Author’s program note. This is one of the dozens of articles I’ve written about success. All are prescriptive, honest, detailed… the kind of articles you use a refrigerator magnet to post for the one in your house who talks the best game about success… but never does what’s necessary to achieve it. (That could be YOU!)
I’m writing this report for those who engage mouth… but nothing else.
Who try to make you feel small by always prattling on about the BIG things they mean to achieve… but somehow never do.
These people need help and they need it instantly. I aim to provide it… and I’m going to call on the spirit of Harry S. Truman, once president of the United States, to assist. I’m in a big pro-Truman phase right now, not least because I’m again reading one of the best written and most intelligent presidential biographies, David McCullough’s “Truman.” It is so rich I only permit myself to read a bit every day, because I know how good it is and how distressed I’ll be at its conclusion.
For this article’s theme music I’ve selected Paderewski’s Minuet in G, a piece Truman knew well; Paderewski himself had shown Truman how to play it… and on one memorable evening during the Potsdam conference of 1945, he played it to the most distinguished audience in the world, headed by the other two of the “Big Three”, Stalin and Churchill. The elegant music of another, more graceful age incongruously rose into the night air drifting over the macabre ruins of prostrate Berlin. You’ll find it in any search engine. Play it now.
Getting on with the job.
Harry Truman was one of the most quintessentially American presidents the Great Republic has ever had. He was hard-working, conscientious to a fault, direct speaking, humble about himself but determined to improve America and the world using the powers of the office he venerated, and graced. He had the profound American belief that problems were not obstacles, but challenges… and that they could be solved, all of them, if folks just got down to the essential business of solving them.
His approach, of course, might have been so very different. Being President of the United States, he could have pontificated in endless wordiness about what he was going to do… then returned to the White House to play the poker he loved with the buddies who made him laugh and relax, promises forgotten.
Or he could, following in the footsteps of one of the most revered of leaders, Franklin Roosevelt, give way to feelings of inadequacy, a man of slender skills dwarfed by one of history’s giants. But he didn’t go this direction either, despite a famously indiscrete toast by Winston Churchill who said, “I must confess, sir, I held you in very low regard. I loathed your taking the place of Franklin Roosevelt.” With friends like these… Untimely delivered to be sure, but a sentiment the majority of the American people shared with Churchill and which they, along with Churchill, changed as they came to know the man and his methods better. Then, Churchill rendered his revised opinion thus:
” ‘He is a man of immense determination. He takes no notice of delicate ground, he just plants his foot down firmly upon it’. To make his point, Churchill jumped a little off the wooden floor and brought both bare feet down with a smack.”
Now, be honest, would anyone call you a person of “immense determination” with an acute desire to solve problems and a practical willingness to do so as soon as possible? We have now arrived at the moment of truth, where you need to be a person of total veracity and integrity. Can you rise to this absolutely essential level? If so, it’s time to transform your habits so that you can create success after success; to start having and quit merely talking about it.
1) Shift from talking about to actually having success.
So, when was your last success? The longer ago the date you now provide, the bigger your problem. Successful people are starkly “now” oriented. They won’t tell you about the successes of years ago; the successes that matter are the ones of recent date. Thus, just how far back you have to go to find a meaningful success constitutes a very clear indication of just how big a problem you have.
2) You must be confident enough about your judgement to make decisions.
Successful people are decision-making people. They know that the achievement of success, then the maintenance and expanding of this success is a function of not just hundreds, but thousands of decisions:
Should I buy this inventory at this price, or not?
Should I invest the company’s assets in an interest paying account for this amount of time, or not?
Should I inform this very difficult customer that my firm cannot handle her business anymore, or not?
Should I fire this, hire this, advance this, demote this particular individual, or not?
Review the life and condition of any successful person, and you will see a steady increase in the number and importance of decisions made. Leadership, prosperity, success is all about the ability to make complicated decisions without regret, without second guessing yourself.
3) Successful people will work with you to work things out.
There is a marvelous phrase in the Bible that says simply, “Come now, let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1-18) This is precisely what successful people do. Of course, they want to make the best deal, but they realize the best deal contains substantial benefits for the people they are negotiating with; in other words, it is mutually beneficial. If the parties are mutually content, the deal is not only satisfactory for now, but keeps the door open for subsequent deals. And this is the best deal of all.
4) Successful people know the point, grasp the point, and keep their eyes and mind on the point.
Successful people are focused people. Life, already short, cannot be wasted; carpe diem is their motto, guide, and objective. They know that this day will end; that is a given. What is not a given is what benefits they have garnered from the day. The fact of a day is God-given; what happens in that day is determined by each of us. People who talk about tomorrow, next week, next month are fooling themselves and are rightly shunned and disregarded by people who regard procrastination, sloth, and inertia as completely unacceptable and root them out accordingly.
5) Successful people anticipate what people they are working with might need and gather it in advance.
Successful people are perceiving people, thinking people, aware people. They brainstorm options and are thoughtful about what may happen and how to prepare for it, for the ease and comfort of all.
Is this how you are? Or are you always a part of the problem, never part of the solution?
In this regard, consider what Floyd Boring, one of President Truman’s secret service agents, said about him:
“He never came on as being superior. He could talk to anyone! He could talk to the lowly peasant. He could talk to the King of England… And that was, I think, his secret.. He never got swellheaded — never got, you know, swagly.”
Ask yourself if anyone will ever regard you this way… and work hard to make sure they do.