THE FUNDAMENTALS FOR SUCCESS
EDET B. EFFIOM
“I am convinced”, Zacchaeus said, that life is just a game, here on earth, a game where no one need be a loser, no matter what his plight or condition may be. I believe that everyone can enjoy the fruits of victory but I am equally as certain that, like all other games, one cannot participate in this mysterious act of living with any hope of satisfaction unless one understands a few simple rules.”
The Greatest Success in the World
Have you ever spent some time pondering over the existence and the functioning of everything around you, including human beings? If you have, what have been your conclusions? If you have not, I suggest that you take a minute or two and do a little fact-finding exercise. Wherever you are now, I suggest that you just look around you and observe very carefully all that you can see, including the sky.
If I say that you have seen hundreds of things within a few minutes, I do not think that would be an exaggeration. Now if I may ask, what do you think all of them have in common? This may seem to be an odd question, but it is worth reflecting upon, for it is important to our existence, as they have at least one thing in common. The sun, the air you are breathing right now, your electronic appliances, the electricity which you use almost every minute of your life, the car you are driving, your pets, flowers and plants, even your very person—I mean everything under the Universe—all have one thing in common.
That is, Laws entirely governs their existence and functioning.
In other words, you are living in a world that is entirely governed by laws. Whether you realise it or not, whatever happens to you is as a result of either an abuse or ignorance of one or some of these laws or as a result of their application. Therefore, certain laws also govern success, as it is one of the world’s phenomena.
If you yearn for success, it is necessary that you know and obey its laws and principles, at least the basic ones. Even when you achieve it, you still have to obey it laws, else instead of giving you an avalanche of joy and happiness, it is likely to leave behind just the opposite.
After this discovery, there are two questions that worth asking. What is your meaning of life? Moreover, what do you think is the reason for your being here on earth? Do you think you are here on earth by an accident? These questions are very important, and they deserve pondering upon, for your success depends on your answers. Your inability to answer them correctly is just like a student who studies physics for a history examination. I leave you to imagine what the outcome would be.
These questions have puzzled innumerable prominent philosophers for thousands of years. While many of them have thrown inn their towels, others have been coming up with implausible guesses. The research that Dr. Hugh Moorhead, a philosophy professor at North-eastern Illinois University confirms this difficulty of finding the meaning of life. He wrote to 250 very prominent philosophers, scientists, writers, and other intellectuals worldwide, asking them, what they think the meaning of life is, and then published their answers in a book. While some gave guessed answers, others admitted that they just created a purpose for their life, and the rest admitted that they had no idea whatever.
The universal opinion about life is that, it is all about our personality, our vocation, what we eat or drink, what we do for our leisure time, etc. Most people believe that if they can earn a lot of money, have expensive dresses, eat whatever they wish; live an exorbitant life, then they assume that they are having a wonderful life. All these satisfy only man’s appetites, and not their deepest longings—this is the one of the reasons most very well to do people have the feeling of emptiness, and dissatisfaction.
Real life comes from total commitment to God—the Creator of life. Total commitment to God requires discipline, sacrifice, and hard work, and that is why most people never find or have a successful life. At first, it may not seem to be as much fun as the popular way of living, but gradually, as our relationship with God deepens, it strengthens our character, and gives birth to peace of mind, and profound satisfaction. The long-term rewards of obeying God are unimaginable.
The answer to the second question is that, we are here on earth to be prepared for eternity. We were brought here to love, and fellowship with one other and to learn how to love and worship God. These are timeless activities, for they are what prevail in the Heaven. While we learn to glorify God from all his creation around us, we also learn to love both God and our fellow men and women by living in communion with other people, and by sharing all the potentials, gifts and God’s boundless blessings with them. On doing these, happiness is inevitable.
The principle that states, “Do to others what you expect them to do to you” is one of the most classical values worth not only knowing, but also respecting. This is the most recognised principle, yet the most ignored. Many people have phrased it differently. A popular saying states, “As you dress your bed, so you lie on it.”
