"LIFE'S GREATEST LESSONS" by Hal Urban 

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Additional thought of Graham White in highlights.

People are eager to learn when it means understanding life more deeply and living it more fully.

There's no shortcut, no easy way and no new method for achieving real success.  It still has to be earned.

Schools don't teach about life itself, about how it works or about what's essential.  We need someplace other than the proverbial "school of hard knocks" to acquire the right tools for succeeding in life.  We need help in developing the attitudes and skills necessary to establish satisfying relationships, to set and achieve personal goals, and to enjoy feelings of self-worth.

The more frequently we hear something, the more likely we are to believe it.  By the time the average person reaches the age of eighteen, he or she has been put down more than a hundred thousand times. In addition, the news media tells us every day what's wrong with the world and its people.  This daily barrage of negatives takes it's toll. 

 Success Is More Than Making Money 

We can't seem to make up our minds whether money is good or bad.  When someone is described as successful, it usually means he or she is wealthy.  So it must be good.  But they say money can't buy happiness.  So it must be bad.  Wealthy people contribute billions of dollars each year to worthy causes, so it's good.  But haven't we heard that money is the root of all evil?  Now it's bad again.  People who aren't rich criticize those who are, but would love to be rich themselves.  So, which is it, good or bad?

It's neither.  But because we live in a society which so often equates money with success, it needs to be examined.  Some of the myths about it need to be clarified, and it needs to be placed in proper perspective.

Money is not bad

There's nothing wrong with money.  There's nothing wrong with wanting it, and there's nothing wrong with having it, even in large amounts.  The keys are how we earn it and what we do with it.  Honestly acquired and well spent, money can be a resource for much good.  I think Pearl Bailey best described it when she said, "Honey, I been poor, and I been rich.  And let me tell you, rich is better."  It probably is better in most cases.  There's nothing illegal or immoral about being rich, but it isn't everything.

Money isn't all there is to being successful

Countless people risk their health relationships, and resources to join the ranks of the rich.  All too often, ethics and some of our most cherished values take a backseat to wealth and the accompanying lifestyle.

When we lose perspective on money, life gets distorted.  Money, property, power and status aren't what makes a person happy.  How you attained them and how you use them is what makes you happy.

 

 What does it mean to be successful? 

Thomas Carlyle wrote, "Let each become al that he was created capable of being."  Life challenges us every day to develop our capabilities to the fullest.  We're successful when we reach for the highest that's within us - when we give the best we have.

Success is in the doing, not in the getting.  Life doesn't require us to always come out on top.  It asks only that we do our best at each level of experience.

  • Successful people accept life as it is, with all its difficulties and challenges.  They adapt to it rather than complain about it.  They accept responsibility for their own lives instead of blaming or making excuses.  They say YES to life in spite of its negative elements and make the most of it, no matter what the circumstances.

  • Successful people develop and maintain a positive attitude toward life.  They look for good in others and in the world, and usually seem to find it.  They see life as a series of opportunities and possibilities and always explore them.

  • Successful people build good relationships.  They're sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.  They're considerate and respectful.  They have a way of bringing out the best in other people.

  • Successful people have a sense of direction and purpose - they know where they're going.  They set goals, accomplish them, and then set new goals.  They accept and enjoy challenges.

  • Successful people have a strong desire to learn: about life, the world, and themselves.  They see learning as a joy, not a duty.  They continually enrich their lives by learning new things and improving themselves.  They are always discovering, always growing.

  • Successful people are action-oriented.  They get things done because they're not afraid of hard work, and they don't waste much time.  They use it in constructive ways.  They don't get into ruts or become bored because they're too busy looking for new experiences.

  • Successful people maintain high standards in their personal conduct.  They know that honesty is one of the main ingredients in the character of a good person.  They are consistently truthful in both their private and public lives.

  • Successful people understand the difference between existing and living, and always choose the latter.  They get the most out of life because they put the most into it.  They reap what they sow an they enjoy life to the fullest.

