November 18th, 2010 13:57 EST
A friend I`ve known all my life is closing in on his 50th birthday. Despite our similarity in age and background, we`ve taken wildly divergent paths in our lives. He`s a skilled technician who has no aspirations of achieving anything more. He lives paycheck to paycheck. I, on the other hand, am an independent business owner who has always set goals and strived to reach the next rung on the ladder of success. I`ve learned how to make my money work for me rather than me working for my money. As a result, I enjoy the rewards of my many business endeavors.
I`ve often wondered why my friend and I have such different points of view, so I finally asked him what makes him content with his current situation and to identify the weaknesses he thought might be holding him back. What he said was more profound than I think he realized, or that I even realized at the time. He said my age and knowledge are my two biggest obstacles to being successful in life."
He went on to say that he had acquired all the knowledge he was going to need and that every year he got older, he was one step closer to having to give up doing the only thing for which he felt qualified. My age holds me back from competing with younger workers for business opportunities."
The conversation then turned as he asked me what I thought my weaknesses were. Why don`t you ask me my strengths, " I said. When he did, I replied, my age and my knowledge. " I consider those two attributes to be my greatest assets.
The conversation brought to surface the reasons that age and knowledge are considered attributes, and what the famous cartoon character of the 1970s, Walt Kelly`s Pogo, " uttered in one of his more profound moments:
We have met the enemy and he is us. Â"
What Pogo understood on an unconscious level was basic human nature. He saw that most people`s vision was limited, their desires too simple, and he knew they possessed a glass half full " mindset. If they could reframe their thoughts and alter their perceptions, they could literally change their lives. But Pogo intuitively knew that so many of us prefer to stay in our comfort zone and blame our lack of success on anything but our lack of determination, like being too old (age) and not smart enough (knowledge).
Do you have beliefs or perceptions that are holding you back, just as my friend did? Do you believe in false gods " " those facts " we hold on to no matter what our real-world experiences may actually reveal? For example, are you a woman who is convinced she`ll never be paid as much as a man because she`s read all the statistics " that say that`s the case? Tell that to Oprah Winfrey! Do you think the fact that you don`t have a college degree means you`ll never make a decent living? Tell that to Bill Gates!
If you allow these types of false gods (or false ideas) to dominate your thoughts, then you are destined to stay trapped within those old beliefs and never realize your true potential. The most important step on the road to success and wealth is to believe you are capable and deserving of achieving both.
Personal finance talk show host and author Suze Orman talked of having the courage to be rich " in her financial guidebook. She advises people to face their financial fears and create new truths. So if you have a fear like my friend does by thinking of age and knowledge as drawbacks, you will most likely hold on to the beliefs your fears have created " and you won`t get any richer.
But if, as Orman suggests, you create new truths " such as believing that women can earn as much as or even more than men, and that success is determined more by attitude than aptitude " then you are much more likely to live out that new truth than to clutch onto those old fears. Because as inspirational speaker Earl Nightingale so wisely said, We become what we think about. "
The challenge is to let go of whatever negative belief or perception is holding you back and keeping you from accumulating the wealth you deserve. In reality, nothing in your life has to be considered a negative. It`s all in how you view it " just as I view my age and knowledge as assets, while my friend sees them as liabilities.
Pogo had his profound insight. Here`s mine, and I urge you to adopt it as well:
I have met a WINNER, and he is me. "
John Palumbo is CEO of The Sales DNA Institute, an idea studio and research laboratory for sales and marketing management. He has presented hundreds of speeches and seminars internationally on the science of sales and influence. He has been instrumental in restructuring the Sales DNA or thousands of individuals from small, family-run companies to large-scale developers such as Trump Grande International. Visit www.SellingOnStage.com or e-mail PalmboJ@aol.com for more information.