No matter how this philosophy is put, the effect of its application remains the same; that is, if you hurt others, you will surely reap its rewards, especially if the victim of your action does not revenge. The Bible makes it very explicit as it states, “Whatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap.” The longer it takes you to reap, the greater your reward will be. This is why the wicked rarely have peace of mind; though outwardly, they pretend to be happy, but inwardly, they are very miserable.
This leads us to a related law, which states that we should love our neighbours like ourselves. The first question that might be asked is who is our neighbour? Our neighbour is anyone of any race, creed, or social background who is in need. In other words, loving your neighbours like yourself means, helping anyone who is in need, irrespective of your similarity of differences.
Wherever you live, there are needy people around you. Sometimes, your assistance can be negligible, but its effects quite significant. The advantages of respecting this law are two-fold. First, the more help you offer to others, the more you will be blessed and second, it always makes you happier, and it gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Another thing that most people often misunderstand is what I will call here Mr. PROBLEM. If this man confronts you, how do you receive him? Do you receive him as an enemy or as a friend? Personally, I always receive him not only as a friend, but also as a good one. In fact, he has been visiting me regularly.
Why do I welcome him as a good friend? It is because I realise that problems come to open new doors for me. The same also applies to you. After an encounter with Mr. PROBLEM, you will never be the same. He always comes to give you more experience, making you stronger morally and mentally, and he comes to give you more wisdom. Honestly speaking, problems can never occur without opportunities accompanying him for you to benefit from. Again, irrespective of how he comes, he does so to prepare you for the future.
Why not follow the golden advice of Oliver Wendell Holmes, who stated as follows, “If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round. The trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I do not embrace trouble: that is as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend, for you’ll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.”
Why should I be in terms with problems? You may ask. The reason is that, God has a purpose for all problems—every problem has spiritual signification. Sometimes, he uses them to draw us closer to himself, because desperation due to them, forces us to be dependent on him. This is to our own good; for, Romans 8:28 tells us that, “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.” King James Version puts it differently, it says, “Everything works for the good for those who love God.”
It is worth realising that all problems bring with it, character-building opportunity, and the more serious the crisis, the greater the potential for strengthening us spiritually. Paul confirms this as he writes in Romans 5:3 – 4, it states, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patient develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.”
I believe this was what happened because of my separation with my ex-wife Charity. She left with my two boys, with her lover in January 1996. At the end of the same month, I lost my job. Two months later, she came and destroyed all my cloths, including shoes, ties, belts, et cetera. Then, I felt as if it was the end of the world, especially, the sudden disappearance of my children in my live. My only comfort was that, I understood that nothing is eternal, except God, and that He was with me. God used that circumstance to strengthen me mentally and spiritually, thereby, drawing me closer to him. Since then, I have been privileged to meet and advice many people who are passing through separation and divorce; consequently, I am writing about it.
I wish to point out here that, predicaments do not automatically produce God’s intention for us, except if we respond positively to them, instead of bitterly; else, we will never grow through them.
Now you may wonder how you could respond to problems positively. The answer lies in your attitude, and the best one to have towards problems is to thank God for it as the Bible advices “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” You have to be thankful to God because first, he trusts you and know that you can handle the situation successfully. Second, character refinement through predicaments is the ultimate preparation for eternity.
All these could be summed up to the fact that, problems or difficulties that you encounter, help develop your patience—which in turn will strengthen your character, deepen your trust in God, and give you greater confidence about the future.
However, it is important to point out that, what has just been written so far about problems or difficulties should not be used as an excuse for swimming in them. For so doing is to waste resources—such as time, energy, and money. Besides, it can delay the attainment of your desired success.
The good news is that, most problems are avoidable, as either ignorance or negligence often causes them. In other words, being more careful in everything you do, and depending on God could eliminate most of our encounters with Mr. Problem.
It is quite true that you will see lots of it as long as you live. For it is impossible to live without problems, difficulties, or obstacles. This is because character development is a slow and continues process, and since problems are to help refine our character, they have to be an integral part of our life; more so, as our character development only ends the day we answer the nature’s ultimate call.
