Believe in Yourself
"You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve."
Joanne Rowling was once a single mother, unemployed and living on state benefits. She worked on a book manuscript for years, and when she was done, she packaged up the first three chapters and sent them to an agent “who returned them so fast they must have been sent back the same day they arrived.” But she believed in her manuscript and found another agent. After a year and a dozen rejections she finally received an offer for her book. Now known as J. K. Rowling, her Harry Potter series has been published in sixty-three languages, sold more than 300 million copies, and is credited with inciting an increase in child and adult reading. Rowling is now a billionaire. What if Rowling didn’t believe in herself enough to keep pushing forward with her manuscript? What if she stopped trying after those first three chapters were rejected?
You have the potential to take your life to a whole new level. No matter how satisfied you currently may be in life, believe me when I say your life can be much better than it is today. It can have more passion, humor, fun, excitement, and meaning. And when it does, your career will take off, and success will no longer be a question. But before you embrace any of the Winning Nice principles, you must first believe in yourself. This is the foundation upon which everything else is built.
In order to improve your life and the lives of those around you, you must believe that you can truly make a difference. We are capable of so much more than most of us realize. The secret to tapping into your ultimate potential is to understand that with hard work, determination, and unwavering conviction you can realize your dreams. You can do anything as long as you believe you can!
Developing a strong belief in yourself will not happen overnight, but I’ve seen dozens of examples where in just weeks or months, people have gained incredible amounts of confidence and literally transformed their lives. To start building your inner belief system, you need to do these things:
Dale Carnegie said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” What if Albert Einstein had given up on his research when no university would hire him? What if Thomas Edison had pulled the plug on his experiments after two years and hundreds of failed attempts? Einstein, Edison, and Rowling all persevered despite many failures. Every day people make the choice to either push forward or give up. If you stay positive and look at failure as a lesson learned and an opportunity to persevere, incredible things can happen.
After inventing the Ballbarrow, a wheelbarrow with a ball instead of a wheel, James Dyson turned to another mundane item—the vacuum cleaner. Inspired by a system used at a local sawmill, he created a prototype of the cyclone vacuum, which uses a spinning action to separate dirt from air, rather than a filter or bag. Three and a half years and 5,127 prototypes later, he had a unique product that didn’t require a vacuum bag. Dyson went on the road, visiting British and European manufacturers, all of whom rejected his device. Over the next decade Dyson rode a roller coaster of rejection, bad licensing agreements, and lawsuits. But he remained committed to his design, and by 1995 he had the best-selling vacuum cleaner in Britain. By 2005 Dyson’s company had an annual profit of over $173 million, and his 100 percent ownership of the company was worth an estimated $1.1 billion. He continues to run his company as he wants (no suits and ties, no internal walls), and he operates under a simple but straightforward philosophy. As he says, “We try to get people to do things in a different way.”
To paraphrase a famous quotation by Thomas Edison, Dyson didn’t fail; he simply found 5,127 ways that didn’t work. By viewing all these attempts not as failures but as opportunities to learn and develop a better prototype, Dyson was able to maintain the positive attitude necessary to achieve his goal.
We all face what’s commonly termed failure or rejection from time to time. What sets winners apart is how they perceive the situation. Those who remain positive in light of numerous obstacles are often the ones who succeed.
On May 6, 1954, twenty-five-year-old Oxford medical student Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes, shattering a nine-year record. People said it couldn’t be done, but Bannister had a secret weapon others overwhelmingly underestimated: a belief in himself. According to one writer, “Bannister studied the four-minute mile the way Jonas Salk studied polio—with a view of eradicating.” Collapsing at the finish line after 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds that reshaped the idea of what the human body was capable of, Bannister made world history on the Iffley Road Track at Oxford. Afterwards he said, “Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.” What’s even more amazing is that by believing in himself, Bannister actually helped others believe in themselves. In the next five years alone twenty additional people went on to break the 4-minute mark.
Whatever it is you hope to accomplish—a faster mile, a better job, a successful marriage, financial security, or better health—the one thing that can most impact your success is your perception.
As children most of us believe that anything is possible, but as we make our way in the world, we frequently lose this positive outlook and fearlessness. Recapturing that exuberance of youth will enable you to achieve your dreams. I believe that all my successes as a businesswoman, athlete, sister, wife, and friend would not have been possible without the ability to see the glass as half full.
START WITH YOU
Rudy Garcia-Tolson and his parents faced a tough decision. After fifteen operations to help correct a variety of birth defects, including pterygium syndrome, which prevented him from straightening his legs, doctors gave him two options. He could spend his life in a wheelchair or have his legs amputated above the knee and be fitted with prosthetics. “Cut ’em off. I want to be like other kids,” said five-year-old Rudy. He quickly adapted to his new situation, throwing himself into swimming and running. At age eight he predicted he would win a gold medal in the Paralympic Games. In 2004 he kept his word, setting a world record in the process. According to Rudy, “People need to realize that if I can do all kinds of sports with no legs, they can do it too. People just need to remember that a brave heart is a powerful weapon. Don’t just sit there; get out and do something special. Believe in yourself.”
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