January 3, 2016
Some years ago a woman named Sarah Grand offered some really sound success advice. She cautioned,
“Just do a thing and don’t talk about it. This is the great secret of success in all enterprises. Talk means discussion; discussion means irritation; irritation means opposition, and opposition means hindrance always whether you are right or wrong.”
Take it from Ms. Grand — speak less and work more. It’s results that count, not endless talk about what you plan to do.
Yours in success,
December 21, 2015
Clarence Harrison, circa 1949.
In this post, I would like to introduce you to the late Clarence Harrison. Clarence rose from a skinny teenager to an outstanding athlete and physique star. He later became a dedicated family man and a very successful business executive. His story is one of the most remarkable and unique accounts of success that I have ever come across.
Clarence was a fighter, a person with full integrity, and a believer that almost any obstacle can be overcome with persistent effort. His applied methods of success allowed him to overcome great odds, and he was well liked and admired by nearly all people who knew him.
If you are looking for a true manual of success, something that can really teach you how to make good things happen along your path, a look into the life of Clarence Harrison is strongly recommended. With this thought in mind, I am proud to announce a brand new article about this most remarkable man and how he lived. It’s both a tribute and a practical guide that shows you how to architect your own fate and achieve what you are seeking in life. Here is the link:
Clarence Harrison, Jr. — Legacy of a Strength Hero
Yours in success,
P.S. – Please let me know your thoughts about the new article. Your feedback is most appreciated and helpful for the continued development and improvement of this website. Thanks.
July 12, 2015
There are all sorts of reasons why some people obtain great success in life while others never seem to. However, in my 25 years of business life, I have observed many times over that there is a single behavior that most determines whether a person becomes a success magnet, or a poor soul destined to live a life of mediocrity.
When applied consistently, this behavior is much more powerful than having rich parents, a high IQ, a college degree, high self-confidence, super good looks, or even an abundance of natural talent. I kid you not.
Unfortunately, relatively few people exhibit this mighty behavior. Likely, this is the case because its true power is not understood by the majority of citizens in our brainwashed society. From an early age we are taught to expect immediate returns from our efforts. If big rewards don’t materialize quickly after giving it your all, it is easy to feel cheated, denied, or taken advantage of. Dissatisfaction then sets in, and motivation often fades into a sea of despair.
Now, I’m going to tell you what I view to be the biggest wealth-killing mistake in existence. You heard me right. The absolute biggest. And, you need to ask yourself if you are making this most critical mistake. If so, you are almost certainly killing a very large chunk of your success and wealth-building potential, and an attitude adjustment is needed immediately.
So here it is; the worst wealth-building mistake you can possibly make:
Not doing MORE than you are paid for.
You heard me right. Always deliver more and produce better quality than you are paid for. This practice is the most powerful wealth and success builder in existence, and its implementation will almost guarantee a sound financial investment.
Why should you do more than you are paid for? Well, I would need to write a book to tell you all the reasons. For now, however, let it suffice to say that any opportunity you have to acquire new business and technical skills will ultimately make you worth more in the employment market. Whether you seek to climb the ladder in a corporation or grow your own business, this assertion holds true.
It doesn’t matter if you are currently employed as a dish washer at Taco Bell, or if you make a good living as an accountant for a large firm. Every minute that you are at work you have an opportunity to acquire new skills, to seek additional responsibility, and to do more than you are expected to do. This is even the case if you are currently “unemployed” or “retired”.
Your place of employment can offer you much more than just a salary and insurance benefits. It is a tuition-free school where you can learn new and valuable skills, meet new and influential people, and gain tremendous insight of effective business practices. It is also a place for you to grow intellectually, to gain recognition, to boost your credentials, and to sell your way through life.
I understand that it can be disheartening when you go the extra mile day after day and seemingly see little in return for your efforts. You may feel that nobody is noticing the great work you are doing. You may feel that your accomplishments are in vain.
But, keep this in mind…
If you consistently do more than you are paid for, eventually you will become known as the person who gets jobs done on time, who solves the toughest problems, and who successfully manages the biggest projects. Your reputation as an employee or as a business owner will become solid, and demand for your skills and work output will skyrocket upward. This will make your earning potential much larger than it would be otherwise. It’s simple Economics 101.
Before I finish here, please consider this. If you coast in life and in the workforce, your intellectual growth will be stifled, your career path will be limited, and opportunities will remain distant from your reach. Get in the habit today of doing more than you are paid for. Not to do so is the number one wealth-killing mistake that you can possibly make.
Yours in success,
July 8, 2015
If you want to be a failure and feel miserable, do not study the life of Andrew Carnegie. Doing so can lead to success, wealth, and self-fulfillment. Portrait photograph courtesy of the Old Colorado City Library, Colorado Springs, CO.
I generally don’t teach how to be a failure in life. However, sometimes we need to shake things up a bit and take a look from the other side. So here we go; below is a big list of things not to do if you want your life to be filled with accomplishment and happiness.
Of course, my 50-item list is by no means exhaustive. I’m sure that you can suggest many other ways to bring on failure and misery. I’d love to hear from you. Just go to the Contact page via the menu above and let me know your thoughts. Your feedback is very appreciated, and it greatly helps me make this site better for all of us.
Happy reading, and please don’t forget to shoot me an email with your own suggestions for making a mess of things. Sometimes learning what not to do is just as important as learning what to do.
Yours in success,
50 Ways to Fail in Life and Feel Miserable
- Concentrate on what you don’t have rather than what you do have.
- Spend your day feeling sorry for yourself.
- Refuse to learn anything new.
- Refuse to take a risk.
- Criticize yourself for every setback you encounter.
- Spend all your time idolizing rock stars, famous athletes, movie stars, and the like.
- Learn the fine art of gossiping.
- Treat other people with disrespect and disdain.
- Keep yourself glued to a television, or spend your day surfing Facebook.
- Surrender to your distractors.
- Play “Follow the Leader” on a regular basis.
- Live in the past, rather than in the now.
- Balk at the idea of reading a book.
- Blame other people for your problems rather than take responsibility for your happiness.
- Aim for free handouts and dependency on others.
- Master the fine art of procrastination.
- Spend more time talking and less time listening.
- Quit when the going gets tough.
- Avoid physical exercise, and eat lots of unhealthy foods.
- Lose by default by refusing to try.
- Eradicate your savings plan and go into sizable debt.
- Fail to analyze and learn from your mistakes.
- Wonder around in life aimlessly and without a plan of definite purpose.
- Refuse to do more unless you are paid for it.
- Cheat the system in any way you can.
- Never apologize or admit that you were wrong.
- Throw moral principles into the trash can.
- Spend your time looking for a quick, get-rich scheme.
- View the world with monotone glasses.
- Wait for somebody else to do something.
- Be indecisive.
- Think that other people are smarter or more deserving than you are.
- Forget to compliment other people for a job well done.
- Throw jealousy into high gear when somebody else succeeds.
- Wish for good things to happen rather than make good things happen.
- Expect perfection.
- Work in a vacuum.
- Be too proud to ask for help.
- Limit your exposure to new ideas and concepts.
- Allow your ego to inflate.
- Argue over trivial matters.
- See things only from your point of view.
- Hope for bad things to happen to other people.
- Look out only for yourself.
- Believe that making more money will solve all of your problems.
- Fail to see that your life is what you make of it.
- Rely on “good luck” to carry you through.
- Watch others work, but contribute little.
- Fail to plan for the future.
- Keep doing the same things that don’t work.
July 5, 2015
Failure to achieve what you want in life more often than not can be linked to a failure to follow one or more of these seven golden rules of success. Copyright © 2015 by Rob Drucker.
The ability to initiate a project and take it to completion is perhaps the single most important trait of the successful person. Corporations pay big bucks to people who can do this. And, entrepreneurs attract gold doing so. Yet, truth be told, relatively few individuals stick with an ambitious plan long enough to make anything of it. This is the major reason why so many people never see their dreams come true.
Some people fail to stick with anything because they are so busy trying to do it all. Rather than take one or two key tasks to fruition, they meddle with nearly everything under the sun. Sadly, I see this all the time. One person I know, for example, brags that he has completed over 50 online courses. However, from what I can tell, he has mastered none of them.
Failure to keep your drive alive is another leading cause of project termination. All is easy at the start, and ambition rides high. But, you know that nothing worthwhile is easy to acquire. Almost anything worth seeking will be surrounded by deep layers of opposing forces. Once you go knee deep, jealousy, hatred, resentment, discouragement, and road blocks of all kinds are all there waiting for you. And, they will bury you if you give them the slightest opportunity to do so.
Not being true to yourself is yet another success killer. Going with the flow, working solely to please somebody else, following the status quo — all of these will eventually destroy your drive and bring you down a notch or two. You can either take my word for it, or learn the hard way – like I did.
Yours in success,
June 7, 2015
The Headwaters Fountain in Pueblo, Colorado to me symbolizes freedom of choice. It is dedicated to Tommy Thomson who played a pivotal role in water development in the Arkansas Valley. Thomson was the general manager of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservatory District from 1966 through 1994. He dedicated his life to providing water to growing communities, business, industry, and agriculture. His passion and commitment to what he loved doing made him a very happy and successful person. Photograph by Rob Drucker.
