Thursday, 4 November 2010

Success is a State of Mind: Talent is Tangible (and not to be compared)

Image thanks to yyellowbird

Sometimes, you just know you are going to be a success: it’s glaringly obvious, how could you not be? Then, other times, success seems so far away that even a rocket ship wouldn’t get you there.


I do, and for me this illustrates (more fully than any quote or piece of long-winded advice) how much success is, purely and primarily, a state of mind. Success isn’t concrete, it’s contextual. Nowadays we praise people more for how they look in lycra and bust moves in a music video than we praise our leading philosophers and scientists. Go figure.

What we believe matters

It has been said that Jean-Martin Charcot, a neuroscientist in the 19th century, conducted experiments on patients under hypnosis. He instructed them to hold out their arm, and told them he would then cut them. In their hypnotic state, their minds were so utterly convinced that he was really about to cut them that when, in actual fact, he merely traced his finger along their arm, they started bleeding. Imagine that.

Now, I don’t know how factual this is, but it would in no way surprise me if it were true. Your body acts out what you truly believe, perhaps in obvious ways such as the above example, but also in a million other tiny little ways.

FACT: If I fully and authentically believe I am going to be a success, then it comes across in my words, my actions, my decisions, the people I choose to spend time with: and all will begin to reflect this image of myself back to me.

If you really believe something, and then another thing comes along to support that belief: you notice it, it registers, you digest and utilise it. If you don’t believe something, you don’t even recognise this point of potential support, and therefore you don’t utilise it.

Right, so where does talent come into it?

When I say start thinking of yourself as a success, you might envisage chanting mantras to yourself in the mirror, but that’s not what I’m getting at. The truth is: you’ll only be successful if you start wholeheartedly applying your talent to life. Start working on your talent and success is the next logical step. Of course, you might say that failure is potentially the next step, but failure only comes about when we give up believing and acting upon our success: you are not a failure until you admit failure.

Stop comparing your success with their success with your success...

Whoever you respect for where they are now, remember this: they haven’t always been there. Not so long ago, they were probably just like you, stuck where you are, idolising someone who had already ‘made-it’. But did they let that stop them? No sir.

They just carried on doing their thing; they had to. They knew they had something unique to give, because we all do, and they just gave it and gave it, over and over again, until the world took notice. That’s what you need to do. Stop wasting time idolising and start doing.

What’s more is that these people were/are probably really bad at something else – come to think of it, of course they were/are. In researching Charcot, I read that Freud was a rubbish hypnotist, whilst we all know his psychoanalytical work was world-changing. Perhaps Oprah sucks at languages. Maybe you’re bad at maths. No one is good at everything – but who gives two hoots if lady Gaga can’t knit a jumper? She can sing and dance like a superstar.

Start piling your passion into the things you are good at – rather than proverbially banging your head against the wall of your inaptitude for other things.

You deserve your talent. The world deserves your talent. So change your mindset: think success, get success, through exploring, exploiting and exploding your talent.


Canadian Twentysomething said...

Nice post!

There's actually a similar hypnosis experiment where the hypnotized ones were told they were about to be burnt with a match on their arm, and when he just poked them with his finger, they developed blisters!
Amazing how powerful our thoughts can be. It also goes to show that people who always think they're sick, can actually MAKE themselves sick, and sometimes even vice versa.

So...if I truly believe I'm going to hand in an excellent paper tomorrow...will it be true? :P

D. said...

I love this post, it's so true. I need to remind myself of this every day. Thank you.

María/A cualquier otro lugar said...

This post is just awesome :)

Brandon@StingyCampus said...

Very uplifting. Thank you.

Have you read Illusions? It's a great book I think you'll enjoy.

And Canadian Twentysomething: If you think you'll hand in an aweful paper tomorrow, you are setting your expectations way low. But if you think it'll be excellent, you'll have much higher expectations, hence work much harder. It may not be excellent, but it'll be better than if you thought it'd be bad.

Vanessa said...

This is a wonderful reminder. People get so down on themselves-- especially very smart, talented people, I think-- because they can't be perfect at everything. You don't need to be. And as one of those smart, talented types of people (yes, I'll sing my own praises for a moment) who tends to be way too hard on herself, I can't be reminded of this enough.

Euforilla said...

Very good post, thank you!

And may I add that there is no real "failure", just "feedback": that thing didn't go the way you expected? Ask yourself why, and when you find out you can fix it and try again, no real failure ;)

Karen said...

This post is just about everything I needed in encouragement today. Thank you :)

laura said...

what a nice post - so motivating! (:

by the way, i received the annual at the end of last week and have been reading it in every free minute since. it's so great and i love having your articles in an actual book because sitting on my bed reading is just so much more relaxing than sitting on the computer.

all the best to you!

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