Saturday, 28 September 2013

I am not my history

When I was 22 my life experience consisted of school, going to the South African army (conscript at the time) and serving 2 years as a Mormon missionary. I was young, inexperienced and had only potential. Loads of it. Nevertheless, I had one very negative experience which has somewhat shaped my destiny in a "I'll show you you t**ser!" way.

I spoke to a prominent member of the church about getting a job in sales. He bluntly told me "You do not have a history of success". It was a "what the heck?" moment for me. What kind of history do you expect from a boy who has done nothing but serve God and his country? What kind of success would you be looking for that would relate to sales? I had no history of failure either.

I went on to do sales for just three years before finding my passion: computers. I love programming, hardware, computer architecture and language theory. I love the way we can (though often don't) use computers to improve our lives and enhance our performance. Computers are to the brain what acars are to our legs. At least they can be, but more about that in another post. By the age of 35 I had built a career in software development and was the technical director at Realyst. I don't say this to brag, but I say this to enforce the idea that anyone can come from nowhere and with enough work and focus on the goal, achieve amazing results.

The idea that you must have been successful in the past in order to be successful in the future is an utter lie! Anyone who tells you that you will fail because you have not yet succeeded is a liar and a fool! Do not listen to them: do your own thing and make it happen. Obviously you need to plan, set goals and take cognisance of facts, but do not let fear be your driver. Fear is there to warn us of possible problems and obstacles, not to paralyse us and prevent us from taking any action! When you have fear, identify the reason for your fear then start planning on ways to mitigate the risks that may or may not come to pass. Don't just stop because you are scared or some bigot told you that you're not good enough or not capable or "don't have a history of success"!

Today I work on the CVA desk of a large investment bank. Again, I do not tell you this to blow my own horn: I tell you this because this work that I do today is far removed from the town and circumstances I grew up in. I have come from a poor background in a third world country to working on the risk desk of one of the worlds top investment banks in the financial capital of the world. If I can do this, so can anybody else. I do not believe that there is much one person can do that another person can't. I would say that 99% of human performance and achievement can be achieved by 99% of the population. Unless you are physically or mentally handicapped, you can achieve pretty much anything.

The key to this is knowing how to achieve your goal. There are a couple of paths to take when attempting to achieve something great:

  1. Model your behaviour on that of someone who has already achieved what you want to achieve (if you want to see what Abraham saw, do what Abraham did, likewise, if you want to have what Richard Branson has, do what Richard Branson did)!
  2. When you are walking your own path (which is very seldom required) write down your plan and the steps you need to take, work the plan by taking the steps and notice whether you get the results you sought by taking the steps. If not, modify the plan.

Your history does not define your future. We are not animals or robots programmed to repeat the same mistakes every day: we are humans with a connection to the divine and freedom to choose our reaction between the time an event takes place and the time we react. We are free to plan our destiny and work to change our stars.

This is my mantra: "I am not my father, my grandfather, or who I was yesterday. Yesterdays' mistakes do not define me. No stochastic calculus can define my future: I am an outlier. I am ever-changing with infinite potential: he who judges my future achievements by my past makes a grave mistake as I am a learning, growing being with a spiritual connection to the infinite."

Now go out there and make it happen!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

And the secret is? Discipline

So you’ve watched the secret and have focussed intently on manifesting a new car, house, lover or life but nothing has happened. It must be a crock right? All these fads that come and go with happy shining people saying “just believe and the universe will bring it to you!” seem to have the same message. That positive thinking creates positive results. So why does it not seem to work all the time? Why is it that when you think of negative things, sure as hell they come to pass, but positive things seem to evade you? Speaking from experience, when I have been focussed on the negative, they have come around just as sure as day follows night, so I speak from experience here. I am not blowing hot air here: all I say is from my own experience as well as reading numerous books, listening to audio books and watching movies on this subject When you focus on the negative the negative happens because you are inviting problems into your life by thinking about them and fearing them and in general, doing nothing to prepare for the event or to avoid the problem. Focussing on negative things fills you with fear which can prevent you from taking the necessary action, but I’ll talk about that in a future blog. Today I want to talk about why simply focussing on positive stuff does not immediately bring results.
© Photographer Marek Paju | Agency:
Stop. Wait a minute. That’s not how life works. Yeah, when you plant a seed, the eventual outcome will be a fruitful tree or plant that brings forth a multiple of the same seed or fruit that you planted (OK, ignoring GM and other weirdness here: I’m talking natural fruits!). But this does not happen overnight: your plant will take some time to grow and often will need nurturing, watering and fertiliser in order for you to reap the rewards you seek. Nature takes time to manifest the fruits of your labour, and this is the natural law of the harvest. “As you sow, so shall you reap”, but not today. So imagining and focussing on a goal is a prerequisite to achieving it: you have to at least plant the darn seed! But your goals, like seeds need attention and focus. You can’t just imagine yourself being able to play the piano and hey presto, tomorrow you can. It takes consistent focus and consistent action, preferable on a daily basis.

Mastering a subject takes consistent study and time. You can’t master something by crash studying it once: this is how students sometimes pass exams, but I can guarantee that what they crash study will be forgotten and lost to them within a few weeks. If you want to truly master a subject, you have to make it part of your life, even if it is only for half an hour a day. In fact, half an hour a day is a fine amount of time to spend on something that you want to master, whether it is playing the guitar or learning math. It is the daily reinforcement of your study that will lead you to master the subject. If you’re in a hurry you may want to increase the time, but I’ve left university a long time ago and when I study these days it’s for my own knowledge, not for an exam.

Moving towards a worthwhile goal takes consistent action. If you plant a seed then forget about it, there is a good chance that it will be overcome by weeds, or just die. You need to give it attention. This means of course that you should be thinking about it (just like the secret says) and doing something about it. You need to have enough faith to actually do something. If you think about what it is you really, really want, then do nothing, the question I must ask is, “Do you really, really want it?” I mean, if you really, really want something so badly that you are wanting the universe to manifest it, then surely you are willing to do something about it? The bible says faith without works is dead, and not to make this a religious argument, but if you do nothing about your goal, then it is not a goal, it’s a dream. Make it real by doing something and the universe will reciprocate. Sit on your butt and do nothing and again, the universe will reciprocate. Take daily action, create a plan and work the plan and you will move towards your goal.

If you will focus on your goal and do something towards the achievement of it on a daily basis, you will move towards it. When you set goals you should have a date in mind for the accomplishment of the goal, and take some sort of action at the time you set it towards achieving it. One of the best actions you can take is to create a plan for the achieving of the goal and this can be done at the time that you set the goal. When goals are huge and we have no idea of how to achieve them, they need to be broken down into smaller sub goals which can be broken down again until each little goal is achievable and we know how to achieve it. After you do this, you may want to look at the date by which you want your goal and modify it based on the effort that you will need to expend to achieve it! Then, each day do something in your plan to move it along. The really cool thing about a plan is that you can measure progress towards your goal: you know how far along you are and you know the outcome and the results of your plan. This can really be a motivating factor in your path to success.