Take Charge of Your Life
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by G E Kruckeberg
Category: Self Improvement/Family/Relationships
Description: Do you feel disempowered? Do you find yourself wondering why other people always seem to have all the luck? The first step in changing your life is to realize that luck is not something that happens -- it's something you make! And the only person in the world who can empower you is the guy that wears your pants. Take Charge Of Your Life is a detailed analysis of the reasons you fail and the changes you need to make in order to succeed. In this book, you will find step by step instructions that will lead you from a so-so come-what-may existence to a vibrant and exciting life of personal achievement.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: October 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [88 KB]
Reading time: 50-70 min.
A great many people seem to drift through life at the whim of the vagrant winds of chance. They are blown from job to job and from relationship to relationship like an autumn leaf in a series of fitful September gusts. They have no discernable direction, and they seem totally unaware that they are not in control of their own destinies. They apparently believe that their lives are under the irrevocable control of some nebulous and mysterious thing called fate.
Then there are other people who seem to make their own fate. They are always in the process of doing something, rather than waiting for something to be done to them. They are continuously trying to improve themselves and, although they make frequent mistakes, their general direction is toward the betterment of their lives and their fortunes. They are the people who are confident enough in their own progress through life to offer a hand to others who may have fallen behind in the race.
What's the difference between these two groups? Is it heredity that predisposes some men to be winners and others to be losers, or is it the result of their environments? Is it luck or karma that blesses some with success while denying it to others, or is it simply a difference in how they view the world and their relation to it?
If we discount the boss's son syndrome, we find that the thing that differentiates successful people is personal responsibility. Successful people know that they alone are responsible for what happens to them. No one else can assure your success or be blamed for your failure. It's all on your shoulders. We would all like to be successful, so if personal responsibility is what it takes, how do you achieve it? The first step is to take inventory of your life. Where are you? Where are you going? Where do you want to go? Look at what you have done so far with your life. Are you satisfied with it? Do you wish you had done more? Do you want to do more? If you don't do more, where are you going to end up?
The second step is to take the vital signs of our life. What's your temperature? Are you a pace-setting firebrand or a walking zombie? What's the pulse of your life? Do you throb with excitement at the introduction of something new or are you just ticking along at the minimum heart rate required to prevent your demise? What's your respiration rate? Are you breathless at the opportunities presented by life or are you gasping at the crap life has dumped on you?
The third step is to take a fresh look at your life. Forget who you are. Who do you want to be? Do you want to be a winner or a loser? Do you want to be a leader or a follower? Do you want to stay where you are or do you want to branch out into new and exciting experiences that will make you a better person and a happier person?
The fourth step is to take charge of your life. It's your life and no one else's. It's up to you to make of it what you want. There are, of course, other people in your life whose welfare and concerns must be considered, but your focus must be on what's best for you. Besides, improving yourself will ultimately improve the lot of the other people in your life as well.
This book will guide you through a series of life-changing steps that will enable you to actively take charge of your life and direct it toward your goals. This will require a great deal of participation on your part. I can only tell you what to do; in the final analysis it's you that has got to do it. It will not always be easy, but it will be fun and, if you work at it, I promise it will be effective.end excerpt
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Chapter 1: Develop A Critical Attitude
Make it your habit to be critical about small things--Edward Everett In 1973, James Dyson was using a wheelbarrow in his garden in Gloustershire, England. As he tried to guide the wheelbarrow around a curve in the garden path, it tipped over, spilling its contents on the ground. Mr. Dyson evaluated the incident and, in 1974, he introduced his ballbarrow, a wheelbarrow on which the wheel had been replaced with a rotating sphere. This instance is a prime example of critical thinking. For three thousand years, hundreds of millions of people had been using wheelbarrows and had simply adapted to the fact that they became unstable when turning. James Dyson saw that fact as a problem. Critical thinking can be defined as looking for problems. The critical thinker never assumes that everything is fine. In any situation, he is constantly asking himself what's wrong and what can be improved. This attitude has been responsible for all of human progress and all improvement in the human condition, and it is what differentiates the genius from the drudge. But critical thinkers must be aware not only of what's wrong now; they must also be aware of what can go wrong. This latter insight is extremely important. Critical thinking is a two dimensional process; it involves sensitivity to both present and future problems. You must continually ask yourself not only, "What problems exist in this situation?" but also, "What exists in this situation that could possibly be a problem later?" Developing a critical attitude is the first thing you have to do to take charge of your life. You must be critical of everything in your environment. This does not mean you should be a nit-picker. Determining what is wrong is only the first step; you also have to determine why the problem occurs and how to fix it. Critical thinking requires that you be constantly aware that everything within your purview can be improved. Perfection is not a state, it is a goal--a goal toward which you must constantly strive. You will never achieve it, but in the process of trying, you will inevitably make things better--and that should be your objective.
Be Critical of Others
Critical thinking also means that you must be critical of what you hear and read. Much of human communication is couched in emotonyms--words that are intended to elicit an emotional rather than a logical response. For example, when you hear someone berating "capitalism," be aware that they are using an emotonym for "the free enterprise system." Capitalism sounds oppressive, but what they're talking about is a system that has enabled less then one-twentieth of the world's population to own more than one-half of the private automobiles in the world. Does that sound like oppression to you? Emotonyms are a deliberate attempt to make you think emotionally. One of your primary objectives in taking charge of your life, however, is to learn to think logically. Develop the habit of detecting emotonyms and automatically translating them into their more logical synonyms. For example, "environmental" often means "anti-industrial," "racial profiling" has been used to mean "common sense law enforcement," "regulation" means "government control," and "information" often means "propaganda." You are barraged by these verbal tricks daily, and you must learn to recognize them and to defuse them. Every time someone says something to you, ask yourself, "Are they using emotonyms? And if they are, what are they really talking about?" Another popular form of verbal mendacity is the invertonym. Invertonyms are words that deliberately switch the referent to the opposite of that to which they refer in order to distract your attention from the real problem or objective. Inflation, for example, is a word that's intended to focus your attention on prices, and to convince you by association that the problem is in the private sector. What is actually being described, of course, is deflation of the currency, which is caused by the government and not by your local grocery store. Other examples of invertonyms are "consumer protection" which means "consumer exploitation." "Misinformation" which means "the other guy's viewpoint," and "clarification" which means "misinformation." Then there are the euphemisms you have to watch out for. When your boss talks about "loyalty," what he means is "fealty;" when a politician says "social justice," they mean "redistribution of wealth," and when a communist says "education," he's talking about "indoctrination." Continually ask yourself if people are trying to disguise something that is bad for you by sugar coating it with sweet sounding words. Finally, beware of algoreisms, which are fabrications pandered by fear mongers in order to scare you into doing something you wouldn't normally do. Algoreisms have been around since 1798, when Thomas Malthus published his first pamphlet promulgating the misanthropomorphic myth that the population of the world was about to exceed the ability of the planet to sustain them. In 1798, there were not quite a billion people on the planet; today we are approaching 7 billion and are still not starving. Then, in the 1960s, with a world population of 3 billion, the Club of Rome revived Malthusianism, with the same end results. In the 1970s, we were besieged with the global cooling and phosphate poisoning algoreisms; in the 1980s it was ozone depletion and acid rain, and in the 1990s it was global warming. None of these predictions has come to pass, and none ever will.
The fear mongers can be very clever in their presentations. For example, when the Club of Rome predicted world-wide starvation within twenty years, they pointed to a sudden increase in population growth from less than 1.4% in 1960 to greater than 2.2% in 1963. If you project that rate of increase to infinity, you do indeed have a problem. Of course, it didn't go to infinity. It dropped off after 1964 and has declined ever since until it stands today at 1.2%.
Of course, the main thing the Club of Rome failed to mention at the time was that the sharp increase of the early 1960's followed a sharp decrease in the population growth rate from 2% in 1958 to 1.4% in 1960. In other words, they were touting the recovery from an abnormal drop in population growth as a prelude to ruin and starvation. The prophets of doom are always lying to you. They either have a hidden agenda--most often their own profits--or they are academic nut cases who actually believe that humans are evil and are destroying the planet. Evaluate everything anyone tells you. Never stop asking yourself, "Does this make sense?" For example, when a politician tells you that he (or she) is going to tax Exxon-Mobil, remind yourself of what you learned in Accounting 101: taxes are a cost of doing business--just like raw materials, equipment, and labor. If you tax Exxon-Mobil, therefore, those taxes will show up at the pump, where you--the consumer--will pay them. When someone tells you that global warming is swamping islands in the western Pacific, ask yourself, "If that's true, why is it not swamping San Francisco, California or Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?" If someone tells you that Socialism is a better system than "Capitalism," ask yourself how it is that "Capitalist" South Korea can export Kia and Hyundai automobiles, refrigerators, ranges, air conditioners, cell phones, electronics, plastics and chemicals, and industrial machinery--while Socialist North Korea can't feed its own people. Recognize that most people are either lying to you or are themselves misguided by lies. To take charge of your own destiny, you must constantly ferret out those lies and--in your own mind at least--refute them. All this, of course, requires that you do your homework. If you have questions about what people tell you, check it out. With Google and Yahoo, this is easier than it's ever been before, but it's still up to you to keep yourself from being "had" by those who are out to "have" you. For example, when several years ago I saw in a shockumentary that was popular at the time that ice cores taken from the Antarctic showed a correlation between carbon dioxide levels and temperature increases in past eons, I decided to verify that allegation. It took me less than fifteen minutes on line to find out that the statement was a half-truth (another form of verbal dishonesty that you have to watch out for). While it is true that carbon dioxide increased as temperatures increased, the increases in carbon dioxide always lagged the temperature increases! In other words, it was the temperature increases that caused the increased level of carbon dioxide--not the other way around! As the temperature rose, carbon dioxide dissolved in the oceans outgased--just as the pressure inside a bottle of coca-cola increases if you set it out in the sun. The producer of this particular shockumentary was, I have no doubt, aware of this. However he deliberately presented this half-truth as evidence that carbon dioxide causes a temperature increase on the earth's surface. A little further research revealed that the infrared (IR) absorption of carbon dioxide is roughly the same as that of water vapor. Now, the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is 0.039% and that of water vapor at room temperature is between 1% and 2%, depending on the relative humidity. Water vapor, therefore, is 25 to 50 times more effective as a so-called "greenhouse gas" than carbon dioxide!
