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Reasons for Personal Failure

Are you Unhappy in Your Job?



*8 Weapons That May Be Sabotaging Your Success
*Do you have regrets about missed opportunities?
*The Personal Costs of Remaining in Any Job For Too Long
*Do you find it hard to keep your promises? Why That Can Rob You of Success
*Why women are still doing badly in the workplace
*The main obstacle to being a successful writer
*Do you have a book in your head you wish to write but can't get it out? This may be the reason why!
*Is The Alphabet Dictating Your Success?
*Are you a TEACHER? The main reason you might not be happy in your job
*Why a Permanent Job is Bad for You
*ONLINE: Which Is Better: Triond, Helium, Newsvine or Associated Content?
*Why Successful People Sometimes Fail

From the 16th century in Britain, and especially in the 18th, there was great apprehension in playing current roles in a drama or play. There was a real fear that by playing a specific role which related to current life, the person could become like that in real life too. The belief was that by playing a criminal, for example, one would be in danger of turning into a criminal too, a point illustrated starkly in the novel, Mansfield Park.

The reasoning behind that belief was simple: when we take on any role in life, even when we are acting, we take on the characteristics of that role, which changes our persona, perspectives, thought and behaviour, and permanently too, if it is a professional calling or vocation. Fast forward to the 20th century. Up until this moment, you might have thought that a job was just a job and getting any job will do.

But you would be quite wrong. Jobs or professional roles provide the following:

1. Livelihood (pay, benefits and perks)

2. Status (belonging, place, rank, responsibilities)

3. Identity (individuality, character, self-esteem)

4. Values (thoughts, beliefs, actions)

5. Contentment (happiness, fulfilment, confidence)

6. Purpose (achievement, aspiration, success, self expression)

7. Colleagues (particularly line manager, team members, other direct colleagues)

In a nutshell, if you are unhappy in your job, any, or all, of those seven crucial elements is likely to be missing. Which one is it for you?

Livelihood and Status satisfy our physical need. Identity, Values and Contentment relate to our emotional needs, while Purpose sorts out our creative and intellectual needs. All those factors are internal and personal. You can change them or affect them in some way. But the last one, Colleagues, tends to be the most stressful being external. Often there is not much you can do about it, especially if there are personality clashes. You might feel some sort of satisfaction where a job is missing one or two of those elements. But where three or more are absent, you cannot possibly grow or develop your true potential in such a limiting environment. Let's take a common problem to illustrate this. You wish to be an actor but your parents want you to be a lawyer. To please them, you become a lawyer and give up your personal dreams.


Dissatisfaction in Personal Needs

The Livelihood (pay and perks) might be satisfying; the Status might give you some kind of significance and standing with relation to others, but the sheer loss of the other elements will gradually affect your Identity (not ever feeling right for the role, not being able to call yourself an actor or to enjoy its challenges and delights), your Values (they will not be sincere; adopting the conservative ones of a lawyer, when you prefer the liberating ones of an actor), your Purpose (you are NOT fulfilling it so there will always be an instinctive yearning for something else), your Colleagues might be giving you grief, and your sense of Contentment (you would never be as confident, happy or fulfilled as you might be when doing what your instincts desire) will be very low.

In effect, you will be living someone else's life, not your own, no matter how successful you are as a lawyer. Worse still, you will spend the rest of your life wondering how you would have fared as an actor. There will be a constant yearning for something which you would feel unable to explore or develop, which would impact on your sense of purpose and fulfilment. 

There is also a hierarchy of needs attached to our jobs in that, should we be missing out on Livelihood and Status, it is just a matter of finding a better paying job with greater responsibilities and perks. However, where it relates to the other five elements, something fundamental needs to be addressed because our emotional and intellectual needs are far more important in the long term. 

If you are in the 'wrong' job for you, perhaps mainly because it pays well, it is likely to affect your self esteem, how you feel about yourself and capabilities; it will affect your confidence in yourself (you will tend to feel fearful and inadequate) and it will affect your self-expression. Needless to say, your values will be replaced by others which are not comfortable for you (for example, having to defend some company policy/product you don't really believe in). It means you will be performing at a sub-standard level because too many elements which make up your persona, your feeling of well being and your sense of purpose, would be missing.

As Professor Lionel Trilling (Columbia University, New York)* wisely noted more than 50 years ago: "The election of a profession is, of course, in a way, the assumption of a role. But it is a permanent impersonation which makes virtually impossible the choice of another. It's a commitment which fixes the nature of the self."  

If you are unhappy in a job, don't just accept it or whinge about it and do nothing. Your instincts are trying to tell you something very important. If you don't look forward to your job every morning, the place where you spend two thirds of your life, you should not be there. Your whole persona, future and expression of who you are, and wish to be, depend on your action and they could be in danger. Do something about it, now. You deserve to realise your full potential and this life is not a rehearsal for something else. It's the only one you've got.

 *Quote from: Penguin Literature series (From Blake to Byron) - Jane Austin's Mansfield Park

Not sure how unhappy you might be feeling? Why not take our Job Satisfaction Quiz to find out?

