Worries, like sheep, seem to flock together. One worry leads to another, and soon you are overwhelmed with the potential for problems. When you allow yourself to play the “what if?” game — to speculate about additional problems that one potential problem might cause — worries multiply, each making the next seem worse. If you must play the “What if?” game, play it to win. Focus on solutions, not on the problems themselves and the additional problems they might create. However serious your worries may seem when they awaken you at midnight, if you analyze them carefully, you will find that every problem has a solution.
There is a fundamental rule in sales: You must sell yourself first before you can effectively sell others. If you can’t believe in the value of your products or service, no one else will either. If you are conning others into an unfair deal, you must work mightily to overcome your internal resistance to doing something wrong. A deal is a good one only when it is good for everyone involved. When each participant has an equal opportunity to profit and the risk is shared among partners who care about one another’s welfare, not only is the likelihood of success far greater, but the journey toward it will also be much more enjoyable.
In the final analysis, all that really matters are your actions. You may talk a good story, but no matter how good you are at selling others on your capabilities, eventually you have to perform. It is true that people are generally forgiving and will overlook an occasional failure to deliver upon your promises. Ultimately, though, you must live up to your promises to others if you ever expect to make a lasting impression on them. Make it a habit to demonstrate your abilities before talking about them. Seldom is anything worthwhile achieved without the help of others, and nothing is ever achieved without some form of action. The road to failure and despair is littered with the dreams of those who failed to act upon them.
The great majority of people in the world drift through life, never realizing that their future will be the one they create for themselves. The minority who achieve great success are people who know what they want and have a plan for realizing their objectives. They know what they want and how they are going to get it. Your goals should be specific, they should be measurable, they should have a deadline for their achievement, and they should be divided into manageable pieces. Know exactly what you plan to achieve, when you plan to achieve it, and how. Review your progress regularly, correct your course when necessary, and never, ever give up.
No one really knows for sure how we develop self-respect, but the experts believe it begins at a very early age. Parents who show their children that they love them unconditionally — just because they are who they are — build a foundation of healthy self-respect that will sustain the children for the rest of their lives. From this foundation comes the moral and ethical structure known as character. Healthy self-respect should not be confused with egotism. An egotist loves himself for the most superficial of reasons, while a self-respecting person takes pride in the qualities of character that he or she has worked hard to develop.
Examine the lives of successful people, and you will find that they have paid a price that is in direct proportion to the amount of success they have earned. Close examination will almost always reveal years of study and preparation before great success is achieved. This principle is consistent in virtually every field of individual achievement — in the arts, medicine, science, or business. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easily. As you consider your own goals, also consider what you are willing to sacrifice for what you expect to receive. You should be prepared to give generously of your time and talents long before expecting a return on your investment. Many “overnight successes” labored in obscurity for many years before they were finally recognized for their achievements.
Many years ago, the commencement speaker at a prestigious university asked all members of the graduating class who had a definite plan for their lives to hold up their hands. As he looked around the room, only three hands were raised. Twenty-five years later, when the class held a reunion, the combined net worth of those three individuals exceeded that of the remainder of the class. People who know where they are going always achieve far greater levels of success than those who merely drift through life, expecting circumstances to create opportunities for them. Successful people create their own opportunities by focusing on goals with an intensity that borders on obsession. In this way, every action moves them toward their goal.
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.