The next few minutes will only be of great benefit to you the reader if I can convince you that you have a destiny and that though that destiny will not come easy, it is worth fighting for. I am of absolutely no use to you unless you have a cry within your heart that says I refuse to die until I have become who I was born to be and until I have won the battle for my God-given destiny. It does not take incredible genius to point out the ageless reality that life will fight you before it hands to you the destiny that has always been yours. Everything that is worth possessing in this life exists on the other side of battle and contention. The world is full of people who want to succeed. Success has been the subject matter of many writings and teachings. There is not a single sane individual on the face of the earth who does not want to live a successful life. With that very thought in mind, I would like to echo the sentiment of many authors great and small, living and long deceased: YOU WERE BORN TO SUCCEED! This statement may sound so cliché—so void of originality, but I contend that it is as valid today as it was the first time it was ever muttered on the lips of man or penned by the hand of man. It is so key to effective living south of heaven, that I will say it again and with the same vigor YOU WERE BORN TO SUCCEED!
Granted the topic of success has been tackled, scrutinized and dissected by minds greater than my own over the historical landscape of man’s career on earth and yet I am going to take the liberty to give my take on it. I will try to define it in a way that will bring it from the nebulous, ethereal pie-in-the-sky to a simple and practical concept that just about any literate person can both understand and achieve. Based on what has been popularized in our 21st century hi-tech society, I would like introduce what success is by first describing what it is not—that way we don’t build the authentic on a faulty foundation.
True success is not necessarily the possession of certain things or looking a certain way or hanging out in certain environments, neither is it merely the buying power to purchase certain brands of merchandize. These may be the result of success but are not success itself. True success is too costly to put a tag on. All the currencies of the world cannot purchase it or the wealthiest people on earth would also be the happiest people on earth. Now, you and I both know that this is not necessarily so. Library shelves are full of biographies that announce loud and clear that wealth and true success are not necessarily mutually inclusive. Wealth does not necessarily produce success, but success will almost always produce wealth.
Some people have erroneously believed that popularity is the same as success. Popularity in and of itself is a cul-de-sac—a dead-end street. Outwardly celebrated while inwardly empty has resulted in personal implosion—a type of caving in for many individuals. We have lived long enough to read the sad headlines of young rock stars who have committed suicide at the peak of the their popularity, while others died of drug overdoses though they were the most celebrated individuals of their generation, from Norma Gene to Elvis Presley, from E! Hollywood: True Story, to VH1’s ‘Behind The Music’, history has forcefully instructed us that popularity alone is not equal to success.
What then is success? Well, true success is about becoming who God made you to be and about living your life in a way that is true to the God who created you. It is about giving _expression to every God-given gift and quality in you. It is about making your contribution to humanity and going to your grave fulfilled, knowing that you are leaving behind you the legacy of a life well invested. True success is about living your life in a way that is true to God’s design: the design of continual progress, growth and advancement. This book is focused at helping you to live a life that is punctuated by progress and advancement, because that is the way the way we were created to be—a life that shows continuous growth in wisdom and knowledge with a steady and perpetual upgrading in vocation.
If succeeding in life and living a life marked by continuous improvement is such a coveted existence, then why is it that the people that achieve this are so few in comparison to those that don’t? I believe it is because so many are ill-equipped and lacking the personal tools and weapons needed to help them face life in way that assures victory. Because of this fact, what we have is a vast number of individuals who are miles behind where they should be in life, work, and relationships. People whose lives have now become defined by what psychologists call ‘functional fixedness’, or the ‘rut’: Individuals whose lives are subsequently characterized by shortfall—shortfall in income, where the outflow dwarfs the inflow and so households are held together by ever increasing debt, shortfall in individual reach, where it seems the things we would like to have are always just outside of our ability to grasp them, shortfall in emotional and internal fulfillment where depression, general hopelessness, feelings of rejection and a poor self-concept are to America what AIDS is to southern Africa—a friggin’ runaway train. Further more, for multiplied others, life is punctuated by glaring deficiencies in meaningful interpersonal connections, producing one of the loneliest generations the earth has ever had even though there are more people alive today than over half of all homo sapiens that have ever existed on the planet throughout the entirety of man’s history on earth!
