When I was 19 years old, I started selling Amway Products. Although I didn't continue in this business, I did continue a wonderful habit that I picked up at the sales seminars. That habit was reading success-principle types of books. I've read dozens of them and I often am reading 2 or 3 books at a time. I thought about the key principles that are repeated over and over in most of these books. I've come up with 5 key success principles that I think are very relevant for one's success. Here they are:
1) Have a purpose in life bigger than yourself.
◦ People often wonder "What is my purpose in life?" For one thing, it's a journey - not a destination. I have heard speakers talk about finding your life's purpose and there are 3 things that are mentioned that you should pay attention to to ensure you're on the right path. They are as follows:
1) Follow your passions and desires.. what energizes you and stimulates your mind? What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?
2) Do something that involves using your natural born talents and gifts... how do you know your talents and gifts? They are things that you are good at; they are things that you are often complimented on by other people; they are things that come easier to you than other people; they are things that you continue to discover throughout your life (you don't always know all of your talents & gifts because you will continue to discover them on your journey.)
3) Use the experiences of your past, both good and bad. For example, if you were abused as a child, your ability to overcome that abuse might play a part in helping other abuse victims to overcome. It can also be work experiences... you can build on the education, training and experience that you already have. But do stay open-minded to new opportunities as they might take you on your purposeful journey.
◦ A career in law enforcement allows you to give of yourself - to the victim, the victim’s family, and to our society. It feels good to make a difference. It takes your life to a higher level.
◦ Helping others is really a key to happiness. You’ll never be happy as long as your focus is only on “self”. Selfishness, Self-Pity, & Self-Loathing are all narcissistic behaviors. It's unfortunate that many leaders (in public and private sectors) have self-centered agendas. I believe this is destructive to the organization that they lead. We need more leaders whose purpose is bigger than their own agenda. In giving of yourself to others, you will find contentment and joy – get your focus off of yourself!
2) Overcome fear. “Do it afraid” if necessary, i.e., do “it” regardless of fear.
◦ Never make a decision based on fear; you must overcome the fear of failure.
◦ Don’t let an opportunity pass you by because you don’t “feel” ready. If you have the training, then allow yourself to stretch - you can do far more than you realize.
◦ Know that it usually takes one full year to feel totally comfortable in a new job, especially one in law enforcement. Don’t give up before you reach that point. Know that anything worthwhile will generate fear in you because it is causing you to grow and stretch from where you are right now.
3) Do everything with excellence. Remember QUALITY not quantity.
◦ Stop multi-tasking and focus on the task at hand. You can’t do something with excellence when you’re trying to do several things (or several projects) at the same time. We live in an information / technology society. We are constantly bombarded with information and new ideas. Although this can keep us cutting edge, it can also cause us to lose focus.
Think about the core foundation of your career; what is most important? In law enforcement, policing is the core. In education, teaching is the core. Although additional projects are important, they must not deter us from the core of what we are doing. If so, our foundation is shaky and excellence is lost. Don't spread yourself too thin. Say no to things that will take you away from your highest priorities."We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle
4) Never compromise your integrity. Ever. Even the little things count.
◦ Integrity or lack thereof will come back to you. It’s the law of the universe. Great leaders fall because of little compromises. One gets slightly off track with a "little" wrong decision or compromise. Then another "little" compromise is made, then another. The once-great leader suddenly falls and everyone wonders "what happened?" It was the little compromises along the way that lead to the great fall.
◦ Do what others are not willing to do (hard work & taking chances in life) in order to have what most others will never have (without compromising integrity). Just because others around you are making compromises doesn't mean that you should! Just the slightest compromise in integrity could destroy your career and most certainly will take you down the wrong path, away from your life's purpose.
5) Discipline yourself.
◦ Overcome feelings of laziness & indifference; we all have them at times but you must fight them – it can spiral you downward & hurt your success. Push through it.
◦ You must have good time management to reach your goals. In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, time management is broken into 4 major quadrants:
1) Urgent / Important
2) Not Urgent / Important
3) Urgent / Not Important
4) Not Urgent / Not Important.
The book talks about focusing the majority of your time in quadrant 2. You need to set up specific time for the important things in your life, which include: working on a school or work project; spending time with your loved ones; improving your own health (exercising); spending time improving your spiritual life (which is an important part in our lives that most people ignore). I can't really expand on this in one paragraph... you should really buy the book to read more about it. But you need to first come up with what are the most important priorities in your life, then you need to set aside time each week to work on each one. Then, you need to JUST SAY NO to other things and other people that will take you away from your priorities. (Yes, that will make people mad, but they will get over it - this is YOUR life - fight for it!) Oh, and you should also turn off the computer & cell phone when you have set aside time for one of your priorities... social media falls under category 4, which steals time from category 2. If you don't spend time in category 2, you will be living your life in category 1, which is emergency mode. Read the book for more information and clarification.
