Manage your Environment: Go First Class

The Magic of Thinking Big – Chapter 7

“The mind is the most delicate, most sensitive instrument in all creation”. It sure is. As the author states, my mind reflects what my environment feeds it just as surely as my body reflects the food I feed it. Mind food is our environment. “The kind of mind food we consume determines our habits, attitude, personality”.

He explains this with a thought experiment – What would I be like if I was born in a different country? What kinds of food would I prefer? Would my preferences be the same? I’d be a materially different person, of course, had I grown up in a different country. Why? Because I would have been influenced by a different environment. Our environment shapes us, makes us think the way we do.

Close contact with petty individuals develop petty habits in us; companionship with ambitious people gives us ambition.

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Recondition yourself for success

The author explains, and I agree that I will change as a person over the months and years, but how will I change depends on my future environment.

In this section, the author talks about reconditioning for success. “The number one obstacle on the road to high-success is the feeling that major accomplishment is beyond reach”. As children, all of us set high goals. But what happens is, long before we reach the age when we could begin to work on our great objectives, “a multitude of suppressive influences come into work”. And it’s true. From all sides, we heard “you’re not good enough”, or “you’re impractical, naive, foolish”. And I’m saying “we” because we all did. How we react to these suppressive influences determines what kind of person we are and will be. The author classifies most people into three groups: 

First group: Those who surrendered completely. They go to great lengths to rationalize their status and explain how “happy” they are.

Second group: Those who surrendered partially. This group includes many talented, intelligent people who elect to crawl through life because they are afraid to stand up and run.

Third group: Those who never surrender. This group is the happiest, finds life stimulating, rewarding, worthwhile.

Yes, I want to be in the third group. But to get and stay in this group, I must fight off any suppressive influences of my environment. I must accept negative advice only as a challenge to prove that I can do it. As the author says,

You are judged by the company you keep. Birds of a feather do flock together. Be sure you’re in the flock that thinks right.

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Make it a rule to seek advice from people who know

The next section of this chapter is to encourage us to seek advice from people who know. The author explains that the person with a constructive off-the-job life nearly always is more successful than the person who lives in a dull, dreary home situation. He gives a few simple “do’s” to make our social environment first class:

  1. Do circulate in new groups. Become an expert in understanding people.
  2. Make new friends, join new organizations, enlarge your social orbit.
  3. Select friends who have views different from your own. Responsibility and positions of importance gravitate to the person who can see both sides.

Conversations are a big part of our psychological environment, as the author explains. Some conversations are healthy, makes us feel like a winner. Other conversations are more like walking through a swamp. It chokes us. Makes us feel ill. The author describes “Gossip is just negative conversation about people and one who begins to think he enjoys it is a victim of this thought poison.” He further goes on to say “Talk about people? Yes, but stay on the positive side.” I cannot agree more with this statement. “Chopping your neighbour’s furniture with an axe won’t make yours look one bit better; using verbal axes on another person doesn’t do one thing to make you or me a better me.”

The conclusion is – Go first class in everything you do. You cannot afford to go any other way.

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