Too often we pretend that technology and education have created “new rules” or that modern systems permit us to cut corners and find short-cuts that didn’t exist in the past. While there may be examples where that is true, in general, the fundamentals of living well, achieving our dreams and creating wealth have not changed.
The path to success today is remarkably similar to the path walked by generations past.
What are the basics? You might have your own list, but I would suggest at least the following:
- Personal Integrity. Socrates recommended, “Know thyself” and Shakespeare added, “to thine own self be true.” Knowing who we are, what we value and making sure that our words and actions match is fundamental. Doing unfulfilling work or living in an environment that doesn’t suit us will surely undermine our long-term success. Too many of us live “lives of quiet desperation” and that is NOT a foundation on which to build a life!
- Clear Thinking. Many of us grew up in the “feel good” generation and we are confused about the role of thought (education, planning, skills and tools) versus emotion. We let our hopes, wishes, fears, or hang-ups run our lives. High achievers take time to think clearly, seek expert advice, plan wisely, and learn from the mistakes of others. The Old Testament says that “wisdom comes from a multitude of advisors.” Some strategies just work better than others. Buildings are always designed and “blueprinted” in advance. Our lives should be designed just as carefully.
- Unfailing Optimism. This is not shallow “positive thinking”, but a clear-headed, conscious faith in the future and in your own potential. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” or as Hannibal said over 2000 years ago, “We will find a way, or make one.” High achievers believe in their skills, in their plans and in their futures. They forge ahead with confidence built on integrity and careful planning.
- Hard Work. Ben Franklin observed, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man (or woman) healthy, wealthy and wise.” I’ve heard people say achievement should be “effortless” and I agree that sometimes enormous amounts of work can flow easily and quickly, but I also know that creating a great life usually requires dedication, personal discipline, attention to detail and effort.
- Patience and Persistence. A great life is rarely built in a day. It takes time to develop a life of one’s own. There will be mistakes and wrong turns along the way and highly successful people are neither surprised nor disheartened by this.