Thursday, December 17, 2009

Manage your precious time


Time is relative. What is our time and existence on planet Earth in comparison to the history of the universe? A week of honeymoon seems barely like a few hours while one hour in the dentist's chair feels like an eternity. Time once passed cannot be reversed nor can it be replaced, it is gone forever. Time is not an expandable commodity. Everybody has the same amount of time in a day or in a year. To waste your time is really wasting part of your life. There are so many useful and wonderful things you can do with your life. However, there is only a limited amount of time so that you simply cannot do everything or help everybody. You have to choose how you are going to spend your precious time. Do not waste your time spending it with people you don't like or doing things you dislike in order to be liked by others. Instead use it effectively to achieve your goals and to fill your purpose in life. Time budgeting always pays dividends because you can choose to use it to make progress toward your goals and purpose in life. It is your responsibility to decide how to make the best use of your time.
Time management techniques are tools to help you achieve more control over your life and function more efficiently. You can't really make time, find time or get time. What you can do is manage your precious time. Effective time management requires that you know your purpose in life, your needs and your goals very clearly. It also requires that you devote some time to further your plan. By properly defining your needs and goals, you can save a lot of valuable time. In your daily activities, you have to balance your family responsibilities, your work, your social interaction and your personal discretionary time. Don't let your business activities control and take over your personal time with your family. Remember jobs, goals and problems come and go, but the most important people in your life are with you for a lifetime. Treat your personal and family time as a top priority. Ensure your family spends dinner time together to share food, and experience good spirit and humour.
Organize and execute the tasks around priorities. Decide what is really important to you. Tasks must be planned and a list of things to do must be made to achieve your set objectives. You have to identify which of these tasks are urgent and vital. You make specific plans to accomplish them first. Usually crises require your immediate attention. You have to make sure you are not beaten up by problems and emergencies all day everyday. Otherwise you will be always stressed out and forever responding to crises.
The most effective way of managing your time is to spend a great deal of time doing things and tasks that are not urgent, but are very important. This is the essence of effective self-management and of being proactive. It involves things like building relationships, long-range planning, regular exercising, preventive maintenance and reflecting on your primary purpose in life. In this mode you are proactive, opportunity-minded, effective and you are dealing with the tasks of greatest worth to you. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that because they are not urgent that you can postpone them for a later date. Avoid the pitfall of saying to yourself that you can always do something tomorrow. It is easy to procrastinate and lose your interest and focus on what needs to be done. Instead, ask yourself what is the one thing that you could do that would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal or professional life. Decide to do it now, on a regular basis and watch how your effectiveness improves. Once you can see positive results, engage yourself in these types of activities for a longer percentage of your time.
Avoid interruptions, they can make you waste a lot of time. If you have to drive somewhere in a hurry you choose the shortest route with the fewest traffic lights and stop signs at intersections. Allowing interruption to interfere with your work and your planned activities usually decreases your productivity and efficiency, and reduces your ability to focus. During a normal day you encounter three types of interruptions that can waste your time: your environment, other people and yourself. One of the most frequent interruptions is yourself. Have you ever noticed that you sometimes leave something you started to do something else? Or you are working on a project, then your mind wanders to something else. Each time you do that, you tend to make a mental note for yourself to remember. This type of interruption inevitably takes away part of your time, focus and energy. Write down what you have to do and stick to the tasks at hand.
The second type of interruption is environmental. Traffic jams, queuing for anything and broken equipment are examples of environmental interruptions which waste a lot of your time. Take another route, alter your schedule and fix what is broken in order to avoid and control potential interruption as much as possible. The third interruption is other people who just want to chat with you or tell you their problems. They can approach you in person or by telephone. They are usually the most difficult to control and can be your biggest time-wasters. If you are doing an important thing, avoid casual interruptions from others by telling them tactfully that you are busy. Learn to say no when they ask if you have a minute. If you usually receive lots of telephone calls, it's essential to have an answering machine to screen the incoming calls. Return all important and urgent telephone calls as soon as possible. Set aside a period of time, keeping it as short as possible, to return all other calls at the same time. By planning your day and eliminating your main interruptions, you can accomplish a great deal more in less time.
Take charge by tracking how you spend your time. Tracking time can be made easier with a daily schedule like your personal time log. You can now look ahead with your goals in mind and schedule time to achieve them. Write down the main activities that occupy each hour or half-hour in your log. To be more effective, make quick and simple daily, weekly and monthly schedules. It would defeat the purpose if you take an inordinate amount of time to prepare these schedules. Set realistic time frames and be flexible within reason. Schedules and plans are useful tools but don't be chained to them. You want the freedom and flexibility to respond to unanticipated events, relationships and experiences in a meaningful way. Record what you plan to do and what you actually did with your time. Keep careful record of your time for a week. This will provide accurate information about how you are currently spending your time. Analyze your entries and check whether you are spending your time wisely. If necessary make adjustment so as to be able to reach your goals and live purposefully. Remember that the realization of your goals can easily suffer from being awarded insufficient time.
Death reminds us of the value of time. We all know we won't be on this earth forever. It's only when we face the fact that each of us has a limited time on earth that we will begin to live each day to the fullest. Time is one of our most valuable commodities and it is also one of our most precious gifts. The concept of time management does not mean you can't give your time to others, by volunteering to contribute in something worthwhile, by listening to a friend's problem and by helping others. Remember to respect other people's time too by being diligently on time when you are expected. Managing your time effectively in this fashion helps your personal development in a nurturing manner. The use of your time reflects the degree to which you have made the principles of personal management and development a part of your life.

Extracts from my book: Become your best

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Incorporate good habits in your daily activities


All of us are creatures of habit. We all have good and bad habits. The challenge is to change bad habits into good ones. Habits are a combination of internalized principles, ways of thinking and doing, and lifestyle behaviours. Healthy habits can be learned by anyone who is willing to put in the necessary effort. You too can cultivate good habits that can enhance your life enormously if you have the discipline to pay attention to what you think and do. At first the implementation of any new habit is difficult and awkward, and demands a lot of effort. After some persistent repetition, you will find it easier and eventually the habit becomes almost effortless to put into practice. Habits become a part of your nature by willpower, practice and repetition. Cultivate good habits to the point that they become second nature. People with a wide range of winning habits are likely to have more effective responses in their repertoire. Successful people understand the importance of good habits and religiously practise them in their daily process of living. You must remain alert to the effects of your habits to ensure that they are still serving a useful purpose. Be ready and willing to change your old bad habits and embrace new winning ones which will serve you better. Try substitution. For example, instead of a chocolate bar, have an apple for a snack. Be committed and force yourself to hold tight to the new habits for at least 21 consecutive days. Let the good habits be the little extras you choose to do. Think how much difference the incorporation of a repertoire of winning habits can make to your life, say five years from now. Let your imagination and visualization motivate you to put them into practice right now.
Much of our behaviours and habits are so well developed that they become automatic responses. It is important that we choose and develop good habits when we are young rather than to change bad habits when we are older because breaking bad habits is very difficult. Just look at the millions of people who know that smoking is bad for their health. They know that every cigarette they smoke can potentially reduce their life expectancy by approximately fourteen minutes. They are desperate to give it up but find it almost impossible to break the addiction. Many people also have temporary bad habits which are perpetuated by fuss, punishment and encouragement which may pass away of themselves if left unnoticed. To change entrenched bad habits, one has to put a lot of effort into spotting the triggering process, stopping the automatic response, and substituting more appropriate behaviour. People with bad habits due to serious addiction such as drug abuse, smoking and drinking problems, need to seek help right away.
Make your habits serve you, not the other way around. Ask yourself whether any habit is contributing to your well-being or not. If you change your habit, what will be your positive benefit? So long as you are hanging on to habits that are not enhancing your life, you are limiting your potential. It is within your power to cultivate the habit of reminding yourself that you can make wiser choices. Make it a daily habit to read materials which expand your mind. A good habit worth stressing is to laugh at yourself and with yourself. Don't take yourself too seriously. Laughing at yourself is a good way of acknowledging your imperfections and humanness. Get in the habit of surrounding yourself with positive minded, effective and wise people. All the principles and advice in this book will be much more useful to you if you practise them. You can have a fulfilled life by simply incorporating good habits into your daily activities.
Here are some of the good habits, in no particular order, that you can acquire to enhance your life. Most of them are developed in greater detail in this book. They were the one-line ideas and guidelines from which I started to write this book. I hope they are as useful to you. May these good habits empower you to really live your life to its fullest!

* Know your priorities
* Establish realistic goals and expectations
* Align your goals with your values
* Commit yourself with dedication
* Eat nutritious food
* Don't smoke or stop smoking
* Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation
* Exercise on a regular basis
* Smile and feel happy
* Greet people with a smile, handshake, kiss or a hug
* Develop and maintain a positive mental attitude
* Start and end your day with positive thoughts or thanksgiving prayers
* Do things you enjoy
* Be generous with compliments
* Enjoy the little things in life
* Cultivate humour and laugh at yourself
* Become a master of the fine art of listening
* Communicate using all your senses
* Practise to become a good public speaker
* Learn to negotiate through listening and communicating
* Be open and honest in your communication
* Be proactive and do important things first
* Be ready and willing to learn
* Learn a new word everyday
* Develop a sense of well-being and contentment
* Find your own balance
* Know your strengths and limitations
* Remind yourself to be positive and enthusiastic
* Adopt the qualities of healthy families
* Take delight in whom you love
* Cultivate teamwork and cooperation
* Learn to cope with adversity and failure
* Avoid frustrations and bursts of anger
* Learn to relax and enjoy the moment
* Treat yourself and your loved ones
* Nurture the love and affection for your family
* Count your blessings and be grateful for them
* Realize that your happiness lies within you
* Be honest and responsible
* Take control of your precious time
* Arrive on time for your appointments
* Honour your commitments and agreements
* Retain a long term perspective
* Let your actions speak for you
* Develop a good character
* Enhance your self-esteem
* Become your best friend
* Keep a personal journal
* Write down your thoughts, fear, and aspirations
* Use your instinct to your advantage
* Live within your means
* Manage your money
* Pay yourself first
* Learn to invest wisely
* Pay off your debts and mortgage early
* Beat the cost of living and save income tax
* Eliminate financial stress and worry
* Have a financial plan
* Be selective in your reading
* Read only the positive and important materials
* Visualize yourself as you want to become
* Plan and reassess your goals and objectives
* Commit to improve yourself with dedication
* Have the will to prepare
* Read inspirational books
* Use the public libraries
* Associate yourself with positive and wise people
* Develop a network of friends, business associates and mentors
* Profit from other people's experience and expertise
* Express your gratitude for any help you receive
* Seek models of successful people to follow in their footsteps
* Look at things and problems from different perspectives
* Think like a winner
* Use and challenge your brain
* Examine every idea you encounter before you adopt or discard it
* Develop your memory
* Feed your mind with positive thoughts and empowering beliefs
* Flex your paradigm
* Share your prosperity and knowledge
* Help people become successful
* Reach out to help somebody in need
* Search for the seed of good in every adversity
* Let your love flow
* See the good in everyone
* Share your many blessings with others
* Trust your intuition
* Treat every day as a special gift from God
* Become a peacemaker
* Do and give your best at all times
* Put all the good habits into practice
* Become your best

You are where you are and what you are today because of your choices and your established habits. You can change for the better by simply choosing to incorporate more good habits in your daily life.

Excerpt from my book: Become your Best

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Inspire and Motivate Yourself


Through daily affirmations, visualizations, and inspirations you can motivate yourself to grow spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. Self-inspiration and motivation take a lot of practice but they are skills that can be learned. They give you the discipline and resilience to try harder when everybody else is about to quit. They strengthen your resolve to improve yourself in areas of your choice and reward you with self-esteem and confidence among other things.
It's hard to feel motivated to do anything if you can't see any reward for your effort. Visualize the rewards of becoming more self-confident: the power of believing in yourself, the feeling of accomplishment, the healthy self-esteem you'll have, the respect others will have for you, the rewarding relationships you'll enjoy, the opportunity you'll attract, and so on. Imagine yourself at a business meeting, feeling certain to be able to respond to the demands of the moment in the most effective way you know. Tell yourself you are confident in your ability to deal with new situations as they arise. Feel the sense of confidence in being able to scan any situation, think on your feet and deal with the issue in whatever way you determine is best for your own needs and purposes. You can be inspired and motivated to put in the extra effort today by focusing on the future rewards.
Look at everyday as an opportunity to explore your world for the sake of learning something new and meaningful. Get to know your wants and needs very well. Use your personal mission statement to inspire and motivate you to go ahead with your goals and purpose in life. Look at all the goals you have already achieved so far in your life for inspiration and motivation. When you find an inspirational quote that means something to you, remember to write it down and use it to motivate you. Keep a notebook handy to record the things you hear and read that inspire and motivate you. Meaningful quotes can change as you get on with your life. The best affirmations are the ones you compose for yourself. Write your own affirmations and inspirational phrases based on your current philosophy, beliefs and values. Make a positive statement on something that is beginning to happen in your life. Try to incorporate the eight most inspirational and motivational words used by lots of successful people: I am, I can, I will, I believe.
I am a worthy person who is contributing to society,
I can develop loving relationships,
I will always help others in anyway I can,
I believe in the teachings of ........ e.g. spiritual leaders.
Make your own meaningful slogans and motivational quotations. Repeat the phrases over and over for a long period of time with enthusiasm until they, together with your philosophy and values, eventually become part of your belief system. Through this conscious programming you can give yourself inspirational and motivational messages automatically. Through repetition of these thoughts in your mind and by taking action in alignment with them, you can make behavioural changes in yourself. These changes can be as subtle as becoming more comfortable with yourself, improving your relationships or developing a more positive attitude toward life. The possibilities are limitless. Try to keep the phrases short, simple and meaningful. Select one or two messages to start with, depending on what is most important to you at the moment, and make it part of you. It is very effective to repeat the inspirational and motivational messages just before you go to sleep. Repetition is important, do it every day to develop the habit and make it part of your life. Remember that repetitive conscious programming without actively practising what you believe in is not going to be very effective. You have to be participating actively in creating an environment, relationship or behavioural changes which reflect your inspirational and motivational messages.
Read inspirational books and get motivated to better yourself. Look for role models, mentors and positive people that can reinforce your motivation for self-actualization. Join fitness clubs, public speaking groups, discussion groups on spirituality and any other association that can motivate you to develop yourself further. When you feel down, try to recapture the times when you were creative, appreciated, and rewarded for your effort. Think about those times in which you have felt most fully human and alive: being kind and helpful with no thought of return, overcoming your fear, and being filled with pride for something you did. Excite your imagination and inspire your creative vision with your enthusiasm. Use your positive attitude and self-esteem as a driving force for inspiring and motivating yourself. Keep telling yourself and, more importantly, believing that you are a worthy person who has a lot to contribute during your lifetime. Remind yourself that you are responsible for your well-being and you have the resources to do it.
Keep a personal journal to record your thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams. Commit your objectives to paper, write your goals in it. Make sure you record the goals you have achieved in it too. List your values, skills, strengths and interests in it. In your journal, write about your ideal life. Keeping a journal is an invaluable tool for recording your personal growth and development. Occasionally, read over what you have written for it can inspire and motivate you when you realize how much you have progressed along the way.

Excerpt from my book: Become your best

Friday, November 6, 2009

Set your goals


Setting goals is the foundation of all success in life. Goals are very important because they give you a sense of direction, progress and achievement in life. Meaningful goals can be basically anything that you intend to accomplish that will enhance your life and will benefit others too. Effective goal setting comes from having a clear conception of what you want to accomplish and what you want to become. Make sure your goals reflect your priorities, values, principles and beliefs. You don't want to wake up one day and realize that you've wasted your time and energy to achieve goals that were not in harmony with who you really are. Your goals should be intended for good things to happen in your life and the lives of others. Opportunities do not come knocking at your door, you must create your own goals. Government, institutions, parents and partners can support and encourage you but they cannot give you exactly what you want in life. Only you know your dreams and goals, and only you can make it happen. Be as clear and specific as you can. Unless you have a detailed idea of your goal, it is difficult if not impossible to achieve it. Each person who has achieved lasting success had goals and devoted his or her time and energy to plan and implement them.
It's not enough to set goals in your mind, write your goals on a piece of paper. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that because you know your goals mentally, it's a waste of time putting them on paper. I learned my lessons the hard way. I did not believe it would make any difference whether my goals were written down or not. I was proven wrong. Like most people, I used to think of some goals I would like to achieve. Without writing them down, I was limited in the number of goals I could mentally remember. After a period of time, I would reach a few of my goals and I would forget about a few others that were still important to me. It's only when I started to record them on paper first and later in my computer that I was reminded of all my goals whenever I needed a reminder.
Recording my goals on my computer helped me to make wise choices and to set priorities. The process gave me an opportunity to reassess the goals and ask myself whether they were based on valid principles. I started to make a lot more progress once they were on paper. One goal after another was achieved and I got a lot more feedback. I could refer back to all the goals that I had already achieved which previously without any record I could not do. As a result I became more focused and motivated. Guess what? My self-confidence and self-esteem got a big boost. I was riding the "virtuous circle" since confidence breeds confidence. As my goals were reached, I set new and higher goals. Now one of my most important goals is to write and talk about the principles of personal management and development which I believe are essential life skills.
Building up your self-image and your self-esteem has to be one of the most worthwhile goals you can have. Together with a positive mental attitude, it is a prerequisite to your self-management and self-development. You need to focus on measurable, manageable and meaningful goals. It is better to set your goals slightly higher than what may seem realistic. For one thing, easy goals are not challenging and are usually of no great benefit to you. By aiming big, you have to be more committed and more creative. At the same time, be reasonable and set goals that are fitting to your degree of expertise. Don't set your goals so high that they overwhelm you and keep you from starting in the first place.
Remember that goals based on greed more than anything else have destroyed many ambitious people. Appropriate expectations prevent grievous disappointments and frustrations. In any case, reality will take care of itself and will dictate adjustments accordingly. As long as you remain flexible in your approach, there is no point in limiting yourself unnecessarily right from the start. Little changes along the way do not mean that you have to abandon your goal. Successful people who accomplish major goals remain open to new information and change, and are persistent in their commitment and resourceful in the face of problems and challenges.
You can have a number of goals related to all aspects of your life, for example: family and social life, financial security, spiritual growth, physical health, relationship, education and career. Don’t just have material and financial goals. Have a variety of goals in all aspects of your life.
While it is essential to have some plans and goals, try not to impose too much order and rigidity in your life. It is also important to maintain flexibility and to remember that life is not just a series of predictable achievements. If your goals are set with the intent to make good things happen in your life and in the lives of others including your family, you can expect some positive results. Set goals that resonate with what your heart desires based on humane values.
It is very rare that one accomplishes all one's goals all the time. You may not achieve all your goals completely as you would wish but you can expect to accomplish most of them provided you commit yourself and have the discipline to work at them. Once you have mastered the habit of establishing goals in alignment with your core values and beliefs, you begin to experience a sense of accomplishment. Believe in yourself and have faith in your abilities. By setting your goals and taking action, you will start to feel an increase in confidence and in your ability to overcome unforeseen obstacles along the way.