8 Weapons That May Be Sabotaging Your Success


There will always be stars and admirers, people wanting their 15 minutes of fame because what matters to every single one of us is to be ACCEPTED, to be SIGNIFICANT and to be VALUED. When those three things are missing, there is a deviant person in the making; one who will be plagued by low confidence and, even worse, low self-esteem and the feeling of not being appreciated. Hence the constant craving to be accepted.

Lack of confidence and repeatedly 'failing' at what we do, does not come overnight. They gradually take hold through the following eight factors, which are listed in order of the magnitude of their effect on our lives:

1. Negative life experiences. From school to home these keep you feeling frustrated and impotent, developing and polishing your feelings of inferiority and hopelessness to perfection. A lifetime of hearing "You're no good. You can't do anything properly. You're just like your dad. You're so ugly, you can't be related to me. You're useless. You're stupid. You're not as good as your brother/sister", without any corresponding praise, would have done nothing for your morale and sense of worth.

2. Too much pressure. This usually comes from parents and/or peers to meet their demands and expectations, the ones they didn't achieve themselves, that they now wish to live through you, regardless of what you want. This deprives you of the opportunity to develop your own goals, identity, independence and autonomy.

3. Loss of a key family member or close friend. This could include your parents' break-up or even death; moving away from home for the first time and breaking up with a friend/lover. Often we do not allow ourselves time to grieve, or we blame ourselves for the event, and the consequences soon reveal themselves in other distressing ways.

4. Fear of failure. You internalise and interpret any negative result to mean that you are a 'useless' person instead of seeing yourself as a perfectly capable individual who had an off-day and can always attempt that task again, like attending another interview or learning a new skill. When your job becomes redundant you equate yourself with the uselessness of the position and see yourself as the one being rejected. Suddenly you perceive yourself as a worthless person who will never get another job again a perception which dictates how you deal with the loss and the actual outcome.

5. Judging or criticising yourself and abilities too harshly. In your search for perfection, you never allow room for error or learning, for being a mere mortal. Instead, you mainly listen to your own negative voice, that confirms your worst perception and fears, especially when it comes to any appraisal of your efforts and worth.

6. Setting unrealistic goals for yourself. Often, this is an attempt to seek approval and attain the unreachable. However, as you may not be quite ready for them, such actions mainly encourage you to procrastinate and to lower your achievement rate. They also increase your disappointment and confirm your already negative fears.

7. Negative evaluations. You assess the outcome of situations as much worse than they really are in order to confirm your deepest fears about yourself, while deliberately ignoring or downplaying your strengths and achievements. You tend not to notice your blessings but always what you lack!

8. Dwelling unnecessarily on negative events. For example, on your failures and disappointments, instead of using them as learning experiences. The longer you stay in the same position, the harder it is to move forward. As the saying goes: "Often we are so busy staring longingly at the closed door behind us we fail to see the open one ahead!" That is the classic case for most people who lose their jobs.

Personal growth comes through a willingness to accept change from daily endeavours. But we are hampered by a fear of the consequences, a fear of taking risks, of creating opportunities and even a fear of handling success. It was Nelson Mandela, giving voice to Marianne Williamson's poignant words, who said that our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are 'powerful beyond measure'. "We ask ourselves," he says, "who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually who are you not to be?.....As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same (and) as we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others." Respect to that!

However, some people's low opinion of themselves is so deep-rooted, and their resistance to change so strong, it would probably take years to show them that they are unique, talented human beings who can control their own future to great personal satisfaction. Negative thought processes deter us from positive acts simply because of our fear of change. There are many people like this alive today because of a preoccupation with the past and the desire to avoid, or not to repeat, any mistakes. In effect, they are caught in a continuous and futile attempt to be perfect.

Do you have regrets about missed opportunities?
The main reasons why you shouldn't!



We have all missed some opportunities in our lives, for one reason or another, which can make us feel regretful later on, especially if things do not work out as expected with the other choices we made. But feeling regret is not only futile, for a number of reasons, such feelings also assume that everything else would have remained constant to make that opportunity work in our favour, and life seldom happens like that!

The first thing to understand is the reason why we don't take advantage of some opportunities when they come to us. Opportunities are spontaneous chances to develop our lives in the directions we prefer. However, for each opportunity to work, we must give it value, urgency, and enthusiasm, and we must feel comfortable about it.

We give an opportunity value when we can see its usefulness and relevance to us; when it suggests success or another key step in our achieving our desires. Once there is no value (we are not really ready for it, or it seems superfluous), we will not give it any urgency, and certainly won't be enthusiastic about it. Above all, the feeling of comfort and excitement about its potential will not be there either, and it will gradually slip away, as the doubts creep in, without us really doing anything about it.

Months or years later when we regret our action, we might feel bad about it and wish we had done otherwise. However, that is foolhardy because the very fact that we gave it no value, urgency or enthusiasm, and was doubtful about it, show that, in our state at THAT time, we would not have been able to take full advantage of that opportunity even if we tried. Something would have prevented our action somewhere along the line. We just weren't ready for it physically, and/or emotionally.

