Willem Reitsma- Group Treasurer – Imperial Holdings Limited
Isn’t it strange that the skills that we need to perform in the workplace or to cope with those everyday challenges are not taught in schools, universities or business schools? Why is it that we must learn those skills through hard experience? Why can’t there be a school of life where we can go and learn about how to deal with the challenges facing us all the time?
We can go and learn skills such as mathematics, accountancy, computer software, languages and other sciences. However, why don’t we get taught how to deal with a personal problem or how to get us self-motivated or how to focus our thoughts and get the courage to convert our desires into action that will take us on a road to achieving and exceeding our goals. (That is if we do have goals or where can you learn to set appropriate goals.)
The self-help bookshelf is packed to the brim with books that attempt to address this gaping hole in our education system. Psychologists also have to deal with this in order to help guide people to deal with issues that limit their effective functioning and achievements.
I am privileged to have experienced a number of challenges in my life that took me on a path of discovery. Through the force of necessity I searched for help and during this journey I was fortunate to find a number of ideas and techniques that assisted me to find the energy and focus to propel me towards achieving and exceeding important goals. I developed and refined these ideas and techniques and placed my own stamp so to speak on them. Surely these ideas and techniques should be taught to people when they are still young!
Hopefully by sharing some of these techniques with you in this article it will provide you with ideas that may assist you in achieving your goals and dreams.
I don’t want to deal with the impact of one’s childhood or family life in forming the values and principles that. influence one’s decisions and behaviour. We can’t change the effects of what has happened to us easily and therefore I will focus on what we can do now and what techniques we can apply to give us the focus and willpower to obtain the necessary skills and more importantly to apply those skills successfully.
Many people are lucky and privileged enough that they instinctively and naturally apply techniques that work for them. Others, like me, however have to learn from our environment and messages from others through reading books and listening to gurus, mentors and idols.
Before I share these techniques I feel it is important to give you a bit of a background to my situation in order to, hopefully, give you a better understanding.
I have never had a problem with endurance, persistence and applying my mind to learn new things. Also I was instilled with the insatiable desire to learn and continue to learn as much as possible of as many things as possible. I believed a great general knowledge was impressive but actually it was driven by the fear of looking like an idiot should I not know the answer to a question. I was therefore on a journey of many disappointments as it was an impossible quest.
I drifted through school achieving mixed results but I did excel in accountancy and history. I did obtain a university entrance matric pass in the end. On the sports field I achieved a hat-trick in cricket and saved a few matches with my swashbuckling “six or a nicks” batting style. Although I was a formidable loose forward in rugby I felt more comfortable playing with my friends in the 4th team and getting a thrill in beating the 1st team in practice sessions. Teachers could not convince me to grasp the opportunity to play in the 1st team – a mistake that I now can’t understand that I made. In fact thinking back I didn’t use my natural talents to the full and I wasted those opportunities.
I spent two years in the army doing my national service and strangely it was during this time that I started to discover some of my talents and applied them with great success and efficiency. I had administrative duties such as issuing call up instructions, keeping troop files, organising guard duties and the like. I had to co-ordinate and organise teams and manage projects and I discovered that I could get people to work together in achieving goals whilst having fun at the same time.
Then I started my career at a bank and started at the very bottom. Within a few years I had worked myself into a controller position and I started to feel boxed in. However I was busy completing my Banking Diploma and I didn’t want to leave before I had completed my studies. Then life took a turn for the better in that the financial markets were about to change dramatically. The De Kock Commission made recommendations on how South Africa’s financial markets should develop. This included a Floating Exchange Rate and a developed Money and Capital Markets. I was chosen to start developing the bank’s foreign exchange capability and thus I embarked on a wonderful and challenging journey but not without disappointments and lows.
It was whilst trying to deal with the uncertainties of the financial markets that I was forced to discover and develop ideas, principles and techniques that could assist me in achieving the goals and budgets that were entrusted to my trading team and me.
What do you do when things start going wrong and no matter how hard you try it seems that things just get worse? The harder you try, in fact the more difficult it becomes and eventually you feel that the world has turned against you? This is what I experienced and I felt colleagues and superiors withdrawing their support during bad times.
In a period of 3 months however, I turned the situation around and started a performance streak that was sustainable over time and the lessons learned has stood me in good stead over many, many years.
