If you ever see me shining it is just a projection of what I already was
Self-confidence is simply one of the most powerful tools a person can have at his disposal. I believe that it is so powerful that too little or too much of it can ultimately destroy. However, when you get it just right you see yourself for what you truly are.
Self confidence comes from an internal view of oneself. A wise person once said “Be careful what you think cause your thought can become an action, an action can become a habit, a habit a character and a character can be passed on from one parent to an offspring”.
Now, the thought of something as simple as this should have been enough to scare any individual out of evil or harmful thoughts or radically make one more conscious of what they chose to think of themselves or others. This however is not the case.
A few years ago on a holiday trip to England. I attended New Wine Church in London and amongst everything the pastor said. I have held one thing closest to my heart. He said “just as God has given us free will and an ability to do just as we please, so also will he not deny us the consequences of our choices”.
In other words “We are where we are because of what roads we choose”.
You see the thing is, I believed that just as long as a human being is not mentally incapacitated or emotionally blunt his/her attribution of self-inflicted hardship has no excuses. What I am trying to say in simpler words is that “If a man has 2 eyes, 2 legs, 2 hands and 2 ears then whatever situation you find yourself financially is your fault and yours alone. I soon found out this was not an absolute truth. Getting out of a situation when you have put your all into it has as much to do with hard-work as it has to do with timing. I had spent countless frustrated hours feeling emotionally drained and physically exhausted because I believed that I failed because I kept making only “bad” choices and so focused so much on the perceived failure that I missed the opportunities that was present in every situation.
One thing my father said that I would always remember is that “If you were born poor it is not your fault but if you remain poor it’s your fault”. For decades I watched as individuals blamed their surroundings for the circumstances in which they find themselves, they have blamed God, their wives, their husbands, their government, their family and even their children but have always managed to be too blind to see their own inadequacies.
If I must be honest I have committed the same blunder several times and the result has inevitably always been the same (disappointment, dejection, frustration and endless anger) for me. I agree with most of that statement but I do not accept that it is your fault totally. I had taken a statement that must be understood in context and made it general and so missed the true meaning.
I have learnt that failing to see your own inadequacies is one of the biggest handicaps a person can have and to not see that ensures the real cause of a problem is never addressed. You see the thing is true self confidence can only come from understanding your strengths and weakness. This is where the “your fault” part comes in. It does not mean that you are responsible for your failure it simply meant you are responsible for whatever it is that is stopping you from succeeding. The responsibility I am talking about is not “finger pointing responsibility” in other words I am not trying to say it is your fault so something must be wrong with you. On the contrary I am only helping to throw light on the fact that something can be done about the road block. It is about taking control not taking blame. You see no matter where you find yourself today you must make a decision to believe adequately in yourself to start to pursue what you want and cater for any inadequacies you might have. Let me put it another way.
Everything on earth as we know is as a result of something no matter your perspective, whether spiritual, religious, governmental, evolutionary, big bang or magical. Something caused it to be there. I would not be so bold as to say that everything has an explanation as some phenomenon`s we don’t know why they are, we just know they are (at least until someone attributes meaning to causation for it). But often for every situation or thing there is an explainable cause.
Let’s now try to apply the same basic underlining principle to ourselves. When we start to take more responsibility or time to think about whatever career decision, love choice or spiritual journey we want to take we can then ask ourselves. What is the “probable” end result? Asking that vital question enables you to decide to either quit a particular route, re-start or realign.
In the event we decide we do not want to quit as we feel the probable end result is something we desire it then raises a few other questions. Is the re-start or re-alignment going to be smooth all the way? Do we have the ability to follow through till the end? What really happens in the journey between and what do we do while on the way? I will not be able to answer all the questions in great detail in this chapter but as you go through the book I hope to be able to assist in keeping things in perspective.
You see between actualisation there is always to points; a start point (the idea) and finish point (the success of the idea) but in between there is also always the journey through. What do we do during this time?
