“Success is a pathway, not a destination.” – Unknown
This is a quote which is often repeated, however, the key word, “Pathway”, is rarely the focus and is often overlooked. Success has a million definitions and is often misinterpreted by the ultimate outcome or lack there of, when in fact this is the least pertinent factor of all.
“You cannot travel on the path before you have become the path itself.” – Buddha vs. Blavatsky
I am not sure who the credit goes to for this quote, but understanding its meaning is essential nonetheless!
Ambition, dreams, and desires mean absolutely nothing if you do not prepare yourself for the journey. Becoming one with the path does not mean knowing every single detail or event that will be revealed along the way. Rather, it is preparing your mind, body and spirit to endure all that may lie ahead. It is understanding deeply who you are, what you are capable of, what you are willing to endure, and the tools required to do so. Your mental fortitude must be stronger than your physical strength in order to carry you through when your body has dissolved its stores of energy. Only then can you can move ahead on the path, welcoming the challenges ahead. This is the only way to both reach success and ultimately conquer it.
There are five “keys to success” that I have found to be the driving factors in my own personal story of success: Belief, Knowledge, Emotions, Patience, and Dedication/Determination. Within these things, I hope you will be inspired and able to discover your own pathway to success.
Growing up, my mom would always tell me, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” For years, I thought my mom made this up herself until I later learned it was a snippet from a famous Maya Angelou quote! Nonetheless, two of the most amazing women in this world have helped me understand the implications of my actions and the power in believing in myself.
This quote emphasizes our tendency to deny the obvious because it is not our preference. Somehow, we convince ourselves that we can transform others into who we think they should be. We often take the same approach in our own lives…which is the wrong move!
We must believe in who we are and not the possibility of who we could be. By no means does this imply you shouldn’t strive to improve yourself or even have ambitions of higher achievement. It means that the only way to become successful is to understand, and quite frankly, BELIEVE in who you are and what you are capable of today. This will allow you to move forward and become the best YOU possible.
So now you might ask, “How does believing in who I am today help me become one with my path and subsequently achieve success?”
Well, not only does it help, it is in fact the very first step! You must dig deep and BE HONEST. BE HONEST. BE HONEST!
When starting any endeavor, assess where you are NOW and what tools you have to work with. Before guiding you to your destination, your internal GPS will ask, “What is your current location?” and the map of your life will show “YOU ARE HERE.”
Determine where you are right now – emotionally, financially and morally.
• How emotionally attached are you to your plans?
• Are you passionate about this endeavor?
• Can you take it or leave it?
• Is this your life’s dream, something to make a little money or gain experience?
• Is this a new experience or something that has deep rooted meaning?
This has nothing to do with being rich or poor, your position in life, or the finances required for your endeavor. This is about addressing money issues in your life that could possibly impede you from continuing on your path once you get started. Identifying financial areas that you may need to improve upon prior to starting your journey is important.
Address current habits and practices of managing your finances. Is this a strong suit for you? If so, great! If not, that’s okay, but it’s important to implement an accountability process to prevent this from becoming a stumbling block along your path.
In which direction does that little guy who sits on your shoulder lead you most often? Are you:
• Honest, loyal, philanthropic, never accept what you don’t deserve? (i.e. a goody-two-shoes)
• A selfish ‘every man for himself,’ ‘better get yours because I’m definitely going to get mine’ type of person
• Prideful, manipulative, arrogant, quick-tempered, controlling, pompous, or narcissistic, (i.e. presidential candidate material)
• Easily frustrated, cut the line, ‘Oh well, that’s what you get.’
• Calm and understanding, give up your seat on the train, empathetic
Okay, I won’t beat a dead horse, but you catch my drift. One single line is unlikely to characterize us completely, and most often we have some desirable characteristics and some less desirable ones. What you must know is that ALL of them work together to make you the best YOU possible! So don’t hang your head if you checked off “easily frustrated or narcissist.” We all know (or know of) a few people who fit into these categories.
Yes, knowledge is one of the most important factors in determining the level of success achievable. However, it does not mean that you need a university degree to be knowledgeable. Practical knowledge is as important and often times more important than academic knowledge.
It’s essential to know your learning capacity and limitations. Learning capacity is defined as an individual’s ability to recognize, absorb and use knowledge, which is directly related to efficiency, productivity, development and ultimately success. Is that all it takes? If so, just read one more book, attend one more seminar or get one more degree and then you will be successful.
As silly as that sounds, don’t be surprised at how many people actually believe this to be the case. In fact, I am the first to raise my hand. After 50 seminars, over 1,000 books, two degrees and three businesses later, I realized that I learned more from doing than chasing additional knowledge. It was the wisdom I gained from my experiences and mistakes that ultimately led to my success.
Please don’t drop out of school or cancel your upcoming training sessions…LOL! I am just saying, GET UP and GET TO IT! Don’t let the fear of “not knowing enough” be an excuse to stifle you from moving forward. I realized that I already had everything I needed; I just needed to BELIEVE!
Where do emotions belong? Do they have a place outside of intimate relations, close friendships and within the family? This is a hot topic for debate and I generally lean toward leaving your feelings off the boardroom table. I lean toward a balance of emotions and feelings that help maintain your mental stability and the sanity of those around you.
Side Note: In medicine, we use a term called “affect,” a noun that’s defined as an emotion or desire which generally influences behavior or an action. This is different from “affect” the verb, which denotes the influence, or change that is caused by something or someone.
Your Affect (meaning your observed emotional state or desires which subsequently influence your behavior and actions) is most often determined by the mood you are in. A sign of mental stability and emotional control is an appropriate fluctuation of your observed emotional state depending on the current situation or circumstance.
1. Pure Joy/Happiness/Laughter (Essential for your mental and physical health)
Awake every morning with pure joy, if for no other reason than waking up – because that was not promised to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you have 50 million things to do, if you’re running late for work, or your kids are on your nerves. So what! Have pure joy through it all because there is someone who wishes they had a job to be late for and a barren woman who prays daily for a child to get on her nerves. You catch my drift!
Give thanks for all the things you’re grateful for, including your mistakes. (There is a blessing in every lesson.)
Lastly, you see the little guy above holding his belly? That should be you every day, at least once per day. We need to laugh. I mean a deep-down, side-splitting, jaw-aching, about-to-cry, almost-peed-my-pants-that-was-so-funny type of laugh! It’s great to share that laughter with someone else, but, don’t rob yourself of the opportunity just because you’re currently solo. If you can’t find something funny, shoot me a message and I’ll send you a YouTube video link that will have you in stitches!
Seriously, it’s essential to your overall health that you do this for yourself every single day. We can talk clinical implications of stress on our health in the next blog, but for now, just trust me and promise that you will laugh like this daily.
2. Game Face (Emotional Control)
No one should know how you are feeling or thinking until you want them to. You are in control of your emotions; they don’t control you.
Check out this little guy. I call that the “game face.” Now, look in the mirror, practice your game face. It shouldn’t be a smirk or a frown (some of us don’t realize that the corners of our mouths naturally point up or down giving us the appearance that we’re either smirking or frowning when we believe we’re neutral). So practice your game face.
When to Use Your Game Face:
• Receiving constructive feedback that you disagree with. Accept it graciously. Take from it what you can.
• Nervousness about the security of a job or circumstance. Approach the situation with a smile, regardless, and do your best daily.
• Dislike for your coworker, classmate, church member, etc. Your demeanor or facial expressions should never make this apparent.
This is the time to keep your game face on, relax your mind, process what just occurred and address it when your emotions have been put in check. Not the right time to “keep it real!”
Question: Who orders your steps? In other words, you can make all the plans you want and prepare as much as possible, but your path is not predictable (not ordered by you) or known to you and you must be able to deal with it’s twists and turns as you travel along.
Do you have a release mechanism? If not, get one. Talk it through with a friend, loved one or support group. It’s okay to cry, scream, break something or release your negative energy as long as it is in a safe environment and does not cause harm to you or anyone else.
In fact, holding it in is what leads to a build up of toxins and hormones within the body that subsequently lead to illnesses such as high blood pressure, depression, heart disease and ulcers.
Disappointment is inevitable. We deal with various magnitudes of it on a daily basis from a bad grade in school to the loss of a parent. However, if we learn to deal with it in a healthy manner we’ll come out stronger for it. Don’t avoid disappointment. With the right tools, you can manage your way through it. I believe we are stronger and more powerful than the disappointment we experience.
“You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head,
but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.”
– Chinese Proverb
Is anger ever a positive thing? Yes and no. It’s what you do with your anger that matters.
• Yes! If you are angered at injustice, poverty, lack of education and resources for those in need – things of that nature – it’s considered a righteous anger. However, it should be short-lived and not turn into rage or harm toward anyone.
• No! If your anger turns into hatred, harm toward yourself or others, disrespect, bullying, revenge, teasing and criticism of others, then it’s absolutely unacceptable and you need to work on it.
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty;
and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city”
– Proverbs 16:32
First you tell me to “GET UP and GET TO IT,” then you tell me to be patient. Make up your mind Dr. Keyes.
Here is what I mean by GET UP and GET TO IT: When my children were younger they were polar opposites, each on one end of the spectrum. For example, one couldn’t sit still and the other moved slower than molasses. So all day long, I’m either screaming, ‘Calm down! Sit down! Relax your mind,’ or ‘Hurry up! Does it take that long? Get in motion, will you?!’
GET UP really means to get in motion mentally, be enthusiastic about your mission, passionate about your goals, fired up about the path you’re soon to travel, excited about the opportunities and challenges that await you. Remember at the beginning of this post we discussed mental fortitude? This is part of building it.
GET TO IT means don’t be lazy. Take the necessary steps to put yourself in a position for success. That doesn’t mean it’s going to come right away, but be ready and prepared when it arrives. There’s an old adage, Be careful what you ask for… You know the rest!
Many think patience simply means being able to wait for something to happen. The Greek translation of the word means “to endure” or “to bear bravely and calmly.” When unexpected things occur – and they will – you cannot give up, whine about it or look it as a failure. Another common mistake, hastily going back to the drawing board and making rush decisions because things didn’t go as planned. Remember, everything happens for a reason and when something didn’t happen, it wasn’t supposed to. Patience is an internal calm during an external storm and if you are able to endure, bear bravely and remain calm, I guarantee you’re only steps away from achieving success.
Before you ask, No! Dedication and determination are not one in the same, but they are a force to be reckoned when combined.
What does dedication mean to you and who or what are you dedicated to? Write your answers down and give me a list of at least 10 before you read ahead.
The most common responses include: God, my spouse, my children, my job or business, my church, my family, my students, my patients, etc.
Dedication generally denotes commitment, unwavering, absolute, non-negotiable, unconditional loyalty and allegiance. WOW! Do we have this amazing thing called DEDICATION to ourselves? You probably said yes, but most likely left yourself off the list I asked you to write. If you’re not dedicated to YOU or to becoming the best YOU possible, it’s almost impossible to dedicate yourself to anyone or anything else.
You’re not alone. There are few people who consciously think of themselves in this manner. Most wouldn’t include themselves on the list, let alone near the top of it.
Answer that same question, but with different items near the top of the list! Write a new list putting these items near the top: I am dedicated to myself, my dreams, my hopes, my talents, my health, my nutrition and fitness, my mental stability, my character, my ____________. Complete the list as it applies to you and let’s take a vow – today, together – that we will be dedicated to ourselves!
Dr. Keyes, are you trying to make me selfish, pompous, self-centered and narcissistic so that I can run for president? No. I want you to practice self-preservation, not self-centeredness. I’m simply reiterating how important YOU are and how important it is to cultivate YOU, which will subsequently lead to the production of phenomenal fruit (children, spouse, job, etc.). SOW into yourself, BELIEVE in yourself, become DEDICATED to yourself and watch how much more you are able to provide for others.
If dedication is a mindset, determination is that OOMPH that actually allows you to overcome all the inevitable challenges, the trials and tribulations, the disappointments, the slammed doors, the ‘maybe next times’, the abuse, the lack of appreciation, the neglect and the lack of expected support. It requires GUMPTION, TENACITY AND THE AUDACITY to dare anyone or anything to stand in your way. It welcomes the challenges, half-cracked doors, fake smiles, expectation of mediocrity, the blockers, haters and naysayers and uses them for fuel – your MOTIVATION.
Okay, let’s practice. When someone tells you, “Oh, I tried that already, it won’t work,” or “It’s too difficult to go to school, work and raise a family at the same time,” or “They don’t accept many people from your background, so make sure you have a plan B.”…I could go on, but again, I think you catch my drift. No matter who or what the potential roadblock is, look at it with a genuine smile, say ‘Thanks!’ for the motivation, and give them the old one-two punch – dedication and determination!
Now combine all the steps – believe in yourself, use your practical knowledge, exercise emotional control, remain patient, stay dedicated and determined – there you have it…. A SUCCESS!
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