Top 5 Quotes on Success: Explained

Success noun 1. the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

Success is one of those slippery terms that seems to mean different things to different people. That is O.K., but if you are going to go after it, you’d better have a clear sense of what it means to you.

What is it you are aiming for?


What is your purpose?

For me, success is built around time. I want to have enough of it to enjoy my kids while they are young, enough to spend time with my wife, enough to pursue passions of my own. As best I can, I purposefully build my life around the concept of time. I continually ask myself, “Is this project/task/work worth the time it will take?”

My definition of success is what lead me to embark on a career as a freelance resume writer. If I have to, I can get my work done at 2 in the morning while the rest of my family is asleep. Luckily that doesn’t happen too often.

However, your definition of success may be quite different. Perhaps you have a 5-year plan with concrete goals you want to hit. Maybe you have a dream job that you are carefully laying the groundwork for. Maybe your idea of success is helping others reach their goals.

Whatever your concept of a successful life, sometimes it helps to stop and really think about what it will take to achieve your goals. With that in mind, what follows are the 5 most searched quotes on success with a brief explanation of what they mean.

1. In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. 

Fear of failure is a real, honest-to-god, stumbling block for many of the most successful people in the world. What sets them apart is that they want to succeed more than they are afraid to fail. Cultivating a desire to succeed should be the first step towards becoming successful.

2. The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. ~ Vince Lombardi

Once you have the desire to achieve your goals, you have to build the will to keep at it no matter what may come. Because trust me, you will hit road bumps, blocks and outright detours a long the way. When that happens don’t think you are too weak or too uneducated to keep at it. It is will more than anything that allows successful people to make it.

3. To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence. ~ Mark Twain

Everyone should have someone in their life who has their best interests in mind and will be straight with them when they need it. But, for the most part, you should hold fast to your goals no matter what others think. Sometimes others will criticize you for continuing along your path. A little self-imposed ignorance goes along way. Don’t let yourself get rationalized out your you idea of success. At the end of the day, this is about your story, not everyone else’s.

4. If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it! ~ Jonathan Winters

Your dream isn’t going to just show up on your doorstop one day. More often than not it won’t even meet you half way. You need to go get it. To succeed requires action, the more the better.

5. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. ~ Winston Churchill

Finally, keep reminding yourself that each failure is another stepping stone on the road to success. Edison failed over 1,000 times before inventing the light bulb and I am pretty sure everyone would consider him a success.

What Story are You Telling?

Humans have been telling stories for as long as they have been able to scrawl paintings on caves. We have come a long way since those day, but fundamentally we have not changed all that much. We still respond best to stories.

Today, most people change jobs once every 7 years. Add to that the fact that it takes most jobseekers close to 9 months to find a job once they have started looking and we have a situation where the job hunt is an almost constant endeavor.

Without an eye-popping resume, landing an interview is going to be an uphill battle. For too many people a resume is nothing more than a list.
A list of…

  • dates
  • jobs
  • schools
  • responsibilities

A list, however, is not going to get you hired. In fact, it probably will not even land you an interview. Put yourself in the shoes of an employer or HR professional. What would make you want to see an applicant? What types of information would pique your interest? A stale job history is not going to cut it, especially when most open positions attract hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants. Most of your competition will have a similar career trajectory to yours-so how do you stand out?

The people you are trying to influence with your resume are fundamentally no different from you. They want to be intrigued, better yet, they want to be inspired. When they have a position to fill they want to see applicants who jump off the page. In order to inspire, you need your resume to tell a story. How can you get your resume to accurately tell your own personal story? The first step is to decide what story you want to tell. What is your theme? What is your mission statement? Think of three words that sum up who you are and what you do. Do not limit yourself to job titles or responsibilities. Think of the big picture.

  • Leader, Motivator, Communicator
  • Problem Solver, Facilitator, Multi-tasker
  • Number-cruncher, Forecaster, Logistics Pro

Use these three key descriptors as the heading for your resume and use them to drive your own personal story. As you move through the rest of the resume- profile/summary, competencies, job history and education- be sure to look at everything you write through the prism of your three, story branding terms.

If part of your story is that you are a Mr. Fix-it, a superior problem solver, then make sure you include some examples from previous jobs where you were presented with hard to solve issues and you saved the day. Make the person reading your resume want to meet the person who was able to fix that problem.

Once a reader has bought into your story, he will automatically begin to think about similar issues at his company, and whether or not you could be his Mr. Fix-it. If you have accomplished this, you should be well on your way to an interview.

How to Win at Mondays (Jobseeker Edition)

Does Sunday night get you down knowing that another Monday is coming and you are still going to a job you don’t like? You are not alone. For the jobseeker Mondays can be the hardest day of all.