Whether wealthy or financially poor, no person is successful if they don’t find happiness in what they do. Thus, merely aiming to achieve a high social rank or earn lots of money will do little for your inner spirit if you do not enjoy the process at work. I can’t begin to tell you how many miserable people I have met over the years because they concentrated exclusively on end goals, such as getting promoted, achieving “prestigious” degrees, and/or collecting more dollar bills. When the promotions finally came through and the dollars began rolling in, surprise – these individuals remained unhappy and unsatisfied. Why? Because they failed to see that if you don’t achieve joy working to acquire a goal, joy will never come even if the goal is eventually realized.
For many people, it can be a challenge finding what you love to do. It can be even harder finding what you are good at, or discovering what you are not so good at. Once you find your place, however, your life will almost certainly shine more harmoniously. The key is to find a marketable skill which you naturally have talent for and which you greatly enjoy. This combination is an unbeatable success generator, in the truest sense. Remember, the most successful people in the world work for the love of what they do, not simply as a means to get rich.
Enthusiasm, concentrated energy, and aspiration can only be sustained when you find your true calling. Drudgery is the result of doing otherwise. And, if you haven’t found your true calling yet, there is still time to do so. Think about what you really like doing, what new skills you may need to profit from your interests, and how you will acquire them. The process may be a difficult one, but putting forth effort to discover and capitalize on your niche is the best way to enlighten your future.
Yours in success,
P.S., I just posted a new article on Bridge to Strength. Well, kind of. It was originally published in the Dinosaur Files a few years ago. It’s about the late Ralph Cameron. He was one of the most enthusiastic persons I ever met, and he gave me a wealth of guidance in life. Perhaps you can learn something valuable from him too. Read his story here:
Ralph Cameron, Friend and Mentor
May 29, 2015
Metaphorically speaking, we all encounter mountains along our paths of life. Success comes to only to individuals who keep climbing these steep mountains, no matter the difficulties faced. Photograph by Rob Drucker.
Rich in achievement is the person who keeps their goals on target, permanently planted at the forefront of their mind. A well-defined goal acted upon vigorously and consistently will almost always triumph over raw talent that has little or no guided purpose. Simply put, you can’t reach the summit of the success mountain if you don’t keep climbing, no matter how enabling your innate ability may be.
Have you even been excited about accomplishing something only to see your momentum fizzle out like a doused fire when things turned difficult? Hey, we have all been there – so don’t be ashamed to admit that this has happened to you at least once or twice. This phenomenon is probably the biggest potential killer of success that we all face. It is based on an insidious set of ever present opposing forces that do their best to discourage us, weaken our will, and dampen our spirits. These ominous forces are comprised of obstacles, fear, criticism, defeat, humiliation, and bad fortune. They are indeed treacherous to success, but only if you let them be so.
People who manage to climb the mountain of success are able to do so because they have trained themselves not to fall victim to the ever-present forces of opposition that permeate all of space. Really powerful people, in fact, use these opposing forces to their advantage. In their minds, obstacles are transformed to challenges; fear is countered with concentrated energy; criticism is met with an army of reserve; defeat is looked at as a stepping stone to victory; humiliation gives an opportunity for improvement; and bad fortune is nullified with impenetrable enthusiasm.
How you handle the opposing forces of life is the single biggest measure of your success potential. You either get crushed by the surrounding resistance, or you solidify growth by learning from your mistakes, revising your plans, seeking a better course of action, and healing your wounds. The choice is yours to make.
No person is a failure who stands erect in the wake of a setback. Making a decision to keep going, to overcome any obstacle, and to cross any barrier will almost always strengthen your character and germinate the seeds of success within you. Great difficulty will almost certainly lie ahead, but if you persevere you will know no boundary.
Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and victory never comes without many temporary defeats. If you are not falling often, you are not growing intellectually, nor spiritually. How you handle yourself when you do fall to the ground also is critically important. Do you conclude that you are a failure, or do you still see yourself as a winner? Do you get up, shake yourself off, and try again? Or do you blame the world for your misfortune and quit in despair? Do you learn from your mistakes, or do you conclude that you have no control over your fate. Honest answers to these questions give an accurate measure of where you are heading.
Relatively rare is the person who consistently marches forward against the infinite sea of opposing forces which permeate along all paths of success. This fact is arguably the most influential reason why 95% of all resolutions end up in circles or crashing to a grinding halt. More often than not, the person who drops out of school, who fails to establish a rewarding career, or who has settled into an existence of mediocrity and unhappiness, has succumbed to the roadblocks of life. Don’t let this happen to you. Stay with it; fight the fight; triumph with aspiration; live with no limit.
Yours in success,
May 24, 2015
Above all else, 6.004x taught me the importance of persevering and not giving in to temptation to “pull the plug.” The difference between earning this certificate and not earning it was the critical decision to keep going no matter what.
The ability to stick to something, finish the job, and then do a little extra is arguably the most important trait of the successful person. Simply put, achievers keep at it no matter how many barriers they encounter along their path to success; non-achievers give up as soon as opposition and struggle come rolling in.
Oh, I know how tempting it can be to throw in the towel when the going gets rough. Thoughts of hopelessness, lack of confidence, and feelings of being overwhelmed have dampened my spirits many times over in past years. And, success didn’t come my way until I learned not to fall victim to these show-stopping emotions.
In fact, as I have grown older and a bit wiser, I have learned that nothing is worse than giving up on one’s ambitions. Better to try and fail in spectacular fashion than to lose by forfeit. When you give it your all, you at least learn something no matter what the outcome is. This gives you an edge for your next run. In contrast, when you give up you gain nothing but despair, misery, and a shattered ego.
Just recently, I completed a very difficult (for me, at least) online class taught by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX. Relative to the academic standards that I was used to, this class was challenging and time consuming, to say the least. Some of the homework and lab assignments had me stumped for hours — no for days! In particular, I will never forget Lab #4; this one nearly broke me. Let me just say that at times I thought that I would never figure out how to solve this assignment. And, truth be told, at one point I nearly fell to temptation to click the course delete button on my computer and just end the agony right then and there.
As it turned out, good fortune in terms of encouragement saved me from doing something really stupid. The soul-lifting support came after another student had posted on the course discussion forum that he was getting nowhere with Lab #4 and that he was about to give up on the assignment. He wrote, “I give up on this exercise. I don’t have 3-4 days to complete it. And, I don’t even think I can.”
Fellow classmates responded almost immediately to the student’s plight with affirmative words of action. And, arguably, the advice they offered taught the most important lesson of the MIT course. Here is a small sampling of what they had to say:
- “Never give up!”
- “Keep trying no matter what!”
- “It takes time and it is very hard. Keep pushing and don’t forget to have breaks to let your mind breathe a little bit.”
- “EdX has taught me to never let go, however deep I am.”
- “Keep pushing!”
Such encouraging advice was just what I needed to rethink things, get back on course, smash through previously perceived barriers, and complete Lab #4, for once and for all. In the end, I completed the assignment, got full credit for it, and earned a very pleasing grade for the class. Was it hard? You bet. Did I struggle? Yep. Did I run into a ton of obstacles? Sure did. Would I do it over again? I already am.
Now, here is the key message in all of this. No matter how discouraging things become, no matter how tempting it may be to step off to the side, no matter how painful the experience, NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER. Keep trying and you will be a better person for it, even if you don’t end up exactly at the planned target. As the adage goes, a winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.
By the way, sometimes all it takes to help a person stay on track is to offer a bit of encouragement. It works better than giving criticism 99% of the time, too.
Yours in success,
May 16, 2015
A few months ago I sent the following inquiry to a renowned physicist and professor at a very prestigious university:
I have a question of which I hope you can share your opinion. Can a person with an average IQ become a great physicist if he or she works consistently hard at learning, or is the mastery of high-end physics beyond the reach of the ordinary student?
Graciously, the professor took some time out of his busy schedule to respond to my question, and his answer was both thoughtful and insightful. Here is what he had to say:
“I would say that 99% of being a good physicist, like anything else, is hard work. You could get to the highest levels, even winning the Nobel prize, through hard work, networking, and of course a great deal of knowledge and intelligence, but not necessarily an innate ability. However, fundamental theoretical physics is now so advanced that to follow it you have to be able keep a lot of variables and summation indices in your head, and you have to be able to have insights about them. I find that very hard to do, and I might concede that in that case there is some ‘IQ’ or innate cognitive ability that is critical.”
As you can see, the professor expressed his opinion that 99% of all achievement comes from hard work. Said another way, it is within the reach of the average person to go extraordinarily far in any endeavor if he or she is willing to put forth consistent effort. Key to success is to make targeted and practical goals, stick to them, and work with concentrated focus every day to reach them. Above all, believe in yourself. As the late Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
Yours in success,
October 19, 2014
The Pyramid of Employment Success consists of applied skill, a deep interest in what you do, and a passion to keep learning.
We all know that the employment market is competitive and that many people are struggling to find a rewarding job, or even any job. Employment statistics bear out this fact, and many job seekers across the country have become utterly discouraged by a seemingly depressed job market.
The truth is, however, a very high number of jobs remain unfilled in leading companies because business leaders cannot find enough candidates who possess the skills to fulfill them. For example, it is estimated that by the year 2020 over 1,000,000 programming jobs will go unfilled. Think about that – over one million vacancies in computer programming alone.
So, a first step to becoming highly employable is to realize that there are many good and potentially high-paying jobs available. Understand this fact and the odds become in your favor. Above all, ignore reports from the press that suggest lucrative job opportunities are harder to come by these days. Such reports are total hogwash. Arm yourself with the right gear and employers will practically be knocking on your door.
Merely seeking a rewarding job is not enough. You must be marketable if you want employment opportunities to drift your way. In other words, you must possess a set of skills that employers are seeking. And, you must be able to put apply those skills in manner which can benefit a potential employer.
It is important to conduct research and find out what kind of skills top businesses and corporations are looking for. Then, determine which of these skills are compatible with your personal interests, innate talents, and personality traits. Keep this process in motion until you can identify an area of specialty which you are willing to commit to. Be specific in your choice and clear on your goals. Then, determine how best, for you, to gain expertise in your chosen endeavor.
Gaining a high level of expertise in a chosen field is never easy. You must first find a way to acquire the knowledge you need – perhaps by earning a college degree, taking online courses, or via some other form of study. Then, you must act with 100% conviction to become an expert in your chosen field of specialty.
To accomplish your goals, there is no way around putting in hard and prolonged work. You will need to spend spend hours and hours gaining the skills that businesses and corporations seek. It won’t be easy, but if you keep working on your development program good things will likely follow. Often, the hardest part of learning a new set of skills is just getting started. Once you take the leap, however, momentum will work in your favor.
Often, people ask me whether or not possession of a college degree is necessary to be highly employable. My answer is always the same – most emphatically not. Bosses seek to hire people who can demonstrate desired skills, have an interest in the relevant field of work, and have a passion for continued learning. A college graduate does not necessarily possess interest and passion, or even a high degree of skill. And, a person without a college diploma is not necessarily lacking in education. Thus, demonstrate to a potential employer that you have what it takes to help their business achieve a higher degree of prosperity, than the odds are in your favor that you can land a big job, even if you are not a college graduate. Remember, what counts most is a demonstration of skill, interest, and passion. This is the pyramid of employment success that has stood the test of time and which can make you highly employable.
Yours in success,
October 12, 2014
Frederick E. Schacht was a star football player, medical doctor, and coach. As a coach, he led Kentucky State College (now the University of Kentucky) to an impressive 9-1 season in 1904. Unfortunately, Dr. Schacht became seriously ill shortly after the 1905 football season, and he died on December 1, 1906 at the age of 31. The cause of his death could not be verified, but some have suggested that he fell victim to Bright’s disease. Public domain photograph.
Frederick E. Schacht was the football coach at Kentucky State College (now the University of Kentucky) during the 1904 and 1905 seasons. Before becoming a football coach, Schacht served with the 13th Minnesota Volunteers during the Spanish-American War, attended the University of Minnesota where he starred as a running back on their football team, and worked as a physician in Seattle, Washington after graduating with a degree in medicine.
During his football days at Minnesota, Schacht was known as “a terror on offense,” and he was “hailed throughout the west as the greatest tackle of a decade.” On one occasion, despite suffering from three broken ribs, Schacht refused medical attention, and he led his team to a tie with Michigan. This was the first game that Michigan did not win in nearly three years.
Coach Schacht, bottom row at right, poses with his winning Kentucky State College football team, 1904 season. Only two of the ten teams that State College faced managed to score against them. Public domain photograph.
With Frederick Schacht aboard, Kentucky blossomed and became a powerhouse team. During the 1904 season, the first under their new coach, State College won 9 of their 10 games, and they scored a total of 271 points while allowing their opponents to amass just 15 total points! The only blemish came when Cincinnati defeated Kentucky State College 11-0. However, this loss triggered the mighty coach into a vengeance, and his determined squad clobbered Georgetown College 35-0 and Central College 81-0 a few games later. And, during the final game of the 1904 season, nearby and rival Kentucky University (now Transylvania University) gave up 22 points to State College, but at least they managed to get four points on the score board. If you do the math, you’ll see that Kentucky University was only the second (and last) team to score against Kentucky State College during the 1904 season; eight opponents failed to score any points.
Dr. Schacht had a knack for bringing out greatness in people. He stressed to his players that “work wins,” and he showered them with his enthusiasm for the game of football. As put in the 1906 edition of The Kentuckian, the coach “. . . had the ability to put giant spirits in little men, and football hearts into the heavier weights.” Thus, hard work, heart, and enthusiasm were key to Schacht’s success, and they can bring you success in whatever endeavor you seek to excel in as well.
Yours in Success,
October 3, 2014
Finding a hobby that you enjoy can do much to catalyze your enthusiasm and to stimulate personal fulfillment. Building something of interest serves many people well.
Recently, while I was driving back to Louisville from a short trip, I happened to catch a small portion of The Dave Ramsey Show on the radio.
During his broadcast, the talk-show host asked his audience a very suggestive question. It was this: “How many bored people do you know who are happy?” And then, after a brief pause, Ramsey succinctly replied, “That’s right, not a single one!”
Ramsey continued by explaining that his method for fostering happiness is to stay busy, especially by engaging in things that he loves to do. I too find that staying busy is an important component of staying happy. For when you allow yourself to become bored, the waves of personal fulfillment flatten very quickly.
We all need to and have the right to be happy. But, you must create your own happiness by finding things that satisfy your heart and soul; nobody else can do that for you. One key for establishing happiness is to have a hobby that you enjoy. This simple step can eradicate boredom and put an extra sparkle into your life.
Hobbies build interest and trigger triumphs of enthusiasm, and I have never known a dedicated hobbyist to lack energy or will. Whether committed to playing music, learning a foreign language, collecting coins, restoring antique clocks, or to something else, an enthusiast almost always derives priceless joy from his or her devotion.
So if you are bored, why not start a new hobby and see what happens? You can study the history of the city you live in, learn how to play a guitar, plant and maintain a flower garden, take up karate, or build your own strength equipment. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do; what matters is that you do something that you enjoy and which keeps you busy. This formula may be simple, but it is a profound happiness builder.
Yours in success,
P.S. I recently updated the Articles page, and there is some great new stuff there. You may want to check it out.
October 2, 2014
Lillian Bearle, “the most perfect woman in the world,” as she posed for a series of articles on physical culture, circa 1912.
During the early 20th century, Professor Dudley A. Sargent of Harvard went on a quest to find “the most perfect woman in the world” for a series of magazine articles on physical culture. After taking measurements of thousands of women, he selected a swimmer by the name of Lillian Bearle as his top choice. Lillian was 23 years old at the time she was chosen by the professor, and she was from Boston, Massachusetts where she was born.
Lillian, whose stage name was La Diva, attributed her marvelous build to swimming. During an interview she once stated, “I took up swimming for my health. And, let me tell you swimming is the best exercise in the world to develop the body. If a woman wants to reduce or build up, let her learn to swim and work hard at it. Nature will do the rest.”
Lillian was one of nine sisters, all of whom took up swimming in the Atlantic ocean near the family home. Lillian once stated that the sisters had a tradition of swimming each morning in the Atlantic every since the oldest took to the water and propelled herself “dog fashion.”
Although all of the Bearle sisters became accomplished swimmers, Lillian was the best among them. As a competitor, she won numerous metals and cups, and she once swam a mile in 35 minutes during a race. She also had been acknowledged by John F. Conroy, a former swimming teacher and Carnegie medal winner, to be a quick study in the water. Conroy discovered this when he was teaching Lillian how to dive. She picked up the skill so quickly and with such consummate skill that the two of them were given a vaudeville offer. This offer marked the beginning of what would become a successful stage career for the talented young lady.
Yours in success,
May 30, 2014
Over a hundred years ago there appeared a short article in the Spokane Press entitled, How to Succeed. I was fortunate enough to come across this little gem early in my industrial career, and I’ve carried its words with me every since to good fortune.
Unfortunately, I cannot give due credit to the author for this wonderful piece; the writer was not identified in the original publication. So, I have reprinted the article below without knowing who to thank for it. I know only that whoever the author was, he or she possessed a lot of wisdom upstairs.
Please enjoy, and I hope that you too will benefit from the advice given as much as I have.
Yours in success,
How to Succeed
Almost every periodical published within the borders of the United States contains advertisements of firms which offer to impart information to young men as to “how to succeed.”
There may be a great deal of merit in the advertisements and in the methods used to give adequate return to those who pay to learn the secrets of success from those who advertise.
Those who have no money to invest to learn these secrets, however, have no reason to give up hope. Here is a bit of advice that will go as far as any that was ever paid for:
The only way to succeed is to he successful.
Doesn’t sound very profound, does it? It isn’t. It’s about as simple as anything that has ever been printed, and at first sight it may appear idiotic.
But there is a lot in it. The man who succeeds is the man who brings to a successful termination every minute undertaking of every day’s activity. The successful man’s life is made up of a myriad of successes.
If you let one little item of your day’s work get by you without satisfying yourself that you have done your best on it, you are heavily handicapping yourself. If you form the habit of letting the little things slide, you are preparing for failure. A million treatise on how to be successful will not help you.
The trouble with too many of us is that we are so busy trying to see a great success in the future that we can’t see the chances for little successes under our noses.
“Heaven is not reached at a single bound,” and neither is success. The only way to succeed is to be successful.
May 24, 2014
A native of Hanover County, Virginia, Henry Clay moved to Lexington, Kentucky at the age of 15 in November, 1797. In Kentucky, Clay established himself as a prominent lawyer, politician, and orator. His skill took him to the Senate and to the House of Representatives, both as a representative of Kentucky. He also served three terms as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and he was Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829. Abraham Lincoln often remarked that Henry Clay was his idol and mentor.
Over 160 years ago, Henry Clay, one of the most powerful statesmen in U.S. history, gave a remarkable speech at the National Law School at Ballston Spa, New York. At one point during his presentation, the “Great Compromiser” revealed what is perhaps the ultimate formula of success. He said,
“Constant, persevering application will accomplish everything. To this quality, if I may be allowed to speak of myself, more than to anything else, do I owe the little success which I have attained. Left in early life to work my own way alone, without friends or pecuniary resources, and with no other than a common education, I saw that the pathway before was long, steep and rugged, and that the height upon which I had ventured to fix the eye of my ambition, could be reached only by toil – the most severe, and a purpose – the most indomitable. But shrinking from no labor, disheartened by no obstacles, I struggled on. No opportunity, which the most watchful vigilance could secure, to exercise my power, was permitted to pass by unimproved.”
Although Clay spoke these auspicious words to a group of law students, they apply equally well to everybody. Thus, if you apply Clay’s formula to your own quests in life, success can be yours to reach and foster.
Yours in success,
May 10, 2014
(1) the first requisite of success. (2) overcoming fear, negative opinion, or discouragement. (3) making things happen rather than waiting for things to happen. (4) opening the door to freedom, advancement, and self-fulfillment. (5) the commencement of “good luck.”
(1) the second requisite of success. (2) a continual search to find or invent a better way to get a job done. (3) ongoing ambition to surpass where you were before. (4) learning from your mistakes and progressing ahead. (5) enjoying the process rather than merely seeking a means to an end. (6) doing what you love to do.
Yours in success,
May 5, 2014
After graduating from Bowdoin College in 1825, Nathaniel Hawthorne directed his professional attention solely to writing and establishing himself as a noted author. His efforts paid off when Twice-Told Tales gained public favor. Key to Hawthorne’s success was dogged perseverance and controlled attention.
Over the years I have studied the lives of many influential men and women around the world. I have also worked with dozens of prominent business leaders, engineers, and scientists in industry and observed, first hand, how the successful mind ticks.
If there is a central theme, above all else, which I have observed among elite performers, it is this: Successful people (1) know what they want, (2) organize every internal thought and external action to bring to fruition a definite goal, and (3) acquire specialized knowledge that gives them the know-how to succeed.
This triad of success is what Andrew Carnegie called “controlled attention,” and I have yet to meet a single successful individual who does not adhere rigidly, at least subconsciously, to this key method. In contrast, most people who are stuck on the short end of the success stick, I find, mindlessly direct their efforts into the winds of fate. Many of these success-deprived folks are highly intelligent and educated, but they lack definiteness of purpose, focused tactics of success, and mastery of a single key skill.
A key skill is one in which people and businesses are willing to pay top dollar to have rendered, and it inherently requires specialized knowledge. Stated another way, a key skill is sharp in focus, concentrated, narrow and definite in scope, and acquired by relatively few people. It is the domain of the specialist, and it possessed by nearly every successful man and woman.
Possession of general knowledge will broaden your horizons, expose you to new ideas, help you discover what you are good at and enjoy doing, and strengthen your general thinking. However, a chronic generalist almost never reaches the pinnacle of success. This is a fact that I observe over and over again in my corporate career. It can also be understood when you consider that people who know a little about a lot of things, but who are exceptionally good at none of them, are hardly ever in demand. In contrast, the specialist who does only one thing and does it extremely well can often earn top dollar.
The jack-of-all-trades is watered down, spread thin, and almost always unfocused. You know the kind, windows today and floors tomorrow. No thanks. In contrast, the man or woman who does only one thing and does it with full conviction usually blossoms in their chosen specialty. This is why, as an engineering manager, I almost always hire specialists for each aspect of the job at hand. Why hire a general contractor to fix a roof when I can hire a specialist who does nothing but fix roof structures for a living? The specialist costs me more, but you get what you pay for.
Think about it this way: If you were in need of high-end medical care, would you want a general physician at your side or a highly regarded specialist whose exceptional skills fall directly in line with your condition. Of course, you would opt for the specialist, and you would almost certainly be willing to pay more for her services as well. Reflect upon this and you will see why aiming to become a specialist will likely increase your earning power more so than remaining a generalist, all other things being equal. This is not to say that a well-rounded education is not valuable; far from it for the reasons already stated. However, after achieving a broad knowledge base, you must establish controlled attention if you want to separate yourself from the crowd and become a person in great demand.
In summary, controlled attention consists of (1) a definiteness of purpose, (2) concentrated thought and effort, and (3) attainment of specialized knowledge. You must incorporate all three of these components into your career portfolio if you want to maximize your earning potential. Scattered efforts will not get you far. As Andrew Carnegie so rightly stated years ago, “Specialization, through concentration of effort, gives one greatest power. It saves lost motion in both thought and physical action. It harmonizes with Definiteness of Purpose, the starting point of all achievement.”
Yours in success,
February 20, 2014
Charles Michael Schwab was the President of the Carnegie Steel Company and later the head of Bethlehem Steel, once the second largest corporation in the world. Regarding the steel industry, Andrew Carnegie once stated that Schwab “knew more about it than any other man in the world.”
Due to some big commitments that have recently surfaced, I am taking a short sabbatical from Bridge to Strength, likely until about the fourth week of April. As appreciation for your patience, I provide below a little story as was told by Charles Schwab shortly after the death of his mentor, Andrew Carnegie. I love this story because it shows how Carnegie made great things happen not by criticism, but through encouragement, keen insight, extraordinary leadership, confidence in his people, and a lot of guts.
I hope that you enjoy and prosper from Schwab’s retrospection and, again, I will resume posting around the fourth week of April.
As Told By Charles Schwab
“Many years ago when I was a manager of the Braddock works, at a time when money was not too plentiful in the Carnegie company, I had asked permission to put up a new converting mill and it had been built. It was everything I expected it to be, everything I promised Mr. Carnegie it should be, and he came out to Braddock to see it.”
“As I was showing him around the works and explaining the new mill he looked into my face and said: ‘Charlie, there is something wrong about this. I can see by your expression that you are disappointed. There is something wrong with this mill.’ ”
“I said: ‘No, Mr. Carnegie, it is just exactly what I told you it would be and we have reduced our costs to the point that I said we would. But, if I had it all over to do again there is one thing which has just recently been discovered that I would introduce here and that I am sure would result in further economy.’ ”
“He said: ‘Well, what does that mean? Can you change this work?’ ”
“I said: ‘No; it would mean tearing this down and rebuilding it.’ ”
“ ‘Why,’ he said, ‘then that’s the right thing to do. It’s only a fool that will not profit by anything that may have been overlooked and discovered after the work is done. Tear it down and do it again.’ ”
February 9, 2014
Lionel Hampton’s intense enthusiasm was the catalyst behind his success.
My dad was an avid music collector, and while growing up I can remember on many occasions marveling at his immense and broad record collection. It was stocked with hundreds of compositions from the world’s great composers – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schumann, to name just a few. Classical was perhaps my dad’s favor genre of music, but he also loved listening to blues, jazz, bluegrass, and folk songs.
Understandably, my dad was rather protective of his record albums, and it was a firm rule in our household during my boyhood years that they were “no touch” items. However, being a rather inquisitive kid, I figured that rules were meant to be broken, and from time to time I would sneak in an album play or two when my dad was away. Of course, I was always careful to put my dad’s record back before he got home exactly how it had been stored. It was a cat and mouse game, but 95% of the time I won.
When I was about 13 years old, one of my dad’s albums particularly caught my attention for reasons I don’t really know. It was titled, Hamp’s Big Band – a recording from jazz master Lionel Hampton and his orchestra. I had never heard my dad play this LP, but it looked kind of cool and I figured it was worth a listen.
After putting this record on my turntable I was blown away by the band leader’s musical power, personality, and swinging form. Hamp captured so much energy and enthusiasm on the record that the impact on me was both immediate and dramatic. The sound of the record was almost hypnotic. Before Flying Home, the opening number, had ended with its dazzling harmony of trumpets and trombones, I was in a state of frenetic excitement. Such was the power of the band and the effect of Hampton’s inspiring and stimulating leadership.
Hamp lived for excitement, and his energy invigorated all around him.