Besides, without problems, life would be very boring, and we would be living like animals as all our possessions—the house we are living in, our cars, the food we eat, even the cloths we put on, came about because of people trying to solve their daily problems.
This brings us to another unfathomable reality about life. It is the fact that when things happen to our loved ones, or us we often ask the question why me or us? What we fail to comprehend is that, it is impossible for us to know everything or all the reasons that things occur to us. In other words, we can never understand all the reasons, and how God does everything. He does not reveal everything to us, because of the followings: our finite minds cannot understand some of the infinite aspects of God’s universe, some things are not necessary for us to know, and finally, since God is infinite and all-knowing, it is simply impossible for us—infinite minds, to know everything he does.
As you are preparing your mind for success, there are some other things worth noting, and here they are referred to as the “Triplet”. If you want success, you must watch them very carefully, as their effect is as dangerous to the mind as the nuclear bomb is to the human race. They deserve their name because the three are always together. They are: indecision, doubt and fear.
Indecision is the seedling of fear. It crystallises into doubt, and the two blend and become fear. These three would be fully treated later, and you would be advised on how to eliminate them, for when they are present, it is impossible to achieve success, no matter how hard you may work.
I which to bring to your notice, a natural phenomenon, which is the most fundamental principles of life that many rarely think about, yet it is very real in our daily lives. It is very real right from our birth, and will ever remain so until our death—even until the end of the world. This principle is called “Change.” Change takes place independent of our desire.
Change is all around us. While some changes come about gradually, others happen more rapidly. There is nothing in the world that this phenomenon does not affect. Some changes are anticipated and welcome, other are unexpected and even frightening. However and whenever they come, they have to be confronted, for they are unavoidable.
In relation to success, change is a double-edged sword. It can bring success if it is anticipated, planned for, and on arriving, it is analysed and the opportunities that accompany it are exploited to one’s best advantage. Surely, many changes cannot be anticipated—example September 11th. An example of unanticipated change is the one brought about by natural disasters, such as the tsunami of the 26 December 2005 in Southeast Asia, where thousands of people lost their live, and properties of billions of Euros destroyed. Another example is that of a cyclone such as cyclone Katrina of August 2006 that devastated and killed hundreds of people in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mississippi, in the southern part of the United States. Therefore, the issue is to be flexible and responsive to change. Conversely, if it is not anticipated and planned for, its arrival could be followed by shock, desperation, and confusion of both thought and action. In the presence of any of the just-mentioned, success has only one reaction—it disappears.
The question that could be asked is, what about devastating unexpected changes, how could one handle it? First, God has prepared us adequately for whatever will happen to us, as nothing happens by accident. Hence, you need to lean on him to give you the strength, courage, and the wisdom to handle the situation creatively. Furthermore, through our family, friends and associates, and neighbours’ assistance, we could successfully pass through the situation. Their assistance might be morally, spiritually, or even materially.
When talking about « Change », there is what Psychologists call the theory of paradoxical change. It states that, grumbling holds back progress, but acceptance of the situation facilitates change. Quite often, one cannot find a solution to his of her problem without accepting its existence.
Now, there is another important point that I must bring to your notice, for it is the root of happiness and misery, failure and success, and it brings about most of the things that happen to you. Even if you forget every other point, do not forget this. Quite often, whatever you believe is what happens to you, especially, if you allow it to dominate your thought.
If you believe that God created you to be a winner, that you were born to be successful, and if you believe that everybody and everything are there to help you to realise your dreams, nothing in this world will ever stand between you and success. Conversely, if you are a paranoid, the opposite is also very true.
How does this work? It is simple. Whatever you believe creeps into your thought, and as your thought is the offspring of your subconscious mind, it is nurtured by it, until your thought becomes a reality. The realisation of the offspring of your thoughts may or may not take time, depending on certain factors, which would be explained later.
