Have you ever heard of Samuel Pierpoint Langley? Probably not. But you have heard of the Wright Brothers.
Why does this matter?
Well, Samuel Langley had actually created a plane that had flown as early as 1896 (almost a decade before the Wrights). The story is even more interesting. Langley was the Secretary of the Smithsonian and had access to everyone he needed to make his dream of manned flight happen. He even secured almost $70,000 from the U.S. Government in backing (a lot of money for back then). And after much toil and five years of working to build the perfect engine, a 5 cylinder master piece better than anything ever created to that point, Langley finally boarded his plane. He took off over the Potomac and abruptly the plane went right into the water. Langley swam back unharmed, as the plane sank. A few months later, Langley was ready to try again in front of a who's who audience of military, dignitaries, and the like. He revved the engine, started to take off and abruptly the plane dove into the Potomac.
A week later, the Wright Brother's accomplished their feat in Kitty Hawk. Langley, embarrassed and frustrated, gave up.
Why was Langley unsuccessful where the Wright's were? First off, he was successful, but was too blind and focused on his ego to see it. The engine he had built was incredible - it was just outfitted on the wrong plane. A redesign of the plane would have allowed for an incredibly far superior machine than the Wright's. And the engine itself set the stage for what was the engine in a lot of planes in WWI, II, and even powered Lindbergh's plane.
Of course, today, the Wrights are immortalized in history, while few know of Langley.
Langley was all about the glory and failed to recognize and embrace the 4 Secrets of Unlimited Success.
Langley had a passion to get his name known more than flying itself. In fact, one of the biggest reasons for his failure is that he wasn't a pilot nor had spent time learning how to fly gliders, let alone a plane. The Wrights, on the other hand, were passionately obsessed with flying and spent all of their spare time for years learning to fly and build gliders that worked. They understood how to account for thrust, wind, and all of the things that affect a plane's ability to fly. Langley had none of this.
Passion is critical to success, but it has to be focused passion. Just because you are passionate about life and living, doesn't mean you will be a rocket scientist. But, if you are passionate about space, astronomy, and spend your time learning everything you can about space flight, physics, etc., then you'll have a much better chance of becoming one.
You passion must be harnessed and focused on what you truly, truly want, and you'll have a much better chance of getting it. The Wrights just wanted to fly. They weren't concerned with being the first or getting all the glory -which is why they went to an obscure beach in the Carolinas away from all of the dignitaries and high society to attempt their flights.
As mentioned above, the Wrights had spent a better part of their lives learning to fly and account for all of the variables that must be mastered to fly. In short, the paid their dues seeking out and figuring out the knowledge needed to be successful.
Langley, flush with cash, hired others to build things for him and depended on them to make it successful. He had an interest in what was happening, but not an active interest in understanding how everything was coming together and how to really make it work. This was evidenced by his lack of flying knowledge and understanding of how to create the right plane to fit his engine.
Knowledge is power and along with your passion, you must seek to learn "what you do not know," so that you can grow and reach the levels you aspire to. Most people, go through life with their brakes on, never seeking knowledge past their education or their immediate job or role. The secret of those that are consistently successful is that they are life-long learners and know that their education never stops. They seek knowledge and to understand what they do not know on a daily basis...looking for that breakthrough. The one little piece of information or detail that can set them apart.
And that is all it takes. Olympic races are won by 1/100th of second. The game of success is won that way as well.
Take the Right Action
It's no secret that to be successful in anything you must take action. But, its' not enough just "to do something." You must focus and take the right actions. The Langley story illustrates this well. He was taking action. He was getting the engine built, getting the plane built, etc; but the action he should have been taking was studying flight and aeronautics to make sure the pieces came together correctly. He missed the most critical action of all.
The consistently successful make sure they are taking the right actions. They are constantly asking, "What am I missing?" "What do I not know?" "Am I focusing on the right things to really make this happen?"
It is imperitave that you do the same, otherwise, you can waste a lot of time and energy and have little to show for it. Make sure you take the "right action."
Perseverance must be part of your DNA. You must be willing to get up over and over again after defeat. Langley wasn't prepared for this. He wanted the fame and glory and when he couldn't be "first;" he abruptly gave up. Langley, if he had parked his pride and been willing to persevere, could have owned flight. He could have gone back and learned from the Wrights and build a far superior plane with a far superior engine. He had everything and every resource at his fingertips. If he had persevered, it might be him we talk about when we think about the first flights.
Instead, he gave up and died a few years later. Perseverance is tough. To potentially fail over and over again, at whatever it is you are passionate about succeeding in is not easy and can take it's toll. But nothing good ever is. If believe it's worth it, it's worth the sacrifice.
To reach the success you aspire - perseverance must become part of your DNA. It starts with overcoming one setback or failure and get's easier from there. Do it enough and you eventually become impervious to being hurt by failure and actually embrace everything it brings and the fact that you are that much closer to success...just as the Wrights did.
If you want to learn more detail about the Langley-Wright story, here is a good article that gives a great account.
Langley's Feat and Folly - Smithsonian
The most successful have secret rituals and habits that help them reach their success and keep them there. And for many, these are specific to them and how to they operate, but there are a few secrets that transcend across the most successful that they all seem to do in some way or another...especially when it comes to getting ready for a New Year.
Below are 4 must do success secrets to help you get off to a great start in 2017.
Put a Value on Your Time and Set Your Schedule
Successful people know their value and self-worth. They know exactly what an hour or day of their time costs and make sure to set themselves up to maximize them. You can do the same. First, take some time to decide what you are really worth. What can you charge for your services, knowledge, and experience in the marketplace? Get to an hourly rate.
Next, ask yourself if the tasks you are putting into a normal day are tasks that are worth that rate or more. If they are not, as it is with most people, then you need to re-tool your schedule and priorities.
We've talked about the importance of planning your day (and even week and month) ahead of time in this blog before. But, more important is to make sure you are planning with your self-worth in mind. The most successful keep very tight and rigid schedules and are ruthlessly guarded about their time. They know it's the one thing we all have the same amount of - the great equalizer. And they make sure that they are spending each hour on their most important, most valuable tasks and either finding a way to automate or delegate/outsource/eliminate the rest.
Here is how you can set this up in your life. You need to make sure that you are setting aside time every day, uninterrupted for priorities and the things that are most important in your success. For me, that is time to laser focus each day on the top priorities in each of my businesses. Every year at this time, I review and rework my schedule for the next year. I block times out on my calendar for the whole year specific to each one my entities on certain days of the week for uniterrupted, focused work. These remain on my shared calendars and tell everyone when I am available and when I am not. Additionally, I block off thinking time each month, as well as my daily workout times (physical fitness is just as important as mental to me). This is how I control my time before the year even starts and don't give others the ability to "take it" as they would do if these times were not blocked out.
“Man is a goal-seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.”
Set Serious, Focused Goals
Ok, you've heard a hundred how important goals are...blah, blah, blah. Well, they are important. Goals are the beacons that guide you to your next levels and give you and your mind direction, something to strive for. But, just writing some things down on paper without truly thinking them through is really not setting goals and will not help you.
You need to set, clear, serious, focused goals. That means you actually take the time to truly explore if what you think is a goal is really a goal and not just a platitude or something you write down to say you have goals.
But, that takes TOO much time, you are probably thinking or hearing your brain tell you. Does it? How do you know if you've never really done it? Is an hour too much time? And, if you have found yourself in the trap where you just write down things to go through the motions and haven't achieved what you desire; do you maybe think it's time to do things differently?
The good news is that I spent several years learning from the best on how to set goals and boiled it all down into a simple, easy, step by step hour long exercise. It was put into my first book, The Ten Year Career, and you can find it along with the materials here. It's my gift for you!
Remove the Obstacles
We all have things in our lives that are known obstacles or that keep up from getting what we want. And we know we need to remove them and get rid of them, but for many it's either too time consuming to do so (I'll get to it later) or it's something they won't to deal with. It's time to deal with it.
The first point on planning out your schedule will help you with this. If you have things that drain you or time vampires in your life, simply schedule yourself out of them, so they cannot impact you any more.
