You and I may not have taken the long, challenging road toward a traditional PhD. Still, according to my friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert’s fabulous Success Hotline (973.743.4690), there’s another form of this advanced degree that’s open to all of us. What’s required? Three qualities that we all have inside us, just waiting to be tapped:
Positivity: “The greatest discovery is that human beings can alter themselves by altering their attitude.” William James. Oceans of ink have been spilled about this can-do quality, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way about how to cultivate it, it’s this: With it, anything’s possible. Without it, nothing is. And it’s a choice. Many moons ago, I broke my ankle in two places and needed an operation. It was the second limb I’d broken recently and I was in my hospital room feeling low about it. Suddenly I saw in a flash that two roads were open before me: I could go with the feeling that I was under some sort of dark star and on a downward spiral or I could choose to handle what had happened cheerfully, be grateful I’d had a great doctor, and ignite my ingenuity to figure out ways to do what I needed to do while I was healing. Right there, on that hospital bed, I made a decision to go down the second road. It made all the difference.
Hunger: “Everyone has to learn to think differently, bigger, to be open to possibilities.” Oprah Winfrey. If you see two people who want the same thing, which would you bet on: The one who’s really hungry for it or the one who isn’t it? Chances are, you said number one. A burning desire consumes obstacles and finds a way where there is no way. It can be tough to get in touch with that desire all day every day, but we can fan the flame inside ourselves. We can use the “act as if” approach: We can feel the excitement of having accomplished what we desire and then act from that sense of joyful energy. We can also think “bigger.” If you have a big enough “why,” then the “how” will come along.
Determination: “Strength is a matter of a made-up mind.” John Beecher. If we can set a course and stay with it, no matter how the winds and the waves buffet us, then we’ll find our way to where we want to go; and sometimes the wind and the waves will even help us along. “Proceed as if success is inevitable” — I saw this motto on a coffee mug and it’s a great one for us all. When we do this, doubt and uncertainty don’t hang over us like storm clouds. We know, without question, that if we keep moving in the direction of our destination, we’ll get there. And when we bring that force of will, that enlightened energy to our work, then the universe conspires to help make it happen.
Some time soon, you’re going to hit an obstacle that’s going to throw you for a loop.
You’re going to feel as if you’ve been knocked off course and are drifting. When that happens, you can feel overwhelmed or stoked. Or as Rob Gilbert says, you can get frustrated or fascinated. When you’re frustrated, your energy drains away. But when you’re fascinated, your energy’s ignited. It becomes a puzzle, not a problem —
something that challenges you to brainstorm, be creative, generate ideas, push yourself out of your comfort zone. And when you take that approach, the sky’s the limit — nothing can hold you back.
So you are hereby awarded our very own personal PhD — now let’s all write on!