Extract from my book: Become your best

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Convert ideas to actions


Living a purposeful life requires you to devote yourself to fulfilling your personal mission statement. You have concentrated your attention upon where you want to go and what you want to become. You may want all of or a combination of the following: money, health, education, faith, relationship, success, recognition and creative expression. However, it is not enough just to visualize or imagine something. Vision, information and knowledge are only potential power until they are converted into results through effective actions. Ideas and intentions are fine but without commitment and action you can never realize your goal. You don't achieve your goal simply by wishing and wanting it. To achieve your purpose in life, you must be able to progress from having a global picture of what you want to accomplish in your lifetime to taking action. Your thoughts, ideas and choices need to be converted into decisive actions. This is where most people have doubts and uncertainty about their ability and the outcome. Some people find it difficult to act if they have to take risks. The risk of failure becomes a daunting barrier. The key is to acknowledge that there is a certain amount of risk and uncertainty while you remain focused on taking action. While you can expect some mistakes and setbacks in the process, you can develop life skills to cope and overcome them. You need to expect changes and be prepared to adapt and improvise. By being flexible and adaptive and by persevering, you will eventually achieve positive outcomes and experience success. It is when you act by striving to do your best that you have the opportunity to develop resilience and self-confidence. The whole process of converting ideas to actions should be done in alignment with your values, principles and purpose. This involves some careful thought about setting realistic goals and planning appropriate tasks. The challenges you face to accomplish your mission can best be summarized step by step as follows:

1. Determine your purpose
2. Create your vision
3. Set specific goals
4. Plan your strategy
5. Focus your energy
6. Get the proper tools
7. Take decisive actions
8. Monitor your progress

You should have a very good idea about your purpose in life by now if you have written your personal mission statement. The previous exercises have helped you to create a clearer vision of where you want to go and who you want to become.
The third step is to set your goals. What are your goals? Each of us will have to answer this question personally. Most people can relate to goals such as: be happy, become successful, build satisfying relationships and maintain good health. You can be given guidance and advice but in the end it is a decision you have to make on your own. Only you can decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. Guided by your purpose in life, set realistic and manageable goals. It is important that your objectives are as specific as they can be.
You'll need to plan your strategy to help you focus your efforts toward achieving your goals. An action plan based on your strategy is a must, especially for major goals. List the actions that will be required to achieve your goals. Your plan should be specific and should spell out exactly how you are going to accomplish your goal. A proper plan is essential if you want to be rewarded with the desired results. The next step is to focus your energy through self-motivation, perseverance and readiness to make the required efforts. The sixth step is to acquire the physical and psychological tools you need to reach your goals. This step is often skipped because it is time consuming and requires commitment, concentration and discipline. It can be anything from training and overcoming obstacles to developing the required skills and confidence to see you through. The seventh step deals with taking charge. A good plan without action achieves nothing. It's time to put your plan into action. Now you move from the thinking and planning phase to taking decisive actions. The eighth step is to monitor your progress and to measure your achievements.
There should be a good balance between your home and work. Make sure your family relationships are not suffering while you are pursuing your professional responsibilities. You should monitor that you are functioning with positive characteristics such as honesty, integrity, kindness and respect. It is also very important that you have the capacity to enjoy and celebrate your little victories along the long and sometimes difficult road toward achieving your goals. These skills can be learned, refined to suit your particular circumstances and used over and over again as your journey in life takes you into uncharted territory.
When you are ready to convert ideas into actions, pull out the anchor. Set your sails and cast away. Keep your eyes all the time on your Northern Star, your personal mission statement.

Extract from my book: Become your best

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships

Deeply ingrained in human nature, the desire to control our destiny occurs in everyone’s life, with varying degree and intensity. Not only do we want to control our life, sometimes we also want to control the behaviours of others. After all, control over others is power. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to abuse this power and domination over others.
Some people mistake the control over one’s own destiny and the destiny of others as being a necessary condition for ensuring their happiness and contentment. These people tend to be control freaks. They want to control everything, and in so doing they drive you crazy. They can be an overbearing father, an overprotective mother, an autocratic boss, a manipulative friend, or a jealous spouse. These are people who want to change you and your behaviours. They want to tell you what to do, and if they could they would run your lives. Their ego plays brilliantly on their fundamental fear of losing control, and of the unknown. They will use intimidation, manipulation, reason and logic, and emotional exploitation to try to persuade you to do things their way.
On the other extreme, there are people who hate confrontation to such a point that they always give in to others. These people tend to be treated accommodating doormats with other people walking all over them. They can be shy people, followers, colleagues without any initiative, abused spouses, yes-men, people who cannot decide for themselves. These are people who will do what they are told whether they like it or not. They tend to let others impose their will on them because they hate confrontation, have low self-worth and self-confidence, have no initiative, are laissez-faire type of people.
Under normal circumstances, most of us are somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. When we interact with others we like that our relationship follow a certain path. We are not comfortable being with people whose behaviours are unpredictable, irrational or puzzling to us. Sometimes we want to the leaders, and at other times we are quite happy to follow others. Regardless, we all have a certain amount of control on others and ourselves.
People’s behaviour is fundamentally selfish in nature. We are all looking after our self interest. And it is no different in the realm of personal relationships. Even when we act benevolently toward others, most of the time we don’t do it out of altruism. We do so in the expectation of being recognized and rewarded by some reciprocal act of kindness in the future. It’s like having a deposit account where we are depositing favours, and acts of kindness. In times of needs, we expect that we can call on the past beneficiaries, and successfully draw from that deposit account.
Let’s take, for example, the maxim, “Honesty is the best policy” in a relationship context. Many people can honestly say to spouses that they have never been unfaithful to them. However, how many of them have really had the opportunity of having an affair or a one night stand, but have genuinely refuse the offer. How many of them would engage in sexual activities with other partners if they were sure that they would not be caught? How many of them are not tempted because they are scared of sexually transmitted diseases like aids and venereal diseases? The controlling factors for fidelity are not necessarily love, respect and loyalty to their spouses, but rather a combination of other factors as described above.
We have the tendency of trying to influence others so that they will see things from our point of view. Everything is fine when people agree with us, and when our values and beliefs systems coincide. Once there is difference of opinions and conflicts, the relationship is in distress. It’s much more difficult to have the habit of putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes. To have healthy interactions, we need to develop relationships based on mutual love and trust. When there is disagreement, try to find a win-win solution.
You need to learn when to combat the control that others want to impose on you, and when to accommodate them to create respectful and trustful relationships. Don’t let someone’s else controlling behaviour dictate how you live your life. Take control of your life and relationship. Be assertive and don’t let control freaks dominate or victimize you. Be flexible, think in terms of preference rather than in terms of must have or must be like that.
Most human relationships consist of people interacting mentally and emotionally with each other. Healthy human relationships need commitment, caring, compatibility, communication and compromise. You need to give up the illusion of control. You certainly need to have a positive mental attitude and a healthy self-esteem. No relationship can thrive without you being in touch with your inner self and having a relationship with God. When all is said and done, everything in life that truly matters can be boiled down to meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Life is a series of relationships; the rest is just the mechanics of life.

Check out my books and seminars in my website:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Accept yourself and be self-reliant


