Monthly Archives: October 2011
By Dr. Lisa Christiansen
We give words meaning, we define what success is, and we create our own destiny based on our own internal blueprint.
Today, people feel a lot of unnecessary and unneeded stress caused by comparing themselves to others. This stress puts a toll on both their mental and physical health. In fact, even theCDC says that “emotional health” can be up to 85% responsible for physical health.
First, you must understand that your physical surroundings determine who you “hang” with and who you “hang” with is a large determinant of your self-worth. You are a reflection of your five closest friends. This is because we as social creatures tend to base our opinions of ourselves on comparisons between ourselves and those in our immediate circles. This can work both for you and against you. Surrounding yourself with others who have achieved things – and a level of success – you desire to achieve, gives you examples after which to model your behavior. On the other hand, if you are constantly comparing yourselves to these people, that can cause you immense stress. Thus, this is a highly individualized matter that you must consider on a personal level and how these comparisons affect you in particular.
Some people need to be “reaching up” to be motivated. While others need to excel within their personal group to feel confident enough to eventually reach up. It is a fine balance. That is why we will be examining this subject over the next couple of weeks from both angles but we’ll hit on a quick summary now…
If you are one who gets stressed by comparing yourself to your more successful friends, neighbors, or co-workers, one of the quickest ways to change any negative feelings, jealousy, or status envy you might have is to ensure you also have people who are at your current socio-economic and enviro-economic status in your circle as well.
This idea was put forth in “How to Get Over Status Anxiety” atwww.psychologytoday.com. This is not to imply that you necessarily change your circle of friends. It’s just that you need to be more conscientious of who you compare yourself to on a regular basis.
For example, you can seek out those you can better and more appropriate identify with through social and civic groups. And sometimes, one can better flourish by seeking out “smaller settings” in which to work and play as well. Sometimes successes are easier to come by and recognize in such a setting. You must also learn to recognize your own successes – in their own right – and use them to balance what you feel are you failures or shortcomings that only exist in comparison to others. Especially comparisons to others who might have more advantages – or resources – than you do at your disposal.
Perhaps most importantly, learn to use this “envy” for good. Use it to propel you to greater heights. Instead of thinking, “Poor me. I don’t have…” or “I’ll never be able to do what so-and-so did because I didn’t grow up rich” or “I’m not as educated so I am not as smart as…”, and letting those things get you down on yourself, begin to consider how your particular circumstances served you. Only you havethe power to decide that. Has a lack of certain things in your life forced you to be resourceful? Has your lack of money in your life put you in a position to empathize with those facing certain problems that only you – with your underprivileged or even middle-class background – can really understand? Maybe your lack of formal education has driven you to really study the world – or independently – so that you actually have more practical knowledge than your more “classroom educated” counterparts?
On the other hand, if you are someone who needs to be consistently challenged to strive for “more”, then add people to your circle of influence who are currently where you desire to be and mirror them. This will take years off your journey to success and allow you to arrive at your destination in a much shorter time. There are always two sides to every coin and while some need to remain secure in their current situation – and there is nothing wrong with that if that is what gives you greater emotional security and satisfaction – I, on the other hand, am always searching for growth.
I believe that wherever you are at some point in time, you have made an “appointment” to be there.Being “wealthy” isn’t just a question of how much money you have, but rather having what you want. It has been said by many that success without fulfillment is failure. Wealth isn’t absolute, it’s relative to desire… SELF ESTEEM= success divided by expectation. Meaning, people base their self-worth on their definition of success. To be successful, one must be prepared for opportunity and then answer the door when it knocks – or lower your expectation – either way decide what works for you.
For today, the key here is remembering that everything in life serves you equally. Aside from the other practical steps mentioned above, your attitude – and view – on these things, can change your life as much as (or more!) than anything. For the next few weeks, we will cover this more intricately. In the meantime, remember that success – for you – is merely a matter of how you define it. What is your definition of “success”?
