The "Secrets" Of Success Aren't Secrets At All

The “secrets” of success aren’t really secrets. It’s just that some people don’t know what they are.

Successful Cat

Years ago Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way.” It’s a nice song, and to some extent its lyrics are admirable. Everybody needs to carve out a life and a career that makes sense to them.

On the other hand, the song rings of Emotional Immaturity instead of Emotional Intelligence. After all, the truly smart people and the most successful people (a.k.a. Emotionally Intelligent) have always tapped into O.P.E. or Other People’s Experience. They know there’s no sense in learning something the hard way or the long way if they can learn how other people have achieved their success, adopt some of their practices, and move ahead more rapidly. It’s only the naive, misguided, uninformed, or Emotionally Immature people who say, “Don’t tell me what to do. I’ll do it my way!” Somehow they mistakenly think the way to learn something is through trial and error. Of course, they can learn a few things that way, but the tuition is typically very high and quite painful.

As for me, I want to be counted amongst the Emotionally Intelligent folks. I want to squeeze every bit of happiness and success out of this life. So that’s why I keep reading, researching, and writing about what I’ve learned in these “Tuesday Tips,” and that’s why I keep getting hired to speak. People want me to share what I’ve learned about building and maintaining a positive attitude, communicating effectively, and leading others to be their very best.

Some of the things I’ve learned come from interviewing thousands of people over the years. I want to learn their best practices. And the same goes for my Speaker Hall of Fame colleague Michael Aun. He’s been in the habit of interviewing five people a day five days a week for several decades. And he publishes some of his insights as “Graduation Tips” to help graduating seniors have the best possible shot at the best possible future.

Actually, I think his “Graduation Tips” apply to everyone at any age. As I discuss in my upcoming book, “Payoff: Clarify Your Purpose, Prove Your Passion, Master The Process, Produce The Result,” almost everyone is looking for the same two things: happiness and success. And that applies to their work lives as well as their personal lives. So let me pass along some of Aun’s tips and some of my own. I’ve placed them into two categories: “The Secrets of Success” and “The Keys To Happiness.” We’ll look at “The Secrets of Success” this week and examine “The Keys To Happiness” next week. Take what you like and discard the rest. You’re sure to find a few gems among these tips.


  • Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.
  • Find something that you like to do and do it with a passion.
  • Develop a reputation for integrity and dependability. That starts with being prepared to work 12-14 hour days for the first 5-10 years of your career. You must prove yourself.
  • The highest paid people in society today are problem solvers. Solve another person’s problem and you make yourself indispensable.
  • People don’t fail in business; they simply quit trying. Einstein said he wasn’t smarter than other people; he simply wouldn’t quit.
  • Find something that’s hard to do because you will have fewer competitors to deal with.
  • The most important thing in any line of work is “service”. Remember this truth: “It’s the Customer, Stupid!”
  • Learn to be valuable to others and you will be rewarded with more money.
  • Learn to hit the curve balls. And don’t ever expect them to stop throwing curve balls.
  • If you work hard, results are easy. If you work easy, results are hard.
  • No one ever drowned in a pool of sweat.
  • Remember the best way to change the world is to set an example for others to follow.
  • Do your best to be as great as your children think you are.
  • Four critical words to use: I need your help.
  • Whatever you do, persistence will succeed.
  • Face the important before you tackle the urgent.
  • The size of your potential is determined by the space between your ears. A Degree opens the door; continuing education moves you to the top. If you’re not expandable, you’re expendable.
  • Ad-libbing is for amateurs. Join Toastmasters. Go every week. Become a better communicator.
  • The person with all the answers is usually doing the least amount of talking and the most amount of listening. So talk less and listen more.
  • You are never too smart to learn a new way to solve an old problem.
  • You need goals and deadlines in your life. Goals must be big enough to be exciting and deadlines must be clear enough to keep you honest.
  • To try something where there is little hope of success is to risk failure; but to not try, guarantees it.
  • Winners have plans and losers have excuses. Winners make commitments and losers make promises.
  • The best way to predict the future is to create it.
  • Winners are winners because they win. There is not a whole lot more to it than that.
  • Failure isn’t fatal and success isn’t final.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a chance with a new idea.
  • It’s better to attempt something great and fail than to attempt nothing and succeed.
  • Big shots are little shots that never stop shooting.
  • Successes don’t last forever and neither do failures.
  • You can’t lead to where you’ve never been.
  • Character never takes a day off.
  • Common sense is not always common.
  • Don’t worry about being the best; just do your best.
  • You only fail when you stop trying.
  • In a great attempt, it is glorious even to fail. Nobody boos a pole vaulter who misses at 20 feet. Always stay in over your head.
  • Casualness leads to casualties.
  • Make a to-do list each day and take on the toughest first.
  • In the beginning, you encounter some hard bumps, be glad. At least you are out of the rut.
  • It takes years to become an overnight success.
  • Slow starters seldom succeed.
  • The best substitute for genius is persistence.
  • The first time you touch a piece of paper you make money. The second time you touch it you lose money. Minimize paperwork; maximize decisions.
  • You don’t always make the right decisions; you make decisions and then you make them right.
  • Time control is the rudder on the ship. Procrastination is nothing more than neglect.
  • Spend three to four hours a week planning and you’ll have a better week in return.
  • A plan without action is futile. Action without a plan is fatal.
  • Now that you’ve graduated go on to become educated.
  • Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepared for them and how badly you want them.
  • Goals provide the energy sources that drive our lives. Goals determine what you’re going to become.
  • What you get by achieving your goals is not nearly as important as what you become while achieving your goals.
  • If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you nowhere. And you’ll wind up someplace you don’t want to be.
  • Discipline is the difference between goals and accomplishments.
  • Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.
  • Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment repeated every day.
  • Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.
  • Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day.

ACTION:  Select three of the success “secrets” as the ones you will implement this week.