A wonderful book I'm currently re-reading is Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill.
The basic premise of the book is that Hill is interviewing The Devil, the feared one who prevents people from making an impact in the world around them.
If you're familiar with C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, it's similar to that.
The main cause of failure, according to The Devil, is "drifting."
What is Drifting?
It's basically wandering through life without an aim or purpose.
Allowing one's self to be at the mercy of the decisions of others.
In the book, The Devil gives a list of things which characterize a Drifter.
Keep in mind, this was written in the 1930's, so a couple of these show their age.
However, most of them are timeless. More than one of them hit me in the gut and let me know I've got some work to do as a person in order to achieve my goals.
- He will be conspicuous by his lack of self-confidence.
- He will never accomplish anything requiring thought and effort.
- He spends all he earns and more too, if he can get credit.
- He will be sick or ailing from some real or imaginary cause, and calling to high heaven if he suffers the least physical pain.
- He will have little or no imagination.
- He will lack enthusiasm and initiative to begin anything he is not forced to undertake, and he will plainly express his weakness by taking the line of least resistance whenever he can do so.
- He will be ill-tempered and lacking in control over his emotions.
- His personality will be without magnetism and it will not attract other people.
- He will have opinions on everything but accurate knowledge of nothing.
- He may be jack of all trades but good at none.
- He will neglect to cooperate with those around him, even those on whom he must depend for food and shelter.
- He will make the same mistake over and over again, never profiting by failure.
- He will be narrow-minded and intolerant on all subjects, ready to crucify those who may disagree with him.
- He will expect everything of others but be willing to give little or nothing in return.
- He may begin many things but he will complete nothing.
- He will be loud in his condemnation of his government, but he will never tell you definitely how it can be improved.
- He will never reach decisions on anything if he can avoid it, and if he is forced to decide he will reverse himself at the first opportunity.
- He will eat too much and exercise too little.
- He will take a drink of liquor if someone else will pay for it.
- He will gamble if he can do it "on the cuff."
- He will criticize others who are succeeding in their chosen calling.
- In brief, the drifter will work harder to get out of thinking than most others work in earning a good living.
- He will tell a lie rather than admit his ignorance on any subject.
- If he works for others, he will criticize them to their backs and flatter them to their face.