To now judge that past self from our new position of knowledge, confidence and greater experience is silly because we were not the persons we are now. Our individual evolution from one year to the next would have made sure that we were rather different then. In fact, if you had taken up that opportunity against how you felt, you might have found it overwhelming to cope with, or damaging to your prospects, because you wouldn't have had the knowledge, maturity and experience to make that informed choice you enjoy now.

So never use hindsight to judge yourself. If an opportunity appears, note your action towards it. If you find that you are procrastinating, you really don't see its value, you feel doubtful or are lukewarm about it, trust your instincts and don't go there. Ignore it until you find the opportunity you really feel comfortable with, and want to run with. You will then be able to give it due focus and attention. It is also far more likely to work for you and to prove even more successful, because your action, and the value you place upon it, would suggest that the time was perfectly right for it.

The Personal Costs of Remaining in Any Job Too Long



Believe it or not, the chief personal cost of any permanent job is a gradual lack of confidence in capability and empowerment. The day we sign on the dotted line for a job, especially in the public services, certain surreptitious things begin to happen.

Like a worm, knowledge of our new situation slithers ominously into our consciousness until the final acknowledgement that our salary is there for life, or as long as we want it, and we don't have to worry for a long time. The plans begin in earnest. Lots and lots of plans to get the house, the car, the freezer, the personal yacht and helicopter! - anything that will confirm our new status while anchoring us firmly to new contractual knots and long term anxieties. Expectation is high and ambition has few limits.

Gradually, as we become weighted down by responsibilities and bills, we realise that we do not have to do anything fantastic to stay in the job. Barring any catastrophe, so long as our work is acceptable, we are protected from the storms of deprivation and worry, shielded snugly from any occupational winds of anxiety, except on a domestic level, and, without increasing our effort one bit, we can acquire even more trappings of success while suiting output to match our leisurely pace. However, something else has been happening while we have been settling in to our situation. The basic need for stimulation, responsibility and recognition is getting stronger, but is perhaps not being fulfilled and begins a painful plunge into feelings of nothingness and self doubt.

There are three stages to every new job:

(a) Introduction, Initiation and Challenge

(b) Task Familiarity

(c) Full Experience

Depending on the number of aspects involved, and the complexity of the tasks, all three stages tend to take between three and six years. The first stage of being inducted is always novel and interesting, especially if it is something we really want to do. Second stage familiarity boosts our confidence and self-esteem by confirming personal capabilities while adding new knowledge and skills to our repertoire. If this stage has been a success, the final stage marks us as a kind of expert, well versed in all aspects of our job description, and ready for greater responsibility.

Add another two years for luck, and the employee is ready to move on, hopefully, to better things. However, it is this last stage which causes the most difficulty because it sets up expectations, especially around promotion and greater recognition and reward, which are often not forthcoming.

Do you find it hard to keep your promises?
Why That Can Rob You of Success



David made a promise to Sushma whom he had met a couple times and fancied. He would ring her as soon as he got in from work that day, he said. She waited eagerly for his call because they were just getting to know each other and she was keen to have contact. But just before he was due to ring her, he got another call and was totally distracted by it. Sushma lost out because he forgot. He texted to apologise and suggested another call for the next day. However, he was busy calling so many other friends he forgot her again. He also reckoned on the 'Treat 'em mean and keep 'em keen' approach. Only Sushma didn't know that!

This time she sent a text to remind him that he hadn't called twice. He said he forgot, apologised again but complained of feeling 'hassled' and made a third promise which he did not keep either because he went out. That last broken promise did it for Sushma. She assumed he was not worth it and stopped waiting. He also didn't call again because he felt guilty.

The Value of Promises
Very few people realise, or wish to accept, that one of the worst experiences in life to an individual is a broken promise. We all have moments when we make a promise to someone and cannot keep it, for a variety of reasons. That is understandable. However, when there is a definite pattern in breaking promises it suggests three things:

1. That the person to whom the promise is made is not really a priority in the scheme of things; not as valued as others.

2. That the person making the promise is trying to please too many people at once, perhaps to impress, but failing miserably.

3. That the promise itself is not perceived as important enough to be kept.

Promises mean a lot to people because they suggest appreciation, value and empathy and carry some anticipation and pleasure in fulfilment. The effect of broken promises is resentment, undue anxiety, missed opportunities and a lack of trust in future promises for one party, while causing a chain of guilt and feelings of incapacity and inadequacy for the other. Furthermore, a promise prevents alternative action being taken which means everyone loses out all round.

Broken promises also give a feeling of false competence, they keep the person stuck in a mode of regret and are rarely associated with success. The most successful people tend to value others and keep their word because it demonstrates integrity - a key attribute for achievement. Finally, if not handled sensitively, broken promises can cause ill feeling, damage friendships and even lose business.

