DEVELOPING PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY
For Jim Rohn, the best way to establish a new and powerful personal philosophy is to begin with an objective review of the conclusions we have drawn about life. Any conclusion that is not working forus may actually be working againstus. Suppose, for example, a man has decided that his current employer is not paying him enough. His value system – based on years of accumulated information and experiences – then says, “That’s not fair!” This value judgment causes him to take specific steps in retaliation. As a result, he reduces his efforts and does only those things he feels his current pay justifies. There is nothing wrong with this decision if only his goal is to remain where he is, doing what he is currently doing and getting paid what he is currently getting paid for the rest of his life.
All of our counter-productive beliefs and choices are the result of years of accumulating misinformation. We have simply been around the wrong sources and gathered up the wrong data. The decisions we are making are not wrong based on the information we have; it is the information we have that is causing us to make wrong decisions. Unfortunately, these wrong decisions are leading us further away from rather than closer toward the achievement of our goals.
THE IMPORTANCE OF NEW INFORMATION
Since it is virtually impossible to identify and erase all of the misleading information in our mental computers, the only way to change our thinking habits is to input new information. Unless we change what we know, we will continue to believe, decide and act in a manner that is contrary to our best interests.
Gettingthe information that success and happiness require – and getting it accurately– is essential. Otherwise, we will inevitably drift into ignorance, becoming deluded by our power, our prestige and our possessions.
The question is, where can we get new, accurate, and better ideas and information that will enable us to become more than we are? Fortunately, there is a wealth of positive information all around us, just waiting to be used.
One of the best ways to expand the dimensions of our knowledge is by conducting a serious review of our own past experiences. We all have a university of experience within us. The books lining the shelves of our minds were written and placed there by all that we have experienced since birth. These experiences have suggested to us that there is a right way and a wrong way to everything we do, and to every decision that confrontsus, as well as to every obstacle that challengesus.
One way to learn to do something rightis to do something wrong. We learn from failure as well as success. Failure must teach us, or surely success will not reward us. Past failures and errors must prompt us to amend current conduct, or the present and the future will be little more than a duplicate of the past.
We all have recorded memories of past deeds and of the subsequent rewards or consequences of those deeds. The key is to make the memories of past events our servants lest the repetition of those events makes us their slave.
We must labor to make certain that our memories of past experiences, whether good or bad, are accurate if they are to serve us and to make the future better than our past. We must reflect on our past, reliving the moments, pondering the lessons, and refining our current conduct based on the lessons of our personal history. If we have manipulated the truth of the past, if we have tended to blame others, rather than ourselves, then we are seeking an escape from reality, and we will be destined to repeat past errors and relive present difficulties.
We could all use a little coaching. In a sense, that is the purpose ofmy columns. They bring to those in search of insights and ideas a new and objective voice. We are all capable of correcting our own errors but there is often great value in an outsidevoice – someone who can provide an objective appraisal of how we are and what we are doing, and the potential impact of our thoughts and actions on our better future.
An objective appraisal from someone whose opinion we respect (someone other than ourselves) will enable us to see things that we do not see. In our personal world we tend to see only the trees, while the objective and capable friend will more likely see the forest. Objectivity, brought to us in the form of wise counsel from one we trust and respect, can lead us to early and accurate information about ourselves and our decision-making process. It can prevent us from reaching faulty conclusions based on familiarity with our environment.
OTHER PEOPLE’S EXPERIENCE
Other people and their personal experiences offer untold opportunities for learning. Through the experiences of others there are two valuable sources of information available; two attitudes of mind; two categories of those with similar experiences but with remarkably different results. We are exposed on a daily basis to representatives of both groups. Each group seeks its own audience, and each has an effect on those who choose to listen. But both sources are important. One serves as an example to be followed, the other as an example to be avoided – as a warningto be studied, but not emulated.
Someone wisely said, “Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them.” If we ignore the lessons of the past, from whatever the source, then we may become victims of the process of trial and error. “By ignoring the lessons of history, our own trials will inevitably try us and our own errors will ultimately destroy us.”
Each of us should be in constant search of people we can admire and respect; people after whom we can pattern part of our own behavior. Much of who and what we are at this very moment is a composite of the many people who have influenced us over the years. When we were younger, our idols were often storybook characters, movie stars and famous musicians. (These days the list might include professional athletes). For a while we walked, dressed and even tried to talk like our heroes. As we grew older and our own unique personalities began to develop, our emulation of others became less apparent, but the influence was there nonetheless.
Regardless of our age or circumstances, we are never beyond the reach of influence. The key is to find unique human beings whose personalities and achievements stimulate, fascinate and inspire us, and then strive to assimilate their best qualities.Great projects are always built from a pattern or blueprint. In this lifetime there is no greater project than the deliberate development of our own lives. Therefore, we each need a “blueprint” — something or someone to look at and pattern ourselves after— if we want to make change and progress.
Jim Rohn ultimately observes “Neither success nor failure occurs in a single cataclysmic event. Both are the result of the accumulation of seemingly small and insignificant decisions whose collective weight over the period of a lifetime presents the individual with his or her proportionate reward.”
We cannot become a stronger nation until our attention to the essentialsof life begins to change. The ability to establish more competent leadership in our government, our schools, our churches, our businesses and our communities lies in the emerging value of the individual. That is why each of us must make a commitment to develop our full human potential.