Once you are aware of the reality and the truth about yourself, you are able to understand why you are the way you are and behave the way you behave. Most importantly, you will learn to love and accept yourself as you are. You must accept who you are at the present even though you want to change and become a better person. Accepting yourself and being self-reliant put your well-being into your own hands. Acceptance of self is surrendering to what is: our circumstances, our values and beliefs, our emotions and feelings, our problems, our strengths and shortcomings, our financial status, our dreams and goals, our relationships with other people, and our procrastination.
You are a special and unique individual. From birth to death, the only person you can count on to be there with you during good and bad times is YOU. Understand that you are the one person on whom you can and should depend at all times. Become your best friend because you are going to spend all your time together. You might as well enjoy your company. Don't spend your life trying to be somebody else. The easiest thing to be in the world is yourself. Simplify your life, come as you are. You don't need to seek external confirmation of your ability, integrity and worth. You have feelings and opinions about yourself physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. Have a compassionate attitude toward yourself on the inside and on the outside, and don't undermine your self-esteem. Self-acceptance means in essence learning the lesson of compassion for oneself.
If there are some mistakes you made or some aspects of your personality you want to work on, accept these facts and try to do something positive about them. All things in life are imperfect, including you. When you accept your imperfection, you can embrace life and try to enhance yourself. Accept your life experiences, attitudes and emotional reactions. Make a commitment to accept and trust your intention with respect to people, situations and aspirations. There are many things about which you can do nothing so why not accept them and do the best you can with what you have. For example, you cannot change some of the characteristics that were given to you at birth. You may be short or tall, you may be dark or fair skinned and you may have an aptitude for figures and facts or for abstract subjects. You can accept yourself as you are and yet keep helping yourself to become better in areas you can improve. Have the confidence to be yourself and improve yourself in areas of your choice. Don't hide the natural you under all kinds of artificial masks and disguises. You don't need to have a major surgical operation or a face lift to feel lovable. To have self-reliance and confidence, you have to understand and develop your self-awareness. As you become more aware of your self-acceptance, you can move toward growth and fulfillment without fear.
Your reality is the values, beliefs, ideas, experiences and attitudes you have right now. You must understand the basis of the present reality and know that you are doing your best within your personal reality. The key to change is to accept your behaviour and other people's behaviour without judgement and without imposing your values on others. Realize that no one must change just to make you feel better. What you have to do is reevaluate your self-awareness. See whether you can enhance the clarity and vision with which you perceive and understand everything that affects your life. If something or someone is disturbing you physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, you can change your reaction to the disturbing source by your conscious thoughts and decisions. Evaluate the potential benefits of changing your self-awareness and choose your response and reaction accordingly.
Recognition of our self-worth as a person is a crucial factor in building self-acceptance. Practically all our problems are the results of how we feel about ourselves. Our self-esteem is based on our personal self-acceptance and perception as a worthy or unworthy individual. It is the foundation on which to build our whole life. Often, people judge themselves almost exclusively in terms of achievement, prestige, power, money and physical attractiveness. They tend to be more preoccupied with how other people feel about them than how they feel about themselves. They feel bad if they cannot meet other people's expectations, paying less attention to their own needs and aspirations. They have a strong fear of rejection and failure, never daring to allow themselves to be rejected.
From an early age, you have been used to being compared to others. Do not compare yourself to others or judge yourself by comparison. There is absolutely no need for it. You rarely compare yourself with others that are worse off than you. You usually compare yourself with friends, relatives, neighbours, colleagues and famous people who are better off than you in one way or another. Making self-defeating comparisons is not a helpful thing to do. It is counterproductive and undermines your self-esteem. When you compare yourself unfavourably with other people in terms of educational qualifications, physical attributes, social status and wealth, you open yourself to self-doubt. You undermine your self-confidence and become discouraged to strive effectively to fulfill your own potential. If you allow this type of negative thinking to take over, it's not long before you feel resentful, discontented and depressed.
You can always find someone who is better or worse than you if you look hard enough. The person who compares himself or herself to others tends to live in a state of frustration and envy. He or she is always trying to do better than the next person. In the process, life loses its enjoyment. If you are confident and sure of yourself and your abilities, you don't feel the need to compete or compare yourself with others. Your sense of self-worth should not depend on how you measure up in comparison to others, but whether you remain true to your personal priorities and values. Don't worry whether other people are better off than you, create a lifestyle that meets your needs, aspirations and desires. The only thing that matters in the end is how you think of your own achievement based on your own efforts and abilities.
Self-reliance is the belief that you can handle things, solve your problems and become successful. Unfortunately, many people have the habit of depending on others, abdicating all personal authority and responsibility in favour of another person, organization, government, or religion. They permit this person, group or religion to be responsible for their happiness. They then have the luxury of having someone or something to blame whenever failure occurs. Since childhood, most of us have been conditioned to look at others for our welfare, and for guidance and wisdom. First it was our parents, then our teachers and later on our partners, colleagues, mentors, advisors and role models. While dependency plays an important role in our early upbringing and education, it was never intended to obliterate individual identity, personality and responsibility. It is very important to realize that even children should be encouraged to be self-reliant and should be given as much responsibility as they can handle at an early age. Every time you do something that your children are capable and willing to do for themselves, you may be undermining their self-esteem and confidence. Allow them to do whatever they can, even though it may not be done as well as what you expect. Allow them to make mistakes as long as the mistakes are not going to be catastrophic. Once they are willing to learn from them, most likely, they will not repeat them. They will know that, whatever they do, they either earn their own rewards or suffer the consequences of their mistakes.
You all have the innate ability to resolve most of the difficulties and problems you face. Ideas and solutions come easier when you are self-reliant and confident. You have a better chance to create options in situations where none seem to exist. If you are self-reliant, you don't need to blame others or external circumstances for the conditions of your life. You take responsibility for making your own decisions. You don't need to find somebody to depend on and to seek approval for everything you do. There will always be some people who disagree with you because we are all individuals with our own opinions and perceptions. When you meet disapproval, take it with a positive attitude. Think of self-enhancing thoughts rather than let the disapproval upset you. Trust yourself and believe in yourself. You don't have to argue or try to convince anyone of your belief and opinion. It is OK for people to have different opinions. You are what you choose to think and do, let others be what they want to be. You are able to meet life's challenges with confidence by looking at each situation in the light of reality.
Self-reliance does not mean that you should not accept or even ask for the much-needed help and assistance from others on occasion. It just means that you do not depend on them for your well-being, success and happiness. You cease to expect others to rescue you every time you are in trouble. It means you are secure within yourself taking full responsibility for your actions. You take personal responsibility for your successes and failures without blaming others for your lot in life. Self-reliance should not prevent you from asking for help when you need it. The nourishing effects of give-and-take, of assisting, of cooperating and of being helped do not preclude you from being self-reliant. Independence and reliance are valuable assets but they should not imply the rejection of other people's help. As you develop self-reliance, you will have the confidence to meet each life situation with self-assurance and poise. You will have more freedom to make better and wiser choices about the priorities in your life.

Extract from my book: Become your Best

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Turn fear into power


Fear is a behavior dominated by an impression of unpleasant emotions, accompanied by reactions of the sympathetic nervous system giving rise to the desire for flight, trembling fits, mental paralysis, and physical inability to take instant action. Fear is acquired from unpleasant and frightening experiences. Fear can also protect us from dangerous situations. Most people have some kind of fear: fear of losing the important things in life, fear of pain, fear of loneliness, fear of making the wrong decisions, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the unknown, fear of animals, fear of death, fear of public speaking, fear of rejection, fear of heights, fear of loss of liberty. The fear of losing our family, friends, jobs or possessions drives some of us to cling to them so desperately that it can make the situation even worse.
In our materialistic society and this economic downturn, one of the most common fears is that of poverty; of being unemployed, of not earning enough money to provide for oneself and our family, and of being financially dependent on others in our old age. Fear of failure predisposes most people not to attempt any venture that carries an element of risk. Fear of loneliness and isolation sometimes make people stay in relationships where they are abused and exploited. Fear of making wrong decisions keeps us from moving ahead with our lives. People fear death not because there is no escape from it but more because they don't know what lies ahead after death, if anything.
Fear of rejection makes us reluctant to invite new acquaintances to go out or to ask for help from people we don't know even when we desperately need it. Do you remember looking for dates in your teenage years? I remember agonizing about how best to invite a girl friend to a dancing party. Do I phone her or invite her face to face? I was very scared of being rejected and also a bit excited at the possibility of her accepting the invitation. It took a lot of courage and risk taking to ask her out but I eventually did it. Like most teenagers, I faced my fear of rejection and survived. How many shy persons have missed the opportunity to make meaningful relationships because they have difficulty overcoming their fear to approach and make contact with people.
People who are afraid to show and express their true feelings because they fear to disclose themselves are often misunderstood and unhappy. All of us are somewhat afraid to expose ourselves as we really are, without pretence or facade. One way of facing this fear is to take the risk of disclosing a part of our real self to others a little at a time. We have to carry on in spite of our fear because if we allow it to control us, our life can become very miserable. We can become hostage to our fears by putting ourselves in self-imprisonment if we don't confront them.
We are born fearless. We become fearful of something through our unpleasant experience, distorted thinking and inflated ego. I was very fearful of dogs because as a child I was bitten several times by dogs. Today I still won't approach some big dogs without knowing them very well. In the presence of their owners I have learned to feel comfortable with dogs and I take every opportunity to pat them, something which I could not do before. By reprogramming your mind, you can accept your fear and eventually overcome it. I believe you can reprogram the thinking that had been keeping you hostage of your own insecurities and preventing you from experiencing life to its fullest. If from your childhood to adulthood, you've been told repeatedly to be extremely careful, to leave the risks and responsibilities to others and that you can't handle challenges and problems, you might very well be scared of doing many things. The difference between people who are paralyzed and ineffective because of their fears and those who are functional and effective despite their fears is in how they cope with them. The people who succeed in achieving their goals in the end are those who forge ahead in spite of their fears, doubts and worries.
If you have faith in God or in divine presence, your faith acts as an antidote to your fear. When you truly believe that God is always with you, giving you divine guidance, the notion of fear dissipates and eventually vanishes. However, not many people have this kind of faith that can rid them completely of fears. Most of us will continue to experience fear. To achieve our goals we will inevitably have to confront some of the things we fear. One of the best ways to overcome fear is to face it with a positive mental attitude. Fear begins to lose its control over you once you are willing and determined to confront it. Admit your fears to yourself, don't pretend they are not present. You can lessen the grip that a particular fear has on you by disclosing it to others. Bringing your fear out of the dark closet of your mind into the light where it can be seen by yourself and others is an act of courage, acceptance and trust in itself. By revealing your fear to others, you have to be careful not to allow yourself to be hurt by the inappropriate reaction and response of others.
Desensitize your fear by systematically practising relaxation while imagining progressively more frightening aspects of it. If it can be conquered in your imagination, half the battle is won. Imagine the worst-case scenario. Ask yourself how likely is it to happen? If it's not likely to happen there is no point in worrying about it. However if there is a good chance that it may happen, ask yourself what would you do in such eventuality. Once you have visualized what would be the very worst that could happen, you have already begun the process of changing your attitude and of thinking of alternatives and solutions. Start finding ways you might prevent your fear from coming true and improve the situation. Even the worst-case scenario is not as devastating as you might have originally thought. Face your fears and doubts squarely instead of running away from them. There is usually something you can do to confront and overcome even the most frightening circumstances. That is how confident people gain their courage and self-esteem. You cannot always run away from your fears, you must muster the necessary courage to face them some time. Acknowledging your fears and then doing whatever you were afraid of anyway is the giant step you need to take to eradicate them. Commit yourself to overcome your fears and become more than you are at the present time.
Facing your fear can be a long and difficult experience. Don't expect that your fear will disappear easily without a good fight. It needs a lot of effort, willpower, determination, preparation and courage but the payoff is worth the price. If something is troubling and worrying you, take some remedial action to change it. Begin by making a list of your fears and the doubts about your ability to deal with them. Rate each of them in order of severity, for example, 1 being minor fears, 2 being serious fears and 3 being extreme intense fears. Make it your goal to overcome them. Tell yourself that you can do it whenever doubt surfaces. Look for opportunities to confront what you fear. Clear your mind of your worries and doubts by thinking about something positive in the present. Learn the art of focusing your mind on the new pictures of the conditions and circumstances you want. Develop more trust and confidence in your ability to handle whatever comes your way by recalling the times when you did overcome adversities and felt good. Inspire your imagination by visualizing yourself overcoming your fears. A shift to an attitude of trusting and believing in yourself is essential.
You can start gradually or you can dive in the deep end, whatever you feel most comfortable doing. Some of your fears are less daunting than others. You may want to conquer small fears and build your confidence to overcome the greater ones. It may be wise to start with easily attainable goals so as to make success an odds-on favourite. The success and confidence that is gained by overcoming them will boost your self-esteem and morale. The more you stretch your comfort zone, the more confident you become. From my personal experience, the most effective way to turn fear into power is to tackle your biggest fear if you can. This latter option requires a lot more courage and willpower. However, once you succeed, the self-confidence you gain will open lots of other doors that were seemingly closed to you before that courageous event.
As you conquer one fear, you experience that other fears release their hold on you at the same time because they are interrelated. Taking the risk to face your fear in one area can give you the courage to do the same in other realms. You move yourself from a position of helplessness and paralysis to a position of power to choose and act. You become in charge of some aspects of your life which you thought you had no control over. Whichever choice is more appropriate for you, act on it recognizing the fact that there is a price to pay. Be willing to experience some uncomfortable moments and to let go of your ego. By taking the decision to face your fear, you can turn your fear into power. Once you have met fear in one area and overcome it, this exercise of willpower will tend to give you more courage and confidence in other aspects of your life.

