Are You Persistent Enough to Succeed?

Almost all successful people, actually let’s get rid of the “almost” and say “ALL” successful people have one trait in common…they didn’t quit. They may have stopped once or twice, they may have gone backwards a time or two and fallen down fairly often. But they starting moving again, made up lost ground and picked themselves up (often with help) and persevered

 

There are plenty of examples of famous people who overcame severe obstacles on their journey to ultimate success. Abraham Lincoln failed in business, lost numerous elections and his sweetheart, and had a nervous breakdown. But he never quit. He kept on trying and became, according to many, our greatest president. 

 

Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book was rejected by 23 publishers.   

 

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.  

 

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded.  

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt was struck by polio but he never quit.   

 

Helen Keller, totally deaf and blind, graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, and went on to become a famous author and lecturer.

 

There are many more stories of well known people who overcame multiple hurdles to succeed. Even more impressive are the millions of stories about ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things through perseverance. What those millions of stories prove is that success can be achieved by anyone, literally anyone. That includes you! 

 

I love the story about the high school basketball coach who was attempting to motivate his players to persevere through a difficult season. Halfway through the season he stood before the team and said, “Did Michael Jordan ever quit?” The team responded, “No!” He yelled, “What about the Wright brothers? Did they ever give up?” “No!” hollered back the team. “Did Muhammad Ali ever quit?” Again the team yelled, “No!” “Did Elmer McAllister ever quit?” There was a long silence. Finally one player was bold enough to ask, “Who’s Elmer McAllister? We never heard of him.” The coach snapped back, “Of course you never heard of him — he quit!”

 

Quitting is easy, it’s also very habit forming. Successful people have made a habit of doing the things that less successful people simply don’t like to do. Less successful people quit, the most successful people wouldn’t even consider it. 

 

If you’re tempted to quit, or even give less than your best effort, think about the goal that motivated you to begin in the first place. Re-dream that dream and then keep going. 

 

If that doesn’t motivate you to keep pushing forward, then think about Elmer McAllister.


Now get to work!

Where Self-Respect Comes From

The first thing to know about self-respect is that is doesn’t come from other people…hence the word “self.”

 

Respect is vital to any relationship and that includes the relationship you have with yourself. 

 

Self-respect can be hard to define but it’s really about being the kind of person you are not afraid to show to the world around you. It’s about being the kind of person you, and the people you care about, can be proud of. 

 

Self-respect comes from having a sense of dignity. It comes from maintaining your honor when you’re making life choices and every day decisions about how to live your life. 

 

Self-respect comes from caring more about yourself. To be clear, it is not about caring less for others, it is about caring for yourself too. If you’re not caring for and about yourself eventually you won’t be able to care for others no matter how much you want to. 

 

Self-respect comes from not needing anyone to treat you a certain way. Self-respect comes from appreciating the respect of others but not needing it to validate how you live your life. 

 

Self-respect is vital if you hope to have a positive self-image. Having that positive self-image will influence every other part of your life. Your career, your relationships with other people and most importantly, your own happiness. 

 

Self-respect will give you the courage to walk away from unhealthy relationships and situations. It gives you the courage to speak up for yourself and command the respect of others. 

 

No one, and I mean absolutely no one, can rob you of your self-respect unless you are their accomplice in the crime. Sometimes it requires a major battle to keep from being an unwilling accomplice. You should know it’s a battle worth fighting and it’s a battle you can win. And never, never, never be their willing accomplice. You are way too special for that, you matter way, way too much for that. Do not simply give your self-respect away. 


Self-respect is the cornerstone of a well lived life. Build your foundation of self-respect so strong that no one and nothing can bring you down. Once you’ve done that you can do anything! 


How Matters

I like to win! I enjoy success. I also know there are things more important than always winning and always succeeding. 

 

For me, and I know some will call me naive because of this, but for me how you win is just as important as winning itself. Success at the expense of your integrity isn’t really success at all. Now before you ask me to define success let me say that the definition of success is a very personal thing. But no matter your own definition of success if you cheated, lied or stole your way to it then your “success” is nothing to be proud of. 

 

No where in the Bible does it say that money is evil. What it does say is that the love of money is the root of all evil. Loving money, or the success the comes with it, at the expense of anything or anyone cannot be true success.

 

In the hit 1987 movie Wall Street, the character Gordon Gekko made a speech where he said “Greed is Good.” The line became famous but too many people apparently forgot that they were watching a movie. They believed the line as if it were straight out of scripture. 

 

It was frankly a line that many people wanted to believe. It allowed them to balance unethical behavior with the “fact” that greed was good. 

 

Well let’s set the record straight. Greed is not good. Unethical behavior is not good. Trading your integrity for the appearance of success is not good. Winning at all cost is not winning at all. 

 

Winston Churchill once said that “We making a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

 

If you truly want success then don’t try to balance how much of your integrity you’re willing to sacrifice to have it. Instead balance what you get with what you give. Don’t just work to make a living, work to make a life. 

