You need the courage to admit that you might be wrong, and that you have made a mistake when you get new information on any sit- uation. It is amazing how many people keep themselves locked into a low level of performance because they will not admit that they are not perfect. They will not admit that, with the passing of time, something that seemed like a good idea has proven to be a bad choice or decision.
Don’t be afraid to cut your losses. Don’t be afraid to admit that you were wrong and to bail out. Don’t be afraid to put one course of action aside and embark upon something completely different. This is the mark of courage, personal power, and effective thinking.
➤ Be Willing to Make Mistakes
Successful people are not those who necessarily make the right decisions all the time, but they make their decisions right. If they make a mistake, they accept it, learn as much as possible from it, and then continue on. Remember, you can learn to succeed only by failing and making mistakes. The more you fail and the more mis- takes you make, the smarter you become and the more likely it is that you will eventually achieve your goals.
➤ Accept Complete Responsibility
You need the courage to accept complete responsibility for your life, which means to take ownership for results.You need the courage to refuse to make excuses or to defend yourself. You need the courage to say, over and over again, “I am responsible!”
When something goes wrong, you focus on the solution rather than the problem.You ask, “What do we do from here?What’s the next step?What is the solution?”
You then pick yourself up and carry on, extracting the wheat from the situation and throwing away the chaff.
➤ Be Patient
You need what is called “courageous patience.” This is a special kind of courage that is required after you have launched toward your goal but you have not yet seen any results. It is amazing how many people break and run in that zone between when they begin and when they start to see a payoff. Their doubts and fears over- whelm them.
But this is not for you. Once you have started toward your goal, resolve to remain calm and conﬁdent until you start to get results. Be patient and persistent, no matter what happens in the short term.
➤ Persist Longer
The ﬁnal courage you need is the courage to persist longer than anyone else. Persistence is the quality that will ultimately guarantee your success. Your willingness to persist in the face of every adver- sity can be your greatest asset. It can be the one factor that guaran- tees your success.
If you refuse to quit, you must ultimately succeed. Just as in baseball, you won’t ultimately hit a home run unless you keep on swinging. In 30 years of studying successful people, I have discov- ered one fact over and over. No one was ever defeated until they ac- cepted defeat as a reality. No one can ever defeat you but yourself.
When you discipline yourself to do what you should do, whether you feel like it or not, and you use this inner strength to build high levels of courage and persistence within yourself, you will become an incredibly powerful person. You will soon feel that there is nothing that you cannot accomplish. You will eventually develop yourself to the point where you feel completely unstoppable.
■YOU ARE ULTIMATELY SELF-MADE
Someone once said, “I’m a self-made man, but if I had to do it over, I’d bring in a little help.” You and I are all self-made. We all have a lot of areas in which we could improve. We all need to set higher standards for ourselves. We all need to work continually on the development of our characters. We all need to strive to be- come better people. We can never allow ourselves to be complacent at any level of accomplishment. We have to keep raising the bar on ourselves.
One of the marks of superior people is that they can manage themselves. If they work for a company, they might do this by imag- ining their boss sitting next to them, observing them and ﬁlling out their annual performance appraisal every minute of every day. Or, by seeing themselves as role models, they might set far higher stan- dards for themselves than anyone else could set for them.
Only the top 2 percent of people in our society can supervise and manage themselves. They can conduct themselves throughout the day as though everyone is watching, even though no one is watching.
■THE REAL PAYOFF
When you set high standards for yourself, your self-esteem and self- respect increase. When you decide that you are going to live consis- tently with your highest values and your deepest convictions, you feel wonderful about yourself. When you become completely hon- est, you stop compromising yourself in your relationships with oth- ers. You speak sincerely to everyone with whom you live and work. You practice absolute truthfulness with yourself and others.
The more honest you are with yourself, the greater courage and self-conﬁdence you will have. You will become more positive and enthusiastic about yourself. You will develop a tremendous feeling of inner power and personal strength. The more you live consis- tently with the very highest values you know, the ﬁner your charac- ter will become. Eventually, you will reach the point where you are absolutely unstoppable!
Determine your three most important values in your personal and family life. What do you believe in and care about the most?
Resolve to live in truth with yourself and others, without com- promise. In what area of your life are you are not being perfectly honest with another person?
“To thine own self be true.” Examine the areas of your life where you experience stress, dissatisfaction, or unhappiness and deter- mine if you are compromising one of your values.
What kind of a company would your company be if everyone in it was just like you? What could you change immediately to make your company a better place?
What would you do and how would you spend your time if you learned today that you had only six months left to live? Your an- swers to this question will reveal your true values.
“People don’t change.” Since this is one of the laws of life, what changes should you make in your life and relationships, at home and at work, to accommodate this fact.
Practice truthfulness in all things. In what areas do you need to accept the world as it is, rather than the way you would like it to be? Be honest with yourself.