Too many of us never fully develop because of influences in our environment.  If we don't look, we don't find and our capabilities remain hidden.  We end up seeing limitations instead of possibilities.

 

 Life is hard ... and not always fair. 

Why life works the way it does is not our concern - our concern is how it works.  Once we understand that the world won't devote itself to making us happy, we begin to accept that responsibility for ourselves.

Life is hard

Society bombards us with messages of push-button living.  We are told that we can lose a hundred pounds, learn to speak a foreign language, and make a million dollars in real estate in a matter of days, and with little or no effort.  And pigs can fly.

Life is hard.  Once we understand and accept it, we can live more effectively.  Instead of moaning about our problems, we can look for ways to solve them.  One of the main differences between those who succeed and those who fail can be found in how they approach life's difficulties.  Failures try either to avoid their problems or to work around them.  Successful people accept them and work through them, even when it includes some suffering.  It's this process of meeting our problems head-on and looking for solutions that gives life meaning.  

Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Those things that hurt, instruct."  Maybe that's why it's often said that some of life's most painful lessons are also the most valuable.  The most important thing we can do when we're hurting, whether it's physical or emotional hurt, is to find some meaning in it.  Pain does teach us something, but we have to be willing to learn from it.  When we do, we emerge as both wiser and stronger.  Our real success in life will be largely determined by how well we deal with adversity: whether we run from it or face up to it, whether we shrink or grow from it, whether we surrender to it or triumph over it.

The people who succeeded in life don't escape unfairness.  They just learn to accept it and manage it more constructively.  No one is born with courage - more than anything else, courage is a decision.  It's the decision we have to make if we want to become fully human.

Complaining doesn't make problems go away, it only makes them worse because it has a magnifying effect.  Complaining is an attempt to unload our problems onto others, a way of refusing to accept them as necessary conditions of life.

We have no control over events, but we are still free to choose how to respond to them.  When we accept responsibility for making better choices, life gets better.

Tim Hansel says, "Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional."  Every problem is also an opportunity.  Instead of letting our hardships defeat us, we welcome them as a test of character.  We use them as a means of rising to the occasion.

"Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and say, "I will be bigger than you.  You cannot defeat me."  Ann Landers

 

 Have Fun 

Human being need to have fun.  We need to play and most importantly, we need to laugh.  Life may be hard and at times unfair, but that doesn't mean it has to be intolerable.  And it certainly doesn't mean that we can't enjoy it.  Humor is what helps the most.  Humor is one of the most important ingredients of a healthy and balance life.

If you're not having fun in your life, if you're not enjoying the process - enjoying the journey, what's the point?

Edison discovered that people who laugh together can work longer and harder together, and with more effectiveness.  Einstein said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible."  One of the ways he kept things simple was to play.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we're easy to train.  Like animals, we react to what happens around us and we can be conditioned by our environment.  The difference between us and animals is that we also have the ability to choose.  If we don't exercise that ability, then we're no better off.  All we're doing is surviving - instead of living, we're simply existing.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that life is one big "have-to".  We have to go to work, we have to go to school, we have to get a haircut, we have to get organized and we have to do a zillion other things.  The truth of the matter is that we don't have to do anything.

Some people are stuck on "have-to".  They don't want to believe that they are choosing: choosing to go to work rather than live on the street, choosing to go to school rather than be ignorant etc.

 

 You don't Have to, you Get to. 

The Most Important Choices We Get To Make:

  • We're free to choose our character - the type of person we become.  We can allow ourselves to be molded by others and our environment, or we can commit ourselves to self-development.  We can become less than we're capable of, or we can become all that we're capable of.

  • We're free to choose our values.  We can let the media tell us what's important, or we can decide for ourselves.  We can base our standards on what others are doing, or we can base them on what we know is right and good.

  • We're free to choose how to treat other people.  We can put them down, or we can lift them up.  We can be self-centered and inconsiderate, or we can be respectful, kind, and helpful.

