Sunday, June 28, 2009

You: Your Biggest Obstacle

Henry Ford, one of the most influential men in history, once said, "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right." He believed that the largest obstacle people faced, the obstacle that kept them from realizing their potential, was themselves. Now coming from your average Joe these words may have little meaning, but as I'm sure you will agree, Ford's success gives those simple words a great deal of credence. By eliminating the words "I can't" from his vocabulary, he created one of the largest empires in the world.

Why is it that some people are able to achieve great success in their lives, while others fail? Luck? I don't think so. In fact, using the word "fail" is a bit misleading. The truth is they never really try, making it impossible to either fail or succeed. Most people become stuck in "I can't" mode and, as a result, never even get started. But why?

Unfortunately, living life this way seems safe to a lot of people. After all, if they never even try, failure, their worst fear, is not even possible. One can't, for example, fail to land their dream job if they never even submit an application. Conversely though, using this same thought process, success proves to be unattainable as well. This manner of thinking poisons the possibility for success and positive change, and creates that mediocre existence that most people are constantly complaining about.

Everyday I overhear people whining about circumstances in their lives, lamenting about the crummy cards that life has dealt them. Yet when I ask them if they have initiated any strategies to improve their conditions, I consistently hear a myriad of excuses all beginning, for the most part, with the words "I can't." Well, as Henry Ford might have said, it's that what you believe, you're probably right.

The good news is that this pattern is not unalterable. Moreover, it won't cost you a thing, save a bit of time and effort. The first step is to eliminate the words I Can't from your vernacular and replace them with the words "I Will." When faced with taking a difficult step toward personal growth and fulfillment, make a list of all the reasons why this step IS attainable, rather than all the reasons that make it difficult. Next, create a written plan-a list of the goal and objectives , with deadlines on when you will complete each step. Writing it down will not only help you to remember these steps, but will also help make this assignment clearer and a bit more real. Here's an example:

Say you want to move up to a manger's position where you currently work. Sadly though, the position requires a college degree that you don't currently possess. Using the defeatist "I Can't" system puts an end to this dream before it even gets started. The old thinking says,"I don't have a college degree, thus I can never be the manager." But your dream doesn't have to die there. Change your thinking and say "I will attain a college degree, and I will become a manager" (or more). Next, create a written plan detailing the steps you will take, however slowly they may be, give yourself deadlines, and start moving forward with a sense of hope that was absent in the previous scenario. Another trick is to tell the people close to you just what you plan to accomplish. This will not only lend you the support you'll need to carry out your plan, but it will also make you accountable for moving forward.

If this sounds simple, it is. All it takes is the genuine willingness to improve your circumstances by creating a new perspective with which you view your challenges. If need be, take inspiration from the millions who have achieved their dreams under circumstances and conditions far worse than yours, simply by saying "I will." Your life can measurably change today by simply adopting this way of thinking. I know it's cliche but I'll say it anyway. "Nothing is impossible." Begin to believe that with all your heart and you'll be on your way to achieving your dreams, beginning today. I'm sure you CAN do it, which according to Henry Fords, makes me correct.


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