In the recording I was listening to, Zig Ziglar made a "profound" comment: you only ever work for yourself. And he went on talking about the value of work well done and the lessons it teaches you, and of course the success it brings into your life. He also talked about attitude in life and it reminded me of another great man, Earl Nightingale, who calls attitude the Magic Word. Of course there is also The Richest Man in Babylon who sometimes really wonders why he is working so hard for so little reward, and yet, he understands it later and gets the full benefits.
Mediocrity breeds mediocrity. Head Hunters look for the people everybody want, the people whom everybody admires for the quality of their work. Sometimes you might think that your job really sucks and your efforts are not recognized... Be assured that it will be your boss' loss when you go. And you will always feel good about yourself if you know you are doing the right thing. All successful people have integrity, towards others and themselves. Well, I said this would be more for teenagers, so let me get into the heart of the matter. In my career as a teacher, I never ceased to be amazed at the number of underachieving teenagers at school. Their lack of interest and casual, disrespectful attitude towards education always saddened me terribly. I met such amazing people, with potential way beyond you can dream of as a parent and it was completely wasted. Some of the kids I am talking about were not necessarily failing, but they were simply tagging along, passing time at school and showing their worst side.
This, I have to say, is something that I have seen more in "developed" countries, particularly richer countries. When I worked in Africa on the other hand, there were no underachievers. There I worked with mostly well off kids and yet, the pride they took in their work, the support and expectations they got from their parents were way beyond what I have ever seen in our so called developed countries. Education is a privilege. Not just in Africa or in poor countries. Education is not a right; it is a privilege that everybody should have access to. Unfortunately, when it becomes a given, people take it for granted. There are too many gratuitous congratulations in schools nowadays. Yes, positive reinforcement and praise do tend to help kids' self esteem. But there is a limit. Basic expectations, things that have to happen within the system don't need extra praise. Showing up on time to school does not deserve congratulations, especially after being late. Doing homework is a minimum, showing excellence in your homework deserves praise. Kids only do things if there is a reward there and then. The reward always comes later. It's time to introduce old values back into school!
Effort always pays off... If you don't look for instant gratification. Everything that is worth its while will take time and effort. No one becomes successful overnight. It may appear so but it is never the case. Behind every success, there is hard work, a good attitude, integrity and plenty of effort to get there. Do you think that Eli Manning woke up one day and said: "tonight I am going to be the best player with the Giants"? No, but he probably had an idea that he wanted to get there and he worked hard for it. Do you think Donald Trump woke up one morning in the penthouse of Trump Tower after thinking the night before: "tomorrow, I'll be a millionaire."? Do you think Mother Theresa, Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King achieved what they did with no effort? Do you think Steve Jobs and Bill Gates spent the last 30 years settling for less than perfection to get where they are now?
There were times in these people's lives where they wondered, they were scared, they didn't know for sure anymore, they hurt, they cried in pain or despair but they carried on doing a good job, they kept a good positive attitude and a vision of what they wanted to achieve and gave it their best. I am sure that there were things that they didn't particularly like to do, but I am also sure that they put the same effort in those as in their favorite activities.
Your value starts with what you see in yourself. Your value is what you know you can do and how well you can do it. Just in the same way as people make a dream board or a vision board, or write down their goals to become more aware of them, the actual results that you will get at school and in life, the satisfaction that you will get when looking at a good piece of work, the tears of joy you will share when you win the 100 meters race are what tells you what you are really worth it.
It doesn't matter if you hate running. If you know that you can run faster than anyone but decide to lose the race, you will know that you haven't shown your true self. You might think you don't care but you'll have this attitude of settling for less in every aspect of your life. Your relationships, jobs, friendships will never be real if you don't let people know who you really are.
Sometimes there will be a parent, a brother or sister, a friend or a teacher to tell you what they can see and encourage you to let it out. But after a while, people will give up. After a while, you will have a lot more to prove to convince people that you are the person you say you are.
Start now, give your best and make sure you reach your true potential in everything you do. Don't settle for second best, don't go for C's and D's, change your attitude and do your best in everything you do. Don't expect anything in return, simply your personal satisfaction knowing that you did the right thing.
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Article Added on Sunday, May 3, 2009
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