Monday, March 24, 2008

Absolutely Right

When I was a boy, growing up in the southeastern state of Georgia, my Dad would continually pound into the heads of my brother Paul and I the means to achieve a positive outlook on life, and demonstrate to us again and again the kind of doors such an outlook would open for us.

At that time we lived a suburban town of Atlanta called Lawrenceville. It was there that Paul and I grew into teenagers. It was there that we became athletes. Not only did we love sports, but we were very good.

Okay, I know, that sounds egotistical. And I apologize. But this is how we saw ourselves. This is how our Dad taught us to see ourselves. We believed wholly in our hearts that we were and therefore that is what we became.

It started with baseball. And baseball started before we moved to Georgia. As long as I can remember, anytime we came across a ball diamond, we pulled the family car over, got the equipment bag out of the trunk, and held infield, batting, and pitching practice.

We did this for fun. This was our family’s way of having fun together. I still remember slamming long drives and flies out to center and right fields and watching mom get on her horse to get under the ball to make the catches. She would throw the ball back into Paul who was on the mound pitching, and Dad catching behind the plate.

God those days were great.

Dad would pound balls at me at short stop – making me trust me myself that charging the hardest hid grounder was the best way to pick up the ball. Charging hard in, picking up the ball on the short hop, and wheel it to first.

We were both good, we made every all star team, and we knew that we always going to play well. That was what our Dad instilled in us. Confidence in the very skills he taught us.

When Paul started getting good at tennis, Dad used those same principles to instill into Paul that he was good and he could compete with anybody in the State. In the mid-seventies, Atlanta was quite a hotbed for junior tennis, and the competition was fierce. Paul moved his way up the state ladder to reach the top-five. He had the skills, he had confidence in those skills, and he used them to achieve the goals that he set.

Those same principles are still deeply instilled in both my brother and I today.

We both know that there is nothing to hard for us to learn and master. We both know that we can acquire any skill we need to meet any challenge we may face. And we both know that having mastered the skills, the confidence comes naturally.

"So what does this have to do with positive thinking?" You may ask. "Did you get off track again, Fred?"

No, confidence is the core foundation needed to acquire optimism. When you are confident in yourself, in your skills, then you can only be optimistic about the results. You simply know you will succeed.

You will succeed. There is no doubt.

Optimism is the ultimate positive state of thinking.

My Dad had a saying. “If you think you are right, then you are right. You are absolutely right, until you are proven wrong.”

"Huh? You lost me."

Well, let me break it down. If you think you are right about something, and you are a confident person, then you will commit yourself to the decision you believe is right. You will not approach that decision in a wishy-washy manner of “I think this might work”.

That confidence allows that commitment to that decision to be clear in your mind. That clear decision becomes your goal. And you have commitment to your goal. And once you set a goal, you must be absolutely committed. There is no room to waver or second-guess yourself. You are absolutely right, and you must proceed with that commitment to complete that goal.

The part about “until you’re proven wrong” simply means that should your decision be incorrect, meaning your committed to a false goal, you have to understand – identify that you are wrong, accept that you are wrong, and re-align your commitment to your new decision.

To follow this method of thinking will result in ever-deepening confidence in yourself. That ever-growing confidence will inspire greater optimism. That optimism will ultimately conclude in a very positive thinking, self-satisfied person.

The person you want to be.

For all the things that my brother Paul and I have to thank our Dad for, this lesson I believe is the greatest gift I have ever received. While it is difficult – if not impossible – to maintain this state of thinking all the time, it does become easier each time you slip from it to identify that slip, and correct your mental course.

And of this, I am right. I am absolutely right. Until I am proven wrong.

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