When Roy Chapman Andrews was exploring the Gobi Desert in the 1920's, they made ice cream by simply putting the ingredients in a shallow pan on top of one of the cars. When the sun goes down in the very arid Gobi Desert, the earth radiates infrared into space, and the temperature drops from 100 degrees during the day to well below freezing at night. Now why doesn't the temperature in Houston drop to below freezing when the sun goes down? The earth in South Texas is radiating just as much IR as the earth in the Gobi Desert, but in Houston (or London or Tokyo or wherever) the infrared is absorbed by water vapor in the atmosphere, which re-radiates the infrared back to the earth to keep the surface warm. Water vapor controls--and has always controlled--the temperature of the planet, and carbon dioxide, at a concentration of only 2% that of water vapor, has a minuscule, if any, effect. To take charge of your life you have got to develop a healthy paranoia. Take nothing at face value. Run everything you hear and read through a who-what-why filter. First of all, who's saying it? Is it someone who might know what they're talking about? Is it a friend or an enemy? Is it someone who has or might have a vested interest in getting you to think or act in a certain way? Secondly, what are they saying? Strip away all the euphemisms, algoreisms, emotonyms, and outright lies and get down to the bare bones of what they actually said. Thirdly, why are they saying that? Are they trying to help you or are they trying to trick you into doing something you'll regret? Hard wire a who-what-why filter into your brain and use it constantly. It is your first line of defense against those who want to take charge of your life. Your second line of defense is knowledge. You must be well informed in order to recognize the lies with which you are bombarded. Furthermore, if you are to refute the fear mongers and proselytizers, you must arm yourself with facts. As Tip O'Neil said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts." Nothing will defuse an ideological assault faster than the presentation of incontrovertible facts.
Since much of what those who want to control you are telling you has already been proven false, you must be particularly conversant in history. When a Keynesian, for example, tells you that the government can tax and spend us out of economic recession, you should know that Woodrow Wilson's high taxes and government largess brought on the depression of 1920, and that Harding/Coolidge cut taxes and government interference in the private sector and ushered in the enormously prosperous and innovative roaring twenties, and that Hoover reinstituted high taxes and government giveaways and ushered in the great depression of the 1930s. And when someone suggests that private property ought to be banned, you should be aware of Robert Owen's communitarian experiment in New Harmony, Indiana in 1825, and of its collapse in 1829. The people who are trying to control you won't tell you these things; it's up to you to know them.
And when someone tells you something that sounds fishy, go on line and find out if they know what they're talking about. Being critical involves more than just questioning what you hear; you must also confirm or refute it. Yes, that takes dedication and perseverance, but no one said this was going to be easy--and believe me, the rewards are well worth the effort.Self-Criticism
Just as critical thinking has been the basis for all human progress, self-criticism is the basis for all personal progress. Successful people have developed the habit of looking not only for problems in their environment but for problems within themselves as well. Your survival instincts tell you that you are always right, and most of us take that as gospel. In order to take charge of your life, however, you must override those instincts and learn to ask, "What am I doing wrong?" You must admit to yourself that you are not perfect and you must develop a program for self-improvement. The first step in getting from where you are to where you want to be is to determine where you are. Let's evaluate your current condition by asking the same questions we asked above. Are you fooling yourself with emotonyms or euphemisms? If you tell yourself that other people always have all the "luck," you're using an emotonym for "dedication and hard work." You're telling yourself that luck--something over which you have no control--is determining your success or failure. That's not true! Luck is a thing that you make! If your "luck" is bad, it's not the fault of some cosmic crap game; it's your fault! Your success is in your hands, and no one else's. When you tell yourself you're too "busy" to do something, you're using a euphemism for "disinclined" or "uninterested." What are you trying to hide from yourself by refusing to admit that you're disinclined or uninterested? Why are you disinclined or uninterested and would it be better for you if you were inclined or interested? Just as you root out the verbal tricks in the things that other people tell you, you must vigorously root out the verbal tricks you use on yourself in your internal conversations. It is imperative to the survival of any organism that it have a high opinion of itself, and to that end, we are constantly lying to ourselves. You are your own worst enemy! If you want to improve your situation, you have got to question everything you tell yourself! As you analyze and attack the self-deceptions that you practice, you will discover that the underlying cause of many of them is emotional. You tell yourself that you're happy in your present job (because you're afraid of failure if you try something new). You tell yourself that you're going to promote one of your most inept subordinates (because he's good at sucking up to you). You tell yourself that the Sales Manager is right in an altercation with the Production Manager (because you don't like the Production Manager). The human species is a highly emotional animal, and without realizing it, we base a great deal of our thinking and decision making on our emotions. You must relentlessly banish emotions from your thinking. Before you make any decision, ask yourself, "Am I being rational or am I reacting to my personal feelings?" Force yourself to look at every situation objectively by relentlessly asking yourself, "Are there any subjective considerations that might color my viewpoint of what's happening here?" Cast yourself as a disinterested observer, standing above the situation and outside of yourself, watching how you are acting and reacting and asking why. "Why did he say that?" "Why did he do that?" "Why did he react that way to what that person just said?" Now go back and reread this paragraph, memorize the three procedures recommended, and practice them constantly until they become automatic. ReligionNo dissertation on self-deception would be complete without a discussion of religions. What follows, however, may be offensive to some readers. If you are deeply religious, you are advised to skip this section and go directly to the next. Basically, all religions are collections of algoreisms--lies that are intended to scare you. They threaten you with eternal damnation if you don't subscribe to the tenets of Judaism or Christianity or Islam. They lay out a set of rituals that you must follow to assure your entry into eternal life. You must honor the Sabbath. You must keep kosher. You must go to confession. You must take communion. You must pray when the Muezzin calls you to prayer. You must make a hajj to Mecca. These rituals are all designed to convince you that the religion has control over you--and make no mistake: control is the objective of every religion. They are trying to get you to believe what they believe and to think like they think. But one of your major objectives in taking charge of your life, of course, is to think for yourself. Let's take a look at what we actually know. We know there is life after death, because people have died and revived and have told us about their experiences. This realization has been the starting point of all religions. Anything beyond that, however, including the invention of anthropomorphic gods, has all been made up by men--and for their own aggrandizement.
Man has been making gods ever since he learned to talk, and the god myth has run through every human culture. I never cease to be amazed by people who dismiss Zeus and Hera and all the gods of Olympus and Jupiter and Juno and all the Roman gods and Odin and Thor all the gods of Asgard and Benten and Bishamon and Fukurokuju and all the gods of Japan as nothing more than figments of the human imagination. Then, in the next breath, they declare that the figment of their imagination is the one true god! When the earth was flat and the sun and stars revolved around it, gods made sense. Today, however, we don't need Zeus to explain lightning or Thor to explain thunder. We know what causes disease, and we don't need gods to explain that. We know what causes earthquakes and volcanoes, and we don't need gods to explain those. We know that birth and death are natural and necessary components of evolution, and we don't need gods to explain those phenomena. We know that the earth is an infinitesimally tiny dust moat in a universe that is one-and-a-half billion light-centuries wide, and it's difficult to believe that one of the many life forms that exists on that dust moat is the primary concern of whatever is directing that cosmos. The religions spawned by gods are nothing more than human inventions designed to control other humans, but in the process of conformation, they calcify the mind. The Arabs, inventors of algebra, alchemy, and alcohol, were the most forward looking and technologically advanced culture in the world--until they were infected with Islam. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was among the most brilliant minds ever conceived. He invented a calculator using levers and cogs that was centuries ahead of its time. He was a brilliant mathematician and contributed to the formulation of probability theory. He made significant advances in the study of fluids, and Pascal's Law forms the basis of modern hydraulics.
