By Charles Burke
Ability is FAR more relative than you may suspect.
When I was a kid, I was considered non-athletic.
Back in my school days, when our teachers would take us out for gym class, they'd make us do sports stuff, and as a fat, clumsy kid, I hated that.
One day in late spring, our teacher announced, "Today we'll go outside and play baseball during gym class." He said it like he thought it was some kind of treat.
Of course, most of the boys cheered, but I saw a few faces around the classroom take on a grim look. I could feel my own face tightening up.
Our school had two 6th grade classes, and our two teachers took all 30 or 35 of us out to the ball field at the end of the playground and separated us.
Nowadays, kids who're not good at sports are termed "athletically challenged" or maybe "non-sports oriented". Very politically correct.
But back then, we were just "the sissies".
They directed us non-sports oriented kids - the sissies - to one side of the field and they took the real boys to the other side.
Now, every group has a "pecking order" in which there's some sort of unspoken, but very real, hierarchy of authority or power.
As we sissies started to play baseball (or tried to), I quickly rose to top spot in the pecking order. Suddenly I could throw, bat, run and catch better than any of the other guys around me. I was a superstar. Talk about supreme confidence - I had it in abundance.
I was watching the teachers out of the corner of my eye, and it was obvious they were surprised by my sudden surge in performance. Almost as surprised as I was.
If a fly ball came anywhere within 50 meters of me, I'd catch it. Could not fail.
And no matter how wild the pitcher was, I could hit anything he threw. Anything, up to and including one that whizzed directly over my head. Ho hum, another home run.
Then the teachers got together and plotted against me.
They decided they'd made a mistake; I must belong over with the real boys, so they sent me to one of those teams.
Suddenly all that talent evaporated. I couldn't hit. I couldn't catch. I couldn't do anything right. I turned back into my usual awkward, fumble-fisted, stumbling self.
After a couple of very miserable turns at bat and one disastrous non-catch, they sent me back where I belonged, with the non-athletes.
Magically, my prowess returned and stayed with me the rest of that day. At the time, even though I was only 12 years old, I understood that something significant was happening, but it wasn't until years later that I finally grasped it.
Today, it is absolutely clear to me that a person's performance is determined more by what's in their mind than by actual inborn abilities. Otherwise, how could a 12-year- old boy have supreme confidence on one side of a field and a total lack of it on the other?
But back then, I just thought I was King of the Sissies. Great at baseball if the other guys were awful players, but incompetent to play with the real boys.
I tell this story to illustrate a point.
Most people are limiting their abilities in ways that are very similar to what I was doing then.
You may be doing the same thing if:
In any group, you'll find yourself automatically taking a rank somewhere between highest and lowest in pecking order. This rank will always vary. If you find yourself shrinking back when a group includes many members you think are more capable than you, then your rank is low.
If you speak out and participate confidently, then it's for certain that you perceive yourself to be one of the most capable members within the group.
That's the basic axiom.
Now, for the important part - the application.
How do you raise your ranking? How do you get your confidence so high that it doesn't desert you, even when you walk into a room and suddenly realize you're surrounded by kings, generals and captains of industry?
Some psychologists would have us believe it's purely a matter of hormones.
One bunch of researchers took a flock of chickens, found the one lowest in the pecking order, and injected it with extra hormones. They reported an uproar in the henhouse for a few days, till the hormones wore off.
But that's chickens.
Is there no hope for humans, other than dosing up on hormones and steroids?
I think there is hope. I believe you can raise your rank in a group - your pecking order - and you don't need anything more artificial than certain new thoughts, habits and skills.
Of course, it doesn't come overnight; you'll have to persist and grow into this, but just imagine how your life could change.
Have you ever seen the old Charles Atlas advertisements from back in the fifties? In a series of black-and-white drawings, we see a skinny guy with his beautiful girlfriend at the beach. A big, muscular bully comes up and kicks sand in skinny's face. Skinny sends off for the Charles Atlas body building course. Within a few short weeks, skinny gains both weight and confidence. Next time they're at the beach, he wows his girlfriend by getting rid of the bully.
That's one way of doing it, and it does work. Ask Lou Ferrigno, the weak, sickly little kid with impaired hearing who took up body building in high school, and grew up to win body building titles and play The Incredible Hulk on TV.
But there are other ways. I can suggest a 5-step approach that, if you'll apply it, will get you unbounded confidence in any field you want.
Now, know this: no matter how heavyweight you are in some fields, there will be others where you're still weak.
Among mathematicians, for example, I'm the skinny guy.
But that's okay, because I don't have enough talent or interest in the field to want to be a heavyweight.
But here is the 5-step approach.
Pick a field that's important to you.
Maybe you want to become a great singer, or a major novelist, or an astronaut.
How good do you realistically want to be? It's okay to be the world's best, but is that just an idle fantasy? It takes a lot of fire to pass everybody in the world. If you have that fire and hunger and drive, go for it.
But if you simply want to be treated with respect and recognized by your peers, that's a lot easier to achieve.
Seriously, every field has to have somebody who's the best in the world, but if your ego doesn't actually need it, that's okay, too. Pick a field and a level that really feels right to you.
