A Path to Excellence
Tony Jeton Selimi
Balboa Press, A Division of Hay House, 2022
Link to Buy Book:
An uplifting, award-winning self-help book that shares the secret to growing beyond your perceived limitations and harmonizing mind-heart intelligence to achieve the highest levels of confidence, growth, resilience, success, and fulfillment and transform your life.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Tony J. Selimi, born in the town of Gostivar, Republic of Northern Macedonia, went from being critically ill, bullied, surviving a civil war, and living homeless on the streets of London to graduating from one of the top engineering universities in the UK. Ever since, he has been climbing the corporate ladder and becoming an internationally recognized TEDx speaker, Multi-Award-Winning author of several books, filmmaker, executive producer and one of the world’s leading authorities on human behaviour, the psychology of health, excellence, empowered and purposeful living, leading and loving.
It Takes Guts to Climb Greater Heights
Life is nothing short of a culmination of challenges. You have been faced with challenges from the moment you were born. Even as a baby, you overcame challenges by learning how to talk, crawl, and walk. One might think that challenges are simply something only humans face, but the truth is far from it. For the gazelles in the Serengeti, their challenge is learning how to walk within minutes of being born and acquiring enough nutrients such as vitamins and carbohydrates from plant-based diets. Challenges are a natural part of life for every living creature on our planet.
Most of us are fortunate enough not to worry about survival. We are born with a roof over our heads, food to eat, access to clean water, clothes, education, and so on. Yet, there are still a considerable number of humans who lack even these basic necessities. Before discussing the concept of challenges and how to face them, remember that the definition of a challenge varies from person to person. For some people, learning how to drive might be a challenge. For others, it’s routine. However, this does not take away from the fact that it is a challenge in itself for them.
Without even realizing it, we are faced with challenges every day: a test in school, an important work project, resolving disputes between friends or family—the list is endless. However, most of us prefer to avoid these challenges; we study for the test later, reassign the project, or ignore the dispute until things fizzle out. We are all guilty of this. Accepting where we falter is the first step to understanding the importance of challenges.
It goes without saying that we are the masters of avoidance. To truly appreciate life for what it is, we need to face reality head-on—along with the challenges that follow. Once we are guided with a fundamental principle of personal excellence, we delve deeper into combatting life’s many challenges. Buddhist teachings emphasize “wanting what you have.” Learning to accept the challenges that you encounter is a crucial step of self-betterment and excellence. When we submit ourselves to the very reality of who we are, we allow ourselves ample opportunity to achieve what we can do.
All of this is a time-consuming process. It took me decades of changing cycles and facing adversities to reach where I am today. Had I not faced my challenges and succumbed to self-pity, I would still be homeless on the streets of London—or I would have been killed during the civil with my body buried somewhere.
There are no shortcuts to this; slow, incremental steps are the approach you need to take. One crucial thing is to practice gratitude. Even if your most significant challenge is being able to pay the bills on time, find ways to be grateful. There are millions of people who would love to be in your place. Practicing gratitude humbles you and provides you with a holistic view of people as a whole. By identifying your privilege, you can help those in need.
Accepting and taking on challenges is a daunting task, but to overcome any challenge, you have to face it head-on. You might fail a dozen times before you succeed. You can even learn from a baby! Do babies quit walking after falling once? No! A baby will fall dozens of times every day while it is learning to walk. For the baby, learning to walk is an unsurmountable challenge that needs to be addressed. The motivation behind their thinking is simple—they want to overcome their challenge and will not take no for an answer. Learn from babies! Be persistent, resilient, and willing! After all, life is nothing more than a series of learning encounters. Don’t let anything undermine your ability to unlock your greatest potential and fulfill your ever-growing vision in life.
Before you continue reading, take a moment to write down the answer to the following questions:
- What does personal excellence mean to you?
- In what critical area of life do you want to achieve personal excellence? Is it spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, family, social, financial, or business or career? Be very specific.