Then his sister seduced him into Christianity, and he became a Dan Brown's Silas, wearing barbed wire around his waist. The only significant legacy he left us from his religious period is Pascal's wager: "I would rather bet that there is a god and find out that there is none than to bet that there is no god and find that there is." Obviously, religion had eroded the once brilliant mind to the point that it was incapable of recognizing that the wager would require obeisance not only to Jehovah, but also to Yahweh, Allah, Aten, Indra, Vishnu, Odin, Akuma, Baal, etc. etc. ad infinitum. If you must have a religion, I would recommend Buddhism. Buddhism has been called the religion without a god. To a Buddhist, the question of whether or not there are gods is irrelevant. The only goal of the Buddhist is self-improvement, and since you're reading this book, I must assume that must be your goal as well.Morality In order for self-criticism to be effective, you must have a standard against which to measure your thoughts and activities. You need what has been called a "moral compass," or a moral template, if you will. Many have suggested that this need ought to fulfilled by the so-called "ten commandments." (I say "so-called" because Exodus 20 lists only nine commandments that Moses brought down off Mount Sinai. Early Christians, aware that nine was a Jewish number, split the ninth commandment into two commandments in order to achieve a good, round, Roman number of ten.) The nine commandments, however, are hardly applicable as personal guidelines. The first three commandments are the rantings of a very paranoid tribal god, and the last six equate to the simplistic lessons we try to instill in our pre-pubescent children.Others have suggested that the five moral precepts of Buddhism might serve: Avoid harming any living thing, Avoid false speech, Avoid sexual misconduct, Avoid taking what is not given, andAvoid strong drink and drugs. These are all admirable aspirations to be sure, but they are hardly a usable guide to right behavior. But let's leave the realm of religion and look in the secular world. I should like to suggest that you consider adopting as your moral guide the four ethical imperatives:Do no harm, Make things better, Respect others, and Be fair. It should be obvious that the first of the ethical imperatives, "Do no harm" encompasses in three words everything contained in the five moral precepts of Buddhism and the last six of the nine commandments. It should further be noted that the other three ethical imperatives do what none of the above do: advocate proactivity. "Avoids" and "thou shalt nots" are proscriptive admonitions. "Make things better;" "respect others," and "be fair" prescribe rather than proscribe your activities. If you are to take charge of your life, you will need positive direction; I assure you that you will have no lack of negative direction. Measure your actions and decisions against this four point moral compass, and I guarantee you will prosper. (As a bonus, it's fairly easy--for most of us, at least--to remember only four rules.) Self-criticism is, of course, more than just a starting point on the road to taking charge of your life. It must become an integral part of your life. You must continuously practice it until it becomes as natural to you as breathing. There are two things that all successful people have in common. The first is that they are not standing still. They have a vision--a goal toward which they are striving. The second is that they have an evaluation system to assess their progress toward that goal. That evaluation system is self-criticism.
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Chapter 2: Motivation
Motivation determines what you do; attitude determines how well you do it.--Lou Holtz
Back in the go-go 1960s, I was an FM radio design engineer working for the Home Instruments Division of the Radio Corporation of America in Indianapolis, Indiana. FM was still something of a novelty back then, and I was one of an elite cadre who knew what to do about local oscillator drift and crosstalk and how to design an AFC circuit. I had designed FM receivers around both vacuum tubes and RCA drift transistors. The problem was: no one was building FM receivers in the United States anymore; everyone was buying them in Japan. In the mid 1960s, electronics was booming in Japan, and every Japanese company except Sony and Matsushita, who had already established beachheads in America, was desperately trying to break into the U.S. market. MITI (the Ministry of International Trade and Industry) devised a plan: Japanese companies would contract with American companies to manufacture radios, tape recorders, phonographs, and televisions at costs lower than what it would cost the American companies to manufacture them in their own country. The bonus would be that the American companies would send their engineers over to Japan to teach the Japanese companies how to build products that would be acceptable to the American consumer. Thus it was that I found myself making frequent trips to the Land of the Rising Sun, which I thoroughly enjoyed. One dark night in 1966--I remember it well--I was on a flight from Tokyo to Indianapolis. Dinner had been served and most of the other people in the cabin were asleep, but I was wide awake. As I stared out the window at the ghost of the port wing in the dark, I decided that what RCA needed was a permanent Engineering representative in Japan; and I further decided that I was going to be that representative! After returning to Indianapolis, I subscribed to every magazine I could find about the Japanese electronics industry and foreign procurement in general. I became the resident expert on what was happening in consumer electronics in Japan. If someone in Purchasing had heard about a company called Funai or Shirasuna and wanted to know their capabilities, or if someone in Engineering wanted to know what Japanese companies were manufacturing ceramic microphones, they came to me. I would drop comments in casual conversation with my superiors in Engineering as well as with representatives of other departments to the effect that Aiwa had developed a video tape player or that Sanyo had just signed a contract to deliver portable phonographs to Sears Roebuck or that Hayakawa had introduced a cassette player with automatic reverse. I asked questions of people in purchasing, traffic, and accounting until I knew more than I understood about letters of credit, ex-go down pricing, shipping rates, container stuffing, and customs procedures--and I never missed an opportunity to suggest to anyone who had any authority to act on the suggestion that the current problem we happened to be encountering might have been prevented if we had a permanent Engineering representative in Japan. In June 1967, RCA moved me to Japan as Technical Consultant for the Home Instruments Division. Then, in August 1971, President Richard Nixon reneged on the 1944 Breton Woods agreement and floated the U. S. dollar. The dollar, which had become overvalued at $32.00 an ounce, devalued rapidly, and by 1972 the game we had all been playing was over. Of course, by that time, the Japanese had gotten what they wanted --and I should like to tell you that I had focused my energies on a new goal. Unfortunately, I had not. If you thought this was going to be the standard abc pep talk, a) set goals, b) establish an action plan, and c) monitor your progress, you are going to be disappointed. Everyone is aware of the abc method and all of us have used it to our advantage at least once or twice. Our problem is that, once we have achieved our goal, we relax, and if you're going to take charge of your life, you can never afford to relax! As soon as you've reached one goal, immediately set your sights on another one. Our lives are defined by our objectives. As my Daddy used to say, "Life is like riding a bicycle: if you ever stop going forward, you'll fall on your ass." Life is an evolutionary process; it can never stop growing, and it's up to you to decide whether yours is going to grow up or down. A wise man (it may have been me) once said, "Happiness is working on something." The converse of that is that misery consists of not having something to work on. The human species is uniquely constructed to need challenges. We search them out. We invent things like sports and chess and card games and crossword puzzles and rock climbing to feed our insatiable thirst to prove ourselves. We feel alive only when we are striving for something. What this means for you is that you have a built-in success mechanism; all you have to do is feed it. What you want to feed it is your desires and dreams. If you don't have any desires and dreams at the moment, invent some. Maybe you don't want to be vice president of Sales, but how about increasing your sales commission by ten percent this year? How about improving the information flow in the office, or holding classes to teach your draftsmen trigonometry, or coaching a little league team, or learning to play the clarinet? Where you go doesn't matter so much as that you are moving and improving--and that you establish that activity as a lifestyle. You must always be doing something in order to stay happy. Our youngest son--I'll call him John (because that's his name)--is a prime example. When he was in high school, his passion was skate boarding. He spent hours doing whatever skateboarders do to their skateboards. He and his friends would search out the most challenging concrete-sided drainage ditches in Northwest Harris County to hone their skills. Then, after he graduated, he got into old trucks. He bought a 1974 Chevy pickup, which, with some help from Dad, he managed to keep running. Then his fancy turned to bicycles. He built his own bicycle which could be lifted on one finger. He rode (and always finished) in the annual Muscular Dystrophy run from Houston to San Antonio and back. Lance Armstrong was his hero, and on most weekends John could be found riding the hilly roads of Austin County, north of Houston. Once he had reached the pinnacle of cycling, he sold his bicycle (for $850.00) and bought a guitar. He was living at home at the time, and I can tell you from personal experience that he practiced that guitar incessantly. When he got to the point where he could go into a downtown bar and sit in on a gig with whomever was playing there, he decided he'd rather play the mouth harp. He took harmonica lessons twice a week, and when he got to the point that he could sit in on a gig, he decided to become a computer expert.
He went to school and took and passed examinations and obtained certifications and got a job with Sprint setting up computer systems for companies like Laredo National Bank. Having achieved the pinnacle of that hobby, he got into motorcycles. He found a Honda 750/4 behind a barn, rusted out and with water standing in the cylinders, bought it for $75.00, and spent two years rebuilding it in his garage. When he'd finished, he had a bike that he took to motorcycle shows and won awards.
John is one of the happiest people I know, and it's because he never stops re-inventing himself. You cannot ever be satisfied with where you are! Stability is never an option. The world is not standing still, and if you are, you'll be passed by. Life is about living, and living is growth and competing and learning and pitting yourself against something. That's what we humans do.
None of us has ever learned to walk without falling down a few times, and in the course of your pursuit of goals, you will inevitably encounter failures. This is not the end of the world; it is the start of a new and better world. It is but another opportunity to improve yourself. Take a good look at your action plan. What did you overlook? What did you not foresee? What do you need to change? And, most importantly, what did you learn from this experience? Life is growth, and you can't grow without learning; and you can't learn without failing. Failure is an integral part of the process. Get used to it and learn to deal with it. But don't ever quit! In the words of the song, "Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again." As my Daddy used to say, "Failure is the fuel of success."
One September evening in 1928, Alexander Fleming, a bacteriologist at Saint Mary's Hospital in London, went to the Fountains Abbey pub in Pared Street and bought a stilton cheese sandwich, which he took back with him to his Paddington flat. Dr. Fleming was at the time investigating staphylococci, and he had several cultures in Petri dishes on his windowsill. A few days later, he noticed a mold growing in one of the Petri dishes, and he noticed that the mold had killed the staphylococci! Fleming examined the mold and identified it as Penicillium, the mold that is in stilton cheese. Thus did Dr. Fleming, through his untidy eating habits, discover the miracle drug that he would six months later christen penicillin and incidentally usher in the age of antibiotics.
The above incident is frequently cited as an example of serendipity: the ability to discover something you weren't looking for. If we consider, however, that Dr. Fleming was at the time actively seeking a means of combating staphylococcus infections, it is hardly surprising that he would have noticed something that killed staphylococci. Charles Goodyear, from his association with Nathaniel Hayward, was already aware that sulfur had a stabilizing effect on rubber sap when he accidentally spilled a mixture of the two on a hot stove and discovered the importance of heat in the cross-linking process. Charles Darwin was steeped in Charles Lyell's uniformitarianism and had read Jean-Baptiste Lamarck's evolutionary theories before he set sail on the Beagle for the Galapagos Islands.