For example, if David did not promise to call Sushma on various occasions, she would not wait for him to do it then feel disappointed when he didn't call. Neither would David end up feeling 'hassled' by her. By promising to call, it gave Sushma the perception that she was liked by him, that there was the possibility of a friendship and something pleasurable to anticipate. More importantly, Sushma might have called David instead!

It means they would have both benefited from the contact and it would have lessened their anxieties, especially when David was under pressure. He would not have felt obliged in any way to get in touch when he couldn't, and he would have felt much better about himself, his capabilities and his pulling power. The first call would also have sorted out whether they wanted to talk again to any extent, which would have helped both parties to move on more briskly, in one way or another.

Sometimes the habits we develop over a lifetime can be very limiting both in their effect on us and on others. Most people don't mind a broken promise on odd occasions. We all do it at times through the pressure of living. But, if it becomes a pattern, it then becomes part of our personality and is a pointer to how we treat others for our own feeling of power. It really does not suggest enough respect for the person on the receiving end and would also be irritating to them to some measure.

It is a desire for approval why we make promises to too many people and end up not keeping any, which then makes us feel worse and loses us friends. It was Bill Cosby who said: "I do not know the secret of success, but the secret of failure is trying to please too many people all the time!" Many people would do well to remember that!

Tips for Keeping Promises
First, if you find yourself prone to breaking promises, ask yourself, why, and try to limit your promises in any one day. It means you will only do it when you feel genuine, you will have more chance of carrying it out, especially if you are not committed to too many people/activities, and it will be appreciated even more. If you have no intention of calling someone, or doing something for them, DON'T promise it. They won't be anxiously waiting and you won't have any guilt. It might boost your fragile ego and esteem to keep people dangling, but it only upsets everyone in the end.

Second, the best kind of friendship and approach is doing a job or favour when you FEEL like it, and not if you feel obliged. Nothing should feel forced or pressured.

Third, have a look at the three reasons above for not keeping your promises and try to remedy whichever one applies to you. If you are breaking your promises repeatedly to one person, chances are you are probably doing the same to others. It not only leaves some unhappy people in its wake but it destroys your credibility in the process. We are all very busy people but the main thing to bear in mind is that, with time being very limited, nothing is more important than our interaction with another human being.

Just think that if you promised a dear friend or relative to call them and you didn't do it, and then he/she died the next day, you would never forget that for the rest of your life! So ALWAYS try to keep a promise or don't make one at all.

Why women are still doing badly in the workplace



The greatest myth pervading current intelligent thought is that women in Britain are now doing well; that they could not have it better. After all, they are getting more qualifications, more training, even more access to employment and, above all, getting the breaks in management. In fact, some say, political correctness has never had it so good, with women being the main beneficiaries. Aren't more men losing out now and complaining much more? Well, that's what those in power and the commercial gatekeepers would like us to believe, but the reality is quite another matter.

Women are doing dismally, and I am sure it is not just confined to the UK, any inroads made being extremely relative. They will continue to do badly until they have the two keys to change their lives: money and power. Women are very much still being fed with the crumbs of wishful thinking, being constantly flattered with the jewels of sharing those golden opportunities and being dangled with the eternal carrot of better things to come, with little chance of them ever materialising as men consolidate their position in other subtle ways.

That is why, many years down the line, there are still only 9.5% female directors on the FTSE 100 companies boards. In fact, 45% of boards have only 1 female member and 22% of companies still have no women board executives at all! Taken together, 72% of FTSE 100 companies in the UK have just one, or no, female directors on boards averaging 12 members each (down 1% from last year).

Undoubtedly, women are continually being discriminated against in the workplace. Though they are utilised in vast numbers at the lowest levels in organisations, they are not making the break into the decision-making areas which are still dominated by their male colleagues. According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, UK, women managers are actually down to 11% from 12.5% in the last decade. That does not show women doing very well at all. In fact, it shows a significant decline in their fortunes after the initial flurry of activity. Again, 82% of all part-time workers in the UK are women (who earn 60% of the average male hourly full-time rate!), a personal preference that will guarantee their pay lags behind that of men for decades to come. And, as if that weren't bad enough, women in full-time work now earn an average of 85.4% of men's pay. For manual work, this average drops dramatically to 65%.

Entrenched Discrimination
All these elements do not suggest that women are doing any better. The gaps and demarcations, if not worse, are as entrenched as ever, as men, ostrich-like in their reaction to irreversible demographic trends, protect their positions against what they perceive to be a female onslaught on what is 'rightfully' theirs. In fact, one former BBC male executive wrote an article in the Times a while ago bemoaning the crop of new female executives at the BBC. Yet no one saw the need to write a similar article when men were wall to wall in the senior positions. It was just accepted as automatic and right. Women are trickling into key positions, for sure, but 'trickle' is the operative word. It has to become a sort of flood before real change begins significantly, both in perception and reality.

Sadly, and strangely, the most vociferous of people who think women still have to 'merit' their positions are actually top women who have managed to find openings for themselves. From the pinnacle of their success they arrogantly survey the masses of women beneath them and amazingly conclude that their unfortunate sisters are actually doing very well, indeed, and should shut up about the non-existent equal opportunities. For them, too many women being 'allowed' in presents both a threat to their position and a 'dilution' of the standards of the role.

