“How to lose 10 pounds in 10 days”, “The single resume mistake you should avoid”, “5 traits of effective leaders”, “12 steps to fast-track your career”… Everywhere I look, I find these articles on the best way to achieve goals or get rid of certain habits or become a happier person… the list goes on. It got me thinking; is there one single way to do anything in life? Is it true that “tried and proven” methods are always the right way to go?
I explored this thought and got into thinking about weight loss as an example. Some nutritionists advocate that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it kick starts your metabolism early on, they state, and so your body burns fat faster. You then click on another article that says fasting for a certain number of hours per day, specifically avoiding breakfast, is sure to burn the extra kilos in no time. A friend then sends you another link about a doctor in Vietnam who says becoming vegan is the only way to achieve your ideal weight. Who should we believe and which approach is a person supposed to follow? They all speak with such conviction that it sounds so convincing. Are they trying to trick us, confuse us or help us?
You enter a completely new ball game altogether when you become a parent; ask any mother or father in our generation. Conflicting advice on how to raise the most well behaved, emotionally intelligent and self-aware kids in the world. Give them rewards for good actions. No, don’t reward them, they will start expecting that from everyone. Let them find their own passions. No, help them find what they like. Let them cry it out. No, they will be damaged for life if they cry before bed. It is so confusing and as a new parent who makes the mistake of googling something or even worse, asking 3 friends, you will get contradicting advice, all with the same conviction that their way is best.
I have arrived at the conclusion that those nutritionists I mentioned, the mom bloggers, the personal trainers, the leadership coaches, the style consultants are actually trying to help us with what they believe works. They tried it and it worked for them. So why does it work for some and not for others?
I believe that it is for the simple reason that whoever experienced real success in any aspect wholeheartedly believed they would succeed. They knew in their hearts that they could achieve whatever they set their minds to and they saw success clearly in their minds. The way they then go about it becomes almost totally irrelevant. When we approach something with thoughts like “will this work?”, “I hope I don’t fail”, “I am afraid”, we are essentially programming and preparing our minds for failure. If on the other hand, we consciously and in a mindful manner, approach matters with ZERO doubt in arriving successfully at the finish line, more than half the battle is already won.
The first set of people, the doubters, will then face their first obstacle and immediately think “I knew this was going to happen”, “I am so unlucky, why would I even expect this to work?” because they expected failure. And so, very quickly, they give up and throw in the towel, thinking at least they gave it a try. But was that a real try you think? The second set of people on the other hand encounter their first, second and third obstacle and keep going, because when you know – you TRULY KNOW – that success is the only way for this to end, you wouldn’t stop. The difference seems so small, but in fact it is huge. You see, at this point, the method you are using is no longer the hero in your story.
Your mind becomes the hero.
Perhaps what we should focus on is our thoughts and our beliefs in success. From there on, how we get there becomes secondary.