I haven’t done a book review in a while (since How Life Works by Andrew Matthews), so today I’m going to talk about another book that was massively inspiring for me recently: Natural Born Winners, by Robin Sieger.
Learn how to achieve happiness and gain personal fulfilment. We’re all Natural Born Winners – but although we have automatic levels of self-confidence and belief as children, these can often be lost as we grow up. Robin Sieger was inspired to create the Natural Born Winners programme following his experience of cancer at just thirty years of age. The lessons and strategies he learnt are distilled here to show you how to rediscover that confidence and build your own happiness and success, through seven basic principles.Natural Born Winners, available on Amazon
You might think that this book sounds like a gimmicky self-help book that is easily forgotten once finished. And quite frankly, that was my first impression too. But then it was recommended to me by someone who read it immediately after the first edition came out, then once again with the new edition. It was (and I quote) “something you need to read right now”. So I did.
You Only Fail When You Quit
I read this book at a time where I was doubting my business plan, my purpose and generally finding it difficult to work on anything related to The Part-Time Artist. I wasn’t sure where I was going and I just couldn’t find any energy to do the things that needed to be done.
I’m not ashamed to say that I thought about quitting at that time. I felt burned out. While I had some success with the podcast and the blog, I had a much harder time to make money. I wondered if I had made a mistake, and that maybe I should just go back to a full-time job.
I think that these kinds of thoughts are very common for entrepreneurs or really anyone who attempts a big project. The sense of failure when you don’t get immediate results is overwhelming, and it is only made worse when people ask you constantly how the business or the project is going. When you make a big gamble on something (like for example when I quit my job at the beginning of the year), you have a lot of pressure to make it work. And when it doesn’t do it immediately, you start doubting yourself.
This book helped me see the big picture again, and reassess my definition of success and failure. Of course, the purpose of a business is to make money, but I have to also take in account my other purposes, the reasons why I started The Part-Time Artist in the first place. If you have read my book, you know I insist on writing your “why” somewhere, why you do your art, why you should continue even when it’s hard. Ironically, I had lost the sight of my “why”.
The Secret of Winners
One of the most important lessons in the book talks about the seven elements that you need to ensure success:
- A clear idea of where you are going
- A plan to get your there
- Unshakeable belief that you’ll succeed
- A purpose for your actions
- Allowing yourself to fail without fear
- An unwavering commitment
- Don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments
I’m going to spend a little bit of time on each of these.
Clear Goals Make Winners
This book helped tremendously in one area in particular: redefining my goals. Or more exactly making sure that they are crystal clear in my head. Somehow, goals and objectives get muddled if you don’t pay attention. The idea is that you have to define exactly what success means for you, otherwise it is impossible to achieve.
And it’s more difficult than it seems. Often we don’t allow ourselves to say exactly what we want out of life. We don’t dare to dream big, because we are scared to be disappointed. And I get it! Disappointment hurts, and I often feel more fear than hope about the future. Which is why a particular sentence of the book struck me:
If you go through life vaguely hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, the worst is what you’ll get.
The book also talk about visualisation, which is extremely interesting to me because I’ve heard so many stories of successful people who visualised their success years before it actually happened. I have started to add visualisation exercises when I meditate, but it is a bit tricky to do without feeling a little silly. Hopefully it’s one of these things that gets easier the more you practice.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning is something that I already do quite a lot with my writing and my business, but this part was very interesting nonetheless, especially when it came to what to do if steps of the plan failed.
The idea is to make sure that your plans are flexible, and to have contingency plans for every step of the way. And to ask for help and guidance, especially from people who have been there before. Winners are not afraid to ask for assistance. This is very enlightening because I’m the kind of person who will try to do everything on my own, thinking that asking for help is a sign of weakness. While in reality, it is a way to make sure your plans are viable and they can work.