The main obstacle to being a successful writer



Q. Hello Elaine, having lost my job recently, I would like to write full time but the first book I wrote has been out for a while and I have yet to be recognized for it. I see that you are a very good writer and motivator and I would just like to know how it would be for me, an almost nobody, to become somebody as a writer.

A. I cannot tell you how you can carve your own success in writing because each of us has a different writing style and content which readers either take to, or they don’t. However, the most important thing I can tell you is that, no matter how good you might be as a writer, you have already sealed your fate with the words ‘almost nobody’ to describe yourself. If you do not believe you are somebody of worth, no one can believe it either. I certainly wouldn’t read anything by someone who thinks he is ‘almost nobody’. What value would that be to me when we are all striving to be great in our own way?

Every single one of us is someone significant in our own right. We don’t need anyone else to validate us or to make us into ‘somebody’. The mere fact that we were born and survived the early years (when 25% of babies on average do not make it) suggests how special we are. Thus we do not need anyone else’s approval to be worthy. Being somebody begins from the mind. If you believe you are ‘almost nobody’, you send that negative vibe out and that’s what others pick up and treat you accordingly because you will ACT it too. No one can treat you like somebody when in your head you are not. We make our own value and then our actions align with that value, not the other way round.

So, you have to decide what you want to be first, start focusing on it and then your actions will cement it. You will start to live like it. If you want to be writer, start acting like a darn good writer. Not second best. After all, one cannot think like a criminal and be law abiding. Not possible. Quite simply, we become what we think. My current motto is “Fit, Fab, Over-50 and Ready to Fly”. I am giving a very powerful message about me with those words. And you know what, everyone I meet echoes them too in how they treat me. I also tell myself every day how gorgeous I am, how useful and wonderful my writing is and, surprise, surprise, the people I meet echo that too. So we clearly set the standard for the behaviour of others towards us.

Change of mindset
You have no hope in hell of getting the success you desire until you change your mindset. Then your actions will match it. Start valuing yourself TODAY. Remind yourself how wonderful, special and precious you are; develop a real passion for your writing. If you have no passion in what you do, it won’t appeal to others either. Write from the heart, not to impress; write about the things you love, the things which fire you, the things which make you want to sit up and shout, and write in your own unique style; write about experiences that have left their indelible mark on you and the public will gladly share them with you.

The email you wrote me shows you already have the writing skills, you just need to get on with it without fear. You seem full of fear just now, but fear merely paralyses, it does not develop anything. You have to lose that fear to succeed because the only thing we are sure of is this present moment. Nothing else is guaranteed. It’s all unknown.

Finally, don’t aim to be ‘somebody’ on any writers’ forum. Just aim to be uniquely you; to enjoy everything you do; to give your own perspective with relish, to improve your writing style and develop excellence over time through regular practice, while putting the focus on others instead of yourself; identify a subject and make it your own. I can promise you that, especially when you are not looking, success will simply wrap itself around you.

You might find my other website useful (Confidence Guide - especially the article: How do I love myself when I feel like crap!). If you have no website yet, I suggest that, as a start to boosting your audience, you get a simple one and promote the book you already have so that others know where to find it.

I trust these few words are of value. I wish you the very best in your writing career and hope you can find the courage to get on to the new life path that is now awaiting you. Only you can make it happen.

Do you have a book you wish to write but can't get it out?
This may be the reason why!



I have lost count of the number of people I meet or who write to tell me that they would love to write a book, but they can't seem to do it, somehow. How do I do it, they ask, because it seems to easy? I am often told how I obviously have the 'talent' for writing to be so prolific with it. In their eyes they either lack the talent, the time, the confidence, the knowledge, or whatever. You name it, they haven't got it, which keeps their book stuck firmly inside their heads never to see the light of day!

In fact, many people believe that having the 'talent' for a particular endeavour is all one needs to be successful. That is why if they do not achieve what they desire they are tempted to believe that is it because they are not as 'gifted' as the next person. Everyone else seems seems so much better.

But writing in the 19th century, 1859 to be precise, Samuel Smiles noted in his book, Self-Help, that, "It is not eminent talent that is required to ensure success in any pursuit, so much as purpose - not merely the power to achieve but the will to labour energetically and perseveringly." He goes on to cite examples that if Michelangelo had not been prepared to lay on his back on hard boards for many months painting the Sistine Chapel in Rome we would not have had such beauty to behold. Or if Johann Sebastian Bach weren't 'industrious', we would not be enjoying his works now. For Smiles, the self-made man, eldest of 11 children and arguably the first ever self-help writer, five essential elements go together if we wish to achieve: talent, purpose, willpower and LOTS of work and patience to bring our desires into being.

