Are Successful People Made or Born?

Made Not BornThere is no question in my mind that most successful people are made and not born. It has always amazed me how some of the most successful people of all time have gone through, overcome and survived serious obstacles in life before they succeeded. That is the reason I’ve given my life to reaching this generation of students with a message of character, leadership, and faith. You see, many people today have bought into the stereotype that most teenagers are messed up, beyond reach and headed down a wrong path that cannot be corrected. I completely disagree with this assumption.  Why? Because over the last 15 years I have listened to thousands of stories from young people that have found hope through my personal experiences and have chosen to take responsibility for their own lives and not let excuses keep them from being the success they were created to be.

For example, last month in Michigan after speaking in a high school assembly a young man asked me if he could talk with me in private. He started off by telling me that he came to school so depressed that he didn’t feel like living anymore. I asked him why and he immediately opened up. He told me how his life changed when he was nine years old and his father was sentenced to 6 years in prison for drug trafficking. He shared how his mom was never the same after that – “she was always depressed.”  When he was ten, he walked in the house after school and found his mother in the living room with a gunshot wound to her head. She had decided that the pressure of life was too much and killed herself. He said he had been living with his aunt for the past five years and just figured he would turn out like his mom or dad.

Then, he looked me in my eyes and told me that his life changed that day in my assembly. He said that listening to my story caused him to realize that regardless of how bad things have been, if you have breath in your lungs, there’s still hope.  I’ll never forget the look of strength on his face when he told me that he wasn’t going to give up and that he was going to go to college, earn a degree, and make something of himself. That’s why, I believe successful people are MADE not born.  The fact that this young man is determined not to give up makes him a success!

Stop Letting People…

Stop letting people dump on your dreams. Life will test you to see how serious you are about pursuing your dreams.  And sooner or later you’re going to face negative feedback from others.  When this happens, remember not to let anyone crush your spirit.  If you are passionate about something, pursue it, no matter what anyone else thinks.  That’s how dreams are achieved.

Stop letting naysayers talk you out of putting in the extra effort. Hard times often lead to greatness.  Keep the faith.  It will be worth it in the end.  The beginnings to great things are always the hardest.

Stop letting people bully you. Bullying is not OK.  Period.  There is no freedom on Earth that gives someone the right to assault who you are as a person.  Sadly, some people just won’t be happy until they’ve pushed your ego to the ground and stomped on it.  What you have to do is have the nerve to stand your ground.  Don’t give them any leeway.  Nobody has the power to make you feel small unless you give them that power.

Stop letting friends be untrue to you. What is a true friend?  Someone who loves you no matter what, but still inspires you to be a better person.  Be a true friend to others, and keep only true friends close to you.

Stop letting people keep you bitter. Remember, the first to apologize is the bravest.  The first to forgive is the strongest.  The first to move forward is the happiest.  Always.

Stop letting people use your past to poison your present. Life is too short to tirelessly struggle with old news and those who refuse to let it go.  Some people cannot stand that you’re moving on with your life and so they will try to drag your past to catch up with you.  Do not help them by acknowledging their behavior.  Keep moving forward.  Practice forgiveness.  Letting go of the past is your first step to happiness.

7 Non-Negotiables for Success

Helen KellerHelen Keller was an amazing woman. At 19 months old she went blind and deaf, yet that didn’t stop her from achieving her dreams. Helen was not a person who made excuses, she made things happen. She is a constant reminder to all of us that anything is possible.  Despite her circumstances, Helen Keller became a world famous author, activist, and speaker. One of her many accomplishments includes being the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. I believe we can learn a lot from Helen Keller’s life and the non-negotiables she lived by.

7 Non-Negotiables for Success:

1. GO AFTER YOUR DREAMS.  I often tell people to go after their dreams and turn them into a reality. My skeptics would say, “That’s unrealistic,” …but what’s the point of being “realistic.” Nothing great has ever been achieved by a “realist.”  Albert Einstein was not a realist, the Wright Brothers were not realists, Thomas Edison was not a realist, and Alexander Graham Bell was certainly not a realist.  What is “realistic,” its often, nothing more than the self-imposed limitations adopted from society? Take the limits off; Life is too short to blend in.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.” – Helen Keller

 2. YOU MUST HAVE A VISION.  Do you have a vision, a goal, a plan, a mission for your life? Isaiah wrote, without a vision the people perish. Great leaders are always great visionaries, they have an internal picture of where their going; their fixated on their vision. What’s your vision?