The point here is that serendipity happens to people who are prepared for it. Although Columbus was looking for a shorter route to China and not a new continent, he was an accomplished seaman and navigator with a passion for adventure and exploration, and as such was well positioned to be the discoverer of America.
The lesson for you is to make sure that you are prepared for serendipity. Whatever project you launch, become intensely involved in it. Immerse yourself in the subject. Search out everything you can learn about it. Live it and breathe it, awake and asleep. Serendipity is having the knowledge to know a solution when you see it.
A great deal has been written about self-motivation, arguably far more than one could readily justify. Among the more familiar of the motivational methods put forward is the tantric approach. Authors from Norman Peal through Napoleon Hill have lauded and applauded the power of the human mind to function as an autonomic achievement mill. Simply tell your mind what you want, they advise us, and it will see that you get it.
The mantra of the power of positive thinking pundits is: "Desire, Determination, and Faith." Step one of the magic formula for self-achievement is to identify your desires (I want to be vice-president of Sales). Step two is to focus intensely on achieving those desires (I will be vice-president of Sales). And step three is to relax in the knowledge that the autonomic mechanisms of the mind will achieve those desires for you (I shall be vice-president of Sales). This whole process sounds suspiciously like prayer. "Tell the god what you want, let the god know that this is something you really want, and then relax and let the god do its thing."
Positive thinking does work--but then so does prayer. Prayer has been working throughout history for billions of people over thousands of years and with hundreds of thousands of different gods--a fact that might persuade the more perceptive mind to conclude that the gods were totally insignificant to the process. This is indeed the case.
We humans have a direct line to something on the other side through which we can effectively control our fortunes and our futures, and we can exercise it with or without gods in attendance. When a Japanese housewife prays to Ebisu, the god is merely a focal point--a mental talisman that helps her to concentrate on her problems and desires. She is, furthermore, acting on a need familiar to every psychiatrist: humans have a compulsion to "talk" to "someone."
You can capitalize on both of these aspects of "prayer" by simply praying to yourself. This is what both Napoleon Hill and the Pope are doing in any case. (If you are uncomfortable with the word "prayer," substitute "affirmation.") Don't ask me to explain it, but we humans have a direct link to the future. You can activate it by simply asking for what you want. If you are a religious person, you already know this. Don't stop what you're doing. If you're not religious, get into the habit of "praying" or "affirming." Start talking to yourself about where you want to go with your life, what you need to get there, and when you want to arrive. Start every conversation with "I want," and don't worry about whether or not the god will give it to you--whatever "god" is there has no choice.
Don't believe me? Try it. Casually tell yourself you want some money. Don't mention an amount and don't repeat the request. Within a short time, you will receive money from an unexpected source. The first time I tried this, many years ago, I received within two weeks a letter from the bank that held the mortgage on my house at the time saying that my escrow account was overpaid and they were enclosing a check. The second time I tried it, I really needed money. Within a month I received a letter from the IRS advising me that a forgotten retirement fund I'd opened years before when I worked for a short time with Phelps Dodge was searching for me. The fund (from which I'm still drawing) pays only sixty-five dollars a month, but they had accumulated over $3,500 in unpaid dividends, which they promptly sent to me.
You have the power to achieve whatever you want. All you have to do is get in the habit of continually discussing with yourself your situation, your dreams, and your desires. You are your own direct contact with the cosmos, but you have to let yourself know what you want from the cosmos. Working together, you can accomplish anything.
Some people may need a focal point--something on which to concentrate their mental energy. Almost anything will do, but it must be consistent. I wear a ring with the Chinese Yin-Yang symbol (sometimes called the Tai Chi symbol) on its face. I can concentrate on that symbol and drop almost immediately into a sub-hypnotic trance state from which I can communicate with the cosmos. This is, of course, an habitual response; I have been using the same talisman for many years. You can use anything--a birthstone or diamond ring, your navel, a deceased parent--just use the same thing every time.
Self-hypnosis is another effective means of motivation, but I have found it difficult to simultaneously be the hypnotizer and the hypnotized. A compromise that has worked for me is what I call subliminal suggestion hypnosis. This consists of occupying your mind with something mundane while programming it subliminally. For example, if you're trying to loose weight (and who isn't?) recite the Gettysburg Address or the alphabet or count slowly for one to fifty, while your mind, in the background and without verbalization, is suggesting, "eat less," "don't eat," "you're not hungry," etc. Concentrate on what's in the forefront of the mind; let another part of the mind randomly insert the verbal-but-non-verbalized subliminal suggestions. Now perform the same exercise while your mind in the background is visualizing you being revolted--even nauseated--by the smell and the sight of food. Some people respond better to the verbal subliminal suggestions while others are more responsive to the visual suggestions. Don't worry about which you are; use both. And don't try this for two days and then give up. It may take a week--perhaps two--to get results, but you will get results.
Use these methods--continuous goal-setting, intensity of involvement, affirmation (or prayer), and subliminal hypnosis--to direct your life to wherever you want it to go. But be patient. What we're talking about here is a fundamental change in life style. This will not be accomplished over-night. More important even than being patient, you must be persistent! Don't give up. Don't back off. Wake up every morning asking yourself: "Where am I going?" "What do I have to do to get there?" and "How can I automate the process?"
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Chapter 3: Facial Dynamics
The face is the mirror of the mind. -- Saint Jerome Affirmation and self-hypnosis are very powerful methods and have worked for a great many people. There are many of us, however, who have applied them on numerous occasions in the past, and are faced with the realization that the realities of our lives still fall far short of our aspirations. We usually attribute this to a lack of persistence. The problem, however, is more likely that our application of the method has been haphazard. But this is not necessarily our fault. As presented so far, the theory addresses only one aspect of motivation: the mental side. The mind, however, is intimately linked to the body. It reads not only your mental inputs, but your body's physical inputs as well. And the most potent of those inputs is your facial expression. Look into a mirror. What do you see? A vacuous stare? The over-sized eyes of a frightened deer? A chin on the verge of trembling? A let-come-what-may-I-can't-do-a-damn-thing-about-it-anyhow expression? A highbrow sneering down its nose? Whatever you see is a reflection of your mind. But it is much more. It is one of your inputs to your achievement mill. The mind will process not only what you tell it autistically, but what you tell it through your facial expressions.
Every actor knows that the way to "get into" a character is to assume the character's facial nuances. The classic example is Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar; no one who has seen both films would disagree that Napoleon in Desire does not even look like the same actor. Marlon Brqndo was a master of facial expression, second only, perhaps, to Peter Sellers, who could play more than one character in a movie without the audience ever realizing it. (Brando took his facial imaging so far as to actually wear brown contact lenses for his role in Viva Zapata--and that was a black and white film.)
The message is clear. If you look like Stanley Kowalski, your mind will make you into Stanley Kowalski. If you look like Napoleon, your mind will make you into Napoleon. If you look like a winner, your mind will see that you become a winner. And if you look like a loser, your mind will see that you remain a loser. Your brain, in other words, reads your face and says, "This is what he really wants. He wants to be weak/submissive/unburdened by aspiration/etc. My job," says the brain, "is to give him what he wants." The mind has no value system; its only function is to fulfill your desires, without regard to whether those desires are constructive or destructive.
You have got to mold your face into something that will tell your mind that you know what you want and where you want to go. Think of Charlie Sheen or Donald Rumsfeld or Clint Eastwood as Josey Wales or as Dirty Harry. This is what you need--a serious, no nonsense, eyes-boring-into-your-soul, "don't give me any guff" look. Keep your eyebrows straight with a furrow between them. You can arch one eyebrow at a time to express disbelief or amusement, but never raise both eyebrows at once. Narrow your eyes to show as little white as possible. Never roll your eyes up or to the side. Stare intently at whatever or whomever you're looking at. Keep your mouth straight unless you're showing amusement.
As you first practice this visage, you will be surprised to find that your awareness of your surroundings as well as your mental aptitude will be miraculously increased. This is because your brain is saying, "I can see from his face that he wants to be serious. I've got to snap to and give him what he needs." Your brain will do whatever you tell it to, but you've got to look like you know what you want.
When you see people walking around with vacant eyes, raised eyebrows, and inane grins on their faces, you know they're meandering down stream-of-consciousness fantasy lane. Don't go there. Your brain works for you. Never give it free reign. You've got to tell it what you want in no uncertain terms. But first you've got to get its attention, and that means you've got to look like the pack leader. You've got to look like you're in charge before you can actually take charge.
Of course, we don't all look like Charlie Sheen, so you've got to work with what you've got. If you have a "sensitive" (i.e. a weak) chin, reshape it! Consciously thrust your lower jaw forward until your bottom teeth are in contact with your upper lip. Be diligent throughout your waking hours in maintaining this position. Within a year, your jaw muscles will have evolved to accommodate this innovation and it will have become a permanent part of your normal visage. The fact that this adaptation will augment your self-confidence and determination even before it becomes permanent will be a further encouragement to continue the exercise.
If you still think your chin is weak, apply the Lincoln solution--grow a beard. A neatly trimmed goatee, with or without a mustache, is usually your best choice. Avoid a full beard unless you have a triangular face and need something to square it off. A full beard often gives the round or oval face a pear shaped effect, which is hardly conducive to the inspiration of confidence, either to yourself or to others.