What I term as belief factor, is very important and directly connected to the achievement of success, because our belief is the offspring of our values. The former influences all our behaviours; consequently, it has the tendency of transforming everything about us, including our circumstances. I believe, this was the reason Christ laid so much emphasis on the word belief, in his teachings, because his teachings were based on one main principle, transformation—transformation of our character to reflect that of his father.
What is the foundation of your belief? The ultimate source of the belief that is liberating—the one that will give you joy and happiness is the one that is rooted in God through the death on the cross of his only son Jesus Christ. Any other source of belief is enslaving, and it always bring along anxiety, frustration and desperation.
The next fact that is very necessary to be understood is that, humanity can perform all kinds of technological wonders. He can find stars invisible to the naked eyes, he has visited space, and is even trying now to make it a tourist destination, and he can store volumes of information on microscopic chips. Nevertheless, even the most intelligent scientists in the world, on their own, cannot discover or understand the meaning of life.
This mystery of life does not only concern the scientific world, for sometimes people also look to philosophers and other leaders or group of leaders to solve this equation of life, by giving them the direction for living. Irrespective of who ventures to solve this equation, the result is always the same. That is, human beings are unable to produce enough knowledge or insight to explain the totality of human experience—the ultimate interpretation of life, of whom we are, and where we are going, is absolutely beyond human understanding.
However, a tiny proportion of this equation can be solved. The ability to solve it lies outside human intelligence or understanding. It lies in discovering that wisdom is the only ladder to perceiving the meaning of life. How can this wisdom be obtained? You may ask. It can be found through its source and Creator, which is God, and this is by realising that the true wisdom is seeking God’s perspective of life. As the Creator of life, he is the only one who knows what is best for his creation. Hence, it is fruitless for human beings to try to become wise merely through their own observations and efforts, because as Inventor sees the purpose of his or her invention, God alone sees the greater purpose for his world—his creation.
Furthermore, there is a hidden fact that many are yet to discover; it is a double-sided phenomenon, and your ability to succeed in life depends on how you could balance the two sides. This fact is a basic economic principle—input-output or import-export dichotomy. Regrettably, we seldom apply this principle to our daily life.
What exactly is this fact, and how does it relates to our subject matter—success? This is what I shall call the principle of continuity, and it states that, during your existence on earth, exploit your potentials and all the resources around you as much as necessary, and before leaving, contribute as much as possible to the world, and its future generations. The most important fact is not what you will take when you will be gone, because you will take almost nothing, but what you will leave behind.
The easiest illustration of this principle is in the production establishments. A manufacturing company acquires its necessary raw materials, processes it, and then supplies its output to the consumers (the society). Its ability to stay in business is directly dependent on its input – output ratio; the more the output surpasses the input, the more profitable the business. In other words, the more the revenue exceeds the expenditure, the better the economic health of the company.
This is also applicable to our existence in this world—the more we exploit the resources that our Creator has put in our disposal, and then contribute to the continuity of our world, the more successful we are.
As we are three-dimensional being—mind, body, and the spirit, contributing to our world in at least one of these areas, is the best we can do for ourselves. The fulfilment of this principle will inevitably give you the feeling of accomplishment, because it is one of your missions here on earth. You should ask yourself this important question: if you were to die today, what legacy would you leave behind? Are you taking more than you are giving into the world?
Very regrettably, most people are taking as much as they can, without not only planning to leave anything to our successors, but also even trying to destroy what they came to see. This is the issue of the environment, where many in our generation are directly, or indirectly destroying our environment, with all types of pollutions, and global warming intensifying actions, without thinking of the future generations. Despite the out-cry from most of the members of the scientific community, many decision makers, who have the power to positively influence decisions that could contribute to leaving a better environment to our future generations, are turning a blind hear.
Now, I think you have already been well prepared for the life-changing pilgrimage, for I have pointed out few laws that can bring success. I am leaving the rest for you to discover for yourself. Remember, there is no obstacle between you and success, but yourself.
This is Chapter 1 of my book entitled, "In search of Success"
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