The first reality is not to expect the journey to where you want to be smooth and easy all the time. I have to admit some people do find it easy but if you were one of those people then you wouldn’t be reading this book as you will have no need for it. This is for people who find it hard just as I did. This is for people searching for self confidence and confidence in their ideas.
You see ideas are easy to come up with it; it is executing them that is difficult. There is a wise but tragic saying that “the graveyard is the richest place on the earth as it is full of ideas”. Ideas are a dime a dozen. However, having a follow through mentality is not. This is what will ultimately make you successful as the reality is that not everyone can do it.
Before you run with any idea you must truly believe in it.
Think of it this way. When a sales man wants to make a pitch to an investor he must believe or at least portray great belief in what he is trying to sell to the investors. He must try and make sure they believe in the idea deeply enough to financially back it but what is just as vital is that they must also believe that he is capable of delivering on their investment. You see self confidence is very important but there are a few other confidence factors here (i.e confidence from the investors on the product/service and confidence in the tool for delivering the product/service).
For the sake of simplicity there are two kinds of ideas.
a) An internal idea: an example is a decision to be a chef, an athlete or a singer/ musician or anything that relies on God given talent.
b) An external idea: A decision to start an online company, be a marketer or basically anything that does not rely on your God given talent.
When dealing with an idea you must be realistic and listen to “positive” criticism.
Being realistic cannot be over emphasized. Understanding the difference between a hobby and a career is very important. The fact you enjoy doing something doesn’t make it a viable career. It is only a career if it can fetch you the means to a decent living.
Basically, if you have a voice like a crocking frog it is simply unrealistic to try to be a classical musician. You might succeed in a different genre of music (i.e maybe hard rock or rap) but not classical. You might even be amazing as a producer for classical music or writer just not as a singer. So being realistic not only helps you to stop wasting time and energy on something you might not be suited for but also helps you re-align to do something your particular talent or skill is more suited for. You see in the example above your talent could be for music but you are just in the wrong genre until you decide to be realistic about your abilities. This level of understanding can only be reached through an open mind.
An example of this can be seen in a number of athletes for example the Da Silva twins and Rio Ferdinand of Manchester united football club. They all really started their careers in a different position from where they ended up achieving success. While they had football talent, it was being utilised originally in the wrong position. Their success came about not from quitting but from re-alignment because they chose to listen to positive criticism.
Even in that example the realignment took part during the journey. The required levels of confidence were present also (i.e the players believed in their football talent that they were able to accept changes to their positional placement and the coaches believed in them enough to make a change that was best for the team and also their careers)
Ultimately your ability to succeed depends on people believing in you or liking what you have to offer this could be at the present or in the future but either way there must be external value in what you have to offer. It is important to take this into consideration when working. It is almost just as important as believing in yourself. Success almost always come from serving others or providing something others either want to see, hear or be a part of. This means that you must consider this when doing anything.
I promised to be as honest as possible in this book so I feel I must at this point interject once more. There is never any guarantee that the present generation will love your work but you must see the vision even if your invention or particular talent is not for the present. An example of this can be seen in the phenomenal success enjoyed by Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Vincent van Gogh, Henry David Thoreau, Galileo Galilei and a few others after their death. Their greatest discovery was not recognised until they were long dead and in some cases they lived their lives in poverty and penury. I will touch a bit more on this later in this chapter. There is sometimes an exception to success only being determined by people liking what you have to offer but as a general guide it is safer to use the alternative (i.e people liking your work or having value to them). I am not saying it is impossible but not many people fall into this category.
It is also important to keep in mind that just because you are passionate about something does not mean any one else will share your passion. If you decide to be a musician the question is do people really want to hear this? If you want to be a writer the question is do people want to read this? If you decide to start a bank the question is will anyone want to save money here? I am sure by this point you get it.
I mentioned a few paragraphs ago that the journey is not always easy and smooth. Well believe it or not this is a good thing and can work in your favour. You see the thing about failure is that it teaches you what not to do. If I may borrow a statement from a friend “When Thomas Edison tested over 3000 filaments before he came up with his version of a light bulb he did not just fail over 3000 times he learnt over 3000 ways how not to make a light bulb”. He never stopped trying he just realigned his attempts. Also worth keeping to heart through your journey to success is that no one remembers the failures (i.e attempts) only the success.