 

I’ll never forget what my 7th grade teacher once told me. His name was Cyril Paul. 7th grade was a while ago for me and I don’t remember many, if any, of my teachers who came before or after him. To say he was an impactful teacher would be an understatement. What he told me was that “what” I did with my life would be of little consequence when compared with “how” I did it. 

 

The fact is that too many times in my life I have forgotten those words. The result has never been anything to make me proud of myself. But I always eventually come home to those words to get myself back in balance. 

 

I’m afraid too many of our world “leaders” either never had those words spoken to them or they have completely forgotten them. 

 

“How” matters. It matters in everything you say and do in your life. 

 

Be a person of integrity. If your leaders are “win at all cost” kind of leaders then lead up and hold them accountable for “how” they achieve their success. Whether they are leaders in your company, your church or your government make sure you hold them to very high standards. 


Always remember “how” matters for you as well so hold yourself to those very high standards too.

All Progress is Progress

Have you ever set a goal and immediately been overwhelmed with the enormity of it? Have you ever been assigned a task at work and were instantly overcome with the feeling of complete paralysis because you had no idea where to start? 

 

Are you a chronic procrastinator or have you convinced yourself you perform better under pressure? 

 

If any of that sounds like you then I have some advice for you. It is something that all successful people know and it is how they work their way past the challenges associated with achieving success. 

 

The advice is to remember that all progress is progress. Even little steps move you forward. Even small accomplishments move you closer to an ultimate goal. You do not need major progress at every turn. Slow steady progress often achieves success faster than the backward movement that can follow rapid progress. 

 

A few small steps forward are almost always better than two steps forward and one step back. Any movement closer to an objective or goal is progress. All progress is worthy of celebration, albeit the smaller the progress the smaller the celebration. 

 

Some of the very best advice I’ve ever received was that when you  don’t know what to do just do the next right thing. No matter how small that next right thing is you will end up closer to your goal. 

 

You’ll find it easier, notice I didn’t say easy, to consistently make progress if you have a coach or mentor to help you stay motivated. A good mentor can talk you down from the cliff of self-doubt that everyone finds themselves on from time to time. 

 

Sometimes small amounts of progress can be hard to see. Be sure to keep track of where you started. Keep track of where you were last month or last week so you can see your forward movement. Nothing will kill your future motivation faster than thinking you received nothing from your past efforts. 

 

Keep yourself fresh by trying something new once in a while. The most successful people will get rid of something that works if there is a chance to replace it with something that works even better. You never know if you can do something better until you try doing it differently. 

 

Whatever you do you must do something. You must keep moving…even if you’re on the right track you will eventually get run over if you just sit there. All progress is progress. Forward, sideways and sometimes even backwards progress is better than no progress at all. 

 

You don’t need to know how the final chapter of a book ends before you begin reading it. You also don’t need to know exactly how you will complete a task or achieve a goal before you start working towards it. 

 

Make progress each day and the end result will come into focus along the way. All those little bits of progress will lead you to one giant success once you realize that indeed, all progress is progress! 

Where Passion Comes From

I enjoy seeing and working with people who are passionate about what they do. Their passion and the enthusiasm it creates is contagious.

 

Passion can be a twin-edged sword however when it’s allowed to overflow into emotional outbursts. You should never use your passion as an excuse for losing control of your emotions. I’ve often heard people apologize by saying, “sorry I got upset and yelled, it’s just that I’m passionate about this.” When passion becomes an excuse it loses its power to make things happen.

 

But overall, I love passion. When people are passionate about what they do it shows in how they do it. Passionate people are the ones who make a positive difference in the lives of other people. It’s by making that difference that they make the world a better place too.

 

Passion comes from knowing. Do not expect people to be passionate about the things they know little or nothing about.

 

That little piece of advice in the last sentence helps keep me from being overly frustrated when working with people who don’t give a darn about their work, their company, their customers or their coworkers. 

 

They have never invested the time required to develop the empathy that comes from knowing other points of view. They have empathy for what they know and they only know themselves. 

 

While it’s frustrating to work with people who don’t care, especially when you do, you can’t make the mistake of allowing their lack of passion to suck the passion out of you. 

 

You will need to “re-dream your dream” from time to time. Consider where your passion originally came from and revisit that place often. 


Never lose your passion for what you do and the positive affect it has on people. Remember that when the positive passion goes out the door your positive attitude won’t be far behind. 

Do This….When You Don’t Know What to Do

Most people, maybe all people, certainly me, experience times in their life where they don’t know what to do. That doesn’t make them weak people. That doesn’t make them dumb people. It also doesn’t make them less likely to succeed…. unless they do nothing because they don’t know what to do. 

 

Hopefully you have someone in your life that you can bounce ideas and problems off of. It could be a coach or a mentor. Possibly a close friend or family member. The importance of having someone in your life that you trust enough to share anything with cannot be overstated. If you don’t have that person or even better, people, then you need to find one. 

 

But sometimes, even with help, your next move can be hard to determine. You’re not sure what to do next. 

 

Because that’s happened to me from time to time I’ve received lots of advice on the subject. One time when I had to choose between two options and deciding seemed hopeless, one of my mentors told me to flip a coin. I said that the decision was too important for something as frivolous as flipping a coin. 

