How to get on in life – it’s all just luck! [FUTURE THINKING]

Or so some say….

Is it luck that allows some people to get on, find the right job, get that promotion (and so on) before anyone else or where things seem to always go right for them?

I don’t think so.

First, a short story

One of the greatest golfers there has ever been is Gary Player and he was regarded as one of the best bunker players in the world at the time.  Some thought he was ‘lucky’.  He wrote in one of his books about a fellow golfer:

‘Once Jerry Barber, a great sand player, was practising bunker shots. He hit one ball near the flag. The next shot went in. A person watching Jerry told him: “Gee, you sure are a lucky trap shot player.” “Yes, I know,” Jerry replied. “And the harder I practice, the luckier I get.”

This quote, on some websites, has Gary as the golfer who was ‘lucky’.  If you are interested, check out this link at quoteinvestigator.com.

Alternatives to ‘luck’

Ok, several things I want to pick up on here:

1. Gary Player worked hard.  He practised and worked hard at his job.  His ‘job’ in this case was golf

2. His goal when practising at bunker shots was to get the ball in the hole (or as near as possible!)

3. Repetition. For Gary player, he was training his body and mind to do something and do it well.

All the above amount to ‘being ready‘.

Being Ready

Working hard doesn’t guarantee a good result.  You have to have a goal and have your eyes open (be ready) as well.  The goal for Gary Player as I’ve already said was to get the ball in the hole.  For others, the goal might be that elusive promotion or that opportunity to meet your soul mate.  If the goal is to get on at work, then you should work hard but also have your eyes open to the goal too.  If you do what Gary Player did then you will work hard, keep a goal in mind and keep repeating things that will get you where you want to be.

Waiting for an opportunity means you need to work hard, focus on good potential outcomes and keep repeating the things that are most likely to get you where you want to be.

Practical Scenarios

Well, we’ve already talked about one application of these ideas: Gary Player and his amazing golf bunker shots.  What about real life? What about getting on in your career?  How about becoming one of the best in your profession?  How about your charity group achieving things like raising money or finding a generous benefactor?

Quite possibly I could ramble on about any one of the above possible scenarios.  But I won’t you’ll be pleased to hear!  I’m going to pick on the last one.  Not because I have experience in this area but because I know that you can use the same ideas in other areas of your life too.

So, how on earth would you find a generous benefactor for instance? By luck? You think it’s luck that you can by chance meet someone, get talking, find out that he or she is a rich businessman who wants to give to a charity or organisation like yours? Ha! No way!  It might seem that way to some.  And indeed this might happen from time to time. However, for most of us, the way to find a benefactor would be to work hard and repeat certain things and to ensure you are in the right mind-set and ready for that ‘chance meeting’.

Working hard, a practical example

Would you agree for the sake of this article that finding a benefactor means you need to be skilful at communication and be a good conversationalist?  I think this is a good start.  So, you should learn all you can about these subjects, you should start talking to people – anyone! You should communicate with people wherever you go.  You should talk online with people through social networking, forums and email.  How many? It doesn’t matter how many.  Who can say how many people you need to talk to to become a successful conversationalist? No-one.  So work hard at talking and listening to people.

Oh and that’s very important too! Listening!  Listen to all the people you talk to and you might just hear something that makes you suddenly get an idea or ask a certain question.  Listening is an integral part of being ready. Do not underestimate how important this is.

Listening and Intuition go hand in hand.  I won’t say any more on this topic but you go away and have a think about it!

Goal setting, a practical example

I’ve discussed goal setting elsewhere but for this practical working example, don’t you think that you could set goals of communicating with a certain number of people in one year?  Again, it doesn’t matter how many because even if you fail to reach your goal, if you have moved towards your goal, you have been successful in moving forward.

Repetition, a practical example

If you notice that you are getting along well with people through your interactions and that people are talking to you and asking questions, then it’s safe to say that you are probably doing something right.  Then repeat what you are doing with the next person you meet!  And the next!

How many people does it take to find a wealthy benefactor for your organisation? One! You just don’t know which one!

