Choosing To Be Successful

Good and evil increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.

When Maggi Cangialosi was nine, her mother died, and Maggi took over the role of mom at that tender age. To her younger siblings, she became their mother, their sister, best friend, confidante, sage, and spiritual advisor.

But the best thing Maggi ever did — before she died of breast cancer — was send a letter to her sister Frances. Maggi wrote, “Nothing is as precious as life, to be alive to make CHOICES.” And she finished her letter by saying “Life is the result of the choices we make.”

How true! I’m fond of saying that success is more often the result of hard work than of talent. But I would also say that success is more often the result of the CHOICES we make than the talent we have.

Frances Cangialosi says her sister’s words live on within her. She says, “I now try to make every choice the BEST choice for my life. I often question myself when I’m making a decision. “Is this going to bring me closer to God? Is this choice a ‘healthy’ one? Will this choice bring me happiness or will it bring me sorrow?”

It’s all about CHOICES. And the smart successful people are successful … because they make really good choices. That’s one thing I teach people to do at my two-day program called the THE JOURNEY TO THE EXTRAORDINARY. And as a result, the participants almost always make good choices that bring them great success.

To get you going on your own Journey To The Extraordinary, I would suggest that you need to make at least four choices. They are as follows.

=> 1. CHOOSE your own definition of success.

You’ve got to become clear about what personal and professional success means to YOU. You’ve got to figure it out … or sure as can be … you’ll end up somewhere else.

So ask yourself, “Have you figured out your own definition of success? Could you stand up, right now, in the midst of a staff meeting, and give a five-minute talk on your definition of success? Could you do it without fear or hesitation … because you know exactly what you would say?”

Most people haven’t figured it out. And most people couldn’t give such a talk because they’ve never given too much thought to their definition of success. So it’s no wonder their careers aren’t going anywhere, or their relationships are less than satisfactory, or they end up broke when they’re retired.

You’ve got to figure out your definition of success. And then you’ve got to CHOOSE actions that will make your definition come true.

If, for example, your definition of success includes the development of an exciting, close marital or family relationship, then 12-hour work days are out. If your definition of success includes a long healthy life, you would obviously forget smoking, exercise regularly, eat in moderation, and get adequate rest.

So CHOOSE your definition of success and make sure your actions line up with your definition.

=> 2. CHOOSE a career you care about.

One of my audience members talked about that. Even though he was a successful insurance salesman (which is a necessary and noble profession), Tom said he always wanted to be a doctor in a third-world country. But the sales profession promised to give him a great deal more money … in a much quicker fashion … than pursuing a medical career overseas. So he’d been selling insurance for 30 years.

Tom admitted that he dragged himself out of bed, five days a week, for 30 years, to do something he didn’t care that much about. If he had done what he really wanted to do, if he had become a doctor, he may have made less money, but he almost certainly would have been a happier and more successful human being.

Dr. Charles Garfield, associate professor at the University of California medical school, found that peak performers choose work they truly prefer. Somehow or other, they find a career where they spend two-thirds of their time doing work they like and only one-third on disliked chores. That gives them a great deal of “internal” satisfaction.

“But what about the ‘external’ rewards such as raises, promotions, and power?” you ask. They’re important too. Of course they are. And Dr. Garfield found that peak performers typically get both internal and external rewards. After all, they really enjoy what they are doing, and that leads to better work and higher rewards.

What about you? Have you CHOSEN some work you truly enjoy? And do you really care about the work you do?

=> 3. CHOOSE to get the skills you need.

I believe everyone has some strengths, talents, and abilities. In fact, in my book “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success,” I strongly recommend that you make a list of all your strengths, and I give you a tool for doing so. The more you’re aware of your strengths, the better attitude you’ll have, and the more success you’ll experience.

But, and this is a great BIG BUT, no matter how many skills you have, you’ll always lack some skills. As marketing genius Don Kennedy says, “No one who becomes rich in any particular business or field starts with ALL the skills they need.”

Of course, the losers will say, with regard to their lack of skills, “That’s just the way I am … or … I could never do such and such … or … If my company would just pay for the training I need, then I would go for it.” Winners, on the other hand, CHOOSE to get the skills they need. They don’t make excuses, and they don’t wait for somebody else to develop their career. That’s why I urge people … who are serious about success … to attend my two-day program, THE JOURNEY TO THE EXTRAORDINARY. You will get the skills you need to be extraordinarily successful.

So ask yourself, “What are you doing to get all the skills you need … to realize all the dreams you have?”

=> 4. CHOOSE who you will listen to.

Everybody has opinions. But just because somebody has opinions does not mean you should pay attention to them.

As Don Kennedy goes on to say. “The reason a lot of people never get ahead is they keep soliciting and paying attention to the opinions of the ignorant.” He’s so right.

Your brother, for example, may be a wonderful man, a good husband and father, and a great gardener. But that narrows the range of his opinions you ought to pay attention to … to marriage, parenting, and gardening. Not business growth, team building, or leadership development.

If you want to know how to fix your car, I’m the wrong guy to ask for advice. And I’m the wrong guy to take advice from … if I offer it. I hardly know the difference between a fan belt and a seat belt.

If you want to know how to build a positive attitude in yourself or your organization, or if you want to know how to motivate your team in times of change, I’m a great guy to get advice from. I’ve helped thousands of people do exactly that.

You see, people are quick to dispense advice on any subject, regardless of their qualifications to do so. It makes them feel important. They rarely give any thought to their qualifications. They just spout out their opinions. They don’t even distinguish between “their opinions” and “true knowledge.” That’s why you must CHOOSE carefully who you listen to.

As an author and professional speaker, I often help my clients create strategies that will make them more positive, productive, and profitable. But then those same clients are assaulted with ignorant opinion providers. Their spouse, their coworker, another department will gang up on them and harshly criticize the strategies we have created. They’ll say, “That would never work … It costs too much … or … I just don’t like the idea.”

Unfortunately, none of those opinion givers has any real knowledge or expertise in personal and professional development. None of them has spent the 30 years of time and research on the topic as I have. As Kennedy would say, “They have a constitutional right to their ignorant opinions, but you have an entrepreneurial responsibility to ignore them.”

Are you carefully CHOOSING who you are listening to?

Action:  Success is all about CHOICES. CHOOSE today who you will listen to. And CHOOSE to ignore the opinions of the uninformed, negative naysayers.