The Rules of Success
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
What does it mean to become successful? Everyone has their own definition of success. It is vital that you determine what your own definition of success is. To be independent of the good or bad opinion of others is the first condition of achieving anything great. Most people spend their whole lives worrying about what other people are going to think. A successful life can only come when you follow your own path. Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural outcome of consistently applying your focused effort to what you want.
How can you win the game of life, if you don’t know what the rules are to win? Can you imagine playing a game and the rules change every ten minutes? Some people make it almost impossible to feel successful. They keep raising the bar higher and higher and make it so they never feel successful.
I think you are successful if you are progressively becoming more like your higher Self, using your gifts and talents to bless the world, while nurturing your relationships. That’s my definition of success, but you need your own definition. You don’t have to have reached all your goals to be successful. It is a magnificent feeling to know that we are doing something (even if it is small) to try to make the world a little bit better.
Happiness is a choice. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” Being successful is a choice as well. You don’t have to “do” or “accomplish” anything in particular to be and feel successful.
Make a Difference
Be on the lookout for ways to make a difference. Doing is the reward. The reward is the doing. It feels great to go to sleep at night knowing your talents, abilities and time were used in a way that served others and made a difference.
“We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles rather than the quality of our service and relationship to mankind.” Martin Luther King Jr.
There is no such thing as a job that’s not important. If it wasn’t important, no one would be paying someone to do it. Martin Luther said that “A dairymaid can milk cows to the glory of God.” Is eating important? Then I guess a job working at McDonalds is important. Three men were working at the same work site. Each of them was asked what they were doing. The first man said he was just working. The second man said he laying bricks to make a wall. When the third man was asked what he was doing, he paused and got a smile on his face. He answered proudly “I am building a beautiful building.” Each of the workers were doing the exact same thing, yet had extremely different attitudes about it.
“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived-that is to have succeeded.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
You need to have balance in all areas of your life. What if you have an amazing career and make tons of money, but destroy your health, family and social relationships, and have not grown personally and spiritually? Have you succeeded? You have failed miserably. Of course careers and money are important, but they are not the most important thing.
In every situation there is a place that has balance and maximizes effectiveness. In Eastern religion this is called the Dao or “The Way”. For example, when you are trying to maximize your fuel efficiency, the speed that gets the best mileage is around 60-65 mph. When you go above or below that range, your fuel economy decreases. When it comes to body weight, there is a range for optimal health. If you don’t eat enough, you starve to death. If you eat too much, you suffer negative health consequences and can potentially die from it.
There is an optimal range for you in your life to balance your priorities and specific situations. I think finding the right balance is one of the hardest things to do in life. If we focus too much on our work/ careers, then our relationships/ health/spirituality etc. suffer. If we focus too much on our family, then our work suffers. If our work suffers, usually our finances suffer.
One mistake I made early on was thinking that money wasn’t really that important. I figured everything would work itself out in the end and didn’t put a whole lot of thought into how I could increase my income. Because of that, I ended up having to work a lot more hours and be away from my family more than I or they would have liked.
Sometimes it is very, very hard to strike the right balance with all our competing priorities. How much time should you spend working on your dreams and goals? Well, it depends on how much time you have and what responsibilities you have. In my life, God is my #1 priority. My family is my #2 priority. After those come my career, dreams, goals and other relationships. You’ve got to prioritize your life and do the most important things first. In fact, the most important thing in life is knowing what the most important things in life are, and prioritizing them accordingly.
We go to church on Sunday no matter what. My wife and I usually go on a date every week. It is extremely important to us and we make time for it. There have been weeks where I literally worked over 110 hours, yet we have still spent a few hours going on a date. Spending individual time with each of my children is another of my top priorities. Every month I plan something with each of them. I try to find ways to make them feel important and loved.