A Warning

With all the above talk, it’s easy to think that the purpose of striking up conversation, being friendly, helping people, discussing issues and so on is all about finding that benefactor!  This is dangerous.  It’s dangerous to have this goal as the be and end all.  If you don’t find that person, then your hopes might get dashed and you stop doing things that you know work (i.e. people like you and like what you are doing and find you easy to get on with).  Your daily reason for meeting and chatting and making friends is not to find that generous rich person but to have fulfilment and self improvement in your life and to be ready when it does happen.

Measuring success

Of course, as in the example above, some would say you would measure success by whether you find that one generous person or not.  To me this is short sighted and narrow minded.  Success should be measured by whether your actions are making you the kind of person that a rich person might look upon and think to themselves “Hmmm, I could give money to this charity”.  See the difference?  How do you think Gary Player (the golfer I mentioned earlier) felt when the ball didn’t go in the hole?  Well, I don’t suppose he felt too bad if it was a good shot and the ball ended very close to the hole every time!  Imagine if every time you made a new friend they respected and looked up to you? Imagine if they saw you as someone who knew what they were talking about and someone who had a great knowledge of their chosen profession/field?  In the process you would become the kind of person that rich person will give money too!

Finally

Whatever your goal, whether its like the example above or if it’s seeking to grow your career or something else.  Your actions today affect the outcomes of tomorrow. By doing things right today, you will be ready tomorrow.  Ready to see and take the opportunity when it comes.  Because you will have been preparing yourself by working hard with eyes open, you will be the one to ‘get lucky’.

So go out there and get lucky!

The more I know, the less I seem to know! [FUTURE THINKING]

Huh?  Come on, think about it!

….I’m waiting….

Thought about it?  Here it is again:

“The more I know, the less I seem to know”

“Jonathan”, I hear you say, “what on earth on you on about?”

Well, as you know many of my blog posts are about self improvement, personalities, life, the universe and everything (sorry, couldn’t resist a little Hitchhikers Guide) and so the phrase above relates to this.  More specifically it relates to a topic I’ve discussed before ‘Future Thinking‘.

How does ‘The more I know, the less I seem to know’ help with ‘Future Thinking’?  Give me five minutes to explain.

I think it is fair to say that if you are an open minded individual, one who has a good attitude in life, one who is not obnoxious and full of self importance; then you will be a more rounded and happy person.  You will be someone who takes life as it comes and doesn’t get too upset when things don’t always go to plan.  Likewise, to be a ‘Future Thinker’ you need to be aware of surroundings, you need to be doing and thinking about things now so that your future is better (later).  With me so far?  Read that paragraph again if not.  Go on, do it!

“The more I know, the less I seem to know”

Brief history (early I.T. years)

I’m going to give you a brief  history of part of my life to help explain the sentence above. I coined this phrase many years ago just a few years after I had changed career from one that was predominantly retail to one in I.T. (computers and stuff).

Around 1993/1994 my uncle presented me with my first computer! You could not believe my joy when I saw the box sitting there on the table waiting for me to take it out and plug it in!  So, opening the box I was a little dismayed to see a lot of incomprehensible separate pieces of what I assumed at the time were ‘My computer’ (you like that joke? ‘My Computer’? Yeah? Ah, never mind).  Anyway, I turned to my uncle with a questioning look on my face.  The answer was that this was my computer but that I had to put it together first!

Well, after several hours of blood, sweat and tears (well, sweat and tears anyway) I managed with my uncle’s help to get a working Windows 3 PC up and running!  I was over the moon!  It was a glorious moment!

Side note

I have always felt that sometimes we learn best when we have to fix something.  And believe me, we had a lot to fix in that first computer!

Brief history (early I.T. years) continued

Anyway, I started to get good at computers and operating systems and software etc.  I did a course or two and after a while felt that I was probably one of the best around, and certainly one of the best in amongst the people I knew. A little bit of obnoxiousness had started to creep in.

