Thursday, July 25, 2013

Some of life's truisms

You never believe that you’ll be in a position to offer some of life’s truisms much less lessons learned. First, you think, who are YOU to offer them? Second, why do you suppose YOU have had enough experiences or possess enough knowledge to suggest such ideas? Third, you know your point of view represents so few others, or such a narrow perspective, that it would be a set of very skewed, biased, and probably distorted (twisted?) ideas. Hey, but here goes anyway!

It was when I was in college that it suddenly dawned on me, that I didn’t need to, nor should I, depend on my instructors and teachers for learning/knowledge. It is the teacher in YOU that counts. How much you learn, how well you learn, and even if you learn at all, is all dependent on YOU.

You are responsible for what happens to you.

I always believed that there was some measure of entitlement to life. That is, I was special and, thus, shouldn’t have to work at it—life was a gift. But, I quickly learned that there is no elevator to success, and if I wanted to be successful, I would have to take the stairs. The harder I worked, the greater the entitlement; I got what I earned. It was ME, all ME. I was responsible for my own success or failure; life was nobody else’s fault but my own. You own your successes, but you own your failures as well.

An additional learning along the way came from observing the behavior of others. I noticed so many of my peers did not work as hard as I did. We are all born with an equal opportunity, I realized, to become unequal, but becoming unequal was not going to be difficult!

I had tremendous success in school, and I discovered I could trust my instincts and abilities. When I worked hard, I achieved success; but the lesson I learned was that I could set my standards or goals higher than I had been setting. When people aim for what they want out of life, most aim too low. I found I could achieve even more when I set the bar higher.

Life is a game. The more I played the more I won. The more I won the more successfully I learned (and loved) to play the game. Just as life is a game, success is a game. And you never get tired of winning—or being successful!

Like any game, life will throw you challenges. A challenge, however, is only a new way to learn and grow. Challenges keep you alert and thinking, responding and adjusting, open and flexible.

Success breeds success. When you set the bar higher and you attain the higher level, you not only grow in confidence, but you begin to trust yourself and then set the bar even higher the next time. Confidence breeds confidence, too.

Somewhere along the way—while I was in school—I discovered that I not only had something to say but that I wanted to share it with others. That made my desire to do well in school even more important and urgent. Now, I was trying to achieve something specific— increase my knowledge, improve my ability, develop my skills—and get a good education! Along with my desire to improve, I realized there were no limits, only expectations. I expected to do more, and the more I did. That is the beauty of personal desire, responsibility, and motivation---- they are your expectations. You are in charge.

School provides a great place to use and practice life skills. There are numerous times where you can achieve success—or something less. Think of the papers, reports, projects, and exams alone. I found I could let the bad times, and there were some, make me bitter or make me better. I used my bad times as learning experiences where I could grow, develop, and change in positive ways.

Sometimes, when bad things happen, it is easy to become resentful, hostile, and even distressed. I had a Ph.D. student whom I advised, who had a horrible grading experience with one of her professors. She wanted to quit school. After talking with her extensively, I told her that getting a Ph.D. was far more valuable to her than retaining the grief, pain, and unpleasantness that a single negative experience had caused. If she could let future possibility outweigh past adversity, she wins. A life not put to the test, is a life not worth living.

For much of my life I preached that you need to do everything you can, at all the points you can, to keep choice-making in your own hands. When you are not making the choices, someone else has the advantage over you.

I believe that there are two kinds of people in the world, the quick and the dead, those who choose to run, and the also-rans. The dead never have to be your concern; to give them your time and effort (as a competitive professional) is a waste of your time.

I have often been asked, "why do you work so hard and fast?" There are no speed limits on the road to excellence. If you operate on the 80-20 principle, you know that you can get 80% of the way toward excellence with only 20% of your accomplishment. That leaves 80% of your time and energy left to devote to your next undertaking. It has been a winning approach for me, and, when necessary, I have delegated the authority to others to help my endeavors reach 100% (even though I can come very close to that level of perfection with 20% exertion).

Commitment, effort, perseverance, and patience are the lubricants that effectively oil the gears of success. When your life is in gear, you live in balance, harmony, and comfort.

I was unaware of it at the time, but as I look back on my education, I realize now that I was in love with it. Doing what I loved, for me, made education a lot less stressful and a heck of a lot more fun. It led to my decision to be involved in it for my entire professional life.

The best feeling in the world is getting paid to do something you truly love to do.

When you are living your life to the fullest, you will discover that every day may not be great—nor even good—but there's something good—maybe even great—in each day. When you look for the good—or even the great—in each day, you can make the most of it. However, if you can't improve on it, change it, or alter it in any way, then change the way you think about it. That is a matter of attitude. When you believe in your ability to find the good—or even the great—in every day, and believe in your ability, too, to change what you find, you not only reinforce your strengths, but you learn new ways to grow, develop, and change.

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Janet Cranford has a terrific short essay, "How to believe in yourself (again)" in which she offers readers five tips: 1) List your past accomplishments, 2) Use your strengths, 3) Shift your focus to the needs around you, 4) Express gratitude, and 5) Take action. Cranford concludes her essay saying: "As you start to believe in yourself again—that you are capable, that you can succeed—don’t be surprised if you begin to notice opportunities that weren’t there before. That happens when you open yourself to possibilities."

At AGIS, , Suzanne Mintz has a brief essay, "Believe in yourself ...take charge of your life." In the essay, she discusses the following four ideas: 1) Keep a positive attitude, 2) Know yourself, 3) Be positive, and 4) Research is another word for being prepared. The last line of her essay reads, "It’s largely about recognizing that you do have choices and making the ones most likely to support you in your caregiving role."

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Copyright July, 2013, by And Then Some Publishing LLC

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