Torah Musings: Three Words to Boost Your Success


Three Words to Boost Your Success

Sarah Pachter

There are three four-letter “f” words that could literally change your life. Don’t worry! It’s not what you’re thinking – no offensive language here!

Here’s the first one: fine.

How many times a day do we have the following casual conversation: Someone asks us, “How are you?”

We respond with the typical, “Oh, I’m fine.”

Your response may or may not reflect reality. If we were “fine” all of the time, we would not be human. Aren’t we here on earth to grow and change? The first step in achieving success is recognizing that, sometimes, we are not fine. We want more and better. We can achieve change if we strive for it, but this requires a conscious choice.

Motivational speaker, Charlie Harary, shared an anecdote about a high school experience of his. He played for the varsity basketball team, and fondly remembered the very first day of practice as a freshman.

The boys sat in their last class of the day, anxiously waiting for the bell to ring so they could head out to the gymnasium to begin practice. As soon as the coach came on the court, he clapped his hands loudly and said, “Okay, boys! We are leaving the gym. Follow me.”

Where are we headed? The boys wondered.

Reading the expressions on their faces, the coach announced, “We are going to the classroom.”

The team was disappointed, to say the least, for they were looking forward to showing off their skills and scrimmaging. The coach began with a Powerpoint slideshow featuring pictures of famous basketball players such as Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal. Next, he showed the group various top basketball colleges. The boys recognized nearly every single photo, except one final image.

“Does anyone know who this guy is?” the coach asked.

After a few moments of silence, one student in the back answered, “Stanley Roberts?”

“That’s right, Stanley Roberts. Does anyone know where Shaq went to college?”

“LSU!” one kid proudly blurted out.

“Yes. Louisiana State University.” The coach replied, pleased. “Now, why on Earth would Shaq attend LSU when he could have had a full scholarship to any college of his choice? Duke, UNC, UCLA, Maryland, or any top basketball college would have been thrilled to have him join their school.

“He attended LSU for one reason only: because Stanley Roberts played for LSU. At that time, Stanley Roberts was the number one college center; therefore, Shaq rearranged his entire plans just to play next to him.” The coach added while pointing to Stanley’s photograph, “All of that, just to learn from this guy right here.”

The coach went on, “So, the obvious question remains: Whatever happened to Stanley Roberts? And how did Shaq become a household name?” The coach explained that Stanley Roberts was an incredible, natural-born basketball player. G-d had given him the gift of real talent that brought him enormous success.

Shaq could have easily thought to himself, Stanley’s got it. He’s more talented than I am. I’ll just play next to him, like a sidekick earning assists. Yet, Shaq did not allow himself to be mediocre. After each college game, when all of the parties and celebrations were over, Shaq got his hands on a set of keys to the gym. There, he practiced his shot until four o’clock in the morning. Every. Single. Night.

Stanley Roberts, on the other hand, solely relied on his talent, and he partied it all away. He was satisfied with what he had, and he never achieved more.

We all have a list of complaints about what we are lacking. If only I had more smarts, more strength. If only I was taller, or if my family had more money… The list of potential shortcomings is endless.

Forget excuses. For every smart individual out there, there are ten less smart individuals who are more successful. It’s not about what you have. It’s about making the choice to commit to what it is you want and then taking action.

The choice to become Shaq or to become Stanley?

This leads me to the next four-letter word: feel.

We know what decision we should make, and we may even have resolved to do it. But we often resist that action because we don’t feel like doing it. Well, I’ve got news for you: We may never feel like it.

When I was pregnant with my fourth child, I suffered from the typical pregnancy woes. Backache, morning sickness, strange veins… I’ll spare you the details. During my bouts of nausea, the very last thing I wanted to do was give an evening lecture.

Normally, I loved teaching, but while pregnant, I felt like crawling into a nauseous ball in my bed. I felt like falling asleep. Instead, I pushed myself, because I was determined to reach my goals. Today, whenever I find myself in a position where I don’t “feel” like it, I tell myself, You are NEVER going to feel like it. You have to just move.

Our emotions sabotage us time and time again. We often mistake feelings for facts, but it is often better to lead with our intellect and not our emotions.

Imagine for a moment that you bring your car into the shop for not starting properly. Without even opening the hood of the car, the mechanic informs you, “It’s the engine. That will cost you a few thousand dollars to repair.”

You are skeptical and reply, “How can you be sure?” I mean, at least open the hood and pretend to check! you muse.

“I don’t know, I just feel it. I can feel it in my bones. It’s the engine,” says the mechanic

In this instance, it would certainly be wise to get a second opinion and go elsewhere. No one is going to trust a mechanic who just “feels” that the car is broken. We cannot “feel” our way through life. We need information, explanation, and evidence-based data. We must lead with our head, not our heart. Doing so can help us achieve the success we desire.

How exactly do we push ourselves to act when we don’t feel like it, and are not fine? This leads me to my third “f” word: five. It stands for “five seconds.”

All you need are five seconds. Seriously. Five seconds can help us achieve anything we want. Sounds like a gimmick? It’s not. Just ask Mel Robbins. Mel Robbins is a motivational speaker and author who has begun a transformative system so successful, millions of people have jumped onto her bandwagon. To jumpstart any activity, you just have to move yourself into action before five seconds has passed.

For example, you want to wake up in the morning, but your body is begging you to hit the snooze button, and your arm is slowly making its way over to press it… Just count backwards: 5-4-3-2-1, go! Then remove the covers and get up.

It works! (Really – I’ve tried it!)

There are two types of people in the world: those who feel controlled by life, and those who try to control life. In other words, we view our “locus of control” as either inward or outward. For people with an inner locus of control usually feel empowered to make changes in their life. Those with an external locus of control often feel a lack of power and ability to surmount challenge.

Counting down from five moves that locus inward, empowering us to make the change we so desperately need. The method counts backwards rather than upwards, because the numbers run out, and then you have to move. This simple tool establishes a routine start-up, almost tricking ourselves into action. It forces you to act before you can make up an excuse, such as, I don’t feel like it, or, I’m fine how I am. In essence, you move your body before your emotions have time to stop you.

We often have powerful impulses that can create big changes within us – the desire to create, to make that important call, to get out of bed, to start that new business. Yet, all too often, we talk ourselves out of it before taking the first step.

Counting backwards and immediately taking action moves us to where we really want to go in life.

So remember: You’re not FINE, and that’s okay. You won’t always FEEL like it – but who does? Just don’t let it stop you. All you need is FIVE seconds to make real change.

Take it from Shaq and Stanley: Who would you rather be?