Sometimes age comes alone.
It is an old adage, but it isn't cliche`. In fact those four words need to be analyzed and studied.
That statement is the rebuttal following "wisdom comes with age". Forgive, actually dwell on, the following phrases as they are extremely powerful when realized. Wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from making mistakes. When that is added the realization the OFTEN age comes alone sinks in. While we as humans are making mistakes all the time, many don't make them in the areas needed for growth and success, both personally and professionally. Several other blog posts can be dedicated to defining success. For now just use the picture of it you have in your head, the following should still help you achieve it.
Studies have shown we are told NO nearly 5,000 times before we enter kindergarten. I learn two things from that. One, we were consistent little buggers and two, we focus heavily on negative reinforcement. Let's look at the first part of that. We didn't go without and maybe we didn't get every present we wanted, but we had drive. Without learning about it we employed the Chinese water torture test to any authority figured that was overseeing us when we wanted something. That persistence for many started getting diminished when they entered our Prussian based system of education which is designed to produce good employees and soldiers. Look it up.
That system doesn't want questions, it wants orders followed. So how do we overcome the indoctrination of being taught to learn for a test and truly inspire the spark for learning and personal growth?
Self help books. Don't like that name? How about self growth or personal development books? There we go, we will get you over that mental barrier limiting your success.
"Who in here owns a self help book? (everyone in class raises hand) Well that's your first problem, you can’t help yourself because yourself sucks!" Yells Dr. P, played by Billy Bob Thorton in School For Scoundrels. Watch the clip here.
I think he is partly right. We don't know what we don't know, but I give anyone props the moment they pick up their first self help book with the mission of bettering themselves.
Then you read one book and want things to change? Whoa there Nelly! Let’s manage some expectations. If you want to be better with people, one read of How to have power and confidence while dealing with people by Les Giblin won’t automatically get you the sales or employee morale you were looking for. You have to put those principles into action. Do you think any athlete read a book about their sport, didn’t practice and went pro? Do you think they even made the varsity team? No After the knowledge comes the application, after the application comes the mistakes and mess ups. Then, when analyzed and critiqued comes the experience. Then after doing it over and over again it becomes wisdom and part of your psyche.
Have you seen someone interact with people and just been in awe? I don’t mean that slick shyster or con artist, who has these skills and uses them for evil, but a genuine person that never meets a stranger and everyone likes and somehow always gets his/her way? Well they practiced, people skills is just that, a skill, learnable, practicable and teachable.
Once during a high school football game I got hit hard in the head. Admittedly I didn’t use my head by using my helmet to tackle people like I did because of my size. I believe I had about 5 diagnosed, non treated concussions. Well this one time, this one hit was different. I got picked up off the field, set out a few plays and then went back in the game and played almost two more quarters of football, well that is what the film showed. I recall waking up/coming to at the end of the third quarter wondering where I was. I had practiced so much that my body moved and responded to commands without my conscience mind present. I made blocks, tackles and actually made a reception. It was a weird and scary situation, especially seeing my body in the footage of the game and me having no recollection of it.
What if we took the skills needed for a successful life that serious? It doesn’t happen on accident. In fact, it only happens ON PURPOSE.
Recently I was at my life coach’s house and picked upThe 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, by Dr. John C. Mawell. The first chapter says it all: The Law of Intentionality. In summation, in the physical word we grow naturally based on time and the food we put into us. It doesn’t really matter if we work out or sit on out butts, we will grow. But if we want to get stronger we must work our muscles. Personal growth requires food too, remember Dr. P above? Read from trusted sources, not just people that made their money because they sold you a book. I have some links below to a few of my recommendations. It requires food, but it also requires working out invisible muscles to condition your physical muscles to do what is needed when necessary. It is as simple as remembering to smile. I am always happy, but in my head and forget to show this. In return, when I am not thinking about it the mirror that is reflected back to me in others’ faces is not a happy one...The Law of the Mirror is another chapter in this book.
Confession time. Just like many other skills you have spent years learning or practicing, if you stop, you don’t regress immediately like Charlie in Flowers for Algernon, in fact you can coast along using what you know and get by. I had a voracious reading habit. Often I would polish off 5 books a month, a sales book, a people book, a finance book, a biography and a short fiction book. I had them all going at once, one in the car, one in the bathroom, one near the bed, one in the laptop bag. You don’t have to quote the authors and it is ok if things get messed up in your head, there isn’t an essay, the test is your life, the results your produce will prove your understanding. I have not been reading consistently for close to 2 years. This has been extremely harmful to me personally and professionally. Like during the football game I was going on autopilot. I could give a lists of excuses, but an excuse is simply the skin reason stuffed with a lie. I was lying to myself. I have picked up several books, gotten through a few chapters but have not formed the reading habit yet and I just “forget” about the book.
Remember how hard it is to start going to the gym? Getting there is half the battle, once there you feel good about it, then after a few weeks, if you don’t get there or skip a workout, you don’t feel guilt you just know you are doing yourself a disservice.
Reading is the same way, and falling off the wagon happens the same way.
But without the proper food to turn into fuel our body starts to eat itself and decomposes. A tomato is either ripening or rotting, there is no middle ground.
If you have never had a ready habit or fallen off the wagon like me, join me and pick up the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen and learn nothing new but in a brand new light, trust me it is a great place to start.
15 minutes is only 1% of our day. 30 minutes is 2% of our day. It takes 21 days to form a habit, can you take 1% of the next 21 days to change your life? If not age will just come alone…
I end with words from Eleanor Roosevelt, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”
A few of my recommendations* to get you started:
Acres of Diamond, Russell Conwell, 31 pages
Bringing Out the Best in People, Alan Loy McGinnis 184 pages
The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz, 232 pages (if size intimidates read chapters 2,12 &13)
The Go Getter, Peter B. Kyne, 79 pages
The Greatest Salesman in the World, Og Mandino, 111 (all of Og’s books are great)
How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, Frank Bettger, 191 pages
Hung by the Tongue, Francis Martin, 90 pages
The Master Key to Riches, Napoleon Hill, 208 pages
*These books fall into the PMA, Positive Mental Attitude category and while several have sales in the title, give them a shot as they don’t discuss sales techniques, rather the attitude to be mentally prepared for any situation