Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Laws of Success Lesson Three: Self-Confidence

This blog will review Napoleon Hill's third principle of success, Self-Confidence. Dictionary.com defines self-confidence as "realistic confidence in one's own judgment, ability, power, etc.". Interestingly enough, there are a lot of people that lack this trait. Mr. Hill offers the reason why: Fear. Fear is possibly the greatest enemy of the human race ever. It causes us to do things that we shouldn't and to not do the things we should.

Remember the Y2K bug? Even the government spent millions of dollars trying to get all of their advanced computers ready. Several companies also profited from the big scare offering software that made PC's Y2K ready. When the dreaded moment came at midnight of January 1, 2000, nothing happened. I remember going to school actually upset, everyone expected the world of technology to end in a single moment and nobody's computer even crashed.

Then of course, there is the whole "this disease is going to wipe out America" fad going on in the media today. Currently it is the swine flu. Remember though that before it was the swine flu, it was the bird flu, before that it was E. coli in spinach, before that it was West Nile Virus, before that, anthrax, before that, SARS, before that, Salmonella. Not to say all of these diseases aren't real and that people actually died from them, but all of these diseases were supposed to be HIV, the Black Plague, and Polio combined and on steroids. The earth's population should be at like 50 right now.

My point is that fear is mostly an illogical state of mind. In fact, I will go as far as to say that fear is a loss of control over your mind. The good news is that you can take back control of your mind by mastering fear and using it to your advantage. Pause: "You can use fear to your advantage?". Why not?

In an earlier post, I mentioned that  the Definite Chief Aim, was only part 1 of the Law of Attraction/ Auto-suggestion/ Faith/ The Secret or whatever it is you feel like calling it. Self-Confidence  is part two of that  law. Why? In order to gain self-confidence, you must become a master of your thoughts. All self-confidence (or significant lack there-of) stems from your initial thought to a situation. Anyone who has had the privilege of attending an anger management or any similar course is familiar with the following:

In any given situation a person goes through three phases: Event, Thought, Reaction. What is generally taught is that your reaction is not determined by the event so much as the thought that occurs right after the event. Hence, your thinking controls your actions. You were probably aware of this already. The problem lies in the fact that the thought that occurs in-between event and reaction happens within a fraction of a millisecond. How does it happen so fast? Through conditioning of course.

How many times have you told yourself that you hate your job today? You have probably said it so much that you wake up and make yourself physically sick just thinking about another day at work. The result is, no matter what happens at work, you have a bad day. What if you spent a month actually trying to enjoy your job. There has got to be something about it you like, even if it's just the paycheck. Fear operates in the same vein. You've conditioned yourself to negative thinking packaged in the guise of "safety and security".

The result is you limit yourself to what you can do. You shouldn't ask questions because you'll look like an idiot. You shouldn't go up for promotion because you don't have a degree (but can you do the job?). You don't want to talk to that nice looking girl over there because she might reject you (yeah it's much safer being alone with your fantasies anyway). You are afraid to stand up for yourself for fear of looking like a jerk and causing confrontation. You get the idea.

So how do you get rid of fear or even better, make it work for you? Peter McWilliams (Author of Do It: Let's Get off our Buts, 1997) makes a great point in stating that Fear is energy that we have to do our best in a new situation. So, we can use fear to our advantage. Why not?  The only real way to eliminate fear is to view it optimistically. Otherwise, you get so caught up in trying not to fear, that you wind up fearing fear itself.

So now your fear is a powerful ally. It is not a mechanism to cause inaction, but rather one that inspires action and the very best action at that. The next step is to start focusing on conditioning your mind towards a positive mindset. The best way to do this is by memorizing a positive quote or a poem. Nelson Mandela did precisely this by memorizing the poem Invictus (William Ernst Henley). It got him through 27 years of prison and into the South African Presidency. It also helped him end apartheid. A quote I like to repeat a lot came from a good friend of mine: "I am the master of my universe. My wish is my command".

In so many words, that quote reminds me of several things. The first is that I determine everything that does or does not happen to me. There may be a couple of theologians that may disagree with me on that but I feel if God ultimately left me with determining where my soul will go after I die, then why not leave me with the power to determine everything else as well? The next thing this quote reminds me of is that even though I have the power to make my desires happen, I still have to make them happen. I am my own genie, and no one can make life better for me except me.

Once you have your quote memorized say it every chance you get. Like you Definite Chief Aim, write it down, place it every where you know you will see it. When things get hard repeat it in your head over and over again. Eventually it will begin to shape all of your thoughts and your reactions to situations will change for a more positive outcome.

Feel free to comment with any questions, or additional thoughts and experiences.

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