  • We're free to choose how to handle adversity.  We can allow ourselves to be crushed, to give up, and to feel sorry for ourselves.  Or we can choose to look for a source of strength within us, to preserve and to make the most out of what life deals us.

  • We're free to choose how much we'll learn.  We can look upon learning as an unpleasant duty or as a great opportunity for bettering ourselves.  We can be undisciplined and lazy, or we can be self-disciplined and hardworking.

  • We're free to choose our own belief system.  We can ignore our spiritual nature, or we can accept it as an important dimension of life.  We can worship pleasure and the world's material things, or we can look for something that's ultimately more important.

  • We're free to choose our own purpose.  We can wander aimlessly, or we can search for a meaning in life, and then live according to it.  We can live to please only ourselves, or we can find a cause that's greater, one that helps us understand and appreciate life more fully.

  • We're free to choose our attitude regardless of circumstances.  This is the most important choice we'll ever make because it affects everything we do in life.  

Much of our potential goes to waste simply because it's never used, just like the battery that corrodes or the muscle that atrophies after lying dormant for too long.  Most of the time, we fail to exercise our choices because we're not aware of having them.  Yet these choices are available to us every day of our lives.  We can make changes in minor aspects of our life, or we can change our entire lifestyle just by making different choices.  we can teach ourselves to deal more effectively with both circumstances and with people.  In fact, we can change almost anything we do if we're aware of our choices and if our desire is strong enough.

We can't choose what happens in our lives, but we can choose how to respond.  We have the ability to survive hardship and to overcome handicaps.  We have the capacity to rise above negative circumstances because we have a free will, the freedom and power to choose.  Human beings weren't designed to live by chance.  We were designed to live by choice.

 

 Attitude is a choice, the most important one you'll ever make. 

Stanford University did a study of "peak performers" in the late 1990's finding that attitude is far more important that intelligence, education, special talent, or luck.

A good attitude gets good results; a bad attitude gets bad results.  People who succeed regularly expect to succeed.  They develop the habit of expecting good things to happen, and they know that the primary vehicle for taking them where they want to go is the mind.

If you have been experiencing consistent failure, or are working with someone who has been experiencing a lot of failure, the first step must be to develop a plan that guarantees success.  If people continue to go through a process that has them fail, it becomes impossible to create a positive attitude.  When I begin a program with someone who is depressed, despondent or frustrated with their lack of achievement, the first goals we set are ones that they already achieve, things they are already doing successfully. This way they are able to focus on their current success and take the focus off of their past failures.

In developing new goals, we are careful to create small, incremental steps that are so easy to achieve, that success is virtually guaranteed.  The problem with people who have a history of failure is that they believe that everything needs to be HARD.  The reverse is true, in order for them to succeed, they must find a way to make their goals as easy as possible.  Life is hard, we don't need to make it any harder than it has to be.  By setting small, easily reachable goals, a person can begin to develop a winning attitude.

A good attitude begins with an open mind.  An open mind isn't the same thing as an empty head.  The purpose of education isn't to fill our minds, but to open them.  The more knowledge we have, the more we realize how much we don't know.  This is what open-mindedness is.  It helps us to see al sides, to be more understanding and to be aware of our own limitations.

Positive thinking is not the same as wishful thinking.  Positive thinking involves a commitment to educated action over the things which you have control.

 

 Habits Are The Key To All Success 

We are not born with any habits.  We learn every single one of them.  We need to work hard to practice them when things are easy, like practicing before the actual game, so that when things become difficult we can still continue with them.  It's what we do when things are hard that counts, so we need to take the opportunity to practice and maintain our habits when the pressure is off.

Bad habits get most of the attention, which only reinforces them.  We need to change our focus to the positive side of habits and put more energy into building new ones.  Trying to break a bad habit through sheer willpower rarely works.  What is far more effective is replacing the habit - substituting it with a behavior that's more positive.