Since my first listen to Hamp’s Big Band, I have accrued dozens of Lionel Hampton records, and it’s possible that I own the biggest collection of his recordings in Louisville, perhaps all of Kentucky. Interestingly, Lionel Hampton was born in Louisville back in 1909, later moving to Birmingham, Alabama and then to Chicago with his mother.
This afternoon, I have gave some thought to what was the secret behind Lionel Hampton’s enormous success as a composer, musician, and band leader. Natural talent was certainly one factor; he was quite a virtuoso on the vibes and drums, and Hamp’s two-finger piano style was utterly amazing. Another factor is that Lionel had “go-at-it-iveness” and “stick-to-it-iveness.” He got his start in 1928 playing drums in several relatively unknown jazz bands in the Windy City. Later, Lionel moved to California where he played in various other small bands. However, he worked hours a day to improve his musical abilities, and eventually he was noticed and hired by Louis Armstrong and later by Benny Goodman.
Hamp stayed with Goodman from 1936 to 1940, during which time he played with many of the world’s most accomplished musicians in jazz, among them Harry James, Gene Krupa, and Teddy Wilson. From Goodman, Lionel learned how to lead an orchestra, and after a five year stay with the famous clarinet player he formed his own big band and achieved world-wide fame.
There can be no doubt that Lionel’s outstanding musical skills coupled with his willingness to work up the success ladder one rung at a time helped him to land his first big break in the music business. However, in my opinion, what separated Hamp from the rest of the boys more so than anything else was his unmatched enthusiasm. He had a love for music that was so potent both in the studio and on stage that everybody around him was inspired by his intoxicating mood and drive. When Lionel was present, work and toil were transformed into passion, growth, pleasure, and good spirit. His personality was a catalytic agent that never failed to inspire his band mates to reach a mosaic sound of mastery or to make his audience spellbound with dynamic energy. Lionel Hampton’s unbending enthusiasm was contagious, and when he played the whole stage came alive. One need only listen to him ring them vibes or beat those drums on his old records to appreciate this.
Yours in success,
February 3, 2014
My old Jeep Wranger YJ in action at the Daniel Boone National Forest.
This story begins a few years after I had graduated from college, took a job as a process engineer, and took up four wheeling as a hobby.
I owned two Jeeps, and my desire to modify them to improve their off-road capability encouraged me to study automotive technology. So it was that I enrolled in a vehicle repair class at a local vocational school in downtown Louisville. This class was held three evenings a week, and I was the only college graduate among the bunch.
During the first two months of the class, my instructor concentrated solely on teaching the theory of modern automobile construction and operation. No real work was done in the field during this time, and we were given frequent reading assignments. The classroom instruction was just like engineering school in many ways, and my strong scientific background gave me a distinct advantage with the theoretical stuff. I had no problem defining key technical terms, answering homework questions, and explaining how various mechanical systems work conceptually. And, after setting the class high on the first two exams, I figured that my understanding of automotive technology was quite good, at least relative to where my classmates stood.
Yes, all seemed smooth sailing in the beginning. I pretty much held the attitude that my book knowledge put me ahead of the game, and I figured that completing the field portion of the class was going to be a breeze.
When the time came to actually work on a car, however, I got a rude awakening. Our first assignment involved pairing up in teams to remove, overhaul, and re-install an actual V8 engine from a 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. At first, I felt comfortable with the assignment. But, when we opened the hood of the car, my confidence plummeted at record speed. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed by a maze of mechanical and electrical components. Everything looked so complex and compacted, and this scene was my first hint that just being book smart wasn’t going to get me very far. I was totally dumbfounded.
My teammates, however, came alive when that hood was popped open. Suddenly, they were loosening fasteners, pulling off hoses, removing support systems, all so fast I couldn’t follow what they were doing. The crazy thing was that they were throwing all the removed fasteners into a single container, with no concern whatsoever that they didn’t mark a single one of them for future reference. I mean, in short time this container was stuffed with hundreds of bolts, nuts, and washers of various shapes and sizes – all mixed up.
When the engine was removed from the car and disassembled, it was much the same story. Before I knew what hit me there were dozens of engine parts – springs, valves, manifolds, pistons, belts, push rods, and much more – all piled high on a big bench. To me, the huge conglomeration of parts looked like an unorganized mess, but to my teammates everything was perfectly under control. They might not have known all the theory, but they had a practical knowledge that I sorely lacked. Their insight came from real world hands-on experience, not merely from classroom instruction and conceptual thinking. That was the difference which allowed them to do meaningful work while I could only stand and watch. Now I know that although having theoretical knowledge is often helpful and sometimes even essential, it is not enough to succeed in real-world applications. You must also possess practical knowledge, a kind that only comes from getting your hands dirty.
I should point out that my experienced teammates had no problems overhauling that V8 engine and subsequently getting everything re-assembled in proper order. They did a most spectacular job, and afterwards that 1988 Oldsmobile ran like it was brand new. I was humbled by the experience, and I will never again get big headed just because I hold a college degree.
Yours in success,
January 28, 2014
Sarah G. Blanding (right) with friend, circa 1921.
A few weeks ago I was reading a rather lengthy book about the history of the Kentucky Wildcat basketball program. It’s a well written work with a lot of interesting information, but I was so very disappointed when I saw that the author made no mention of Sarah G. Blanding, perhaps Kentucky’s first basketball superstar. So, today I thought it would be a good idea to pay tribute to her, both for her contributions as an athlete and as an educator.
Born on a Kentucky farm in 1898, Sarah Blanding grew up a hard worker with both athletic and academic ambitions. After graduating from the New Haven School of Gymnastics in 1919, she accepted a job at the University of Kentucky as a physical education instructor. She also enrolled in an undergraduate program at the start of her new position.
At Kentucky, Blanding became captain of the women’s basketball team, and she was also the Kittennettes best player. Referring to her athletic skill on the court, a writer in the Kentuckian stated, “Sarah seems to have a monopoly on the baskets.”
Sarah was just as active off of the basketball court as she was on it. In addition to majoring in political science and international relationships, the sports star became president of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority chapter. Blanding had stated during in an interview later in her life that, as president of Kappa Kappa Gamma, one of her biggest accomplishments was helping to get a minority member accepted into the chapter. Today, maybe this would not be news. However, in the early 1920s racial discrimination was common place in the Bluegrass State, and what Sarah Blanding did took initiative, courage, leadership, and a lot of persuasion.
The 1921 Kittennettes and Coach Sarah Blanding (back row).
After obtaining an undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky, Sarah attended graduate school at Columbia University. She also engaged in additional studies at the London School of Economics. In 1929, she was awarded a master’s degree in political science from Columbia, and subsequently Blanding was appointed Dean of Women and professor of political science at the University of Kentucky, positions she would hold for 12 years.
Blanding left Kentucky in 1941 to become first dean of the College of Home Economics at Cornell University. Five years later, the former basketball star was named the president of Vassar College, and for many years she did much work to advance the school’s academic curriculum and quality of student life. One key to her enormous success at Vassar College was that she respected people and encouraged independent thinking. Reflecting upon her remarkable career, Blanding once noted, “I like all kinds of people. I get along well with them because I trust them. I make it plain to everyone on my staff that I want them to stand up and fight for their own ideas. If they have better arguments, they win.”
Yours in Success,
January 18, 2014
Kevin Fitzgerald’s latest book relates a fascinating story of victory over adversity. Photograph courtesy of the author.
After posting Beethoven’s Heroic Triumph, I received a touching letter about this story from Kevin Fitzgerald, author of Deafness of the Mind – The Forgotten Children of Boston Spa. In this book, Kevin recounts his life growing up in England during World War II. His stories of raid shelters, German bombers, terror, and death, as seen from the eyes of a five-year-old child, offer a vision of the human soul in a most chilling and insightful manner.
When Kevin was six years old, he contacted meningitis, and the Illness caused him to become nearly completely deaf. Almost overnight, he found himself in an alien world of silence – no sound of a human voice; no sound of a singing bird; no sound of flowing water; and, no sound of soothing music. It must have been a frightening scene of unimaginable proportions for both the child and his mother.
After recovering from his illness, Kevin’s mother was encouraged to send her son away to a special school for the deaf. It was a most painful proposition for her to consider, but eventually she was persuaded and Kevin entered St. John’s Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire.
It was tough enough for Kevin to face a world without sound, but it was even tougher for him to endure the discrimination and cruelty that he routinely faced at St. John’s. Kevin could not hear his teachers speak, but he certainly was not the dumb kid that they told him he was.
Despite the bullying, exploitation, and discrimination Kevin faced as a deaf school boy, he refused to let his condition crush his spirits or limit his opportunities in life. He saw a truth that relatively few people ever see, a truth of most remarkable power. For, Kevin came to see that no person is defeated in the wake of adversity if defeat is denied internally. One avenue may be forever closed down, but there is nothing to stop another avenue within you from sprouting and blossoming if your spirit is armed with a grip of positive conviction.
Today, Kevin is a distinguished author, and his recounts and teachings are helping people around the world to understand that they can live a happy, productive, and rewarding life no matter what difficulties are thrown at them.
Thanks Kevin for your kind letter, and it is an honor to have my piece about Beethoven included in your new book, Deafness of the Body – A Deaf Man’s Journey Through the Hearing World. Your teachings are truly an inspiration.
