When we open our doors for self-improvement, we increase our chances of finding success. Everything that happens to us happens for a purpose. There is usually a lesson in the situation that may be a turning point in our lives. Therefore, instead of locking yourself behind a wall of fears and crying over past heartaches, embarrassment and failures, treat them as opportunities to learn and they will become your guide to both self-improvement and success.
I recently watched a human-interest story featured on the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holtz. The story was about a single mother of five children who is about to graduate from Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law in May. The story was truly inspiring. Back in 2009, the mother was a high school dropout, lost her job and then lost her home to a fire. On top of that, the father of her youngest two children died of cancer and she was at her lowest point. The mother thought that all of hopes and dreams were over. Her minister convinced her to go back to school to get her General Education Diploma (GED) because she would need the education to improve her quality of life. This was her first step in on her journey for self-improvement and success. Once the mother decided to go back to school, she never stopped and is about to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer. Even more inspiring about the story was the way she involved her children in the learning process. They made study time a family affair. The children worked as a team to assist and encourage their mother to continue her education. This is a perfect example of someone who used pain, struggle, hurt and misery to motivate her to continue her education no matter the personal sacrifice. Think of the lost potential if she didn't take the leap of faith and decided to pursue an education.
So, when does self-improvement become equal to success? Where do we start? Here are a few tips that you might find helpful…
- Stop thinking and feeling as if you’re a failure because you’re not. Don’t allow a past mistake or setback to define you. Acknowledge the situation and move on with your life. How can others accept you if YOU can’t accept YOU?
- When you see others enjoying what appears to be a good life or living their dreams, think more on self-improvement, not self-pity. Self-improvement and success are not just about having nice things, materials possessions, or social status. Strive to find peace of mind. You can’t put a price on it.
- When others feel down and low about themselves, help lift them up, but don’t go down with them. They’ll pull you down further and both of you will end up in the dumps. A lesson I learn from an elementary school teacher was that “if you meet someone in the mud, don’t jump in to help them. Otherwise, there will be two people stuck in the mud.”
- The world is a large stage for many shows, not mistakes. Don’t feel stupid and doomed forever just because you failed a few acts. There’s always the next time. Concentrate on what you need to do to improve your performance. The great ones always work to make their best, better.
- Take every situation one step at a time. You should not expect to make a complete turn-around at the snap of a finger. Self-improvement is a one day at a time process. Otherwise, you are likely to become discouraged and give up. Perseverance must become your best friend.
- Self-improvement leads to inner strength, character development and eventually…. SUCCESS. It comes from self-confidence, self- appreciation, and self-esteem. It’s about developing an unshakable belief in self that drives you to succeed.
- Set meaningful and achievable goals. Self-improvement isn’t likely to turn you into Denzel Washington or Oprah Winfrey. The intent and aim should be to improve and become the best YOU.
- Little things could mean BIG things to other people. Sometimes, we don’t realize that the little things that we do like a pat on the back, saying “hi” or “hello”, greeting someone “good day” or giving the homeless person on the street a word of encouragement could make all the difference in the world. It may be the only positive words they hear all day. When we’re being appreciative of beautiful things around us and other people, we also become beautiful to them.
- When you’re willing to accept change and go through the process of self-improvement, it doesn’t mean that everyone else is willing to join you. The world is a place where people of different values and attitude come together. Sometimes, even our loves ones and best friends will decline to join us on the journey towards self-improvement. You may have to go it alone to reach your highest self.
Remember that there’s no such thing as ‘overnight success’. It can take days, weeks, months and even years to become your true self. Some of us have more lessons to learn than others. Unfortunately, life doesn’t grant social promotions. You must pass each course to move on to the next one. If not, you will continue to repeat the lesson over and over until you get it right. We are all here to master life’s lessons. Our parents, school teachers, friends, colleagues, officemates, neighbors, enemies … they are our teachers. There is a quote that says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
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