The more you repeat them, the easier it'll be to do them right when it counts.  Skills and habits don't come to us naturally.  They are the result of hard work and determination.

Sow an act...reap a habit,

Sow a habit...reap a character;

Sow a character...reap a destiny.

George Dana Boardman

As the habits of your character improve, so does the quality of life.

Hal Urban

 

 Don't Complain -Be Thankful  

How many times a day do you complain?  Adults complain more than kids do.  It's probably because they've been taking things for granted for a much longer time.  We seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack.  By a conservative estimate, I've now challenged more than 70 000 people of all ages to try not complaining for a day.  At last count, I'd found four who were able to make it through an entire day without complaining.

If you want to try something that's kind of fun, take a day and try not to complain about anything.  Then take some time to write down everything you're thankful about, Things - People & Other.  Read the list when you get up and after each meal for a day and see how different you feel.  Body language, smiles and energy significantly increases.  Magic?  No, just appreciation.  Thankfulness does wonders for the soul.  We need to ask ourselves what's getting our attention.  When we focus on what's right instead of what's wrong, life improves considerably.

We need to experience firsthand how the rest of the world lives in order to fully understand how truly blessed we are.

It is not how much we have but how much we enjoy...

Charles Spurgeon

Appreciation

William James said, "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."  Ever notice that we usually only say good things about people when they're not around?  Do people have to die to wake up to how special they are to us?  We need to express our thanks more often to the special people in our lives.  

We also need to develop the habit of saying "Thank you" to the people that assist us in our activities through the day, the gas jockey, the sales clerk, etc.  They're often treated as if they're non-persons completely devoid of feelings.  In a matter of seconds, we can make someone else's day simply by showing our gratitude.

Why do we judge other?  We're self-centered.  What we're really saying is this:  "You're not OK because you're not like me."

Look for the good in others instead of finding fault with them and say only kind things about people.

 

 Honesty 

Honesty is a choice.  When we make that choice, not in a particular set of circumstances, but as a way of life, we begin to understand what it means to be an authentic person.  You'll never be truly successful unless everything you do is under girded with honesty and integrity.  You'll never know peace of mind and you'll never enjoy feelings of self-worth unless truthfulness is deeply imbedded in your character.

Without realizing it, we become morally lazy.  It's easier and quicker to be dishonest.

Six Reasons For Being Honest

  1. Peace of mind

  2. Character and reputation

  3. It cements relationships, dishonesty ruins them

  4. It sustains mental health

  5. Fulfillment

  6. It is the only way of being authentic and feeling whole 

 

 Motivation 

Many people think of motivation as cheerleading.  This isn't motivation, it's temporary stimulation.  Sports and other ventures that require short bursts of energy can take advantage of temporary stimulation, but it doesn't work for everyday life (unless you can find someone to walk around with you all day yelling, "Go, go, Win Win!").

Desire, not ability separates average people from those who excel.  It's that something extra which makes it possible for ordinary people to accomplish extra-ordinary things.

If we're always looking for excuses for why we can't do things, we'll never find the reasons why we can.

 

 Goals Are Dreams With Deadlines 

The benefits of setting goals

  • Motivation- Goals are the starting blocks of motivation.  They give us a reason to get off our butts and get going.

  • Independence-Goals help jus take charge of our own lives. Instead of following the crowd or wandering through life, we choose our own path, the one that leads to fulfillment of our ambitions.

  • Direction-Goals give us a destination.  We're far more likely to get someplace when we know where we're going.

  • Meaning-Goals give us a sense of purpose.  Life has more meaning when we're clear on what we want.  Instead of merely existing from one day to the next, our goals give us reasons to start really living.

  • Enjoyment-Goals are the antidote to boredom. How can you be bored when you've got exciting things to do?  Goals make our lives more fun, more interesting, and more challenging.