The Law of Correspondence is perhaps the most important of all laws in determining your success or failure in life. As we’ve dis- cussed in previous chapters, this law says that your outer world is a reﬂection of your inner world. It says that whatever you are on the inside, you will soon see the results of it on the outside. When you change your thinking, you change your life.
This law applies to everything you do. Your inner world of knowledge and preparation will determine your outer world of in- come and career success. Your inner world of personality develop- ment will determine your outer world of friendships and relationships.Your inner attitudes toward health and ﬁtness will de- termine the condition of your physical body. Your inner beliefs and expectations will determine your outer attitudes and your behav- iors toward other people. Your outer world will always reﬂect your inner world.
Aristotle, perhaps the greatest of the philosophers, wrote more than 2,300 years ago that the ultimate aim of all human action is happi- ness. He concluded that everything a person does is to achieve hap- piness of some kind. Sometimes they are successful, and sometimes they are unsuccessful, but happiness is always the target each per- son aims at.
He concluded that every act is merely an interim step in the di- rection of happiness. For example, you want to get a good job. Why? So you can earn good money. Why? So you can get a comfortable home and a nice car. Why? So you can have good relationships and a nice family. Why? So that you can have a satisfying home life. Why? The ﬁnal answer, the ultimate goal, is so that you can be happy. Everything that you or anyone else does is aimed at happi- ness, however you deﬁne it and however successful you are at achieving it.
One of Aristotle’s greatest insights on the subject of happiness was his conclusion that “Only the good can be happy, and only the vir- tuous can be good.”
This is one of the most important observations in the history of human thought and experience. “Only the good can be happy, and only the virtuous can be good.”
What I have found in my many years of research into philoso- phy and psychology is that only people who are genuinely good inside can be happy for any period of time. And in my years of study of the foundation qualities of self-conﬁdence, I have found that only men and women with clear, positive values are able to develop the kind of unshakable self-conﬁdence that makes it possible for them to deal effectively with anything that happens to them.
The fastest way for you to build or to regain your self-conﬁdence is to become absolutely clear about your deepest values and con- victions, and then begin to live by them. The solution to almost all human problems is a return to values. In many ways, your unhappi- ness and stress are caused by your drifting away from doing and saying the things that you know are right.
■INTEGRITY IS ESSENTIAL
The most important single quality for success is the quality of in- tegrity. Aristotle insisted that only a life based on values such as in- tegrity, honesty, courage, generosity, persistence, and sincerity would lead to happiness and personal fulﬁllment.
I used to think of integrity as only one of the key values, equal to and separate from the others. Then one day a wise and wealthy man pointed out to me that integrity is really the value that guarantees all the others. Integrity is the foundation value on which all of your other val- ues are based. Having true integrity means that you always live and act consistently with your values. If you lack integrity, you will compromise your other values at the slightest temptation.
■CLARIFY YOUR VALUES
In our strategic planning sessions, both for corporations and for in- dividuals, we start off by asking people to deﬁne and clarify their values. You must do the same in your own personal strategic plan- ning. What are your values? What is it that you believe in? What do you stand for? What will you not stand for?
Your ability to clearly deﬁne your values is the starting point of your developing the kind of character that causes people to want to be associated with you and which will lead you inevitably to enjoy- ing a good life. When you have a ﬁne and noble character, rooted in solid, life-afﬁrming values, you will be a genuinely good person. As a result, you will be happy inside, no matter what is going on around you.
■ORGANIZE YOUR VALUES
Once you have deﬁned your values, you should organize them in or- der of priority. To start, you need only three to ﬁve key values to cre- ate a foundation for your character and personality. These are the values that you personally consider to be more important than any others. The order in which you arrange your values is terribly im- portant as well. This ranking of values largely determines the kind of person you are, and the kind of life you live.
Everything you do is the result of a choice. You are constantly making choices of one kind or another, to do one thing or to do something else. This ability to make choices distinguishes you from all other creatures. Each choice you make is based on your primary values at that time. Each action is based on what you consider to be the most important value at that moment of choice.
■ACT ON YOUR VALUES
When you choose, your higher-order values always take precedence over your lower-order values. Every act you take, every decision you make, is based on your dominant value at that time.You can do only one thing at a time, and you always have to choose what it is going to be.You always choose what is most valuable to you at that partic- ular moment.
How can you tell what your values are? It’s simple. Your values are only and always expressed in your actions. It is what you do rather than what you say that tells you, and others, what you value most. Especially, it is what you do under pressure, when you are forced to choose, that reveals your true values and beliefs about yourself and the world around you.
■THE DETERMINANT OF PERSONALITY
Both your choice of values and the order of your values are critical in determining your personality and your life. Here is an example. Imagine that two people have each been through a values clariﬁca- tion exercise and settled upon the same three values. Only the order is different.
