Today, I would like to share a personal story about self-improvement books that I hope will open some people’s eyes.
As a teenager, I read a lot of novels in both Hausa and English languages. While all that reading helped develop my command of both languages and the art of writing, it didn’t help me with other vital real-world skills required to excel.
It wasn’t until I graduated from medical school that I discovered self-help books. My bookshelves quickly became a library. Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, T Harv Eker, Earl Nightingale, etc., you name any success-related title, and I most likely read it.
Then, I discovered audiobooks. For six years in my early career, I worked away from my home city – Katsina. I spent hours on the road every single week. For me, the idea that I could be driving to work while serenaded by the soothing, encouraging words of Brian Tracy or the husky, energising voice of Tony Robbins was the best thing ever invented since sliced bread!
One day, I learned about a concept called “locus of control” from an audiobook by Brian Tracy. For the sake of those who haven’t heard of it, locus of control is a concept in psychology that explains the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives.
In other words, if you take responsibility for your success/failure, you have an INTERNAL locus of control. If you blame the government, the economy or anything else outside of yourself, you have an EXTERNAL locus of control.
Now, here is the key. Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated again and again that people who have an internal locus of control (i.e. they take responsibility) are much more likely to succeed in what they do than people with an external locus of control (i.e. they blame everything and everyone but themselves).
Learning about that helped me to take more responsibility for my successes and failures. I adopted a mantra – “if it is to be, it is up to me”.
So, why am I REALLY telling you all this?
Years after I first learned about that concept of locus of control, I attended a foreign scholarship interview by Ford Foundation New York, which ultimately brought me to the UK for the first time. One of the most crucial questions I was asked in that interview was: Do you feel like someone or your environment is holding you back in achieving your goals?
Of course, I gave the interview panel a definite “no” response. I even went on to explain how I approached success and failure with the mentality of someone with an internal locus of control. Right there, I could see in the interviewers’ faces that they liked my answer.
I’m not by any means implying that my response to that question was what clinched it for me, but it certainly helped.
Without learning about the concept of locus of control, I wouldn’t know what they were looking for in that question. I probably would have done what most people would do: complain about the inadequate electricity supply, internet access problems, etc. Or, how some imaginary witches were after me… lol 😃
Even as a medical doctor, I didn’t learn about this psychological concept in medical school. Unless you specialise in clinical psychology or psychiatry, you’ll probably never hear about it in a classroom. You almost certainly must learn it by yourself, outside of the school curriculum.
So, my dear brother or sister, I hope your eyes are now open and you see why you must be in constant growth mode. Today, good information is everywhere and mostly for free.
No matter how you define success, the critical questions are:
– What are YOU doing to enable YOU to recognise opportunities and respond appropriately?
– If you were to be successful tomorrow, how are you preparing for it today?
– What are YOU doing to deserve that success?