- What specific challenges, difficulties, and fears do you need to overcome to climb to greater heights?
- What positive differences would overcoming those challenges, difficulties, and fears make in your personal, professional, social, financial, and business life?
- What is one new thing that could bring you a step closer to personal excellence?
Why Do People Give Up?
If people had retained their ingrained adaptability and resilience, I wouldn’t have had to write this book! We all get bogged down by life and lose enthusiasm, faith, and sight; we’ve all been there. Often, we are merely procrastinating. Don’t be quick to assume that this is simply due to laziness. Constant procrastination usually indicates not living by your hierarchy of authentic values. Some cases may be due to a more severe underlying mental health concern, such as anxiety and depression.
Another motivator for procrastination is wasting time on social media! I don’t mean to demonize it in its entirety. In fact, I think it’s a wonderful tool. However, it is wise to understand how they’re not made to break this social media addiction that makes you mindlessly scroll through several apps for hours. Their very nature is to be addictive. The algorithm is designed to show you whatever interests you the most to keep you hooked. As long as you know that the scrolling is bottomless and that you will literally never run out of content, it can wait!
Do not confuse procrastination with taking a break from something you are doing that aligns with your authentic, values-driven excellence goals. The first is endless; the latter is mandatory! The significant difference between the two is that you know where your break starts and ends; there is a clear, defined definition. After helping thousands of people break free from procrastination, I observed that it shows up in sporadic, random ways and can last for hours if unchecked. It is vital to remember that procrastination is the result of not living in alignment with your authentic values and not seeing the hidden drawbacks and benefits of taking action. Whatever challenge you face, taking a break will often help clear your head and allow you to contemplate the situation from a fresh perspective.
Another barricade, when it comes to facing challenges, is people’s perceptions. We fear failure and the judgment that comes with it. No matter how many failures I met, I’ve always thought of failure as a blessing in disguise. It continuously taught me how to evolve from my mistakes and expand my limits. If we fail to overcome challenges, we feel like failures. Individuals who go through infinite cycles of destruction and construction can fail a dozen challenges in life and still end up as the epitome of excellence.
A shining example of this is Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms. He proudly states that he’s been rejected from more than thirty jobs he applied for after failing out of university—even KFC didn’t hire him! TO this day, he proudly wears his rejections and failures, highlighting just how glad he was that he failed but never gave up. From being unable to find any job to having a net worth of more than $36 billion, Jack Ma is an example of living life according to a set of personal excellence principles. You can use your failures for your betterment.
Judgments, if used wisely, can be very beneficial to you. Why? Because they can awaken your awareness to listen to yourself, sincerely. Frequently examine your daily priorities to make sure they align with your inner crucifix for personal excellence. Take failure as a stepping-stone to greatness and achieve excellence in your chosen area of life.
Another concern usually associated with failure is self-doubt. The first course of action is to accept it by acknowledging the role it plays in your ever-evolving life. There is no point thinking about what could have been. Instead, focus on your next course of action, “So this led to a dead-end, maybe I need to try a different approach.” Improvise, adapt, overcome.
An Exercise for You
Please take a moment to write down everything that makes you give up, and next to each item, write down the reasons why you think it is so. Once you clarify what makes you give up, write down how this is a drawback and why it benefits you.
The Kinds of Experiences You Attract Depend on You
There is so much information about the universal laws that govern life: the law of vibration, compensation (fair exchange), polarity, correspondence, cause and effect, rhythm, relativity, gender, perpetual transmutation, karma, attraction, and divine oneness. Every adversity I overcame made me even more curious to learn why billions of people keep attracting what they don’t want despite all of the knowledge of the above laws shared by some extraordinary teachers throughout history.
I spent years mastering the personal excellence principles you will be learning more about throughout the book to demystify our relationships with many of the laws that govern life. I did that because I never trusted my abilities, talents, looks, or luck, and I had no family, friends, or valuable industry connections when I first arrived in London to turn to for help. I studied what successful people did and tried to mimic that. I also researched what unsuccessful people did and avoided that.
