Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Self-Discipline: Not an Innate Characteristic But a Learned Skill

"Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts.  If you don't control what you think, you can't control what you do.  Simply, discipline enables you to think first and act afterward." 
(Napoleon Hill)

Brian Tracy defines self-discipline as "the ability to do what you know you should do when you don't feel like doing it." He explains that the two biggest enemies of self-discipline are taking the path of least resistance (ex. a get rich quick scheme) and instant gratification.  Don't always act on impulse but weigh the possibilities first.

It may appear that some people have self-discipline and others don't.  However, self-discipline is not an innate characteristic but a learned skill.  Anyone can learn it.  Forbes contributor Amy Morin suggests six ways to develop the habit (http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/10/03/6-ways-to-develop-the-self-discipline-necessary-to-reach-your-goals/#55a471b14fdb):

1.  Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

Have you ever heard a smoker say "I could quit if I wanted to."  More likely they are simply not admitting that they can't quit.

2.  Develop a Plan

Outline the steps to reach your goal.

3.  Remove the Temptations

If you can't resist spending, leave the credit card at home when you go to the mall.

4.  Practice tolerating Emotional Discomfort

We all have to experience emotional discomfort at some point.  Learn to tolerate boredom, frustration, loneliness and sadness.  

5.  Visualize the Long Term Rewards

Jack Canfield, while he was writing Chicken Soup for the Soul, visualized the title at the top of the bestseller list.  Despite 144 rejections by publishers, he persevered.

6.  Recover from Mistakes Effectively

Acknowledge your mistakes and move on with resolve to do better next time.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Affirmations: Our Mental Vitamins

"Affirmations are our mental vitamins providing the supplementary positive thoughts we need to balance the barrage of negative events we experience daily." (Tia Walker)

Edwene Gaines, author of Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity, recommends that if you want to conquer your goals, you take the 21-Day Affirmation Challenge (http://ourprosperouslife.com/21-day-affirmation-challenge/2014/03/31). Make a list of goals, then make a list of positive, life-affirming statements to support each goal.  (If you are a Christian, you can make a list of 21 Bible verses.) Write them down on index cards.  For example, "I am happily vacationing two months of the year in a tropical paradise and working just four days a week on my own business." (http://jackcanfield.com/visualize-and-affirm-your-desired-outcomes-a-step-by-step-guide/)  After 21 days, the aim is for the statements to have passed from your conscious into your subconscious mind.

As Jack Canfield says, "Visualization and affirmations allow you to change your beliefs, assumptions and opinions about the most important person in your life -- YOU!"  If you set aside a day to add up how much self-talk you do, you would be amazed at how much time you spend in the process.  It is too easy to get bogged down in negative self-talk, to beat yourself up about what has gone wrong in your life.  Unlearn the habit of negative self-talk; it will uplift your spirit.

As a writer, I appreciate stories of authors who overcome rejection and go on to publish their books..  Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, was rejected 144 times for his manuscript "Anthologies don't sell," was the standard response he received.  Jack Canfield employed visualization and affirmation to overcome the repeated rejections.

"When we were writing the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book, we took a copy of the New York Times bestseller list, scanned it into our computer, and using the same font as the newspaper, typed Chicken Soup for the Soul into the number one position in the "Paperback Advice, How To and Miscellaneous" category.  We printed several copies and hung them around the office.  Less than two years later, our book was the number one book in that category and stayed there for over a year!"(http://jackcanfield.com/visualize-and-affirm-your-desired-outcomes-a-step-by-step-guide/)

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Pursuit of Lifelong Knowledge

"Successful men, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business or profession. Those who are not successful usually make the mistake of believing that the knowledge acquiring period ends when one finishes high school." (Napoleon Hill)

Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think, studied 1200 of the world's wealthiest people and discovered that most have "a crazy appetite for reading".  Atlanta businessman J. B. Fuqua, while he did not have much of a formal education, borrowed books from Duke University regularly.  He was so grateful for how the institution had helped him that he became its biggest benefactor.  The Starbucks CEO wakes up at 5 am every morning and reads the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.  Oprah Winfrey credits reading with helping her move from childhood poverty to affluence.  "Books were my path to personal freedom.  I learned to read at age 3 and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi."(http://www.inc.com/james-paine/5-billionaires-who-credit-their-success-to-reading.html)

Successful people don't always have a lot of formal education, but they do believe in educating themselves.  They read books and magazines and newspapers to acquire specialized knowledge in their subject area.  "Walk into a wealthy person's home and one of the first things you'll see is an extensive library of books they've used to educate themselves on how to become more successful."(http://www.businessinsider.com/rich-people-formal-education-2015-8)

1.  Always have a book.

2.  We all have a to-do list.  Keep a "to-learn" list as well.

3.  Surround yourself with Intellectual Friends.

4.  Practice Guided (Critical) Thinking

5.  Put your knowledge into practice.  Don't simply study painting, pick up a brush.

6.  Teach others.  Mentor someone or start a blog.

7.  Clean Input 

8.  Learn in groups (workshops, etc)

9.  Unlearn assumptions.  Challenge your worldview.

10.  Find jobs that encourage learning.

11.  Start a project.

12.  Follow your intuition.

13.  Morning Fifteen.  Devote the first fifteen minutes of the day to education.

14.  Reap the rewards

15.  Mark learning a priority.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Gandhi's First Act of Civil Disobedience Sparks Vision

"Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18)

Mahatma Ghandi was raised by a middle class family in India.  He suffered from low self-esteem as a child. One day, he was riding on a train in South Africa.  The porter told him that because of his dark skin, he would have to move to a freight car.  Ghandi refused and was ejected from the train. (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/gandhis-first-act-of-civil-disobedience).  From that day on he had a purpose:  to help others overcome discrimination.  His self-esteem blossomed and he went on to be one of the most beloved leaders of the 20th Century (http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/two-ways-to-unlock-your-potential).  

Dorothea Lange grew up in a poor family.  Her father deserted the family when she was 12.  A bout with polio left her one leg permanently damaged.  Embarrassed, she just wanted to disappear.  During the Great Depression, she picked up a camera, and started photographing the homeless, the jobless, the hungry:  she had found her purpose.  In 1940, her photograph collection was displayed at the Modern Museum of Art.  The following year she received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.  Her most famous photograph, Migrant Mother, opened the eyes of the public and government to the plight of Americans during the Great Depression.  As a result the government sent 100,000 pounds of food to the camp where the "migrant mother" was living (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx36c7wAY0Y).

Dorothy Lange doing what she loved best courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothea_Lange.

Unlock your potential.  Discover your vision or purpose.  It will change your life.

Note:  Read Brian Tracy's Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life:  How to Unlock Your Full Potential for Success and Achievement (https://www.amazon.ca/Change-Your-Thinking-Life-Achievement/dp/0471735388).

Friday, 13 January 2017

The Law of Attraction

"You will attract into your life -- whether wanted or unwanted -- whatever you give your energy, focus and attention to." (Jack Canfield)

My husband's friend John used to tell the story of how his uncle took 17 tries to get his driver's licence.  Finally, the tester, tired of seeing the same face over and over again, made a deal with John's uncle:  If you can park in this parking spot beside this car correctly, I'll pass you.  John's uncle desperately tried to maneuver his vehicle into the parking space, but he crashed right into the other car!  

"You will attract into your life -- whether wanted or unwanted -- whatever you give your energy, focus and attention to." (http://jackcanfield.com/utilizing-the-law-of-attraction/)  John's uncle saw himself as a failure as a driver and despite his best efforts, he couldn't shake that belief.  Some individuals, however, have turned it around, despite the odds being stacked against them.

In 1957, a young Homer Hickam was growing up in Virginia where all the boys became coal miners. His father fully expected him to follow in his footsteps as did most of his teachers.  However, Homer, spurred on by Sputnik, had a dream:  to build a rocket.  He and his three friends would toil for hours in his basement working on their creation.  One day, a wayward rocket demolished Homer's mother's fence.  The "rocket boys" were banished from the house.  Another wayward rocket ended up on the property of the coal mine.  Homer's dad banished the boys from company property.

Homer held on to his dream inspired by his hero Werner von Braun.  There was one teacher who believed in him.  She encouraged her student to enter the science fair.  Homer took his rocket to first the school, the state and the national science fairs, winning every time.  When the first man landed on the moon, Homer was part of the experience, working for NASA.  Homer invited the right people into his life with his positive attitude.  

Note:  For more information on Homer Hickam and the Rocket Boys, visit:  

2.  Watch the film October Sky (1999)

Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) sets off a rocket in October Sky courtesy http://www.pluggedin.ca/movie-reviews/octobersky/.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Make Your Own Luck

"Even a tortoise will arrive at its destination if it's moving."
(Isaac C. Mwiya)

My husband's great Aunt Doris had an idea.  "Let's take a walk and go house hunting," she said to her husband, Uncle Ernst.  He did not want to budge, however.  As a German immigrant, he was trying to find work at Stelco, but to no avail.  But Doris persisted until Ernst finally relented.  They set out on their walk in downtown Hamilton and came upon Liberty Street.  As luck would have it, one of the houses was for sale.  The owner happened to be out front.  He and Uncle Ernst struck up a conversation.  It turned out he was quitting his job at Stelco and moving back to Scotland.  Ernst explained how he had been trying to get a job there but had no luck.  The Scottish man promised to put in the good word at Stelco for Ernst.  All he had to do was show up on Monday.  Sure enough, on Monday Ernst went to Stelco where he got a job.  He and Doris bought the house on Liberty Street.  

What would have happened if Ernst had have stayed on the couch that day?  They say that successful people make their own luck.  They don't wait for things to happen.  They make a decision and act.  Business Insider outlines five characteristics about good luck (http://www.businessinsider.com/how-rich-people-make-their-own-luck-2016-2):

1.  Luck hides outside comfort zones.

An open mind and a curious mind is more receptive to possibilities.  

2.  Luck hides inside positivity.

You must see opportunities in order to embrace them.  Problem solving requires creativity and insight.  "Positivity is the fertilizer in which good luck grows."

3.  Luck hides behind courage.

You must take risks.  'Courage is not the absence of fear but the pursuit of something while in the throes of it."  Cultivate the habit of taking educated risks.

4.  Luck hides inside new relationships.  

In order to meet the right person at the right time, you must go out and find him or her.

5.  Luck hides inside intuition.

Intuition is when your subconscious communicates with your conscious.  

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Self-Made Millionaire Knew the Value of Hard Work

"The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid for more than he does." 
(Napoleon Hill)

A few years after we bought our house, Rob and I had a small hole developping in the backyard.  It turned out the soil was eroding due to the eavestrough drain.  We hired someone to lengthen the eavestrough pipe and bury it underground.  On the appointed day, it was drizzling rain.  At the appointed time, the man never showed up.  Rob phoned him to inquire and his response was:  "You don't expect me to work in the rain!"  

Nothing replaces hard work.  Self-made millionaire Andrew Carnegie knew that.  The Scotsman immigrated to America in 1848 almost penniless.  By 1901. he was the richest man in the world.  How did he establish his empire?  

As a teenager, Carnegie worked at a textile mill. Later, he worked as a telegrapher.  At 18, he became a personal secretary of a top manager of the railroad.  At 30, he was already the head of the Pittsburgh railroad.  In 1861, Carnegie invested in oil.  By 1873, he helped build the the steel business.  By 1900, he was making $40 million dollars in profits.  In the Gospel of Wealth (1889) Carnegie had written: "The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced."  Keeping to his word, he donated $350 million of his profits to worthy causes, including $60 million to build 3000 libraries across North America and the United Kingdom.