[OUTLOOK]Optimism makes us victors“Do not blame poverty. I survived by eating field rats. Do not blame the size of your country. I had one-hundredth the number of soldiers as my enemies but I conquered the world. Do not blame your lack of education. I did not know how to write my own name, but I learned to become wise by listening to others. Do not say that you should give up because there is no hope. I escaped with a yoke around my neck and survived an arrow shot through my cheek.” This is an excerpt from the book “CEO Genghis Khan” by Kim Jong-rae.
The new year has dawned, but the world is still a difficult place to live. Sometimes, one feels overwhelmed by all the troubles. However, who can say that they are going through a bigger crisis and suffering more than Genghis Khan had? Should we tell ourselves that we should give up or become dejected by our troubles when we have heard these words by Genghis Khan? Should we not strive to become the Genghis Khans of today?
Konosuke Matsushita, a prominent Japanese industrialist and the founder of Matsushita Electric Co., Ltd. who was called the “god of management,” was born in a poor family. However, he did not blame his poverty. On the contrary, he was able to become rich because he had learned to save and spend money wisely.
He did not receive much formal education, having quit school in the fourth grade. However, he did not blame his lack of education. On the contrary, he was passionate about learning all his life, and in his later years established the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management which became a model educational institute for training Japanese leaders. Mr. Matsushita was frail, but he did not blame his poor health. On the contrary, he knew the importance of health better than anyone and by leading a prudent lifestyle, lived to be 95.
No matter how difficult it is, only those who think positively about today can become a winner tomorrow. No matter how hard it may be, only those who think positively about today can live well. Positive thinking and optimism are the real secrets to success.
Lance Armstrong found out he had testicular cancer at the age of 25. However, he miraculously overcame the disease and went on to win the Tour de France six times.
While cycling all over France for three weeks, he showed exceptional strength in climbing the mountainous terrain. Mr. Armstrong kept pushing his pedals even when his heart felt like bursting and crossed the Pyrenees and pedaled along the Alps.
This is a man who would have raced even if there were only a single ray of hope. Mr. Armstrong attributed this tenacity to his mother’s teaching that one should always turn negative things around him into opportunities for positive things.
Negative thinking leads to negative thinking, and positive thinking leads to positive thinking. Pessimism brings pessimism, and optimism brings optimism.
I paid a visit to my parents’ graves at the beginning of the new year. Although it might not be polite in Korean society to mention the name of my father, who died some 30 years ago before he reached 60, it was Jung Gwan-chan.
My father would always say in his thick Pyeongan province accent, “Whatever hardship we may meet, everything will be all right. Isn’t my name Gwan-chan? As my name indicates, we’ll be okay no matter what. Even a fire could not harm us because we have a ‘banghwaseon’ here.” “Banghwaseon” is the Korean word for a fire-break, but it was also my mother’s name.
Even in that simple interpretation of his name, my father instilled in me a sense of positive thinking. And he left me optimism as my inheritance. This is what makes me go on. I live on the deep-rooted positive thinking and optimism that was expressed in my father’s name.
The world is a difficult place, and it is showing no signs of getting better. But we should not give up. We should never, never, ever give up. The forces that will pull us through these difficult times are positive thinking and optimism about one’s own life. Such positive thinking and optimism were why Konosuke Matsushita never gave up. Lance Armstrong also did not give up. Genghis Khan also did not give up. We should also not give up.
Let’s become Matsushitas and Armstrongs in this new year. Let’s become Genghis Khans in our positive thinking and optimism about our lives.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong