The Secret to Success

What’s it mean to be successful?

Society would have us believe the epitome of success is earning lots of money, living in a big house, and driving a fancy car. Many people chase after these things only to find that once they have them, their lives are still missing something. In the eyes of the world they’re seen as a success, yet they feel empty; all of their accomplishments seem inconsequential. Their hearts are left aching for something more meaningful.

They followed the course they thought would bring them happiness and success. They have a “good” job and a retirement plan; each year they take a vacation to another island in the Caribbean. But still they’re disappointed with the way their lives have turned out.


Because they sacrificed their passion for prestige. Their love, for money. Their life ambition, for acclaim.

Forget about money and fame. They have nothing to do with living a successful life. Success, as defined by John Wooden, is:

“…peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable.”

But not only must you do the best of which you’re capable, you have to define exactly what success means to you (it’s something different for each of us), then follow that path with ruthless intention. You might win the admiration of others by conforming to someone else’s standard of success, but you certainly won’t find peace of mind.

What you want to do with your life might be different from what everyone else is doing. That’s okay. Allow yourself to escape from the expectations of the world in order to create a life that’s right for you. If you’re not interested in going to college, getting married or having children, don’t go, don’t do it, and don’t have any. Chase your dreams and live on your own terms! This is your one and only chance at life; don’t let your direction be guided by anyone else. Listen to your heart, follow your passions and be true to yourself.

That’s the secret to success.

That’s Fucking Stupid

No one wants to be told they’re fucking up, that their idea sucks, or that they’re going to fail. We’d like to think we always know what’s best for us, and that we’re more than capable of accomplishing anything we set our minds to. Afterall, haven’t we always been told we can be or do whatever we want? That all we have to do is try…

So why all the hate?

No matter who you are, as long as you’re doing something out of the ordinary, there’ll be someone (or a group of people) that criticizes your every move. They will tell you you’re doing it wrong or complain about how you’re doing what you’re doing, claiming they’d do it so much better than you.

But they’re not. They’re not the one out there doing it. You are!

And people make mistakes. It’s easy for someone to sit back and watch you fail, only to point their finger and say, “I told you so.” We hang our heads in shame, knowing they’re right. They did tell us we’d fail from the beginning. How could we have ever been so stupid to think that we’d actually succeed?

But what about all the times when you didn’t fail? If all someone ever tells you is that you’re going to fail, or that you’re making a mistake, of course they’ll be right once in a while. Hell, even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. So, what about those times that you didn’t fail?

No matter what you do in life, no matter how hard you try to do what you think is right, someone will be there to tell you it’s a bad idea, and that you’ll fail. Maybe they’re right. Maybe you will fail. But if you never try in the first place, isn’t that a failure just the same?

I’ve made a lot of mistakes.

I make them everyday. I say and do things I regret and I regret things I don’t say or do. I offend people. I hurt people’s feelings. But I also do a lot of things right in a day. And so, while I walk through my life making mistakes, I also do my best to bring positive energy to the world, to help people in need, and fight for what I believe is right. I couldn’t do any of that without fucking up from time to time.

Why is it so difficult to see ourselves?

And while it might seem that critics are the wrong type of people to have around, they might just be your strongest weapon. When you have people telling you that you’re making mistakes, listen to them. They’re probably on to something. When you live with yourself all your life, sometimes it’s hard to realize when you’re doing something wrong, or making mistakes.

“You can’t smell your own shit on your knees.” ~ Marilyn Manson

Pay attention to your critics, but try not to let them get you down. Use them instead to create a better you. Keep doing what you’re doing, fight for what you believe in, keep making mistakes, and grow.

Just Do It: Five Steps to Create the Life of Your Dreams

Now that I’ve moved away from my hometown, I use Facebook to keep my friends and family up to date on what I’m doing.  Whenever I travel somewhere or do something exciting (like skydiving or rock climbing) I post pictures of my adventures on my profile.  Almost every time I post a new photo album, someone leaves a comment about how they wish they could do the things that I do, claiming they don’t have the time, the money or that their responsibilities as a parent or employee hold them back.

They’re wrong! And if you think you don’t have the time or money, or that your obligations are limiting your opportunities, you’re wrong, too!  The only thing preventing anyone, including you, from doing anything is the willingness to make it happen; to Just DO It! The doors are open and opportunity awaits anyone willing to reach out and grab it.  There are no gatekeepers preventing you from living the life of your dreams. You don’t have to ask anyone for permission.  The world is your oyster!

How!? How can you begin living the life of your dreams…RIGHT NOW?

Make a Choice: What do you want out of life?  Do you dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail or living in a foreign country?  Whatever your desires, if you ever hope to see them through to fruition you must make them your priority.  If you want to travel, choose to make it a priority.  Want to become a writer?  Choose to make it a priority.  Inside each of us there is an “on” switch that we must flip.  Make a choice, flip that switch, commit to your goal and pursue it ruthlessly, without hesitation or apologies.

Stop Dreaming: Dreams bring inspiration but dreams and inspiration will only get you so far.  If you ever want to accomplish anything, you must move beyond the visions in your head.  Dreaming, hoping and wishing don’t produce results.  Burgess Meredith in Grumpier Old Men said it best:

You can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which gets filled first.

Stop Making Excuses: There’s an excuse for everything and guess what, all of those excuses suck.  An excuse is just a way of justifying inaction due to fear.  It’s easy to say “I can’t” if you can blame it on some externality that you “aren’t able” to control.  It’s not easy to admit that you’re afraid of stepping outside of your comfort zone.  It’s so much easier to blame your situation on money, time or the kids.  And since those excuses are so universally accepted in our culture, no one is going to call you out on any of them.  No one, that is, except me.  All of your excuses are bullshit. You know it and I know it.  Stop making excuses, you won’t live forever.  These guys aren’t making excuses.

Prepare: Want to quit your job?  Sit down, take an honest assessment of your financial situation and create a plan to shore up any weaknesses you find.  Create a budget, eliminate all extraneous expenses, get out of debt, build your savings.  Prepare yourself in real ways that will help you to succeed.  No matter how much you hate your job, hate alone isn’t going to set you up for success.  Do something positive each day with that emotional energy, then smile as you walk through the door because you know that you are one day closer to walking away for good.

Take Action: Preparation leads you in the right direction but, like dreams, can only take you so far.  Once you reach a point where all the preparations have been made, it is time to take action.  Action creates change.  Change brings about opportunity.  Don’t count on luck to bring you the life of your dreams.  “Luck” is just opportunity presenting itself to those people who are prepared to act upon it.  You can create your own luck by taking action towards accomplishing your goals.  Want to become an artist?  Paint.  Want to learn a foreign language?  Take a class.  Want to travel the world?  Buy a plane ticket.  Action is the only thing that separates dreaming from reality.

Creating the life of your dreams isn’t difficult, it just requires dedication, determination and a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone to take calculated risks.  Success isn’t guaranteed, but failure only comes to those who quit. Turn your dreams into reality, make the choice to make it happen.  Give up the excuses and prepare for success.  Create a new reality; the reality of your dreams.