Usain Bolt is today known as the fastest man in the world and probably an athlete with extreme self confidence in his abilities, running the 100 meters race and winning in 9.69 seconds and 200 meters race in 19.30 seconds. Some believed that had he not slowed down at the end of the 100 meters race to show boat he could have achieved this in 9.55 seconds (i.e Hans Eriksen and his colleagues at the University Of Oslo Institute Of Theoretical Astrophysics). Usain Bolt was so confident in himself he once made an offer to the then manager of Manchester United; Sir Alex Ferguson to allow him join the team as a winger. He had no doubt that he would succeed as a footballer if he put his heart to it even though he had only really ever perfected his training as a sprinter. This does not mean he would have succeeded in that role but he surely had the right mental mirrored self image towards success.
Usain Bolt’s meteoric rise to success was achieved through natural talent and a lot of training however this does not mean he did not get beaten on the race track a few times before he achieved world record breaking glory or Olympic greatness. He just made sure he trained hard enough that when it mattered he delivered on his abilities. Today most people in the world know his name as attributed to success but very few know the journey to self confidence and success. No success is ever gained without an understanding that failure is not the end. It is just a lesson on what not to do if we want to succeed.
I have observed that very often it seems like we need to fall to learn to get up. Too many times have I seen human beings lying down complaining about their circumstances and never getting up from it until it consumes. The truth is you don’t drown by falling into a river you drown by staying in it and doing nothing. The human spirit is such a remarkable thing when driven by a goal fuelled by confidence. Its everyday existence ensures that we have a chance for a future. Most times people just need to be pushed to their limit before they realise just how strong they really are.
It sometimes makes me sad that in a lot of peoples situations they need to go through sadness to appreciate happiness, they need to cry to know the value of a laugh and they need to lose a loved one to appreciate the beauty of life. They need to search for love to know never to take it for granted. This to me is one of the greatest tragedies of the human condition but ultimately it is what makes us human and not divine. .
Falling down when trying is not failure it is just a learning curve and should be seen as one. It can be difficult and frustrating to fall but this is also a good thing as the deeper the pain the more you want it. This pain is good and I can honestly say take heart, it gets better (obviously this is assuming your goal was realistic in the first place as mentioned above). This fall should never be allowed to be the reason to give up. This is just part of life. Life will throw you curve balls and we do not always get to pick what happens in life but we do get to pick how we deal with what is thrown our way. This is a principle not just for pursuing your goal but cuts across many areas or life.
How we handle things depends greatly on our perspective of life and what we want from it. You see, life itself is an intangible concept (just as Love or Hate is). It is only worth the value we place on it. For some people that value has only purely emotional attributes and for others rational attributes. That value often describes and differentiates us from everyone and inevitably predicts the intensity of our emotions/feelings towards anyone else. Everything can be taken from you except the choice to think how you want and what to believe in. So the real question is what value do you place on your thoughts? This will guide your life and goals.
I believe that every human being is beautifully and wonderfully created (just as the bible explains), but most importantly I learnt that they are armed through life with the ability to make rational choices (not easy choices but rational choices). This is true and should be applied when pursuing your goals and finding your way to self confidence.
The problem is to know when rational choices are not always the best choice. As in the case of people who became successful after they had died. When sticking to something no matter what is okay just as in the case of Edgar Alan Poe.
This might sound tricky. It`s quite simple really. When it comes to matters of the heart, loved ones, personal passions and in some cases personal fulfilment one must simply know when to put all caution aside and take a chance. Basically, I am talking about when daring to dream beyond rationale is acceptable. Does the potential end result justify the present heartache? Is he/she truly worth all the trouble or is it fear keeping you there? Mastering this ability is the real difference between a success and a failure. Knowing the when and the time, and for how long one can afford to be irrational, when one must call the dream quits and move on and when one needs to push harder than ever before.
