1. Are you afraid to fail?
As described in the lesson, most of us are afraid to fail. This is often because we have learned to view failure as an indictment on who we are: When we fail, we see it as definitive proof that we're no good at something, or perhaps no good in general. But when we realize that failure is a natural learning process; that it is something we must tolerate as we advance from #1 to #4 in The Four Stages of Learning (which applies to everything we actively do), we should realize that evaluating ourselves on the basis of failure is absurd. Also, see Question #6 below.
2. Have you ever believed that some people were always good at what they do?
When we see a person who is exceptionally good at something, it's easy to assume that they've always been good at it. Such people are often described as being “gifted” or “talented.” And, unfortunately, that's how most people view them. But while it may be true that a person can possess a certain amount of natural ability or talent, it is wrong to assume that they are as good as they are solely because of talent. To be sure, raw talent can only take a person so far, beyond which, other factors come into play. The very best of the best, in whichever field, are as good as they are, not necessarily because of talent, but because they wanted to be the best, and were willing to learn how to do it. The person who has a burning desire and the willingness to learn will, almost always, outperform the person who possess great natural talent, but has a weak desire/willingness to learn. Stephen King's quote from Lesson X seems appropriate: “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work and study.” It's also worth remembering that, at one time, the best of the best were in a position where they had never done what they are now known for doing. Further reading: See Process and Product in Lesson VII.
3. How do you respond when you fail?
When things don't go as you expect (assuming, of course, you aren't expecting to fail), how do you react? Do you analyze, adjust, and try again? Or do you throw a fit and whine like a young child? There are really only two responses to failure: persist or give up.
4. Do you let other people's opinions determine what you attempt to do?
It's easy to measure your life against standards imposed on you by other people. Consider a child who has no desire to play (say) baseball, but who plays nonetheless, because his father wants him to. When we're young, we don't have much say in such situations. But when we grow up we do. Yet many adults continue to make important decisions, not on the basis of their own values, but on the basis of the values of others. Consider the attorney who went to law school because that's what her parents wanted, rather than what she wanted. In addition, “other people” have a tendency to always point out what “can't be done.” It is, in many ways, a tragedy that so many dreams are snuffed out by the arrogant and often baseless criticisms made by one's contemporaries.
5. Can you think of something good that came about as a result of something you initially thought was bad?
This question fits closely with Napoleon Hill's famous saying: “Every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the Seed of an equivalent or greater Benefit.” The key to doing this is looking for the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit. No experience is worthless, unless you let it pass without learning something from it.
6. Do you associate your self-worth with your failures or mistakes?