Art Fetting—Veteran platform speaker and author of Selling Lucky: A Dynamic Guide to Success & Happiness.
SELF-STARTABILlTY: You Hold the Key to Your Own Ignition
By Christopher Jones
Puzzling. That’s exactly what it was. Especially to the turn-of-the-century conductor on the great Santa Fe railroad. You see, every day this elderly man visited the conductor’s train station without fail. Yet the old man never bought a ticket, never boarded the train, and never picked up a passenger. He just sat for hours watching the trains pull out.
One day the conductor couldn’t stand the mystery any longer. After motioning the old man to the train, he asked him to explain the reason behind his daily ritual.
“Why, young man,” replied the sage, “visiting this train station each day inspires me.”
“Inspires you?” queried the conductor.
“Yes, my boy. Where else could I come every day and see something take off under its own steam?”
Not to belittle the wise old man, but somebody taking off under his own steam is even more inspiring than something. Especially if he’s a Norman Vincent Peale or a Cavett Robert. How many times have you asked yourself— “How does a self-starter like Dr. Peale or Cavett Robert get started in the first place? Just what is it that keeps these men-on-the-go, going? And what if the little self-starter inside these motivational giants breaks down, what then? How do they crank up again?
To find out I contacted Dr. Peale and Mr. Robert along with three other leading self-starters in America—Art Linkletter, Joe Batten, and Art Fettig. Each one of these dynamos was more than happy to share his insights and secrets on self-startability. So, without losing any more steam, here are the questions I asked these men and their very revealing yet individualistic responses.
HOW DOES A SELF-STARTER LIKE YOURSELF GET STARTED IN THE FIRST PLACE?
PEALE: By getting interested and taking action. Always, Interest + Action = Startability.
ROBERT: The most divine gift people can possess is the desire to reach a certain goal—not a casual wish but a compulsive desire. If they have such a desire, this one quality will generate and create all the other qualities necessary for them to reach their goal. And so, I feel the answer to the first question is that they let this burning desire permeate all they do. It must encompass their entire existence. Then they do not just have the desire—the desire has them.
LINKLETTER: A self-starter like myself got started in the first place because I was an adopted son of a poor minister who had to work for everything he got and I learned early in life to say yes to every kind of job offer that came along. I have continued to risk failure by exposing myself to difficult and new situations and one thing leads to another.
BATTEN: Years ago I started the daily habit of saying to myself, as I awaken, these words from the Bible. “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) As you probably know, we become what we think and what we say. It truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because I can’t recall a day in the last twenty years when I didn’t find something to be grateful for. Remember—depression and gratitude cannot co-exist!
FETTIG: Starting is easy. People do it a number of times every day. Finishing is what is tough. What has helped me the most is learning that unless I finish something, all of the effort that went into a project is wasted and so I finish.
WHAT’S YOUR FORMULA FOR DEVELOPING THE CHARACTERISTIC OF SELF-STARTABILITY?
PEALE: By forming specific, sharply defined goals and by “imagining” the desired result.
ROBERT: Von Nash, a former candidate for Miss America, is a living example of a formula for developing self-starting characteristics.
Von was a cosmetic salesperson who wanted to make and save enough money to buy a home of her own. She was more interested in accomplishing her ultimate purpose than in gratifying her immediate impulses. So, she took a picture of the house she wanted to acquire. She posted one copy on her mirror which she saw first thing each morning. She carried one copy in her purse which she saw during the day. Finally, there was another copy framed and kept on the table by her bed, which she saw the last thing each night before closing her eyes.
Need I tell you that this formula created and kept alive that compulsive desire within Von which made her the self-starter who purchased, in record time, that beautiful home?
Remember, “You GOTTA WANTA.”
LINKLETTER: I believe that people who are self-starters don’t develop a formula so much as respond to their own DNA. If you accept life as a challenge and are determined to face up to it, every waking moment is the right place to “get going”.
BATTEN: I concentrate on staying very fit—physically, mentally, and spiritually. Here’s how:
Physically—exercise and nutrition. The exercise includes competitive sports, twenty minutes of Yoga stretching and breathing each day, and a maintenance program of “iron pumping” or weightlifting.
Mentally—Books like The Dragon of Eden by Carl Sagan and the collected works of C.S. Lewis. I usually read an average of five books each week.
Spiritually—I carry a copy of J.B. Phillips’ translation of The Sermon On The Mount in my briefcase and study and restudy the 110 insights contained there. My formula is WLPW (Work, Love, Play, Worship).
FETTIG: A formula for developing the characteristic of self-startability? Force yourself to finish things. Set goals and force yourself to begin new challenging projects. Also, I try to read something every day, such as “Positive Living Magazine” or “Success Unlimited.” I keep going back to Og Mandino’s books, too.
SOMETIMES EVEN SELF-STARTERS WIND DOWN. HOW DO YOU CRANK UP WHEN YOUR SELF-STARTER GOES OUT?
PEALE: By repeating the two processes I mentioned before. (i.e., getting interested, taking action, forming sharply defined goals, and “imagining” the desired result.) Startability is not necessarily a constantly, sustained condition but must be reactivated by new interests and reaffirmed goals.
ROBERT: Self-starters know that we grow strong in the crucible of adversity—that obstacles are only those things we see when we take our eyes off our goals. Though they are optimists, they know they must be prepared to meet unexpected difficulties. They’re ready for the valleys as well as the mountaintops. They know there can’t be one without the other.
Remember, it’s all right to get down, but don’t get down on yourself.
LINKLETTER: When I get stuck or “down” on a project I turn to others and come back later to pick up the stalled venture. There’s nothing like a change of pace and scenery and challenge to get you started all over again. I also remind myself that no matter how badly a thing might be going, I haven’t failed as long as I haven’t quit, so as we say in Australia, “Give it a go, mate, and try a little harder.” The bottom line: Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.
BATTEN: I believe it is crucial to have fallow moments, times of rest, renewal, and refill. During these times it is important to be able to feel vulnerable so that new power can flow in. It is at times like this that I particularly believe in the “prayer of vulnerability” which is, “Not my will, Oh Lord, but thine be done.” It WORKS!
FETTING: When my “dobber” is down, I get it up by listening to cassette tapes. Also, I find when I am feeling low that if I can have even a little victory it gets me off and running again. And the way I ensure a parade of victories is to keep a number of balls in the air at one time.
Cranked up and ready to go? We hope so. Remember, nobody holds the key to your own ignition but you.
Why not give that key a turn today?
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