Fear of public speaking

One of my biggest fears was public speaking. I was never encouraged at home or at school to speak out. On the contrary, I was laughed at since I did not have the self-confidence to read properly in the classroom. I would be singled out by some of my teachers and asked to stand up in front of the class and read. Of course, I would freeze. I remember feeling terrified and embarrassed by my lack of self-control and confidence during these ordeals.
In university I would hold back on asking questions and clarifications because of my fear of making a fool of myself in front of other people. I was eventually forced to speak in public. There were projects to present in front of my fellow students, lecturers and professors. I had to struggle through these few public speaking ordeals, as I did for my wedding speech! As I progressed in my professional career I realized that I would have to present reports and findings sooner or later. In 1983 while studying the performance of icebreakers in the Beaufort Sea, I faced my fear of public speaking squarely for the first time. I volunteered to present a technical paper on the maneuvering and turning performance of two icebreakers in different thicknesses of level ice of the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic. I knew my subject very well but I was terrified about the public speaking aspect. I practised my oral presentation by myself in my basement at least a dozen times. I presented my speech without the visual slides to my baby and to my wife another five to six times, timing myself and asking for feedback from my patient and understanding wife.
Finally the big day arrived. There were about sixty people in the audience, some very knowledgeable experts in this field. I stood in front of the audience and said to myself: you know your stuff, you have prepared yourself very well, now it is time to give your best shot. To my amazement, a few minutes into my presentation I felt in total control and I was enjoying the feeling. The presentation with the visual slides went very well. In addition, there were a lot of interesting questions asked to which I responded with enthusiasm based on my knowledge and first hand experience. At the end of the presentation, I got big applause and good feedback. A lot of my colleagues and people in the audience came up to me to give me a pat on the shoulder and to congratulate me. That day I overcame my terrifying fear of public speaking. Don't get me wrong, I do not claim to be a great public speaker. I still have some butterflies in my stomach whenever I have to stand up in front of an audience but I don't let the anxiety paralyze me anymore. The feeling of accomplishment, of courage and of power over my fear is a tremendous boost to my self-confidence and self-esteem. I have since joined the Toastmaster International Club in my area to improve my oral presentation skills.
Not that I'm an expert in effective public speaking, but here are some practical suggestions:

· Be prepared. Know what you wish to say.
· Keep your speech frank, short and to the point.
· Use appropriate choice of words.
· Make good use of gestures, smiles and facial expressions.
· Assume the posture of a master performer; corresponding inner feelings will follow.
· Convey enthusiasm, sincerity and confidence through your tone of voice.
· Figure out what it is you fear the most. Visualize it happening and see yourself dealing with it comfortably.
· Visualize your whole performance. Make your expectations more realistic and positive. Expect to meet it.
· Practise your speech. Rehearse it with all the feeling and conviction you command.
· Join the Toastmasters International club in your area.

Whatever your goals in life may be, your success depends on your ability to communicate. By joining a Toastmasters club, you embark on a program that will multiply your communication and leadership skills. I assure you it will be one of the best decisions you can make with respect to overcoming your fear of public speaking.

Extract from my book: Become your best.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Believe in yourself


The value of believing in yourself is inestimable. You need to have reasonable faith and confidence in your own abilities and powers if you want to be effective and successful. You must believe in yourself to hold on to your purpose in life when things are tough. You have to accept that you have a definite responsibility to yourself to achieve your purpose in life. Take a leap of faith and begin to believe in yourself. Make this commitment today and keep it. Each day you can act more responsibly and more purposefully. In the end, what counts is decisive action. When you believe in yourself, you are more likely to take action.
Lack of self-confidence and feelings of inadequacy are among the most difficult personal problems people are facing today. There are many reasons why people suffer from a sense of inadequacy and insecurity. They mistrust their ability to meet responsibilities and to seize opportunities. They do not believe they have anything worthwhile to contribute to their family and friends, to their work, to their community or to their country. They spend a large portion of their lives worrying about the uncertainty of future outcomes, even if they are beyond their control. They harbour nagging self doubts about their capabilities and potential. Their confidence is eroded. They therefore act in a very limited way and never reach their full potential.
There are various causes of inferiority feelings and disbelief in oneself. Some stem from childhood if one was constantly being put down and criticized. Even as adults our confidence can be easily undermined by others and, more importantly, by our own inaccurate belief system and internal criticism. We tend to remember every time that we fail, make mistakes and are rejected. Some feelings of inferiority are so deeply embedded that tremendous effort is required to overcome this inferiority pattern and to replace it with faith and confidence. Some people feel inadequate and insecure because they do not have the skills, knowledge or talent to tackle some projects. Remember that skills can be acquired and knowledge can be learned. At the same time realize that you cannot know everything and do everything on your own. Even if you could do everything, you would be overwhelmed. If you have a choice, do what is most important to you and what you are best at. When you need to repair your car you usually hire a skilled and experienced mechanic for the job by bringing your car to a reputable garage. Similarly you can hire many smart and capable people to help you to perform any services you want. Sometimes friends can help too but don't abuse their kindness and return the favour whenever you can. You have to believe that you are resourceful enough to select the best people for the crucial tasks you cannot perform yourself.
One of the reasons believing in yourself is so powerful is that it influences your thinking and behaviour. If you believe you can't talk to a large group of people, you will avoid public speaking. On the other hand, if you believe you can talk in front of a group of people, that belief alone will influence your performance. You will not be as nervous and intimidated when you have to deliver a speech. To build up the feelings of self-confidence, the practice of suggesting confidence concepts to your mind can be very effective. A challenge or a problem may defeat you before you ever do anything about it if you allow it to overwhelm you mentally before you start to deal with it. On the other hand, a confident and positive approach can enhance your belief system and can overcome the situation. Believe in your ability to shape your destiny and put that belief to work by acting on it. Welcome constructive criticism instead of fearing it and reacting to it negatively. Encourage feedback to learn how others see you. Use it to take inventory of yourself and look for things to improve. With regular feedback, others start to see you as you see yourself and as you think you are. So think of yourself as being: successful, loving, helpful, generous, courageous and optimistic. Keep telling yourself that if you can dream it and strongly believe in it, you can do it! You can make a difference to your life and you can change it for the better. Start believing in yourself again.

