It should be a dream of all parents to have their children ask this question. We have had a few conversations about success and failure; what they are and how to achieve them. I am sure that I am not fully qualified to answer this, but I can share what I know.
I didn’t start off in life with any of this understanding. I was good with people and succeeded in customer service type jobs, and some were even called sales jobs. One day I was promoted from “sales” driving a service truck to actual cold-calling, relationship building, needs analysis, script memorizing sales… and I failed. I was on the verge of financial ruin, had a wife and three kids to provide for and was desperate.
I still can’t quite recall how I met Ray Yenkana, but we met and he invited me out to breakfast before work. He spoke words that my soul was starving for and they not only changed my current reality, but every day and waking thought since then. He took me for breakfast a dozen times or so, and gave me books and tapes and cds (for the kids, tapes are these square plastic things with this long brown ribbon that can hold, like 30 whole minutes of music on one side). I decided at that point in my life that I wouldn’t regret the years wasted and opportunities lost, but I would make sure my kids knew this stuff.
What is success and failure?
Success is not a lot of money or cars and houses and yachts. Think about it, if you set out to be ‘rich’, how would you know you are there? At what point would you have enough that you would say, “I have just crossed the line into success; yesterday I was not a success and today I am”? Success is deciding something specific that you want and then accomplishing it. If you decide that you want your life to be spent serving the poor of Uganda, you may never drive a sports car or own a Vancouver house, but if get there and do it, you are successful. If you decide that you want to be a millionaire, and you become a millionaire, then you are successful. If you quit on life after you have your million, then you would cease to be successful, and failure would be waiting for you. So ultimately success is the ability to be who you want and do what you desire in life. So failure would then be to never get where you want in life or be who you want to be.
Success is not one monumental achievement, but simply and consistently following simple disciplines over time. Failure is not one cataclysmic event, but slight errors in judgment repeated over time. You won’t get a heart attack from eating a cheeseburger; you might from eating one every day. There are a million little indulgences and bad spending decisions and little time wasters that people do every day. Learning disciplines is the key, and I’m not talking about stuff that’s hard to do. So what are these simple disciplines that you should follow?
There are a lot of simple disciplines that are great, but if you learn one today make it SETTING GOALS! “I will have a job by my 16th birthday”, “I will save $1000 within the next three months”, “I will improve my grades to all As and Bs before Christmas break so I can qualify for this scholarship”, “I will bench press 200lbs by the end of the summer”… A goal can be anything but make it something that you can achieve, and set a date when it needs to happen by. Write it down and keep it close to you, and read it every day out loud. This is SUCH A BORING, SIMPLE, TEDIOUS TASK, and because of that most people won’t bother.
Picture two boats. One boat has a captain and a map and some instruments to measure where the boat is, and most importantly a chosen destination. Each day the captain reads the instruments, compares his location to the destination, makes small course changes and then carries on with his day. The other boat has none of those, but is set out to sea anyway. The first boat will likely reach its destination or at least it will get close; the other will end up on some rocks somewhere. That’s the difference between setting goals and not setting goals.
Here’s another wise quote, “Success is not something you do, but something you attract by the person you become”. When you work on yourself and train yourself to do these simple things, then success will find you. Its actually a little freaky, but I am not kidding; setting a goal and looking at it and reading it every day with almost no additional effort, your goal or at least amazing opportunities to achieve your goal will come to you. So by focusing on the discipline of reading out your goal, you will become a more disciplined person, and that will attract success.
Learn to Farm
The world is built around the law of the farm. A man of great need can go to the field and say, “please feed me”, and the field will reply, “I want to, but I require seed”. A man with barns full of grain who diligently plants seed, though he is not hungry, or in great need, the field will still grant him bounty that he cannot contain. This is not a case of rich getting richer and poor getting poorer, but how you approach life. You ALWAYS have something to give. Giving something to the benefit of others is seed. There is a law that transcends all other laws or circumstances that says that he who sows, reaps; and he reaps according to the type and quantity of his seed. I could fill up a whole blog post about the farm… maybe another day.
Xandra, you see mom and me, you see a couple that is constantly tired and working hard at the daily grind, and rarely has the chance to do anything fun or social. You have questioned before what kind of an existence that really is. What you cannot possibly see in context is that just over ten years ago I was broke, and floating like ship with no captain, very few marketable skills, three kids to take care of, an apartment that was growing mold, and insurmountable debt. By changing very small things about how I approached life, and following a few simple disciplines, I am now highly sought after for my skills. I own a nice house in one of the most expensive housing markets in the world and am almost out of all the consumer debt. You might see me working two jobs and being tired, but today I have goals, and seemingly without effort I get opportunities to achieve those goals. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have to work hard or sacrifice something, but it means that I have a deep inner knowing that I am going where I want to go, and doing what I want to do.
So I will wrap this post up with these words: When harvest time comes, if you find that you have very little, don’t blame anyone, don’t complain, but realize that you planted little, and rest assured that there is another spring right around the corner so get your seed ready. On the other hand, if harvest time comes and you have more than anyone else, don’t be ashamed, don’t apologize, but accept the rewards you prepared for, and don’t think that you can skip planting seed in the spring.
Angelica and Xanrda, I know you both and both of you WILL be successful!