A State of Mind

I’ve never been much of an advocate for those people who enjoy getting people ‘revved up’, or jazzed up, or pumped up.  You know, the ones who are always trying to lead the pep-rally, and inviting everyone to get on board the bus before it leaves them behind.

That said, it has also occurred to me our definition for success and failure needs some serious revision.  It just doesn’t fit.  We talk about success and failure as if it were a permanent place, or somewhere we end up.  We also talk about success as if it was just out of our reach, but someday we may get there.  And, we certainly want to avoid being labeled as a failure.

But, all those definitions are not only misleading, I think they are mostly wrong.  If we take just a short moment and examine the lives of ‘successful’ people, we might be surprised at what we find.  While they certainly don’t talk about it, they have as many failures as everyone else, and, perhaps, even more as they tend to do more things than most people.  The difference is this – successful people do not dwell on their failures or mistakes, they do not tell tales of their failures, they do not get into pity parties, and they certainly don’t stay there.  They tend to focus on their successes, their opportunities, and the hope for a brighter future.

Now, it is true that most successful people would rather no one know about their failures or mistakes.  And sometimes they hide or even lie about it.  In short, their focus and attention is not on these things, as there is no benefit to be gained from that exercise.  They tend to focus on how they might do things better next time.  And, there is always ‘a next time’ to these folks, whereas those who tend to focus on failure or mistakes always think the end is near.

Now, let’s be clear.  Things are not always positive, and there are many things in this life that don’t go as planned.  There are setbacks, there unexpected events, there are turns and curve balls thrown at us.  This is not to say these things should be ignored, or for us to act as if they don’t exist.  But, the tendency of most successful people is to acknowledge these things and find a way to move forward.  By moving forward they have an opportunity to change things, to make things better, to do things better.

So, what is a good definition for success and failure?  I’m beginning to think each of these two impostors are better defined as simply a ‘state of mind’.  In short, almost any situation can have both positive and negative effects or consequences.  Which prevails is mostly a matter of what we choose to think about or dwell on the most.  If we focus on the negative more than the positive then everything will appear negative, including those things that are clearly positive.  Ok, time for a not very good illustration of my point.

World War II

Over 55,000,000 people lost their lives in this horrible war.  It destroyed families, property, industries, nations, and the hope and future of many.  However, as bad as World War II was, there were some positive things that came out of the war.  Science and technology, here in the United States, was jump started during the war, mostly out of the necessity to win instead of lose.  Medicine also gained a jump start, with the introduction of penicillin and other life saving drugs.  Industry, including steel fabrication, aircraft, parts, tools, and vehicles all received a tremendous boost as a result of the war.  I was born as a ‘baby boomer’ which was an indirect result of the war coming to an end.  So, what am I saying?  Well, I guess I’m repeating an old adage that says, “in every dark cloud there is a silver lining”, but, apparently, only if we are looking for it.

Now, is this easy?  No, it is not.  I was mostly raised in an environment that found everything that could go wrong with any situation, and for the most part they were right.  But, it’s taken me a long time to realize there is no benefit to being ‘right’ if being right means predicting doom and gloom.  There is only benefit in predicting positive things, even if they don’t always seem to work out to be positive.  But, perhaps, they may turn out like World War II, their benefits only to be seen in hindsight.

No doubt, there is plenty of things in this world to be concerned about, to be negative about.  But, as I’ve found through difficult learning there is no benefit to focusing on those things.  We must find ways to refocus our thinking, to retrain our minds, to redirect our attention, and find ways to search out the positive things, so that we may achieve the success God has already planned for us.

Now before I leave this topic I need to stress a couple of other things that have wrongly attached themselves to the terms ‘success’ or ‘failure’.  In my view these terms have nothing to do with financial standing.  They have nothing to do with fame or power, although the world thinks differently about this.  They have nothing to do with how many possessions you have, how smart or clever you are, or how popular or unpopular you are.  They have nothing to do with what car you drive, what kind of house or apartment you live in.  They have nothing to do with what country you live in, or what nationality you are.

If anything, success and failure are simply a state of mind.

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One Response to “A State of Mind”

  1. Bea McGuire Says:

    I think your last sentence says it all and sums it up correctly! Great blog! Blessings….

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