Sunday, February 2, 2014 / by Lela Ashkarian
- The Crossing, Living a Life Without Regret
Lela Ashkarian, PA, CRS, GRI, e-PRO
Sowing the Seeds of Success
Believe in yourself! Have faith in
Your abilities! Without a humble
But reasonable confidence in your
Own powers, you cannot be
Successful or happy.
Rev. Norman Vincent Peale
Success comes in many different ways. Some people earn it through hard work, and some through education. Others simply achieve it by applying their most predominant ability or skills. The bottom line is that prosperity and success come from within not from the outside. Surefire ingredients for success include relentless commitment to one’s goals, being authentic, persistence, and being willing to take risks. Farming the land, as my father did, provides a good analogy for success in any job, business, or relationship. The farmer starts by planting healthy seeds, believing in his ability to tend to his crops, irrigating them, and then reaping a bountiful harvest.
We, too, must start with good seeds—healthy, positive thoughts and attitude, a strong self-image, confidence, and integrity to receive a positive result. To make these “seeds” grow success for us, we further need desire, determination, and diligence. None of these can be purchased at the local dollar store. They are inside each of us, however, and only we can tap into them to move us on our way to a life of greater abundance and happiness. We have to make a choice; it is ours for the making. Once this decision has been made, nothing can stop us!
1. Choosing to Change
We have to choose to change. Doing the same thing over and over again will only yield the same result. In his book, The Science of Getting Rich, Wallace D. Wattle wrote, “Getting rich is the result of doing things in a certain way.” I believe that we make our own success or failure. We have a choice to live or die, to be healthy or sick, to be happy or say. Will we choose life and continue to press forward? The decision is up to us.
2. Attitude Adjustment
At some point in our lives, we all need an attitude adjustment. Life throws us curves and gets our attitude out of balance. We lose a job, a spouse, a home, or a country, and we react as humans do. We grumble, gripe, and, most of all, we lose sight of the value of a good attitude. Carolyn Warner wrote these words, which have shaped my thoughts on the importance of one’s attitude:
I am convinced that attitude is the key to success in almost any of life’s endeavors. Your attitude—your perspective, your outlook, how you feel about yourself, how you feel about other people—determines your priorities, your actions, your values. Your attitude determines how you interact with other people and how you interact with yourself.
When we change our attitude, we change your life! In fact, the winner’s image is all about attitude. We come to this way of thinking, feeling, and acting a certain way in order to unfold our true being. Our authenticity is a vital piece of the success puzzle.
It takes a strong person to leave behind the ashes of loss, disappointment, and heartache, and all the negative emotions that revolve around those life experiences. We must part company with guilt, anger, frustration, and the “get-even” mentality that so often accompanies the breakdown of partnerships, whether business or personal.
We must examine our part in the failures that we have experienced. What was our attitude at the time? How much did we contribute to our own failures? How did we feel about others involved, and how did we treat them? Would the result have been different if we had adjusted our attitude? These questions are not easy to answer, but they must be addressed in order to move on to the next stage in our journey to success. As Earl Nightingale wrote:
A great attitude does much more than to turn on the lights in the world; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change.
Note the final words of that quote: “opportunities that were somehow absent before the change.” We miss opportunities for success and happiness when our attitude is in need of adjustment. When we undergo self-examination, and do so in complete honesty with ourselves, we open doors to the rich blessings of happiness and success.
My attitude and vision of what I want and where I truly want to be are much different than what I envisioned 12 years ago. By changing my attitude, I became a secretary of a U. S. Army general, an airport manager, and a successful entrepreneur, realtor, and investor. The bottom line is that we have to accept life as it comes. I turned ashes into beauty just by making small adjustments in my attitude. I love what Dr. Wayne Dyer says about attitude: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” How true these words are!
Aldous Huxley once said, “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self.” Looking back on all my years of disappointments and successes, I am convinced that if I had spent the same amount of energy concentrating solely on my own self-interest instead of giving it away to others, I would have been ten times better off materially than I am today. On the other hand, because I sacrificed myself, the negative experiences I had as a result awakened me to the path of self-realization and rebirth.
Passion, which is the power within, is far greater than anything I can imagine. One must go inside and dig deep to reform, rebuild, and reconnect; this can take a long time. Going through narrow path and enduring life’s ups and downs requires a brave heart. Perception is the basis of self-identity and self-esteem. It’s been said only 2% of people in the world have positive self-esteem.
How others saw me didn’t matter when I was growing up in Lebanon. How I saw myself did. In a place as small as Anjar, and in a country where women didn’t have any voice to speak up about religion, politics, achievement, business, and rights, people looked on me as someone who didn’t belong. I saw myself differently. I wanted to be heard and have a voice of my own. I acted differently and had different opinions and perceptions about religion and education. My perception of myself was for more powerful than the situation and environment in which I lived. I saw myself as a successful person from the beginning.