Extract from my book: Become your best

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ensure your financial independence


Most people have many similar goals, ambitions and expectations like a comfortable home, a reliable car, an annual vacation, and the ability to provide for the family's needs. All of which require money. Most of us would like to have the ability to live comfortably on our own income without being dependent on others. Some of us are quite happy with a simple lifestyle that does not require much money. We need to set our own objectives and priorities. The problem is that we rarely set our financial goals clearly and write them down on paper. Even if you only want to maintain your present financial situation, some planning and goal setting are necessary. Few people end up having financial independence and even fewer have the ability to lead a life without having to worry anymore about money.
Find out what the market place is looking for. Study the various options available and choose something that you like to do. The secret is to figure out what you really enjoy doing, without paying too much attention to the potential financial rewards. It is very important that you work in a profession that gives you some sort of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. You don't want to end up making a lot of money and being unhappy in your work. Become the best you can be in your chosen field by thinking how you can best help others. You can take charge of your financial destiny by investing time and effort acquiring the skills, education and business acumen that will help you climb the salary scale ladder. Work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job you can make a good living. However, if you invest in yourself, you can substantially increase your chances of having financial independence and eventually achieving financial freedom.
Apart from making yourself as attractive to the market place as possible, you also need to have some plans to improve your financial situation. The starting point is to do a thorough appraisal of your current financial position. By reviewing your present situation, you can determine how you are spending your money. The next step is to find ways of making better use of your resources and of managing your money more effectively. It helps if you set certain goals and have a plan to achieve them. Naturally financial goals and plans will change over time as your circumstances change. When I started working and was single my biggest investment was in a used car. Every month my pay check was going directly to the garage which was constantly repairing and maintaining my car. When I got married, my wife and I were primarily concerned with buying our first house. Now I have a family with three young adults, my wife and I are managing and investing our money to protect our purchasing power, welfare and lifestyle. As my children leave us and start their own careers, my financial needs will change to planning for retirement.
Make a habit of paying yourself first, before everything else. Take ten percent or whatever you can afford off your weekly or monthly salary and put it into savings or invest it wisely. Start this habit as early as possible since nothing makes so much of a difference in the long run. Certain incidents or events may happen during your lifetime that necessitate a drastic change in your financial plan. For example, you may be laid off from your work, or your marriage breaks down and you find yourself divorced or you become sick or injured for a long period of time. Be flexible and adaptable to these situations. There is therefore a need to reassess your financial position regularly in order to meet your current needs and objectives. You can then adjust your financial plan so that you have sufficient income when you need it. If you invest in yourself first, you have already taken the first steps in ensuring your financial independence. As a first rule, you should have readily available a reserve fund valued at about your net income for the last six months.


Whether you like it or not you handle money in one form or another everyday of your life. Money has a vast range of symbolic association and meaning to different people. For some people, money means freedom, happiness, status, power, security, worth, fame or a combination of all of them. For others, the subject of money arouses strong feelings of envy, oppression, guilt, fear, shame, injustice and ignorance. The fact is money can buy hundreds of everyday, practical freedoms. Money is a facilitator with which you can purchase things you want and do some things you otherwise could not do. Successful management of your personal finances empowers you to seek the most out of life. A personal financial plan is the only sure way to reach your money goals. This is not just a choice but almost a necessity for financial survival. So take action now and have a financial plan that will provide for you and your family. Learn to plan the way you spend your money. Planning, however, does not mean budgeting in the miserly, penny-pinching sense. Instead you should be spending your money on your main priorities, which may represent people or things that are important to you. Make sure you balance your income, expenses and savings wisely. You simply cannot consistently spend more than what you earn, without landing in financial trouble. A good rule of thumb is to save ten per cent of your income on a regular basis before you have a chance to spend it. Set financial objectives and periodically review and monitor them. To simplify the planning process, allocate income, expenses and savings on a monthly basis. By allocating income to specific purposes, you can use your income to your best advantage and acquire those things you want most.
An important aspect in the financial planning process is to know how to manage your money. The starting point for your planning is to review your current financial position. It is amazing how few people know: what is their current net financial worth, how they are spending their money or the difference between what they really need and what they wish to have. How you handle your income, expenses, assets, debts and investments will determine your financial health. When you are starting out on your own, maintain a frugal living standard and look for barter opportunities. Buy only things that you require and find them at bargain prices whenever possible. Have some savings so that you can take advantage of special bargains or investment opportunities. Learn to stay out of unnecessary debts that bear relatively high interest rates like credit card debts. If it is possible, borrow money and apply the principle of leverage, investing at a rate of return in excess of the interest cost. Allow a longer period of time for results. This strategy, however, should be treated with caution.
One of the best pieces of advice in financial management is to live within your means. It is not wise to spend more than you earn on a consistent basis except in some special cases. This road usually leads to debts which can accumulate very rapidly. Look carefully at what you really need and what you can afford. You may even have to go without some necessities for a short while until you are able to afford them. Choose to live more simply. Don't even try to keep up with the Jones's. Living within your means does not mean you should accept and be content with what you are earning without trying to better your financial situation if you want to. By living within your means, you can reduce your stress due to financial considerations without giving up your goals.
You have to determine the income you need to maintain your lifestyle. My advice is to aim about fifty percent higher than your estimate. Aiming higher costs no more and protects you against future cost increases. If it happens that you do not need all the income you earned, you can always save some of it for investment purposes and use the rest to help out other people and charitable organizations. If you have accumulated debts in the past, have a plan for debt payments incorporated in your budget. Realize that it might take some sacrifice on your part to pay back debts or to save some money. Take small steps in these directions and be flexible and realistic in your long-term financial goals.
Personal budgeting is often viewed as difficult, tedious and restrictive but it is an essential tool for managing your money. The preparation of a financial plan will result in a certain peace of mind in the long run. A personal financial plan consists simply of the following:

Calculate the amount of money you expect to receive after deduction of income tax i.e. your total net income. Prepare your statement of net income on a monthly basis for simplicity.
Estimate the regular living expenses: food, household needs, housing costs, transportation costs, fixed insurance costs, miscellaneous taxes, family allowances etc. Prepare a monthly statement of household expenses.
Estimate the flexible expenses: clothing, household furnishings, entertainment, medical and dental care, charitable donations and gifts etc. Establish priorities for these discretionary expenditures and see that the priorities are maintained. Average these expenses over a month period.
Make sure all estimated expenses can be paid on time to build credibility and safeguard your credit rating.
Decide on some goals. Target a saving goal of ten percent of your net income. Plan to set aside some money for long-term goals, for example, the financing of major expenses like a car, a house, and the cost of educating your children. Identify their relative priorities and decide on some target dates. To meet these large expenses on their due date will require discipline and some flexibility.
Invest regularly and wisely:
Short term (1 - 3 years) - Conservative investment
Medium term (3 - 5 years) - Balanced investment
Long term (over 5 years) - Aggressive investment

Don't make the mistake of planning your financial goals on what is left after all the expenses, including the flexible and discretionary expenses. Saving and investing what is left over usually does not work because often there is nothing or very little left over. Don't depend too much on your friends' advice. Professional financial planners can be very helpful if you can afford their advice. Many financial planners will offer their services for free if you give them your business. My best advice is to learn for yourself. Nobody cares as much about your money as you do. Improve your knowledge by borrowing financial planning books and by attending relevant free seminars that are available to find out the most effective ways to increase your assets and maximize your investments. Realize that it takes many small steps, as well as a few big steps, to build up sizeable savings and assets. Think in terms of various stages, with financial security as the long-term goal. Set up a plan to conserve and develop your assets. The real test comes in sticking to the plan once you have made it. However, after you experience the results and feedback, and see your goals being met, this should be easy and self-motivating.
Manage your money well but don't become a slave to money. Use your money to buy things you need and enjoy. Of course, money is important and we all need it to pay our bills and other expenses. But other intangibles such as happiness, love, enjoyment, self-esteem and self-fulfillment are much more important if becoming your best is your goal. Use your money wisely to contribute to your growth as a human being.


