Everybody wants to be a somebody.
From the youngest kid to the oldest adult, everybody wants to be a somebody. Everybody wants to be affirmed, loved, respected, and well thought of. And everybody wants to feel important and be important.
No problem. That’s good and healthy. But how do you get to feel like a somebody? And how can you help somebody else feel like a somebody?
The classic author James Addison wrote about that. He said there are “three grand essentials to happiness in this life.” They are “something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” When those three things are in good shape, your life and work has meaning.
Several decades after Addison penned those words, Dr. Phil added his own take on that. He said, “The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.” True enough.
But you can’t take his comments out of context. One person joked, after he listened to Dr. Phil, that he looked around his house to see all the things he had started and hadn’t finished. So he said, “I finished off a bottle of merlot, a bottle of white zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, a bottle of Kahlua, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos and a box of chocolates. You have no idea how good I feel.”
Seriously, if you’re going to be an extraordinary achiever or an extraordinary motivator, you’ve got to be a somebody and you’ve got to help others be somebodies. You’ve got to follow Addison’s three-part advice.
=> 1. You need something to do.
And I don’t just mean busy work. We can all keep ourselves occupied with mindless, meaningless activity that doesn’t build our sense of worth.
No, you need something to do … that matters … to you and possibly others. That’s when you get the feeling of being a somebody.
Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards knows about that. She calls it “The Daffodil Principle,” a principle she learned from her daughter. Her daughter kept calling her, saying “Mother, you must come and see the daffodils before they are over.” Finally, after much hesitation, she consented, even though it meant driving two hours into the mountains. And to make matters worse, on the day they went, it was a cold, rainy day, with the road covered in fog and the mountains sheathed in clouds.
Jaroldeen tried to convince her daughter Carolyn to turn around. But Carolyn simply replied with a grin, “I know what I’m doing. I promise you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”
Eventually they turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak-filled hollow on the side of the mountain where they saw an inconspicuous, lettered sign that read “Daffodil Garden.” As they walked down the path, suddenly and unexpectedly, they were confronted with a completely splendid scene. In her words, “It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist-filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils.”
Five acres of flowers! Of course, Jaroldeen wondered who had done this work of beauty. And how, and why, and when?
“It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.
They walked up to the house, Jaroldeen’s mind buzzing with questions. On the patio she saw a poster that read, “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking.” The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman, two hands, two feet, and very little brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”
There it was. The Daffodil Principle. As Jaroldeen later commented, it was a life-changing experience … to realize that one woman, who started a project more than 35 years before, had brought her vision of beauty to the world, one bulb at a time.
As Jaroldeen later put it, “This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time – often just one baby-step at a time – learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.”
That’s true. And perhaps when you read this story, you wondered what you could have accomplished … if you had had a wonderful goal … 35 years ago … and had worked at it … “one bulb at a time” … through all those years. You would have astonished yourself at the results.
Well, even though it might sound trite, it’s never too late to start. Start today. And as you work towards your goal, as you have something worthwhile to do, you too will be a somebody.
=> 2. You need something to love.
Or some people to love. Without that, you will never be a somebody.
Those people to love should include yourself. As Sidney Greenberg points out, “It’s important to like yourself because wherever you go, you are going to take yourself along with you.”
And one great way to increase your self-esteem, self-liking, and self-confidence is to follow Dr. Sidney Simon’s practice. He teaches his students to write out the sentence, “I respect myself for…” And then he has them list 50 good qualities for which they can and should respect themselves.
Of course, the flip side of self-love is not conceit, pride, or arrogance. The flip side is loving others. As noted psychiatrist Erich Fromm wrote, “Love of others and love of ourselves are not alternatives. On the contrary, an attitude of love towards themselves will be found in those who are capable of loving others.”
Jill Weston from the Mayo Clinic learned that. She wrote me the following note. “I wanted to thank you for your ‘PIVOT’ book. I’ve gotten so much out of it — which I’ll explain. But you blew me away at the seminar when you told me, ‘Go ahead and take the book. Mail me a check. I trust you.’ Wow! I could have just taken the book and scooted out of the room and never paid you for the book. You didn’t know me from Adam. So it made me feel good to hear you say that.”
“But my application of the ‘PIVOT’ book was the best news. There was such a spirit of negativity and ungratefulness in my home that I knew I had to do something different or else die trying. I decided to start a journal with my children. Each night I asked each one of my kids to spend two minutes with me and fill out a piece of paper that had a few questions on it. I asked them to list: 1) at least one thing they were good at or liked doing, 2) one thing that they did to help someone else that day, 3) how it made them or the other person feel when they gave the help, and 4) one thing they were grateful for. I also asked them to pick a family member and jot down one strength or one good thing about that person.”
“It was amazing what happened. After a few weeks, all of us were seeing opportunities to help others that we hadn’t seen before. Helping others blessed others, brightened our day, and made us feel good. Self-esteem sky rocketed because my children were seeing and affirming the goodness in themselves and others. The contention in our home lessened, and we had more peace and happiness in our home and in our lives. Of course, my children found it hard at first to even admit that their siblings possessed any good qualities, but each one of my children has asked me to revisit the answers and tell them the good things their brothers or sisters have said about them. They loved it, even though they didn’t want to participate at first.”
The Weston family learned how to make everybody feel like a somebody. And you can do the same thing.
I recommend “The 10 Strategy.” Whenever you’re around somebody, consciously put a “10” on his/her head. After all, we rise to the expectations of those who like us the most. So if you treat the other person as a somebody, if you put a “10” on his/her head, they’ll respond like a “10.”
But the reverse is also true. If you treat somebody like a nobody, if you put a “2” on their head and treat them like a “2,” they’ll respond like a “2.”
As I often tell people in my program called “The Relationship Recipe: Rapport, Respect and Recognition,” you may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
Finally, to be a somebody…
=> 3. You need something to hope for.
Another words, you need dreams and the courage to pursue them. Nobodies become somebodies when they let hope push them forward. As Dale Carnegie noted, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
Hope is what gives life its zest. As missionary Pearl S. Buck noted many decades ago, “Life without idealism is empty indeed. We just hope or starve to death.”
The actor Christopher Reeve chose hope … after his crippling accident. He became a beacon of hope to so many others who had given up when they had similar accidents. As Reeve preached, “Once you choose hope, anything is possible.”
In your quest to become a somebody, to help others feel like somebodies, don’t forget the three things you need: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.