A younger person once asked me what common traits I thought successful people held and practiced.
At first, I was flattered. Secondly, I realized the question deserved consideration beyond those included in nearly every self-help book: Show up, work hard and hold yourself to the highest of standards.
After a few long walks with my dog, below are my personal, albeit non-scientific, suggestions of the three “As:” Aspiration, Attitude and Action. And while there are many roads to the same destination, these three best reflect what I’ve observed.
Success begins with aspiration. Deeply personal aspirations rise from the inside and are rooted in your core needs. Aspirations, those able to survive the gut punches of life, burn from within and are rarely material.
Instead, the strongest aspirations rise from inside with foundations rooted in results that reward you in ways not reflected on a bank statement. The urge to find rewarding work, help others and provide security for your family tends to be among the most common.
More times than not, highly successful people say they had an idea or opportunity, and the success that followed was simply a byproduct. The reward was found in the burning urge to effect change or create something of value.
Richard Branson never set out to be a billionaire, but something inside him called out to him each day. The same is true for Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. What drove them was rooted in something much more powerful than money or fame — themselves.
But aspirations are only dreams without adding the right attitude to navigate the gut-wrenching journey. People are too willing to take an eraser to their ambitions when the road gets bumpy. Failure is the one constant in success for everyone. Coming to terms with obstacles or the unpleasant things that happen along the way is a dealbreaker.
If your aspirations lack the resiliency to take flurries of punches or setbacks, aspirations quickly turn to dust — and potentially damaging mental baggage to carry for years.
Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times attempting to create the electric lightbulb, shrugging off each miss as one more step toward finding a solution.
Additionally, mindless positivity is nauseating and not helpful either. Knowing how to embrace setbacks constructively allows you the perspective of adjusting your actions and finding a new direction.
And finally, all the aspirations and attitudes fall flat on their faces without action. Nothing good happens in the absence of positive direction and motion. Too many carry around the weight of unrealized dreams or pursuits — aspirations stopped cold by self-doubt and or turning back at the first signs of difficulty.
But the biggest difference-maker between success and those on the other side is the relentless understanding nothing happens without action. And only with effort — regardless of the outcome — will aspiration and attitude pay rewards.
I’ve learned the most successful people — those most at peace with themselves — measure their lives with a playbook based on the three “As.”
Mr. Woolsey, your words of wisdom which you seem to live by goes right along with the level of success you have ascertained in life! You thought you could do it, you started from where you were, you were diligent, tenacious, and a hardworker ..I would wager!
All that and a willing mind to succeed, favor from God above...and good life decisions got you to where you are tonight! When I use to mentor young athletes...I'd always tell them among other things that their decisions in life would play a very large part in determining who they turned out to be, and where they ended up in life! There are some because of their natural abilities or gifts could have been millionaires...but because they acted on bad advice making bad decisions, ended up back on the streets or working hard just getting by! However there were others who saw the brass ring like you did, and dug deep and went for it ...worked hard and went straight to big D1 Universities on Free Scholarships, got good educations and great employment opportunities later, and a couple even into the National Football League! Good Op-Ed sir[thumbup][thumbup].
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