Choose a hair style that compliments your facial shape. A crew cut looks good on a triangular or rectangular face; an oval or round face usually looks better with a full head of hair. If you're bald, learn to live with it, shave your head, or get an implant. Don't try a comb over. Donald Trump would look like a dweeb if he weren't a billionaire.
It is important to remember that, although these transformations may serve to enhance your image among your peers, that is not your major intent. That is just a bonus. Your primary purpose is to enhance your image to yourself! Emotions and facial expression is a two way street; as our face reflects our emotions, so do our emotions reflect our face. If you want to take charge of your life, you must always wear a face that makes you feel confident and bold.
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Chapter 4: Body Language
The body is shaped, disciplined, honored, and in time, trusted. -- Martha Graham
While the face is the most expressive part of the human physiology, the mind also reads the body. All of the many books and articles you've read on the subject of body language have been focused on developing your ability to read other people's body language. But what about your body language--not only the body language you project to others, but the body language that you project to your subconscious mind.
Every drill sergeant knows that if you can teach a boy to stand like a soldier and walk like a soldier, he will automatically become a soldier. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have served in the military will remember that startling moment when we suddenly realized that all of the hours on the drill field marching in step and standing at attention and doing close order drill had turned us into something different--something that we liked very much and that we were proud to have become.
Michael Korda said, "always look like a winner." He was referring to the image you project to others, but your autonomic success system also reads your body language--and reacts accordingly. If you look like a winner, it will automatically make you a winner. If you look like a loser, it will go to great lengths to fulfill your negative self-image.
If you want to succeed, you have got to project success. Follow your mother's advice and stand up straight. Whether you're twenty-five or seventy-five, a Quasimodo slouch will make you look (and feel) ten years older, and a straight spine will make you feel (and look) ten years younger. Stand with your shoulders back, your stomach in, and your chest out. You don't have to stand at attention, but you should always look like you're ready to snap to attention at a moments notice. And when you walk, keep the weight of your upper body well back over your hips and step forward. Imagine that there is a string through the top of your head, and that you are dangling from that string, your feet barely touching the ground as you walk.
If you can't hold your stomach in, lose the stomach. Nothing detracts more from your self-image than the realization that you look like a slob. The first step is to strengthen your stomach muscles. While you're walking or sitting at your desk, contract your six-pack muscles until you can feel the pain in your loins. Hold for a count of ten, then relax for a count of ten. Repeat as many times as you can, or at least until the stomach muscles are still contracted during the rest periods. Progress rapidly to a fifteen count scrunch and ten count rest, then to a twenty count scrunch and ten count rest. Continue until you achieve a state where your stomach muscles are automatically tensed during all of your waking hours.
If you are overweight, get it off. Apply what you learned in the previous chapter to reduce your appetite for food. Exercise. If you can't join a gym, walk instead of driving and use the stairs instead of the elevator. Do pushups and sit ups and lift dumbbells. Apply the Charles Atlas method of static resistance exercise. Place both hands on your buttocks and push forward for ten seconds, resisting with your stomach muscles. Do twenty reps. Cup your hands together in front of your navel and push up with the upward facing palm while resisting with the downward facing palm. Hold ten seconds and reverse hands. Do twenty reps. You want to increase your muscle mass, not only because muscle uses more calories than fat, but also because it's impossible to maintain a positive attitude about yourself when you are suffering from Dunlop's Disease (a condition in which the belly done lop over the belt buckle).
Don't allow yourself to relax when you're seated. Don't tuck your feet under your chair or stretch your legs out with your ankles crossed, and never cross your legs (unless you're wearing a skirt). Always keep both feet firmly planted on the floor, as though you're ready to leap up to defend yourself or anything else that might need defending. This pose also helps keep your spine upright; slouching forward while seated is a sign of weakness, and the last message you want to send yourself is that you are weak.
In short, if you want to be successful, you have first got to convince yourself that you are worthy of success. To be a winner, you've got to look like a winner--not just to other people but, far more importantly, to yourself!
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Chapter 5: Awareness
The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett.
When I graduated from Purdue University in 1960, my first job was with Sarkes Tarzian, a TV tuner manufacturer in Bloomington, Indiana. FM radio was just becoming popular at the time, and everyone in the industry was using a tuner made by Goerler, a German company. The Goerler tuner, however, was a piece of--um--anyhow, it drifted like a rowboat in a hurricane, and it was roundly abhorred by every consumer electronics manufacturer from Admiral to Zenith. But it was the only game in town. My first assignment at Sarkes Tarzian, therefore, was to design an FM tuner to compete with--or rather to dethrone--the Goerler tuner.
One day, some two months into the project, my boss, Bill Winfield, stopped by my screen cage to enquire into my progress. I said something like: "Well, I think I can get the gain up another 5 db if I adjust the bias on the RF amplifier grid." I'll never forget Mr. Winfield's comment. He said, "Boy, you can sit in that cage and improve that damn tuner for the rest of your life, and it'll never be prefect. But if we're gonna pay you, at some point you've got to give it to Production so we can build it and sell it." I spent the rest of that day finalizing the bill of materials for the Purchasing Department.
What old Bill Winfield pointed out to me was that I was living in a world that existed only in my head. It was a world I'd become familiar with in college--a world that valued concept and ritual and perfection--but it was a world that had little relevance in the real world of profit and loss. I have tried ever since that day to keep my focus in the real world--the one that exists outside of my own head.
If you are going to take charge of your life, you have got to get out of your head. All of us--without exception--cultivate an internal reality. We conjure up visions of ourselves as invincible and mentally superior, and we envision the rest of the world as mean, petty, and a little bit stupid. We build elaborate mental supports for our egos constructed of religion and class and education and nationality. If you want to take charge of your life, you have got to discard those illusions and learn to look at the world objectively. The beginning of awareness is the realization that you are not the center of the universe.
You must be able to clear your mind of all the prejudices, convictions, and deeply held beliefs that cloud your view of what's going on around you. You must actively take a fresh look at your environment--as if through the eyes of a child, without preconceived ideas of what is or what ought to be. You must deliberately put yourself into other people's minds and know what they're feeling and thinking. This does not mean you must abandon your convictions--it does mean that you must learn to suspend them. Only thus can you become truly aware of your surroundings.
One other thing necessary to awareness is the realization of when you live. I have often been advised--as I'm sure you have--to "live in the future." I've often wondered what people meant by that admonition. Am I supposed to sit around and fanaticize about what I'm going to do with the money when I win the lottery? Am I supposed to focus on my objectives to the exclusion of my awareness of what's going on now? While it goes without saying that the realization of your objectives resides in the future--that does not mean that you should.
There is only one place you can live, and that is in this precise instant in time. You have no choice but to live in the present. If you choose to "live" in the past or the future, you are choosing to forgo life and beguile your mind with a dream world. You must be constantly aware of what's happening now, even as you use the knowledge of what happened before to predict what will happen later. You can learn from the past and look to the future, but you must live in the now, if for no other reason than that now is the only time you can act to achieve the future you envision.
Being aware means being aware of the other people that inhabit your environment. People are not, despite what you may have envisioned, either adjuncts to your ambitions or recalcitrant idiots who deliberately impede your progress. They are individuals, just like you, with feelings, ambitions, and preconceptions. In order to deal effectively with them, you must know who they are. Get into the habit of analyzing people--not only the people who impact your life, but also, if only for practice, the strangers you casually observe at the supermarket or in the park.
Usually the first thing you notice about a person is their level of intelligence. You can tell, mainly from their eyes, but also from their mouths, their postures, their clothes, the way they hold their heads, and the way they respond to stimuli whether they are college grade or eighth grade dropouts. Learn to categorize people on the basis of their intelligence. I like to use an intelligence scale of one to five, a la Aldous Huxley's Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. Since intelligence follows a normal distribution, however, Gammas predominate. Betas and Deltas are the next most common, and Alphas and Epsilons are rare, so you will be dealing most of the time with Betas, Gammas, and Deltas.
You can spot a Beta by the interest they display in their surroundings. Betas are spontaneous and always well presented, while Gammas and Deltas tend to be more routine oriented and less interested in their personal appearance. Gammas view life as a series of tasks; Deltas, on the other hand, view life as a series of happenings. These are, admittedly, broad categories, but I have found them to serve well at least as a starting point.
The second thing you probably notice about a person is their image of themselves. Do they walk tall and stare down their nose like an aristocrat or do they slouch along, glancing furtively from side to side. Are they proud or apologetic? Are they aggressive or retiring? Do they look at the opposite sex or ignore them? Do they speak forcefully or do they whine or mince words? People broadcast how they see themselves and how they feel about themselves through body language, facial nuances, and verbal clues. Learn to read them. It's easier to work with people if you know who they think they are.