Person A has decided that his top three values, in order of im- portance, are ﬁrst, family; second, health; and third, career success. This person is saying that he puts his family ahead of his health and career, and his health ahead of his career. This means that if he has to choose between family and career, family comes ﬁrst. If he has to choose between health and career, health comes ﬁrst.
Person B has the same three values, except that his values are in a slightly different order. His ﬁrst value is career success. His sec- ond value is his family, and his third value is health.
This means that Person B will put his career ahead of his family if he has to choose. He will put his career and his family ahead of his health if he has to choose.
■THE BIG QUESTION
Now here are some questions for you. Will there be a difference be- tween Person A and Person B? Will there be a small difference or a large difference? Would you prefer to be friends with Person A or with Person B? Would you be able to tell Person A from Person B if you met them socially or in business?
The answer is that Person B, who chooses career success as his primary value, will be a totally different human being from Person A, who decides that his family is most important to him. The order of family, health, and career is a life-enriching organization of val- ues. A person who lives his life consistent with these values will be a far happier person than a person who places his career ahead of his family and especially ahead of his health. This is why you must se- lect both your values and their order of importance with care. Your values and their order determine your whole life.
■INTEGRITY IS A WAY OF LIVING
Once you have determined your values, your level of integrity can be measured by how rigidly you adhere to them. A value is not something that you compromise when it is convenient. Either you have it or you do not. Your choice of values and your resolution to live by those values form your character and your personality.
Throughout history, great men and women have been men and women of character. They have been people who lived on the basis of high and noble values. They have been honored and respected for the values they stood for and represented.
One of the great problems in our society today is the phenomenon of “situational values” or “situational ethics.” These are the re- sult of people changing their ideas of right and wrong depending on the situation, and often the temptation of the moment. What is even worse is when they fool themselves into believing that they are peo- ple of character when they are really only people of convenience.
■WHAT YOU DO UNDER PRESSURE
Situational values are demonstrated when people say they believe in one thing, but they do another. They say that they believe in telling the truth, but then they lie when it is convenient, or excuse the lies of another. An individual is deﬁned by what he or she does, not what he or she says.
Some people are confused by their emotions. They believe that if their intentions are sincere, their actions don’t matter. They feel that if they wish or hope something, it is the same as actually doing it. But it is only what you actually do when you are forced to choose, especially under pressure, that tells you who you really are inside.
It is vital to your success and happiness that you are impeccably honest with everyone you know and deal with, both in your personal life and in your career. There is nothing that will earn you the sup- port of people faster than for you to develop the reputation of being a person of character and integrity. At the same time, there is noth- ing that will damage your reputation and sabotage your career faster than for you to get the reputation of being the kind of person that others cannot trust or rely on.
■BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
Honesty means that you are always true to the very best that is in you. As Polonius says in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Tothine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Being true to yourself is the starting point of developing a great character. This begins with your always living in truth with yourself. You do not delude yourself or play games with your own mind.You don’t try to believe things that are completely impossible.You don’tmhope and pray that things would be different than they are.You deal with the world as it is, not as you wish it were.
■ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
Every job bears the signature of the person who did it. Being true to yourself means that you always do your very best at whatever job or responsibility you take on. Honesty and integrity on the inside are expressed as quality and excellence in your work on the outside.You can tell what you are made of on the inside by the amount of time and attention that you put into doing the very best job possible at everything that is given to you to do. Don’t take it on unless you are willing to do it in an excellent fashion.
Integrity means that you are always truthful, straightforward, and honest with everyone in your life. Just as you are true to your- self, you are true to others as well. You live in truth with others, at home and at work.
If you ask people whether they are honest, almost everyone will say that they are. Most people do not lie, cheat, steal, or engage in dishonest behaviors of any kind. But being truly honest means that you are honest with everyone in your life. This means that not only do you never lie; you never live a lie. You never stay in a situation that is wrong for you or in a condition that undermines your in- tegrity or makes you unhappy.You never compromise your integrity by biting your lip and refusing to say what you truly think and feel.
■YOUR HIGHEST GOAL
One of the hallmarks of the truly honest person is that they set peace of mind as their highest goal. Once you have set peace of mind as your primary aim in life, you organize your other goals and activities around it. Being truly honest means that you refuse to compromise your peace of mind for anything or anyone.You only do and say the things that you feel to be right in every situation.
Honesty and integrity mean that you listen to yourself and that you trust your inner voice. You listen to your intuition and you let it guide you to do and say the right things at the right time. When you are disturbed or unhappy, you sit quietly by yourself in solitude, waiting and listening for the guidance that always comes. When you get an idea or insight into the right thing to do, you put it into ac- tion. You trust your higher mind. This is the key to living in truth with yourself and others.
