In our previous Wisdom Note, we explored six guideposts to live an effective life. This week we will expand our thoughts about life and how we can be successful. If you miss any of our Wisdom Notes please go to the blog to read past newsletters.
What does it take to be successful in any area of life? Here are five elements that will help.
Bill Gates was able to build Microsoft and became the richest man in the world because he was passionate about his vision of putting “a computer on every desk in every home.” Passion, defined as intense emotional excitement, goes beyond mere enthusiasm.
How Passion Is an Element of Success
A person with passion is a person who can set goals. Without them, you’ll have no clear direction and will drift along the road of circumstances. Another technology visionary, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer, abandoned his studies at Reed College to pursue more lucrative goals. Once he identified his passion, he was impatient with a slow path to carrying it out. You, too, can recognize your passions. When you share your goals with others, however, don’t be surprised to hear things like, “Yes, but that’s not realistic,” or “That’s not practical.”
“You see things and say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were and say ‘Why not?’” – George Bernard Shaw
A couple of years ago we watched a Dolly Parton TV special called A Coat of Many Colors. It was touching and inspiring. When it was Dolly’s turn at her high school graduation to announce her plans, she said, “I’m going to Nashville to become a star.” The entire place erupted in laughter. She was stunned, but that laughter instilled in her an even greater determination to realize her dream. Dolly went on to write over 3,000 songs. Today she holds the record for the number of awards for a female artist – including seven Grammy Awards and an Emmy. The first year her theme park Dollywood opened, in 1986, gross business revenues for the city of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, jumped 47% over the previous year. Her Imagination Library program has been adopted in 600 communities in 41 states. Dolly is respectfully referred to as the “Tennessee Icon.”
How Determination Is an Element of Success
Without determination, a person can easily be lured away from their path. Many years ago, Viktor Frankl said, “Without a clear purpose, any obstacle will send a person in a new direction.” Stephen Covey, in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about the tendency to respond to circumstances rather than priorities. Just recognize that if you respond to circumstances, any obstacle will send you off in a new direction. But with determination, you can establish priorities that will guide you through even challenging and unexpected circumstances.
As a young boy, Walt Disney lived in a world of fantasy and entertainment. When he first approached a Kansas City newspaper with his drawings, the editor told him, “These won’t do. If I were you, I’d give up this work. From these sketches, it’s obvious your talent lies elsewhere.” Walt could have easily given up. Here was a known “expert” telling him he had no talent for cartooning. He could have easily made excuses for not pursuing his dream to draw and write. All he could find for a studio was an old mouse-infested garage, but in that studio, Walt continued to draw his cartoons. We all know how one of those mice became an international household word. Talent is a funny thing. If you wait for perfect conditions, they will likely never appear.
How Talent Is an Element of Success
Talent allows a person to focus. No one has talent in every area; discover where you rise to the top. What are those things you love to do whether or not you get paid? Sometimes we discover that our first sense of “calling” is guided more by others’ expectations than as a true reflection of our strongest areas of competence. Your talent is an essential element for success when combined with the other elements. It may require that you invest heavily to allow your talent to bring success, but investment in yourself is never a loss. “If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
Years ago, Jenny Craig was faced with losing 45 pounds. While losing it, she gained the self-discipline she needed to launch her own company. The estimated annual company sales today are $400 million.
How Self-Discipline Is an Element of Success
Without self-discipline, a person can easily be swayed by others. Self-discipline is the foundation that makes the other elements work. Knowing the other elements is the initial step, but acting on them always requires self-discipline. Self-discipline is not a hardship. It is a joy to be focused and intentional while others around you evidence their floundering lives with wasted time and resources. Maya Angelou persisted in her writing even when others discouraged her. At the time of her death, she enjoyed over $4 million yearly income.
Even with everything lining up logically or financially, real success requires that step of faith into the unknown. Remember Thomas Edison’s 10,000 failed attempts to invent the light bulb? He has the passion, determination, talent, and self-discipline to carry him on, but that alone did not bring him success. He had unwavering faith to believe that if God had allowed him to see it in his mind, it could become a physical reality.
How Faith is an Element of Success
Faith is best described in Hebrews 11:1-3, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.”
The five elements that we discovered this week will help us to refocus our lives so that we invest our time into what is most important and will bring success to our life purpose. Next week on our trek, we will study the ten laws of a living legacy. In addition to our weekly Wisdom Notes, encourage your friends and family to also join us on our daily podcast – Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.