The third thing you should be aware of about a person is their interests. Do they like sports? Do they like to read? Are they religious? Do they have strong political convictions? You don't have to ask them leading questions; simply engage them in conversation. Once people start talking, they will automatically apprise you of their interests, illusions, and prejudices. Knowing these will enable you to better communicate with them as well as to avoid offending them. You must beware the perpetuity effect. The assumption that your current perceptions and preconceptions will persist ad infinitum is common to the human race--except for politicians, who often insist that they are going to "change" things. Of course, the touted change almost never occurs. (Although in one case the President, who ran on a platform of change, did succeed in changing the name of the oval office--to the oral office.) Despite the seemingly perpetual inertia of government, however, in normal life, change is an integral and necessary phenomenon. "Stability," my Daddy used to say, "is never an option." The only thing you can be sure of about tomorrow is that it won't be the same as today. Recognizing this, it behooves you to be continuously aware of the instability of the current status quo. Never relax in the assumption that today's conditions are eternal. Always be prepared for the unexpected. And do not fear change. Embrace it. It is the stuff of life. Nor should you be dismayed by the doom-sayers who bewail and bemoan the invasion of their security by progress or pander misanthropomorphic myths about naturally occurring phenomena. Change is inevitable--in the climate, in politics, in our knowledge of the world, and in our lives--and only those who are aware will be able to see it coming, to gauge its direction, and to prepare for it. So awareness requires a) being aware of your own preconceived notions, b) being aware of what's happening now, c) being aware of the characteristics and idiosyncrasies of the people around you, and d) being aware that the world you live in is always in flux. But these, of course, are only textbook admonitions. They are guidelines only. You have got to develop awareness skills. To be truly aware, you must practice awareness.
When you are walking down the street, down an office corridor, or out on the production floor, continually move your head from side to side and keep your eyes shifting as you absorb and evaluate new information. When you're with a group of people--as in a meeting, at lunch, or on a coffee break--keep your eyes moving from person to person, observing their interests, attitudes, and responses. Wherever you are or whatever you're doing, always look around you as though you were driving in heavy traffic. Stay in the moment. Resist the temptation to think about anything other than what you're doing now. There is a time for contemplation--when you are not doing something else. (As a matter of fact, if you concentrate on what's going on around you, you'll find that contemplation occurs subconsciously and automatically.)
Learn to use all your senses. Listen to the sounds around you: the songs of birds, the barking of dogs, the chatter of secretaries, the moans of your subordinates, and the moans of your superiors. Be aware when the air conditioner comes on, when your car makes a funny noise, or when there's a different tone in your wife's voice. Develop your olfactory senses. Is the person you're talking to a smoker? Is someone in the neighborhood barbecuing? Do you recognize the cologne or perfume of the person who just walked into the room behind you?
Being continually aware requires continual effort. Although awareness was a necessary and natural survival skill for out ancestors, our secure, modern lifestyle has taught us to become more introspective. You can overcome this shortcoming, however, by roll playing. If you are a hunter (or have ever hunted), pretend that you are on the hunt, constantly alert to every sound, sight, and smell. If you were in the military, remember what it was like to be on patrol, acutely aware of everything you saw and heard. Pretend that you are driving an open Land Rover through a jungle and that your life depends on being able to hear jaguars sneaking through the brush and to spot anacondas hanging form tree branches.
If you have ever experienced any of the above scenarios--or if you have ever sailed a sail boat in a squall or rappelled down a sheer rock face--you will remember that feeling of being totally alive. That feeling comes from being acutely aware. Being aware is being alive, and if you will practice awareness, you will find that that feeling of alert vitality will become an every day experience. That's why men hunt big game and climb mountains and make war--in order to feel alive.
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Chapter 6: The Gestalt Effect
It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious. --Alfred North Whitehead
Many years ago, I got into a taxi in front of the El Cid Hotel in Ixtapa, headed for Laropa Beach in Zijhatenajo. I told the taxista, "Playa sin ropa, por favor."
He answered, "Playa Laropa, si," to which I replied, "No. Playa sin ropa." He did a quick mental double take and then burst out laughing.
A large part of the humor in this situation is due to the taxi driver's realization that, while his ears heard "beach without clothes," his brain heard what it was used to hearing: "Laropa beach."
This is an example of the gestalt effect, the substitution of a familiar mental structure for an unfamiliar one. We perceive experiences in gestalts, or patterns, without respect to the individual components of the experience. If the individual components are altered, the brain will reconstruct the experience to a gestalt with which it is familiar. It has been estimated, for example, that if the masthead of the New York Times were changed, using the same font, to "the New Dork Times," it would be weeks before anyone in New York City would notice (although many outside of New York City might take it as a refreshing instance of truth in journalism). The sentnece that you are now readnig is aothner eaxpmle of the gstelat effect. Look back at the sentence you just read, focusing on each word. In five of the words, the letters between the first and last letters have been scrambled, but so long as all the letters are there and the first and last letters of a word are consistent with its proper spelling, the brain will arrange the letters in between into their familiar order.
There is also a negative gestalt effect. If something is missing from an experience, the brain will simply add it in to achieve the expected gestalt. An example with which we're all familiar is when a friend or associate who wears a mustache appears one day clean shaven. We don't notice that the mustache is gone! Our brain simply adds the mustache in to achieve the familiar gestalt.
The human brain is notoriously lazy. When confronted with something it doesn't recognize, it will, if left to its own devices, convert it to something it does recognize so that it can more easily process it. This is a survival mechanism left over from the days when our ancestors were both hunters and hunted, and categorization was far more important than differentiation. Mastodons meant food and saber toothed tigers meant danger, and individual idiosyncrasies were insignificant. Survival depended on hair trigger responses to a plethora of different stimuli, and you didn't have time to analyze each one of them. If you were to live long enough to procreate, it was necessary to automate the responses by categorizing the stimuli. The brain thus adapted to viewing the world in terms of recurrent patterns rather than unique experiences.In our modern human world of rapid technological innovation and complex inter-relations, however, this ancient "survival mechanism" can be dangerous to your success. The gestalt effect is one of your greatest stumbling blocks to awareness, as well as to critical thinking. It interferes with your ability to perceive clearly what's going on around you by disguising the subtle nuances that differentiate individual experiences. Every experience is unique, but the gestalt effect lumps them all together into categories--going to the bank, answering emails, mowing the lawn, etc. But when you go to the bank's ATM, do you notice the two furtive looking men sitting in a car trying to pretend not to be watching you? When you're checking your emails, are you aware of an increase in spam on a certain subject? And when you're mowing the lawn, do you notice that one of the sprinkler heads is stuck in the upright position?
If you want to take charge of your life, you have got to suppress the gestalt reflex. You will, of course, never be completely rid of it--it's hard wired into your brain. But you must make an effort to suppress it in the areas of your life where it can have a deleterious effect. Get into the habit of looking at every situation in your daily environment as new. Pretend that you've never "been there and done that." Try to develop the "I just got here and I ain't sure what's going on yet" attitude of a two month old puppy.
Cultivate a Sherlock Holms awareness of your surroundings. Be intensely cognizant of the details of everything you observe. When you get up in the morning, look--actually look--at every item in the bathroom as you're showering and brushing your teeth. Taste the coffee as you're having breakfast--actually taste it. As you're driving in to work, instead of rehearsing your day, observe your surroundings--the buildings, the trees, other vehicles, other drivers. You've got to develop a habit of acute observation before you can detect subtle differences.
Force yourself to actively search out the unfamiliar components of every experience. During the day, as you're talking to people, ask yourself, "Is there anything different about them? Do they seem more than usually angry, upset, distracted? Is there anything unusual about their attire, their hair, their demeanor? Is there anything out of place in the parking lot, in my office, in the coffee mess, in the boss's office?"
Get in the habit not only of noticing abnormalities, but of asking yourself why they occurred. There's a reason your wife changed perfume. (Maybe it's time for you to surprise her with another bottle of her favorite.) There's a reason the starting motor hesitated when you started your car this morning. (Maybe you should have the battery checked.) And there's a reason one of your staff was surly this morning. (It could be something you said or did, or something they did, or a domestic problem, or something else--but it's up to you to find out.)
One of your major objectives in suppressing the gestalt reflex is to anticipate change. Too often change comes upon us suddenly and unexpectedly, when in reality it has been creeping up on us, occurring in tiny increments that we didn't recognize because they were obscured by the gestalt effect. As you identify anomalies in your environment, look for trends. If one of your customers is late with a payment, that's an anomaly; if he's late twice in a row, that's a trend. It may be he's having financial difficulties. Look for currency of any noted aberrations. If your secretary is acting nervous around you, it could mean there's something she doesn't want you to know; if everyone is acting nervous around you, it probably means they know something you don't know.
As pointed out above, stability is never an option. Things are constantly changing, but most change occurs in quantum steps. If you are astute at reading the subtle deviations from normality that are almost always the precursors of change, and if you are adept at deciphering their meaning, you can not only predict change but you can be prepared to profit from it.
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Chapter 7: Associates
A man learns in only two ways: by reading and by association with smarter people. --Will Rogers
You will, during your lifetime, meet and associate with tens of thousands of people. Each will be different, and some you will eschew and some you will embrace in friendship. The formula used in making the choice between those two distinctions is complex and varies from person to person, but it mostly involves proximity, common interests, and a nebulous thing usually referred to as "chemistry." If you are to take charge of your life, however, you must learn to consciously engineer the direction of your associations to maximize their effect on your success.
When you were young, your Mama told you to choose your friends wisely. She was referring, of course, to the moral character of the persons with whom you chose to associate. She knew that young minds are impressionable, and that they can easily be led down the wide road that leads to jail. As an adult, you still have to be wary of associating with thieves and scoundrels. The easiest way to achieve this, of course, is to stay out of politics. Beyond that, however, you would be well advised to avoid frequenting the places where such people congregate, such as cheap bars, brothels, and corporate board rooms.
Discounting politicians, corporate bigwigs, and other criminals, however, there are still other undesirables you want to avoid. These include chronic complainers, corporate schemers, goof offs, sea lawyers, and other social misfits. The attitudes exhibited by such mavericks rub off. You should instead cultivate acquaintances with people you admire for their honesty, steadfastness, and humility. You were not born with these characteristics; you must learn them from others.
