If you think learning is difficult, try ignorance. – Anonymous
“Look at yourself as a winner.” “Look at yourself as successful not a failure.” “Look at yourself as someone who can still do something.” You may have heard these familiar words of visualization over and over. You could have read them a lot of times. However, you wonder why even positive thinking like these, unfortunately, didn’t convert your dreams into reality. You may even exert persistent efforts and you still end up losing.
Somehow in my more than four decades of existence I picked up from here and there some pointers that somehow corrected my mindset, that positive thinking is not actually enough. I would like to share these pieces of wisdom that might improve your positive thinking and your dreams more realistic and achievable. You may find nothing new in my list. But you might have forgotten them or overlooked them. Familiar or not, they are worth reading again and pondering on.
Continue Learning (Let your work become your school).
Thomas Alva Edison can only boast of three months of academic credential. He was sent home by his teacher saying Edison was too dumb to learn. He could have believed his teacher and could have been a failure all his life. It was expected. But contrary to all expectations he became one of the greatest inventors of his generation! Why? Because he became a constant learner. Always learning and sharpening his mind even while working. As one author puts it, “his work became his school”.
Make It Goal to Keep Improving Your Life.
Andres Bonifacio, the cedula-tearing Filipino hero, worked as a bodegero or a warehouseman. Though not well educated, he was quite a reader of books. Reading about the French Revolution including the two novels of Jose Rizal sparked in his heart a cry to be free from an oppressive Spanish rule. It led him to take action. If he had not taken the time to read, he could have live and died suffering from injustice and discrimination like most people.
Napoleon Bonaparte may be the smallest general in the history of the French army but he conquered nations. The problem is, he neglected his learning. He relied on his military muscle not on wisdom. It was the cause of his embarrassing defeat at Waterloo, right in his own country. Using his hands to cover his face, he ran away in shame.
It pays to learn something new every day. Be a better spouse. Be a little bit more cooperative and collaborative with your co-workers. Be more friendly. There is always a room for improvement in our character or attitude. He who listens to comments, corrections and even criticisms gets better at what he does. The older you get, the wiser you should become. It is no use having a big body with a brain as small as a mustard seed. The future is unpredictable but not if you prepare for it. Learn new skills or new knowledge. They unlock doors of opportunities. “It is not enough to have a good mind”, says Rene Descartes, a philosopher, “The main thing is to use it well”.
Use the truth to your advantage (but you must be able to explain why you believe in it)
Have a firm grasp of the truth. This means, even if someone twists or perverts the information, your understanding of what you know will not change. Look at Adam and Eve. Their good life in the Garden of Eden came to an end because of lack of knowledge. They personally heard God spoke to them. The message was not a rumor that was heard through the grapevine. They were not ignorant. But the couple treated the command of God as mere information. They did not treat the message as the truth which they can hang on to. As a result, they failed to properly use the information to their advantage. They were caught unprepared for that surprise visit from the wily serpent.
Help Yourself (Don’t wait for someone to chew the food for you)
During the early times of history, only few privileged people possess knowledge. Maybe you can even count them in your fingers. Plato in Europe, Confucius in China, Solomon in the Middle East and a few more others. People would have to travel for months or even years to go to Greece and learn from Plato or Aristotle. African leaders were reported to have visited Solomon to seek advice. They even paid him extravagantly for the services he rendered, perhaps a consultancy fee.
Imagine these ancient people yearning for knowledge to be alive today. They would be shocked to find out the availability of knowledge and information. They would shake their heads in disbelief though and they will be shocked even more, as most of us take for granted this knowledge and wisdom without realizing the immense benefit it brings to our lives. Would you believe me if I tell you that more information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the last 5000 years and there are more than 4000 books are published around the world every day?
I have read that today, a college degree does not automatically insure success. A piece of paper they call a diploma can no longer guarantee a sure-fire job in the competitive job market. You still have to indicate your potentials and abilities in your application letter or resume’ that other applicants do not possess. You can write sentences and paragraphs but if you have to copy a sample of an application letter from your college textbook, this might be a sign of lack of knowledge. It is very limiting. Opportunities will come as often as the rain in the desert.
Harvey Mackay, a businessman and author, says that you have to endeavor to learn other jobs or interests, so when opportunities appear, you’ll have much greater chance of seizing them. Better jobs could be waiting for you but you have to help yourself.
Look for ways to win.
It took David one small stone to defeat a battle-scarred and much bigger warrior. The strength of the entire Israel’s army was not helpful when David confronted Goliath. There were no encouragers present. Only a deafening silence of doubt and skepticism surrounded Israel’s camp moments before David cast the first pebble. Their unbelief however was shattered by the earth shaking impact of the giant’s colossal body hitting the ground.
His past experience with the slingshot aided his accuracy of hitting the unguarded forehead of his foe. Anyone of those experienced soldier could have said, “That boy just got lucky. It’s just that that idiot happens to have a wide forehead” Was luck the cause of David’s victory or he planned and studied every possible means of defeating Goliath. While noble and great warriors among the audience were worried about being wiped out, David was busy looking for a way to overcome the problem and win.
Practice makes perfect.
Success is not about getting lucky. It is not about kissing a frog or picking the right combinations when betting in the lottery. It is about preparing for the opportunity. It’s about getting ready. David’s previous experience in fighting wild animals prepared him to face the uncircumcised Philistine. He spent a lot of time studying how to win and succeed while he was tending the sheep. He must have been practicing his throw. He must have been perfecting how to hit his target instead of napping under the fig tree. No wonder he was confident on that day.
Calculate your steps.
David did not act aimlessly. He was not merely hoping that his throw was strong enough capable to inflict a fatal injury and the stone will land on a sensitive area. His every move is deliberate and calculated. Once you have that wisdom, you have crossed the boundaries from failure to success.
Believe, really believe, that there is a better life
The famous Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao was not well-educated. He was in deep poverty when he was growing up. But these overwhelming circumstances could not quench his burning desire to fulfill his dream. The only job he knew was selling cigarettes and candies along the streets of General Santos City. But he was smart enough to believe that there is a better life than being a street vendor.
Success is promised to everyone (see Jeremiah 29:11). But it’s not going to happen if all we do is lie down and wait for it to drop in our lap. Success is not going to be a knight in shining armor that will come and carry you into the sunset. Success comes but it does not mean we just idly wait for it. Polish your skill. Improve your aim. One author explains that you have to do something to deserve success. “Vision without execution is hallucination” said Thomas Edison.
Walk with the Wise.
He who walks with the wise will become wise (see Proverbs 13:20). Associate yourself with wise people and you will increase their number. Your mental ability will start to accelerate. You will absorb new ideas one at a time. You will determine what is important to you. You will know which road to take. You will identify what business that works for you and what’s not.
I hope one or two of these pointers can push you higher to hurdle your barriers to success. More importantly, since there is nothing wrong if you try, I hope you apply them in your life.