THE Key to Success…period

Forrest Gump said to Jenny, “I am not a smart man, but I know what love is.”  I don’t know how smart I am and I am sure that I have not reached any great pinnacle of success, but I do know what is required to be successful in business, calling or avocation.  TIME.

Most of us will seek success on more nominal levels than the few exceptional examples of our era or ever.  Success is not always grand and profound, but is usually genuine and fulfilling.  To achieve takes TIME.  It takes time, too.

Each of us could probably cite a few dozen quotes or examples about good things come to those who wait, or about the power of persistence, or success born in tenacity.  Research points to the 10,000-hour mark as the amount of experience needed to become exceptional in a skill. And those are hours of work, not just time in proximity to the skill desired.  10,000 hours of watching basketball makes one an exceptional watcher, not an exceptional shooter, dribbler, passer, etc.  You gotta pay your dues and that takes time.  But, I believe that TIME is equally important, and can, in fact, provide you the impetus to invest time.

T I M E:  Trust, instinct, methods and enthusiasm.

Trust yourself.  Trust your ideas, motivation, insights, wisdom, knowledge, inklings and intuitions.  Trust your calling, drive, passion, purpose and mission.  Trust yourself and your Self.  You have spent a lot more than 10,000 hours dedicated to becoming you.  Think how good you could be at that if you applied that time and all the lessons learned.

I think of the multitude of missteps and miscalculations that I’ve made in my various experiences, and it seems that the vast majority occurred when I allowed myself to be overly influenced by others’ coaching, guiding and providing answers.  Gather and assimilate information, but make your own decisions and judgements. Gather information, learn from experience, discern for clarity and then trust your answers.

Follow your instincts.  If you trust yourself, the deciding factor, the tie-breaker among options, the clincher when it is time to fish or cut bait will be your instincts. Pay attention to our gut reactions, and to when your antennae begin to wiggle in response to various changes in condition.  You spent a lifetime developing knowledge, wisdom and answers based, not on theory or text books, but on experience.

My youngest son took a human resources class in college.  On the first day, the professor admitted to the class that he had never owned a company, managed an HR office, hired anyone, reviewed anyone’s performance or fired anyone.  But, he had the right credentials to teach.  While he was able to provide guidance on the legal and process aspects of the subject, he had no inkling of the human side of human resources.  My son, who had already done those human things with human beings who worked for him, shared his frustration.  “So much of it is common sense and understanding people.”  He knew in his heart and his gut how to deal with the human side of things.  He trusts his own knowledge and follows his instincts. He is a great boss.

Don’t think bosses, coaches, partners, colleagues, ministers, gurus or mentors have all the answers.  They don’t.  They shouldn’t.  Unless you want to be hot off the assembly line with others’ answers and their solutions and a clone of their success, you need to utilize the best of each and develop your own answers, solutions and decisions.  Trust yourself and follow your instincts.

Develop methods, your own methods.  Every business, craft and undertaking – every activity your choose – will require methods.  Consider best practices for organizing your business, eliminating writer’s block, developing productive routines, staying on top of filing and bookkeeping, and so on, and then use which solutions, or combinations thereof, work best for you.

I enjoy reading about the routines of creative people.  There are similarities and differences between them.  Don’t fall for the trap of reading about the routines of one person you admire and then ignore the wisdom and knowledge from others in different fields.  I teach a program on time management, but it doesn’t teach a successful model to people.  It reveals different ways of thinking about time, and methods for managing it as well as pitfalls to avoid.  My program is a field with a lot of fruit trees.  My goal is to encourage attendees to pick the right types for their personal tastes and situations.

Whichever combination you choose to blend, look for the one that is alchemy – it provides you gold, treasure and value, whether literally or figuratively.  Don’t combine options from the three top experts in your field just because they are the three top experts.  For you, your personality and your situation, you may create a bomb of an experience!

As you assemble ideas, keep in mind that you are building methods.  Oxford Dictionary reminds us that a method is “a particular form of procedure for accomplishing or approaching something, especially a systematic or established one.”   Develop methods that involve your instincts while you trust yourself.  Make methods that work for you.

Enthusiasm speaks to intense and eager enjoyment, interest or approval (paraphrasing Oxford’s again), and the word comes from Greek origins meaning possessed by a god or full of spirit.  No matter how you look at it, enthusiasm is a force not to be denied.  It should be utilized for the gift that it is.

My mom told me when I was young that “your enthusiasm will carry you far.”  She shared that insight with me more than 50 years ago, and it is as true now as it ever was.  And, perhaps, it is even more important now. It has certainly been tested by life over the years, but genuine enthusiasm is indomitable.

I am amused by books and articles that talk about how to get enthusiasm, as if it came in a bottle or could be bought off a shelf.  Enthusiasm is not something you ingest or put on; it comes from within.  It is not a matter of “do this” to develop your enthusiasm, but “be this.”  Look at the definition of the word and its roots.  Since the dawn of time, enthusiasm was understood to be something that is based on what you are, not what you do.  Enthusiasm manifests itself in what you do and how you do it; it does not originate from what you do. (This might be a topic unto itself for a blog posting that won’t be short!)  Let it be within you.  Tend the spark when you feel it.


Take time, and have TIME.  Trust yourself while you follow your instincts while developing methods in all that you do, and live with enthusiasm.  Every day.  You will succeed. Guaranteed.

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