As I write this book, I’ve been in sales for 12years. Some salespeople have low sales and are always struggling to raise them, without success. Many of these people are always broke, they never look happy, and they are always in debt. Why? It’s because they are desperately trying to change their end result. The results in their lives are determined by their actions, and their actions are determined by their self-image. We need to understand that our results are a direct reflection of our self-image.
If a salesperson’s self-image is dependent on his or her sales volume, they are in error. They can change their result by improving their self-image. Similarly, we can begin immediately to plant a new self-image in our subconscious mind. We are completely responsible for our circumstances. If we want to change our circumstances, we have to change our self-image, thoughts, feelings, and actions. The difference between a successful person and those who are less successful is an awareness of a certain place within themselves. It’s called the higher self, and this higher self is perfection. If we want to succeed and call on our higher self, we will succeed not for ourselves alone, but for the entire universe.
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal,” Earl Nightingale has said. Our goals are always weighing heavily on us, always peering over our shoulders, adding pressure and stress when we fall short of our timetable. Then we go into crisis. This crisis is our turning point, our awakening. A turning point raises our consciousness, prompting us to ask ourselves how we got here and what we are doing.
When I finished my tour of serving the U.S. military in peacetime in Korea and Japan in 1989, I wanted to do what I always wanted to do: sell and buy properties for others and for myself. I asked Richard Allen, “Is there a way that I could become a salesperson in the United States?” He looked at me and said, “Sport, this is the land of opportunity. Ask and it shall be given unto you…” At that moment, my round eyes got wider and I shouted, “I’m in! Where do I start?” I didn’t have a clue that I would have to go to school to get a real estate license, and the first time I took the class would fail it. But I never gave up until I received my license. I walked, talked, and acted like a millionaire real estate agent. I always looked at my goals “as if” I had already accomplished what I wanted. I attended seminars, hired my own mentor, and worked for the most trusted company in the Florida Keys. I developed a system and became rookie of the year, and as the years progressed I continuously implemented these strategies and techniques, which brought me riches and abundance in my life.
I also was drawn to owning rental property, money lending, world travel, motivational speaking, and on an on. My specific goal was to purchase one piece of property per year until I had 20 properties by the time I turned 55. I wrote this goal on a on a 3 x 5 card and carried it in my pocket for years. I also specified what I would do to get where I wanted to be. I held onto that goal with faith until I was touching it with my hand and seeing it with my eyes. I studied this concept for years, and incorporated it into my real estate business and investments.
5. Write it down!
When I was still in secondary school at the Evangelical school in Anjar, an Armenian minister, the Reverend Jack Jambazian, visited us from California. He taught me to jot down my thoughts and prepare a “to do” list, noting everything that I wanted to do. This helped me prioritize my work and get a lot more done. I owe a lot of my success in life to this minister. We all fantasize one way or another. By putting our dreams and goals in writing we can help to make them more concrete. We can specify what, when, and how we’re going to undertake the process of getting where we are headed, what we need to do, what specific time we plan to achieve that goal, what we are willing to do and sacrifice for it, and why it is important to us.
Even now, I make sure to write down six things before going to bed that I want to accomplish the following day. The principle behind this is that when we write down our desires, needs, concerns, and worries and put that list by our bedside, our subconscious mind, which never sleeps, goes to work for us and starts solving any problems on the list.
6. Attracting What We Need to Grow
That which we desire, we attract. Understanding and practicing the law of attraction has been one of the key elements of my success. To desire is to expect, and to expect is to achieve. When we fully realize that thought causes everything, our life changes spiritually, emotionally, and financially. Nothing happens by accident or chance. It happens by design, discipline, and positive attitude. All we need to do in order to tap into this invisible power is to align ourselves with what we desire.
We can’t desire that which doesn’t exist. It’s like imagining we’re on an open fishing boat in the middle of the ocean. The sun is hot. We’re enjoying the day. Our purpose for being on the ocean is to have fun and catch some fish. When we’re casting our line, we’re expecting that we will catch a big fish. We have to be in alignment with the idea of catching that fish, attracting it to our bait. It will jerk us around for a moment, and we will feel the excitement, but if we don’t reel it in, we won’t be able to keep that fish.
Desiring without expectation that we will get what we desire is like idle wishing or daydreaming. We have to have a backbone, not a wishbone. Wishful thinking and prayer will get us nowhere. We need to get up from our chair and move our legs one step at a time to get closer to our goal. Quite often we concentrate on the past more than we live in the present. The past is the past. We have to let the dead bury the dead, and start working on what we want to attract. We need to expect that we will succeed and allow it to come to us.
