The Success Process
Let’s begin with a tale of two teenagers.
Heather, seventeen, seems to be always in control, always confident. She has dreams and she pursues them. When she was in seventh grade, an acquaintance of her family became junior class president. Heather thought that was great, and she resolved to become a class president herself some day, which she did as a senior. Now she’s considering which college to attend. She wants to be a physical therapist to help people.
Nick, sixteen, has always been interested in computers and has a great eye for design. He also has an entrepreneurial spirit-that is, he’s always liked thinking of ways that he could put his talents to use and make money. In the past year he has spent his free time designing Web pages for various organizations and companies-at first, small organizations and companies within his town, and then larger corporations in other cities. In fact, he just agreed to design a Web site for a major retailer in the Midwest and will make $10,000 doing so. He wants to own his own multimedia business one day.
Heather and Nick are doing different things and have different career paths in front of them, but they have one important thing in common: They are following their dreams. They have visions for their lives, and they are not afraid to pursue those visions. Are you like Heather-confident, pursuing goals, going toward a bright future? Are you like Nick – using your strengths and abilities in ways that not only benefit you today but that can open up even greater possibilities for tomorrow?
Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a clear idea about what you want to do after you’ve graduated, or if you’re not making $10,000 in your spare time. Many teenagers don’t have a clear idea about what they want to do with their lives, and very few make that kind of money. In fact, the money that Nick is making through his entrepreneurial ideas is not the point. That’s a result-and a very nice one ¬of his having a clear vision and not being afraid to follow it. That’s the point-not only of Nick’s story, but of this book. I want to help you create a vision for your life and a plan to make that vision happen.
I told you one thing that Heather and Nick have in common: their ability to pursue their dreams. Now I’ll tell you one more thing they have in common. They don’t worry about what others think about them or their plans. They’re not spending time trying to impress others or wondering what other people think they should do. To spend time this way clouds your vision; you get too many conflicting thoughts, and ideas that don’t match. If you can relate to that, you’re not alone. In fact, for a long time I was right there with you.
Like many people, I wasted a great deal of my life worrying about what others thought of me. I still struggle with that, even though I now realize that it doesn’t matter what others may think of me; what matters most is how I feel about myself, and that I believe in the possibilities for my life. When you have a sense of your own identity and a vision of where you want to go in your life, you can go after your dreams for a fulfilling life. And that’s what this book is all about.
In this chapter we’ll begin to explore what it means to live a successful life. We’ll help you understand:
What it means to develop a vision and act on that vision;
How you can use a tool called “Success Circles” to help you focus on a fulfilling life; and
How to begin taking the nine steps toward living that successful life.
The average person generally develops only about two percent of his or her potential. That leaves plenty of room for bettering yourselfl In order to do so, though, you need vision. You can’t go anywhere if you can’t see where you’re going.
Developing a Vision
Vision, simply stated, is seeing your purpose in life. It’s tied in to knowing who you are and what you can mvision yourself doing with your talents and desires. We all have talents and we all have desire in living fulfilling lives. Opportunities are there for all of us, but we have to seize the right ones for us based on our own visions for our lives.
Creating a vision and making that vision happen take what I call an “active optimism”: You have to believe in yourself and in your future, and then you have to actively p’ursue your plans. Most teenagers have great optimism for the future. The 1999-2000 State of Our Nation’s Youth report by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans gave voice to teens across our nation on a variety of issues. Based on that report, about seven out of ten teens believe two things about opportunities:
- The harder they work, the more opportunities will be available to them.
They will have many opportunities available to them after they graduate from high school.
Hopefully you’re one of those seven in ten who see many opportunities
before you. It’s hard to develop a vision for bettering your life if you don’t believe m you have many opportunities for doing so.
We can’t all be professional athletes or movie stars, of course. And we can’t all get the lead in the school play, be class president, be the star on the basketball team, or be in the National Honor Society. But we all have the ability to lead dynamic lives by pursuing our own unique goals and dreams. The poorest, the weakest, or the least popular of us has the power within to pursue a fulfilling life. We must believe that it is possible to achieve our dreams and then commit to achieving those dreams. Without that belief, every dream will turn to dust.
Do you believe that you can take control of your own life? Are you pursuing goals? Are you trying to better yourself, to learn, to grow, to make good choices?
Heather is confident about who she is, about her value, and she focuses on her goals. She is actively controlling her own life, driven by her goals and principles. People like Heather understand that what happens to them is not nearly as important as how they choose to respond to it. People like Nick see how they can use their talents and are not afraid to take risks. They see the positive side of taking risks and see potential in a variety of opportunities.
It’s not easy to change your life. You need to build strong and supportive relationships as you follow the Success Process. Take control and focus on pursuing a good life, but don’t isolate yourself in the process. Isolating yourself is not healthy spiritually, mentally, or physically, and it certainly is not the way to achieve your dreams. Nobody makes it alone. You need friends-friends who believe in you.
As you follow the steps in this book, build solid relationships and lean on them when you need to. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or encouragement along the way. And look to provide that helping hand or word of encouragement to others, too.
We must believe that it is possible to achieve our dreams and then commit to achieving those dreams.