of the Sissies"
Ability is FAR more relative than you may suspect.
When I was a kid, I was considered non-athletic.
Back in my school days, when our teachers would
take us out for gym class, they'd make us do sports stuff, and
as a fat, clumsy kid, I hated that.
One day in late spring, our teacher announced,
"Today we'll go outside and play baseball during gym class."
He said it like he thought it was some kind of treat.
Of course, most of the boys cheered, but I saw
a few faces around the classroom take on a grim look. I could
feel my own face tightening up.
Our school had two 6th grade classes, and our
two teachers took all 30 or 35 of us out to the ball field at
the end of the playground and separated us.
Nowadays, kids who're not good at sports are
termed "athletically challenged" or maybe "non-sports
oriented". Very politically correct.
But back then, we were just "the sissies".
They directed us non-sports oriented kids - the
sissies - to one side of the field and they took the real boys
to the other side.
Now, every group has a "pecking order"
in which there's some sort of unspoken, but very real, hierarchy
of authority or power.
As we sissies started to play baseball (or tried
to), I quickly rose to top spot in the pecking order. Suddenly
I could throw, bat, run and catch better than any of the other
guys around me. I was a superstar. Talk about supreme confidence
- I had it in abundance.
I was watching the teachers out of the corner
of my eye, and it was obvious they were surprised by my sudden
surge in performance. Almost as surprised as I was.
If a fly ball came anywhere within 50 meters
of me, I'd catch it. Could not fail.
And no matter how wild the pitcher was, I could
hit anything he threw. Anything, up to and including one that
whizzed directly over my head. Ho hum, another home run.
Then the teachers got together and plotted against
They decided they'd made a mistake; I must belong
over with the real boys, so they sent me to one of those teams.
Suddenly all that talent evaporated. I couldn't
hit. I couldn't catch. I couldn't do anything right. I turned
back into my usual awkward, fumble-fisted, stumbling self.
After a couple of very miserable turns at bat
and one disastrous non-catch, they sent me back where I belonged,
with the non-athletes.
Magically, my prowess returned and stayed with
me the rest of that day. At the time, even though I was only 12
years old, I understood that something significant was happening,
but it wasn't until years later that I finally grasped it.
Today, it is absolutely clear to me that a person's
performance is determined more by what's in their mind than by
actual inborn abilities. Otherwise, how could a 12-year- old boy
have supreme confidence on one side of a field and a total lack
of it on the other?
But back then, I just thought I was King of the
Sissies. Great at baseball if the other guys were awful players,
but incompetent to play with the real boys.
I tell this story to illustrate a point.
Most people are limiting their abilities in ways
that are very similar to what I was doing then.
You may be doing the same thing if:
Your mind repeatedly shies away from thoughts
of trying a particular new activity
Family or friends laughingly dismiss you as a klutz, wimp, dummy,
pushover, or "not good at that," whatever "that"
You often give up and accept defeat without a fierce battle to
You usually let others decide what's best for you
You "have no opinions" around more powerful people
In any group, you'll find yourself automatically taking a rank
somewhere between highest and lowest in pecking order. This rank
will always vary. If you find yourself shrinking back when a group
includes many members you think are more capable than you, then
your rank is low.
If you speak out and participate confidently,
then it's for certain that you perceive yourself to be one of
the most capable members within the group.
That's the basic axiom.
Now, for the important part - the application.
How do you raise your ranking? How do you get
your confidence so high that it doesn't desert you, even when
you walk into a room and suddenly realize you're surrounded by
kings, generals and captains of industry?
Some psychologists would have us believe it's
purely a matter of hormones.
One bunch of researchers took a flock of chickens,
found the one lowest in the pecking order, and injected it with
extra hormones. They reported an uproar in the henhouse for a
few days, till the hormones wore off.
But that's chickens.
Is there no hope for humans, other than dosing
up on hormones and steroids?
I think there is hope. I believe you can raise
your rank in a group - your pecking order - and you don't need
anything more artificial than certain new thoughts, habits and
Of course, it doesn't come overnight; you'll
have to persist and grow into this, but just imagine how your
life could change.