My wife, for the most part, is a stay at home mom. We both really wanted our children to have their mom at home most of the time. We have made a lot of sacrifices for her to be able to do that. In the past, I have worked jobs that I enjoyed that didn’t pay very well and therefore had to work other jobs on the side. There were several times that I worked two full-time jobs. At the same time I was trying to find 15 hours a week to start my own business. Obviously, there wasn’t much time for being at home with the family. I remember my wife asking me if it was worth it and if I was going to have regrets about what I was missing out on. She wondered if I should quit the job I enjoyed, find a better paying job and put my dreams on hold. I took a really good look at my life and decided that it was worth it. Even though I didn’t get to see my wife and children as much as I wanted, in my heart of hearts I felt like it was the path I was supposed to take. I wasn’t working the extra hours for a fancy car or a trip to Europe. I was working the hours to provide for my family and to allow my wife to be home with our children. I was following my heart and going for my dreams. Even though our situation wasn’t ideal and there was a big price to pay, I still felt at peace, had no regrets and knew it was the right thing to do. Make sure you are not going to regret your priorities and decisions.
Some people wonder if God wants people to be wealthy. He certainly doesn’t want money to be our highest priority. When money is our main motivation, we are focused on getting instead of giving. I know he doesn’t want us to be poor either. Rabbi Daniel Lappin says that “God wants us to be obsessively preoccupied with the needs of others.” Wealth is the natural outcome of serving others in this way. Money is a certificate of service. Generally speaking, the more people you serve, the more money you make. If you want to experience God’s abundance you must take the focus off yourself and put it onto others. The first step to having abundance is to realize that you already have it. Abundance is not something you create. It is something you tune into.
Our money is really God’s money. We should want to have whatever He wants us to have and use our money how He wants us to use it. God often sends us money to accomplish tasks he wants us to do. We can use money to help heal the world.
What we become is much more important than what we get. You can always lose money. You can never lose what you have become. Jim Rohn says you should want to become a millionaire because of what you have to become to achieve it. He teaches that you should make as much money as you can. If $10,000 a year is the most money you can make, then it is enough. God and everything else will take care of the rest. If $50,000 is the best you can do, then it’s enough. If a million dollars a year is the best you can, then great.
I think God wants us to grow in every way possible. How many books should you read? As many as you can. How many friends should you have? As many as you can. How many people should you help? As many as you can. How much money should you make? As much as you can. How much money should you give away? As much as you can. He wants us to grow in knowledge and in our ability to see beauty. He wants us to grow in love and to become healthier. How tall does a tree grow? As tall as it possibly can. How much fruit or flowers does a plant produce? As much as it possibly can. God is abundant and I don’t think we will find any poverty in heaven.
Jesus taught in the parable of the talents that we should use the gifts we have and increase them. If the Lord has blessed you with the ability to make a great income then you should use that ability and seek to increase it.
Is This It?
I read about a superstar who finally won the Super Bowl after devoting his life to football for over 20 years. When asked later about what his reaction was, he said that it was fun and exciting, but later that night he asked “Is this it?” Success is not a destination. Success is a direction. Just like you can’t achieve happiness, you cannot achieve success. If you don’t enjoy the journey you are going to get to the end of it and ask “Is this it?”
You can’t wait to be happy until you reach the top of the mountain. There is always another mountain waiting for you. You have to enjoy the journey. The road to heaven IS heaven. If you make the mistake of only living for the destination, one day you will look back and realize you missed a lot of your life.
“The thing that surprises me most is modern man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” Dalia Lama XIV
“It’s a great life… Too bad it took me so long to realize it.”
“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little. And if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we did get sick, at least we didn’t die. So let us be thankful.”
No, you won’t always get exactly what you want. But there are lots of people who will never have what you do right now. What you take for granted, someone else is praying for. We need to be grateful for what we do have. I read recently that 50% of the people in the world make $2 a day or less. And 25% of people in the world don’t have food to eat and clean water to drink on a regular basis. Someone is fighting right now, just to stay alive. Take a deep breath in………. Someone just died in the time it took you to take a deep breath. `We have so much to be grateful for. If you are grateful, you are rich. Don’t let what was once a miracle, become ordinary. What was once a miracle in your life? Was it was once a miracle to get that job or to marry your spouse? Was it once a miracle to have children or be healthy again?
Once there was a poor farmer that lived in ancient China. The only thing he had of value was a white stallion. One day the stallion broke out of his fence and ran away. His friends and family came and told him how horrible it was for him. He said “Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. Who knows?” A week later the horse came back with 4 wild horses. His friends and family told him how lucky he was. He said “Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. Who knows?” While his only son was training one of the wild horses, the horse knocked him down and stomped on his leg. His sons leg was injured so bad that he wouldn’t be able to run, and would have a huge limp when he walked. When everyone told him how awful it was, he said “Maybe it is, Maybe it’s not. Who knows?” Several months later China was invaded, and the country was recruiting an army. Every young man in the village had to go fight in the war. Everyone except the farmer’s son who had difficulty walking. Everyone told him how lucky he was that his son stayed home. He said … “Maybe it is, Maybe it’s not. Who knows?”