When one thinks about that suggestion carefully it can't be wrong. For example, I might have a natural gift as a writer, but that is only 20% of my success. I have been writing for years now and the more I write the more proficient I become, the more my skills improve and the more confident I am in saying what I want in precisely the way I want it. Having a definite aim and purpose for my writing, having the willpower to do at least one article each day and then having the determination to work at my craft as much as I can, with the patience to see it through, have turned my hard graft into a kind of 'genius'. It then appears as if all I have to do is to wave a magic wand and my 'natural talent' will show itself! In fact, one could say that patience and hard work are the two core requirements for any successful outcome because, combined, they are guaranteed to give some kind of result, even if it is not the one that was expected!

What prevents many people from writing their own books is the fear of getting started in the first place, the search for perfection in their actions, the lack of belief in themselves, the unwillingness to devote the hard work required and the patience to see it come to life. They get disheartened easily if things don't go as they imagine it, or they give up too quickly, which often prevents real success from materialising. I have been writing for over 25 years now. Looking back on my earlier articles I can see that I was definitely a good writer, but it is equally clear that I have improved vastly over that time. Having a definite purpose of being an excellent writer who appeals to the general public, and the willpower to see it through with lots of hard work, sometimes working all through the night when I have a creative idea, have borne much fruit since then.

If success is eluding you, which of those elements is missing in your life now? If you still haven't started that book, what is preventing you from doing so and if you have put off something your instinct has been telling you to do for ages, what is the main obstacle? Fear and achievement do not go together. Only talent, purpose, willpower, hard work and patience will deliver the success you seek in any sphere of your life. If you never ever test the water you will never know how nice it could be!

Is The Alphabet Dictating Your Success?



Our surnames or family names are often as individual as any birthmark or DNA imprint. Surnames, unlike other names, are essential hand-me-downs of the male lineage, in each case to deliberately identify, delineate and label (as distinct from everyone else), as well as to perpetuate and celebrate a particular tradition, tribe or clan. Family names spell security, consistency, a sense of ownership, level of importance and a strong sense of history. Now it seems that some also spell automatic success.

By themselves surnames do a very good job of sorting people in an unbiased way. But that was until the alphabet took over. The alphabetical use of family names is supposed to offer the ultimate in equal treatment; the fairest and most indifferent form of grouping people into manageable structured units. The twenty-six letters available offer ample room to manoeuvre. However, the alphabet has covertly assumed so much power it has become the final arbiter in our future, allowing no appeal, while it creates an elite which is subconsciously rising to the fore, resulting in the most unequal method of selection in all spheres of our lives.

Ken Adey, noted that one teacher (a Mrs Warner) felt she was being discriminated because of her gender whenever she applied for a head of department's post. But after careful research in the UK in 1986, he concluded that her lack of success owed more to her surname, the first letter of it, in fact. He had observed 89 candidates for 26 teaching posts and, though all the posts were filled, only 5 candidates were appointed from the bottom half of the alphabet!

Controlled by the Alphabet
It seemed that a simple alphabet of letters, an innocuous string of abstract characters, had taken a stranglehold on our lives so that the most important aspects of our existence were continually being dictated by it. What Ken Adey probably didn't realise then, was the endemic nature of the alphabet's negative effects. The education sector was by no means unique. So has anything changed since 21 years ago? Not much, according to the overwhelming evidence available now. The effects are still remarkable and even disturbing.

We deal with the alphabet so much, it has become an automatic process, buried deep within our subconscious. With each new selection for a person or thing, we mentally stop at A and anything after that assumes less and less importance. Thus, in any interview situation, one of the most important occasions in our lives, it seems we are often not selected on what we have to offer, but on whether we can better the first one or two rivals ahead of us, placed there purely by an arbitrary alphabetical system.

It can be of no surprise then that people with surnames in the top third of the alphabet (A-H) have got it made. First in the queue for everything, they remain right at the forefront forever. This conscious awareness of automatically being first, propels them forward subconsciously, to maintain this position at all costs, especially in their occupations.

The evidence is all around us. The most successful people in government (Bush, Blair, Brown, Carter, Clinton, Cameron?), education, business, the arts, training and the media are from a privileged elite who claim first access to everything by virtue of that magical letter which begins their surname. In fact, 8 of the top 10 richest people in the world, in 2011, have names in the top half of the alphabet! Despite the overall popularity of the letters R, S and T, they seem to pale into insignificance behind A, B or C. Yet the only noticeable difference is the gap of 18-20 letters which separate them; a gap which precipitates a mental readjustment that appears to create 18-20 more negative aspects for those unfortunates lower down the order.

Are you a TEACHER?
The main reason you might not be happy in your job



There are three key elements in any form of SUCCESS: recognition of your talent and contribution, respect for it and finally the reward to go with it. Reward matters greatly because we need something to reflect our presence, to indicate where we are on the cycle of personal development and to reinforce our worth. Hence the need for public acclaim through print, radio or television and the proliferation of so many blogs. Everyone wants to be heard. The competitive nature of society confirms and promotes this need to be somebody, especially in entertainment, business and sports.