■THE INTEGRITY OF YOUR OWN MIND
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essay “Self-Reliance,” said, “Guard your integrity as a sacred thing.” He went on to say, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”
Truthfulness is the indispensable requirement for the develop- ment of character, and the development of character must be a cen- tral aim of your life. Aristotle said, “The purpose of education is the development of the character of the young.” Today, in the United States, many young people have not been brought up with a clear sense of right and wrong. Many people have been told that values are rela- tive. Many people have been told, for example, that if they like to shoplift, then that particular value is just as good as a person who believes that shoplifting is wrong.
This form of value relativity leads down a blind alley. It leads to failure, frustration, and unhappiness. The fact is that values are not relative. There are values that are life-enhancing and there are values that are life-destroying. If a value is positive, living by it improves the quality of your life and your relationships with others. A negative value hurts your relationships and detracts from the quality of your life. You can easily tell the difference, because living by a positive value makes you feel happy, and practicing a negative value makes you feel unhappy.
■FACE THE TRUTH
Living in truth means that you face the truth about yourself and the world around you. You face the truth about your work and your relationships. You look yourself directly in the eye and you live consistently with your innermost convictions. You do not play games with yourself or wish and hope that things could be differ- ent than they are.
Integrity means that you accept that your world can only get better when you get better. No one is going to come along and change things for you. If you want things to change, you are going to have to make the changes yourself.
Integrity means that you accept that your marriage gets better only when you become a better spouse. Your business gets better only when you become a better manager or executive.Your sales re- sults and customers get better only when you become a better sales- person. Your ﬁnancial life improves only when you become more intelligent and disciplined about money.
■ACCEPT PEOPLE THE WAY THEY ARE
Especially, honesty means that you accept people the way they are, not demanding that they be the way you want. You do not go through life wishing, hoping, and expecting that people will change and be different so as to suit you. One of the basic principles of hu- man life is that, with few exceptions, people don’t change.
In fact, under pressure, people not only do not change, but they become even more of what they already are inside. If a person has a difﬁcult personality, under pressure he will become even more difﬁ- cult. If someone is stubborn or inﬂexible, when she is put under pressure she will become even more stubborn and inﬂexible. If a person is slightly dishonest, when he is subjected to pressure or temptation he will become totally dishonest. People don’t change.
■BUSINESS AND COMPETITION
Honesty in our fast-moving world also means that you see the world of business and competition as it is, not as you wish it were, espe- cially with regard to the explosion of information and technology. Many people think that they can make a token effort to keep up with the growth of knowledge in their ﬁeld and the growth of tech- nology in their work. But this minimum effort is not acceptable to the honest person. The truly honest person realizes that today you have to run just to stay in the same place. The truly honest person realizes that knowledge is doubling in every ﬁeld every two to three years, and this means that your knowledge has to double every two to three years as well.
Jack Welch, the past president and CEO of General Electric, once said, “If the rate of change outside your organization is greater than the rate of change inside your organization, the end is in sight.” This principle applies to you as a person as well. If you are not con- tinually learning and upgrading your skills, you are in danger of be- coming obsolete.
■WHAT ARE YOU WORTH?
All over the country today, people are being laid off or ﬁred by the thousands, and even hundreds of thousands, each year. In many cases, these people have allowed their levels of knowledge and skill to decline to the point where their companies could no longer af- ford to keep them on the payroll.
Many of them were not completely honest with themselves. They did not continually upgrade their knowledge and skills so they could continue to add more and more value to their companies. They hoped that the dramatic changes taking place in the national and international economies would not affect them. And as a result, they got caught in the layoffs when the market for their products or services slowed down.
It takes the average white-collar professional two to seven months to ﬁnd another job, usually taking a pay cut of 14 to 40 per- cent. Some people get laid off from highly paid jobs and never make that kind of money again. And if they don’t get busy upgrading their knowledge and skills, it can happen again.
■FOCUS ON ADDING VALUE
Honesty means that you accept that your income is totally deter- mined by your ability to contribute value to your company and, through your company, to your customers. An individual must gen- erate three dollars of bottom-line proﬁt for every dollar of salary or income that the person earns from the company. If you are not cur- rently generating three dollars of proﬁt or cost savings to the bot- tom line for your company, your job is a prime candidate for outsourcing, downsizing, or eliminating. Honesty means that you accept this as a fact and then do everything in your power to main- tain and increase your value.
True honesty means that you never expect to get out more than you put in.You never expect to get something for nothing.You don’t gamble or buy lottery tickets, which in a way is an act of dishonesty. It is an attempt to get something that you have not earned. The truly honest person never attempts to get rewards without working, or to get rich quick or easy.
In the United States today, millions of people are attracted to the quickﬁx. If they are employees or executives, they want new and bet- ter jobs, and they want them immediately. They are always looking for shortcuts, and as a result they are always frustrated and unhappy. They hope that problems that have taken many months and years to develop can be solved with a silver bullet of some kind. They are impatient and they want immediate results. But being an honest person requires that you resist the temptation of the quick ﬁx in any part of your life.
