Friday, November 6, 2009

Do you really know thyself?

To achieve any goal, it's not enough simply to work hard. You first have to get the right mindset (i.e. get rid of the negativism), define the goal properly, then take stock of what you have to work with, formulate a plan that use the resources that you have efficiently, plan for contingencies that will deal with any weaknesses and/or problems, then execute the plan.

We have talked a lot about the proper mindset, and it goes by different names. We have discussed paradigm shifts, thinking like the rich, memes and excuses, and so on.

Defining the goal may be abstract like "get rich" or "be financially free", but you need to write a plan. However, the Rich Dad's Guide to Investing talks about all that. So I won't repeat it here.

We will talk about resources, and take stock of what you have to work with. Thus, you will gain insight into yourself, and how to apply those talents and resources most efficiently.

I've read a book called "Strengthfinder 2.0". In it the author talks about a movie called "Rudy". Any one seen that movie?

For those of you who haven't, it's about this kid Daniel "Rudy" Ruettinger who wants to play American football on a college team. Not just any college, but University of Notre Dame, with a VERY long football tradition. He's small (only 5' 6"), but he has a big heart. Despite lacking the money and grades to go to Notre Dame, he refuse to give up. While at a junior college, he joined Notre Dame groundskeeping staff (mow the lawn and all that), and after finally transferring into Notre Dame, convinced the coach and landed a "walk-on" spot for the football team. He's actually NOT good enough to play, but the coach liked his drive to succeed, and promised to at least let him dress up ONCE that year, so he will be officially on the team. This was in 1975. Then the head coach was replaced, and the team, lead by the captain, convinced the new coach to let "Rudy" suit up for the final home game of the season. However, Rudy, was not expected to play. Notre Dame was so far ahead in the final minutes of the game that the team felt that it is safe to let Rudy actually get some play time, and after a stadium-wide chant, the coach reluctantly agreed. Rudy surprised all by actually sacking the opposing quarterback on the final play of the game. He was carried off on shoulders of his teammates in triumph.

It is a very inspirational movie, demonstrating that if you have enough drive, you can succeed in almost anything. In fact, many consider it to be among the best 50 sports movies of all times, as well as best 50 inspirational movies of all time. And it IS a real story (though dramatized for the movie)

However, with a bit of a paradigm shift, I'll have to say that while "Rudy" is to be admired, he is also incredibly stupid.... I mean dedicated.

I have a piece of wood plank here, and I decided to smash it in two with my forehead... Would you say I am dedicated, or I am stupid? I am sure eventually I can do it, but probably not until I am all bloody and bruised and concussed. Not exactly the most efficient use of my noggin, is it?

I am sure you guys can think of many different ways I can accomplish that without concussing myself. Some of the more obvious ones are:

* wear a helmet
* weaken the board, maybe pre-saw it a little
* put the two ends on blocks and then go DOWN, instead of raising the board to the head
* hire someone else with a harder head
* train with Shaolin monks for ten years and master the "iron head" technique
and so on.

(In reality, headbutts is not done with the forehead... headbutt is done with the area just above your brow, ahead soft tissue area of the other guy's head, such as his nose.)

Or in case of Rudy, he wants to play Notre Dame football, fine. But he decided he wants to be on the defensive line even though he's only 5' 6". It's unrealistic, and at the end, he relied on the charity of others, which is something you cannot count on. And he got lucky.

You must not only have the passion and dedication, and work hard, but you must also WORK SMART, and part of that is knowing your own strengths and weaknesses.

Rudy decided to go with his weakness, which is a waste of effort. Why didn't Rudy train himself as a kicker or a punter? Those are real players. They contribute a lot to the team. And he's had some real chances to contribute to the team much longer than one play of one game, and only as a charity case. You spent all those years dreaming, and all you got is a charity case? I don't call that a success at all. I call it "luck".

Which brings me back to the book "Strengthfinder 2.0". While it is a book, it is also a key to an online test that assesses your personality, your dominant traits, and what kind of people would best complement you and what kind of people would NOT work well with you. In other words, it measures your strengths and weaknesses. I don't mean your skills, as skills can be learned.

Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can then work smart by applying your strengths and minimizing you weaknesses. Or you can do it the Rudy way, and hope some angels are there to help you along.

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