On the other hand there are a number of people who are living their dreams. They love what they do, have wonderful relationships, are enthusiastic about life whether the circumstances that prevail are favorable or otherwise. These individuals are most likely to wake up every morning and say, “good morning Lord!” While the rest of their counterparts would be more prone to get up and say, “good Lord its morning!” You know who I’m talking about—those people that sing in the shower, eat their Wheaties in the morning and bounce into the work place like they are happy to be there and usually end up running some department or the other. Well what do they have that others are lacking? What is so different about them? How is it that they get so much more out life than their counterparts? Having known a number of such individuals myself, I have to point out right off the bat that they experience just as many setbacks and storms as everyone one else. They too know what its like to fail. They just don’t know what its like to be a failure. Failing is an event and being a failure is a choice—a chosen mindset that becomes a way of life. Their secret I’ve discovered is found not in what happens to them as much as what happens in them and consequently through them. They possess a different perspective on life and hence their response to life’s challenges is different than that of their counterparts. Its not their ability to remain standing in the midst of battle that is fascinating, but their ability to get up again and again after they have been tripped up or cut down. You too can join this elite group of winners if you adjust your perspective on life based on the facts that we shall look at below.
Here are the facts my friend: Life is a made up of a series of battles that must be won if you and I want to advance from where we currently are to where we would like to be. There appears to be a conspiracy to keep us at a place that is below our true potential. This is easily observed in just about every sphere of life. Decide that you are going to go on a diet and almost immediately you get invitations to cookouts and dinners sometimes from the most unlikely people. Where was all this attention a few weeks before when it was okay for you to eat till your navel stretched? I have known people who had a hard time falling asleep at night and instead of just turning and tossing, they decided that they were going to do something meaningful like read to better themselves and guess what happened next? They could not read more than a couple of pages before nodding off to sleep! For others it seems that your finances go completely out of control and it seems you get inundated with unforeseen emergencies the instant you decide you are going to work toward debt-freedom. One of the greatest pressures that we face is the pressure to circum to status quo—to keep us where we have always been.
Imagine for example you were playing a game of Chess and just as you were about to check-mate your opponent, that same opponent jumped over the table and tackled you. Firstly, that would not be very nice, and secondly, you could be justifiably overcome by incredulity. The simple reason is that tackling your opponent is NOT an acceptable defensive move if the game you were playing was Chess. However if you were playing a game of rugby or a game of football, it would be an entirely different matter. A good tackle on an advancing opposing team member could put a splitting grin on the face of any coach. Why? Because while tackling an opponent could be deemed criminal during a game of Chess, it is a welcome and legitimate in a game of football. This is a deliberately exaggerated example given to point out the fact that different scenarios allow different types of stances both offensively and defensively. Know the game you are playing and assume the appropriate posture and for crying out loud offer the appropriate response. I was a rugby-player throughout my high-school days and I have a few scars to prove it. Recently I coached a local business college’s women rugby team. One thing I would tell my team as we prepared for a game, was, hey, if you find yourself with the ball, are about to score a try (touch-down) and a burly, blood-thirsty opposing team-player comes from nowhere and tackles you hard, for crying out loud DON’T LOOK SHOCKED! Expect it! Such is the nature of the game of rugby. I am taken aback by people who seem to fall apart the instant that their vision or dream is challenged by forces beyond their control. In the game or battle for the top this is to be expected. You think you are going to bring you dream from concept to creation without a fight? On what planet exactly is that a normal everyday occurence? Not here on earth. Here on earth every decision you make is challenged every push gets a pushback. Hardly anybody moves from rags to riches simply by existing beautifully. The vast majority have to be able to weather opposing storms and headwinds. Cultivating a true awareness of this reality is what will help you to not feel lost or out of sorts the minute people close to us do not share the same positive outlook on our communicated dream as we do. Refuse to be caught flat-footed by life’s opposing forces.