Conversely, if you have people in your life that you know you need to eliminate because they are a bad influence or drag you down, now is the time to make the commitment to do so.
Lastly, do the reverse and make sure to include the things that will help you grow and reach new levels. Maybe it is finally joining an elite mastermind group or committing to a personal growth regiment.
Make It Known
The last success secret is to make these things known to others around you. Don't keep them to yourself and don't be shy about it. Make sure people know how valuable your time is and why you keep a schedule the way you do. Make sure to tell them in a humble way and explain how it helps all that are impacted by your endeavors. People will respect you and respect your wishes if you share them and ask them to do so.
Next, pick a few people to share your goals with. This is critical as it makes you accountable. Once you have shared your goals with others, it gives that extra added push to make sure you reach them and stay true to them. As for the people you should share them with...that is up to you. Personally, I share them with my wife, my business partners, and 2 people (usually mentors or mastermind members) that I consider more successful than me and that I know will hold me accountable to them and ask me about them throughout the year. Others do the same with me.
Removing the obstacles can be tough, especially if it means eliminating certain people from your life. Here's my advice here. Get tough. You know what you need to do and you know the difference it will make in your life and for those you impact. You also know it is the best thing for all parties. If you want to truly grow, you have to be able to handle problems and issues that come up in your life. And the bigger the problems you grow yourself to handle, the bigger you will grow as a person and the bigger the size of your success will grow with it. It's time. Make the hard decisions and act.
The majority of people are not deliberate about life and their success. They are just not. They wander through life and make it through, but they miss out on unleashing their true potential and impact they can have on the world. You were born to do great things. Be deliberate about your life and success and go out and do them! Here's to a great 2017 - Your best year yet!
If you are a parent, you no doubt have had to learn a lot in how you raise and manage your children. Let's face it, kids are the best at exposing our weaknesses! But, as parents, we learn this pretty quick and start to catch ourselves and learn how to "up our game" in raising and teaching our children.
Raising children may be one of the best teachers for success and personal growth we have. From exposing our vulnerabilities, to learning how to handle every type of mood and attitude imaginable, to protecting and looking out for them - there is always something we are learning and working on as parents!
There are so many lessons we learn from this, but here are 3 important ones that can help you in your success
What You Say Matters
All parents can relate to this one. How many times has your kid said something out of the blue, that you know you say, that makes you cringe? Immediately, internally, you say "Oh crap, they learned that from me." And from that day forward, you are more aware and conscious of what you say and how you say it around your children. (I just had to deal with this the other day, when my 4 year old daughter blurted out "That sucks!" in front of her school principle...)
It's the same in business and in life. Successful people understand that what you say and how you say it makes a big difference. Words matter, and they can be taken a whole host of ways by those receiving them.
The lesson here is to make sure you are saying what you truly mean in the best way possible for your audience to understand it. Don't use too many words, when you only need a few. Don't exclude emotion when it is needed to drive a point home. And make sure you understand the personality types you are speaking with to maximize your message (for more on that, read this post). Most importantly, choose your words carefully.
Get Comfortable with Being Tested
Kids will test you. They will test every part of you. They will test your nerve, your patience, your love, your habits, challenge your ways of thinking, and just about every other area of your life.
After some time as a parent, you learn to become a pro a being tested. You learn how to respond and handle the all of the questions you get and the constant "why?" of everything. You learn how to anticipate what they will say and how to handle it in conversation. And you learn how to explain and teach the hardest things, such as death (or in our case, adoption discussions with a 4 year old), in a way that they can relate to and understand easily.
Kids will test you. They will test every part of you. They will test your nerve, your patience, your love, your habits, challenge your ways of thinking, and just about every other area of your life.
The lesson here is simple. To be successful, you will have to embrace being tested. Like a parent, you have to get comfortable that every day you will be challenged and you have to condition yourself to be ready for it. No matter what you do in life, this is a critical skill that will help you to grow and handle your biggest challenges successfully. Embrace it and enjoy it!
Practice Restraint and Ingenuity
Yes, kids will TEST you and they will do it at the most in-appropriate times. When do they throw a temper-tantrum? When you are at the back of the store in the middle of shopping, so you have to hustle their screaming carcass all the way out of the store with everyone watching you the whole way! When do they decide to have a meltdown or not listen? When you are on a conference call with an important client from your home office and need them to be quiet, of course!