◦ Dismiss negative thoughts about yourself, your circumstances, your past/future. To quote my son's jiujitsu instructor "Coach Al", "You never lose, you only learn."
◦ Stay focused on your goal. You can control your thinking – it takes practice. Tip in controlling your thoughts: You can't say something out loud and think a thought at the same time...if you are having a negative thought, such as "I'm going to do horrible in this interview (or test)", then you counteract that thought with an opposite statement that you say out loud, such as "I will remember everything that I studied... I'm going to kick butt in this interview!" I always look at myself in the mirror before an interview or a major test (such as my certification test) and I talk to myself saying positive things to myself about how great I'm going to do. I've done this in public bathrooms too - but if you do this in a public bathroom, you need to look under the stalls first so you don't scare someone! I also play "Rocky"music (from the soundtrack "Rocky") before a big test or interview... yes, it's very corny, but it makes me feel like a fighter, which makes me feel like a winner.. Find some music that does the same for you and play it before a big test, interview, or performance.
No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Tell the truth. There's less to remember. ~ John Maxwell
Often, people want power to play with, not power to be responsible for. ~ Joyce Meyer
Stereotypes are exaggerations that become expectations... they cause a person to search for evidence to support what is already believed to be true. ~ Dondi Scumaci
Clear perception of fact is the talent that defeats injustice in the courtroom. ~King Solomon
The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. ~Vince Lombardi
Set goals for yourself. Break them down into categories such as: Spiritual, Family, Education / Career, Financial, Personal (Health / Hobbies).
Set time limits such as: long term (5-10 years), medium-range (1 year), and short-term (monthly, weekly, and daily). Your short term goals should lead to your medium-range and finally long term goals. The daily and weekly priorities are often what throws us off track of reaching longer term goals. We get busy with life and distracted by many things (sometimes emergencies). Set a couple of goals each week that are stepping stones toward the bigger ones... for example - if you're trying to improve your marriage, a weekly goal might be to spend time with your spouse or purposely do something special for that person. A health and fitness goal might be to work three (3) 30-minute workouts that week. A career goal might be to look for and/or apply for one internship or paid job each week, and so on.
Be flexible with your goals... they will change as life's circumstances come your way. Do NOT have tunnel vision toward your goals, but maintain an open mind to change your goals as needed. For example, if you have a goal of working in law enforcement, that's great. But if you insist that you will only work as a Crime Scene Technician and you are not open to other opportunities, you might miss out on success. Who knows, there could be an opportunity to work in the probation department, or perhaps as a sworn officer or agent... it might not have been your initial goal that you set, but that's okay. Roll with it... stay open-minded and know when to step through a door of opportunity.
Mission Statement - It can help to write out a mission statement for each of these areas of your life. I created a mission statement for the following categories: Wife, Mother, Daughter/Sister/Friend, Christian, Instructor/Writer, and Community / Church Member. I wrote a mission for each of these areas of my life. Since this is a professional website, I'll share the mission statement that I wrote as an Instructor / writer:
"I am a diligent instructor and writer and I strive for excellence in every task before me. I am not afraid, discouraged or anxious but full of peace, well-balanced and fearlessly confident in my work. I encourage my students and am dedicated to their education and success. I teach my students to perform at an excellent standard and I set the example for them to follow. I continue to grow and learn in my own education to better prepare myself for teaching."REFLECTIONS:
All of us have things to overcome in life. Some experience more tragedy than others. But none of us are getting out of this thing called "life" without some bumps, bruises, scrapes, and possibly brokenness along the way. Whether it's healing from an unstable, chaotic upbringing; a dysfunctional or even abusive relationship; betrayal from one you trusted; enduring the tragedy of loss or victimization; even overcoming financial hardship or health issues - all of these things can leave us wondering if there is hope; if it's possible to climb out of the deep pit and see a glimmer of light again.
I've learned to look in my past so that I can heal, reflect, and learn from my mistakes, but to NOT spend too much time dwelling on the past... Self pity can creep in if you let it and it can have a stronghold! We all need our "Ben & Jerry" ice cream days, but those should not occur each week! I've learned to look to the future, but NOT get overwhelmed by huge (seemingly impossible) goals. Financial, educational, career, physical/health and relationship goals can all be reached in the same manner - focusing on what you can do TODAY...
It will take sacrifice, possibly unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness and probably confrontation of truth (truth about yourself, which is hard to face.) What are you overcoming? What is your goal? Don't focus on the overwhelming size of it. Ask yourself - what can I do TODAY to heal and strengthen my core? What can I do TODAY to move toward my goal? As long as you're making progress, you will make it. You will fail from time to time (everyone does), but pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start again. Remember...
NEVER GIVE UP!!!