Have you ever seen the old Charles Atlas advertisements
from back in the fifties? In a series of black-and-white drawings,
we see a skinny guy with his beautiful girlfriend at the beach.
A big, muscular bully comes up and kicks sand in skinny's face.
Skinny sends off for the Charles Atlas body building course. Within
a few short weeks, skinny gains both weight and confidence. Next
time they're at the beach, he wows his girlfriend by getting rid
of the bully.
That's one way of doing it, and it does work.
Ask Lou Ferrigno, the weak, sickly little kid with impaired hearing
who took up body building in high school, and grew up to win body
building titles and play The Incredible Hulk on TV.
But there are other ways. I can suggest a 5-step
approach that, if you'll apply it, will get you unbounded confidence
in any field you want.
Now, know this: no matter how heavyweight you
are in some fields, there will be others where you're still weak.
Among mathematicians, for example, I'm the skinny
But that's okay, because I don't have enough
talent or interest in the field to want to be a heavyweight.
But here is the 5-step approach.
Pick a field that's important to you.
Maybe you want to become a great singer, or a
major novelist, or an astronaut.
How good do you realistically want to be? It's
okay to be the world's best, but is that just an idle fantasy?
It takes a lot of fire to pass everybody in the world. If you
have that fire and hunger and drive, go for it.
But if you simply want to be treated with respect
and recognized by your peers, that's a lot easier to achieve.
Seriously, every field has to have somebody who's
the best in the world, but if your ego doesn't actually need it,
that's okay, too. Pick a field and a level that really feels right
First, you may bite off more than you're comfortable
chewing. No problem. If you get into this and learn it's going
to take longer than you expected, or it's going to be harder to
gain entry, simply sit back and adjust the steps in your plan.
Or even re-evaluate the goal itself.
It's no disgrace to adjust your goals higher
or lower after you learn more about the field.
Second, your faith in yourself goes in cycles.
One day you're sure you can have the moon and stars. A few days
later, you're in deep despair and wonder whatever possessed you
to set such a goofy goal.
Don't ever make an important decision when you're
experiencing either a low or a high in your confidence. This is
one case when slow, deliberate decisions are more dependable.
But as you keep moving forward, you will make
progress, and gradually the people around you will begin deferring
to your superior knowledge and experience. That's when you know
you've gained entry into "the club" and are starting
to be recognized for your achievement. Your efforts are beginning
to pay dividends.
Plan to take some time mastering the field.
Nothing important (that was constructive) was
ever done overnight. Remember the old proverb, "Rome wasn't
built in a day"? A city can burn in a very short time, but
it takes generations, even centuries, for a major city to grow
to its peak.
If you want to be a master of your field, look
around and identify the current masters. What do they know? You
can learn it. What can they do? You can master those skills, just
as they have. Break it down into one step at a time.
If the thought of all that work fills you with
a joyful flutter, you're on the right track. On the other hand,
if it leaves you feeling weak and filled with dread, you may need
to pick a different field.
If you pick something you love to do, love to
think about, love to read about, you won't mind spending all that
time becoming skillful. It won't be work, it'll be recreation.
In fact, the people who excel in their fields
almost universally love what they're doing. Most claim they haven't
worked in years - because it's all play to them.
When I was in high school, I took a typing class
one summer. I barely passed with a D-, and for years, even though
I was technically touch typing, it was all I could do to peck
out 15 to 20 words a minute.
Then, when I came to Japan, some of my customers
started asking me to enter handwritten English translations on
my computer. Suddenly, typing mattered to me, and my speed quickly
zoomed. Now I effortlessly type 60 to 80 words a minute. Why?
Simply because my interest level changed. My
performance changed when the importance of the task changed in
relation to my overall goals.
So be sure you love what you're going to be doing
enough to spend the time required.
What if you really don't know yet? Just give
it a trial run. You may find you hate it. If so, quit. There's
no disgrace in saving yourself from wasting years of effort. But
if you find you really do enjoy your new field, it'll be obvious
what you should do - just keep on.