Kids are the epitome of Murphy's Law and at least for me, I wouldn't have it any other way. Overcoming these challenges makes me a better father, a better man, and a better entrepreneur.
But, boy is is sure hard sometimes! That is why kids are the ultimate teacher of restraint and ingenuity. We all reach our tipping points and that is typically when emotional reactions take over. It could be screaming at the top of your lungs or throwing your hands up and telling your spouse, "I'm done, you handle it." It's in these times that we learn to grow and become better people. We use ingenuity to find things that work with our children so we don't get to these points.
Success is the same way. There are times when you reach breaking points or you get super frustrated with co-workers or employees and you react, maybe in the wrong way. It's here where we learn to practice restraint and ingenuity to 1.) Take a step back and look for the best way to deal with the situation for all parties and 2.) Find a better way of dealing with situations like this so we can get the desired outcome.
Restraint is a hard thing in a world that moves so fast and requires instant response, but it is an amazing skill that will help you to succeed where others fail and become a better leader.
Children are a blessing in so many ways because they make us better people, whether we realize it or not. I'd love to hear your thoughts on lessons you've learned about success from your children and keep this post going. Feel free to add them in the comments below or shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Are you going to play the role of a victim, or are you gonna get off your ass and make it happen."
Ouch, I was 17 years old and felt like I just got punched in the face. I was a starter my whole life in football...one of the best players always, and I had just gotten benched.
I had all the excuses. It was a new position I had never played. My coach yelled at me more and singled me out more than anyone else. I didn't "feel" like he liked me at all or wanted me to succeed and on and on. Nevermind that I really was having trouble playing the position. It was new, but I was a superstar the year before at a similar position. It wasn't my fault.
As I sat there, after getting my worst reaming by a coach in history, I could not help but feel sorry for myself. I wanted to quit so bad, but I did love the game. My dad saw all this. He knew what was up and came to talk with me. He had coached me when I was younger and was tough, but fair.
We talked through my options. Yes, I could quit the game I had played since I was 6. I could ride the bench the rest of the season. Or I could make a change. As we sat there talking, he said a few things that really sunk in. First, he said "You're right, your coach yells at you louder and more frequently than anyone else on the team. But, you know what my coach told me when I played? It's when I stop yelling at you or getting after you that you better worry - because at that point I don't care anymore." And then he laid it on me, "You can be a victim or you can get off you ass and make it happen. You're still one of their best players and the best are not victims."
I perked up and said, "Yeah, I guess your right." The next day, I went into the locker pulled my head coach and my position coach aside and discussed how I could have the best impact on the team. My head coach suggested that I move to a position I had played and excelled at when I was younger.
I made the move and when I got my chance in the next game...I never came back out for two years and was "All League" for both of them.
Why tell this story?
It is a powerful lesson in how to succeed that I was fortunate to learn, but not realize the true signficance of, until later in life.
There are no successful victims in life. You can't be both. You're either successful or you're the victim; or you're lying about one or the other.
Playing the role of the victim does not help you reach your goals, grow yourself, enhance your status, or help you lead others. Noticed that I said "playing the role," because that is what most people who claim to be victims are doing. They choose it.
And that is the point, you can choose to be a victim like I did, before I got some sense knocked into me, or you can choose not to be and press on and make things happen in your life. Don't blame or complain because it really does you no good. Blaming others doesn't help you succeed. Complaining about it doesn't help you succeed.
The only thing that will make a difference for you is your choice to act and do something about it; to win, and to not let yourself fall into the victim trap.
If you think about it, all you do when you play the role of a victim is cede control of your life to some outside force. You are literally giving away your power as an individual. Why would you ever want to do that? You want to be in control of your life, right?
It's easy to be a victim. It's extremely hard to press on in spite of fear, worry, doubt, and all of the other things that can hold you back in life. It is the desire and will to press through that sets people apart and makes them successful. Successful people stay in control of their lives and don't give up their power.
And that is why you will never see a successful victim.