What is success, anyway? And who gets to define it for you?
Do you ever get fed up with all the success talk out there?
You’re supposed to exhibit the 7 habits, use the power of positive thinking, follow the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership, manage in a minute, win friends, influence people, and try to figure out who moved your cheese.
There have been thousands of books, articles, and blogs written about achieving success. And most if it is pretty good stuff. But really, when you look at it all as a whole, doesn’t it seem overly complex?
It becomes this big, huge, daunting laundry list of things you’re supposed to do to be successful. It’s overwhelming. How can you possibly follow all that advice and put all those principles into play in one lifetime?
As much as I love good personal development, I’ve come to believe that it must be taken in moderate doses.
Personal development books and blogs are uplifting and motivational to read. I’m a sucker for a good Zig Ziglar book. (I have several autographed ones) In fact, I’m a fan of a lot of success and personal development authors.
But if you’re someone like me who enjoys reading that type of thing, let me throw a little caution flag your way: Don’t become a self-help groupie. Being a fan is ok. Being a student is ok. But don’t become a groupie.
What’s the difference? A self-help groupie spends all their time reading, psyching up, getting motivated, and motivating others. That all sounds like positive stuff right? So what’s wrong with that? The main problem is that nowhere in that list is anything about action or implementing the principles you learn about in those books.
My Brother’s Psychic Moment
My father, like his father and grandfather before him, owned a small business. From a young age, my older brother Jerry and I would help out around the office running errands, cleaning up, and helping out with just about anything that Dad wanted us to do.
Yes. You read right. Jerry and Gary are brothers. We rhyme. It’s probably the only thing I’m angry with my parents over – and I flat out refuse to tell you the names of my other three siblings. When you say them all out loud it sounds like that song “The Name Game.”
Jerry is almost 9 years older than me. One summer while we were both working for my dad, Jerry said something to me that has stuck with me to this day. I would estimate that I was probably 11 or 12 at the time which would make Jerry around 19 or 20.
I don’t know what happened that day that prompted him to say it, but out of nowhere he turned to me and said, “You know Gary… guys like you and me will always do well in this world.”
Not knowing what he was talking about, I asked, “What? Why do you say that?” He answered, “Because we always show up and we always do our best.”
At the time, I kind of took it as a pessimistic comment. It seemed like he was saying that the rest of society was so bad that someone who “just” showed up looked good by comparison.
But as I got older and started working, the wisdom of what he said started to reveal itself to me. In fact, the more I pay attention even now, the more I understand.
After all the books, all the articles, all the seminars, and all the blogs – the root of success really is simple. And my brother nailed it: Show up and do your best.
Always Show Up
Be present. When you’re doing a job, when you’re at school, when you’re spending time with someone – be there. Physically and mentally.
Be On Time. I have to give credit to my father on this one. It’s a pet peeve that I still carry with me to this day. He always said “When you’re late, you’re basically telling people that their time is worth nothing to you.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be that guy.
Be There For Others When They Need You. When you commit to someone, show up. Brave the headaches and the bad weather to be the kind of person people can depend on.
Don’t Quit. Show up every day – no matter what. Mentally, physically, and emotionally show up over and over again until you get it right. Even when everything is going wrong. It’s all about fortitude. One of the saddest qualities of the human race is that we seem to have a knack for quitting way too early. Breakthroughs usually occur after a period of intense resistance. Be the person who sticks it out.
Do Your Best
Don’t be lazy. Pretty self-explanatory stuff here, right? It’s hard to get a break or gain any traction sitting on your backside. Doing your best means getting up and making things happen.
Do What’s Right. Your best also means being the best you possible. Do what’s right because it’s right – not just because you might get something out of it.
Challenge Yourself. Whatever baseline you’ve established as your best, raise the bar. Stretch your expectations. Push it further today than you did yesterday – and push it further tomorrow than you did today.
Don’t Quit. Here we are again. There must be something to this don’t quit stuff. Your best requires persistence. You can’t be your best if you quit on yourself.
At The Core, Success Is Simple
By all means, consume your self-help and personal development books. I do. But when it all seems a bit much, remember the simple answer to the question, “What is success?” is show up and do your best.
What About You?
Do you sometimes find self-help or personal development overwhelming?
What types of personal development information do you read?
How do you keep it simple? Do you have any tips to share?
Let’s talk about it in the comments!