■TRUST IS THE GLUE
Relationships are central to a happy, healthy, satisfying life. All rela- tionships are based on trust. Trust is the glue that holds relation- ships together. You can have all kinds of problems and disagreements with another person, but as long as the trust and re- spect are still there, the relationship can endure. But, if anything ever happens to the trust, the relationship can fall apart quickly, like a house of cards collapsing.
All business relationships are based on trust. All relationships that involve money are dependent on the word of the borrower or the creditor. All relationships with your bankers, your suppliers, your customers, your staff, and everyone else in your ﬁnancial world are based on that critical element of trust.
Men and women of high integrity are fastidious about the levels of trust that they have built and maintained. They are careful about their credit, and about their ﬁnancial commitments and arrange- ments. They always keep their word. They are careful about their banking relationships, their credit cards, their bills, and any money that they owe at any time.
■A TALE OF TWO BANKRUPTCIES
Some years ago, two people I knew well, in two different businesses, were forced into bankruptcy because of the economic downturn. But the outcomes of their bankruptcies were completely different.
The ﬁrst of my friends had been meticulously careful about all of his bills and ﬁnances throughout his career. He had always paid at least the minimum amounts on his charge cards. If ever he had a ﬁnancial problem, he went to the person affected and rearranged payments and interest. When he was ﬁnally forced into bankruptcy, by a massive and unexpected ﬁnancial default over which he had no control, he had no choice but to go to court, give up all his assets, and walk away penniless.
But within a week, people were approaching him and offering him money, loans, ofﬁces, credit cards, a place to live, and a new car. One of his previous business associates, quite wealthy, mailed him a blank check already signed, saying, “Just ﬁll in the amount you need and let me know for my records; I have complete faith in you.” Aside from removing a great burden of debt from him, his bankruptcy hardly affected him at all.
The second businessman, however, had a completely different experience. When he started to have ﬁnancial problems, he con- tinually misled and deceived his creditors, people who had trusted him. He neglected to make payments he had promised, and wrote checks that he couldn’t cover. He avoided his creditors when they phoned, and he eventually changed his telephone number. He moved and didn’t tell anyone his new address. He treated people who had trusted him by lending him money as if they were stupid. When he ﬁnally went bankrupt, no one wanted anything to do with him. It will take him years to recover, if he ever does. He can’t even get a credit card; he now has to pay cash for everything.
■THE KEY TO SALES SUCCESS
In sales, trust is the foundation of all relationships. A person will not buy from you until he or she trusts you completely. All top sales- people invest a good deal of time building high-quality, trusting relationships with their clients before they ever attempt to sell their products or services.
An association to which I belong commissioned a $50,000 sur- vey of customers last year. Since most of our organizations sell forms of training and consulting services that are somewhat similar, they wanted to ﬁnd out what caused a purchaser to buy from one company and not another.
One of the questions they asked the customers was what they were most concerned with in making a buying decision. More than 80 percent of the respondents to the survey said that the honesty and integrity of the salesperson was more important than any other factor.
When they asked them what they meant by honesty and in- tegrity in a salesperson, the customers replied that this meant that the salesperson put their interests ﬁrst. They believed that the sales- person would keep his or her word. They believed the salesperson’s claims about the product. They believed that the salesperson would do what he or she promised, and that the company would fulﬁll any commitments that the salesperson made. They had a high level of conﬁdence in the word of the salesperson and in everything that he or she did or said in interactions with them.
An interesting fact that came out of this survey was that the quality of the product or service was hardly mentioned. When cus- tomers were asked about their concerns over product quality, they replied that they felt that most products or services at a particular level were fairly similar and would achieve the results offered. The key to the sale was how they felt about the character of the salesper- son, and through the salesperson, the company itself.
■TRUTHFULNESS IS THE KEY TO CHARACTER
The real essence of character, and the most recognizable expression of honesty and integrity, is truthfulness. If you are completely truth- ful with yourself and others, you will almost always be viewed as a person of high character.
In our society, men and women of character seem to attract op- portunities. Doors are opened for them wherever they go. They are introduced to people who can help them. Money and other re- sources are made available to them. This is why the most important quality you can instill in your children is a sense of honesty and the habit of truthfulness in everything they do or say.
■PARENTS AND CHILDREN
I have four children. Each of my children has been brought up hav- ing the importance of truthfulness drummed into them from an early age. Today, all four of them are adamant truth tellers. They are completely honest. I can ask them any question and they will always tell me the truth.
