Articles by Jim Rohn - SUCCESS Magazine
Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. We do not fail overnight. Failure is the inevitable result of an accumulation of poor thinking and poor choices. To put it more simply, failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day. Now why would someone make an error in judgment and then be so foolish as to repeat it every day?
The answer is because he or she does not think that it matters.
On their own, our daily acts do not seem that important. A minor oversight, a poor decision, or a wasted hour generally doesn't result in an instant and measurable impact. More often than not, we escape from any immediate consequences of our deeds.
If we have not bothered to read a single book in the past ninety days, this lack of discipline does not seem to have any immediate impact on our lives. And since nothing drastic happened to us after the first ninety days, we repeat this error in judgment for another ninety days, and on and on it goes. Why? Because it doesn't seem to matter. And herein lies the great danger. Far worse than not reading the books is not even realizing that it matters!
Those who eat too many of the wrong foods are contributing to a future health problem, but the joy of the moment overshadows the consequence of the future. It does not seem to matter. Those who smoke too much or drink too much go on making these poor choices year after year after year... because it doesn't seem to matter. But the pain and regret of these errors in judgment have only been delayed for a future time. Consequences are seldom instant; instead, they accumulate until the inevitable day of reckoning finally arrives and the price must be paid for our poor choices - choices that didn't seem to matter.
Failure's most dangerous attribute is its subtlety. In the short term those little errors don't seem to make any difference. We do not seem to be failing. In fact, sometimes these accumulated errors in judgment occur throughout a period of great joy and prosperity in our lives. Since nothing terrible happens to us, since there are no instant consequences to capture our attention, we simply drift from one day to the next, repeating the errors, thinking the wrong thoughts, listening to the wrong voices and making the wrong choices. The sky did not fall in on us yesterday; therefore the act was probably harmless. Since it seemed to have no measurable consequence, it is probably safe to repeat.
But we must become better educated than that!
If at the end of the day when we made our first error in judgment the sky had fallen in on us, we undoubtedly would have taken immediate steps to ensure that the act would never be repeated again. Like the child who places his hand on a hot burner despite his parents' warnings, we would have had an instantaneous experience accompanying our error in judgment.
Unfortunately, failure does not shout out its warnings as our parents once did. This is why it is imperative to refine our philosophy in order to be able to make better choices. With a powerful, personal philosophy guiding our every step, we become more aware of our errors in judgment and more aware that each error really does matter.
Now here is the great news. Just like the formula for failure, the formula for success is easy to follow: It's a few simple disciplines practiced every day.
Now here is an interesting question worth pondering: How can we change the errors in the formula for failure into the disciplines required in the formula for success? The answer is by making the future an important part of our current philosophy.
Both success and failure involve future consequences, namely the inevitable rewards or unavoidable regrets resulting from past activities. If this is true, why don't more people take time to ponder the future? The answer is simple: They are so caught up in the current moment that it doesn't seem to matter. The problems and the rewards of today are so absorbing to some human beings that they never pause long enough to think about tomorrow.
But what if we did develop a new discipline to take just a few minutes every day to look a little further down the road? We would then be able to foresee the impending consequences of our current conduct. Armed with that valuable information, we would be able to take the necessary action to change our errors into new success-oriented disciplines. In other words, by disciplining ourselves to see the future in advance, we would be able to change our thinking, amend our errors and develop new habits to replace the old.
One of the exciting things about the formula for success - a few simple disciplines practiced every day - is that the results are almost immediate. As we voluntarily change daily errors into daily disciplines, we experience positive results in a very short period of time. When we change our diet, our health improves noticeably in just a few weeks. When we start exercising, we feel a new vitality almost immediately. When we begin reading, we experience a growing awareness and a new level of self-confidence. Whatever new discipline we begin to practice daily will produce exciting results that will drive us to become even better at developing new disciplines.
The real magic of new disciplines is that they will cause us to amend our thinking. If we were to start today to read the books, keep a journal, attend the classes, listen more and observe more, then today would be the first day of a new life leading to a better future. If we were to start today to try harder, and in every way make a conscious and consistent effort to change subtle and deadly errors into constructive and rewarding disciplines, we would never again settle for a life of existence – not once we have tasted the fruits of a life of substance!
We are not born with courage, but neither are we born with fear. Maybe some of our fears are brought on by our own experiences, by what someone has told us, by what we've read in the papers. Some fears are valid, like walking alone in a bad part of town at two o'clock in the morning. But once we learn to avoid that situation, we won't need to live in fear of it.