The journey started with me reading a number of books and distilling a number of self-help concepts that astounded me with its pure simplicity and immense power.
In no particular order:
The Power of Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)
How simple can this be? Just apply a positive thought process and in no time whatsoever, those positive thoughts translate into achievements. Success is achieved and maintained by those who keep trying with PMA.
The Power of a Clearly Definable Goal and a Burning Desire to Achieve it
You can’t achieve something unless it is very clearly defined in your mind. Think about what you want to achieve and then crystallise that goal in your mind and think of it all the time. Keep your mind on the things you want and off the things you don’t.
The Power of Dealing with Problems
You’ve got a problem? That’s Good!
Everyone has problems because you and everything in the universe are in constant change. What is important is that your success or failure to meet the challenges of change is dependent upon your mental attitude. We are very fortunate that we can direct our thoughts towards what we want and then control our emotions and thus regulate our attitude. However, it is our choice whether that attitude is positive or negative!
What is your attitude now and are you focusing your thoughts on what you want?
The Power of Acting Now
The secret of getting things done is to act! Do it Now! It is easy to procrastinate and then refrain from the very action that will provide you with the desired results.
Don’t miss opportunities by putting off taking desirable action.
The Power of Your 6th Sense
Your 6th sense is trying to help you all the time. When a thought enters your mind, many times as an inspiration, trust it and act on it immediately. Treat it with respect and act upon it as soon as you receive it. Do not trust your reasoning facility as it may be lazy and if you depend entirely upon it, it may disappoint you. How many times have you had a good idea, an inspiration and you reasoned it away only to discover that it was a successful idea? Why didn’t I buy that share when I thought it was a good idea?
Respect your 6th sense and act without trying to reason the merits.
The Power of Positive Energy
Stop spending emotional energy on possible hurts or failure but instead spend energy on the probable rewards of success. Keep your mind on reasons why you should and would achieve rather than why you wouldn’t or couldn’t.
The Power of Motivation and Self-Motivation
Motivate others by suggestion and motivate yourself by self-suggestion. Suggest the positive actions that are required to achieve your goals and motivate yourself into action. If you have a worthwhile objective find the one reason why you can achieve it rather that hundreds of reasons why you can’t.
The Power of Willpower
Build a wall against negative influences with willpower. Devote time and effort to success and not to failure. A failure uses up as much energy at failing as a successful person uses in winning.
The Power of Decision
Indecision is the seedling of fear! Indecision crystallises into doubt and the two blends and become fear. Fear is nothing more than a state of mind. It takes courage to fight fear and pursue a goal against many possible obstacles and uncertainties. Be willing to risk failure in order to succeed. “Nothing risked nothing gained” illustrates that the emotion on fear must be overcome to achieve success.
The Power of Focus by Miyamoto Musashi
The samurai developed a code that provided them with a guiding light through their dangerous life journey. They faced death daily and developed a positive mental attitude that embraced death as glorious if it was by the way of the sword. Musashi, one of the greatest swordsmen, wrote a book “The book of five rings” and this provided guidance in focusing one’s attention on the really important issues to avoid death by a sword in one on one combat. Many a lesson is hidden in Musashi’s writings.
Putting it all together and setting the wheels in motion can be the hardest part of the journey. However it is well worth it.
I started by writing down what those results should be for me to achieve rewards and recognition.
Then I wrote down what the correct actions would be to achieve those results. Then I did a gap analysis between what I should be doing and what I actually am doing. Slowly and painfully it became evident that I inadvertently did the wrong things through fear, negative emotions and a bad attitude.
I then wrote down my goals and the various thoughts discussed above in bullet point format and read then many times a day. I made small cards and posted them onto my computer screen and kept those positive thoughts in my mind all the time.
Bingo! The world decided to change and provided me with some success!
In fact it wasn’t the world that changed, it was me! I changed the way I thought about things and replaced those negative and emotive thoughts with positive and success thoughts, which motivated me into action to do the right things and achieve and exceed those goals.
The power of our minds is phenomenal and what we decide to think about, inexplicably, converts into reality. Thus I became aware of the absolute necessity to feed my subconscious mind with positive thoughts and with vivid images of the goals that I want to achieve.
What you believe you can achieve!
Should you have a need to enhance your performance and your ability to successfully deal with the challenges of life I believe that you can achieve your desires by applying all or some of these techniques. Do it now!