Back in the grade school I knew a kid who totally lacked the principle of awareness. Our code of conduct amongst the boys back then was that if we couldn’t settle a dispute verbally between two of us then we would have to fight it out in a no holds barred match appropriately called rough-n-tumble. Our collective genius had found a spot on the school property where we could practice our unorthodox system of conflict resolution without the interference of the school hierarchy. There was a pretty efficient grapevine that would spread the news should the need arise for two disagreeing parties settle their dispute via this tried and true system . Now it happened over the course of time that one of the most anticipated “appointments” was confirmed. This involved two of the biggest, most feared kids in the class. Rarely was such a match-up enjoyed because the bigger kids usually picked on the smaller kids and hardly ever on each other. This particular “appointment was master-minded by my little friend Andrew, the runt of our class, who organized the encounter with noteable degree of professionalism.
With half an hour to go before our break time, the grapevine was buzzing with the details of the “appointment” and as soon as the bell rang, we headed for our “spot” as fast as our little legs could carry us. The circle was quickly formed and Andrew (who also acted as referee) stepped in to revise the rules and to get the show on the road. Bug-eyed we watched as these two icons of physiological superiority took their positions. What happened next will forever remain etched in our memories as one of the most disappointing outcomes of our thus far proven system.
The first big guy who I will call Tom gave his opponent who I will Chris what we considered to be a little slap upside the head to get things going. Under normal circumstances this would have resulted in a full-fledge skirmish, but not that day. Whether Chris was low on testosterone and high on estrogen that day, we will never know. What we do know is that our little jaws just about dropped to ground when Chris responded with a resounding ‘ouch!’ First of all, this was not the response we anticipated and secondly, guys don’t say “ouch” when they are hit in fight. Everybody knows that! When Chris saw the vacant looks on our faces he went on to say the most ridiculous thing our little ears had ever had the misfortune of hearing. With a little whimper he said, “it hurt”. We just stared at each other in complete disbelief and for a moment we must have become telepathic because we responded with the uniformity of a trained choir… IT’S SUPPOSED TO HURT!
Well, the fight was over of course. The build up had ended with the anti-climatic diffusion of our highest expectations. For some reason Chris had not invested within himself the principle of awareness and so thought it strange when he was actually hit in a fight. I for the life of me could not figure out exactly what he thought was going to happen. I have then and now adamantly refused to think it unnatural when I experience the hard knocks of life. Its like this, If you were a soldier on the frontline in a time of war, I’m sure it would not hurt your feelings if the other guy…flying a different flag…on the other side of the barbed-wire fired his rifle at you. Why? Because such is the nature of war.
As you begin the battle for your destiny, you need to first create within yourself the awareness of the fact that you are in battle. That way you will allow yourself assume the appropriate posture for an appropriate response. You would be amazed at how resourceful you can be when you really have to be. When you are aware of the fact that you are at war and that facing challenges is a normal way of life, you will activate your innovative and creative side that usually lies dormant until it is challenged. If you will invest in your psyche a sense of battle awareness, chances are high that you will not fall apart the first time something does not go the way you planned but that you will adjust yourself and make the changes necessary for effective response.
It is universally evident that gaining ground towards goals is something that only those who are truly determined achieve. Now, if you know that it is life’s way to fight you before it hands to you what is truly yours, then it is ludicrous that you would get discouraged when setbacks occur. Instead you should just adjust yourself and look for your opportunity to strike back. I’ll say it again: Life will fight you before it hands to you what is yours. Now, because this is a true assessment, it behooves you and I to learn the rudiments that will help us fight effectively the battle of life. There is a way to fight effectively and to fight smart—to fight in such a way that the outcome will swing in your favor. I am about to make you privy to a strategy that will set you on the course of perpetual victory. So you want to fight and win? So you are ready to advance beyond your present position? Well then because life IS a battle…here are the rules of engagement…