First, you may bite off more than you're comfortable chewing. No problem. If you get into this and learn it's going to take longer than you expected, or it's going to be harder to gain entry, simply sit back and adjust the steps in your plan. Or even re-evaluate the goal itself.
It's no disgrace to adjust your goals higher or lower after you learn more about the field.
Second, your faith in yourself goes in cycles. One day you're sure you can have the moon and stars. A few days later, you're in deep despair and wonder whatever possessed you to set such a goofy goal.
Don't ever make an important decision when you're experiencing either a low or a high in your confidence. This is one case when slow, deliberate decisions are more dependable.
But as you keep moving forward, you will make progress, and gradually the people around you will begin deferring to your superior knowledge and experience. That's when you know you've gained entry into "the club" and are starting to be recognized for your achievement. Your efforts are beginning to pay dividends.
Plan to take some time mastering the field.
Nothing important (that was constructive) was ever done overnight. Remember the old proverb, "Rome wasn't built in a day"? A city can burn in a very short time, but it takes generations, even centuries, for a major city to grow to its peak.
If you want to be a master of your field, look around and identify the current masters. What do they know? You can learn it. What can they do? You can master those skills, just as they have. Break it down into one step at a time.
If the thought of all that work fills you with a joyful flutter, you're on the right track. On the other hand, if it leaves you feeling weak and filled with dread, you may need to pick a different field.
If you pick something you love to do, love to think about, love to read about, you won't mind spending all that time becoming skillful. It won't be work, it'll be recreation.
In fact, the people who excel in their fields almost universally love what they're doing. Most claim they haven't worked in years - because it's all play to them.
When I was in high school, I took a typing class one summer. I barely passed with a D-, and for years, even though I was technically touch typing, it was all I could do to peck out 15 to 20 words a minute.
Then, when I came to Japan, some of my customers started asking me to enter handwritten English translations on my computer. Suddenly, typing mattered to me, and my speed quickly zoomed. Now I effortlessly type 60 to 80 words a minute. Why? Simply because my interest level changed. My
performance changed when the importance of the task changed in relation to my overall goals.
So be sure you love what you're going to be doing enough to spend the time required.
What if you really don't know yet? Just give it a trial run. You may find you hate it. If so, quit. There's no disgrace in saving yourself from wasting years of effort. But if you find you really do enjoy your new field, it'll be obvious what you should do - just keep on.
Associate with the best people in your new field.
Feel intimidated? Of course you do... but so what? You're exposing yourself not only to their knowledge, but also to their personal traits. Their passion for the field. Their attitudes and mindset.
And some of that will rub off on you. When it does, it becomes yours forever.
Every winning coach and every successful person I've ever read about recommends that you study winners and read biographies. Learn everything you can about successful achievers in any field. The more you fill your mind with people achieving great things, the more that's going to
infuse into your own thinking.
You'll gain a subtle inspiration from those stories; they'll leave you feeling that more things are possible. You'll almost unconsciously absorb an "I can" attitude.
Every highly successful person works at sharpening their mind. They read books. Listen to tapes. Repeat their goals and affirmations every day - EVERY day. They study. They polish new skills. They have their eyes on a different level. They spend big chunks of time on becoming more tomorrow than they were yesterday.
The average couch potato, on the other hand, spends large chunks of time exposing him/herself to incredible mediocrity. The typical TV show or sitcom may be fun or funny (notice I said MAY be), but they hardly depict excellence.
And you already know that your life becomes filled with whatever you fasten your attention on.
If your attention is on TV shows featuring bimbo secretaries, vapid co-workers, freaky family members, emotion-torn love affairs, car chases, murders, bombings, shootings, fights and endless personal crises, you WILL get the equivalent in your own life.
You already know that if you walk down the middle of a busy freeway during rush hour, things will end badly for you. So you don't take casual strolls down the highway. Nobody has to tell you to avoid doing such a foolish thing.
But there are other, equally foolish things that we may not be quite as aware of. Things like filling our minds with horror and fear and uproar. Like spending all our spare time with people who have no ambitions, no wisdom, and no great love for humanity.
Just as your life becomes what you fill your mind with, your mind becomes filled with the characteristics of the people you surround yourself with.
Is it disloyal to stop spending time with friends you've known for years? To distance yourself from some family members? IS it?
This word "disloyal" is thrown around a lot in such cases, isn't it?
What it usually means is, "You're doing something different from your usual behavior, and it's putting a strain on me."
In other words, your new behavior is an inconvenience to somebody, so they're trying to push you back into your old, dependable role. This is not done for your convenience; it's for the other person's.
Just keep this in mind, so that if or when it happens to you, you'll know what's really going on.
Remember that it's always important to associate with people who have gone where you want to go, not as a social climber, but as a true apprentice who is hungry for mastery.
Always share your present knowledge.
While you're absorbing knowledge from your "elders," you should also be sharing, giving away to others the things you have already learned.
There are a number of reasons for this.
First, the more you teach, the better you'll understand your own field. It's often said that the teacher learns at least as much as the student. Until you can explain what you know so that others can grasp it, you don't fully understand it yourself. So teach.