Develop associations with people who have your best interests at heart. You interact with people every day who would stab you in the back if you gave them the chance. Don't give them the chance. Treat them with courtesy, as is always required in all relations, but don't give them ammunition. Reserve your intimacy for those acquaintances who will use whatever intimate information they may glean to help you rather than to harm you. (It seems superfluous to point out that such relationships are always developed reciprocally.)
Associate with people who stimulate you to excel. A good friend is like a good coach: he will help you develop your skills and abilities and challenge you to do your best. Avoid associating with people who try to drag you down to their own level by deriding your aspirations and belittling your accomplishments. "A man is only as good," my Daddy used to say, "as the folks he's with expect him to be."
Cultivate associations with those who can teach you--those who are more knowledgeable than you in your area of activity. If you're trying to learn to play the guitar, search out accomplished guitar players and initiate friendships based on your common interest. If you're new to a company, find an "old hand" and invite him to stop for a couple of beers after work. Always try to establish friendships with people in your profession who have more experience and knowledge than you, particularly in the early stages of your career. Such relationships can be important not only in accelerating your professional advancement, they can be immeasurably satisfying assets throughout your professional life.
Reach for relationships outside your social comfort zone. If you're Catholic, you won't learn much from associating exclusively with Catholics. You'll learn far more from interacting with Jews and Protestants and atheists. Just because you're a WASP, don't eschew familiarity with Africans, Hispanics, and Orientals. One of your objectives in taking charge of your life is to broaden your world view, and one of the many ways to achieve that is through diverse human relationships.
Some of your associations will develop into friendships. One of the criteria of a good friend is that they be supportive. Don't get too close to people who deride others or delight in the trials and failures of their peers. Choose friends who will compensate for your weaknesses and cover for your shortcomings. As my Daddy always said, "A good friend is someone who'll stand behind you when you're wrong and stand in font of you when your fly is open."
It goes without saying that good friendships are mutual. You must be supportive and encouraging and edifying and comforting if you expect to receive those benefits in return. I don't think it's crass to suggest that that insight is applicable to all successful human relationships. If you want the support of the people who work for you, you have got to support them. If you want the encouragement of your superiors, you must encourage them. All human relationships are reciprocal, and most of them are reactive. That means that you get back what you give, and not that you give back what you get. If you don't give in the first place, you won't get much to give back in any case.
Human beings are notoriously selfish creatures; their first thought in any original situation is, "what's in it for me?" You must cater to this innate lust for self-aggrandizement if you are to forge successful associations with people. Every salesman knows that the way to sell a product is to tell the prospective customer what it can do for him. You should approach every incipient relationship with the same philosophy. If you really need this person's help to achieve your goals, you must realize that you can more easily enlist their aid if you show them how helping you would be beneficial to them.
For example, if your objective is to reduce raw materials inventories, you can convince the Purchasing Manager that JIT (Just Inventory it There) would be a good idea by pointing out to him that should Production run short of anything, the blame would go not to Purchasing, but to Production for giving Purchasing the wrong date or to the vendor for missing the date. You might suggest to the Accounting Manager that lower raw materials inventories would simplify audits. The Production manager, as the one most affected by your proposal, will be the hardest sell. While most Production Managers can be easily swayed by a bottle of good scotch, failing that you might try pointing out that lower raw materials inventories would free up warehouse space that he could use to store unshipped finished goods, giving him more latitude in production scheduling.
The trick here is to empathize--to actually put yourself in the mind of the person with whom you're dealing. You must be able to actually see the world from their perspective. You've got to be able to temporarily subvert your own personality, beliefs, and desires for at least long enough to understand those of the other person. All successful human relations are based on empathy. Read that again. All successful human relations are based on empathy.
Empathy is not the same thing as applied psychology, and that is not what we're talking about here. Applied psychology is self-centered and manipulative; empathy is outreaching and supportive. Applied psychology is an attempt to use people like chess pieces; empathy is an attempt to understand and help other people. When someone says, "How do you feel about that?" he's using applied psychology; if he were using empathy, he'd already know how you feel.
Empathy is particularly important when you experience problems in human relationships, and problems are an integral part of all human relationships. When these situations occur, it is imperative that you approach them from the viewpoint of the other person, not your own. If an associate attacks you for some alleged infraction of yours, don't tell them how upset you are with their behavior; tell them how sorry you are that they are upset with your behavior. Then find out what's causing their aberrant behavior and fix it.
Most atypical behavior in human beings is caused by one of only three emotions: anger, fear, or jealousy. Anger is easy to spot, and your first response should be to ignore it. Never respond in kind. Showing anger in return would be like throwing gasoline on a grass fire. Beyond that, your primary concern must be finding out what the hell they're so pissed off about, being cognizant that it is seldom if ever what they have presented it to be. In fact, in most cases, they have become incensed over an affront that you would never in your wildest dream consider an affront--and often one that they would be embarrassed to admit. This is where empathy comes in. You have got to get inside their head and look at yourself through their eyes in order to figure out why they think you're an asshole.
Among the possibilities to be considered is religion--did you make a comment that could be construed as ant-Semitic in front of a Jew? Another possibility is ethnicity--did you tell a Chinaman to make a "Chinese copy" of something? Cultural differences could be another bone of contention; pointing to an item on the floor or the ground with your foot, for example, is offensive to Arabs as well as to many Orientals. Social differences can be disruptive if you are insensitive enough to point them out. There's always the possibility, of course, that anger is a cover for something else, usually fear.
Fear is more difficult to identify and a lot more difficult to treat. The symptoms vary from reclusiveness through petulance to belligerence. If the behavior is recent, it is always instructive to evaluate what has changed recently in your mutual environment, keeping in mind that the cause may not always be something over which you had any control. Perhaps the most effective course, if you suspect an associate is suffering from fear, is to simply ask them if there's something that's worrying them. Once you've isolated the cause, the only treatment is reassurance, although this may have to be repeated more than once in order to be effective.
Jealousy is incipient in nearly all human relationships. It's almost impossible for two people to spend much time together without one or the other developing occasional feelings of inferiority or resentment. When this occurs, downplay it. Your best bet, of course, is to be empathetic enough to avoid its occurrence altogether. If there is a disparity in wealth or education between you and an associate, deemphasize it. If there is a difference in performance, help the other person by giving him advice and assistance. Never brag or boast about your golf game, your sexual prowess, or anything else. Your objective is not to show people how great you are, but to entice them into interacting as equals.
In short, if you follow the golden rule--treat other people the way you would like them to treat you --you can't go wrong. But in order to do that, you have got to be always aware of how the other person is feeling and of what they must be thinking. This is the basis of all successful human relationships.
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Chapter 8: Activity
Nobody got anywhere in the world by simply being content. --Louis L'Amour
So now you've read my book. What are you going to do next? Will you put it on a shelf in your study next to the other self-help books you've read and forget it? Will you give it to your brother-in-law to read and then forget it? If this is your plan, you've wasted your money.
What you've read up until now has brought you only to the starting point. In order for the lessons learned to be effective, they have got to be practiced. The habits of a lifetime have never been changed with the reading of a book. If you want to take charge of your life, you have got to work at it--hour by hour, day by day, week by week, and year by year.
Be Critical of Your Surroundings
Being critical means actively searching out problems. Set yourself a goal of finding at least five problems a day. These can be at work, at home, or at play--it doesn't matter. What matters is developing a critical attitude. Some problems you can solve immediately, some will take some time, and some will take some thought. Write them all down in a notebook at the end of the day, both to keep yourself honest in pursuing your goal and to keep yourself from forgetting those problems you haven't yet solved.
Develop a healthy paranoia. A persecution complex is synonymous with a realistic evaluation of your compatriots. People really are out to get you--from your boss who's trying to get more work out of you to your subordinate who's trying to get more money out of you. And in between are thousands of people who, through spoken or written word, are trying to get you to buy, vote, donate, think, or hate the way they want you to. Your best defense is to keep your who-what-why filter active and well-oiled--who said it, what did they say, and why did they say it? Beyond that, you would be well advised to embrace Ronald Reagan's signature phrase: "Trust, but verify." Mentally repeat that mantra every morning when you get up and at least twenty times during the day. Just repeating it, of course, is not enough. You've got to actually perform the verification.
Being critical means being informed. Never guess about what's right or what's wrong or what works or doesn't work. Find out. Carry a pocket notebook and, during the day, write down questions you have about what someone told you or about something you've read or about your own thoughts and ideas. Establish a set time every night--after dinner, before dinner, after Bill O'Reilly, or whenever--when you sit down in front of the computer with your notebook and research the day's questions. If you follow this procedure, you'll find that you have no problem complying with the old admonition to learn something new every day.
Be Critical of Yourself
Benjamin Franklin and George Washington both kept lists of what they perceived to be flaws in their characters that they needed to improve. This was a popular method of self-improvement among people of note in the 1700s, and it is one that I would highly recommend you emulate. Write down in a notebook at least five things that you find--or that you think others might find--objectionable in your behavior or demeanor. Examples: I talk too much, I'm overweight, I procrastinate, I spend too much time watching TV, I'm not knowledgeable enough in my job, etc. Just looking at yourself objectively enough to isolate some of your faults is the first step toward improvement; the second step is to write them down both to reinforce them in your memory and to help assure that you don't forget to take the third step.
The third step is to do something about them. If you talk too much, program yourself to talk less and listen more, using the methods described in chapter 2. If you adopt the recommendations of chapter 5 (awareness) and chapter 7 (empathy), you'll find that your undue verbosity will decline automatically.
