Whether wealthy or financially poor, no person is successful if they do not find happiness in what they do. Merely aiming to achieve a high social rank or to earn a lot of money will do little for your inner spirit if you do not enjoy the process at work. I can’t tell you how many people I have met over the years who feel miserable inside because they concentrated exclusively on end goals, such as moving up the corporate ladder or amassing a large income. When the promotions finally came through and the dollars began rolling in, surprise – these individuals remained unhappy and unsatisfied. Why? Because their chosen career paths were not in harmony with their inner selves.
It can be a challenge to discover what you love to do. It can be even harder to determine what you are good at, or even what you are not so good at. Once you find your special niche, however, your life will almost certainly shine more brightly. Thus, the key to inner fulfilment is to find a marketable skill, one which you have talent for and which stimulates a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling within you. This combination is an unbeatable success generator and a common footing of nearly all successful people.
Enthusiasm, concentrated energy, and aspiration can only be sustained when you do what you love. Drudgery is an inevitable result of working with only an end goal in mind. And, if you haven’t found your forte yet, there is still time to do so. Think about what really turns you on, what new skills you may need to profit from your interests, and how you will best acquire them. This building process may prove to be a difficult one, but putting forth an effort to discover and capitalize on the strength you are most passionate about is the best way to enlighten your future.
A few years ago I read a rather lengthy book about the history of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball program. It is a well written work with a lot of interesting information, but I was 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 G. 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.”
During her years at the University of Kentucky, Blanding 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 Blanding did took initiative, courage, leadership, and a lot of persuasion.
After obtaining an undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky, Blanding 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.”
A short while back 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.”
Here’s a career-building tip from Paul Lynn via his superb class on Udemy, The Superstar Manager Course.
“Harmony is achieved when the strategies executed below you align with the goals set above you and the vision set at the top.”
If you can establish such harmony with the people who work under you, your career is likely going to be a very profitable one. Sadly, this is truth which relatively few managers understand and even fewer live by.
“In all great successes we can trace the power of concentration, riveting every faculty upon one unwavering aim; perseverance in the pursuit of an undertaking in spite of every difficulty; and courage which enables one to bear up under all trials, disappointments, and temptations.”
These powerful words were uttered by Orison Swett Marden over 100 years ago. They are as true today as they were back then. Memorize them — live by them — and your success will be virtually unlimited.
“To be stimulated to break through mental barriers, and to perform at consistently higher levels, some unusual stimulus must fill you with emotional excitement or some idea of necessity must induce you to make the extra effort of will.”
Back in 1919, a woman named Sarah Grand offered some really sound success advice. She said,
“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. Its results which count, not endless talk about what you plan to do.