"A man of courage is also full of faith." Marcus Tullius Cicero
How many times have you heard expressions like: "Have faith." "Keep the faith." "Show a little faith." "Faith moves mountains." I don't mean to start Bible-thumping on you, but faith holds an important place in the psyche of the most successful people. It was so important in Napoleon Hill's study of five hundred-plus top achievers he interviewed for his famous 1937 success book Think and Grow Rich that he entitled an early chapter "Faith: Visualizing and Believing in the Attainment of Desire." A more recent book, How God Changes Your Brain, was co-authored by a neuroscientist who documents actual physical changes in the brain of people who have a regular spiritual practice, whether through a formal religious discipline or on their own. Coincidentally, this book cites studies that reveal the "faith-full" live longer and rate higher on happiness.
So let me ask if you have faith in the following:
Yourself It all begins with YOU: Do you believe that you are worthy and deserving of success? Many people don’t, so they flounder in mediocrity. Have you ever heard yourself saying, in relation to top achievers in your field, “Y’know, I’m good ... but I’m not THAT good.” That’s an indicator that you lack faith in your ability to be among the best. Also, do you have a clear-cut sense of purpose about what you want to accomplish? If you have a feeling you’re on a “mission from God,” so to speak, it’s much more likely you’ll keep the faith and stay on track when the going invariably gets tough. And, do you have some kind of faith-building practice you deploy on a daily basis to maintain a positive mental attitude?
Your Profession The competition is fierce and getting fiercer, no matter what profession you're in. I've heard people remark about any given venture, from owning a restaurant to being a financial advisor to running a body shop, "Whoa -- that's a TOUGH business!" What I'd like them to tell me is, what exactly is an EASY business where you don't have to work hard while making tons of money? (Answer: It only exists in Fantasyland ...) So, are you sold on what you do, love it, can't think of anything you'd rather be doing? Do you believe you have the opportunity to make a great living doing it, both today and in the future? Are you committed to continually getting better to keep the competitive wolves at bay? And, perhaps most important: Do you believe your work is really a calling that makes a positive difference in the lives of the people you serve?
The Economy It appears a lot of people are addicted to following the stock market, which is definitely unpredictable. (If it was predictable, we’d all be millionaires, right?) Commentators love to sound the alarm on negative market developments, using anxiety-inducing words like “shaky,” “unstable,” “volatile,” etc., to the dreaded “R” word – recession. Fact is, since the end of The Great Depression that started in 1929 there have been twelve recessions -- you can almost mark your calendar that the next one will swing by in about five years. Like winter, it's not a question of whether another recession will come, only how mild or severe it will be. The question is, do you have faith that you will find a way to survive, even thrive, in the next economic cold spell?
This Country Turn on the TV or radio, open a newspaper or jump on the internet and you don't have to search long to find commentary that the United States is going to hell in a bucket. Every day people report on the decline of our country as a world power. That our capitalist system is as bankrupt as our morals. That, depending on the political slant, we’ve become a socialist/communist or fascist society. That street gangs, drug kingpins and terrorists are about to plunge us into anarchy. That we’ve been stripped of our rights and are no longer free. Question: Do you have faith that, despite our challenges, this is still the greatest country in the world, the land of opportunity? I don't mean to offend anyone living elsewhere, but let me ask, do you have a huge immigration problem? We do -- masses of people are dying to plant themselves here and join our way of life. (I rest my case.)
Why bother? It’s easy to be a cynic – doesn’t take any effort. And you’ll have LOTS of company if you’re looking for like-minded pessimists. But cynics and pessimists never make anything happen – they just like to sit on the sidelines and espouse negative views on why things can’t or won’t work. It takes faith – optimism about a better future – to make a better future, which is exactly what the people who make things happen have. And these achievers display the necessary courage to face down negaholic naysayers while staying true to their vision.
Having faith is like getting in shape, then staying in shape – an ongoing effort is required. If you want to excel at something, you must believe every day in the desired end result of your endeavor even when there is no apparent evidence this result will happen. In that regard, you have to take the attitude “You’ll see it when you believe it,” not vice versa. The payoff? Only by embracing your own form of faith can you hope to attain and then maintain success, let alone be happy. That’s a price worth paying, yes?