In addition, passing along knowledge creates a circuit for the flow of energy through you. Unless you let this energy flow through you, prosperity and success will not be possible.
You receive from your mentors and teachers. Then, when you pass it on, you're giving benefit to others, instead of trying to hoard it all for yourself.
Is it possible for a selfish, greedy, hate-filled person to succeed?
Some teachers say no, but look around. You and I can see that there are always some exceptions.
There are such "successes," but the price! Eventually, it all comes crashing down, causing great pain and horror.
(Cue faint echoing voice from off-camera) "Use the Force, Luke."
(Heavy breathing, hollow basso voice) "Come to the Dark Side of the Force, Luke."
Everyone who gains some measure of power will almost certainly be tempted to use it selfishly, I suppose, but the time to start building honor and ethics into your spirit is now. It is important to resist the little temptations over the small things, and carefully school yourself to share and give open-handedly. Then, when the bigger issues arise, you
will have already mastered the basic principle of choosing the path that benefits more than just yourself.
That's one of the reasons that sharing your knowledge is so important. It constantly reminds you that you're not in this life alone. But that's a fairly metaphysical concept.
There's also a more practical consideration. As you teach and share, you're filling a growing reservoir of respect among your community of peers.
When others see you sharing openly, they look to you as a leader. The more you reinforce that opinion (without forcing it upon them), the sooner you'll be lifted to the top of the "pecking order" in your group. You have then become the leader they perceive you to be. You only become a REAL
leader by giving to others what they need - you are serving them.
So teach - share what you know as you grow.
Pull yourself into the future.
It is said that time is a thread. You already know that you can't push a thread. You can only pull it.
Here's how to pull yourself into the future you want.
First, you go there in your mind. In your imagination, there are no limits on time or space. Thus, you use your imagination to pick out the future that most appeals to you, then you drop anchor there. You claim it as your true future.
If you could see all the possible threads leading off into potential futures, you'd be utterly overwhelmed by the enormous number of possibilities that are technically available to you.
Every time you face a choice, no matter how trivial, there are a number of different possible choices you can make. In your current life's thread, you choose one, casually, nearly without thinking, and on you go, cheerfully into a new future that you just created.
Now multiply all those possible choices by all the times per day that you do the same thing, making decisions that carry you careening along a path that becomes your eventual "destiny."
If you make all your decisions and choices from your present perspective, you're navigating blindly. You don't know where you're going, so that's where you end up.
Here is a secret of the ages: you can work this same system differently.
You can project your imagination into the future, see and feel yourself doing certain things, such as enjoying a new career, or creating a certain life style. As you do that, you are actually strengthening some of those threads stretching from now to then.
The more often you repeat this projection into the future, the stronger that thread becomes, until it's a rope, then a cable, and finally, it pulls you forward into that exact future.
Remember the quote from Napoleon Hill's book, "Think and Grow Rich"?
What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
Now you know why that works.
So these are the five steps. Take them and use them. You'll find they contain the power to carry you into any future you really want.
There is a strong mix of "practical" and "spiritual" elements in these steps. Those two realms are not really different, but we've been miss-trained to think they are. At any rate, you need to focus your mind and spirit, but you also need to take persistent action.
I don't know why the world is made that way, but for some reason it takes both types of effort to get where you want to go.
As the Christian Bible says, "Faith without works is dead", meaning that all your internal, spiritual efforts will be ineffective unless you're also putting in the energy and physical work to create a path for the energy to flow.
Likewise, if you're working like a dog, laboring and slaving to achieve your dreams, but you're not spending much time on the inner work, you're trying to push a thread. It simply will not work.
Step 1: Pick a field that's important to you. It's crucial to select something you'll love long-term. You already know that doing a job you
don't love wears very thin.
Step 2: Plan to take some time mastering the field. Becoming a recognized expert doesn't happen overnight. Be realistic in your expectations.
Step 3: Associate with the best people in your new field. Absorb the best that the best have to offer. Live and breathe their excellence. It'll soak in.
Step 4: Always share your present knowledge. Be sure you allow the energy and knowledge unrestricted flow through you to others who also
love the field you've chosen.
Step 5: Pull yourself into the future. Time is the wind, your imagination are the sails, and you are the navigator. All must work together.
The day I found myself King of the Sissies, I discovered within myself the potential for supreme confidence - a state I had never experienced before.
It took me years to realize that I could have that same confidence while playing with the real boys. All I had to do was raise my skills and expectations. The home runs and spectacular catches would come automatically.
And of course, this principle translates to any field.
As you begin working in your chosen area, you may start out feeling intimidated and unsure of yourself. That will pass. Give yourself time and training. Follow these five simple steps, master your field, and soon you will find yourself supremely confident, even when you're among the leaders of your industry.
That's when you'll know you've become one of the real winners, rather than merely king (or queen) of the Sissies.
Charles Burke, author of two books on success and luck, makes it easy in his FREE e-mail course titled: BEYOND LUCK - The 20-Lesson Boot Camp in Building Success and Good Fortune.
Twenty high-impact days of practical tools for power-packed living.
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