Yours in Success,
January 16, 2014
Three titans of success: Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, and Henry Ford.
To many people “success” means nothing more than the accumulation of money. I think the term “success” is better defined as the accomplishment of what makes you happy without hurting other people. Perhaps you have your own definition of what success means to you.
However you define “success”, throughout history many individuals have stated what they believe to be the secret to acquiring this often elusive state of mind. I share with you below 20 such revelations of the many that I have heard over the years, and perhaps one or two of them will especially stick out for you. Some of these sayings were uttered by men and women of great prominence; others were stated by less celebrated individuals, nonetheless equally wise. In any case, what matters is not the names behind the sayings, but the wisdom brought forth by them.
Yours in Success,
- “The secret of success in business is doing common things uncommonly well.”
- “The grand secret of success is that successful people take on hundred times the trouble than other people do.”
- “The secret of success is sticking to it.”
- “The secret of success is not only to do it, but do it successfully.”
- “Keeping fit is the secret of success.”
- “Attention to detail is the secret of success in every sphere of life.”
- “The secret of success isn’t so much in knowing how to make money as in the ability to hang onto it.”
- “The secret of success is not a secret. Nor is it something new. Nor is it something hard to secure. To become more successful, become more efficient and do little things better.”
- “The faculty of keeping friends is the secret of success.”
- “The great secret of success in life is to be ready when opportunity comes.”
- “The secret of success is the love of the business; without it the incessant drudgery and persistent labor destroy all ambition.”
- “The great secret of success, true success, is to get away from the butterfly pursuits of life and devote yourself to doing good to those around you.”
- “The secret of success is to be the fellow your wife [or husband] could have married if it hadn’t been you.”
- “Specialization is the secret of success in every field of endeavor.”
- “The secret of success is this: Cooperate.”
- “The secret of success is constancy of purpose.”
- “There has been altogether too much talk about the secret of success. Success has no secret. Her voice is forever ringing through the market place and crying in the wilderness, and the burden of her cry is one word — will. Any normal young man [person] who hears and heeds that cry is equipped fully to climb to the very heights of life.”
- “The secret of success is a simple matter of honest work, ability and concentration. There is no question about there being room at the top for exceptional men [or women] in any profession. Your problem is how to get there. The answer is simple: Conduct business with just a little more ability than the average man [or woman] in your line. If you are only above the average man [or woman] your success is secured, and the degree of success is the ratio to the greater degree of ability and attention which you give above the average.”
- “The secret of success is in oneself, not in ‘pulls’, outside influence, or capital. This is one of the reasons that the poor young man and young woman who find themselves utterly dependent upon their own effort are largely the ones who win out in life, because their very lacks drive them into themselves as their only chance.”
- “The secret of success is to always consider that the boss is right, even when he is wrong.”
December 8, 2013
Gilbert Hunt, shown here in his old age, was a man of “Herculean” strength who possessed a heart of gold.
Gilbert Hunt was born a slave in King William County, Virginia around 1780. But, despite not having freedom for many years, he built a solid reputation among those who knew him through honesty, courage, hard work, and a willingness to help people in need.
As a young man, Gilbert was said to have been almost a Hercules, for he possessed a huge frame and a powerful set of muscles. Mr. Hunt attributed his extraordinary strength to his industrious work as a blacksmith. For hours a day during his working life, the ring of Gilbert’s anvil could be heard outside of his shop as he swung his heavy hammer to mend metal.
Gilbert grew up in the Piping Tree, a cavern that was located along the Parmunkey River and which was owned by his master. At this tavern, the young slave helped to run the business, and it was here that he first established his commitment to hard and productive work.
Gilbert continued to live and work at Piping Tree until his master’s youngest daughter got married. At this time, the lad was sent to Richmond to work under the newlywed’s husband, from whom he learned the carriage-making trade. After working four or five years under him, however, Gilbert’s new master died, and he was sold for a second and last time.
On December 26, 1811, not long after Gilbert was acquired by his final purchaser, a horrific fire broke out at the nearby Richmond Theatre during a record-crowd performance. As detailed in A Bicentennial Tribute, Hunt rushed from his blacksmith shop to the burning scene, and through his courage and with his stupendous strength he helped to save many lives.
When the War of 1812 broke out, Gilbert was put to work in his master’s shop as a blacksmith for the U.S. Army. And, fully determined to defend his country from enemy attack, he worked several hours a day for 18 straight months preparing guns and cannons for defense. Recalling later in life his service work for the Army, the strongman recorded in his writings,
“I ironed off carriages for the cannon, mounting one every two days. We then had four forges going constantly. I was also busily engaged in making pick axes [and] shoeing horses for the army, and such other work as was needed. We worked day and night, not even stopping to rest on the Sabbath day. I was also engaged in making grappling hooks for boarding the vessels down at Norfolk. During all this time, my master gave me complete control of the whole shop.”
One day during the War, an express team spread the word across Richmond that a British attack was imminent. Fearful for the well-being of himself and his family, Gilbert’s master asked him to go to the country side and find a safe haven for them. The blacksmith gladly did so, and he then helped his master and his family make the sudden move.
After his master’s family was safe and out of reach of enemy troops, Gilbert returned to his shop and he once again helped to prepare defense equipment for his country. He also took care of his master’s home with an ironclad loyalty while the family was away. Such loyalty grew from respect and love of his master. In fact, so fond was Gilbert of his owner he later wrote,
“During my absence of the family, my master’s residence and all its contents were left entirely in my charge, and had the British come upon us, no American would have fought more bravely for the defense of his own home and fireside than I would have done for the defense of my master’s property; for he never treated me like a servant, but rather like a member of his own household.”
About 12 years after fire burned the Richmond Theatre to the ground, Gilbert once again rushed from his home and saved several people from a blazing inferno. On this night, the blacksmith had been resting at his home when, around 10 o’clock, a fire alarm sounded. The blacksmith, now a member of the local fire unit, responded to the alarm without delay.
Responding to the loud sound of the alarm, Gilbert discovered that a nearby penitentiary was ablaze. When he got there, the fire was burning furiously and all means of escape were blocked. To make matters worse, there was no water available, and strong winds threatened to quickly spread the fire across the entire building within minutes.
As the trapped and horrified prisoners echoed cries for help, Gilbert and the Fire-Unit Captain, a man whom the blacksmith declared to be “one of bravest firemen who ever lived,” quickly came up with a way to free them. Their plan was to cut through a wall of the penitentiary, but no ladder was available and time was rapidly running out.
Thinking quickly, the Captain asked his strong partner to function as a human ladder. He then stood atop of Gilbert’s mighty shoulders and started to cut through a wall as the fire was getting dangerously close.
Once a hole was cut, the Captain, still firmly held up by Gilbert, grabbed the prisoners one by one and handed them down to soldiers below who were present to prevent escape. During this entire ordeal, Gilbert maintained his composure, and he never once wobbled. Had it not been for his immense strength, such stableness would have been impossible, and the Captain and a prisoner undoubtedly would have tumbled down together before a full rescue could be achieved.
As the last prisoner was about to climb out of the hole in the wall for rescue, he rushed back into the burning building to get his Bible. The Captain urged the prisoner to forget his Bible and save himself. But the devoted man refused; only when he had his Bible firmly in hand would he allow himself to be rescued.
The day after the fire at the penitentiary, Gilbert was given the daunting task of making hand cuffs for each of the rescued prisoners. He found it most disheartening that he had to restrain the very same men whose lives he had helped save the day before.
By the time of his death in 1863, Gilbert Hunt was held in high esteem by people of all races throughout Virginia and the other Southern states. His courage and philanthropy had earned him respect of a highest kind, the kind that stays permanently in person’s heart. This was evident when Gilbert’s funeral was held. Hundreds of mourners packed several squares around the Richmond burial site, and each had come to show honor for a man who had consistently showed the noblest side of humanity.
Gilbert was survived by Matilda, his wife of many years. Mrs. Hunt passed away in 1871, and she was buried at an old African church where she had been a long-time member. It was said that before her death and after her husband passed away, Matilda would not leave the hearthstone where she and Gilbert had spent together many happy moments of their married life.
I should point out that Gilbert Hunt did not spend his entire life as a slave. In his middle years, he purchased his freedom for a sum of $800. Once free, he then opened his own blacksmith shop. On the door of his shop hung a sign made of sheet metal. Painted on this sign rather humbly and inconspicuously was the following:
But, even though the letters on Gilbert’s sign did not stand out boldly, each day passer-byes could hear the ringing of the blacksmith’s anvil until near the end of his days.
You can learn more about Gilbert Hunt and the Richmond Theatre fire of 1811 via this link:
Fire at the Richmond Theatre – A Story of Tragedy and Heroism
November 27, 2013
Ludwig van Beethoven taught us that even when adversity strikes great things can be accomplished with a change of thinking.
It is well accepted among music critics and historians that Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the greatest composers who ever lived. This genius of a man wrote over 200 musical works, among them the master of all symphonies, his famous Fifth.
