David J. Schwartz: The Secret Lies In Your Mind

David J. Schwartz (1927-1987) was an American writer, coach, and lecturer on personal development. He taught at Georgia State University and published several books on the subject. His best-known work is The Magic of Thinking Big, which has sold more than 1 million copies worldwide.

Here are some of the most important lessons we have learned from his work:

1. The important thing is not where you were, nor where you are, but where you want to be. 

"Let not the past be the tyrant of the future," wrote the Spanish writer and poet Unamuno. The capacity of human beings to reinvent themselves is fabulous. The starting position conditions, but does not determine. Imagine that your desire is to be an outstanding salesperson. If we move on a scale of 0 to 10, you may be at a level two and someone else at a level six. If you are at a level two relative to someone else who is at a level six, that just means you will have to work harder and longer. But what is really important is that the goal is within your reach. You decide whether or not to pay the toll.

2. There is not so much competition at the levels of excellence; there is competition at the levels of mediocrity. 

Or, to put it another way: fishing is best where only the boldest dare to go. Doing the difficult rather than the easy sets you apart from the rest. Most people tend to opt for the more comfortable alternative. In addition, having excellence as a business philosophy always creates barriers to entry for the competition: the better you are, the fewer competitors you will have. Quality is always a good strategy to differentiate yourself.

3. One thing is certain: you are bigger than you think. 

Almost everyone has self-esteem issues. Not many people are very good at it. And our life is precisely a reflection of our self-esteem. It all starts there. All successful people have one quality: they believe in themselves. If you have faith in yourself, you will overcome any obstacle. To grow personally and professionally, the only obsession must be to believe in yourself. What lies behind many frustrated desires is not the inability to achieve them, but the conviction that they cannot be achieved. It is our beliefs that limit us.

4. Never lose sight of your goal. That is what is really important, to keep moving forward in spite of the circumstances. 

It doesn't matter if you are down in the dumps, if your client has rejected a proposal, if you have made a mistake when launching a product, if sales don't take off at all... All that is secondary. What is really important is that you don't give up your efforts to achieve what you want. The game never ends when you lose; the game ends when you give up. Despite the circumstances, don't stop and keep moving forward.

5. Negative thoughts are a kind of spiritual suicide. 

The mind can turn paradise into hell and hell into paradise. The mind is a factory of realities. To believe is to create. When you believe something, your mind finds a way to achieve it. The ability to do something is a state of mind. But the opposite is also true. Negative thoughts are those mental monsters that torture us, repress us, corner us, make us feel small: I'm no good, I don't deserve it, it's not going to work out. The mind is a very powerful weapon, but it works both ways: catapulting us towards success or plunging us into misery.

6. Ask others for their opinion about your idea and you will have a better idea. A mind that feeds only on itself is weakened. 

In the creation of companies and in the launching of new projects, a mistake is usually made: to overprotect the idea, to be excessively jealous of it. Discretion is a virtue, but it is better not to create a bunker around your business idea. The opinions of credible third parties will allow you to adjust the shot with better precision: to know if there really is a market, if the target is the right one and other nuances that, for sure, escape you, and that surely add value. This can help you to save yourself some trouble, to avoid mistakes, and to go faster in achieving your objectives. Every opinion is based on beliefs, which should be complemented with those of other people who have good judgment.

7. An enthusiastic person, with what he says and does, always generates enthusiastic followers. 

Nothing is as contagious as enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is that fuse that ignites and fills the people around with energy. Enthusiasm is an irresistible force that is not easy to contain. When a person acts with enthusiasm, everything invites us to join the project he or she is proposing. There is an energy that drags us to accompany him; one wants to be part of this so attractive adventure that he proposes to us. Enthusiasm has great seductive power. Enthusiasm is life and, as Richard Branson said, "a sign of spiritual health".

8. Your success depends on the support of people. You can't do it alone. 

Great achievements, great teams. Nothing else is feasible. We all have shortcomings and defects that we must compensate with the virtues of other people to build something worthy. An African proverb says: "if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others". And this requires two qualities: first, humility to know what we need from others; and second, generosity to put our abilities at the service of others. The greatest enemy of teams? Ego, which is displayed when everyone wants to be the exception and no one the norm, or when individuality prevails and each person wants to be the prima donna, or when a small but personal success is preferred to a large but collective success.

9. The right attitude and one arm can overcome the wrong attitude and two arms. 

This is perhaps the most important quality for accomplishing anything: attitude. With a good attitude, you can achieve many things, even if you initially lack certain technical knowledge or social skills, because the word attitude contains a polynomial of factors: work capacity, willingness to learn, good spirits, or flexibility, among others. There are many cases of people with talent but with a bad attitude who did not achieve what they wanted, but few cases of people with a good attitude and will who did not achieve what they wanted.

10. A generous conversation, listening a lot, is the easiest and surest way to make friends. 

There is nothing more pleasant for a person than to feel that attention is being paid to him. What we like most is to talk about ourselves: our projects, our achievements, our vacations, our conquests. Treat each person as if they were the most important because they are the most important thing to them. Everyone needs to feel special, unique, recognized. And listening attentively fulfills this function. We are interested in others when they are interested in us. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

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