When they were growing up, I made them each a promise. I said, “You will never get into trouble with me for telling the truth.” And I kept my word. When they did something foolish, as all chil- dren do, I would listen to their stories without judging or criticizing and then ask, “Well, what did you learn?” They soon learned that they could always tell the truth and never suffer criticism or disap- proval. They loved it.
Sometimes they fool around, but all I have to do is ask them for the truth and they will always give it to me, whatever it is. I’m very proud of them. It is absolutely amazing how much better relation- ships are between parents and children when they absolutely trust each other.
■HUSBANDS AND WIVES
What is true for communications between parents and children is even more important for husbands and wives. One of the best deﬁn- itions of love that I have ever heard is by Ayn Rand: “Love is a re- sponse to values.”
You love another person because he or she represents values that you respect and cherish. The other person embodies qualities that you admire. In short, you love another person for his or her character. All else will change or fade away over time, but character remains.
Truthfulness and honesty between couples requires ﬁdelity and straightforwardness between the two at all times. If a couple is ide- ally suited, they absolutely trust each other and are each other’s best friends. There is no one that they would rather talk to or express themselves more honestly with than the other. Character, integrity, and honesty are the foundation qualities of a loving relationship, and are more important than anything else.
■THE UNIVERSAL MAXIM
There is a wonderful test that you can give yourself on a regular ba- sis to measure whether an act is good or bad, right or wrong. It is simple and you can use it throughout life. It is based on the Univer- sal Maxim of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, postulated more than 200 years ago. He said that you should live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.
In other words, before you make a decision or take an action, imagine that everyone else was going to do exactly the same thing. Imagine that your decision was going to become a law for yourself and everyone else. This is the true test of whether your decision is a good one. It is the true test of a value or behavior. What kind of so- ciety would we have if everyone lived and behaved exactly the way you do?
Many of the problems in our society would not exist if this test were applied regularly in debates over public and social policy. Gov- ernments would be slower to approve certain actions in the areas of crime, education, welfare, and business if there was a likelihood that everyone would engage in those actions.
■SET HIGH STANDARDS FOR YOURSELF
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself on a regular basis: First, ask yourself, “What kind of a world would my world be if everyone in it were just like me?” Just imagine! If everyone in the world were just like you, would this be a better world in which to live? If every- one in the world were just like you, would this be a happier, health- ier, more prosperous, and more harmonious world—or not?
Then, ask yourself, “What kind of a country would my country be if everyone in it were just like me?” What would this country be like if everybody in it behaved exactly the way you do? If everyone did the things that you do in your daily life and work, would this be a better country? Or are there some things that you might do differently?
The third question you can ask yourself is, “What kind of a com- pany would my company be if everyone in it were just like me?” Look around you in your company and ask yourself if your company would be more prosperous and harmonious if everybody in it did their work exactly the way you do your work all day long.
The ﬁnal question that you can ask yourself is, “What kind of a family would my family be if everyone in it was just like me?”
If all the members of your family were just like you, would your family be a wonderful place to live and grow up in? Would every- body in your family thrive and be happier and more successful? Would you have the kind of family that other people would point to and admire and want to be like?
The fact is that no one can answer “yes” to all of these ques- tions. Each of us is a workin progress. Each of us has a long way go. Each of us has a lot of room for improvement.
■THE QUALITY OF COURAGE
In a review of 3,300 studies of leadership conducted by James McPherson over the years, he found a common denominator. It was the quality of courage. Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend.”
You have heard it said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The world is full of people with high and lofty goals and ambitions, but there are very few people who have the courage, the discipline, and the willpower to carry them out.
The best part of practicing the quality of courage is that each time you behave courageously, you feel stronger and better about yourself. Your self-esteem increases and you like yourself more. You feel more conﬁdent and competent.You feel happier inside.
In contrast, each time you compromise yourself in the area of courage your self-esteem goes down. You feel weaker and less com- petent.You don’t like or respect yourself as much.
■DO THE THING YOU FEAR
A fundamental part of becoming personally powerful requires that you live consistently with the highest values you know, in every area of your life. These virtues and values not only are self-reinforcing, they also are self-rewarding. You get an immediate payoff of inner satisfaction each time you force yourself to do what you know you should do, even when you don’t feel like it.
The fear of failure is the greatest single obstacle to success in adult life. The antidote to the fear of failure is the courage to take action. Courage is so important as a quality that, like physical ﬁt- ness, it requires a series of exercises to build it and maintain it.
You best way to develop courage is by facing your fears. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”
When you do the thing that you are afraid of, you take control over both your emotions and your life. You shift your attitude from neutral or negative to positive and optimistic. “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”
■PRACTICE SYSTEMATIC DESENSITIZATION
Many people fear public speaking. But Toastmasters International has developed a powerful method of teaching public speaking even to people who are absolutely terriﬁed of the idea of standing up and speaking in front of others. It is the process of “systematic desensiti- zation.” You can use it in every area of your life to reduce fear and build courage.