While the Fifth Symphony remains Beethoven’s most popular composition, Eroica, his Third Symphony, was his most triumphant. With this symphony, written between late 1803 and early 1804, Beethoven left eighteenth-century musical ideas behind, and he brought to the world a new and heightened power of orchestral sound. What a thrill the audience must have received at the public premiere of Eroica, a performance which took place under the composer’s direction in Vienna on April 7, 1805. Never before had any audience heard a musical piece so unprecedented in artistic scope and structure. In fact, so exceptional and ground breaking was the musical chords played that evening in Vienna, Mozart must have been rolling over in his grave with envy.
At the suggestion of Count Bernadotte, the French Ambassador to Vienna, Beethoven originally composed his Third Symphony as a musical score about Bonaparte Napoleon, a man who the composer had greatly admired. Beethoven had even referred to his new work as Bonaparte. However, not long after the Bonaparte Symphony was completed, Beethoven retitled his new composition in disgust after hearing news that Napoleon had proclaimed himself Emperor of the French. The news sickened Beethoven and led him to see Napoleon as a power seeking and dangerous monster. Referring to the man that he once admired, the composer exclaimed, “Is he too no more than a mere mortal? Now he will trample on all the rights of man, and indulge only his ambition.” Such words show how distraught Beethoven was that he had written a grand symphony about a man who he perceived had become a dictator and a tyrant.
Disgusted with Napoleon’s proclamation, Beethoven changed the title of his Bonaparte Symphony to “Sinfonia eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d’un gran uomo.” Translated from its Italian form, this means “Heroic Symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.”
Although Beethoven changed the name of his work, he didn’t change a single musical note. This suggests that Beethoven’s Third Symphony was really about his own ideals of heroism, not about Napoleon.
To fully understand and appreciate the true triumph of Beethoven’s “Heroic Symphony,” consider that in 1802, at the age of 31, the composer became deaf. Here he was, just beginning to make a mark as a virtuoso composer, and he loses the ability to hear his own music played. What a tragedy it seemed to all of those who knew him.
Beethoven’s deafness initially caused the composer such inward defeat he contemplated suicide as the only means to cope with his loss. In a letter to his two brothers, the composer wrote, “What a humiliation when anyone standing beside me could hear at a distance a flute that I could not hear, or heard the singing of a shepherd, and I could not distinguish a sound. Such circumstances brought me to the brink of despair and had well-nigh made me put an end to my life.”
While the onset of deafness caused a seemingly formidable struggle for Beethoven, the composer came to realize that the only thing thwarting his music was his willingness to give up, not his hearing loss. Continuing on in his letter to his two brothers, Beethoven declared, “Ah! It seemed to me impossible to quit the world before I had produced all that I felt myself called to accomplish.” This realization was a big turning point for the young and deaf composer, and it was one that made his Third Symphony, one of the greatest compositions in the history of music, come alive.
In conclusion, Beethoven’s story should have each of us taking a new, fresh, and unobstructed look at what we perceive to be handicaps in our lives. We may all face seemingly insurmountable obstacles from time to time, but these obstacles can often be overcome by merely by changing our thinking. Put another way, a loss can be turned into a triumph by strengthening those facilities that we still have available and by creating new paths to success. Beethoven’s Eroica tells us that this is indeed true. How else can it be explained that the performance of this masterpiece could not be heard by the person who created it?
Yours in success,
August 18, 2013
“Ideas grow upon one. They are a matter of habit, just like anything else. If you get into the habit of conceiving good ideas they will grow upon you, until you have more than you need.” — Thomas Edison.
What made Thomas Alva Edison tick? How did he, despite having but little formal education, become the most famous inventor of his generation and a leading businessman? And, most importantly, what can we learn from the Wizard of Menlo Park to help us better succeed in our own endeavors?
One may think that the answers to these three questions are lengthy and complicated, but one would be mistaken. For Edison had a relatively simple success recipe, and it is one which can (and should) be used by anybody with ambition to reach beyond ordinary bounds of creativity and personal achievement.
Edison summarized his success formula during a very special interview in 1898. During this interview, he gave invaluable advice to young men seeking to become successful inventors. However, the leader of Menlo Park made it clear that the principles behind his method are key to success in any endeavor of choice.
In his own words, below I bring to you the key points of what the great Edison had to say during the aforementioned interview. I begin with three highly potent quotes, and I wrap things up with a few bonus tips from the wizard. Many powerful secrets of success are revealed here, and wise will be the person who adopts them into their daily habits.
Key Quotes from Thomas Edison’s 1898 Success Interview
“If you want a recipe for how to succeed as an inventor, I can give it to you in a very few words, and it will do for any other business in which you might wish to engage. First, find out if there is a real need for the thing which you want to invent. Then start in thinking about it. Get up at 6 o’clock the first morning and work until 2 o’clock the next morning. Keep on doing this until something in your line develops itself. If it don’t [sic] do so pretty soon, you had better shorten your sleeping hours and work a little harder while you are awake. If you follow that rule, you can succeed as an inventor, or as anything else for that matter. It was the following of just such a rule that led to the invention of the electric light, the phonograph and the kinetoscope.”
“I believe that any person, even of the most limited capacity, could become an inventor by sheer hard work. You can do almost anything if you keep at it long enough. Of course, the man with a natural aptitude would get there first, but the other plodder would eventually gain his point. The constant brooding on the one thing is sure to develop new ideas concerning it, and these, in their turn, suggest others, and soon the completed idea stands out before you. Above all things a man must not give up, once he has outlined his plan of action. A ball rolling down hill is sure to reach the bottom ultimately, not matter how many obstacles stand in the way. It is this principle which finally levels mountains. So, once fairly on your way, don’t stop because of some seemingly impassable obstacle in front of you. What you want may be just beyond your nose, though you do not see it.”
“Dogged perseverance is the keystone of success….The man who keeps at one thing and never minds the clock is always sure to do something. He may miss many social engagements, of course, but his success is assured.”
A Few More Tips from Edison’s Success Interview
- Do not let your mind become restricted by knowledge of what has been done already. Go in your own direction and think outside of the box.
- Keep thinking about a goal day after day, and night after night, until the means of reaching it finally emerges. Then, work with total conviction until the goal is reached.
- Do not let obstacles and difficulties persuade you to quit. Keep at it no matter how rocky the road. “What you want may be just beyond your nose, though you do not see it.”
So there you have it: everything you need to know to answer the three introductory questions — straight from the master inventor himself. And, I want to emphasize that Edison’s success formula is independent of financial status, education, luck, or natural talent. Its power depends only upon your willingness to implement it as prescribed by the wizard inventor. Thus, if used with 100% conviction, the Edison method will inevitably bring you greater success and self-fulfillment regardless of your current situation.
Yours in success,
August 7, 2013
- Do more than you are paid to do.
- Be courteous to all Company employees and associates.
- Develop and demonstrate expertise in your field.
- Avoid gossip and rumor spreading.
- Have an “I’ll take care of it” attitude.
- Keep your boss well informed; make sure important information is recognized and conveyed promptly.
- Think before you speak.
- Inspire others to work harder and smarter. (This is a relatively rare and most valuable skill!)
- Never write an email in anger.
- Never say, “That isn’t my job.”
- Maintain a high standard of moral and ethical principles.
- Arrive to work a little early and leave a little late.
- Produce quality work, but deliver on or ahead of schedule.
- Concentrate on your work performance, not on getting recognition or praise. (Your boss will notice how well things run when you are around.)
- Don’t pass blame; keep your focus on problem solving.
- Work with 100% enthusiasm.
- Continually seek more responsibility and greater know-how.
- Prove your worth many times over before asking for a raise.
- Work well with people. (I can’t stress this enough; very important.)
- Always aim to make your boss and other people around you look good.
Yours in Success,
July 30, 2013
procrastination [proh kras tuh–ney-shuh n]
(1) the number one cause of human failure; (2) forever lost opportunity; (3) an insidious path of self-destruction; (4) a bad habit that robs the soul of vital energy; (5) time thrown down the drain; (6) the act of succumbing to one’s fears; (7) a leading cause of regret, despondency, self-doubt, and despair.
Yours in success,
July 17, 2013
The symbolic message depicted on this sign should be ingrained in the head of any person seeking greater success and self-fulfillment.
Some years ago I got to talking with a middle-aged woman who made her living cleaning houses in one of Louisville’s upper class neighborhoods. During our conversation, the housekeeper told me that she had grown up in poverty and that as a youngster she wished to one day to learn the “secret” of affluent and successful people. “Did you ever find the secret you were seeking,” I asked. “Yes, I did,” she softly replied back.
The woman’s affirmation piqued my interest, and I pressed on for details. “Could you tell me what you discovered? I sure would like to know.” What she then told me was most insightful, and, as I have gained wisdom with age, I can now see that her observation was spot on. This is what she told me:
My line of work has taken me into the homes of some of the city’s most successful people. I clean houses for lawyers, doctors, business executives – people who are at the upper echelon of social standing. Their homes almost always have one thing it common – within them can be found lots of books. So, that’s their secret. Successful people, on average, do a lot of reading, and they gain knowledge on a variety of subjects that the average person rarely demonstrates. That’s the big difference – knowledge and know-how gained by reading. Typically, I don’t see many books in the homes of the poor. And, I think my own slow start in life can be traced back to lack of encouragement to do lots of reading.
Want a free education? Visit your public library regularly. Pictured here is the Lebanon Public Library in Lebanon, Ohio. This historic learning center was originally called Lebanon’s Carnegie Library in honor of Andrew Carnegie; the renowned philanthropist offered the town of Lebanon $10,000 in 1903 for its construction. After a citizen vote paved the way for erection of the Carnegie Library, the Lebanon Town Council adopted a resolution establishing a “free and public library and reading room for use of inhabitants of the village.”
The noted observations about books and reading that the housekeeper divulged should be firmly ingrained into the mind of anybody seeking greater success in practically any endeavor. It is true; throughout history the most successful people have been great readers. This is the common link among top thinkers, among them Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking to name just a few. Simply stated, successful people, those individuals who reach the highest level of self-fulfillment, read many books and continually expand their intellectual horizons. Less successful people typically read much less, or not at all. This should be an incentive for anybody seeking to reach high in life to visit their local library often.
Yours in success,
June 16, 2013
Andrew Carnegie encouraged Napoleon Hill to bring to the world a formula of success that men and women in all walks of life could benefit and prosper from. Stemming from Carnegie’s support and encouragement, Hill put forth Law of Success, Think and Grow Rich, and numerous other books and courses that have helped thousands of people improve their lives. Mr. Carnegie made millions in the steel business, and the Carnegie Steel Corporation was once the largest of its kind in the world. Photograph circa 1913.
Although Think and Grow Rich was penned by Napoleon Hill, it can be argued that the catalyst behind the best seller was Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate who amassed a fortune in the steel business and gave away over $350,000,000 to various charities, institutions, and philanthropies before his death in 1919.
Back in 1908, Carnegie had asked Hill if he would be willing to spend twenty or more years developing and writing a formula of success that people from all walks of life could learn and prosper from. As part of his proposal, Carnegie offered to arrange for Hill to meet and interview many of the greatest business men of the day, including Henry Ford, F.W. Woolworth, Charles Schwab, George Eastman, and Thomas Edison. But, Carnegie offered no monetary payment to Hill; the renowned millionaire believed that the opportunity to learn the secrets of some of America’s most successful men was payment enough. Hill agreed, and he enthusiastically accepted Carnegie’s offer. Twenty years later, Law of Success was published, and Think and Grow Rich followed nine years later.
Napoleon Hill held Andrew Carnegie in highest regards, and much of the philosophy behind Think and Grow Rich can be traced directly to the steel mogul. Thus, it would serve the reader well to study the life of Mr. Carnegie; the principles that he adhered to and the advice that he gave are both timeless and priceless.
As food for thought, I end this post with some notable quotes and tips from the late Andrew Carnegie that I have run across during my reading. Study them, think about them, and chances are you’ll prosper tremendously from them.
Notable Quotes and Tips from Andrew Carnegie
- Wealth lessens rather than increases human happiness. Millionaires who laugh are rare.
- To educate people is the foundation of all true progress. They’ll do the rest themselves.
- I never was miserable. I don’t see how any man can be if he does what he feels to be right.
- “To save and to serve, not to maim and destroy” — that will be the text of the hero by and by.
- There is no heritage like being born poor. The leaders and the teachers of this nation came from the poor.
- The first thing that a man should learn to do is to save his money.
- The only sure way to keep “the submerged tenth” from drowning is to teach them to swim for themselves.
- Old age should be spent not in “making mickle mair,” but in making good use of what has been acquired.
- I think I am the greatest optimist ever born. Were I to choose a motto it should be: “All is well since all grows better.”
- I would rather be grandson to one who could teach me to make shoes than the descendant of thirty worthless dukes.
- If you stand near a good thing, plunge well into it. Fear is old-womanish; it has kept untold millions from making fortunes.
- I object to the term philanthropist when applied to myself. I have always understood it to mean a man with more money than brains.
- Poverty develops us. It makes us work our hardest. It brings out the best in us. But, bravery must go hand in hand with adversity, else we are doom.
- Be industrious. Live within your income. Above all things, think.
- Two women, my mother and my wife, have made me what I am.
- I always pity the sons and daughters of rich men who are attended by servants and have governesses.
Yours in Success,
May 28, 2013
You have likely heard of Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion and his law of universal gravitation. Now, let me introduce you to Newton’s law of success, his most powerful formula.
When asked how he made his great scientific discoveries, Isaac Newton once remarked, “By always thinking unto them. I keep the subject constantly before me, and wait till the first drawings open slowly, by little and little, into a full and clear light.”
Newton’s explanation of his remarkable achievements, which I call Newton’s Law of Success, should not be overlooked, as is often the case by even teachers and students of science. His statement remains one of profound significance and importance, and it holds the key to creativity and the acquisition of success in any field of interest. Let’s dissect it a bit, and you’ll see why.
When you think about something deeply and often, not only does the conscious portions of your brain try to make sense of things, in the background your subconscious also becomes focused on bringing light to the goal at hand. Whether you are trying to solve a particular problem, invent a better way of doing something, or trying to master a complex subject, both the conscious and the subconscious processes of your brain work together in harmony. And, from this alignment, a most remarkable intellectual synergy is formed.
Earlier this year, I was bewildered trying to figure out how to get an engineering software package to do something that I desperately needed it to do for my professional work. For weeks, I worked hours a day to find a solution to the task at hand, even though I had no apparent success. And, even after a few “experts” I consulted told me that what I was attempting to do couldn’t be done, I continued to seek a solution by keeping the problem firmly fixed in my mind. In short, I utilized Newton’s Law of Success.
My persistence eventually paid off. One night, three months or so into my engineering project, I was watching television with my family when suddenly the solution I was seeking emerged right in front of my eyes. At the time of my “sudden discovery”, I wasn’t consciously thinking about my engineering problem; I was simply enjoying spending time with my family. But, behind the scenes, without any awareness on my part, my subconscious was hard at work deriving the answer I was seeking. And, what a thrill it was when my subconscious mind hit gold after many weeks of what appeared to be a total dead-end.
We have all heard of people who have made a giant leap of progress through serendipity, a flash of brilliance, or heightened inspiration. To mention just a few well-known figures in this category, Friedrich Kekule worked out the structure of benzene in a dream; Albert Einstein conceived the theory of relativity while riding a bike; and George Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Sun,” one of his most spectacular songs, while walking around a beautiful garden.
But, make no mistake about it; a breakthrough thought, no matter how spontaneously or effortlessly it may seem to appear, is almost always the result of Newton’s Law of Success at work. Kekule’s benzene dream came about only because of the scientist’s years of hard thinking about chemical structures beforehand. Einstein’s revolutionary idea of time, space, and mass came about only after the emerging physicist spent months pondering the limitations of Newtonian mechanics. And, George Harrison blossomed into a magnificent song writer only after the musician spent years thinking of new and better ways to bend the strings on his guitar.
Thomas Edison is another well-known personality who made great strides in human progress by applying Newton’s law of Success. With dogged persistence, he experimented with over 9,000 filament materials before he found one suitable for the light bulb he envisioned. Had the inventor of the electric light not gone for another try, the nights would have remained dark for a much longer time. Think about this the next time you consider throwing in the towel.
Yours in success,
May 10, 2013
The psychological foundation of the status seeker is weak and vulnerable to sudden collapse. Photograph by Rob Drucker.
It never ceases to amaze me how many individuals focus more on trying to impress somebody than on building character, inner strength, and a real confidence. Sadly, status seekers almost never find true happiness. Behind their masks of fancy cars, large homes, impressive-sounding work titles, and network of artificial friends, an inside feeling of serenity is almost always lacking.
Despite their annoyance, status seekers are difficult to avoid because there are so many of them. How refreshing it is to find that rare individual who is genuine. I’m talking about that special person who really does have your best interests in mind, who really does listen to what you say, and who will remain your friend even if your pay check plummets to ground zero. I’m talking about that person with character who stands up for truth, seeks substance more so than outward beauty, and who realizes that the best things in life cannot be bought, stolen, obtained from a pill, or acquired by knocking somebody else down.
Status seekers rely on the actions of other people to get a fix in life. But, this is a fix that is built on a shaky and vulnerable psychological foundation. The genuine person, in contrast, possesses a stable inner fulfillment, one that stands tall even when nobody else is around to cheer him or her on.
Status seekers are too busy showing off to notice that nobody really cares about them. They may have lots of likes on their Facebook pages, have their pictures displayed in prominent magazines, or be surrounded by delusional fans, but nothing around them is real. When the show is over, their shallow and phony world is exposed, and they are left feeling empty and defeated inside.
There is a major difference between people “who have” and people “who are.” Folks in the “who have” category surround themselves with a façade of status symbols, and they function like conditioned pigeons. Instead of food handouts, however, the “who have” phonies seek handouts of attention. In contrast, Individuals “who are” do not concern themselves with impressing others. Their fulfillment comes from doing what is right and from the heart, whether somebody else gives approval or not. This explains why the happiest and most fulfilled people in the world are those who belong to the “who are” category.
Yours in success,