Tuesday, May 5, 2015

20: Eighteen Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 18

Often we forget the key lessons that we learn. One way to not forget is to formulate your own list of “keys to success.”  From time to time, new concepts may be added, earlier concepts modified, or an item may be removed from the list.  Here is the author’s current list of his own personal “Keys to Success” together with some quotations and commentary, which may provide you with further insight and inspiration.

1. Understand your purpose in life.  (One of mine is “service to others.”).  Use your life to reach out and touch other people's hearts in such a way that could have never occurred alone.
  • “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” - Albert Schweitzer.
  • “It’s not what you do in life as your chosen profession, or occupation that matters. It’s whether you impact other lives in a positive way. Everyone has the opportunity to contribute in his or her own way. The most important thing for you to determine is how you, personally, will impact the lives of others, and what can you do to increase the magnitude of that impact.”– John H. Ferguson, M.D. (1898-2004)
  •  “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” - Martin Luther King Jr. 
  • “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi
  • “If not now - when?  If not you – who?” – Paraphrased from Hillel, a Jewish religious leader, sage and scholar, c. 110 B.C.E. – 10 C.E.
  • “Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.” - Abraham Lincoln

2. Possess a positive attitude.  If you think you can’t, you’re right. Winners have positive attitudes and enthusiasm.  Think positive.  Choose work you enjoy, and which is worthy of your time and talent.  View challenges as opportunities.  Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
  • “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.” – Albert Schweitzer
  • “Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.” - Alexander Hamilton

3. Possess a vision and possess passion for its achievement.  Think and dream big. Keep success in your mind.
  • “We live in deeds, not years; In thoughts not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.” - Aristotle

4. Set goals – so you can begin to move forward in the right direction.

5. Plan on how to achieve goals. Know what’s important each day. Set your priorities accordingly.
  • Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance
  • Delegate everything except genius. (Dan Sullivan concept.)

6. Take action – goals and plans are nothing without action.
  • “Never mistake motion for action.” – Ernest Hemingway
  • “The journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step.” – Confucius
  • “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” - Woody Allen
  • “Just showing up is half the battle. Showing up prepared is three-quarters of the battle.” – President George Bush (Sr.)

7. Never stop learning.  Every successful person throughout history maintained a lifestyle of learning. Read books, attend seminars, and never stop learning.  Commit yourself to constant improvement throughout your life.
  • "I cannot live without books." - Thomas Jefferson
  • “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.” – Confucius

8. Whatever you do - do it exceptionally well. Become the best in what you do. Perform exceptionally.

9. Stay focused. Make a “to do” list; finish something every day.
  • “He who follows two hares is sure to catch neither.” – Benjamin Franklin

10. Innovate. Successful people do things differently. Innovation is the key to improvement and breakthrough.

11. Persevere. Try and try again until the goal is achieved. Never give up. Persistence, persistence, persistence. Possess grit.
  • “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it - always.” -Mahatma Gandhi
  • “PERHAPS the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.” – Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Philadelphia, Feb. 14, 1776

12. Forge good character. This includes resolve, honesty, responsibility, trustworthiness, and discipline. Without the right character, all the other personal traits you possess don’t mean much.
Theodore Hesburgh, former President of Notre Dame, stated:
  • “You don't make decisions because they're EASY; You don't make decisions because they're CHEAP; You don't make decisions because they're POPULAR; You make decisions because they're RIGHT.”
  • “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” - Abraham Lincoln

13. Observe “The Golden Rule.” Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated. Be forgiving of yourself and others. Care for others, seek out their concerns, and listen. Become a great listener. And never talk ill of others. 

The Golden Rule is an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. Generally, it is a “positive rule” – describing positive duties. When stated negatively, the “silver rule” is most commonly understood to be "Do not do to others as you would not have them do to you" but may be also stated as “Do no harm.”
  • (Christianity) “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Luke 10:25-28: “Thou shalt love … thy neighbour as thyself.” Jesus' teaching is the the positive formulation of actively doing good to another that, if the situations were reversed, one would desire that the other would do for them. This formulation emphasizes the needs for positive action that brings benefit to another, not simply restraining oneself from negative activities that hurt another.
  • (Judaism / Old Testament) Tobit 4:15 "Do to no one what you yourself dislike." Sirach 31:15 "Recognize that your neighbor feels as you do, and keep in mind your own dislikes."
  • (Islam) “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” - Muhammad, The Farewell Sermon. “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”- Muhammad, An-Nawawi's Forty Hadith 13 (p. 56)
  • (Confucianism) “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” Confucius, Analects XV.24 (tr. David Hinton) …… “Tzu Kung asked: ‘Is there any one word that can serve as a principle for the conduct of life?’ Confucius said: ‘Perhaps the word 'reciprocity': Do not do to others what you would not want others to do to you.’”
  • (Hinduism)  “One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires. ” Brihaspati, Mahabharata (Anusasana Parva, Section CXIII, Verse 8) 
Some additional thoughts, concerning how we treat others:
  • “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” – Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address
  • “I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill.” – Gandhi
  • "I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot." – Abraham Lincoln
  • “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” - Henry David Thoreau
  • "Never question another man's motive. His wisdom, yes, but not his motives." – Dwight D. Eisenhower

14. Don’t watch television (except noteworthy shows on current affairs and/or history / science). I have never had, in all my years of advising elderly clients and discerning what their regrets have been, anyone state to me: “I wish I had spent more time watching TV.”

15. Always live below your means.  Read George S. Clayson’s book, The Richest Man In Babylon (a free PDF version of this book is available online)
  • “I just don’t need it.” – What you should say to yourself when you are out shopping.
  • “When prosperity comes, do not use all of it.” - Confucius

16. Avoid long commutes. You’ll have lower expenses, conserve personal time, and be a whole lot safer. 1 in 83 people in the U.S. die from auto accidents and many more are permanently injured in auto crashes. The best way to avoid auto accidents is to minimize the time you spend driving.

17. Take responsibility for your own life. Abandon any “entitlement” attitude.
  • “The graveyards are full of indispensable men.” - Charles De Gaulle.

18. “Live Big!”  It’s possible to have a great deal of fun without spending a lot of money.  For ideas, visit the Yeske Buie Inc. “Live Big!” list.

Dr. Ron A. Rhoades is an Asst. Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University's Gordon Ford College of Business, where he chairs the (B.S. Finance) Financial Planning Program. An innovative, passionate teacher, he is the author of Choose to Succeed in College and in Life: Continously Improve, Persevere, and Enjoy the Journey (2014)from which many of these blog posts are derived.

Dr. Rhoades also serves as a consultant to the Garrett Planning Network, a nationwide network of independent, Fee-Only financial planners making competent, objective financial advice accessible to all people. He is the author of several books, dozens of articles, and he is a frequent speaker at financial planning and investments conferences. He is the recipient of many awards for his advocacy on behalf of the fiduciary standard. Dr. Rhoades is also a member of The Florida Bar, and he practices estate planning and transfer taxation for select current clients.

Dr. Rhoades and his wife, Cathy, reside in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
To contact Dr. Rhoades, please e-mail: WKUBear@gmail.com

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