Monday means another day of searching.

Monday means another long drive to a dead-end job that you can’t wait to leave.

However, you don’t have to dread that 6:00 AM alarm clock. There is a way for the jobseeker to win at Mondays.

Here are three tricks to make the first day of the week a little easier.

1. It starts with your attitude.

Wade Boggs, Hall of Fame baseball player (and former Red Sox great- Go Sox!) once said “a positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. A lot of how you succeed and/or fail in life revolves around how you approach it. Just because you’d rather be showing up to your dream job today doesn’t mean you have to look at what you are doing as drudgery. Start the positive chain reaction and who knows; you may find yourself moving towards that dream position sooner than you thought possible.

2. Set your priorities.

How old were you when you got your first job? 13? 15? 18? Chances are you were either delivering newspapers, working a cash register or waiting tables. I will go out on a limb and guess none of those positions would be considered anyone’s dream job.

But you did it anyway. Why? Because you wanted the independence that money of your own brought. While these days you probably are not saving up for your first car, or that sweet new Sony Walkman, you still work so that you can afford things in life. While I would never recommend chasing a paycheck as a career goal, if you are really stuck in a bad job, looking at the bottom line can help you get through it.

 Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation. -Brian Tracy

3. Be Thankful.

Having a boring job, a dead-end job, even a job that is draining your creative energy, is better than having no job at all. Even in a strong economy there can be as many as 10 million people who are actively looking for work without any employment at all. If you are lucky enough to be a jobseeker who currently has a job to go to on Monday you should count yourself as lucky.

When that alarm rings on Monday, meet it with a positive attitude, with a clear vision of your goals and with a little bit of gratitude. You’ll be surprised how much easier it will be to get through the next 40 hours.

When More Isn’t Really More

On a blog called Reader Writer Runner I have a confession to make. I love TV. I can park my butt on the couch for an entire day watching baseball, hockey, Doctor Who or old 80’s horror movies. I know; I have a problem, and worse, I have largely passed on the TV addiction to my oldest child. Luckily my wife, along with child number 2, are not nearly as into TV as we are and can keep things in check for the family. Until temptation comes along…
…in the form of a new bundling offer from a rival cable company.
The other day we got a knock on the door from a smiling young man spreading the good news of the…wait, let me start that over. Yesterday the cable man came knocking with an offer of faster internet, double the channels and a better price. Needless to say, it would be rude not to listen to the offer, so I spent the next 10 minutes or so going over what his company had to offer. Turns out he was right about the internet and the channels, but wrong about the price. Still, at the end of the day I could have much more content at roughly the same price I am currently paying. Go for it, right?
Maybe not. In fact definitely not. Here is why.
Living in America, more is generally a default positive, but sometimes more just isn’t more. Up until yesterday I felt no lack in my TV viewing options, and my internet was plenty fast enough for my needs. While in this case getting more wouldn’t cost me anything extra in terms of cash, there would still be a price. 
I’d be more likely to renew my Netflix subscription to take advantage of that new lighting connection speed.
I’d find more shows that I just had to watch regularly.
I’d fall in love with the MLB and NHL networks and watch way more games than I do now.
And I would spend even more time cut off from those around me staring at a screen. Sure I could tell myself I’d limit my viewing time, or I’d only watch at night after everyone else fell asleep (most of this stuff is on demand anyway after all). But I would be lying to myself, and I know it. 
I spent the first half of this year weening myself off of excessive internet “headline” news reading so that I could spend more time with serious fare: to fill that hole with mindless entertainment would be defeating the whole point. So I passed on all those extra channels and I will keep staying away from sites like Politico and Buzzfeed. 
Time is the only resource we all share equally, how we spend it is up to us.

Josef Pieper: Leisure, the Basis of Culture

Josef Pieper (1904-1997) was a German Catholic philosopher, who helped popularize Neo-Thomistic philosophy in the twentieth century. His writings are rooted in the works of Thomas Aquinas as well as Aristotle and Plato. Pieper sought to explain and defend the wisdom tradition of the West and his short and powerful Leisure, the Basis of Culture was one of his most notable works.

Pieper’s Definition of Leisure
Pieper attempts to reintroduce the modern reader to the still important Platonic understanding of the value of philosophical work, and the sagacity of the Thomistic understanding of the relationship between philosophy and theology. He does this through two complimentary essays, Leisure and The Philosophical Work. Read together, these works explain that in order for man to reach his full potential, he needs to look beyond the world of servile, or useful, work and include philosophical work, or liberal arts, into his everyday life.