Now I feel I should interject again here and say that not everyone has an idea they feel they want to pursue or has a talent that could become a career. It is also true that not everyone has something they feel they can build self confidence on and if you happen to fall into that category there is still hope at being a success. Maybe an example might help explain how.
One hot Sunday afternoon I walked close to where I lived, I saw a man walking down the street eating what appeared to be a sandwich. He was so engrossed in the meal and so satisfied after that he could not be bothered to throw his crust in a bin. As he walked away from where he threw this not so well eaten crumb I watched as a bird flew down and grabbed it from the street. Suddenly the meaning of what appeared to be a simple situation hit me.
This man had thrown away what he no longer wanted as he felt it was no longer useful and for this bird it seemed to be just what he needed. It had flown down and satisfied what was obviously a need. It had seen a random act and taken a cue from it to satisfy its hunger. I watched what scholars refer to today as an “opportunist” seize a randomly presented opportunity and I did not have to pay for this lesson. This is a business model adopted by companies such as Dyson. Dyson Hoovers are considered to be amongst the best in the world but they did not start the idea of a Hoover they only took what others thought had reached its full potential and built on it.
In a nutshell, I am simply saying do not spend all your time looking for inspiration if you have none. Start working on something (anything really) and inspiration will come to you.
Also while I was still deep in thoughts over what I had just observed and its application I saw a young teenage boy trying to perform what appeared to be a very skilful trick on his bicycle. I watched as he almost completed the trick he fell of his bike and then got up to try again. After about ten falls he finally got how to perform his trick. He realised he had not been positioning himself as well as he ought to. I then realised that even things as easy as “riding a bike” can teach you a valuable lesson.
This made me realise that the answer to some of life`s most difficult questions can be found in life`s simplest places. Obviously I am not talking about going nature watching to find answers, but observing the world around you as it happens can give you a more realistic knowledge than just classes. This can sometimes help us make choices.
So what happens when we have spent so long taking in other people’s advice and letting it frustrate us that we feel there is no point going on. I have only one real view on this. Our suffering today should not be allowed to determine our progress tomorrow. The beauty of pain is that when you have fallen to the very depths of sorrow you have no other place to go than to go up. But going up is a “Do it yourself project”. Most motivational books fail in achieving lasting results in the readers because when readers finish they are all puffed up and ready to go do something (i.e motivated) but this only last a while. The truth about why is that motivation must come from within and not from a book. It must be what wakes you up in the morning and not some idea. It should be strong enough to help you build a career that you do not need or want a holiday from. My job as mentioned earlier is not to tell you what to do as you are smart enough to already know this, it is just to try to help you break things down so it’s a little bit easier to get to where you want to be.
No one can lift you as high up as you can, the same way no one can make you feel inferior with-out your consent. Their words and actions carry no meaning if the individual doing them has no value. In other words, the words of a person depend on the value we place on the speaker. So when you look at yourself what value do you place on you? This is not about mirror speaking tactics or about pride. It’s simply about knowing that your path might not be the same as wealthy Mr A but that doesn’t mean you will not get to where he is and surpass him.
In history one will be able to find people who have been able to understand the intense power of the human spirit and its ultimate ability to obtain results and motivate change, people like Abraham Lincoln, William Wilberforce, Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Pope John Paul (the 2nd), Mother Theresa, Professor Wole Soyinka and in modern time Americas 44th President Barrack Obama. These individuals are legends today not for being born into royalty or wealth but for what they did in their lifetimes in spite of their starting situations, they challenged each individual to look beyond race and in some cases countries, to seek themselves out and to realise that with human will power and spirit the impossible often become possible.
Not one person mentioned here can clearly state that they have never failed but today no-one remembers any of what could have been many failures. Or do we?
This taught me that failure ultimately is not a bad thing nor does it determine if we will ever be successful only what we do after we fail has the power to determine that.
Taking ownership of failure builds the foundation for success. The pillars of which must be self confidence and belief in what you are pursuing.