by Katherine ‘KOOL KAT’ Farnham
Many people come to me and talk about how they are frustrated and how they have not achieved the place in life that they want to get to. Many of these people have much natural talent. The more they talk however, the more I start to notice subtle habits and attitudes that may be preventing them from achieving more. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Do you have a sense for what yours are?
I want you to know you are not alone. Most successful people go thru a great deal to achieve their goals. I once did not understand this. I was fortunate to get to see the work of other successful people and began to see the difference between their work ethic and mine! There was such a huge difference! I realized the difference between my work ethic and theirs could be a very big part of the reason they were more successful than I was at that time.
Because of these mentors, I was able to move past discouragement, frustration and ignorance - into a feeling of being challenged, inspired and excited to both learn and do more. It did not happen overnight. At times it was painful. The point is however - I achieved growth.
Most of us can achieve more in life if we really set our minds to it. However, it can be admittedly a very tough process sometimes. If you feel frustrated sometimes don’t worry! That is perfectly natural. Sometimes everybody needs a compassionate ear to vent to and just talk through the issues. The point is to figure out how to get past it and get busy eventually being productive.
If we do not give up, sooner or later improvements come. My intention for this article is to give you some ideas on where you might be able to concentrate your energy so that you can continue to grow and evolve.
How badly do you want to achieve your goals? How much discomfort or inconvenience are you willing to put up with in order to achieve them? If you do not ever want to step outside of your comfort zone, it may be very difficult to impossible to achieve your goals. Most growth involves some discomfort from time to time. However, if you are really committed this should be less important than achieving your ultimate goal.
ATTITUDE - This is one of the most important things period. I once had a tough mentor who looked me straight in the eye and said, “I don’t think you are serious enough.” I was really surprised. I worked alot, felt that I was really doing all I could and had no idea why this person would say this to me.
Over the course of the next few months however, I began to see the difference between my approach and this mentor’s approach.
I didn't get much if any praise. This mentor was not about to praise anything but my EFFORT. I argued a little bit. I gave excuses, I said, "I don't think you really understand my situation or you wouldn't say that to me."
Finally I had to go into my spiritual process and just ask for wisdom. I suddenly realized how much I admired this person. In fact, their abilities and accomplishments made me feel so overwhelmed that I just couldn't face it. I felt that I could never, ever measure up.
I felt a sense of peace come over me and a still, small voice saying, "This person is teaching you because you DO have the ability to do more. This mentor is part of your journey - if you still your heart - and just listen. It isn't about you. It isn't about the mentor. It is about the journey of wisdom that is attempting to flow between the two of you. Stand back and listen. Let the process occur. You will reap the benefits."
That is exactly what happened. I developed a deep, conscious love and respect for this person where before I had been impressed but frustrated. I stopped arguing. I started listening. Then - and only then - things began to change for the better. Why did I stick with the process? I truly admired the mentor's accomplishments in music - and - this person had more experience and credentials than I did. Those two things made me think I should hang in there.
Gradually in silencing myself, refraining from being defensive and just listening intensely I started to see why this comment might have come about. I stopped bad habits. I worked longer hours. I grew. Finally I started achieving more of my goals. I realized that yes I probably was already working hard. However, was it enough to get me to the next level? No. This mentor understood that and helped me to expand my understanding. At first I did not really think I could ever do it. But in time I did. This additional self-reliance boosted my self-confidence tremendously.
The few times this person said something positive about my work - it was a one sentence statement - very brief but so powerful that it pretty much blew several other compliments out of the water.
No amount of talent can make up for a lack of effort or a bad attitude. Some of the greatest artists in the world are not arrogant at all. They are surprisingly humble. Make no mistake however. Humility often cloaks individuals with truly astounding abilities and accomplishments.
My career began to grow quickly when I stopped expecting others to do things for me I could do myself. I began to spend less time complaining and more time learning and working hard. This was a really turning point for me.
It’s not that certain issues did not continue to still bother me from time to time. It’s just that I got busy and got to work! I found joy eventually in developing my skills to the next level. It was the right decision for me. I also found more high level people were willing to work and collaborate with me.
The more successful a person is - the less time they are willing to spend on: negative attitudes, negative feelings, negative conversations and - negative people. You've got to manage that. Sometimes you may even need to leave people behind if they are holding you back consistently.
If you are feeling really discouraged, take a piece of paper and write down 5 things you are grateful for having accomplished. Think about what you’ve already done. Let that be a starting place to move you into the next level. Being grateful even for small successes is very healthy and effective.
WORK ETHIC - It is human and natural to occasionally feel a twinge of jealousy or envy sometimes when confronted with people who are abundant in areas where we might be lacking. However, successful people don’t allow themselves to stay stuck in this. It is very counterproductive.
One of the best ways to counteract this is to just get to work. What needs to be done? Most of us have alot on our plates these days. Just making time for the basic necessities of life can be a challenge, not to mention adding additional training on top of that. However if you want to keep growing, it is important to continue studying and learning and training.
You cannot become complacent.
Do not work yourself into the ground or to a point where your health is compromised - however, work consistently, without complaining, be steady and develop a capacity to work hard.
Find your own unique way.
CREDENTIALS - Some people are able to achieve success without a college degree, however in the modern day global community people are expected to have more and more knowledge in many areas. Additional credentials often helps people to get to the next level and makes the process more enjoyable. Learning as an adult can be a challenge, however it can also be alot of FUN!
BALANCED VIEWPOINT - In a global community, there are many opinions now about how things should be. However, one approach that allows you to work and get along with a wide variety of people is just to have a balanced viewpoint. Getting too extreme - especially right away is often a turn off and may make it hard for people to understand you.
Have your opinions but also listen to others. Learning how to balance diverse viewpoints helps one to grow and mature into a more effective professional.
PERSISTENCE - Sometimes despite our best efforts we may discover that we just are not reaching our goal for some reason. There is often a mechanical reason that is just cut and dry that may require an astute professional’s advice. If you’ve tried for months or years and are still having trouble, seek out additional professional opinions. Get specific.
I am grateful for all of my mentors. I’m especially grateful to the long term ones who patiently and tirelessly showed me the way even when I was too frustrated to see anything beyond where I was. I’ve learned alot more because of them.
There is always room to learn more. Even in challenging times, that is an exciting and encouraging point to remember.
(c) 2021 Katherine Farnham