negative, shortsighted people drone on about unemployment, downsizing, and outsourcing, thousands of small businesses start and flourish every year. Thousands — globally, millions — of people become millionaires each year! Think of the movies produced, the books published, the new opportunities in computer science and Internet media! Think of the parts of the world that are opening to free trade! Becoming successful is not only possible today; it’s actually easier than it used to be. The entire world is ours to offer our new ideas, products, services — whatever gift we have to give. Success depends far less on outside circumstances than on our mental attitude, our beliefs about ourselves and the world.
I’m too young.
Tell this to Debbie Fields, founder and owner of Mrs. Fields Cookies, who was in her twenties when she achieved success, or Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers, who made his first million when he was twenty-three, his first ten million at twenty-four, and his first hundred million at twenty-five. There is an old saying: “A youth with a single aim in life arrives early at the harvest.” Youth is more often than not an asset. Lack of experience can be compensated for by boldness, daring, instinct, and originality. History shows that most successful people started out completely inexperienced and learned as they went along.
I’m too old.
Colonel Sanders and Georgia O’Keeffe would disagree. Napoleon Hill’s survey of the wealthy showed that many successful people don’t reach their goals until midlife and beyond. It could be that this is the time of reaping the benefits of a series of earlier efforts, while many others are thinking of retirement. Work does not kill. Idleness, on the other hand, is often deadly; people who take early retirement often die younger than those who keep working. The fact remains that many people begin a second or third career, sometimes the most successful of all, late in life. Age is irrelevant. Your years of experience, even if you have failed, are priceless to you.
I have no capital.
Most people don’t, in the beginning. Money isn’t essential when we start out. A good creative idea or business idea and a positive mental outlook are essential. Everyone in the world has at least one talent, one passion, one hobby that can become profitable if applied correctly. Contrary to popular belief, there is no shortage of money in the world. The money for launching ideas and furthering good in our world is always available.
Poverty seems to be a tradition in far too many families, an inherited trait like the color of one’s hair or eyes, passed down from generation to generation. It’s often more difficult for people whose families have always been poor to imagine that one day they can become rich. The image we get of ourselves and of life in general is often tinged with hopelessness and pessimism, and the role models that surround us are not always very inspiring. But there are so many exceptions to this — look at Charlie Chaplin, for example, one of history’s wealthiest actors. He spent his youth in poverty, wandering the streets of London. The humiliation of poverty and early contact with life’s harsh realities have in many cases spurred people on to great achievement.
I’m not educated.
Thomas Edison left school before the age of sixteen. Microsoft’s Bill Gates is a college dropout. Even though many successful people weren’t educated
in the formal sense, they did acquire an in-depth knowledge of the industry in which they made their fortunes.
I don’t have any special talent.
Many successful people displayed no early signs of being destined for fame, fortune, and fulfillment.
J. Paul Getty said, “I most certainly was not a born businessman.” Many people talk themselves into believing that they don’t have an inborn talent or what it takes to change their lives. They go to great lengths to justify their lack of success. But in reality, everyone in the world has some talent, some kind of gift. Once we discover our own unique gift, it becomes our purpose to develop it, and doing so leads to our success.
I don’t have the energy it takes.
There is often an important difference between those who succeed and those who fail: their levels of energy. Every action we take requires a minimum amount of energy, especially mental or psychic energy. Low vitality inevitably breeds low motivation. This appears to be another inescapable vicious cycle. But all it takes is a tiny spark to ignite the resources of energy that lie dormant within us. The potential energy we all have is enormous. In many people, it is hibernating, waiting to be activated.
Yet at the same time, it takes much more energy to do something we don’t like than something we enjoy. Think of the energy you have and how time slips away when you’re absorbed in your favorite project. When we do what truly interests and motivates us, the energy flows easily and effortlessly.
I’m afraid of failure.
We’re born with two fears: falling and loud noises. All other fears are acquired. Unfortunately, the fear of failure is powerful and widespread — and it is paralyzing. Often deeply embedded within us, it results from past failures, from a lack of confidence bred unknowingly by our parents, and it’s enforced by society’s general negative, short-sighted thinking.
The fear of failure is sometimes expressed overtly but is most often unconscious and subtly disguised. People don’t admit they’re afraid of failing; instead, they denigrate others for building castles in the air, and they scorn dreams and creative ideas. They’re champion excuse-makers: family obligations, problems, lack of time, lack of money. But wouldn’t the family prefer a spouse or parent who is content with his or her work? Wouldn’t time be better spent in creative expression? Wouldn’t creating fulfillment resolve many problems?
Then there are the “if only” people: If only their boss would notice them….If only they could come up with a good idea….If only they had more talent, ability, time, money, or luck….If only they had been born in different circumstances, or under another astrological sign….
Obviously, if you never try anything, chances are you will never fail. But then, you’re not likely to succeed either. Success doesn’t miraculously appear out of the blue. It’s always the result of concrete action and a positive mental attitude. Thomas Edison made hundreds — some say thousands — of attempts before perfecting the incandescent lightbulb. Abraham Lincoln lost eighteen elections before becoming president of the United States. We’re not singing the praises of failure, but we know through experience that every personal defeat can be an education in itself, at least if it’s accepted with an open mind.
All I’ve done is fail.
One underlying reason for many people’s paralyzing fear of failure is that they have already failed, or at least believe they were unsuccessful in the past. Each new setback reinforces this feeling and undermines their self-confidence. People start with one failure and see themselves as losers, and this in turn leads inevitably to more aborted attempts. These failures reinforce their loser mentality, and soon it becomes habitual. They end up believing that life is a series of hard knocks, defeats, struggles, and frustrations.
Why have you failed until now? Maybe you wanted to fail — at least on some level, possibly subconsciously. If the success you’re entitled to always slips through your fingers, ask yourself why you’ve condemned yourself to mediocrity. And reassure yourself that even the strongest, most powerful negative programming can be changed — quickly and completely.
Once you examine it closely, you may be surprised at your inner resistance to success. You may be surprised at your negative inner monologue, which most people relentlessly repeat out of habit. Here’s an important point: Your mind is always working for your welfare — it just may be working for a long outmoded goal. For instance, maybe your high energy or enthusiasm for something as a child brought harsh criticism from your parents or siblings. You very quickly learned to be quiet and restrained. But now, as an adult, there’s no reason to remain unseen and unheard — yet no one told your subconscious mind.
Look at it this way: Our failures should be seen as stepping-stones that bring us closer to our goal. Our failures give us tremendous feedback. Isn’t it true that with each perceived failure we learn something of value? Failure is our way of learning and growing. In reality, there is no such thing as failure: It’s just part of our education on the way to our inevitable success — if we look at it that way.
Your situation will not improve if you do nothing about it. Of course, this is obvious. But then why are so many people waiting for their big break, or to win the lottery, or for some other miracle? Most people live with the idea that everything will magically work out. And then comes disappointment. Success isn’t handed to us on a silver platter; we have to take action, we have to challenge our old beliefs, and we have to risk failure.
To be continued…
From the book How to Think Like a Millionaire © 1997. Reprinted with permission from New World Library www.newworldlibrary.com.
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