Constancy of Purpose

Success. We hear it all the time. We relate it to winning, which means a lack of success can be equated to losing. Everybody wants to be successful. Nobody wants to be a loser. What does it mean to win? A question like this we can agree on. What does it mean to be successful? That is a little trickier, and there is a good chance our definitions are going to be different.

There are many out there that will happily give you their secret to success. All you have to do is Google what you are interested in, find the experts, sign up to get on their email list, and then hurry up and pay for their limited-time offer into their next online course. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. If you want the shortcut to success, their way is the path that will get you there.

Photo by qi xna on Unsplash

But consider another alternative. Consider:

  • Stephen Curry shooting a basketball,
  • Mike Tyson throwing a punch,
  • Usain Bolt going out for a run, or
  • Lewis Hamilton taking another lap in the car.

Imagine the hours of repetition. Not just one day, but nearly everyday for years and years. There was a constancy of purpose to the skill they were trying to acquire. They didn’t rely solely on genetics or talent. They relied on work and on practice. When we watch them and are amazed by the ease with which they perform at the highest level, we only see the finished product. We don’t see what they did to get there. Their success on the grand stage underneath the bright lights was built when the world wasn’t watching.

There is a secret potion to success, but you won’t find it in a get-rich-quick type of scam. The potion is made of three parts: blood, sweat, and tears. These ingredients must be continually resupplied to the potion and cured over time. It is there if you want it. Best wishes!

Building to Win

I have a friend who plans to run his first marathon in the summer. He has only been running for about a year. Back then, he was a smoker and knew he needed to start doing something to get into shape. So he started running. He committed his time to this endeavor. As a result, his mileage has gone up, his weight has gone down, and as far as I know, he stopped smoking. If he completes this marathon, it will be an amazing accomplishment.

Let’s recap his journey:

 

  • Made a decision to start running.
  • Made changes to way of life to accommodate for time.
  • Got friends and family involved. He even runs with his mother on a regular basis.
  • Made changes to what he puts into his body.
  • Became comfortable running longer and longer distances.
  • Entered first race and completed it.
  • Signed up for marathon and began training.

Each bullet point was a decision. Each decision turned into an accomplishment that validated his initial decision to get into shape. Completing them boosted his self-esteem. If you asked him a year ago about his confidence running a marathon, he probably would have laughed at you and thought you were insane just for asking.  But he built his confidence up mile by mile, day by day. He built it up every time he laced up his shoes to train, regardless of the weather conditions. Now, he firmly believes completing a marathon is possible.

Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment. –Thomas Carlyle

A marathon is a big deal. It is a big commitment. You don’t wake up one day and out of the blue decide to run a marathon without training. You start small and build up to it. The journey to running 26.2 miles at one time began with one step first taken long before race day.

Great achievements are possible. Make the decision. Do the work every day, even on the days you don’t feel like it. Get small victories and then scale up to larger challenges. In time this body of work you have created will be the preparation you needed to win the dream you started with so long ago.

The Skeleton Keys #2: Hope in Yourself

Hope 11/23/2019

America, the land of opportunity. It is the reason so many come to this country. They want a better life than what is possible by staying in their own countries. Here is a chance to live the rags to riches story. Here is the chance for success that they dream of.

This is why my father’s ancestors came to America in the late 1600’s. It is why my mother’s family, fleeing from religious persecution and the threat of communism, came over 300 years later in the late 1960’s. They wanted the freedom to pursue a better life, and not just for them but for their families and their future generations.

As a kid, I didn’t understand the sacrifices that were made by those who went before me. I saw the “have’s” who had more than me and considered myself a “have-not.” It was foolish, but I was young. I imagined all the things I could do if I came from a wealthy family. The aristocrats I read about in my books filled my imagination as well. It is amazing to think there was a time when people got a stipend for having a title in front of their name. Why couldn’t this have been me?

We live in a time when we can peek into the lives of celebrities and stars. We see the where they are today, but we don’t always see how they got there. Some were born with silver spoons in their mouths. Others had to earn it. It is these others that we should really look at. How did they get to where they are today?

