Back in the days when I was nearing graduation from College, I was filled with idealism and energy. And even though I had worked my way through school at a local radio station, I was still relatively clueless about the big, shining world that waited for me at the other end of my graduation walk.
One of my professors invited an honest to goodness TV Salesman into our class that senior spring, and after he imparted wisdom that I’ve long since forgotten, I found myself among a handful of students who cornered him afterwards to ask him for the “Secret of Success.”
When I posed the question, he rubbed his nose in deep thought and said: “Know what you want and don’t stop till you get it.”
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of about 50 college seniors attending the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Convention in Lansing. Afterward I found myself cornered by a couple of students. I anticipated being consulted for my great wisdom and was a little taken aback when they thrust a package of paper into my hands.
“Here is my resume,” said one. “Can you help me find a job?”
“What’s your goal,” I asked.
The question seemed to stop them short for a moment. And then one said, “To get a TV production job.”
The other said, “I want to be rich.”
“Let’s start with your dream,” I said. “What would you do if you could work for love instead of for money?”
And when I evaluated the blank stares I got in return, I was reminded again of the late-great Earl Nightengale’s maxim on why it’s so easy to earn more money, have more of the things we want and achieve just about any objective we set our minds to.
The reason more men and women don’t make it to that top percentile of the most successful people in our society is that so few, so very few spend any constructive time thinking about how to do it.
The road to real success in life has so few people running the race that everyone can be a winner.
So let’s talk about how to become rich. I believe the secret is hidden in the four P’s. They are my sure-fire, easy-to-remember formula for achieving any goal you set in your life. They work in every situation for every human being regardless of your background, parents, financial status, talent or education.
Here they are:
To be successful in any endeavor you must first discover what really turns you on, you need to develop a road map on how to get where you want to go, you have to stick with the program no matter what, and once you achieve your dream you need to help pass it on to others.
Now that you’ve heard the four P’s, let’s dig into what they really mean.
Here’s number one: Before you can be successful, you must seek your PASSION.
What really excites you? If you could take a pill that would guarantee that you would succeed in anything you tried, what would you do? Think about the values that are important to you. A wise person once said that inner peace only happens when activities and values match.
Passion is what separates Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Norah Jones and Billy Joel from the millions of us who sing in the shower and dream of a movie career. Passion is what kept Bret Farve and Cal Ripkin, Jr. coming back to the game on the days when their knees and muscles were screaming for a day off. Passion is what helped Viktor Frankel and thousands of others survive the horrors of the concentration camps. And passion kept Thomas Edison on task when he failed over 150 times in his quest to create electric light.
Taking time to explore what activities, people, places and things really excite you can help guarantee that you will select the right job, the right home, and the right life partner.
And finding your passion requires disciplined process of THINKING. Now if thinking were an animal, today it would be on the endangered species list. My two college student friends probably spend more time planning a vacation then they do thinking about their personal goals and objectives.
So THINK. Think regularly and with a purpose. Think with a pencil and a pad of paper close at hand. And think at the same time every day. When you develop the habit of thinking, you’ll be surprised at how many great ideas seem to fly out of your mind and onto the paper.
Once you understand your passion, you need a PLAN
David Jensen of UCLA discovered that people with goals earn more than twice as much money as people without goals. They are also happier, healthier and have better relationships with friends and loved ones.
There is no doubt about it, Goals are good for you. Now we could spend an hour just talking about goal setting, but here are a few thoughts to wet your whistle.
Acrostics are a good way to remember important concepts and I use the word SMART as an easy way to remember how to set Goals.
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely
Let’s start with the “S” in SMART which stands for Specific: Zig Ziglar likes to say that successful people don’t live life as a wandering generality, they become a meaningful specific. The more specific detail you can put into your goals, the more likely you will achieve them.
The M stands for Measurable: How will you now when you have achieved the goal? Set metrics to keep track of your progress and use them as waypoints to celebrate your steps toward your goal.
The next two letters stand for Attainable and Realistic: Nothing takes the wind out of your sails like a goal that is beyond reality. The old saying that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” fits into our goal setting plan. So set short term goals for your day, your week and your month. And don’t put your objectives so far out of reach that you’ll be discouraged when you don’t achieve them.
The final letter in our acrostic stands for Timely: All goals need a deadline, so set a specific time by which you will achieve each goal you set.
Here are a few additional bullet points:
For each goal you set, identify “What’s in it for me.” You’ll be able to stick with your plan if you’re fully aware of the benefits.
Set a variety of goals: big goals, small goals, short range goals, long range goals.