Brief history (eye opening)

So I thought I was good enough now to get a job in computing and I did! But very soon I began to realise that there was more and more to learn in I.T. and computing than the stuff I knew about the ‘personal computer’.  I was now working in a large company and I was now supporting many customers with their business, mission critical computers, networks, databases and so on!  I was overawed by what I had to learn but felt I could do it.

Brief history (eye opening part two)

From that first job in I.T. I took another job and once again I had to go up another gear and it was about that time when I coined the phrase “The more I know, the less I seem to know”.

I now realised with embarrassed humility that I knew relatively little about my chosen profession and that’s how the expression came about.

Putting the expression to good use

Really, the more I know, the less I really do seem to know!  I have spent the last fifteen years learning various aspects of I.T. and computing and some might say I’m pretty good at it, but even now I still hold true to that phrase, that expression.  But what use is it?  Surely it could make you give up with an exclamation of ‘what is the point in carrying on?’.

No. If you have a positive attitude in life, then great, but this can lead to an obnoxious, I’m perfect, I can’t be beaten approach.  While I applaud those who have confidence and ability in life, I would like to warn everyone reading this that sometimes ‘pride comes before a fall‘.

To be a future thinker means that you can be confident in yourself, you can believe in your qualities and skills but that you are also aware that there is so much in life that we do not know. That there is so much in life to learn, so much in the universe, so much about us, about our personalities that we are unaware of.

To be a future thinker means that while you strive to be the best, to do well, to be the best person you can be (etc), you also have a sensible attitude of “the more I know, the less I seem to know”.

Keeping this in my mind over the last fifteen years or so has enabled me to think on many occasion ‘hmmm, I wonder if there is more about this that I don’t know?’ and thereby making me safer from my own stupid actions, embarrassing decisions and therefore contributing to a better future.

I am nowhere near perfect. But there are many many people out there who seem to be doing this so naturally that it drives me mad.  But I am trying. Everytime I mess something up, I have to remind myself that:

“The more I know, the less I seem to know”

Future Thinking – Helps to heal sadness, break out of restricted thinking and put a smile on our face! [HUMANITY]

A brief meaning of ‘Future Thinking’

Future thinking is about thinking outside of our ‘box’.  It’s about thinking wider than we currently are, of taking off the blinkers and looking at other options.

Future thinking asks open questions like ‘what if..’ as opposed to ‘I can’t…’

Future thinking is about the near future (changing present thoughts to change present circumstances) and also about the mid and long term future (doing things now that will impact on how our lives unfold in the long term).

Read this section again! :-)  I’m sure you can put your own sentiments into what I’ve just said ;-)

Heal sadness

I’m no doctor of psychology or an expert in mental health but I can’t help but think that if, when we are down or suffering from depression, we were to ‘future think’, then our lives would suddenly take a turn for the better :-)

I say this from personal experience.  I’ve suffered from depression in the past and sometimes feel that it could strike me any time!

I think depression is a little like alcoholism because I think it is in some people a ‘potential’ thing that could happen in an individuals life.

Having said that, from my experience, when I’m future thinking, things are ‘looking good’ or when I have options in my life; suddenly there is a smile on my face and I’m feeling confident about my future and about my life in general again.

Future thinking forces us to think away from our current ‘sad’ thoughts and on to other more positive thoughts.  It doesn’t guarantee that things are going to change for the better, but it does do something to lift ones spirit.

It’s difficult to do on your own though! Seek the companionship of a positive, understanding  friend.

Break out of restricted thinking

When we are down or things are going badly for us (for whatever reason), our thoughts tend to be focussed on the here and now and the immediate ‘narrow’ future.

Now, before you have a go at me, there are obviously times and places in our lives when for periods of time, we cannot help but be in this sad narrow place.  For instance, bereavement, sickness, separation and so on.

However, there are times when we feel down or are restricted in our thinking for no good reason. We tell ourselves that things are bad for us because ‘our car keeps breaking down’ or ‘I can’t find a partner’ or ‘nothing seems to go right for me’.

In these times, we should break out of this restricted thinking by ‘Future Thinking’.  When we future think, we break out of the restricted zone we were in and start to see possibilities in our lives.  When we see possibilities in our lives, then things start to look good again and we start to take action to make those good things happen!