  • Fulfillment-Goals, more than anything else, help us reach our potential.  Setting goals helps us see what's possible.  Each successful step toward attaining them builds confidence.  Each goal completed helps us se more of what's possible and leads to new goals and more success.

Understand the difference between a goal and a wish.

Ask a hundred people what their goals are, and these are the three answers you'll get most frequently: to be happy, to be rich, to be famous.  Those aren't goals; they're wishes.  A wish is a vague dream that we hope happens to us.  There's a vast difference between that and a goal.  A goal is a clear picture that becomes an achievement because we make it happen.  It requires hard work, self-discipline, and good use of time.

Goals need to be set through all areas of life in order to achieve success by living in balance.

Goals are not carved in stone.  There's no rule that says we can't change our plans.

 

 There's No Substitute For Hard Work 

Motivation is fantastic and goals are great, but nothing happens until hard work is added.

  1. Hard work helps us realize our potential.  As our work begins to pay off, it stimulates us to increase our effort.  It helps us see what's possible.  Success brings confidence and confidence brings more success.

  2. Hard work helps us face up to life.  Life is hard.  We're challenged every day to choose between whimpering about it or standing up to it.  Hard work and a good attitude are the best tools we have.

  3. Hard work makes us feel good.  There's no greater feeling of satisfaction than that of completing a task and knowing that we've done our best.

  4. Hard work builds character.  There's no better measure of who we are than our willingness to work.  Enduring and honest effort brings out the best in us.

  5. Hard work earns the respect of others.  We're admired when we give our best, especially when it's done consistently.  we earn the confidence and trust of others.  We also earn a solid reputation.

  6. Hard work earns self-respect.  Consistently giving our best also helps us develop respect for ourselves.  Whether we succeed or not, we always feel better when we try.

  7. Hard work adds meaning.  Working toward our goals is one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences in life.  As long as we have a purpose, we have a good reason to get out of be in the morning.

  8. Hard work gets the best results.  Life is more interesting and enjoyable when we're productive.  Fulfillment is the result of wholehearted effort.

  9. Hard work becomes a habit.  Habits are the key to all success and the best four are honesty, politeness, hard work and thankfulness.

  10. Hard work is healthy.  Hard work is good for us.  When we work hard, we use our minds and bodies in positive ways, so it induces both mental and physical health.  Hard workers are healthier and live longer.  

We live in a culture that focuses on consuming rather than producing.  Turn work into play.  Work hard, but have fun doing it.

Unhappy people are those who have not found something they want to do.  Happiness comes from the right amount of work every day.

Lin Yu-T'ang

 

 Delayed Gratification 

Too many people are looking for a life without difficulties.  

Don't avoid the pain; schedule it.  If we learn to do what is painful and difficult first, and get it over with, we'll enhance the pleasure that comes later.  If we simply do what is pleasurable first, we will have less satisfaction and will still suffer the pain of what we must do later, only it will have become more painful.

 

 Successful People Don't Find Time - They Make Time 

Time is life.  It is irreversible and irreplaceable.  To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.

Alan Lakein

          Losers                                      Winners

     -Kill Time                                  -Use Time

     -Waste Time                             -Spend Time Wisely

     -Lose Time                               -Value Time

     -Let Time Slip Away                 -Organize Their Time

     -Take Time Forgranted              -Treasure Time

     -Squander Time                         -Schedule Time

     -Can't Find Time                        -Make Time

We have been told the message, "You can have it all!", but the truth is, you can't.  A truer message is that you can have almost anything you want, but you don't have enough time to have it all.  You have to make choices.

When you simplify your life, pull back from the drive for status, power, wealth and the need to "have it all" - you have more time to relax and doing enjoyable things.  You don't actually have more time than you did before, you just learn to spend it differently.  Make time for the things that are truly important and the quality of your life will improve.

MAKE APPOINTMENTS WITH YOURSELF!

Let's say you have a task that will require about two hours of work and needs to be done by next Thursday.  Most people say to themselves, "I've got to get that done by next week."  Notice the difference when you say instead, "I'm going to do it Tuesday between 4:00 and 6:00 PM."  Remember, the mind only moves toward specific goals.  If you say to a friend, "Let's get together someday," it'll never happen.  But if you make an appointment with your friend, it will happen.  We tend to keep our appointments.

If you have something that needs to be done, but you're likely to put it off until the last minute, there's a simple solution: Make an appointment with yourself.  Before you do anything else, make the decision that it's going to get done.  Then decide when you're going to do it, and commit yourself to that specific time.  As simple as it sounds, this technique not only helps you get more done but also has some side benefits: it develops self-discipline, aids in goal-setting, helps overcome procrastination, and teaches you to use your time more effectively.

Know Your Most Productive Time

Be honest with yourself, when are you most productive during the day?  Most people have a 4-hour productive period.  This may begin at 5:00 AM or it may begin at 10:00 PM.  Schedule the things that require the most effort for these times if possible.

 

 Self Esteem 

We tend to become what we're told about ourselves.

Self-esteem a by-product of the choices we make.  It isn't something we can buy or get from other people.  Self-esteem is the reputation you have with yourself. (Brian Tracy).

 

 It's OK to Fail 

Two of the most famous successes of our time made their accomplishments through the process of trial and failure.  Thomas Edison failed over 10 000 times in his attempts to find a way to create a light bulb.  He regarded each failure as another successful test in finding a combination that would not work.  Each elimination brought him one step closer to the combination that would work.

Einstein said, "I think and think for months and year.  Ninety-nine times the conclusion is false.  The hundredth time I am right."

Failure is a natural outcome of trying.  Success almost never comes on the first attempt.  If we think it does, all we're doing is setting ourselves up for a big fall, one that might keep us from getting up and trying again.  Success comes only as the result of time, determination and prolonged effort.  (Ever watched a child learning something new?  They try many many times before they get it, but they don't give up just because they failed the first time).  

Edison and Einstein were perfect examples.  Both were called geniuses, but neither one liked that title.  Remember, it was Edison himself who gave us that famous definition of genius: "One percent inspiration and 99% perspiration."  The problem with too many people today is that they're not willing to perspire long enough, if at all.  They want their success instantly, but it rarely comes that way.  We have to be willing to fail first.

 

What We Can Learn From Failure

  • Failure teaches us humility.  It confronts us with our limitations and shows us that we're not invincible.

  • Failure teaches us to correct our course of action.  It forces us to look at what we're doing and gives us the opportunity to try a new direction.

  • Failure teaches us that we can't always have what we want.  Sometimes, even when we do all the right things, it still doesn't work out.

  • Failure teaches us about the strength of our character and challenges us to dig deeper when we experience setbacks.  It teaches us not to quit when things become difficult.

  • Failure teaches us that we can survive defeat.

(Develop a list of the benefits of failure in a way that people like Kris Grant can read through the list and feel better about the opportunity that a specific failure provides them).

 If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything.  Success is how high you bounce after you hit bottom. Success doesn't come to us; we have to go out and get it. 

Don't be afraid to fail.  Don't waste energy trying to cover up failure.  Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge.  It's OK to fail.  If you're not failing you're not growing.

H. Stanley Judd

 

 What's Essential 

  1. Choose a good attitude, no matter what the circumstances.  Keep a positive outlook on life, and always be thankful.

  2. Build your life on a foundation of respect.  Love God, your family, and friends, and be kind to others.  Bring out the best in everyone, including yourself.

  3. Make integrity the cornerstone of your life.  Follow the rules, play fair, and be honest in all things.

  4. Accept the difficulties and challenges of life.  Work hard at everything you do.  And if you fail, try again.

  5. Have a passion to learn.  The more you discover about life and the world, the more complete and fulfilled you'll become.  Make it a lifelong process.

  6. Enjoy life.  Remember that you need to play and have fun.  And most of all, you need to laugh.

www.halurban.com 

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