Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Healthy Selfishness: How to Create Favorable Conditions for Success
"My life is one long obstacle course--with me being the chief obstacle." Jack Paar
I like the Dalai Lama's Instructions for Life: Respect for self, respect for others, responsibility for all your actions. It would be difficult to be more succinct than that, don't you agree? But if you think those admonitions are easy to live up to, guess again. They may, indeed, be simple, but they're not easy. However, I share with you some ways to implement those Instructions for Life that, when followed, can make a huge difference professionally as well as personally, and perhaps especially, spiritually.
· Be aware of yourself and the world around you. When you keep your eyes, mind, and heart open, you will see a world you may not have known or expected. It literally becomes a different world, not just a different worldview.
· Learn to think independently. Easy task? Hardly. We have been programmed to adhere to the status quo since, if not birth, grade school. When you have the courage to accept your own perceptions, opportunities show up from unexpected places.
· Accept your right to feel as you feel, positive and negative. Accept your right to change. Very often, other people will pigeonhole you because they see you in a certain way and don't want to even consider that you might be growing on all levels. And growth invariably means change. Some of that change can be drastic. There are those in your circles that won't like it. Don't let that deter you.
· Speak and act from your deepest convictions. You may not believe this, but phoniness is almost always spotted, no matter how cleverly you create it or try to hide it. Someone in your profession, your office, your church, or your family will catch onto you in due time. The cost is high. Stay honest.
· Let go of unearned guilt. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." Often, we have received messages, both consciously and unconsciously, from parents, teachers, preachers, and institutions that tell us we are somehow less than worthy, less than honest, less than perfect, even when we have done nothing to earn that condemnation. But we don't have to continue holding onto those messages. We can let them go by choice. If we have earned such guilt, we can correct it. Accept the responsibility and do what must be done. You know what that is, right?
· Accept your right to exist. The one sperm cell and the one egg cell that came together to form you was no accident. The egg literally chooses the one sperm cell from the millions that try to fertilize her, allows him to penetrate her outer shell, and then, with the proper environment, they grow together to become you. It may be risky, but it is not accidental.
· Let go of others' expectations. You can't live up to them, no matter how hard you try. Besides, their expectations will probably change. Set your own expectations and live up to them. If you make a mistake, accept it and move on. "The person who doesn't' make mistakes is unlikely to make anything." Paul Arden
· Love yourself, your possibilities, your potential. You are mostly unused potential. No matter how long you live, you will not run out of potential. Even those in mental institutions are still serving a purpose.
· Choose joy. You have the option. You can close yourself off from joy, but it is still your call.
· Accept yourself without pretense. The reality is, you are amazing, warts and all. The less you accept yourself as you are, the more you hold back from the rest of us. And we need your gifts, talents, and abilities. With a few exceptions, we all want you to succeed.
· Give away what you know. Don't worry that someone will "one up" you. What you give-time, talent, dollars, knowledge, information-always returns to you, as St. Paul says, ". . .full measure, pressed down, and running over." As someone else once said, "You cannot outgive the universe." I agree.
· Practice compassion, which, in its simplest definition means "Do no harm, help where you can." It may sound simplistic, even cool, but it is truly the bedrock of a civilized culture, of a civilized person. You don't have to profess any particular religion or philosophy to practice compassion. Again, like with the point above, compassion will return to you manyfold.
Ultimately, all of the above points, as valuable as they are to the world, are self-serving. And that's OK. The healthier you are mentally, intellectually, physically, socially, and spiritually, the more you can offer the world. When your personal and professional successes are based on these kinds of principles rather than greed or fear, you add an energy to the world that can be found nowhere else. I know you've heard it before, but hear it again: you are unique, a one-time speck in the universe that, with nurturing, can make a profound difference. Your recognition of that uniqueness, your cultivating of that potential, is healthy selfishness. It's the key to true success. It can save the world. "Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all whoever have." Margaret Mead
A high calling? You bet. And you're up for it.