Set goals for mind, body and spirit. Zig Ziglar is the king of goal setting training. He believes in a goal wheel with spokes radiating out in each of seven segments of your life:
Don’t set more than four goals for a particular day.
Break down your big goals into bite size smaller goals to ensure that they are attainable.
Anticipate the obstacles you may encounter on your way to your goals.
List the people, skills, organizations and resources, you will need to develop to achieve your goals.
Again, set a deadline for when you will achieve your goals. Having a deadline helps to focus your activities.
Once you have a passionate objective and a detailed plan about how to get there, there are two important facts you need to know.
Number one: You will fail along the road to success.
Remember always that failure is only an event, not a person. Henry Ford started three different Ford Motor Companies before founding the organization we now associate with his name. Domino’s Pizza baron Tom Monahan says that he made so many mistakes along the way that he often thought about giving up his dream. When my friend Mike Dyer and I were starting out in real estate, we lived by Tommy Hopkins’ wise words, “Never see failure as failure, but only as a learning experience.”
The second thing to remember is the one word that can guarantee your success.
And the word is: Attitude.
As the great American Psychologist and Philosopher William James says: Your ATTUTUDE will be the single biggest factor in determining the extent of your success.
Think about the leaders you admire. It’s a good bet that they all share a positive outlook on life. They expect good things to happen and on the occasions when clouds cross the horizon, they seem to have infinite reservoirs of resiliency and bounce back from failure to success again and again.
Armed with the knowledge that failures are the stepping stones to success, you can develop a positive attitude that will help you PERSEVERE to reach your dreams.
Calvin Coolidge is credited with this classic quote: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.”
Perseverance means continually testing new ideas, seeking feedback and discarding what doesn’t work. When I started up the World Beacon international radio network, we spent over $20,000.00 on broadcasting equipment. After continual experimentation we ended up feeding our transmitters around the world with a $2000.00 dollar computer and free, open-source MP3 software. My Emergency Email Network went through four different vendors in search of the perfect email solution. Based on what we learned, we ended up writing it ourselves and patenting the new process.
Here’s a skill that can help you persevere. Whether your goal is to become an elite athlete, a musician, doctor, a minister or a business person, imagine now how that person behaves and start now to act as would the person that has already achieved your goal. How do they dress, how do they speak, what education do they have, what do they read, how do they spend their days. Demonstrate these behaviors everyday in the unfailing kindness you show towards others, the discipline with which you follow your plan, and the integrity and character you radiate out into the world around you. Begin now to act like the person you hope to be and you will become that person.
A successful life is all about cause and effect. My favorite quote from Earl Nightingale is this: “Our rewards in life will always be in direct proportion to our service.” Or as it says in the Bible, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
With passion, and plan and perseverance, you will overcome every obstacle, and in time you will achieve every meaningful goal you set. Others will call you lucky, but there is really no luck involved. You are just taking advantage of the law of cause and effect. Your causes are excellent and your effects are equally as good.
And finally, what do you do when you become what others call successful? The last P in our formula is PERPETUATION.
When you become successful, you will want to pass it on to others.
Ely and Edith Broad are classic examples of people who are working to perpetuate their success in the community. The Broads have been immensely successful by adding value in the business world. And now they spend a good portion of their time serving on non-profit boards, investing in things they are passionate about.
During the Depression, steel baron Andrew Carnegie built hundreds of libraries across the nation so that people could have access to the knowledge that could lead them to achieve their goals.
Drive across the Michigan State University campus and you’ll see dozens of buildings named for the wonderful men and women who continue to perpetuate their legacy of success through their generous contributions to the Institution.
Share your abundance, be a mentor and inspire others to excellence. And always give more than you get.
The American mystic Ram Dass says that a funny thing about reaching a major goal is that it often seems to be less and less important the closer we get to it. In elementary school we dreamed of reaching middle school, but after we graduate from high school, that same fifth grade class seems small and insignificant.
In the end, your definition of success might mirror the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child, a garden,
or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”
The more goals you achieve, the more you learn that Success is a process, not an event.
There’s a great book called “Flow” written by a scholar named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He talks about the feeling you get when you are in the midst of working on a difficult problem and begin to make progress. The exhilaration, the energy and the excitement of pursuing a worthy goal is his definition of Flow. Successful people say that this “in the zone” feeling of pleasure, concentration and achievement is what it’s all about.
The process of seeking your passion, building a game plan, overcoming the obstacles through healthy relationships and continuing education, and perpetuating the dream by sharing these secrets with others. That’s the true definition of richness.
PASSION – PLANNING – PERSEVERANCE – PERPETUATION
Now you know it. Go out and do it.