Every cent or penny counts. Take care of the cents and the dollars will take care of themselves. Spend your money smartly. You can grow rich on the money you are now wasting by investing it wisely. Buy only what you need. By knowing what you need and shopping around, you could save a lot of money. If you purchase only things or services that you really need rather than those you may want, you are making wiser and more cost effective decisions. With the money left over, you should save at least ten per cent in liquid investment for emergency use. Invest the remainder on the best return and growth. When purchasing anything make sure you are aware where you can buy the best quality for the lowest price. You can get into financial difficulty if you buy too much on credit. Borrow only for what you need and wait until you have cash for the things you simply want. If you have to borrow money, negotiate a loan with the lowest interest rate. You should pay your debt as fast as possible, particularly loans carrying high interest rates.
Develop sensible shopping and spending habits. Advertisers are trying to sell you things that you may not need, or that you may never use. Buy only things that you need and use. Go buy your groceries after you have eaten a good meal, you will not be tempted to purchase unnecessary food when you are not hungry. Buy and stock up on the necessities of life like toothpaste, soap and toilet paper when they are on sale. Buy toys, gift items and clothes that you will need when their prices have been substantially reduced even though you do not have an immediate use for them. A good time to purchase these items is right after the season, for example, Christmas cards, wrapping paper and decorations a couple of days after Christmas. Plan your shopping trip so that you can drop in at thrift shops, such as Salvation Army etc. A lot of thrift shops sell merchandise donated to them at very reasonable prices. Since you never know the quality of merchandise you may find in these shops, it is always worth a quick look. Shop around for value especially for the big ticket items you need like refrigerators, televisions, stereo systems and furniture. You can find big differences in price and quality, choose wisely. Ask for and expect a discount. Don't be scared to ask questions and to compare before buying these expensive items. Make sure there is good after-sale service and warranty. You should also buy good quality merchandise at a good price since it tends to last longer. You could also make use of hairdressing schools, dental colleges, law and business faculties in universities to have free or discounted services in their respective fields.
If you have to buy a car, buy the most economical and reliable car you can afford. A major slice of your income goes toward buying and running a car. Remember a car is not an investment that will grow in value. Most new cars depreciate about twenty five per cent in the first year, fifteen per cent in the second and another ten per cent in the third. You may prefer to let someone else absorb this rapid drop in value and buy a good used car. It is advisable to get a used car examined by a competent mechanic before you buy it. Unscheduled maintenance and servicing of a car is a drain on your income. A lot of people spend too much money on an expensive car because they think they need a status symbol. Unless you have a lot of money to spare, do not buy an expensive luxury car. If you are self-employed, it may make sense to lease a car rather than to buy it. Once you have decided on the type of car and price range you want, you should shop around for the best value for your money. Have adequate car insurance and drive carefully. Best of all, if you do not need the use of a car on a regular basis, don't buy one. It may be better to rent one occasionally when it is needed.
Use credit only when you have to and when it makes sense to do so. Before you start to use your credit extensively, establish a saving habit, no matter how little. Know exactly the cost of the loan. For a personal loan, take only the amount of credit you need. It is preferable to negotiate a personal line of credit with your bank. When you are buying on credit, make the largest down payment possible, and pay the loan back in the shortest time you can. Use your credit cards to buy items that may save you money, for instance, necessary home maintenance that will save you major repair bills later. If you have any extra money, pay off your credit card debts first and other debts afterwards. For those who have eliminated most of their debts, you can maximize your contribution to your retirement saving plan. Pay down your mortgage on your house and bring your amortization years of repayment as low as you can afford. This action alone will save you a lot of money in the long run because you will save on interest payments.
We all need some forms of insurance which are either mandatory or discretionary such as life insurance, insurance on your home and belongings and car insurance. You need to have some life insurance to protect your family. Term insurance is usually the cheapest way to buy maximum protection. For auto insurance, increase your deductibles to lower your annual premium. In every case, shop around every year to make sure you are still getting the lowest rates for the maximum protection. Send a copy of your current insurance policy to two or three other insurers to see if they can offer more competitive insurance coverage. In this way you have the other insurers reviewing your policies for you for free since you can ask for explanation regarding the discrepancies, advantages and disadvantages to you.
Have a budget for charity and choose the charitable organizations you want your money to go to. Always try to help those who are less fortunate than you whenever you can. Sometimes you do not have money to spare but you can still give some of your time, energy and service. You will be paid back handsomely and in many different and wonderful ways. You may need a lot of money to live these days, but you need a lot more of compassion, respect and love to make living worthwhile.

Extracts from my book: Become your Best –

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Importance of self-esteem


To other people, your physical and psychological characteristics, your strengths and weaknesses, and your external sources of identity define who you are. But more importantly, your internal sources of identity such as beliefs, values, principles and needs determine who you think you are. Your self-concept relates to the beliefs and opinions you have about yourself. It is your identity and your reality derived from your personal belief system. From the idea or concept of who you think you are, you develop an awareness and an image of yourself. Your self-image is how you see yourself rather than how others see you. The ultimate source of your self-image is internal, based on the conception of yourself and your role in life. It is the root of your self-esteem. It depends on how you perceive your abilities, achievements, family life, physical appearance, relationships, social status and education. If your intimate relationships or any other aspects of your life are not satisfying your emotional needs, you owe it to yourself to confront the problem. Whether you see yourself as a worthy, confident and loving person or not, radically affects your self-esteem.
What is self-esteem? There are many definitions and interpretations of self-esteem. Your self-esteem is how worthwhile you judge yourself to be and is an indication of your level of self-worth. Self-esteem is the way you think and feel about yourself, not what someone else thinks or feels about you. It is the capacity to experience self-acceptance, self-love and well-being whether or not you think you are successful at any point in your life. It is also related to concepts such as self-confidence and self-respect. It is the confidence in your ability to cope with the challenges of life and to feel worthy of happiness. It plays a vital part in how you live your life and it influences your attitude, resourcefulness and flexibility. It is often associated with your ability to control your environments. Self-esteem enormously helps your ability to make decisions. It allows you to withstand outside pressure and do what is right rather than what is most expedient or popular. Having healthy self-esteem and expressing it with humility and integrity actually makes you strong and confident.
The effects of low self-esteem are devastating to the quality of your life. If you have a low self-esteem, you feel insecure, unworthy, clumsy and incompetent. You find it difficult to interact with people and make important decisions. You become your own harshest critic, ignoring all your good points. You are constantly sending yourself damaging messages through your negative thoughts and images. It is very important that you become aware of these negative messages so that you can refute and replace them with positive affirmations of self-worth. You have to realize that until you work on enhancing your self-esteem by loving yourself in small ways, you cannot expect to change yourself in big ways.
The quality of your self-esteem is deeply connected to the relationship with your first critics, your parents. Regardless of your past experience, you need constantly to nurture and enhance your self-esteem. Enhancing your human need of self-esteem gives you the capacity to cope with change and to live a fulfilled life. Of all the opinions you have in your life, there is none as important as the opinion you have of yourself. You really have to love yourself first and everything else tends to fall into line. You cannot hope to realize your full potential as a human being without a healthy self-esteem. You are more likely to develop good relationships with people, to persist in the face of adversities and to attain personal happiness with a high self-esteem. By enhancing your self-esteem, you strengthen and muster your resources for your healthy growth and development. It gives you the ability to keep your emotions in balance, even when what's going on around you generates fear, anxiety or guilt.
How much self-esteem do you have? It is not something you can measure and quantify in absolute terms or figures. Self-esteem plays a vital part in how you live your life and the depth of satisfaction and joy you experience in playing, learning and working. In fact, most psychological problems you may have are related to some deficiency in your self-esteem. Your level of self-esteem is variable. It changes as you relate to the sense of well-being within yourself, and in response to your interaction with the environment, including people. On a scale of 1 to 10, at the bottom end, a person with a self-esteem of 1 is totally maladjusted and unable to cope with life at all. At the top end, a person with a self-esteem of 10 is the picture of self-reliance, contentment and confidence. Do not confuse self-esteem with boasting your confidence, bragging about your wisdom or being arrogant. Such actions may in fact reflect a lack of self-esteem.
There is no hope for happiness if you don't have sufficient self-esteem and self-love. The higher your self-esteem the more confident you feel that you can handle anything life gives you and the happier you are with yourself. You become more inclined to treat people with respect and fairness, and to be open and honest when dealing with them. You don't need some kind of external confirmation of self through achievement, admiration, praise, money, power, and the like. You are capable of liking others as much as you like yourself. Your level of self-esteem affects every aspect of your existence. This is reason enough for improving your self-esteem.

Self-image and self-esteem check

Your self-image and self-esteem is a package you put together based on your experience and feedback, and your perception of who you think you are and how you feel about yourself. The way you behave and interact with others is related to and influenced by your self-image and self-esteem. Most people are self-critical, believing that whatever they do is not good enough and that they are selfish or simply not as competent as others. You can check whether you have a healthy self-image and self-esteem by going through this simple exercise.
Find yourself a comfortable and quiet place to sit down and relax. Think of a special person you like very much and whose qualities you admire. Visualize this person as vividly as possible sitting beside you. Share with this person all your thoughts and feelings about him or her. Tell this person what you think of him or her and why. Take as much time as you need and when you have finished, say goodbye.
Repeat the same exercise but this time visualize that this special person sitting beside you is yourself. If you find it easy to think of loving thoughts and feelings about yourself and if you can find numerous qualities about yourself that you like, then you most probably have a very healthy self-image and self-esteem. You can use this visualization technique to give yourself the best advice you can on difficult issues in stressful times. On the other hand, if you have difficulty saying and finding self-enhancing thoughts, feelings and qualities about yourself, you may need to work on your belief system to enhance your self-image and your self-esteem.

