That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity.
If you don’t believe it yourself, don’t ask anyone else to do so.
It is virtually impossible not to transmit your doubts and insecurities to others through body language, tone of voice, inflection, word choice, and other subtle characteristics. When you show by your actions that you lack self-confidence, other people also begin to doubt your ability to perform. You can gain the respect and confidence of others. Begin by making a list of all the things you like about yourself and the things you would like to change. Make a conscious effort to build upon your positive strengths and correct your weaknesses. It may not be easy, but if you assess yourself objectively and persevere in your efforts, you will eventually prevail.
Unless you are an army officer, you can get better results by requests than you can by orders.
Armies spend endless hours training people to follow orders without question. It’s an essential quality in a soldier. In everyday life, however, things don’t work that way. Business, political, and civic leaders have learned that ordinary people will perform exceptional tasks when they are asked-not ordered-to do so. Even when you are working with other people, you will achieve far more if you convert every order to a request. Introductory phrases such as, “Would you mind …” or, “Could I ask your assistance in …” or the always effective, “Please …” will ensure success far more often than intimidating those who work for you. And when you need help from those whose paychecks you do not control, you will find them far more responsive to requests than to orders.
It is always kind to talk about others as long as you speak of their good qualities.
The old adage, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all,” is especially valid today. In any organization, regardless of size, the rumor mill works overtime when it comes to negative gossip. And you can be sure that unkind things you say about others will very quickly find their way to them, for it is also a truism that those who talk about others to us talk about us to others. Not only should you not speak badly of others — you should not participate in conversations in which others do. Spend your time with those who focus on important things, and you will never have to apologize for an unkind word uttered in a moment of weakness.
There is a vast difference between failure and temporary defeat.
There is no such thing as failure, unless it is accepted as such. Every defeat is temporary unless you give up and allow it to become permanent. In fact, temporary defeat often makes us stronger and more capable. Each time we try and fail, we learn something that helps prepare us for eventual success. Only in the classroom is there a single correct answer for every problem. If you try an approach that doesn’t work, try something else. When you view adversity as nothing more than a learning experience, your successes in life will far outnumber your failures.
If you start at the top, you can move in only one direction — downward.
Perhaps the worst thing that might have happened to you would be to have been born with the proverbial silver spoon in your mouth. For had you been born into privilege, you would have been deprived of one of the world’s greatest gifts: the opportunity to reach the highest levels of success of which you are capable, solely on the basis of your own merit. If you were born with less than most, don’t resent others who seem to have more advantages. In truth, the real advantage is yours, for you will develop the self-confidence that comes only from meeting life’s challenges on your own terms. As you progress, you gain the strength and knowledge necessary to assure your enduring success, things that cannot be given to you, but must be earned.
Your failure may prove to be an asset, provided you know why you failed.
There are a few occasions during our brief time on earth when most of us experience great flashes of insight, great moments of truth that forever change the course of our lives. Most of those experiences result from spectacular failures, not from outstanding successes. It is from the failures that so chagrined and dismayed us that we learn the most lasting lessons. When you are the unwilling recipient of a great moment of truth, extract the useful lessons and then put the entire episode behind you. Learn from your failures, forget about them, and move on to better things.
You will never be greater than the thoughts that dominate your mind.
If it’s true that you become what you think about most, it follows that the quantity and quality of success you achieve in your life will be in direct proportion to the size of your thoughts. If you allow your mind to be dominated by trivial matters, your achievements are likely to be unimportant. Discipline yourself to think about important things. Keep up with what’s new in your field and with what’s going on in the world. Make a list of good ideas that you can use anytime you are searching for a creative solution to a problem. Remember, small minds think about things; great minds think about ideas.
The two kinds of people who never get ahead are those who will not do what they are told and those who do only what they are told.
It’s hard to say which would be more discouraging: drifting from job to job because you’re always the first to be laid off, or laboring in monotonous obscurity at the same job. The first results from not doing what you are told to do, the second from doing only what you are told to do. You can “get by” for a time following either approach, but you will never get ahead. Personal initiative is more important in today’s enlightened, high-tech workplace than it was during the Industrial Age, when the ability to follow orders was a critical skill. As technology makes many supervisory functions obsolete, every one of us is expected to do more with less, determine what needs to be done, and do it. Don’t wait to be told. Know your company and your job so well that you can anticipate what needs to be done — then do it! Stop explaining and start doing!
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