This is a photo I shot at the Angola Prison Rodeo about a year ago which illustrates the idea of "being in the fight" even if you aren't necesssarily winning! I've been thinking of some of the readings I've done in training the mind for success...books like Psycho-Cybernetics, by the late Dr. Maxwell Maltz and Keys to Success, by Napoleon Hill...both pioneers in the field and whose writings have shaped many of today's motivational experts like Tony Robbins, Tony Buzan, Earl Nightingale, and Zig Ziglar, among many others. I haven't finished my swim in this vast sea, but I am finding some common ideas that seem to "program" changes to the mind and, thereby indeed, predict "success."
I have long maintained...and I believe that Biblical Scripture supports...that change begins in the mind. Proverbs 23:7 says that a person is "as he thinks in his heart." In other words, our thoughts shape and give birth to our actions. Romans 12:2 indicates that "transformation" is possible by changing or "renewing" the way we think. Indeed, the Biblical concept of "repentance" means to have a "change of heart"...to literally "turn around" and go another way than one has been going. All of these writers likewise indicate that this "change" is more than mere "positive thinking." Some of the elements necessary to restructuring this "expectation" of a positive outcome" in place of previous patterns of disappointment and failure include:
1. a sense of value and purpose to undergird our efforts toward change, i.e., we must believe that we, individually and personally, "deserve" to, and are "intended to...succeed."
2. absolute conviction that change is necessary for survival
3. a clear "vision" and step-by-step plan for what you want to achieve, i.e., of what "success" looks like to you personally
4. the acquisition of any pertinent knowledge/education and skills which might be lacking and which will move us toward our goal
5. self-discipline in eschewing detrimental habits and patterns of thought and in building new more positive forms of behavior
6. ability to reach and implement firm decisions quickly once sufficient data has been gathered
7. belief that the desired outcomes or goals are worth any cost or struggle necessary to achieve those goals
8. belief in the good and benevolent character of a "higher power" who is committed to your well-being...this enables gratitude and the ability to keep going in the face of obstacles...Jeremiah 29:11 says of the Lord God: "'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,' says the Lord, 'thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give your a future and a hope.'"
9. a company of positive, supportive, like-minded individuals who will encourage and believe along with you when the going is rougher than you feel equipped for alone
Such positive attitudes seem in themselves, to generate energy that move us closer to our goals. Today, for example, I blew my diet by eating a hot fudge brownie a la mode. Because I have been eating such a "clean" diet for weeks, this "treat" tasted so sickly sweet that I didn't even enjoy it! So instead of beating myself up for falling off the wagon, I am turning mental cartwheels of gratitude that my tastebuds are apparently being reshaped to the point that I am learning to not even want things that will carry me closer to the tipping point in the diabetes/heart disease progression. I see my "thinking" being reshaped, and my actions must inevitably follow. My body chemistry is actually being restructured!!
The point is that with the right attitudes and tools, we can literally rewrite the underlying logarithms of our physical bodies. As one who has endured long years of illness, I can't tell you how excited this makes me. And so, I leave you with a poem by Walter Malone that is quoted on pages163-164 of Napoleon Hill's Keys to Success, edited by Matthew Sartwell, published by Dutton, a division of Penguin Books.
They do me wrong who say I come no more,
When once I knock and fail to find you in;
For every day I stand outside your door,
And bid you wake and rise, to fight and win.
Wail not for precious chances passed away;
Weep not for golden ages on the wane;
Each night I burn the records of the day;
At sunrise every soul is born again.
Laugh like a boy at splendors that have sped,
To vanished joys be blind and deaf and dumb'
My judgments seal the dead past with its dead,
But never bind a moment yet to come.
Have you slipped and fallen on your path to success today? Get up, give thanks for lessons learned, and keep going. Here's to those who, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, are "actually in the arena." (http://artofmanliness.com/200
-roosevelt/ for the full quote...) At least you have begun! Bravo!!