“It’s a terrible thing to see, and have no vision!” – Helen Keller

 3. NOTHING’S IMPOSSIBLE.  The beauty of “time” is that you can accomplish just about anything if you keep at it long enough. Set your mind on what you want to accomplish, and don’t stop until you get there. They say the usefulness of the postage stamp consists in its ability to stick to something until it gets there. Learn from the postage stamp; stay committed to your dream until you get there.

“We can do anything we want to do, if we stick to it long enough” – Helen Keller 

4. EXPERIENCE IS PRICELESS.  Knowledge is nice, but experience is priceless. Learn from all of life’s lessons! Never be afraid to get your hands dirty by getting some first-hand experience. Only experience can bring full understanding.

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”- Helen Keller

 5. BE POSITIVE.  Although we could focus on the negative things around us, it doesn’t do us much good. Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you will never see the shadow.” I think this is good advice. Decide to see glass as “half-full,” things are not getting worse, they’re getting better!

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”- Helen Keller

6. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH WINNERS.  Winners hang-out with winners. Don’t be caught hanging-out with negative people. Negative people are like “vampires,” they suck the life from everything around them. They’re always saying “how you can’t, why you can’t, and how you’re going to fail when you try.” If you hang with these “chickens” for too long, you’ll forget that you have the ability to soar like an eagle. Decide to spend your time with those who believe the impossible is possible.

“While they were saying among themselves it cannot be done, it was done.” Helen Keller

7. YOU CONTROL YOUR DESTINY.  Everything you need to succeed, you already have on the inside of you.  Success is yours for the taking, but you have to believe it, and you have to be convinced that you deserve it.

“What I am looking for is not “out there,” it is in me” – Helen Keller

 

 

Get Off Your Butt.

Web2_getup

I’ve met a fair number of successful, self-made people in my life. They all work in different industries, and came from different backgrounds and walks of life. The one thing they all have in common? They all work hard. And they all work a LOT.

In my opinion success has always been about doing work. The old ‘right place, right time’ is what jealous people say about successful people. Yes, many successful people did catch an awesome ‘once in a life time’ break at one point in their lives, but when that opportunity came about, they were ready, because they were working, and once they said ‘yes’ to that opportunity, they worked even harder.

Successful people work hard. Yes, we can argue quality over quantity, and doing the ‘right type’ of work, but all things being equal, more work is generally better than less. And yes, I know the trend in motivation right now is to talk about doing less work, but let’s face it – it takes a lot of hard work to get to the point where you can preach to people about doing less work.

There is no substitute for hard work. It’s the secret ingredient to most people’s success – and it’s what will help you in every area of your life. Don’t be afraid to do work. Just get up off your butt and do it.

The Importance of Willpower & Self-Discipline

Unknown-2

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.  No apologies or excuses.  No one to lean on, rely on, or blame.  The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.  This is the day your life really begins. Living this life requires and enormous amount of willpower and self-discipline.  I truly believe that willpower and self-discipline are two of the most important factors in determining your success and failure. If you or someone you love has a history of making poor choices that continue to attract trouble at home, school or in the community, it is most likely due to a lack of willpower and self-discipline.

For anyone to overcome poor decision-making, they will eventually need to have a certain degree of willpower and self-discipline.  Willpower is the ability to control or reject the desire to indulge in harmful, unnecessary, and useless habits. This allows you to arrive at a decision and follow it through with perseverance, until success is eventually achieved.

Self-discipline is the companion of willpower. It gives you the stamina to persevere through whatever you encounter. It gives you the strength to withstand hardships and difficulties, whether physical, emotional or mental. Self-discipline enables you to reject immediate satisfaction, pleasure or comfort, to gain something better.  However, you must recognize that it will always require great effort and time.

Everyone has inner, unconscious, or partly conscious impulses that can cause you to say or do things you might later regret. On many occasions, people just don’t think things through before they talk or act. By developing the character traits of willpower and self-discipline, you become more conscious of your inner, subconscious impulses, and gain the ability to reject them, when they are not in your best interest.

These two character traits help you choose your behavior and reactions, instead of being ruled by them. Portraying willpower and self-discipline won’t make your life dull or boring. In contrast, these two character traits will help you will feel more powerful, in charge of yourself and your surroundings, happy and satisfied.

Simply put, willpower and self-discipline are two of the highest personal qualities you can possess and they will lead your way to self-mastery.