The most important factor that determines your destiny
I saw embarrassment and shame in his darting eyes and shuffling feet as he answered.
My heart ached for him.
Fifteen years after graduating high school, I had returned to my hometown to visit my parents, where I encountered an old friend whom I hadn’t seen since graduation.
As a youth, he had had no confidence. He hadn’t changed a bit.
To the world — and to himself — he was a downtrodden loser from a no-account family, with no prospects, no ambition, no hope of accomplishing anything meaningful. His life was as broken down as the rusty cars strewn across his family’s front yard.
Pleased to see him and to catch up, I asked him, “So what do you do?”
“I’m just a mechanic,” he answered apologetically.
The small word “just” revealed significant insights into his soul.
What makes one man embarrassed of his life and another proud and confident? What makes one man strive for greatness and another cower in fear and wallow in hopelessness?
One factor: What they believe about themselves.
What you believe about yourself determines your destiny more than any other factor.
Your behavior is a product of your beliefs. If you believe you’re a loser, you’ll act like a loser. Winners believe they are winners long before they accomplish their goals and collect their trophies.
Belief is the starting point of all achievement. You cannot become successful until you believe you are worthy of success. It is impossible to achieve empowering goals while being crippled by limiting beliefs about yourself.
Your net worth is largely determined by your self-worth.
You cannot depend on praise and encouragement from others to create a positive self-perception. In fact, you can be certain that the world will try to tear you down. What you believe about yourself must come from within.
To the world, Frederick Douglass was a bastard mulatto slave, a sub-human, chattel to be bought and sold like furniture. But Frederick knew better. As he wrote in his autobiography,
“From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom.”
To the world, Abraham Lincoln was nothing but a poor, uneducated country boy. To the world, Florence Nightingale was “just” a nurse.
What matters isn’t what you do, but what you believe about what you do.
Are mechanics dumb, untalented, greasy low-lifes? Or is being a mechanic a noble and honorable profession, a God-given mission to solve problems, make things better, and make people happy?
The answer is not intrinsic to the profession; it is a belief. What a mechanic believes about his profession determines whether he is respected and admired, or ignored and ridiculed. His belief, not his natural talent, determines whether his work is sloppy or excellent. His perception of himself, not the world’s, determines whether he is proud or embarrassed of his work.
If I could do just one thing to transform my friend’s life, I wouldn’t change his occupation. I wouldn’t reform his habits. I wouldn’t give him a million dollars. I wouldn’t make him famous.
I would look deep into his eyes and sear these truths into his soul:
“You are a Son of God. In your veins flows royal blood. The Creator of the universe loves you more than you can comprehend. You are good, noble, and powerful beyond measure. You can achieve anything you believe. You can overcome any obstacle. Nothing you do is insignificant. You were born for greatness.”
And from those fundamental beliefs would spring hope, faith, joy, and confidence…