Oysters are rough-shelled bivalve molluscs that inhabit the sea. In any given oyster, there is a chance, but no guarantee, that a pearl – an object of great value lies within. A tender touch will not open an oyster. To open an oyster, you have to pry it open with a knife exacted with sufficient pressure at its canal. And although not all oysters contain pearls, because there’s a chance of a huge payoff inside, the effort is always worthwhile.
So it is with life. Out in the big world, there are endless possibilities, yet it requires hard work and determination to find and exploit these potentials to our advantage. You are in a position to take the opportunities that life has to offer. Pearls (fortune) don’t just sit around for an easy taking, but you’re likely to find oysters (0pportunites) more easily. And although there’s no assurance that every opportunity will pay off, if you are persistent enough, you can find pearls in oysters.
You can achieve anything you wish in life because you have the opportunity and ability to do so. You can be a millionaire, a professional, a successful entrepreneur, a loving parent – whatever you want to be. Most people can possibly do so much more than they know right now. However, doubt often limits our ability to make progress by feeding our minds with a foray of fictitious excuses and insurmountable challenges that are poised to hinder us from reaching our goal. As with finding pearls in oysters, persistence is our defence against uncertainties and any prevailing limitations. Persistence causes us to take continuous, committed and bold action in spite of difficulty or opposition. As Malcolm Gladwell explains in his book ‘The Tipping point’, with sustained persistence, a magic moment is likely to appear where the effect of our ideas, efforts and hard work cross a threshold, tip and produce magnanimous results. This firmness of purpose can be attained by developing two of our core mindful systems, (1) Commitment and (2) Belief.
Commitment breeds persistence. Once you have set your goal in a SMART way, you have to constantly visualize your goal and then map-out a sound and adaptable plan of action (as well as fall-back plans). Next you have to make a genuine commitment to relentlessly pursue the best plan of action to achieve your goal. Bear in mind that commitments are most effective when they are active, written, public, effortful and internally motivated (un-coerced). And while it is true that it might not always be clear exactly how you can realize your goal, if you get creative and adaptable you can find a good path to success.
Say you want to have an income of $50,000 per year within the next five years. One plan of action might be to become a professional footballer. Maybe it’s not physically possible for you to be a footballer because of a bad knee problem. That’s OK! That is definitely not the only path to achieving your goal. You could become a doctor instead. And if for whatever reason, this plan of action is inconceivable, and if the only thing that you can do is talk, then you could become a salesman. The important point here is to be virtually fixed on your goal while remaining flexible with your strategic plan of action. However, upon reasonable evaluation, one must fully commit to the chosen plan of execution.
If you had thought that you only had one or very few paths to achieve your goal, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Look around, get creative, talk to people, and you’ll find you have more options than you think. I have found great truth in the words of W.H. Murray:
“Until one is fully committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”
― William Hutchison Murray
We give our lives a meaning based on the deep-seated beliefs we hold, whether religious, financial, health, societal or whatever form. As a result, having a sense of fulfilment in our lives is entirely based on our beliefs. A person that believes that ‘money is the root of all evil’ will probably never be rich because such person will continually take actions that are inconsistent with producing financial prosperity. Our beliefs are originally shaped by our parents, our education, our environment, our experiences and the society at large. At first glance, it may appear that these beliefs are hard-coded within us and we can hardly do anything about them. This belief in itself – the idea that our beliefs are incapable of change – is the most erroneous of all. We have the power to change our belief and if you must change your life, you must change your beliefs.
It is worth mentioning that the consensus can also be wrong, so one must be have the courage and ingenuity to validate even the popular beliefs. Before 1952, no one had ever run a mile in less than four-minutes. This so-called ‘Four-minute barrier’ was a common man-imposed belief that postulated that due to man’s inherent physiological makeup, achieving such a feat was simply impossible – any attempt would result in fatal consequences including the risk of a heart explosion. Consequently, no one ever attempted to break the barrier. In the 1952 Olympics, Roger Bannister set out to independently stress-test the popular belief. He ran and beat the barrier. The belief was flawed. Ever since then, hundreds of people have broken the four-minute barrier – including high-school kids. What changed? Our belief.
We create our world with our beliefs, and our beliefs are reinforced by our thoughts and actions. Therefore, we must change the way we think and act – by positive affirmation, constructive visualization, ingenious thinking and mindfulness. Think deeply about what you want, remove any mental (and most likely self-imposed) barriers, stress-test assumptions, muster up the strength to take action, change the things you can, figure out a way and don’t make excuses or complain about the things you are not willing to act upon. Remember that life is as satisfactory as you allow it to be. You are limitless!
This saying by Abraham Lincoln perfectly accentuates the efficacy of belief and commitment combined– the cornerstones of persistence:
“Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then… find the way.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Finally, let this phrase always resound in your mind,
‘I can do and become anything I want to do and become, the world’s my oyster’