I have learned through many years of trial and error that the biggest obstacle I face is silencing the critic that lives in my head. You know the one, the one who likes to remind you of failures of your past but often seems to forget all of the successes.
In his book Psycho-Cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz describes the self-image in great detail, how it is formed, how to train it to work with our success mechanism that was built into us by our creator. I highly recommend this book above all others.
At one point in the book he goes on to explain how a baby squirrel which has never experienced winter knows that when fall is upon them that they need to gather nuts for the winter. Birds that have never experienced winter, know they should fly sometimes thousands of miles to arrive at a spot instinctively they know will be warm enough for them to survive the winter.
How do they know what to do? Scientist call this instinct but Maltz concluded that God instilled in all of his creatures a success mechanism, which if properly trained can give us anything we want out of it and if it is improperly trained it will give us exactly what we programmed it to give us. The old saying with the computer, garbage in, garbage out.
When we are a small child we can clearly define what we want, how badly we want it, what we will do to get it. We can describe the thing in detail and most small children can picture in their mind clearly as if they already have it. If they stay in this state long enough they will most assuredly get the thing they desire.
The problem is outside influences begin to shape our success mechanism from the day we are born. They might tell that child we don’t have the money for that, or you don’t need that and as soon as the child begins to believe that it will not get the object it desires it’s over. The success mechanism reprograms itself to the way in which it perceives what will happen.
Here’s the key. We cannot operate in a different manner than our self-image perceives who we really are. If you self-image believes you are going to have success, you will. If your self-image believes you are going to fail you will. It always gives you exactly what it is programmed to give you. If you are told your entire childhood that you can do whatever you set your mind to and you believe it, than you will likely have a very successful track record with anything and everything you set your mind to. The opposite is also true. If you are told that you never do anything right, that you can’t have that because….. and so many other ways life tells us we can’t have something and you believe it, that is the result you will get.
The real problem is not the programming it’s the programmer. We have not only allowed others to program our success mechanism we have done most of the poor programming ourselves.
I had a teacher in 4th grade, Mrs. Sisk, who laughed at me because I was struggling reading the word cereal, I think I pronounced it surreal. The whole class even laughed. I was crushed inside. For most of my younger years I believed I was not a good reader and I believed that deep inside my self-image. So how often do you think I would read? If you guessed never you would be correct. In fact, unless I was forced to read, I would not read. Not a comic book, text book, pleasure book I just refused to read.
Was Mrs. Sisk right? All she did was laugh at what was likely a comical pronunciation of the word cereal. I am sure she did not mean any harm nor did anyone else in the class but it was how I internalized it that produced a result that I was a bad reader.
The good news is that I met a very wealthy man when I was 19 years old who instructed me to read at least a book a month for the rest of my life. I can remember saying to myself there is no way in hell I am going to read 1 book a year much less one a month. He must have been able to read it on my face that this was going to happen when hell froze over. He was quite wise in his response, “look, I don’t give a crap whether you read or not, it’s your life, stay broke. Do you think it’s a coincidence that most million dollar homes have a library and most hundred thousand dollar homes do not?”
I was floored, I knew he was right. So I decided to try this reading thing. I decided I would read a book that month. At first it was really hard, not the reading itself, I could read no problem, I actually had a very good education it was the voices in my head telling me that I was not a good reader. I fought that voice and proved it was wrong. After about 3 weeks the voice was gone. The first book I ever read cover to cover was The Richest Man in Babylon. I remember it so clearly because of what the book meant to my success mechanism more than the book itself. I forced myself to reprogram my success mechanism, which initially believed I was a bad reader to believe I was a good and very capable reader and I learned to love to read. More importantly I learned to love to learn.
The critic that lives inside our heads is in nearly all cases the critic we create ourselves. If we created it we can certainly change the programming and if someone else created the programming than its even easier to change the programming. You are the programmer. Next time you find yourself questioning any venture you are about to take ask the programmer if there is any reason that you cannot learn to do this thing, whatever it is.
Zig Zigler used to say, you can do something poorly until you can learn to do it well. I believe with everything that is in me that if you set my mind to learn something, and you are willing to press through failed attempts and look at them as just one more way that did not work, than you can strive to whatever heights you choose.
To your lifelong prosperity,
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