Associate with the best people in your new field.
Feel intimidated? Of course you do... but so
what? You're exposing yourself not only to their knowledge, but
also to their personal traits. Their passion for the field. Their
attitudes and mindset.
And some of that will rub off on you. When it
does, it becomes yours forever.
Every winning coach and every successful person
I've ever read about recommends that you study winners and read
biographies. Learn everything you can about successful achievers
in any field. The more you fill your mind with people achieving
great things, the more that's going to
infuse into your own thinking.
You'll gain a subtle inspiration from those stories;
they'll leave you feeling that more things are possible. You'll
almost unconsciously absorb an "I can" attitude.
Every highly successful person works at sharpening
their mind. They read books. Listen to tapes. Repeat their goals
and affirmations every day - EVERY day. They study. They polish
new skills. They have their eyes on a different level. They spend
big chunks of time on becoming more tomorrow than they were yesterday.
The average couch potato, on the other hand,
spends large chunks of time exposing him/herself to incredible
mediocrity. The typical TV show or sitcom may be fun or funny
(notice I said MAY be), but they hardly depict
And you already know that your life becomes filled
with whatever you fasten your attention on.
If your attention is on TV shows featuring bimbo
secretaries, vapid co-workers, freaky family members, emotion-torn
love affairs, car chases, murders, bombings, shootings, fights
and endless personal crises, you WILL get the equivalent in your
You already know that if you walk down the middle
of a busy freeway during rush hour, things will end badly for
you. So you don't take casual strolls down the highway. Nobody
has to tell you to avoid doing such a foolish thing.
But there are other, equally foolish things that
we may not be quite as aware of. Things like filling our minds
with horror and fear and uproar. Like spending all our spare time
with people who have no ambitions, no wisdom, and no great love
Just as your life becomes what you fill your
mind with, your mind becomes filled with the characteristics of
the people you surround yourself with.
Is it disloyal to stop spending time with friends
you've known for years? To distance yourself from some family
members? IS it?
This word "disloyal" is thrown around
a lot in such cases, isn't it?
What it usually means is, "You're doing
something different from your usual behavior, and it's putting
a strain on me."
In other words, your new behavior is an inconvenience
to somebody, so they're trying to push you back into your old,
dependable role. This is not done for your convenience; it's for
the other person's.
Just keep this in mind, so that if or when it
happens to you, you'll know what's really going on.
Remember that it's always important to associate
with people who have gone where you want to go, not as a social
climber, but as a true apprentice who is hungry for mastery.
Always share your present knowledge.
While you're absorbing knowledge from your "elders,"
you should also be sharing, giving away to others the things you
have already learned.
There are a number of reasons for this.
First, the more you teach, the better you'll
understand your own field. It's often said that the teacher learns
at least as much as the student. Until you can explain what you
know so that others can grasp it, you don't fully understand it
yourself. So teach.
In addition, passing along knowledge creates
a circuit for the flow of energy through you. Unless you let this
energy flow through you, prosperity and success will not be possible.
You receive from your mentors and teachers. Then,
when you pass it on, you're giving benefit to others, instead
of trying to hoard it all for yourself.
Is it possible for a selfish, greedy, hate-filled
person to succeed?
Some teachers say no, but look around. You and
I can see that there are always some exceptions.
There are such "successes," but the
price! Eventually, it all comes crashing down, causing great pain
(Cue faint echoing voice from off-camera) "Use
the Force, Luke."
(Heavy breathing, hollow basso voice) "Come
to the Dark Side of the Force, Luke."
Everyone who gains some measure of power will
almost certainly be tempted to use it selfishly, I suppose, but
the time to start building honor and ethics into your spirit is
now. It is important to resist the little temptations over the
small things, and carefully school yourself to share and give
open-handedly. Then, when the bigger issues arise, you
will have already mastered the basic principle of choosing the
path that benefits more than just yourself.
That's one of the reasons that sharing your knowledge
is so important. It constantly reminds you that you're not in
this life alone. But that's a fairly metaphysical concept.
There's also a more practical consideration.
As you teach and share, you're filling a growing reservoir of
respect among your community of peers.
