Here’s a simple concept for you to understand as you seek your own personal success: Ask the right questions and you’ll get the right answers.
The kinds of questions I refer to are not mathematical equations or esoteric inquiries about the origin of the universe. I’m referring to questions about how you live your daily life. About what you think about, how you view your life, how you think and speak about yourself and your situation.
I was talking the other day to a lady who has lots of problems. She has health issues that spring mainly from the fact she is substantially overweight, she has serious problems with her 17-year-old son who, if he doesn’t get his act together will spend many years in jail, and many other problems too numerous to mention.
While giving me a list of all her troubles, I finally stopped her mid-sentence and said, “You know what I think? I think you need to change your language.”
She said, “What do you mean?”
“Well,” I said, “So far you’ve given me a litany of all the things that are wrong. You’re son’s always in trouble, your diabetes is bothering you, and all the other things you’ve listed.”
“It’s all true!” she nearly screamed.
“Perhaps it is,” I said, “But what else is true?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“You mentioned earlier that you are going to Zumba fitness training. Tell me about that.”
And she did. She got all excited about how it was helping her lose weight and feel much better about herself. She talked about the new role models the class gave her and how she wanted to look like a couple of the other ladies in her class.
Once she finally paused I asked, “You said your son finally has a job. Tell be about his job.”
And she went on and on about how he works just part-time but that he is learning the responsibility that goes with work and she has some hope it will help him fix the broken things in his life.”
Then I said, “See what I mean?”
She said, “No, See what?”
“See the difference in your voice and attitude when you think about the solutions to your problems rather than the problems?”
Because of over 40 years of practice seeing her world through the sad eyes of defeat and desperation, it will take her awhile to fully change herself from a negative world-view to a more positive one.
But it makes my point, ask the right questions and you’ll get the right answers. So here are five questions to ask yourself when thinking about your own personal success:
Question 1: Who is best suited to fix my personal problems, politicians in Washington DC or me?
There is an increasing number of people who think Washington DC has all the resources and all the wisdom necessary to solve their daily problems. This kind of thinking is music to the ears of the politicians because they want you to be dependent on them and not dependent on yourself.
But just think about it for a moment. How likely is it that some bureaucrat in Washington DC knows how to help you, I mean really help you. And then ask how likely is it that their answer is much more than an EBT card or welfare check.
Also, think about the war on poverty. Nearly a half-century ago Democrat President Lyndon Johnson thought he could eradicate American poverty by declaring a war on it. He was wrong. The war has been fought and trillions spent, but poverty won. The poverty rate continues to grow despite the investment of roughly $12 trillion with state and local governments contributing another $3 trillion. Yet the poverty rate never went below 10.5%.
So don’t expect politicians to fix your problem. It’s more likely they will screw you over than fix you up.
Question 2: Which is easier to accomplish: to make the world adjust to my particular needs or for me to adjust to the world as it is today?
As a young man I took my family to Africa. When we arrived we had no place to live but a grass hut in the back yard of another missionary’s house. There was nothing wrong with the grass hut, but there was something wrong with us being dependent on the other family for food and shelter.
What was the problem? There was a severe housing shortage and finding a place to live was nearly impossible. I had a choice: to keep my family in this miserable living situation and wait until the housing shortage let up – something that could take years, seek an immediate solution.
I had to adjust to this part of the world as it was at the time. And though I don’t have time to tell you the whole story, suffice it to say we found several ways to get ourselves into a more comfortable living situation despite the housing shortage. And we prospered and were happy to be where we were.
Look folks, the world may seem to be changing rapidly, and it is, but if you wait for society to adjust to what you want and what you need, you’re in for a very long wait.
Question 3: Which is most likely to help me succeed: pull everyone down or raise myself up?
The answer is easy – raise yourself up. But the easier thing to do is pull everyone down or at least to join those who refuse to do anything positive or take any affirmative action to improve their lives.
If you wallow in your misery and stay stuck in the mud, you’ll have many people with whom you can share your desolation. And you know what else? Few if any of those friends found in the misery ditches of life will do one darn thing to help you out. In fact, just the opposite will occur. They will work to keep you miserable because in some way it justifies their wretched lives.
It takes a brave person to pull themselves up and out of poverty, to find personal solutions to personal problems, but when they do, oh my goodness, when they do, how life changes for the better. And if along the way you find someone positive, someone uplifting, someone who joys in your successes and overlooks your mistakes, you’ve found someone worth keeping in your life.
Do you remember when Josh Groban made popular the song, “You Raise Me Up”? The song was first written as an instrumental piece by Rolf Lovland titled, “Silent Story.” The lyrics were added by Brendan Graham. It was first performed at the funeral of Lovland’s mother. He noted, “I believe people think of it as a song they use for their own stuff.”
The chorus rings in the hearts of all those who want to move from poverty to prosperity, from despair to dignity and from resentment to renewal.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up…to more than I can be.
Yes it helps when we surround ourselves with those who will raise us up and run from those who would pull us down. Life is not good in the ditches of despair or the potholes of poverty. You want out and so do I. So let us lift one another and by so doing change our little world.
And now for question four in our list of the Five Questions to Ask Yourself When Thinking About Your Own Personal Success
Question 4: Which will ultimately result in a better me: continued dependency on the government or self-reliance?
First of all let me acknowledge there may be a time in your life when you need outside help to survive. That’s why there are government programs to help people in their time of need. But the reality is programs like welfare, food stamps, free lunch, government housing are ultimately harmful to the people who are on them.
Why: First of all, because they are designed for survival not for prosperity. Second, they tend to make you dependent rather than independent. The longer you’re on these programs the more you shrink from your own potential and the more successful people will avoid you.
Therefore, you should avoid such programs if humanly possible and, should you be required to participate in one of them, don’t let it become a lifestyle. As human beings we can adjust to almost any situation and that means we can adjust to or should I say surrender to a life of bare existence and dependency with ease.
Government programs are like radiation: a little of it can save your life – like an X-Ray, but too much of it and it can permanently wound your spirit.
And now Question 5: Am I a victim or a victor?
This is the most important question of all because it will determine the direction of your life.
A victim is someone who thinks the whole world is against him/her, that everything is rigged, that others have it easy, that the problem is racism or sexism or ageism or their zip code or anything else they can find to blame for their cheerless life.
Remember the lady I talked about at the beginning of this essay? Here is a summary of what I told her:
“You need to change the way you talk and think. You need to stop thinking and talking about your problems and think and talk about solutions. You need to stop being a victim and start being a victor. Sure life is tough and it sounds like you have many very difficult problems, but I believe you can solve them. Will it be easy? Heck no, but your life will change for the better when you seek solutions to your problems rather than wallow in them.”
Time was running out and I could see she was tired of my little sermon, so I ended with this:
“Learn to be thankful for what you have. You have a good job, a place to live, a car that runs, food to eat, a bed to sleep in and relatively good health. One of the results of a victim mentality is that it blinds you from the little blessings you enjoy each day. It poisons your spirit, limits your vision, and inhibits personal growth. Your sprit needs nourishment not poison. A good place to begin is to start thanking God for what you have.”
You’re probably wondering if she has changed her life at all, if she heard anything I said. That may be what you’re wondering, but it’s not what I’m wondering. I wonder if you have heard anything or learned anything. I wonder if YOU will change YOUR life?
Ask these five questions and you’ll get the right answers to your life.
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