To be rewarded for something we have done is the icing on the cake. Reward does not have to be in financial terms. In fact, praise from a parent or friend, any promotion, a 'thank you' letter from a patient showing signs of recovery, from a student completing an exam satisfactorily or the act of being recommended to someone else, are all forms of reward. This illustrates why unemployed people, especially those made redundant, are temporarily disorientated and demoralised.

Being unsure about their position in life in relation to others, and without a work 'handle', they readily believe their skills are worthless. They also lose out on vital recognition, even though the respect for past achievements may still be there, but there is often little reward forthcoming from any source. At such times, many people fail to remember that a temporary loss of status through unemployment does not mean a permanent loss of talent or competence. Instead, it should be a time of review, retraining and redirection in order to claim a sufficient share of the essential elements of success.

Being famous or wealthy are extremes of success as not everyone can be well known or filthy rich. Yet many people mistakenly define success purely in terms of money. If you are still unhappy after making your millions, you are not really successful. Despite the fact that some people earn a salary and drive an expensive company car (rewards), some are still unhappy in their jobs. Such unfulfilled people lack the other essential elements (continuous recognition and genuine respect) for the part they play in the overall success, reputation and smooth running of the organisation.

Teachers tend to be particularly bad in this area. They have few rewards (either through salary or promotion) unless they are very senior; they get little recognition (unless the school has a good 'reputation') and the fruits of their actions are not immediately apparent until the results of exams are known. With the continuing debate on underachievement and indiscipline with certain sectors of society, teachers are always in the spotlight, ready scapegoats for failed education policies and deviant student behaviour.

Why a Permanent Job is Bad for You



You're young, keen and 21. You may have just left training college or university. You feel you could rule the world and you have the answers to all the unasked questions. On top of that, you have an interview coming up soon, a permanent job on the horizon offering good pay, good perks and pretty good prospects. All that money and security, what more could anyone want as a starter?

It is 15, maybe 20 years later and, yes, you did get that wonderful job which you had to accept, along with everything else that you found went with it: the perks, the pitfalls and the pension. You may be one of the lucky few who made it to the top and are reviewing your achievement and options from a great height, and with few regrets. Fantastic. More likely, you are staring at a blank wall in front of you, doodling vacantly on an equally blank page, bored stiff with the type of work you're doing which has long passed its done-by date, ruefully reminiscing on where it all went wrong.

What have you achieved, during that time, you wonder? Nothing much, is the plaintive cry. Wistfully, you dream of missed opportunities long since gone; of things you might have done with your life, could have done and definitely won't get done before you retire. At least you still have your dreams and your pension.

If only you had done this, or that, life would be so much better. But words are cheap and easy; just about the only things that are, these days, while actions are much harder. And time is flying by, much too fast for you to notice. As you already know, it's a very costly job you've got, not least for your ambitions and sense of achievement. However, there is one crumb of comfort left: you are not unique.

Foiled Ambitions
Millions of people are trapped in a continuous loop of foiled ambitions, crumpled hopes and fading dreams. Everywhere disillusioned staff cling precariously to delusions of enjoyment with fixed haunted smiles stuck fast to their faces, the consequence of hastily exchanging valuable talent for what looked like the key to eternal happiness - a permanent job where they never have to worry - and repenting at leisure ever since.

A job for life may offer security, good conditions, a pension and career development, to some extent, but you could pay a hefty price for it in the form of a loss of personal creativity and development, freedom of thought, individual choice and personal initiative. Any job which lasts longer than 7 years without diverging or changing is bad for both employer and worker. That is why some of the unhappiest workers are in permanents jobs, especially in the public services. Fear of unemployment and not being able to pay the relentless bills keep them stuck in a groove of demotivation which robs them of their sense of worth and their confidence. It can even make them physically ill - as shown by the high absentee rate for many organisations. This is not so surprising when one considers the deleterious effects of a lack of change and challenge.

Human beings need to be creative and to constantly strive for excellence if they are to attain personal fulfilment. That's how we grow and extend ourselves. Yet true creativity and job satisfaction are inversely related to any permanent post. The longer we are in situ, the less creative we are, the more we hang on to the traditional 'tried and tested' ways of doing things and the more dissatisfied and inward looking we become. The opportunities for personal growth gradually decrease as we learn the job and stay put, no longer intellectually or creatively challenged, but deathly afraid to do anything else in case we are found wanting. In fact the longer we are in any post the less worthy we believe we are of getting another job, which is rather strange considering our increased knowledge and experience.

New Initiatives and Enthusiasm
On the other side, employers need to take advantage of new innovations and ideas to compete within their markets. Continuous success depends upon monitoring rivals and recruiting new blood who will bring in fresh ideas, enthusiasm, new initiatives and vitality. Having the same employees forever might engender stability, loyalty, full commitment and experience but, more than likely, it also encourages stagnation, fear of change, 'yes' workers, fear of 'rocking the boat', and a lack of personal risk-taking to protect the mortgage payments.

