I was in Enugu, the capital city of Enugu state of Nigeria, two weeks ago (precisely from 24th to 26th July, 2015) for a couching programme organised for about 250 youth from all over Africa on success and personal achievement. After formal introduction, I took to the podium. That morning I asked my audience to raise hands if they knew the names of the top five people in their chosen profession. Almost everyone raised a hand. I then asked them to raise their hands again if they had ever gone up to any these five people and asked them to share their secrets of success. Not one hand was raised up. Have you seen it? Everyone knew who the most effective people in his or her profession, but because of an unfounded fear of rejection, nobody had ever asked these successful captains of industries, academics, medical practitioners, engineers, business moguls, the clergy, among others, to share their secrets with them.
At this juncture, I told the naïve youth that if you are going to be successful in life, you have to start associating with the great achievers. Experiment with doing what they do. Do not be envious of them, and do not castigate them. Ask them politely about their success strategies. Then try then tenaciously and see if they serve your purpose. If you love and cherish successful people and do what they do, you are likely to succeed.
You have to free yourself from the negative influence of others. Until you reach the point in your self-development where you no longer allow people to affect you with their negativity, you need to avoid toxic people at all costs. You’re better off spending time alone than spending time with people who hold you back with their siege and victim mentality, and their peasant and mediocre standards. Liberate yourself at cost circus elephant syndrome, and don’t poke yourself into stiff cocoon. Make conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, progressive, forward-looking, nourishing, and uplifting people — people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams, lift you up and applaud your victories. Surround yourself with possibility thinkers, men and women of great ideas, and visionaries. Stop associating with nihilists, pessimists and paranoids. Move with people that make you happy. Happiness, like success has been defined as by Earl Nightingale as “the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal.” You can only be happy when you are working step by step toward something that is really important to you. Perhaps your deepest subconscious drive, according to Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, is the need for meaning and purpose in life. To be truly happy, you need a clear sense of direction. You need to feel that you are realising your worthy ideal, and that you are somehow making a valuable contribution to your environment and world.
Aristotle, perhaps the greatest of all the ancient philosophers, wrote more than 2,300 years ago that the ultimate aim of all human action is happiness. He concluded that everything a person does is to achieve happiness of some kind. Sometimes they are successful, and sometimes they are unsuccessful, but happiness is always the target each person aims at. One of Aristotle’s greatest insights on the subject of happiness was his conclusion that “Only the good can be happy, and only the virtuous can be good.”