Anyone who knows me well knows that confidence is something that I often lack when it comes to things that matter. I am an extrovert who can speak to anyone and any time, but when it comes to talk about my projects and my hopes, I close up very quickly because I don’t feel confident about them. It is something that I’m working on.
And it is precisely the point of this chapter of the book: confidence doesn’t have to be something you are born with. In fact, you should make a real commitment to develop your confidence, because it is one of the most important factors that will lead you to success.
If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re usually right.
The whole chapter details how to overcome negative self-beliefs, how to become your own coach and how to develop faith in yourself, little by little.
Purpose is the thing that will keep on burning, that will help you maintain a commitment to your goals. But it’s not so easy to determine the purpose of what we do and what we want to do. This chapter is quite dense because in a few pages, it talks about passion, regrets, meaning and significance. But perhaps it is the most important chapter of all, because if you do this work, you’ll nourish the engine that will keep you going long after motivation has faded.
Great minds have purpose, others have wishes.
No Fear of Failure
We all have different experiences with failure, and some can be really hard to recover from. This book offers a different point of view when it comes to failure, which can be summarised in three steps:
- Acknowledge it
- Learn from it
- Try again
The idea is to stop feeling defeated by a failure, to stop identify with your past defeats, and change your perception of yourself, from loser to winner. From this chapter, the one lesson I really remember is that there is always another way of doing something. Your plan didn’t work? Let’s try another way. Let’s ask for help. Let’s change direction and approach it differently.
Commitment is continuing to do the thing you determined to do long after your enthusiasm has died. The book postulates that most people who fail didn’t care about their goals enough to stay committed – they gave up. And that winners are simply people who don’t quit. While I’m not sure that it applies to all situations, I have myself a long history of giving up. I gave up things that I thought I really wanted, but took too long to materialise. I gave up on relationships because I wasn’t really committed to make them work. I gave up on some dreams because they required too much work on my part, and I didn’t want them bad enough.
The thing is, every time you give up, you reinforce a stronger emotional memory of failure. It gets to a point that when we give up, we not only feel relieved, we justify the actions and don’t feel bad about it at all. We validate the “loser” image of ourselves, and it is gets more and more difficult to not give up. I completely identify with this.
Fortunately, commitment is not a skill, it’s not something you need to painstakingly learn: it’s an attitude. That means that you can see your past behaviours, the times you gave up, and accept that they were part of you then but not anymore. And every day you can renew your commitment to the thing you said you would do, consistently.
I really liked this part of the book, because I think it’s an element that I sometimes lack in my day-to-day work: celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. It might sound silly, but it is actually a valid psychological self-conditioning process.
You need to reinforce a “winner” image of yourself, especially if you lack confidence. Every victory, even little ones, should be celebrated. You basically have to become your own cheerleader. This is something you need to do even if you feel stupid doing it. And you can choose your own way of celebrating, whether it be eating a nice meal, resting for an evening, or going on holiday. Remember that each time you will celebrate, you will reinforce your self-confidence and move forward on the path to success.
There is much more to the book than what I can fit in a blog post. I really enjoyed reading this book, even though it made me question myself many times. It is not a book that you can read in one sitting, I think. I had to stop many times to make notes and reflect on my current situation. It unblocked me and helped me become a better planner and become more confident about my project. I really recommend it if you feel overwhelmed and directionless. I think the goal chapter is definitely the most useful of them all.
As usual, if you have read the book and would like to share your opinion, do it in the comments! And if there are self-help books that you love and would like me to read and review, let me know too!
The Blog in 2020
Before I leave you, just a few words about my plans for this blog in the New Year. The next couple of weeks, I won’t update the blog as I’ll be busy with Christmas/New Year. But from the 7th January, I’ll go back to my usual update rhythm of one article per week. I have a few post written already, and I have also received a super interesting article from a guest blogger.
So, bring it on, 2020! And in the meantime, Happy Holidays to you all!
Céline is an author and podcaster passionate about helping fellow artists reach their potential and live a happy, balanced life.