I can give you a six-word formula for success:
Think things through - then follow through.
Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker

In my life no success has come without a good fight
Senator McCain at acceptance speech for nomination

You can fall many times in life, but you're never a failure as long as you try to get up.
Evil Kneivel in Esquire Interview

You haven't lost until you give up

You miss 100% of the shots you never take
Wayne Gretsky

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”
Bobby Unser, 3 time winner of the Indianapolis 500

When someone is successful, there's always a feeling that they were lucky.
Luck plays a part, sure, but to be successful, you must have iron discipline.
You must have energy and hunger and desire and honesty.
Faye Dunaway in Interview with Esquire

When the Going Gets Tough, The Successful Get Tougher

“It’s your path and only yours. People can walk by your side but no one can walk for you,” 
Poeti Norac


A few days before writing this I chatted with an old college friend.  He now has full grown kids all of whom went to college.  One, who he says is very intelligent works 2 menial jobs.  The other can't find a job in his field and lives at home with my friend.  They chose to major in fields for which there is more supply than there is demand.  Many people have huge amounts of debt they accrued while majoring in subjects in which they can't get jobs.  If they had gone to a trade school for a year or two they would have no debt and be making a lot of money.  Donald Trump in one of his books advised that to be successful you should love what you do.  There should also be demand for what you do. 

   Many of us have a lot to do.  We put off until tomorrow the less pressing obligations.  Then tomorrow we put it off again.  Certainly that has applied to me.  Years pass and then I realize I'm still just as overweight if not more so than I was years ago.  I haven't put in the time to finish that invention that I was hoping to try out.  I didn't write that book that I was thinking about writing.  In fact I realize I'm getting older and haven't made much of a difference and I won't be here forever.  Perhaps the most important lesson from this is to remember that life is now.  What you accomplish depends on what you do today, not tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be today within 24 hours so that always applies.  We need to set aside time to think about what our goals are, and how to accomplish them and what we need to do each day to accomplish them.

   When the opportunity comes seize it.  This sounds like common sense but often it is difficult to do.  I've lost plenty of opportunities because psychologically it was too hard for me to seize the opportunity.  When I was in my 20s I met the girl of my dreams who liked me and I had too many hangups to even talk to her.  Years later  I purchased a house at the right time, when interest rates were low and just before prices of houses started to increases rapidly.  When the prices became very high there were more and more predictions of a collapse in the price of housing and many of them made sense.  That was the time to sell.  I mentioned that I should sell to family members and they told me I was crazy and they liked the house and it wouldn't drop that much in value and so on.  I myself liked the house.  I held on to it.  The market collapsed.

   How many of us have done things without thinking them through and then regretted the consequences?  How many of us know what do to but find excuses to do other things?  Many of us know that certain behaviors will help our success (such as studying after work or investing our money) and certain behaviors are likely to hinder our success (such as surfing the net at work or spending money on frivolities) but many of us do not do what we know is best for us.  Part of the secret of success if not taking unnecessary risks just because one wants to.   That doesn't mean we shouldn't risk failure when there is a good reason to take that risk.  Kirk Douglas in an interview with Esquire in January 02 said:

In order to achieve anything, you must be brave enough to fail.

  It's important to love what one does as well so one is motivated to do it and so that one enjoys doing it. 

More important than talent, strength, or knowledge is the ability
to laugh at yourself and enjoy the pursuit of your dreams.
- Amy Grant

   Donald Trump was once asked about the secret to success.   He said you had to be good at what you're doing and you had to love what you're doing. 

   When our efforts fail it is easy to get discouraged and give up and there are situations where giving up is the right choice but often we can overcome if instead of reacting to adversity by giving up we respond by trying harder.   Those who get tougher when the going gets tough are more likely to be more successful than those who give up.  Most advice about success can be summed up with the statement:

Make several plans, choose the best plan, and when the going gets tough, get tougher.

    One key to success that I have learned is to position oneself to fill a need.  The more people need your skills or your products the more they will value you and the more they will pay you.   When I started graduate school I floundered around looking for projects until I decided to try and determine what the people around me needed and focused on delivering that.  Than I became a big success.  In the  job market if one learns high demand skills one will be on the road to success.

   One thing I've learned is that there are convincing arguments that can be made against everything.  Before I ever heard of Ebay, I and I'm sure many other people, had the idea for an online garage sale.  I convinced myself that was a bad idea because I thought that there's no way for would be customers to inspect the merchandise so no one would buy used merchandise over the web.  Ebay has become a very successful company.  They found a way to get around that problem.   Part of the key to success is to not abandon projects because of problems until one has made an attempt to solve them.

   A tragic example of people talking themselves out of taking appropriate action was the behavior of the American State Department during World War II.   During that time millions of Jews were being murdered in Europe and the United States State Department like the governments of the rest of the world, restricted immigration so that the Jews could not escape.  One of the arguments against allowing Jewish immigration were that the Germans would plant Nazi agents among the Jews who would then infiltrate America.  This is a problem that could have been solved if the State Department had wanted to.  Immigrants could have been interviewed and asked who they knew and who they didn't know and suspects could have been tracked.  An advantage of allowing in German Jews would have been that they would have made excellent agents against Germany since they spoke perfect German, knew the country very well and hated the Nazis.   Frequently doing the right thing entails risks.  Yet to be successful and to make the world a better place those risks must be taken. 

   Success requires facing reality.  The United States is failing in the Middle East because it clings to delusions about the Middle East.  Caroline Glick summarized some of those delusions in an article titled "The Long Road to Victory" (Jerusalem Post April 12, 2007).  In that article she wrote that the United States  "is failing because it is implementing policies that prefer imaginary silver bullets to real solutions over real problems."   To succeed one has to learn from one's mistakes and look reality squarely in the eye and assess the truth of what must be done to achieve success.


c o p y r i g h t   ( c )   1 9 9 9 - 2004 Karl Ericson Enterprises.  All rights reserved

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