This week, I listened to an interview with Shaun White on the Ed Mylett Show. This was the second interview I have listened to with Shaun White and was amazed to hear about his childhood. His family wasn’t wealthy. They made a lot of sacrifices so that Shaun and his siblings could get to the mountains. Where he is today wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter. He had to earn it. He was willing to learn by watching the best until he became the best himself. He is a beneficiary of the America our forefathers imagined. Very little stands in the way of the one who has faith in the future and is willing to work for it.

That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well. –Abraham Lincoln

All through history, and not only in America, do we see the success some are able to achieve despite the circumstances of their childhoods. So many come from very little but are able to attain to great heights. Once again as a youth, I didn’t believe this was something available to me. What a fool! As I get older and continue to work on myself, I now have a different belief. I have a belief that I can do anything that I put my mind to and am willing to work for. If others can do it, so can I.

The first part of this skeleton key to success is to pray mightily and work hard. The second part is to have an unwavering hope in your own self. You have to believe you can do it. If the others can, so can you!

My son, do not think I have forgotten about you. These words are not just for me, but they are for you as well. Our family blood runs strong and the desire for the success of future generations continue to this day. You must believe in your abilities and work to cultivate them. Others can guide you, but they cannot do the work for you. You will have to find your own path and then walk it for yourself.

The virtues of faith, hope, and love make up these keys able to open any door closed to you. Two keys have been discussed, the third is next.

Getting Results

Faith 10/11/2019

How many times have you gone into a project half-hearted? Maybe it was one that you took over and didn’t totally own it, or it was one put onto your plate but didn’t really want. It was those types of projects I have always had trouble staying motivated on. Often, they were not completed as well as they could have been.

But what happens when you find a project that you are really passionate about? Notice how it gets the A-1 treatment it deserves?

Are there areas in our life where we can generate more care for something? Maybe we can learn to really care about getting better at listening, learning, or being present in the moment? Maybe it is our health, our families, and our friends. Maybe, just maybe, it is something that is sitting on the back-burner of your mind, and you have yet to make it a priority.

Think about the end-results you want in life. Which ones are the ones that will haunt you if you never get around to completing it? Don’t make them a “one day in the future,” but rather make them something you work on today! Make them your priorities. Raise the level of passion you have toward that goal, and then, go get it.

If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it. –William James

When I Let Go

If you have arrived into a state of being that is less than you imagined. If you don’t like where you are. If the path you have followed turned out to be the wrong path. How do you correct the course and get to where you want to go?

You start by letting go. You have to let go of all the things that brought you to your current state. You have to change. You cannot repeat the same behaviors and expect a different result. It was those behaviors that prevented you from your success. It was those behaviors that you now have to strip away from your life. You have to change. You have to let go.

Identify the area(s) in your life that you are not happy about. Examine the behaviors involved. Begin to make the changes. They don’t have to be radical changes in the beginning. They can be incremental. Do it long enough, and in time you will be amazed of the progress. Start now. Let go of the old ways.

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. –Socrates

My metamorphosis isn’t complete. The process began years ago, but I was resistant to the change. I knew I needed to change, but it was hard to let go. I wasn’t happy with my physical condition. Lack of attention to my diet and an inconsistent exercise regime is a recipe for mediocrity. At my best, I was only mediocre. That is not where I wanted to be. I had to change. I had to let go. But it wasn’t only in my body that change was needed. I needed a change in my heart and a change in my mind. And though I have started making changes, I am far from where I need to be. It is process. A very long process that requires my constant examination of what I am doing. Keeping a journal has truly helped.

Why I am doing it? Because I can be better. I haven’t added enough value to this world, which means I haven’t maximized my potential. And if I am not maximizing my potential, then I am not getting the most out of this life. If I don’t change, I cannot become what I might be.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. –Lao Tzu

I have spent weeks meditating on this quote. I don’t know what I might be. All I know is that I am moving in that direction. It is my path. The only thing preventing me from my destiny is holding on to old me, the old ideas, and the old behaviors. I have to let go.

The Listening Post

Imagine being outside your defensive perimeter listening for any signs of the enemy. While there is safety in numbers, you are alone, in the dark. Just you and the jungle. Not even the jungle in your backyard, this jungle belongs to the enemy. You have been out patrolling all day. You are tired, hungry, and all your nerves are frazzled. You are trying to listen for the enemy, but instead you hear everything else. You try to filter it out. Isolate what is real and what is imagined. Not only is your life at stake, but the lives of those depending on you inside the lines.

Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking. –Bernard Baruch

Listening. It is not easy. It may be one of the lessons that my son struggles with more than anything else. His performance in school is directly related to his ability to listen. When he is talking, he is not listening. If he is not listening, he is not learning. At the age of 5, even the slightest distractions affect his ability to properly listen.

Listening is a skill that takes time to master. Living in this age of distraction, even the good listeners will struggle. But if you want to be successful, you have to be able to listen. You need to listen to your audience. You need to listen to your customers. You need to listen to the guide posts that will keep you going in the right direction.

So what’s at stake? You may not be at the listening post in enemy territory, but there may still be people depending on you. They need you to achieve the success you are looking for. Take time today to truly listen. Filter out all the noise and isolate what is real.

Listen to counsel and receive instruction that you may eventually become wise. –Proverbs 19:20

Listening To That Voice

Do you have a life’s work? Perhaps a field or industry that needs to be improved or even invented. Was there something that called to you? Something that touched your heart in such a way that you had no choice but to respond with a simple, “Here I am.”

“Here I am.” That was Samuel’s response when he heard a calling. He thought it was the priest, Eli, calling for him. Eli told him to go back to bed. After this happened a third time in the same night, Eli told Samuel if he hears the voice calling him again respond by saying, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:1-11)

When you have a calling, perhaps by God or even by a tiny voice within your soul, do you have the ability to hear it? And if you can hear it, how will you respond? You could choose to ignore it. You could drown it out with other pursuits so that eventually the voice is lost in the noise. Or, you could chase it. You could pursue it knowing that you received a rare glimpse of your destiny, and that it is attainable. Maybe your work only reaches a few people. Maybe, like Samuel, it reaches a whole generation and the generations afterwards. You never know, but it starts with listening to that voice within.

The secret of success is constancy of purpose. -Benjamin Disraeli, the 1st Earl of Beaconsfield and British Prime Minister from 1874-1880

The journey will be long. After all it is a life’s work. It may be lonesome. There will be many forks in the road offering an easier path. But if you stick to the straight and narrow, you could find a personal success beyond your imagination. This calling is about making a difference. Fixing something that isn’t working right. Creating something that the world needs. It is about adding value to other people. It is about making lives better in some way, shape, or form. And if your life’s work only improved the life of one individual, wouldn’t it be worth it? It is not for the glory. It is not for recognition. It is about doing the things which you know within your heart you should be doing. Things you keep doing until the mission is complete.

Aim High

I was speaking to an associate today who told me he has a five year plan to leave his manufacturing job. I asked him what he was planning to do. His reply: play the stock market, get his money, and then get out.

Of course, I was initially skeptical of this plan. This has to be a pipe dream if I ever saw one. How is this young adult going to walk in and accomplish what so many have failed to do over the years? If you are looking for someone to scoff at, this would be the one.

This man plucked this idea out of the far reaches of the ether. But he didn’t stop there, he gave this idea life by saying it out loud and saying it to someone else. Will he be able materialize this thought? Does he have the drive to stick with this dream until the end? As Plutarch said, “Those who aim at great deeds must also suffer greatly.” Is he willing to suffer?

I can’t believe God put us on this earth to be ordinary. –Lou Holtz

After thinking about this man’s dreams and my reaction to it, I began to think about my own dreams. I too, have a wildly ambitious plan that is far beyond where I am today. Why is my dream so realistic to me but the thought of his dream ridiculous? We are both striving toward the same thing: our perception of success. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I get that same skepticism when I voice my dreams. The reality is that many shoot for the stars, but only a few make it there. The few that make it are the ones we remember, and it keeps the dreamers dreaming. It drives them to action and the hope of a better future.

I hope he can achieve his dreams. He just may be a shining example of what one can accomplish with the right amount of creativity, determination, and persistence. There could be a day that he is a role model for others, even a role model for me.

For more on pulling ideas from the ether and giving it substance, check out the Aubrey Marcus Podcast #143: The Road Map to Transformation with Anahata Ananda. I listened to this episode this week and found it really insightful to making my own dreams a reality.