Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Fundamentals of Success

A note from for Monday July 28 2008

Welcome to this final week of July 2008.

I spent a while this past weekend reflecting on the messages reflected in the “Last Lecture” by Dr. Randy Pausch who passed away on Friday. The example and contribution given by this outstanding and generous man will last in our minds and lives for years to come.

One of the most impactful lessons I was reminded of as I spent this weekend reflecting was just how fleeting our lives really are. I was jarred once again into the awareness that my life is my own, that I’m free to live it as I choose, and that there is nothing that I need ever be afraid of. I can make of this mortal experience exactly what I choose. That “power” is truly mine, just as it is yours.

You’ll be seeing and hearing much more about Randy Pausch this week as he is honored in every corner.

To get us off to a grand start this week we go to another great contributor, our friend Philip. Put his offering to good use.

The Fundamentals of Success
by Philip Humbert

In life, and in business, there are only a few fundamentals that make life work out well, and they have never changed. Too often we pretend that technology and education have created "new rules" or that modern systems permit us to cut corners and find short-cuts that didn't exist in the past. While there may be examples where that is true, in general, I don't believe it.

The fundamentals of living well, achieving our dreams and creating wealth have not changed. The path to success today is remarkably similar to the path walked by generations past.

What are the basics? You might have your own list, but I would suggest at least the following:

1. Personal Integrity. Socrates recommended, "Know thyself" and Shakespeare added, "to thine own self be true." Knowing who we are, what we value and making sure that our words and actions match is fundamental. Doing unfulfilling work or living in an environment that doesn't suit us will surely undermine our long-term success. Too many of us live "lives of quiet desperation" and that is NOT a foundation on which to build a life!

2. Clear Thinking. Many of us grew up in the "feel good" generation and we are confused about the role of thought (education, planning, skills and tools) verses emotion. We let our hopes, wishes, fears, or "hang-ups" run our lives. High achievers take time to think clearly, seek expert advice, plan wisely, and learn from the mistakes of others. The Old Testament says that "wisdom comes from a multitude of advisors." Some strategies just work better than others. Buildings are always designed and "blueprinted" in advance. Our lives should be designed just as carefully.

3. Unfailing Optimism. This is not shallow "positive thinking", but a clear-headed, conscious faith in the future and in your own potential. "Where there is a will, there is a way," or as Hannibal said over 2000 years ago, "We will find a way, or make one." High achievers believe in their skills, in their plans, and in their futures. They forge ahead with confidence built on integrity and careful planning.

4. Hard Work. Ben Franklin observed, "Early to bed, early to rise makes a man (or woman) healthy, wealthy and wise." I've heard people say achievement should be "effortless" and I agree that sometimes enormous amounts of work can flow easily and quickly, but I also know that creating a great life usually requires dedication, personal discipline, attention to detail, and effort.

5. Patience and Persistence. A great life is rarely built in a day. It takes time develop a life of one's own. There will be mistakes and wrong turns along the way, and highly successful people are neither surprised nor disheartened by this. They simply get a good night's sleep and start again in the morning. They learn from their mistakes, correct them, and move on with better skills and more effective strategies.

There are more fundamentals than we have room for here, but they have not changed, and there are no "new" fundamentals! Creating a great life does not take extraordinary luck, unusual talent or skill. Building a great life does, however, require that we follow the "rules" that make life work out well. The fundamentals are not sexy or exciting or sophisticated, but they are tried and true. Use them to create the life you truly want.

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