Fears, even the most basic ones, can totally destroy our ambitions. Fear can destroy fortunes. Fear can destroy relationships. Fear, if left unchecked, can destroy our lives. Fear is one of the many enemies lurking inside us.
Let me tell you about five of the other enemies we face from within. The first enemy that we've got to destroy before it destroys us is indifference. What a tragic disease this is. Some will say, "Ho-hum, let it slide. I'll just drift along." But here's one problem with drifting: we can't drift our way to the top of the mountain.
The second enemy we face is indecision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity and enterprise. It will steal our chances for a better future. Take a sword to this enemy.
The third enemy is doubt. Sure, there's room for healthy skepticism. We can't believe everything. But we also can't let doubt take over. Many people doubt the past, doubt the future, doubt each other, doubt the government, doubt the possibilities and doubt the opportunities. Worse of all, they doubt themselves. I'm telling you, doubt will destroy your life and your chances of success. It will empty both your bank account and your heart. Doubt is an enemy. Go after it. Get rid of it.
The fourth enemy within is worry. We've all got to worry some. Just don't let it conquer you. Instead, let it alarm you. Worry can be useful. If you step off the curb in New York City and a taxi is coming, you've got to worry. But you can't let worry loose like a mad dog that drives you into a small corner. Here's what you've got to do with your worries: drive them into a small corner. Whatever is out to get you, you've got to get it. Whatever is pushing on you, you've got to push back.
The fifth interior enemy is over-caution. It is the timid approach to life. Timidity is not a virtue (unlike humility-they are different); in fact, it can be an illness. If you let it go, it'll conquer you. Timid people don't get promoted. They don't advance and grow and become powerful in the marketplace. You've got to avoid over-caution.
Do battle with the enemy. Do battle with your fears. Build your courage to fight what's holding you back, what's keeping you from your goals and dreams. Be courageous in your life and in your pursuit of the things you want and the person you want to become.
We all have tremendous potential. Each of us has the ability to put our unique human potential into action and to acquire a desired result. But the one thing that determines the level of our potential, produces the intensity of our activity and predicts the quality of the result we receive is our attitude.
Attitude determines how much of the future we are allowed to see. It decides the size of our dreams and infl uences our determination when we are faced with new challenges. No other person on earth has dominion over our attitude. People can affect our attitude by teaching us poor thinking habits or unintentionally misinforming us, or providing us with negative sources of infl uence, but no one can control our attitude unless we voluntarily surrender that control.
No one else “makes us angry.” We make ourselves angry when we surrender control of our attitude. What someone else may have done is irrelevant. We choose; not they. They merely put our attitude to a test. If we select a volatile attitude by becoming hostile, angry, jealous or suspicious, then we have failed the test. If we condemn ourselves by believing that we are unworthy, then again, we have failed the test.
If we care at all about ourselves, then we must accept full responsibility for our own feelings. We must learn to guard against those feelings that have the capacity to lead our attitude down the wrong path, and to strengthen those feelings that can lead us confi dently into a better future.
If we want to receive the rewards the future holds in trust for us, then we must exercise the most important choice given to us as members of the human race by maintaining total dominion over our attitude. Our attitude is an asset, a treasure of great value that must be protected accordingly.
When you have the right attitude, you can do the remarkable.
When you recognize your gifts, you can change anything for yourself that you wish to change. If you don’t like how something is going for you, change it. If something isn’t enough, change it. If something doesn’t suit you; change it. If something doesn’t please you, change it. You don’t ever have to be the same after today. If you don’t like your present address, change it—you’re not a tree!
Having the right attitude is an essential prerequisite for success and happiness. The right attitude is one of the fundamentals of the good life. That is why we must constantly examine our feelings about our role in the world and about our possibilities for achieving our dreams.
It is our emotional nature that governs most of our daily conduct in our personal and business world. It is the emotional aspect of our experiences that determines our behavior. How we feel about life’s events is a powerful force that can either freeze us in our tracks or inspire us to take immediate action on any given day. With the right attitude, human beings can move mountains. With the wrong attitude, they can be crushed by the smallest grain of sand.
Jim Rohn is a legendary business philosopher, entrepreneur, speaker and author whose works include the best-sellers The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle and 7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness, as well as numerous audio programs.