When others see you sharing openly, they look
to you as a leader. The more you reinforce that opinion (without
forcing it upon them), the sooner you'll be lifted to the top
of the "pecking order" in your group. You have then
become the leader they perceive you to be. You only become a REAL
leader by giving to others what they need - you are serving them.
So teach - share what you know as you grow.
Pull yourself into the future.
It is said that time is a thread. You already
know that you can't push a thread. You can only pull it.
Here's how to pull yourself into the future you
First, you go there in your mind. In your imagination,
there are no limits on time or space. Thus, you use your imagination
to pick out the future that most appeals to you, then you drop
anchor there. You claim it as your true future.
If you could see all the possible threads leading
off into potential futures, you'd be utterly overwhelmed by the
enormous number of possibilities that are technically available
Every time you face a choice, no matter how trivial,
there are a number of different possible choices you can make.
In your current life's thread, you choose one, casually, nearly
without thinking, and on you go, cheerfully into a new future
that you just created.
Now multiply all those possible choices by all
the times per day that you do the same thing, making decisions
that carry you careening along a path that becomes your eventual
If you make all your decisions and choices from
your present perspective, you're navigating blindly. You don't
know where you're going, so that's where you end up.
Here is a secret of the ages: you can work this
same system differently.
You can project your imagination into the future,
see and feel yourself doing certain things, such as enjoying a
new career, or creating a certain life style. As you do that,
you are actually strengthening some of those threads stretching
from now to then.
The more often you repeat this projection into
the future, the stronger that thread becomes, until it's a rope,
then a cable, and finally, it pulls you forward into that exact
Remember the quote from Napoleon Hill's book,
"Think and Grow Rich"?
What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
Now you know why that works.
So these are the five steps. Take them and use
them. You'll find they contain the power to carry you into any
future you really want.
There is a strong mix of "practical"
and "spiritual" elements in these steps. Those two realms
are not really different, but we've been miss-trained to think
they are. At any rate, you need to focus your mind and spirit,
but you also need to take persistent action.
I don't know why the world is made that way,
but for some reason it takes both types of effort to get where
you want to go.
As the Christian Bible says, "Faith without
works is dead", meaning that all your internal, spiritual
efforts will be ineffective unless you're also putting in the
energy and physical work to create a path for the energy to flow.
Likewise, if you're working like a dog, laboring
and slaving to achieve your dreams, but you're not spending much
time on the inner work, you're trying to push a thread. It simply
will not work.
Step 1: Pick a field that's important to you.
It's crucial to select something you'll love long-term. You already
know that doing a job you
don't love wears very thin.
Step 2: Plan to take some time mastering the
field. Becoming a recognized expert doesn't happen overnight.
Be realistic in your expectations.
Step 3: Associate with the best people in your
new field. Absorb the best that the best have to offer. Live and
breathe their excellence. It'll soak in.
Step 4: Always share your present knowledge.
Be sure you allow the energy and knowledge unrestricted flow through
you to others who also
love the field you've chosen.
Step 5: Pull yourself into the future. Time is
the wind, your imagination are the sails, and you are the navigator.
All must work together.
The day I found myself King of the Sissies, I
discovered within myself the potential for supreme confidence
- a state I had never experienced before.
It took me years to realize that I could have
that same confidence while playing with the real boys. All I had
to do was raise my skills and expectations. The home runs and
spectacular catches would come automatically.
And of course, this principle translates to any
As you begin working in your chosen area, you
may start out feeling intimidated and unsure of yourself. That
will pass. Give yourself time and training. Follow these five
simple steps, master your field, and soon you will find yourself
supremely confident, even when you're among the leaders of your
That's when you'll know you've become one of
the real winners, rather than merely king (or queen) of the Sissies.
Burke, author of two books on success and luck, makes it easy
in his FREE e-mail course titled: BEYOND LUCK - The 20-Lesson
Boot Camp in Building Success and Good Fortune.
Twenty high-impact days of practical tools for power-packed living.
Click on firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to send this article to a friend...
Back to Articles Page