It helps to remove ourselves from reasoning and to disbelieve what our mind tells us. Where there is only reasoning, there is no faith. Where there is faith, there is hope, and when we have hope of getting what we desire in life, we will achieve it. We need to seek, study, learn, and meditate on the secret law of mental creation. Nature doesn’t deprive us; rather, it provides us with all that is essential and good for us. We need only form a clear mental picture of what we want, without specifying its particular form or how it will come to us. We don’t need to force it, just to let the energy flow. When the little fearful voice within us tries to tell us that this might not work, there is no need to give energy to that thought.
7. Making Money
Money is energy, and energy always returns to its origin. Human beings are goal-seeking creatures, constantly dealing with the need for growth and change. The wealthier we become, the more comfortable we can be, and the result can be the ability to be more creative and be of greater help to those around us. Of course, we can have all the money in the world and not be happy. It all depends on our relationship to our wealth. I left my country, my family, and my native culture in search of wealth. I knew that when I became richer in mind, body, and spirit, I would be able to make more of a difference in the world as a whole. I would like to believe that I have succeeded in doing so. If I haven’t, then the wealth I have achieved will have been of little significance.
8. Learning to Listen
There are three types of listening. The first one is hearing, but not really listening. Eighty percent of people practice this type. The second type of listening is when we are contentedly in conversation with others. This is listening in the common sense of the word. The third type of listening is intuitive. It’s listening to our inner voice, a calm form of communication that goes beyond words.
When we use this intuitive faculty in listening, then we know what we know, and can make decisions more easily based on our gut feeling. This skill of using our intuition comes from the subconscious mind. I call it the heart of hearts. To get in touch with this faculty, all we have to do is to sit down and be quiet for a half an hour, doing absolutely nothing—to TV, no phone—just closing our eyes and listening to our breathing. This practice brings joy, calmness, relaxation, and laughter, and isn’t that what all of us want?
Laura Day, in her book, Practical Intuition, writes:
Because, as adults, we have lost touch with our ability to fantasize and pretend, we have ironically cut ourselves off from our unconscious ability to provide us with meaning precisely when, with intellectually maturity, it is potentially most useful to us.
We don’t recognize our intuition because it speaks to us in a different language. As a result, we dismiss it and ignore it. I can’t estimate how many times I ignored my inner voice when I had to take action or make a critical decision in my professional or personal life. As a result, I missed out on many opportunities. Exercising our intuition will improve our decision-making and our thinking. Our rational mind will always try to interfere with out intuitive mind, but professionals such as doctors, lawyers, investment consultants, and even real estate agents like me routinely use this intuitive faculty for making diagnoses, exploring the entanglements of a case, assessing the merits of an investment, or reading customers’ behavior. I have dealt with many businesspeople that use this faculty, and the results of my transactions with them have always been successful.
Not all of us have great instincts or intuition. Some of us are so busy working to help others grow that we forget about ourselves and our needs or desires. But if we are listening to that intuitive voice within us, it is important not to ignore it or close our ears to it, but to act upon it. Sometimes we can’t make a decision based on facts alone. I often say, “Don’t give me the facts; give me the truth.” Messages coming from our heart will often be at complete variance with the facts or circumstances in our lives.
9. Valuing Ourselves
If we don’t value ourselves, others will not value us. Love is putting the highest value on something, whether it is another person, a cause, our self, or life itself. Our love for one thing will affect our love for another. If we love ourselves, we will love others. If we don’t love ourselves, we will attract people who will drag us down and sap our energy. When we lack energy, we will feel angry, fearful, and disconnected, and when people sense this about us, they will withdraw from us.
I lived through a period in my life when I had anxiety attacks. I couldn’t breathe. I was hyperventilating. Customers didn’t want to do business with me. I went to the doctor, and he gave me something to relax, but in reality it made me feel worse. One day, I was watching television, and turned to a Christian network that has become a regular viewing channel for me. After listening to this broadcast, I felt calmer, renewed, re-energized, and reborn with the confidence to face people with enthusiasm, compassion, and understanding, and focus on their needs rather than my own.
It took a long time, but eventually people began to be attracted to me and want to do business with me once again. I forgave myself for the mistakes I had made, and also forgave those people who had offended or rejected me in the past. A new meaning of life arose within me. I let go of my bitterness, anger, and frustration, and this created a great emotional energy that started attracting people and money to me like a magnet.
19. Laughing, Smiling!
Anyone who knows me knows that I laugh a lot. When I was younger, I enjoyed stories and situations that made me laugh. Then I grew up and faced some of the hard knocks of adulthood, and for a while laughter took a backseat to tears and frustration. When I changed my attitude and outlook the laughter returned, and now I laugh all the time. For me, laughter is healing, because it helps me to not take life or life’s circumstances so seriously. This is not to say we should treat life frivolously or superficially. It simply means that when we find humor in our day-to-day life and can laugh, either at our mistakes or at circumstances around us, we will feel less stress and our burdens will seem lighter.