What can you do to future think? Start by asking yourself open questions like ‘”How can I…” as opposed to closed statements like “I can’t…” or “My life is so bad…”

Puts a smile on our faces

Future thinking puts smiles on people’s faces! Can you imagine this situation for instance:

Ok, so you are feeling sorry for yourself because you don’t have the money to afford a car.  You are pretty fed up with this because all your friends do and are always going on about how they are off at the weekend with their boyfriend or seeing relatives who live miles away.  You can’t do this – how sad!

Well, start future thinking for a moment. Remember, future thinking is not necessarily about the future but about ‘other options’ or thinking wider and outside our little space we find our selves in.

So, you don’t have a car! Walking (or even taking public transport everywhere) does several things for you.  It gives you time to think.  When you are walking to work or to friends or relatives, next time use that time to think about possibilities, follow those possibilities down lines of what could happen if you made a little change in your life now.

It’s at these times when you can start to realise that maybe your situation isn’t so bad after all.  It’s at these times when you perhaps think that you only wanted a car because your friends do!

I find this works really well if you take a long walk (say an hour or more).

Finally

Once again, I’ll say I’m not an expert, these are just my personal ramblings which I ‘believe’ to be true.  Feel free to message me with your own thoughts and experiences on this subject.

Start future thinking now!

“How can I make this work?”

Positive questions
In those six words is the crux, the foundation if you like of having a happy and fulfilled life.

How?

Think about the alternative or opposite of that question:

Negative statement
“I can’t make this work!”

That sentence is a statement of fact which when said is final and plants a seed of belief about what we voiced aloud.

‘I can’t make this work’ says that you have come across a problem in your life and you can’t see a way around it and that you have made a decision that the problem cannot be solved. In most cases, it is then hard to drag yourself back to asking the first question “How can I make this work?” and we therefore fail.

I’m human just like the rest of you and I often stumble at the negative statement above rather than the positive (future) thinking question in the title. However, if we more and more start to change the way we consider problems by asking the question rather than giving up, then amazingly things don’t seem so bad!

Friends
It’s hard I know, and sometimes the answer is in the friends you choose to listen to rather than a super human effort by yourself. Choosing to listen to positive friends is also hard as most will sympathise with our problem but wont try and turn us away from the negative statement rather than thinking about the positive question.

You know, it helps if you start talking to others with the positive question. It’s easier to think of their problem in a positive quesiton-like way because you are detached from their problem. If you can do this, then you are on the way to solving your own problems positively.

What to do then?
Force yourself to ask the positive question. Do it! Struggle through the molass of slow moving problems and life issues; look outside of your life for a moment and try and see it from someone else’s viewpoint, from someone else who might think in a positive question point of view.

By asking the positive question you force your brain to look for answers! Keep asking that question and your brain will struggle and fight to give you the answer!

Something that helps
This has helped me a lot:

Acceptance + Future Thinking = Happiness

Acceptance
Accept where you are right now, accept the fact that you have problems or life isn’t quite how you want it (not enough money, problems at home, job stress and so on)

Future Thinking (or Purpose)
If you are accepting of your situation, you can then think with the positive question “How can I make this work?”.   Future thinking is about careful consideration of a problem or issue and wondering how you can make it work. If you are not accepting of the situation, then your future thinking powers will be diminished, so the two need to go together.

Future Thinking can simply be about moving forward one small step at a time. Feeling down? Guilty? Feeling like a failure? What’s the answer? Moving forward, just a little bit!  One small step at a time can be all it takes to be a Future Thinker!

If you are truly accepting and have a future thinking approach, then you will find a deep seated contentment (happiness) inside your being.

One more thing
Don’t think that the above means that you are ok with your life as it is. Part of future thinking is all about overcoming problems yes, but it is also about improving your life and of those close to you. If that means, earning more money so that you can take your family on a holiday or to upgrade your old banger of a car to a newer one – then that’s future thinking.

There is so much more I can say, but I won’t! Think about it!