Old unchanging habits also lead to entrenched stereotypes, an unhealthy emphasis on tradition for its own sake (in place of what is right and just), narrow self-reflection, reaction instead of proaction and a reluctance to allow for other points of view. Invariably, it is always difficult for an employee to give of his/her best if there is no regular incentive. Everything attached to a permanent job, apart from bonuses, is already decided. Only an intrinsic sense of pride in the work brings its own rewards. For many people, that soon proves inadequate, though none of this happens overnight. It is a stealthy process which creeps up on us long before we are even aware of it.

ONLINE: Which Is Better:
Triond, Helium, Newsvine or Associated Content?



All four sites have their own advantages and disadvantages, but let's look at each of them in turn.

Associated Content is a very good site, it seems to attract a lot of people and the actual visual impact is appealing. However, I dislike it at present because it operates an unequal policy with its writers. All articles from American writers are bought for a decent rate each. However, all international writers are exploited by simply getting paid per thousand views because of some spurious and unexplained reason as to why their articles can't be bought. It means this dual, exploitative policy might benefit and reward the efforts of American writers but it does little to truly recognise and respect the efforts of international ones. That is not a good message to be giving your writers. If Helium and Newsvine can pay all writers equally, AC can do the same. So though I have a few articles on there, I have stopped adding any more to them until they change the policy.

Triond is better in that it pays a decent rate per number of viewers and is very professional. But I think it's unrealistic demand for original articles only, when it is not paying exclusive rates, is robbing it of articles it might get from writers. That is a pity because I like it very much, but would not be particularly keen to give it my articles first when there are better payments for original articles elsewhere.

Newsvine is my BEST site because it is the only one with a real feel of community to it. Perhaps because there are comments attached to each article, one gets to know the people visiting one's column to develop a rapport. It puts emphasis on voting articles upwards though that can be open to abuse. One's groups can easily vote up an article whether it deserves it or not. I also believe that not enough variety is exposed on Newsvine so one tends to get more of the same articles daily and politics seem to guarantee front page coverage. For me the comments actually make the site, and as comments show interest and generate traffic they should be given greater weight. The worst aspect is the money. One has to work so hard for very little each month, so it is not for anyone trying to make a quick buck! However, the interaction with others make up for that aspect greatly. One of the best sites on the Internet in a class of its own.

Helium looks, on the face of it, like a very good website for writers. I joined it in 2007 when it was just coming into being and struggling to make its name. I remember earning 2 cents in all of February and thought: Right, if I cannot get payment until I reach $25 dollars, 2010 here I come for my first payment! I was rather cynical about progress. But by March it was $1.87 and May saw it reach $10 for the month. It seems that the potential for a serious writer is very good, especially when one can sell one's articles to countless ezines and enter weekly contests to boost one's earnings. A good writer can earn thousands of dollars in a year.

The site has improved dramatically since its inception and its star system for boosting good writing is certainly a great idea which adds to the motivation. I am not sure about its rating system, as that can be open to bias and, with not enough people rating pieces, an article can hang around at the same position for ages. More important, if you are a prolific writer, BEWARE. You will find that you cannot remove your articles from Helium once you write them on there. This means simply that, if you fall out with the administrators and are blocked for any reason, they continue to earn from your articles in perpetuity without you getting a cent! That is a pretty exploitative and dishonest way to treat writers.

My favourite writers' website is Newsvine fr a variety of reasons. But with hundreds of thousands of writers on it, one has to be very good to get any exposure. payment is also low but steady. Nevertheless, all four writers' websites have certainly improved the presence of writers on the Internet. They have spread my name and reputation far wider than I could have imagined, and have raised the enjoyment and motivation levels rather high. That's the least one expect from a good writing site.

Why Successful People Sometimes Fail



My friend sent me this little story by email and I thought I had to share it with you, because it really shows, perfectly, why many people who should be extremely successful only achieve part of their dreams or none at all.....

A learned scientist, after a lot of practice and effort, developed a formula of reproducing himself. He did it so perfectly that it was impossible to tell the reproduction from the original.

One day while doing his research, he realized that Death was searching for him. In order to remain immortal he reproduced a dozen copies of himself. The reproduction was so meticulous that no one could tell the difference between him and them. When Death came down, he was at a loss to know which of the thirteen people before him was the original scientist, and, confused, he left them all alone and returned to his domain.

But, not for long though. Being an expert in human nature, Death came up with a clever idea. Addressing all thirteen scientists, he said, "Sir, you must be a genius to have succeeded in making such perfect reproductions of yourself. However, I have discovered a flaw in your work, just one tiny little flaw."

The scientist immediately jumped out and shouted, "Impossible! There can be no flaw. Where is the flaw?"

"Right here," said Death, as he picked up the scientist from among the reproductions and carried him off.

The scientist lost his experiments and his life because he could not control his ego and his pride.

We tend to allow ourselves to be ruled by our ego and puffed up pride in the bid to make everything perfect. The moral of this little tale is to let that EGO go. Don't hang on to it to the detriment of the more important things in your life. Stop the search for perfection today. Be satisfied with gradual excellence, rather than trying to erase every perceived flaw in a futile way. It is not possible. It merely robs you of resources, time, and greater achievements.

Worst still, it leaves you always feeling inadequate.