Past mistakes have taught me many lessons. The most essential has been to make me realize the crucial value of ideas. You will find many obstacles on your way to a better life, but wrong ideas often constitute the largest hurdle to be overcome. Ignorance can keep you down for a while, but having wrong ideas can literally destroy your life.
Philosophical convictions play such a determinant role because they focus your mind on a goal and allow you to advance relentlessly in that direction. On the other hand, having wrong values is equivalent to putting blinders on your eyes. If you have a mistaken philosophy, you won't be able to perceive opportunities.
You cannot move forward until you stop leaning backwards. You cannot take effective action until you stop chasing counter-productive targets. The following two poisonous ideas build enormous obstacles to success.
1. FEELING ASHAMED. You can make yourself ashamed of being too quick or too slow, too small or too fat, too ignorant or too old, or for who knows what. Whether your particular reason is one or the other, it doesn't matter. You should not allow any of them to discourage you from moving forward.
If people criticize you, listen carefully, see if they have a point, try to improve whatever it is, assuming that it is something under your control, and move on.
Whatever you do and no matter how well you do it, lots of people will dislike you. Learn from their remarks if those make sense, shrug your shoulders at the rest, and continue to advance on your chosen path.
2. BELIEVING THAT YOU HAVE NO CHANCE IN LIFE. There will always exist people who possess everything you want and who got it without much effort. I am not denying that some owe their success to inheritance, luck, or family connections.
Does that mean that you should be paralysed by envy? Is that a sign telling you to give up your hopes of success? Not at all. For your personal achievement, other people's good luck is irrelevant in the long term.
Imagine, for instance, that a competitor has great political connections and that you have none. If such connections are required to succeed in a certain field, you'd do better to acknowledge that reality.
It doesn't mean that you have no chance in life. Take it instead as a message for you to move on and get down to work in an field where you have better prospects.
Crying about the unfairness of the world is mostly a waste of time. By all means, if you have decided to devote your life to promote justice, nothing speaks against your concentrating your energies on improving society.
Nevertheless, do not delude yourself that you need to change the whole world before you become successful in your own life. My guess is that, on your road to achievement, your largest obstacles will be wrong ideas. Throw them away today.
[Image by ahisgett under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]