 

He told me that it wasn’t at all frivolous because when that coin was in the air I’d know exactly which way I wanted it to land. I still wanted to dismiss his suggestion but somehow I knew he was right…and he was. So I flipped the coin and said if it was heads I’d do this and if it was tails I’d do that. It came up tails and I didn’t want that so I decided that it was such a big decision I should do two-outta-three. It was then that I knew exactly which way I wanted to go. 

 

As clever as that was I still find it a little ridiculous to make a major life decision on a coin flip. So I sometimes use advice from Benjamin Franklin. 

 

When the very wise Ben Franklin was asked for advice he would tell people he couldn’t decide for them but he did share his own decision making “tool.” He advised people to take a blank piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side of the paper he said to list the reasons for doing something and on the other side of the paper list the reasons for not doing it. 

 

Then he said, and this is the key advice, he said to NOT count the things on either side, he said to weigh them instead. Seeing the reasons on paper made them more concrete and real. You could have 12 reasons on the “do not” side verses 2 on the “do” side but if the 2 outweighed, or mattered more, than the 12, you knew your decision was to “do.” 

 

When I share how to use Ben’s tool today I let people know it’s okay to take several days to list your reasons on that paper. As you ruminate over a decision keep that paper nearby and track your reasons for and against, you’ll have your answer in relatively short order.

 

But sometimes even when using that tool the “weight” of the decision is equal and you just won’t know what to do. 

 

So do this.

 

Do the next right thing. You may not know completely what to do or what not to do but somewhere in you the knowledge of the next right thing to do exists. Doing the next right thing may not get you to where you need to be but it will get you closer. 

 

I can tell you from personal experience that doing the next right thing is a lot harder than it sounds. I’ve often convinced myself that I didn’t know the next right thing to do because I just didn’t want to do it. I wanted to do the easier thing. 

 

Right leads to success. Easy leads to…well it doesn’t lead to success, at least not real, lasting success. 


The knowledge of the next right thing to do lives inside of you. The only question is do you have the courage that is often required to do it. 

Can I See Your Priorities?

I already don’t like this post and I’m the one writing it. I can only imagine how many of you will feel about it. It’s a tough post to write because a lot of the people reading it will not feel better about themselves, at least not right away.

 

If just one person takes this message to heart then it will be a worthwhile post, no matter how many people might be offended. I know it will offend people because the first time it was shared with me I was offended too. But I have a lot more of everything today because I eventually changed my behavior because of it.

 

Around 25 years ago I was sitting in the audience at a Dale Carnegie Traning national convention. We were listening to a Dale Carnegie sales representative talk about the challenges of succeeding in the training business. As with almost all Dale Carnegie presenters his talk was awesome. What truly made his presentation unique however was the fact that he was playing the harp throughout his entire presentation. 

 

It was like he had two different brains working at once. His message was that achieving success, long-term true success, required that we do more than we thought possible. 

 

It was impressive to say the least. I made a comment to the person sitting next to me that I’d “give anything” to be able to play a musical instrument. 

 

He said that wasn’t true. Here’s the thing about working for a self-improvement organization like Dale Carnegie. The teaching never stops. Everything is a lesson. You are held accountable for everything you say and everything you do. It can be a challenging place to work but it is life changing. For the vast majority of the people lucky enough to experience it the change is very positive.

 

So the person sitting next to me said it wasn’t true and the lesson was on. When I said it absolutely was true he said “well then, what instrument do you play?” I said again that while I didn’t play any instrument I wished I did. 

 

It was then that I was informed I was mistaken. I was mistaken because if I really wanted to play an instrument then I’d be able to play an instrument. He went on to say that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to play an instrument, it was that I wanted to do other things more. He said I didn’t play an instrument because while I might like the thought of it, actually playing an instrument wasn’t a priority for me. 

 

He said lots of people say what they want but when you watch them they show their true priorities. 

 

I felt a little like I had been called a liar but eventually what he said sunk in. I started to measure the things I said I wanted against what actions I took to have them. It turned out I was like most people…. I said a lot and did very little. 

 

I decided that had to change. The change was instigated by the awareness that wanting something and doing what it takes to have it are two very very different things.

 

The odds are pretty high that you have some of that “say a lot do very little” stuff within you too. So here’s a suggestion. 

 

Make a list of your priorities, the “things” you want in every area of your life. Your personal life, your professional life, your financial life, etc. 

 

Then track how you spend your time, every minute of your time, each day for a week. You can Google “Time log” to find a tool that will help you with your tracking. BE HONEST! 

 

You will be somewhere between mad, disappointed, shocked, or horrified at how little of your time is spent in pursuit of your “priorities.” When I realized all those years ago where my time was going I was surprised to say the least. You might be too.

 

But awareness is a wonderful thing. You may decide that what you thought were your priorities really aren’t. You may decide that they are. In that case then you’ll also know that something must change. 


I still think that playing an instrument would be nice. I also know that I won’t give anything to be able to play one. In fact as it turns out, I was unwilling to give anything at all.