While many things seem to differentiate those who are successful from those who aren’t, I’ve noticed a clear difference that stands out the most: successful people are in flow with these universal laws. I had to ensure that my study and research included these laws and how they would increase my chances of making them work for me as it did for the successful people I studied. What I was learning was awakening me to embrace my quest to climb to greater heights, and it increased my faith in achieving what I desired. This discovery inspired me to create and embed the wisdom of these universal principles into the Octagon of Excellence Method that you will learn about in more detail in the following chapters. What could you achieve if you had a blueprint to unlock your potential? What if you had an easy-to-use method to break through perceived limits and achieve personal excellence in the areas of life that matter to you the most?
As you journey through life, it is important to remember how you make people feel with your deeds. It goes without saying just how far a good deed can take you. A good deed always rewards you in unimaginable ways, from helping someone with a flat tire or paying for someone’s meal at the drive-through. By actively enveloping yourself in conscious thinking, gratitude, and random acts of kindness, you project this vibration out into the universe. In return, the universe aligns you with like-minded individuals who vibrate on a similar frequency. They often share the same sentiments as you. Good deeds harm no one and benefit everyone. On the other hand, bad deeds create karmic chains that tie you to negativity. The universe aligns you with individuals who vibrate with similar energy.
Have you ever been stuck in a rut, and despite overcoming whatever challenges you were presented with, you still failed to find inner satisfaction? For moments like these and everything else, make sure you know the principles of personal excellence that you want to lead your life by and make sure your actions, intentions, and authentic values are clear. The moment you make the intention to do something in alignment with your values and vision of excellence—to overcome challenges—cosmic energies put you on the path toward it. If, for example, you are expecting a promotion at work, it is wise to think, I am grateful I got this promotion. I worked very hard for this! That is better than thinking, I hope I get this promotion! I don’t want Emma to be my boss! By speaking in the present tense and practicing a mindful way of thinking, we can vibrate in the energy of our desired outcomes.
Similarly, instead of harboring envy and resentments for those who have surpassed you, it is better to use them as inspiration, especially if you started together. I’m grateful to Simon for getting this promotion instead of me. I’m sure he worked much harder than I did. I am grateful to have more time to learn and to set a higher benchmark for professional excellence! That is better than thinking, I can’t believe Simon got a promotion rather than me! I deserved it! It doesn’t matter if he is better than me or if he put in extra hours. I want it! See what I mean?
Admirable intentions help cultivate excellent karma, and they also help shape your perceptions for the better, ultimately making you a better person who can handle challenges without grievances about the outcome.
How to Handle Challenges and Make Difficult Decisions
Just like Aristotle, through countless cycles of change and overcoming adversity after adversity, I concluded that excellence is not an act. It is a product of a habit of overcoming challenge after challenge. The more you evolve and grow as a person, the more complex, demanding, and stressful the challenges you will be facing will become. Ultimately, if you do not stay on top of them, they’ll make you doubt your abilities and lose sight of your goals.
We are faced with innumerable challenges every day, but we overcome them with ease and without a second thought. Driving to work or the grocery store may seem mundane, but when you were learning to drive, it was a challenge. Every novice driver has insecurities and uneasiness when they drive; they are working on overcoming their challenges. Do you consider driving a challenge anymore? Congratulations! This is just one of the many daily challenges you have overcome without even realizing it! It is another step toward excellence!
You may falter many times while achieving your goals. There are going to be many bumps or potholes that you’re going to encounter along this journey. Is it going to be easy? Unlikely. Is overcoming it going to be satisfying? Most definitely! You are not alone when you face your challenges. Humanity has been facing challenges that come from infinite cycles of creation and destruction since the advent of humans themselves! Our hunter-gatherer forefathers had to trek for hundreds of miles in search of food and water. Had they been unsuccessful in doing so, I wouldn’t be writing this book—and you wouldn’t be reading it!