With Love And Gratitude,
Mastery in one’s career and self growth simply requires that we consistently and constantly produce results beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary by producing outstanding results. Mastery is attained by consistently stepping outside of our comfort zone, going beyond our limits with the knowledge that the only limits there are in life are the ones we set for ourselves. Open your eyes, listen to hear, feel your achievement and breakthrough your limits to the success you deserve. For most people, this starts with technical excellence in a chosen field and a commitment to that excellence. This needs to begin with a clear vision and the decision to do what it takes making success your only option. If you are willing to commit yourself to excellence, to surround yourself with things that represent excellence, your life will change because you are your five closest friends. (When we speak of miracles, we speak of events or experiences that go beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary.)
It’s remarkable how much mediocrity we live with, surrounding ourselves with daily reminders that the average is the acceptable, we must decide this behavior of mediocrity is UNACCEPTABLE. More often than not you will find the common belief is limited thinking with a mindset of go to school to get a good job to retire comfortable and then you die. I urge you to look inside yourself and identify the things that are keeping you powerless to go beyond any “limit” that you have arbitrarily set for yourself, take a moment to assess all of these things around you that promote your being “average”, now take action to remove these things from your life even if this means making new friends, because often your friends will bring guilt to your dreams by saying “oh, you think you are better than me?” or “what makes you think you can do that?” these are dream thieves and you need dream achievers in your circle of friends, with that being said you must reach up to those that frighten you and cultivate friendships where you once thought were impossible you will be surprised how many will be excited to mentor you. To begin mastery is to remove everything in your environment that represents mediocrity, removing those things that are limiting. Again, one way is to surround yourself with friends who ask more of themselves than anyone else ever would because these are the ones who step up to defy the odds, to set new standards and to be the change they want to see in this world by being the example. It is this recipe for success that you must emulate to achieve your success because if you find someone who is successfully doing what you are passionate about you simply have to follow their formula to achieve the same result.
Another step on the path to mastery is the removal of resentment toward masters whether on your level, below or above your level, this action is very important because these are your potential mentors. We are always learning from each other so respect is critical, if you don’t respect the person please respect their gifts to contribute to others even if you don’t agree. Develop humility so that while in the presence of masters you are emotionally available with an open heart and an open mind to grow from the experience. Do not compare yourself to others and do not resent people who have mastery, remain open, respectful and receptive; allow the experience to enrich you like the planting of a seed within you that, with nourishment, will grow into your own individual unique mastery.
We are all created equal, mastery is learned through education, life experiences and the examples laid before us. A true master will embrace their flaws and weaknesses as a tool to relate to others with a genuine appreciation of their circumstances. A master recognizes this fault as a foundation for building the extraordinary instead of using it as an excuse for inactivity, use this as a vehicle for growing, which is essential in the process of attaining mastery. You must be able to learn, grow and accept criticism without condemning yourself to accept results and improve upon them. Growth is essential to power and mastery because if you are not growing you are dying.
Great players and great teams are willing to work hard. Average players and average teams want it easy.
Higgins vs. Lyle- Golf
I have a friend, who is still a good golfer at age 65, who always regretted that he didn’t try out for the golf team in college. His excuses were that he was from a small town of 2000 people and the local golf course was only 9 holes with sand greens. My friend went to the most prestigious and largest University in the state. He felt that coming from the small town that his high school education was inferior to that of the students from large cities and that he would have to outwork these students in order to achieve success in college and life, thus might not have time to devote to golf and make the golf team. He also worried that his golf course was inferior to those golfers coming from country clubs, taking lessons from professionals and playing tournaments in the summer.
He later became friends with someone on the golf team who was a 2-time college all American. There was no question that the all American was a better player than my friend who made a telling remark to me. He said that when they played together that if he(my friend) got 1 or 2 under par during the round that he would become “protective” and try to make pars and save his round and keep it right around par for the total round. Whereas his friend if he was 2 or 3 under par after 5 holes he would want to know what the course record was. In other words he became even more aggressive, while my friend became more conservative. In Hind sight, my friend knows that if he would have gone to a smaller school, he wouldn’t have worried about his ability to do well in school and is confident he could have made the golf team. While he is proud of his degree from the more prestigious University, he has always regretted not trying to make the golf team.
The morale of this story is that there are different goals or levels of success in life. My friend went on to have a successful career in banking, but never quite got to where he maybe should have gotten to; i.e. the president or a senior level of management in the bank. His friend on the other hand, had a good golf career, playing in 2 U.S Opens and 2 British Opens, but lacked the “mental edge” needed to become a household name in the world of golf. My take on this is that there are many variables in the race for success. One must decide and set goals for where they want to go. I don’t think it matters what size town you grew up in, what school you went to, or what kind of golf course you started on. There are numerous stories of great success in politics, business, and life that have grown up in these environments. The old saying is “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of fight in the dog that counts.” So, by being aggressive isn’t the only answer. You can be too aggressive, hit the ball out of bounds and into the lake, make a triple bogie, and instead of being 3 under par, you are now 1 over par. In life, by being over aggressive in your job, you have exceeded your authority to lend or to purchase or whatever by 30% because you just knew that it was a great deal and would make your company lots more money; A good example of this would be in 2006 when the real estate market was a feeding frenzy and then suddenly fell in 2007 and progressively continued to spiral down. So now, you get fired or at least demoted with more supervision, restrictions, ect.
One way to avoid this trap is by having a mentor, but it doesn’t have to be someone in your company. It may be someone close to the top of the ladder or a rising young star who is only a couple of levels above you. It’s obvious that you don’t want to be so closely tied to that individual that if his star burns out that you crash with him or her. This choice is very important, kind of like choosing your life partner. You should be able to talk to your mentor about trivial things as well as important things. Remember that his or her time is not limitless, so pick your spots and don’t become a burden.
Another golf story from my banker friend. His golfing ability was an asset to his career. He said that every interview he went to he ultimately got the subject around to golf and his 2 handicap was a big plus. Of course all jobs don’t involve entertaining and building customer relationships like banking. The story is that at the bank employee’s annual golf tournament the bright rising star way oversold his golf ability to get paired with the Chairman of The Board. Needless to say, his status went downhill when he shot a 140, let loose several four letter words, and drank too many beers. Your job and your reputation are 24 hour days. Your social life, your hobbies, ect. as they all get interwoven into your career. It’s not a big plus, but to get picked up for a DWI after leaving the strip club like the friend of Mr. Lyle, it should be a given, and also the actions of your spouse and even your children can have a major impact on your career.
It takes such a small act of kindness to enhance your career like simply being nice to people you work with. It takes such a small amount of your most valuable commodity, time, to speak to the security guard you see every morning instead of passing by without even looking at him or her. Sure he/she probably doesn’t advise the CEO as to who gets promoted, but just maybe his neighbor or cousin becomes your best customer or the lawsuit you win as his attorney because of the security guards recommendation. To me, it’s very obvious to succeed in life and your career that you have to work hard and make some sacrifices. Sure some people take shortcuts and cheat and get away with it, but the odds are against you.
Never be ashamed to ask for help. There are people who have thought about and done the thing or project you are involved with. To follow up on the earlier mention of being nice to people, also praise those that helped you complete projects and goals. A little praise goes a long ways. Be a team player. I saw a quote recently I liked “Great players and great teams are willing to work hard, while average players and average teams want it easy.”
In summary, the old saying “you have to play the cards you are dealt” is true, but not really. We don’t control who our parents are, our environment we grow up in, but we can control how much effort we put into our education, be it a Jr. college or Harvard. We can control our progression after our former education learning by always striving to learn more be it by reading some of the many great “self-help” books available learning from those we work with, those we network with, our mentor, and our experiences. If you ever get to the point where you are not striving to learn more or better yourself you are in deep do-do. Always remember one thing, we cannot control others nor can we control life circumstances but we can control how we respond. We can choose to be the author of our own lives and every day we get a new opportunity to make new choices. Choose and be happy.
To Your Success,