If we can’t generate laughter, then a similar benefit can be gained from simply smiling…at work, on the bus, or in the grocery line. The nice thing about smiling, even at strangers, is that generally we get a smile back. Hugs work, too, as Leo Buscaglia, the hug master proved. In cultures like my own, hugging and kissing are commonplace. It’s difficult for me to understand people who don’t spontaneously practice these outward signs of affection. It creates warmth between two people that, while it may last only a few seconds, is nevertheless healing. When we embrace life, face each day squarely, infuse it with passion, and find joy in the present, our success factor will grow accordingly.
11. Getting a Perspective on Our Problems
Whenever I have faced difficult situations, I have found that one way to minimize the stress is to consider the problems that other people are facing. Dr. Wayne Dyer offers a good technique along these lines. He suggests that we imagine that we are floating above the earth, but close enough to see all that is going on down below us. We see chaos, war, death, destruction, torture, poverty, hunger, and disease. Making these earthly observations helps us put our own problems into perspective. Our own problems suddenly won’t seem so great in comparison to those of others.
Another way to accomplish this is to find a quiet place to meditate on our entire life, from the beginning to the present. In the entire scheme of our life, how big is the problem we now face? Have we ever faced anything bigger or more stressful before? How did we overcome that difficulty? When we see how we passed through previous problems, the current one may not seem so insurmountable.
12. Making Our Actions Authentic
We are rightly judged not by what we say but by what we do. We can promise just about anything, but delivering on that promise can be tricky sometimes. It’s therefore important to have clarity and certainty in our mind before we act. Real thinking is gathering the right information about what we want to do. It’s said that 2% of the people in the world know how to think, 3% think that they can think, and the other 95% die and go to heaven, and then they think! Real thinking, which is the highest paying job in the world, takes effort. Making our actions authentic requires this kind of real thinking.
13. Being Open to Others
The road to success can be a lonely one, but it doesn’t have to be. If we have a mentor, counselor, life coach, or even a religious figure to turn to when questions or challenges arise, they can be very helpful. There are many such people in the world. We just have to have a mind that is willing, open, and receptive enough to learn from their experience. With a positive mental attitude and the company of people who share our beliefs, philosophy, and virtues in life, we will have the ingredients necessary to achieve our goals.
14. The Three P’s
The three P’s—persistence, patience, and perseverance—have worked for me throughout my life. I had an elderly friend who used to vacation in one of my rental properties. She always had flowers on her table and plants in the yard. One year, when she left, I noticed a yellow daisy plant on the porch ready to be tossed into the garbage. My favorite flowers are daisies and carnations, so I picked up the plant and decided to experiment with it. I wanted to give life back to this plant; it was wilted, and some of its stalks were dead, but I felt that it still had some life in it. I brought it home and replanted it, trimming off the dead leaves, watering it, and talking to it. I gave it my positive, nourishing thoughts, and I spent time watching it grow into a full-blown beautiful plant. It bloomed for another two years until Hurricane Wilma killed it.
That’s what happens in our lives, too. When we nurture our soul, spirit, and mind, they will be given life until the time comes when our Heavenly Father calls us home. If we take care of our self-image, nurture it with positive thoughts by planting good seeds in our mind, and mix it with a burning desire to achieve our goals, then all we have to do is to wait patiently, and one day all our nurturing will produce tangible results, and we will become successful. My philosophy is to never give up.
Some of my role models are the successful women in the Bible, such as the one described in Psalm 31: “She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family…” The price of success can be steep. It can take years for our vision to take shape. We may often be impatient at our apparent lack of progress and our desire for greater results, but the time we invest in mastering what we like to do and doing it will pay off someday.
Prayer and meditation are powerful tools, but they are not enough; we must act in order to get where we want to go, be what we what to be, know what we want to know, and have what we want to have. A Swedish proverb says, “God gives every bird a worm, but He does not throw it into the nest.” The word “pray” is an action word. It means that if we pray for our life to improve, we must become a willing participant in achieving that goal. There is no point in praying for something unless we are willing to become part of the process of attainment. I’m a firm believer in the premise that we can have our cake and eat it, too. Dreamers have a donut and concentrate on the hole. As guests on this Earth, we have to put our hours and activities to good use, in order to be successful and productive.
16. The Three R’s
There are pitfalls to success, and one of them is becoming overdeveloped in our career and professional life and underdeveloped in our personal life. If there is no balance between life and work, it’s like trying to dance on one foot. There comes a time when there’s no fun or satisfaction in our success, and at that point we look in the mirror and ask what we can do to improve our situation. The answer is to allow time for the three R’s—replenishing, restoring, and recuperating on a regular basis. When we give ourselves an hour or so daily for restful, nourishing moment, we are better able to reorganize, regroup, and re position ourselves for productive effort and accomplishment.