I read a quote about success by Jack Canfield today. He’s one of the two guys that put together the “Chicken Soup” series.
It reads, “Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.”
Maintaining “a positive focus” is a nice thing to do. Yet, on any given day, it runs headlong into your reality of discomfort, drudgery, and impatience with your work, your life, and the tasks at hand. Just being positive leads nowhere near success. Research (google it) indicates that being positive for the sake of being positive is actually counter productive. Check the research done by the “Greater Good Science Center” in Berkeley, among other folks, to corroborate that.
Then Jack talks about taking the-I just hate this term-“next action steps…”
God, that’s just awful. I have no idea what the hell that means.
I hope I never meet this guy.
Here’s a few things you have to do to be successful. I’ve done most of these, still working on a couple more. And had I known when I was younger, I’d be out there being successful instead of writing this thing for you all.
Show up. Woody Allen said it’s 80 percent of life. He’s right. Just be where you’re supposed to be and be on time. School is the first place this is required of you. Be there when you’re supposed to be. Jobs will follow. Do the same.
Find your own sense of organization. Know where you’re going to put things. This requires you to learn something a little about focus and memory. I’d throw these in as variables, but they are throughout this list. Focus and remembering what you’re supposed to do and where you’re going is almost taken for granted. But it’s critical. Start by putting your keys on a hook by the door as soon as you come into your house. Then invent another organizational mechanism.
Read your ass off. And it doesn’t matter how slowly you do this in the beginning. You’ll get faster as you read more. I wish I developed this skill earlier in life. Read every free chance you get: Read in bed, read before school, read while you’re walking toward the car or the bus, read while you’re driving (unless you’re behind the wheel), read instead of watching TV or getting on social media. Read a magazine while you’re taking a dump. If you forgot to bring a magazine into the bathroom, read the back of the air freshener can. Reading will not only improve your memory but it will center you and calm you down. Know anybody that is bat shit crazy that is a voracious reader? Yeah, I don’t either. OK, maybe one guy, but reading didn’t have anything to do with it.
Know a little math. If there is a correlation between money and success, and there seems to be, then it would behoove you to know a little math or know somebody you trust that does.
Keep at the task at hand until you get it and get help if you get stuck. This can be the most challenging on the list. The big thing is that you persist. There are going to be times when you want to give up. Take “breaks” but go back at the task. And if you’re truly stuck, and you will be, get help. It’s nice to find an expert in the field, but their accessibility and affect may interrupt your commitment to the task. Know that, and try to ask the expert only once. Sometimes it’s better to ask somebody that isn’t a jerk-who can understand the challenge and the struggle- that can help some, than asking an asshole-who may be discouraging and pedantic-that can help a lot.
Have Faith. Allah, Buddah, Mohammed, Jesus, Krishna, Mother Earth, Father Sky, The Big Electron, The Energy Field of Infinite Possibilities, I don’t care. Believe in something bigger than you and hold on to that. It will help you when you’re at the end of your rope, and there are weeks that you feel the rope slipping through your grip. I have started many a sentence with “Umm, look, I know you’ve got your hands full with Syria, the Sudan, and everywhere else, but if you could just offer a little clarity or assistance or something to (fill in the blank of my meaningless problem) I’d really appreciate it.”
Have Perspective. You’re not bad off. In Haiti women are baking mud to give to the population so they have something in their stomach. You’re fine. You have no problems. Just keep going. Your pain is relative. Get back to doing what you need to do, please.
Be Grateful. Daily. As in, the first thing you do when you get out of bed and walk to the bathroom to take a pee, say “thank you for ___” in as many things you can think of. In order to be happy, you must be grateful, not the other way around. Let me say that again: Gratitude makes you happy.
David Steindl Rast said this, and I believe him. Google that, too. Be grateful for everything
you have. It will get your head out of your ass quickly and take you back to that perspective.
Lastly, print this quote by Victor Frankel: “In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of sacrifice.” In my case, my meaning was my family. Once my daughter Keely was born, I could do anything for her, my step kids and my wife that I could never do for myself. I went through whatever I needed to in order to give them a good life. That suffering was attached to the meaning behind their welfare. Your suffering, discomfort, and pain will have no effect on you if it is attached to something you find meaning.
If one thing will anchor your search for success, that will.
This is how you’re able to have a cause and effect relationship with your environment and your tasks at hand. You’ll feel you can control and then excel at what you’re doing. And you’ll feel like you’re a success in managing your life, your work, and your challenges.
Mind you, this has nothing to do with being successful in relationships.
That’s another essay.
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