Should we be grateful for the bad things that happen to us? Here’s the thing. You don’t know which ones are bad. Something you thought was bad, could turn out to be the best thing in your life. I love the Garth Brooks song Unanswered Prayers. He sings about how he ran into an old girlfriend at a football game. He used to pray every night that he could marry this girl. They talked for a couple minutes, but didn’t have much to say. Afterwards, he looked at his wife, and thanked God for not answering his prayers.
We never know what is going to going to ultimately be for our greatest good. I think the best way to approach life is to believe that whatever happens, it is happening for your benefit. Not getting what you want sometimes leads to your true purpose.
In the movie Field of Dreams, Doc Graham is telling Ray about how he made it to the Major League, but never got to bat. “That must have been devastating to be that close to your dream and have it pass you by.” Doc Graham says “No, son. Playing 5 minutes in the majors was not a disaster. Only being a doctor for 5 minutes would have been a disaster. I wouldn’t have gotten to save a man’s life, or deliver that baby girl. If I would have gotten a hit, I might not have ever gotten to be a doctor.”
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his own dreams, to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Don’t Waste your Life
“I do not fear death. I was dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
- Mark Twain
Live your life fully. Live with passion. Give everything you do, everything you’ve got. Live your life so you don’t look back on it and wonder if you wasted it. When it’s your turn to die, you don’t want to discover that you never lived. You have to wonder how many people are afraid to die, in part, because they often realize too late that they were afraid to live.
I love this quote from Tecumseh. He was a Native American leader that was honored by both his people and the Americans he fought.
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, and beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their life over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.” And he did sing his death song and died a hero. You’re the one that’s got to die when it’s time for you to die, so let yourself live life the way you want to live it.
Les Brown, the great motivator, talks about imagining yourself on your death bed. “You have ghosts standing around your bed. These ghosts are the ideas, the dreams, the abilities, the talents given to you in this life. But for whatever reason, you never acted on those ideas, you never pursued that dream, you never used those talents, we never saw your leadership, you never used your voice, you never wrote that book. And there they are standing around your bed looking at you with large angry eyes saying we came to you, and only you could have given us life! Now we must die with you forever.”
If you died today, what dreams and gifts would die with you?
Making the transition from idea to reality can be a difficult process, often taking many years and consistent determined effort. The individual with significant desire, dedication, and perseverance will find a way to make it work. If she lacks knowledge and skills, she will acquire them. If she lacks capital she will find a way to get it or begin on a shoestring budget. Do whatever it takes to become an expert in what you choose to do.
Take 100% responsibility. You are where you are because of the decisions you have made. You just can’t get around that one. Be confident you can live out your dreams. Don’t settle for less.
Get all the information you can. You find it through books, classes, seminars, workshops, your network and mentors. Aggressively seek all you need to know. Assemble a team of people committed to your purpose. Join a Mastermind group. Get a personal coach to help you reach your goals.
Find where you belong: your “tribe”. These are the people that think like you. No one gets anywhere by themselves. We need other people to help us. Each of us needs all us. Find outside experts when you are stuck. But never, never, give up!! You got this. Sometimes we are unable to say “I can do it”. In that case we need to say “It’s possible”, until we actually can say “I can do it”.
Work as though you are doing your ultimate life’s work even while you aren’t. Value what you are doing right now. Treat it with respect. Learn everything it has to teach you. Any kind of work can be done with pride. Loving what you are doing will help give you the confidence you need to do what you really want to do. Doing your best in your current work, is the ticket out of it.
Jack Canfield put it best. “The key to success is to take what you have learned and put it into action. You can’t do everything at once, but you can begin . Start with taking 100% responsibility for your life and your success. Clarify your life purpose. Decide what you want. Set specific, measurable goals. Back them down into specific action steps you can take. Then begin taking action on your most important goal everyday. Pay the price by doing whatever it takes.”
My greatest hope and wish for you is that you truly LIVE every day of your life.