Right Thinking Required for Success

Right Thinking Required for Success

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

What's more important to you, feeling good or doing well?

If you had a choice, would you choose the pride that comes from having lived an overall successful life or the one that comes from high self-esteem?

If you choose a life that is successful in most regards, you might quite likely come to enjoy high self-esteem. But, if you choose high self-esteem alone, you may or may not have a successful life.

How so? Because, you can have high self-esteem by merely lowering your expectations of yourself. You can also enjoy high self-esteem by rejecting the goals which society values. Some people just do that in order to feel better.

In case of some people, their self-esteem is based on pretensions or rejection of the social norms. One can, somehow, at any cost and in total disregard of feedback from the world, feel good about oneself. One can even be proud of being absolutely brazen and possessing a devil-may-care attitude. But, sooner or later that individual is likely to run into serious problems. That couldn't be a successful life by any standards.

Genuine high self-esteem is based on acquiring competence in one's chosen field of action. However, there are many people who are extremely competent, but they hardly use their talents to accomplish anything worthwhile. Such lack of action can hardly offer sustainable high self-esteem.

Utilizing your competence and achieving success in some area of life provides the basis for sustainable high self-esteem. Develop an objective competence. That means, not just your own confident feeling about it, but, a competence that meets certain objective standards.

Then comes the right application of your competence. Make a concerted effort to realize success in the worthy area you have chosen for yourself.

For a successful life, you need to have an "inner plan" and a "vision" for life. Having an inner plan and a vision means that you have figured out what you want to become and want to achieve in the next several years and how your actions in the present and near future all tie in together.

Some people even go to the extent of visualizing and writing down what their obituary notice should say about their life-time achievement. Then, they go to work and make it all happen.

A friend once told me that he wrote his life's plan when he was ten years old. He wrote down when and where he'd go to college and hold a job. It sounded pretty extreme to me at the time. Since then, I have learned that during their elementary school years, many peak performers form a vision of what they want to become and develop an unwavering passion to accomplish it.

"Living one day at a time" is good for people who are going through most challenging times. "Living in the moment" or "living from moment to moment" is good for Zen monks in meditation. But, you need a vision and a plan.

Unfortunately, many adolescents and young adults are bored and unmotivated because they don't have an inner plan and vision of their own. Neither did it occur to them to have one, nor did anyone ask them the right questions or motivate them to form such a vision and plan.

Many live one day at a time without a compass and a direction for life. What is required of them at school or work has no meaning for them, hence, it's a chore or a nuisance they merely endure. See, for them, all those pieces don't seem to fit into some giant scheme of life.

A jigsaw puzzle has a picture on top of the box, so one can figure out how all those pieces fit together. The jigsaw puzzle of life doesn't come with a picture. You have to develop your own picture, your own vision. Remember, if you don't have a plan of your own, you'll always be at the mercy of those who have one.

Along with competence, vision, plan and right effort, we need the right habit of thinking. Our mood and actions and eventually our overall sense of well-being greatly depend on what we think is the CAUSE of the events that happen to us. How do you interpret the events of your life, the good, the bad, the big and ordinary everyday events? Psychologist Martin Seligman calls it your "explanatory style."

For example, if you win, do you think you won because you're so smart, or because you worked so hard, or both? If some people are upset with you, do you think they're upset because they're "mean and stupid" or because you're doing something to get everybody upset? If you failed at something, is it because you can never do anything right or because you misjudged or overlooked something?

A large part of our explanatory style today is shaped by how others around us, when we were growing up, explained the relationship between various causes and effects. We utilize that understanding of the cause and effect in understanding the events that are happening to us today.

Say for example, you were told as a child that the reason you were punished at the school and not the other kid was because the teacher didn't like you, you learned four things about the world and yourself: one, some grownups are mean and they don't like you; second they can be mean and arbitrary; third, you are not responsible for your actions and fourth, you don't have control over what happens to you.

It would also be a wrong learning to blame the child for everything that goes wrong. You have to listen to the whole story and ask pertinent questions to explain both the sides. During the early stages, a child's understanding regarding the cause of the good and bad events is largely shaped by the explanations given by significant others in his or her life. Therefore, we have to be objective in how we explain the cause of events to our children.

By assuming the rightful responsibility, you are in control of your life. By shifting blame on others or the circumstances, they control your life. However, blaming yourself for something that's not your fault, you weaken your power.

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, to succeed in life is "to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of people…to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better."

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2002, Mind Publications 


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor