Abubakar Umar – Assessments

As A Man Thinketh

Assessment by Abubakar Umar (Nigeria)

The main idea in this book borders on the power of thought. The author tries to show how powerful human thought is, which is exactly the source and root of whatever circumstance of both inner and outer condition. Our life is guided by our thought as it is the actual reflection of our thought investment. The author presents the relationship and connection between thought and character, circumstance, health/body, purpose and achievement. The idea is that if we control our thoughts, we will equally have control of our life by steering it to whatever direction we desire through the instrument of thought.

i. We are only what we think we are, and by this a man can only be what he thinks of himself. If you think of yourself as a creature of success, successful you shall be.

In other way round, if you planted weak thought in you as a creature of favor and chance, then such you shall remain. As the writer put forward that; “A noble and God-like character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with God-like thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts.” This idea is important to me because it tells me; I indeed am the driver of myself as against the idea of things happenings by default. I realized that my present character is the outcome of my long investment and application of thought. And by this, I can adapt any form of character I want by steering the flow of my thoughts.

ii. Sacrifice towards success.

This reminds me of the saying that “in every achievement, there must be sacrifice.” I understood that sacrifice is one of the RULES of attaining success. As the author stated that: “He who would accomplish little need sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much. He who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.” The three examples cited by the author in the second chapter of the book of the poor man, the rich man and the employer explain the practical working machinery of this idea.

iii. Good thought must be nurtured and never allow poor thought to come in the way at any level even at the highest level of success.

This idea I grabbed from the wordings of the author saying: “A man may rise to high success in the world, even to lofty attitudes in the spiritual realm, and again descend into weakness and wretchedness by allowing arrogant, selfish, and corrupt thoughts to take possession of him. Victories attained by right thought can be maintained only by watchfulness. Many give way when success is assured, and rapidly fall back into failure.” What this reminds was my university days. At the beginning of my studies, my head was full of thought of the tasks ahead of me and the kind of effort I must make. I was rolling perfect academically only for me to be too sure of myself and recruited some poor thoughts that even without further effort I am capable of maintaining the same position. The next thing I know was for my academic perfection to drop seriously.

iv. Another important idea I learned is the art of fighting weak thought and recruiting stronger ones by conquering doubt and fear.

I quote the author saying: “As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking.” The author went further to states that: “To put away aimlessness and weakness and to begin to think with purpose is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment. Who make all conditions serve them, and who think strongly, attempt fearlessly, and accomplish masterfully.” This idea I considered as a great tool of developing strong thoughts and I found it to be a key point towards greatness among the greatest people.

It’s not just a positive thought that matters to attain positive life but purpose matters. A thought that has no purpose is as good as useless no matter how good. The author described purpose as the royal road to self-control and true concentration of thought.

vi. The sixth is being serene; that is calmness of mind which the author describes as one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.

I understand that through calmness of mind a man will be able to handle and take control of even the most difficult situations. In his wordings; “The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good.”

vii. The seventh idea is centered on vision and ideal.

It is my understanding that once we cherish our vision and ideals and equally make effort toward realizing same, we surely will achieve it. On the premise of this dreams can be made reality.

The ideas to some extent will help me in shaping my life. The ideas gave me an insight of my true self and who really I am. They perhaps introduce me to the art of imaginary architecture of life with the same rules being the basic tools of the art. The above ideas will indeed shape the disfigured beauty of the world by unleashing the genius in so many individuals.

The following statements really caught my attention and I indeed found the important:

“In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results. The strength of the effort is the measure of the result.”

This statement I appreciated to mean results are born out of efforts. The more effort we put toward achieving something the closer we get to it and indeed the more fruitful result to get. This is important to me because I will recruit same into my memorable codes of conduct and apply same in my dealings.

“Dreams are the seedlings of reality.” This statement caught my attention and is important to me because it tells me dreams are not meant to remain dreams but rather they are the projectors of reality. By this I realized how very possible it is for me to realize even the most best of my dreams into reality.

“The universe does not favor the greedy, the dishonest, the vicious, although on the mere surface it sometimes may appear to do so. It helps the honest, the magnanimous, the virtuous.”

This statement I consider as one of the rules of nature. Some natural occurrences are just by default depending on how we intend them to be. The same statement reiterates the magnitude of honesty and virtuousness.

“He who has conquered weakness and has pushed away all selfish thoughts belongs neither to oppressor nor oppressed.

He is free.”

By divorcing ourselves of all selfish thoughts and weaknesses, we have become independent and free of the negative bonds of consciousness.

“To live continually in thoughts of ill-will, cynicism, suspicion, and envy, is to be confined in a self-made prison hole.”

This statement draws my attention to the fact that ill-will, cynicism, suspicion and envy only deprives us of our own happiness. We decided our happiness or otherwise if we so wishes, but will the cause of your happiness but yourself.

The only idea with which I do not concur with the assertion of the author is in the third chapter dealing with “Effects of thoughts on Health and body.” It is my contention that although thought might of course influence and promotes the state of certain bodily condition, it is not as effective as the author makes it seems. There are perhaps certain bodily diseases that are independent of one’s thought as they are naturally promoted. Unless of course if thought influences the natural state surrounding us which I believe is in the negative. I however will take it from different angle that; sickly thoughts gave birth to sickly body but not all sickly body are born out of sickly thought. This as opposed to the position of the author making conclusive diseases as a resultant effect of sickly thought. On this I will quote him as saying; “Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought. The people who live in fear of disease are the people who get it.” I wonder how for example sickly thought might promote cough which usually is a resultant effect of change in weather.

There is no any exercise for the reader to complete in the book only a suggestive exercise under chapter two of the book where he says: “The reader can, if he so resolves, trace the action of the laws of thought in his own mind and life, and until this is done, mere external facts cannot serve as a ground of reasoning.”

No Comment.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 9.5
C. How easy was it to understand? 8.5
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9.5



Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Assessment by Abubakar Umar (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The main idea the author is trying to convey in the book centers on following ones dreams and the weight of freedom. Follow your dreams and what pleases your mind, no matter what the sky will be your limit. Equally, the only way of following such dreams is by being free and having the taste of freedom. On this we can assume freedom is the key to achieving greatness and success in life. Also there is no such thing as impossibility as every rule of impossibility can be break down and reduce to the simplest possibility by proper determination, courage and sacrifice.

The seven ideas that I found personally most important are as follows:

i. Be the architect of your own life:

The author tries to show that one can only be the architect of his own life in order to achieve a greater success. Play the tone that pleases your mind rather than dancing to a tone you are not comfortable with. This takes me back to my secondary school days when my father really wanted me to be in the sciences class. I however have no interest in science and I voluntarily went for Commercial class despite his instructions. He wasn’t happy with my decision and he always remarks especially when I brought my result home that “perhaps I want to end up as a typist in a friend’s office.” Today however, he is more than proud of me as I have become a qualified lawyer based on a journey of my choice.

ii. Community

The second idea I learned is that our community is the number one obstacle in any kind of journey of life not in conformity with the customs and ways of the people. The presumption is that there are always some communal rules breach of which may lead to your rejection from your own people. The writers’ shows that no matter how stupid you will look to your people, just feel at rest and follow your dreams. It is only a matter of time they will realize the genius imbedded in you.

iii. Strong

The number one tool toward a greater success is that you be very strong. One must be strong enough to overcome all problems, obstacles, failures and hardship. Surely, success is ahead. You only need to be patient and strong. I indeed, have come across numerous challenges in the course of my life journey which have now become history as I have remained strong.

iv. Another idea in the book is that one should not relent and tire out in his effort to show others the beauty in his quest.

No matter how blind they will turn toward your ways, keep trying and keep pushing. Sooner or later, they will realize and will surely come to you. With come one come two, you will arrive at thousands.

v. Never forget the people in your past as with them you will appreciate the present and prepare for the future.

Our past indeed were not made just to pass but for us to learn from it and make better our present and future. It’s been said make peace with your past and you will make the best out of the present.

vi. Kindness and love are the key factors to win other peoples heart.

No matter cruel you are treated by someone whose attention you needed, be kind and show love to them as they are the greatest weapons to win an enemies heart. It’s been said ‘darkness cannot be driven away with darkness, but darkness can be driven away with light’.

vii. No matter how weird or stupid and idea may seem, put it into proper execution. It will come as a surprise to you in realizing how good such an idea is.

Having read and realized the above ideas, I found them to be great tools which can be made great rules in one’s life. The above ideas will surely help me in creating a better environment around me and make life easy for me. If the same ideas can be put into practice by other people as well, it will only be a matter of short time the world will be a better place.

On how the above ideas will help create a better world, I believe the proper practice of the above ideas will bring out the good in someone. If Mr. A is good and succeed in getting the attention of Mr.B,C and D, it is only a matter of time B,C and D attract others and we will get a whole population of better people spreading to create a better world.

Yes! There are statements made by the author that got my attention and they are:

“Such promises are only for the gulls that accept the ordinary. One who has touched excellence in his learning has no need of that kind of promise.”

What I learned from the above quote is that there are some ordinary rules of life which sometimes a breach of is necessary to attain a greater success. Such rules will only serve to limit your achievement.

“There’s a reason to life! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly.”

The above statement shows that you can be far better than you thought of yourself. We were not made just to live and die but rather to live and to make the best out of living.

“Boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short.”

Never allow yourself to be shade with boredom, fear or anger. We deserve to be happy. Only you can control your happiness and no one else. Boredom, fear and anger only imprison ones access to happiness and a better life.

“Till you can fly the past and the future. And then you will be ready to begin the most difficult, the most powerful, the most fun of all. You will be ready to begin to fly up and know the meaning of kindness and of love.”

The above quotation shows how good it is for someone to make peace with his past and future then you will appreciate the meaning of love and kindness. You will be free!

“We are free to go where we wish and to be what we are.”

The above quotation reiterates the importance of one’s freedom. We should truly bear it at the back of our mind as to our freedom to go where we wish and be what we are.

“That freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.”

This very quotation equally paints out the nature and magnitude of freedom. Nothing howsoever important should be made to stand against ones freedom. I found this quotation to be of importance to me because it tells me freedom is one of the essence of my being and anything that seeks to limit my freedom, I should not hesitate to step it.

I actually found the book to be self explanatory and easy to understand. The wordings are straight and unambiguous. The ideas contained in the book also are undisputable as they present the true nature and characteristics of greatness and being influential.

There weren’t any exercises in the present book.

The only thing I felt tempted to comment on is the idea of love and kindness that the writer presents. Having read this book it softens my heart on some difficult and hard feelings I was fighting deep within. However, I came to realize that love and kindness are the best answer and solution to even the most difficult feelings and situation. It really works like magic as it took away the hard feelings and I am just feeling at ease and peace of mind.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 8
B. How helpful were the contents? 8
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 8.5