Systematic desensitization is a psychological term that refers to your doing something over and over again until it no longer holds any fear for you. In Toastmasters International, each member is re- quired to stand up and speak, even if just for a few seconds, at every meeting. After several months of weekly meetings, people who were so terriﬁed of speaking in front of others that they could not lead silent prayer in a phone booth become so conﬁdent about their abil- ity to stand up and speak in front of peers that they compete for longer opportunities to talk.
■SPEAK ON YOUR FEET
I have worked with countless executives who have taken my advice and joined Toastmasters International or taken a course from the Dale Carnegie organization. Within six months, they tell me that they are completely different people. From being shy and self-effacing at meetings and in presentations, they be- come calm, conﬁdent, bold, and even eloquent in expressing their points on their feet with other people. And their careers take off as well.
When you can speak on your feet, you appear to be smarter and more competent than a person who cannot. Many executives, both men and women, have seen their careers take off, their incomes in- crease, and their responsibilities expand as they faced their fears by speaking over and over again and until they became very good on their feet.
■TURN TOWARD DANGER
On the Serengeti Plain of Africa, zoologists have developed a sim- ple technique to determine which one of the animals in the herd is the leader.
When a predator—a lion or cheetah—approaches a herd of grazing animals, the members of the herd pick up the scent in the wind and begin drifting away in the opposite direction. At this time, the leader of the herd will emerge. The leader will be the animal that places himself between the predator and the herd while the herd be- gins to ﬂee. The leader, risking his life facing the lion or cheetah that is moving in on the herd, will nonetheless stand his ground to buy time for the others to escape.
The leader always “turns toward danger.” This is as true for hu- man beings as it is for animals. You become a leader to the degree to which you force yourself to turn toward danger as well. You identify the areas in your life that cause you fear and stress, and in- stead of avoiding them and hoping that they will go away, you con- front them directly.
■DO IT ANYWAY
The actor Glenn Ford once said, “If you do not do the thing you fear, the fear controls your life.”
It is almost as if the fear is the puppeteer and you are the pup- pet. If you don’t deal with the fear,and cut the strings that hold you to the fear, the fear will cause you to dance emotionally and psycho- logically. If you let a fear go on for too long, it will tend to grow and grow and eventually come to dominate all of your thinking.
Each time you think of the fearful situation or person, your heart will beat faster and your stomach will churn. You will be unable to sleep well at night. The fear will affect your health, your happiness, your relationships, and your interactions with your customers and co- workers. Over time, you will become so preoccupied with the fear- inducing situation that you will not be able to think of anything else. This is no way to live.
■FACE THE FEAR
The way you deal with fear is to confront the fear. You resolve to face the fear, deal with the fear, and put an end to the fear.
When I was a young man and confronted with a fearful situa- tion, I read a quote from Mark Twain that changed my attitude for- ever. It said, “Courage is not lack of fear or absence of fear. It is mastery of fear, control of fear.”
Those words had an enormous impact on me. I realized that we are all afraid of many things. To be afraid is normal and natural. In fact, the more intelligent you are, the greater number of possible fears you will have. You will have a greater sensitivity to your world and to the things it is logical for you to fear.
■MOVE TOWARD THE FEAR
The only difference between the brave person and the coward is that the brave person confronts the fear and deals with it while the coward turns from the fear and ﬂees from it.
And here is a great discovery. When you confront a fear and move toward it, it diminishes and grows smaller. It loses its hold over you. But if you back away from a fear, it grows larger and soon takes control of your thoughts and feelings.
When you habitually turn toward danger, do the thing you fear, face the fear, and move toward it bravely, it loses its power to affect you. Soon you dominate the fear rather than having it dominate you. You feel a tremendous sense of control. The quality that you need to face your fears, more than anything else, is the quality of self-discipline.
Wonderfully enough, when you discipline yourself to face your fears, to act courageously, even when you don’t feel like it, your fear situation goes away. You will feel terriﬁc about yourself. You will have a sense of power and control over your life.
■LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR
The ﬁrst part of courage is the courage to launch in the direction of your goal. It is the ability and willingness for you to set a goal and then take the ﬁrst step in the direction of achieving it.
In a 12-year study at Babson College, entrepreneurial instructor Dr. Robert Ronstadt searched for the reasons for success or failure among the graduates of the business school. Some went on to build successful businesses, but most did not. He discovered that those who built successful businesses had a special quality. It was that they had the courage to launch their businesses with no guarantees of suc- cess. They were willing to risk failure in the pursuit of their dreams.
Professor Ronstadt called this the “corridor principle.” He said that when you launch toward your goal, however distant, you begin to move down a corridor of time. As you move down this corridor, other doors of opportunity will open up on either side of you. But you would not have been able to see these other doors of opportu- nity if you were not already in motion down this psychological cor- ridor toward your goal.