How to raise your self-esteem

If you wish to improve your self-esteem, you need to know what specific practices are beneficial and integrate them into your life. The first step is to find out who you are by assessing yourself honestly, rationally and realistically. Accept your feelings about yourself with compassion and without judgement. Acknowledge that you have intrinsic worth as a human being as you are. Without self-acceptance, enhancing your self-esteem is almost impossible. Be realistic about your assets and shortcomings. Once you accept full responsibility for your self-image and what you believe and feel about yourself, you can choose to treat yourself with more respect and compassion. You need to be fully conscious and aware of your core beliefs, values and needs, and to start living your life more and more in harmony with them. Be willing to live your life in alignment with your purpose in life and be responsible for your self-esteem and well-being.
We have internal dialogue with ourselves all the time, internalizing messages and information about ourselves. Unfortunately, the negative messages that you sometimes send to yourself are very damaging to your self-esteem. Take care in avoiding self-criticism, instead remind yourself of accomplishments and achievements each day, no matter how small they are. Talk back to your internal critic. Train yourself to recognize and write down the recurring self-critical thoughts. Evaluate and monitor these thoughts and you will find out that most of the time they are grossly distorted. Understand that you cannot earn worth through what you do, how you look and how much people love you. It is only your sense of self-worth that determines how you feel. Acknowledge the fact that you have both positive and negative feelings. You need to pay particular attention to your negative feelings and listen to the messages being sent. The result of careful introspection is to increase your awareness and understanding, allowing you to respond to them by taking appropriate and constructive action. Practise talking back to your critical thoughts to develop a more realistic self-evaluation system. You are what you think you are. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is a sense of individual identity, uniqueness and worthiness.
It is essential that you write your negative critical thoughts down as it will become much more evident to you how distorted they can be. The written method cannot be bypassed because it exposes the illogical nature of most of the thoughts that trouble you. You can then respond to your internal critic in more realistic terms and you can substitute your self-critical thoughts with more objective life-enhancing thoughts. You can learn by noticing what you did or thought that lowered or raised your self-esteem.
A good way to start boosting your self-esteem is by setting simple, short-term goals. Everytime you achieve one of your goals or do something worthwhile give yourself a pat on the shoulder. Compliment yourself for everything worthwhile you are doing right now. Encourage yourself as you would encourage your best friend. You enhance your self-esteem everytime you express your opinion with confidence by making decisions and choices, following through with dedicated commitment. If other people praise you for the way you handle a tricky situation, accept the accolades graciously. Accepting compliments about your appearance, your work or anything you do can help to build your self-respect and self-esteem. Reinforce the positive messages you receive. Don't take criticism personally. Acknowledge constructive criticism with which you agree and discard unfair or unwanted criticism by refusing to let it affect you. Associate yourself with positive and effective people. Avoid people who tend to put us down. Keep a list of all your accomplishments and all the goals you have already achieved. When you are feeling down and discouraged, read your list of accomplishments and remind yourself of all the goals you have already met. Honour your beliefs, values and needs by having the courage to assert yourself when you think it is necessary. Know your needs and ask others for what you want in a clear and honest way. Cultivate cheerfulness by being grateful for your blessings. Cheerfulness enhances your self-esteem by eliminating the feelings of inadequacy from your life and makes life more fun. Always do the best you can, given your awareness at the time. Let your ideals, values and convictions match your behaviour and action.
From whatever point you are starting, you can choose to enhance your self-esteem by putting some of these principles into practice. The more you integrate these practices in your daily life, the more you enjoy high self-esteem. When you treat yourself as being worthy of respect, esteem and happiness, you feel better about yourself and about all aspects of your life.

Extract from Become Your Best:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Build self-confidence and confidence in others


We all have confidence. It is just a question of cultivating and nurturing it. If you grow up in a home where praise, encouragement and caring are the rule, then you are more likely to have confidence in yourself. Confidence is a measure of a person's self-assuredness. It springs from knowledge, ability, skills, discipline, tenacity and perseverance. It does not mean boasting or bragging or being arrogant. Self-confidence is the calm conviction that you can achieve whatever you set out to do. It does not mean that you need to know everything and be capable of doing it all by yourself. You develop confidence by setting a goal and achieving it, and by making a promise and keeping it, one at a time. You build self-confidence by having the ability to set and achieve meaningful goals, by fulfilling your needs, by keeping your promises, by acting with integrity and courage.
Like most people, you may have some self-doubts about your capabilities and potential. In the past, you made mistakes, had failure and rejection, and did not live up to your expectations. Don't let these shortcomings erode your confidence. You can rebuild your self-confidence by putting power in your commitment and focusing your mental energy on your immediate goal. If you don't have confidence in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to have confidence in you. If you lose confidence in yourself eventually others lose their confidence in you too. You hold certain values, beliefs and principles to which you are committed. As a result, you have an inner purpose around which you make your decisions. You need to become a person with integrity and conviction who can make courageous decisions to change your life for the better. Confidence in yourself gives you the strength to make good ethical decisions despite pressure to act otherwise. It is very easy to give up but it takes courage and strength to be caring and yet firm, and to do what you know you ought to do. As you look toward the decisions you would like to make to change your life, have the confidence and the courage to act on them.
There are two powerful concepts: Faith and Fear. If you have faith in yourself, in your abilities and in your future then you also have self-confidence and courage. If you allow fear to creep in your life, the fear you cannot do something can wipe out your faith and self-confidence. The reason so many people are not confident in themselves is that it hurts to keep on trying when their efforts always seem to fail. The fear of failure sets in. Acknowledge and accept your fears rather than ignore or deny them. To build self-confidence, you need to be willing to push through the discomforting barriers and to act despite your feelings. It is through the experience of overcoming your fears that you will make the most strides in enhancing your self-confidence.
The act of striving and persevering in face of obstacles provides a sense of satisfaction and pride that promotes confidence. It takes strength and endurance to keep on trying and doing what you know you ought to do when the going is rough. It's much easier to give up and quit. During your period of weakness, self-defeating behaviours and negative self-talk can come back to haunt you. Don't replay the memories of past failures, disappointments and mistakes, it robs you of your self-confidence. Recognize that we all experienced failures at one time or another, even the most successful people. You can expect problems, setbacks and changes in circumstances, but you don't have to agonize over them and live in fear of them. When changes happen, look for what else is possible and choose the most viable alternatives. View the obstacles as opportunities from which to learn and grow rather than events to be feared. Have faith in yourself. It frees your mind from the self imposed limitations of doubt, fear and discouragement. Faith provides you with the courage, inspiration and self-reliance you need to live life purposefully. Give yourself permission to take reasonable risks and accept responsibility for mistakes. Start taking small calculated risks and venturing occasionally into the unknown. Be alert and prepared for head-on encounters. It's by striving to overcome obstacles as they arise that you build your self-confidence. Fear or faith, failure or success, you have to choose which path you want to follow. Never allow fear to rule your life, always have faith in yourself. Acting with confidence can break vicious cycles of fear. This can be a hard inner struggle but persevere and you will come out a winner.
Be humble in the presence of superior knowledge and intellect, be willing to learn by asking questions. Look for and associate with positive and confident people. It is very empowering to have the support and energy of understanding and motivated friends. You can have a positive influence in each others' process of growing and confidence building. Keep visualizing your best moments, the times when you conquered fear, were totally confident, and felt successful. No matter how few these good moments were, don't let them die. By remembering these moments of triumph you slowly build your own self-confidence. Trust the worth you have placed upon yourself. The confidence other people have in you reinforces your confidence in yourself. Confidence breeds more confidence. You then have the courage to take more challenges and make major decisions in your life. You can start to stretch your capabilities and your comfort zone. When you take charge of your life through choices and decisions, you receive powerful boosts to your self-esteem and self-confidence. Making a decision and implementing it builds confidence.
Try to express your courage and confidence not because you have no fear, but in spite of your fear. Even when you don't really feel confident, act as if you have confidence. When you act despite uncertainty and lack of confidence, you reinforce risk-taking and perseverance. Have the courage to decide what you want to do about your life. Have the ability to overcome the obstacles facing you and move ahead to something better. Be assertive when interacting with other people. Don't say anything that would be contrary to your true intentions. You don’tt need to be aggressive to assert yourself. It has been shown that assertive behaviour is very effective when accompanied by a smile.
A lively and positive faith is extremely important for a happy and serene existence. Faith is belief that help is forthcoming when it is needed. It is belief in guidance in time of perplexity and in courage when pain and suffering strike. Have the attitude and conviction that for everything lost there is something to be gained. Confident people are strong enough to admit their mistakes and to be honest. By your courage, openness and honesty, you will experience rewarding relationships, personal growth and happiness as well as some pains. By building your confidence you become less afraid of fear, of emotional pain, of taking risks and of making mistakes. As you find the courage to be honest and to open yourself to others you start to respect yourself and others as fellow human beings. Your life unfolds and develops based on the confidence you place in yourself and in all that you do. You become aware that you are your only security.
A few years ago, I received a telephone call from my tenant, Jacques Begin that gave me some bad news. He informed me that my rental property was burning and that the firemen were trying to save it. My first reaction was to ask him if everyone was safe and sound. He told me that his wife and him were allright although all their belongings were gone, burnt or water damaged. I told him that I would come over right away. When I arrived on the spot, the fire was under control. There was not much of the house left standing. I learned that the neighbour’s house which was under construction caught fire first. The wind blew the flame over, and my rental property’s roof caught fire. I asked Jacques whether he and his wife needed temporary hotel accommodation. He told me that a lot of his friends had already offered to accommodate them in the short term. I inquired whether his belongings were insured and they were. Luckily, my rental property was insured too.
Jacques Begin was very graceful in adversity, and I was very grateful for that. When it came time to rebuild the house, my wife and I were considering asking Jacques to be the general contractor. I knew that he was a fine carpenter, and had assisted in building many houses before. He had previously done numerous repair jobs for us. He had been a good tenant, and we wanted to reward him. Besides, he and his wife were very eager to come back to their home. Although we knew the risk of using an inexperienced general contractor, we trusted Jacques as a person and a professional carpenter. When we finally asked him, if he would consider rebuilding the house for us, he was surprised with the offer. He told us that he honestly did not know whether he could as he had never been a general contractor before who had the responsibility for building a whole house. I told him that my wife and I had confidence that he would do a good job for us, otherwise we would not have entrusted the construction of our new house to him.
Seeing that my wife and I had confidence in his capacity to build our new house, he finally accepted. To make a long story short, he did an amazing job for us. The construction took about three and a half months. In the meantime, he and his wife had found another rental property. The end results were win-win for both parties. More importantly, his first job as a general contractor gave him the confidence to launch himself in the house construction business. Today, he is very successful. Today he always remembers that my wife and I had faith, trust and confidence in him when he was not sure himself. And he is very grateful for that.

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