“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
— Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement
“Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.”
“Why would you say that?” I asked.
“Just look at that guy,” he replied with indignation. “All he talks about is financial independence, and yet he doesn’t have two nickels to rub together.”
“So, you’re saying he talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk?”
“Truth is in behaviour,” he declared. “You said so yourself!”
“Wisdom is where you find it,” I countered. “I think his advice is sound.”
“That’s my whole point,” he said. “He’s got the lingo, but not the jingle.”
I knew the man in question had only recently become interested in investing. He was figuratively “on fire” and wanted to share his newfound passion with everyone. Was his life at that particular moment a financial wonder? No. Could or would it be some day? If he forged ahead with determination and perseverance, it very likely would be.
I know from my journey of self-esteem that I had begun speaking the “lingo” long before the “jingle” ever became evident in my life. It’s part of the process of change. I encourage everyone to act “as if” what is desired has already manifested. Talk the talk. It’s the first step in reprogramming your mind for success. The walk will eventually follow.
Think of the people who announce to the world they plan to lose weight. They have a strategy for reaching their ideal weight by a set date. Would we say to that person a week into the diet, “You’re not walking the walk”? Of course not. Losing weight, like integrating new life skills, takes persistence and time for results to appear.
We’ve all known people who were quick out of the starting gate yet faltered in the backstretch or never finished the race. We all deal with ingrained ways of thinking and being. We may see the benefit of a change, and initially, accept the challenge. However, when the going gets rough, as it does when striking a path through unknown territory, self-doubts arise and the familiar beckons many of us back to the old, worn path.
It’s easy to hold such people up as examples. The perceived failure of others supports our belief that permanent change is tough and seldom within reach of the average person. It affords us a convenient “out” and a way to avoid guilt and responsibility.
Bear in mind, there are many knowledgeable people out there who have yet to walk the walk. That’s OK. Each in his or her own time. Don’t make the mistake of disregarding their thoughts and ideas only because the words and behaviour seem discordant.
It seems the more dramatic the course change, the more time it takes for new information and ideas to integrate fully. We’re often the harshest critics of our own desire to change – beating ourselves up when we don’t achieve success immediately. We falsely assume that success comes quickly for others and we must be faulty merchandise if we find the challenge too great. In reality, successful and empowered people struggle through setbacks just as we all do and often slide back into old patterns of behaviour and thought. The difference is they get up, brush themselves off, and keep going.
Abigail Adams, wife of American President, John Adams once wrote, “Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardour and attended to with diligence.”
Choose today to live a successful, empowered life. Cut yourself a little slack and remember never to judge yourself or others too harshly as you learn to walk the walk.
Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert.