By Hume Johnson, PhD
I’ve learned many lessons, over the years, in my pursuit of success and self-actualization. I am no great sage, nor have I acquired some cosmic wisdom from the Universe in my pursuit of becoming. These lessons I am about to share come from my own experience of living, of chasing my dreams, of achieving some successes, and my inevitable encounter with failure. These secrets are not, by any means, new, but I hope that they provide you with an opportunity for reflection, for personal transformation, for switching things up, for changing the way you operate in your life. Most importantly, these 10 secrets are – as they have been for me- a call to action, a commitment to live a life of purpose and to continuously design a new future – one that leads to even greater success and personal empowerment:
- BE THE CEO OF YOUR OWN LIFE: Take charge of your life. This means having a vision of what you would like your life to be, and set about to make this vision a reality. This means becoming intentional. Write down your goals as intentions. For example, I intend to buy a house, make a record, lose weight, start a non-profit, go back to school. Then devise the steps you will need to take to make those intentions real. If you become the CEO of your own life, then you won’t wait on others to make this happen for you. You will take charge, begin making small (and large) steps towards your goal, confident that you will get there.
2. BE CONFIDENT: Confidence, for me, is a state of mind, a trust in my ability to succeed. Confidence comes from feeling a sense of well-being; it’s a belief in your own ability, skills and experience and, importantly accepting your limitations. No one is confident every moment of everyday. Some days you will feel more confident than others. Sometimes we feel low confidence because of fear – of failing, of criticism from others or of the unknown. But many times, we feel a lack of confidence because we are simply not prepared, or we may have experienced failure before and frightened we will again. This is normal. The following techniques have helped me at moments when I wasn’t feeling at my strongest:
- a). maintain positive thoughts no matter what. Psychologists say our lives move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts so watch what you say about yourself, and try to keep a positive outlook on things.
- b). know your strengths and weaknesses – accept yourself while working on what can be improved is a key to gaining confidence.
- c). Use criticism as an opportunity to grow, not to feel bad about yourself, and
- d). Life is tough but always try to maintain a cheerful countenance.
3. STAND OUT – BE DIFFERENT: Discover your personal brand. Your personal brand is essentially how you come across to others. It’s also your distinctive characteristics and a combination of your values, strengths and talents. Figure out what makes you stand out. Accentuate these attributes and communicate them.
4. HAVE A SET OF CORE VALUES TO LIVE BY: What are your core values? What do you believe in? Trust, integrity, honesty, keeping your word? It is important to have a set of principles that you live by. These are guideposts that will help you to make important or difficult decisions, will earn you respect. In other words, strive to be a person of quality, one who is respected for having integrity, being trustworthy, a great person who builds positive relationships effortlessly. Living a life of purpose and principles is essential to success.
5. HAVE A SURVIVAL INSTINCT: At some point you are going to fail, or make a mistake. You are going to have setbacks, feel pain, disappointment and loss. But you will survive. Know that you will be OK. Develop a capacity to pick yourself up, and go on. ‘
6. FAIL FORWARD: This is among Apple founder, Steve Job’s famous life principles. Fail forward gives meaning and purpose to failure. Your failure needs to mean more than disappointment. Whenever I have failed (and I’ve failed many times), I’ve never given up. So fail forward. See failure as an opportunity to grow, improve, do better, to go forward. See failure for what it truly is – a gateway to success.
7. CULTIVATE POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS: Many of the successes I have had stem from having a strong supportive network of family, friends and colleagues who were always rooting for me. Surround yourself with positive people who share your values, are strong supporters of your dreams and goals, and who are well-adjusted and strong in character, who will be there for you when you succeed but importantly when you fail. At the same time, to cultivate positive relationships means first that you need to be a positive supportive person yourself. Treat others in the same you wish to be treated. These relationships help to strengthen us when we are weak and gives us the courage to also help others from a loving supportive place.
8. BE ALWAYS GROWING: It is vital to not get stagnant. Take a new course, learn a language, take a different route to work, start reading on a subject of interest, watch the news, travel to a place you have never been to. Find ways to expand yourself. Be always growing if you wish to experience success.
9. SHARE WHAT YOU KNOW: I strongly believe in paying it forward. We are obligated to the species, so to speak. Leave people better than you found them. It is enormously important to pass on what knowledge you have gathered on your own journey to others. Be a mentor, give advice, teach a class if you can. Seize any and each opportunity you get to pay it forward.
10. BE GRATEFUL: Finally, always give thanks. It’s in gratitude that we expand our bounty and increase in blessings.
Dr. Hume Johnson is a political scholar and communications consultant. She teaches public relations at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, USA.