Most people who succeed in life achieve their success in an area completely different from the ﬁeld in which they started off. But be- cause they were in motion, they saw opportunities and possibilities that they would not have been aware of if they had waited until everything was just right. And the fact is that everything will never be just right.
■THE IRON QUALITY OF SUCCESS
If the ﬁrst part of courage is the willingness to begin; the second part of courage is the willingness to endure. It is the courage to hang in there. It is the courage to stay the course. It is the courage to persist in the face of every setback and difﬁculty.
Self-discipline is the iron quality of character. It is what en- ables you to endure. Self-discipline is the one quality that gives you the strength that you need to take risks and to move forward in the face of danger and uncertainty. It is self-discipline, and the courage that comes from self-discipline, that develops personal power within you that enables you to overcome any obstacle in your way.
■DIFFERENT FORMS OF COURAGE
There are several forms of courage that you can develop with prac- tice. These forms of courage will help you to achieve the great suc- cess that is possible for you. They are all learnable with practice.
➤ Dream Big Dreams
The ﬁrst form of courage is the courage to dream big dreams and to set big goals. This is where most people are stopped. The very idea of setting big, challenging, exciting, worthwhile goals is so over- whelming that they quit before they even begin. But this is not for you. Sit down, write out your goals as if anything were possible for you, and never be afraid to dream big dreams.
➤ Make a Commitment
The second type of courage is the courage to make a total com- mitment, throwing yourself wholeheartedly into whatever it is you decide to do. All successful people of my experience are people who are living fully engaged. They are fully involved in their lives and in their goals. They don’t do things by half measures. They may have no guarantees, but they are not afraid to put their whole hearts into their activities. If they fail, they fail by trying greatly, not by playing it safe, wishing and hoping that everything will work out all right.
➤ Move out of Your Comfort Zone
The third type of courage you need is the courage to move out of your comfort zone. It is the courage to move into your zone of dis- comfort, where you feel awkward, clumsy, and alone. The comfort zone is one of the greatest enemies of human potential. When peo- ple get into a comfort zone, they strive to stay in that comfort zone. Often their whole lives pass them by while they are furnishing and reinforcing their little rut of medium performance.
You need the courage to continually move yourself in the direc- tion of your biggest goals and ambitions. You need to be willing to face discomfort in order for you to grow.
➤ Take a Stand
The fourth type of courage you need is the courage to take a stand, especially with regard to your values, your vision, and your beliefs. You need to stand up for what you believe to be right. You need to stand up for other people who espouse those principles.You need to have the courage to stand solidly for the highest values that you know, and then refuse to compromise yourself or your character be- cause others may disapprove.
➤ Step Out in Faith
You need the courage to launch in faith with no guarantees of suc- cess. Someone once wrote, “If every obstacle must ﬁrst be overcome, nothing will ever get done.”
Courageous people are those who have a dream and set a goal, make a plan and take the ﬁrst step, with no assurances and no guarantees that their efforts will result in success. However, if you look upon every step forward as a learning experience and every setback as a valuable lesson that has been sent to you to make you stronger and better, you will not be afraid to launch in faith into the unknown.
➤ Risk Failure
You need the courage to risk failure. You need the courage to en- dure constant setbacks, disappointments, and temporary defeats. You need to learn to deal with failure by realizing that it is an in dispensable prerequisite for success. You need the courage to treat failure as an opportunity to more intelligently begin again. You need to overcome the fear of failure by doing the things you fear over and over again, and then by resolving to bounce rather than break when things don’t work out for you.
The bigger and more exciting the goals you set for yourself, the more times you will trip and fall. But as long as you have clear goals, you will always be failing and falling in a forward direction. You will always be picking yourself up a little bit closer to the goal than you were before.
➤ Face Your Fears
You need the courage to turn toward danger continuously. Identify all the fear situations in your life that cause you stress or anxiety to- day. Decide what the worst possible outcome of each of those situa- tions might be. Resolve to accept the worst, should it occur. And then take action to resolve each of those situations. Refuse to allow a fear situation to remain in your life, dominating your thinking and emotions and holding you back.
➤ Practice Zero-Based Thinking
You need the courage to practice zero-based thinking continuously in your life. Ask yourself, “Is there anything in my life that, knowing what I now know, I would not get into or start up again today if I had it to do over?”
There are situations in every person’s life that, knowing what they now know, they wouldn’t get into again if they had to do it over. If you decide that there is something you wouldn’t get into again, your next question is how do you get out and how fast?
You cannot make a great life for yourself if, right in the middle of your life, if there is something that you wouldn’t even get into if you had it to do over again. And you always know when you are dealing with a zero-based thinking situation. It causes you a great deal of stress. It preoccupies you continually. It sometimes keeps you awake at night and dominates your conversation. You always know what it is.