7 Secrets for Lasting Success. No degree required.
I still remember the first time I could afford to buy a box of Kleenexes… as in something other than toilet paper to blow my nose with. For most of my twenties, I was a struggling single mom living below the poverty line.
By the world’s standard I was a total failure. Got married at 22, then dropped out of college (neither was a smart move). One year later I delivered a little bundle or baby boy. Soon after, I found myself divorced complete with all the struggles and difficulties of single parenthood.
Driving to work one morning I learned of a very uplifting statistic impacting single mothers. The new reporter on the radio shared some research that revealed single mothers had a greater probability of experiencing a terrorist attack than of getting married or becoming wealthy.
As you can imagine, the News Anchors’ cheerful announcement created a deep sense of despair and defeat. Talk about a sucker punch to your dreams and aspirations! I was already struggling to pay bills and keep my sanity. Now I had to grapple with the possibility of NEVER having a happy relationship or being successful!
For several days grappled with the report of the so-called experts. I discovered the more I focused on their words the more discouraged I became. Their report put me in a position of lack, hopelessness, and poverty. None of which reflected the words I read in the scriptures.
So, I had to decide which report was I going to believe? Up to that point, I was defining success the way the dictionary defined it, “the attainment of popularity or profit,” or in the achievement of a desire. I was judging my success based on money, relationship and achievement.
In effect, I was defining my success by the same standards the expert was using. No wonder the report hit me so hard. But if the odds were that stacked against me, then based on my track record, failure was on every horizon of my future.
That is unless I made some changes – unless I could find a way to feel happy and successful where I was. And unless I changed in the way I thought about and judged success.
After days of serious reflection and prayer, I decided the dictionary’s definition had actually failed me! In other words, the definition of success was a failure because the focus was only on the superficial, the fleeting and the cravings of ego and self.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not dismissing achievement or riches. The desire to improve your life and do your best is one of the best ways to live. And wealth is a blessing and allows us to help advance God’s Kingdom. But I had been allowing the world and other people to define success in a manner that made me feel like a failure.
When I chose to focus on a deeper definition of success, ways to measure what I considered to be Lasting Success, the spotlight shifted. Instead of using the external or conventional wisdom as my benchmark, I began to look at success from the context of personal development. I began reflecting on things everlasting, on things that allowed me to grow, explore, adjust, nurture myself and give back.
As I continued contemplating what it would look like, I discovered Seven Secret Strategies that would allow me enjoy success on my terms and keep my thinking focused on God’s assessment of me. Surprisingly, none of the Seven Strategies focus on profit in terms of dollars. However, financial blessing began to increase as I began to consistently implement these Seven Secrets.
1. Become spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy. This includes getting a good night’s sleep, having healthy eating habits, rewarding your body with exercise, and feeding your mind and emotions with leafy green relationships. It’s also important to spend time in prayer, meditation, reflecting on the Scriptures or other writings that feed your spirit.
2. Focus on adding value. Whether at home, in your community, on the job or in a difficult situation, start building a reputation as the “Value-Add Guy or Girl.” Think about what you can do to make something better with fresh ideas and solutions. The good news is that it just takes a little extra effort and time. Read books and watch movies about people who overcame obstacles, solved mammoth problems or simply took small steps to make a big difference. No special degree required here!
3. Maintain a thirst for learning. Successful people are life-long learners. In fact, a recent survey by Fast Company magazine reveals most CEOs read an average of 60 books per year. That equals five books per month!
Lifelong learners love to get lost in books and do it regularly. Even those on a tight budget have access to free sources for growth and development. Discount books, audio books, podcast and YouTube videos provide a wide array of learning opportunities. But it does require intentionality and discipline.
4. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. No one knows everything. But the person who thinks they do has failed to even know them self. Asking for help means you know your own limitations and are teachable. It means you are willing to overcome your blind spots and grow. We never know what new opportunities await us when we have the wisdom to ask for help?
5. Develop the maturity to take ownership. Successful people don’t blame shift. They don’t finger point. They don’t play the victim. Successful people realize that taking ownership is the key to moving forward, even if it’s not their fault. Taking ownership brings closure and gets things moving again. Think about all the CEOs of major companies who stepped up and took ownership for something that was not their fault. President Harry S. Truman’s most famous quote was “The buck stops here!” Jesus took ownership for A LOT of things that were not his fault. And it enabled all of creation to move forward with a fresh start.
6. Be grateful no matter the circumstances. When we have an attitude of gratitude it enables us to notice small success and creates an atmosphere for good things to come to our life. No one wants to be around a person that’s always complaining or pointing out what’s wrong. There is always something to be thankful for, even if it is simply the ability to think a rational thought or enjoy a beautiful blue sky.
7. Put your Hope in God Alone! Misplaced hope is one of the primary causes of disappointment, discouragement, and despair. The more of those type experiences we have, the greater the temptation towards apathy. And apathy is one of the most detrimental pitfalls that keep us from succeeding.
Isaiah 49:23 tells us that those who hope in God will NEVER be disappointed. And Psalm 25:3 says if we hope in God will we be radiant and will never feel the need to hide (or shrink back from moving forward to our full potential). So, take note of what or who you are putting your hope in and then adjust accordingly.