Friday, July 08, 2005

Keys to authentic success, and who will really succeed in the terror war

I am very thankful to Future Achievement International for helping me to live a life of Authentic Success. Over the course of a couple of years, my life coach Greg Dolby really helped me start moving with some purpose. In future messages I'll be giving examples of how FAI's principles have worked in my life, how things have gone wrong when I've gone astray from those principles, and how we can see them at work (or not) in the lives of people today.

The MAXIMIZERS Principles (here and here) form the key principles we need to follow for a successful life.

(Disclaimer: Please don't look to me as an authority on these principles; I'm just going by my best understanding of them. See the website (linked above) or talk to somebody from FAI for a more official viewpoint).

Over the next several days I'd like to look at the recent attacks on London to show how people have lived, or trounced upon, these principles. Just because a person or organization seems to have success in one principle doesn't mean you should emulate them. That will become abundantly clear down the road.

The first principle is Make Things Happen. That includes being proactive and not reactive, seeing ourselves as victors and not victims, and being disciplined and not lazy.

By "proactive" I mean acting according to predetermined principles more than simply a knee-jerk response. I heard it said that a young wrestler was struggling in his matches. His coach noticed that he was waiting for the other wrestler to make the first move, and only then did the young wrestler respond. The coach suggested that the young wrestler create a game plan and stick with it, and make the other wrestler respond to him. The young wrestler followed the coach's advice, and had great success. (This does not mean we don't adapt as necessary, a principle I'll discuss down the road. What it does mean is that we don't make reacting a habit.

It is expected for a person under a surprise attack to be in a temporarily reactive mode. But I commend the British, especially those directly in the bombs' paths, for their regaining a semblance of order so quickly. No doubt this toughness and resolve stems in part from their having been attacked so many times over the last few decades by the IRA (Irish Republican Army), and because they weathered Nazi Germany's Blitz of day after day after day bombings. Within hours after the attack on July 7, radio stations had resumed normal programming and commuters were searching for alternate modes of transportation. Emergency personnel very quickly cordoned off areas that were hit, and British and American intelligence dug for clues.

Some want us to do what's necessary to appease the terrorists. They believe that it is our presence in certain areas of the world that lead the terrorists to attack. If we would only back off, they say, then the terrorism would stop, or at least abate. Thankfully, Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush don't hold to this doctrine. They know we must not allow Osama bin Laden to dictate this war. They may have started it, but we'll finish it, so long as we exemplify a take-charge attitude.

There are obviously victims in this attack, but one key to victory in this war is not assuming an attitude of victimhood--the "poor me" syndrome. I've heard one unspoken mantra of alcoholics who see themselves as victims is, "Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink." In other words, when faced with challenges, some would rather crawl up on the proverbial barstool and take a drink than face the problem head on. They would rather say, "It's so bad, I deserve a drink," than "It's bad, but I'm going to overcome. I won't let this keep me down." Those who were hurt by the blasts must not allow themselves to take more time than necessary to recover physically and emotionally. I'm not going to assume I know when that is; for some it may take a long time. But each person must determine for themselves if he or she is dragging it out. Terrorists hate it when we rebound, when we go back to living as we always did.

Discipline is doing those things that lead to success. The word "discipline" is developed from the Greek gymatsu, which we commonly know as "gymnastics." It gives us a picture of a gymnast hard in training, trying certain moves over and over again until they are smooth and natural. It means not being lazy and sitting around because you don't feel like practicing. No doubt the British military and intelligence services go through rigorous training; and so does al Qaeda. Those being trained may question why they have to keep on doing certain things over and over.

The Karate Kid movie is a good example. Daniel LaRusso (played by Ralph Macchio) is told by his newfound karate teacher Mr. Miyagi (played by Pat Morita) to do some work around the place, using specific movements for each job. He waxes the car, paints the fence, and so on. But he walks up to Mr. Miyagi one day in anger and complains that he has not learned anything; he is only doing manual labor. Then Mr. Miyagi shows him how the movements he used come in handy in karate.

By practicing over and over those skills that lead to success, whether they want to or not, the British military, intelligence, and citizens will spend less time thinking about what to do and more time doing what needs to be done out of habit.

So who do you know that practices or doesn't practice this principle of making things happen? Are you proactive? Are you a victor? Are you disciplined? If we can all be so, and for the right reasons, then we will beat the terrorists and those enemies of laziness, addictions, and so on.


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