If you're overweight, program yourself to eat less. Fad diets may work for a time, but once you abandon them, the weight comes back --and many nutritionists say they can be dangerous. Our ancestors didn't eat three squares a day--indeed, they went for days without eating at all, which is why we evolved storage facilities (fat). The only way to take charge of your weight is to take charge of your food intake, and that means reprogramming yourself to eat smaller portions and to eat only when you're hungry. It will take time to break old habits, so don't give up. Keep at it until the pounds come off; then keep it up for the rest of your life.
Procrastination is usually due to a poor memory--most often self-induced. Get yourself a pocket scheduler--one of those tiny books with a separate page for each day of the year or for two consecutive days. Whenever you think of something you've got to do, write it down on the day you want to do it. These can be simple reminders, such as "bank," or "insurance" or "hair cut." Check the day's schedule in that book every morning and several times during the day. As you accomplish each scheduled task, cross it out. If you didn't accomplish something on the scheduled date, reschedule it for a later date!
If your problem is watching too much TV, simply set the receiver to MSNBC or the Disney Channel and hide the remote. Problem solved.
If you've perceived that you don't know enough about your job, you'd better do something about it ASAP, because I guarantee you your boss has perceived it as well. Either spend a whole lot of time learning what you're supposed to be doing or look for another job.
These are only examples to point you in the right direction. The objective is to isolate your faults and to work consistently on correcting them. Use whatever methods work for you, but develop a method and stick with it.
Develop An Attitude of Success
If you're going on a trip, the first thing you have to know is where you're going; the second thing you have to know is how to get there. The same is true of taking charge of your life: the first thing you have to decide is where you want to be a year, two years, or five years from now. Then you need a map--a detailed plan of how you're going to get from where you are to where you want to be. This is the first and essential step in developing an attitude of success. You can't feel successful if you are not actively working on success.
Write down your goals in a notebook, using a separate page for each goal. Then, below each goal, write down as many things as you can think of that you need to do to accomplish that goal. Now prioritize them--maybe the fifth item in the list needs to be accomplished before you can attack the second item. Either recopy them in the order of chronological necessity or label them 1, 2, 3, ... or a, b, c, ... to establish their sequential importance. As you accomplish items on each list, cross them off. As your awareness or the situation changes, add items to or delete items from each list. These lists should become living, breathing entities, to be attended to daily until the stated objective has been achieved.
Don't ever discount the possibility that you harbor self-destructive tendencies. More people do than you would believe. Tell yourself and keep telling yourself that you deserve success. Program yourself with that message using subliminal suggestion. If you catch yourself feeling that you are not worthy of something--whether it's money, position, a woman, or good whiskey--immediately squelch that feeling and tell yourself that maybe the "something" is not worthy of you.
Be your own booster. Never stop blowing your own horn. The other half of healthy paranoia is delusions of grandeur. It's not a delusion. You are grand. You are unique. You are the greatest thing that ever happened to this tired and gray old world. Keep telling yourself that continuously. (Just be careful not to make it too obvious to other people that that's how you feel.)
Never be satisfied. Oysters are satisfied, but you are not an oyster. You are a living, breathing, mobile human being, and the only goal of human beings is to grow! I don't care how smart you are; I don't care how rich you are; I don't care how happy you are--you can always do better. Your primary goal in life should be to search for something new you'd like to try. Your secondary goal must be to stick with it until you succeed. Nothing fosters an attitude of success more than succeeding.
Project An Image of Success
In order to be a winner you've got to look like a winner, both to others and to yourself. Study the facial expressions and body attitudes of successful people in your surroundings and on television. Stand in front of a mirror and try different poses and expressions to see which best suit your particular body type and facial features. Then practice these until they become as natural to you as breathing. Never, even when alone, allow yourself to relax. After all, the most important person you are trying to impress with your image of success is yourself.
Choose your clothes with care. You don't have to wear power suits, but your clothes must fit well and be in style. On the other hand, you don't want to be a uniformed "man in a gray flannel suit." Try to think of unobtrusive ways to individualize your appearance. If you smoke, smoke a pipe. If you wear striped ties, choose British ties. The reverse bias is a subliminal signal of individuality. Conversely, if you're British, wear American ties. (When I lived in Houston, I wore string ties, but I wouldn't recommend that outside of Texas.) Avoid bow ties like the plague unless it's your intent to look like Pee-Wee Herman. If you wear a suit, always have a clean (preferably new) handkerchief in your breast pocket. Never actually use it unless you are confronted by a crying woman--it's a prop, but it will set you apart from the crowd. If everyone in the office wears their coat buttoned, wear yours open; if everyone wears theirs open, button yours. There are countless other ways you can subtly and tastefully express your individuality. Be creative, but be careful. You don't want to look like a nonconformist and you don't want to look like a clown.
Successful people are healthy--or at least they radiate an aura of healthiness. You have got to stay (or get) in shape. Establish an habitual exercise routine. Jog (or for those of you in my age category, walk) for at least thirty minutes every day. Get up twenty minutes early and work out before you shower. You don't have to join a gym; do pushups and sit-ups in your bedroom. Keep a pair of dumbbells under your bed and use them religiously every morning. You're not trying to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger; you just don't want to look like a fat, lazy slob.
Develop An Objective Awareness
The key word here is objective. Everyone is to some extent subjectively aware of their surroundings, but subjectivity imposes a distorted view on reality. You've got to step back and look at situations from other viewpoints than your own. How does this affect my wife, my friends, my business associates? What does this mean to other segments of my society: to the poor, to the infirm, to the young, or to the aged? Force yourself to look at everything--business, politics, personal affairs--with this detached attitude. Get into the habit of asking yourself four, five, six, or more times a day, "Am I looking at this thing objectively?"
Look at other people from their point of view. That's the only way to understand them and to accurately predict their actions. Recognize that they don't care what you think or what you might want. They have their own agendas and their own objectives. Without this insight, it is virtually impossible to deal effectively with people.
Perhaps most importantly, develop an awareness of yourself. Step out of your skin and look at yourself as others see you. Are you really energetic or are you a little bit lazy? Are you as warm and friendly as you like to think you are or do you tend to be a bit standoffish? We all have an idealized view of ourselves that may not jibe with reality. This is one of the major causes of social friction as well as an impediment to self improvement. Be aggressive in assessing your imperfections. Ask your peers and your superiors how they perceive certain aspects of your behavior. (Don't ask your staff; they will lie to you.) It is extremely difficult to accomplish anything if you don't even know who you are.
Awareness is of paramount importance in the most critical function you perform: problem solving. Whether at work or at home, you are constantly presented with problems, and the first step in solving any problem is to consider the options. It goes without saying that the more aware you are of your surroundings, the more options you can bring to bear on any problem. (Avoid dilemmas like a pool hustler with a gold inlaid custom cue--there are always more than two solutions.)
Awareness is a full time job. Your environment is in constant flux, and you have got to be aware of the changes that are taking place all around you. Social networking is one of the keys to keeping abreast of what's going on in your immediate environment. Talk to people--and, more importantly, listen to people. Not all of the information you glean will be accurate, of course, so you've also got to take the time to verify what you hear. This sounds like a formidable undertaking, but it is a necessary undertaking if you want to make decisions from an informed point of view.
And how do you keep track of what's going on in the world at large? Almost no one reads newspapers anymore, and television is pretty much a propaganda mill that has been shown to suppress more information than it distributes. The answer, of course, is the internet. I get most of my news from AOL, but I don't always stop there. If I have a question about something, I'll research it on Google or Yahoo. Additionally, I daily check selected segments of the blogosphere. Again, you can't Pierre Salingerize everything you read. Always apply Reagan's Rule: "Trust, but verify."
Choose And Develop Associates Wisely
You can tell a man's character by his friends, so choose yours with care. Eschew associations with misfits and troublemakers beyond those necessary to the conduct of your public and personal business. Surround yourself instead with people who are intelligent, honest, and personable. Not only will this improve your image, it will provide you the opportunity to learn something about intelligence, honesty, and being personable.
Aggressively associate with people who can help you. This is not "sucking up" so much as common sense. But remember: every successful human relationship is symbiotic. You have got to give as much as you get, and not infrequently, you will have to give before you get.
In all your relationships with other people, practice empathy. Always try to put yourself inside the other person's head--to be aware of what they are feeling and thinking. This means you must pay attention to people. Watch their gestures and their facial expressions. The human face is the most expressive in the animal kingdom, and the language it speaks is common to all humans. If you can't tell when someone is angry, disappointed, bored, sad, elated, or excited, either they are a damn good actor or you are not paying attention.
Finally, re-read this book as many times as it takes to engrave the lessons contained therein on your mind. There is a lot of information contained in this book, information that took me seventy-five years to acquire. I know you are more intelligent than I am, but I still don't expect you to absorb all of this in one sitting. This can be the most important book you've ever read if it becomes the most important book you've ever re-read.
As you become familiar with the procedures prescribed herein, practice them daily. Taking charge of your life is a work in progress. You will never finish it, but if you work at it diligently, I promise your self-image, your confidence, and your enjoyment of life will be greatly improved.
Have a good life.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
G. E. Kruckeberg is a retired engineer turned author and poet. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana and educated at Purdue University, he has traveled extensively and has lived in several foreign countries, including Japan, England, and Texas. He currently resides in Bucerias, Mexico with his beloved wife Annie, a Chihuahua, and a burro named Margarita. To learn more about G.E., you are invited to visit his website at: www.gekruckeberg.com
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