In 1952, when this book was first published the idea that one either lives to work, or works to live was teetering close to “work” being the point of existence. Nearly 60 years later, if we haven’t fallen off that precipice entirely, we are surely hanging on by our fingernails. What Pieper posits is that mankind is becoming a slave to the idea that only work that is hard, or servile in the social sense, is to be valued.

Leisure’s Importance in the 21st Century
We, in the early twenty first century, are losing our ability to do true philosophical work that is more contemplative, or receptive, in nature. The worship of progress for progress’ sake, the praise of mindless know-how, and education as training, not knowledge-seeking, all point to our drift toward the slave society where we are all defined as our function towards the common society as a whole.

Western culture has an outlook of the world as total work; of work-for-work’s sake. We seem to have internalized the protestant work ethic to such an extent that we threaten to lose our souls, in both a cultural and personal sense. Pieper claims that while we all must live in the work-a-day world we also need space in our lives to contemplate the infinite.

The idea of leisure is the antidote to our work-for-work’s-sake lives. Since man is made for union with God, human work is not separate from this end. Today, the work of man is an end in itself. Pieper shows how this is a reorientation from the classical world view which viewed both useful work and philosophical work as vitally important to the full development of man.

According to Pieper the one way for man to regain the original western tradition begun by Plato and continued by the Medieval masters is to re-marry philosophy to theology. He believes that it is through religious sacrifice in its truest sense that we can realize the kind of philosophical work that is not readily useful in the work-a-day world, but that is eminently useful for our cultural and spiritual survival.

 “Culture depends for its very existence on leisure, and leisure, in its turn, is not possible unless it has a durable and consequently living link with divine worship.”

Star Wars and the Classical Virtues

Economists who talk about free markets seem to ignore that Adam Smith (considered as the father of laissez-faire economics) wrote also “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”; and that Max Weber, the famous sociologist, connected hard work and moral values (ethics) with the advance of capitalism. Public policy has to deal with the social fallout of unlimited greed, lack of honesty, cynicism, selfishness, etc, which the current financial crisis illustrates conspicuously. The actual financial crisis, …cannot be explained only by years of cheap money and growing imbalances in the world economy. Mistakes in macro-economic policy were accompanied by gross abuses of securitisation, abnormally skewed incentives and loss of moral compass. ~ StanViorica
In short, what the above abstract shows is that a lack of values education can have a long term impact on our economy and general future. It’s time for a serious look at how we educate our kids.

Values education has been around for years, but most programs I have seen have revolved around reading kids painfully fabricated stories and then discussing the moral decisions the characters must make. They tend to be preachy, unrealistic and the kids treat them accordingly. The teacher “covers” the values section of the curriculum and the kids file it away, never really gaining anything long lasting.

Enter the four classical virtues.

Ideally a values education program would allow teachers to use the works they always have- books and stories that have stood the test of time and appeal to students intellectually and aesthetically, rather than prepackaged “programs.” It is my hope that by applying the classical virtues to what we already read we can show students examples of how to live without it coming across as phony, or put on.

I believe every major character in a work of fiction either exemplifies one of the four classical virtues or is lacking in one of them. Many times a protagonist will do both, with the lacking virtue acting as the character’s fatal flaw. Let’s use Star Wars as a proxy for all fiction simply because it is familiar to most.

Each character in Star Wars can be analyzed by looking at how much or how little of each classical virtue he has. I am going to limit myself to the first movie (by first I mean 1977 release, not the chronological first- confusing isn’t it?) I’ll look at two characters, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.

Luke the Evolving Hero

He is brave enough to decide to rescue Princess Leia and his sense of justice will not let him leave the job undone when they go up against superior forces in the Death Star. Yet, he lacks prudence. This devil-may-care, jump-before-you-look attitude leads him into trouble time and time again. It is not really until the end of the first trilogy that we see a Luke who is able to think about his next move and make it confidently, knowing he is doing the correct thing at the correct time.

Han  the Complete Hero
Solo on the other hand is quite prudent and moderate in his dealings. However, because these two virtues are not tempered by Justice, he tends to only look out for himself. It is not until he puts others before himself that he becomes a true hero. He is in fact the real hero of the first film, even though Luke is the one who saves the day.

Han is the one who overcomes his main flaw and comes in to save Luke just before certain death. The fact that Luke is the one who destroys the Death Star is an important step in his hero’s journey, but he is not finished. Han on the other hand has essentially completed his journey and will be a steadfast hero throughout the rest of the films.

Looking at fictional characters through the lens of the classical virtues allows you to see deeper into their motivations and eventual actions. In turn you can discuss morals and values in a more authentic manner. And just maybe, 10 years from now these kids will have a stable economy and plentiful employment to look forward to.