A man, much wiser than myself, once said (I’m paraphrasing here) “You can spend your entire lifetime trying to lead people to success, or you can spend fifteen minutes of their entire lifetime and inspire them to success.” So this is me trying to inspire you. I will certainly fail with many, probably even most, who read this column. We all have our strengths and mine has never been inspiring speeches.
We create a lot of terms to explain why people aren’t successful. We buy these terms and apply them to our own lives without looking at the cost. We do this because it is easier to have an excuse for why we aren’t successful than it is to actually be successful. And every single one of these terms, these excuses, these straw-man arguments, are lies. They are all complete bullshit. There are exactly three things that truly limit your success in life, and they are time, ability and ambition.
Time is your most precious resource, but since you have zero control over it, I won’t spend a lot of time discussing it. Just know that even as you read this, you are running out of what you should treasure most. So get to work.
That leaves us with two things that limit your success, and the good news is you have control over both. I will start with ability. Some ability you are born with, the rest you need to strive for. My father is not an ambitious man, but he may be the most able I have ever met. The man can be taught nearly anything. He can look at just about any mechanical device and tell you how it works, or fix it if need be. In time, the people above him realized his value and rewarded him accordingly. At 52, he is having the best time of his life and is on pace for early, comfortable retirement.
That leads us to ambition. As far as the two that you have control over, ambition is the most important. It can overcome a shortage of time. It can overcome a lack of ability. You won’t find a lazy successful person. You just won’t. You hear it all the time about a person that didn’t like where they were in life, so they decided to make a change. We envy these people. We wish we had their guts, their drive, their lack of fear. I will tell you now, it isn’t their lack of fear that drives them, nor is it the fear itself. Fear of complacency. Fear of mediocrity. They fear they are wasting their lives by not changing their position in the world, and it drives them to success. My mother does not have much for natural ability. She has no formal advanced education. But my God does she have ambition. From a young age, she showed the people above her that no task was below her. She would work harder than anyone else. This wasn’t some plan of hers, it’s just who she was. Leaving a job undone is just an alien concept to her. Seeing her work ethic, her superiors often promoted and/or moved her to other departments to whip them into shape. She became a master of efficiency. She has her own store now, and at 50, she is having the best time of her life and is on pace for early, comfortable retirement. (For those of you that are wondering, yes, they are still together. In December, it will be 30 years of marriage).
There are some of you reading this that think I am full of shit, and you’ll tell me so in the comment section. You will try to explain to me that life isn’t fair, that something is holding you back. You are the people that need to buckle up, because you are in for a very rough life. Since man evolved, life hasn’t been fair. Those that could, have always taken advantage of those that couldn’t. It’s cute that you think passing some law, or rescinding another, is going to change that. You would be trying to legislate the very fabric of human nature. Asking life to be fair is like asking a lion not to eat you because you didn’t eat it. It is naïve and harmful to your own life and those that you drag down with you.
There are some of you reading this that may consider my thoughts briefly. You may even decide that now is the time you make a change. Then, you will inevitably forget it. You will still clutch your straw man to your chest and cherish him. He protects you. He lets the world know it’s not your fault. He is your armor. It is you that I pity most because you lack ambition, the one quality that can overcome all of your problems. You are doomed to a life of wishing you were someone else. That sounds exhausting to me.
Then there are those of you that will read these words and take them to heart. You will realize that you and you alone control your success in life. You will realize the three limits I mentioned are life truths. But you will also realize that you have absolute control over two of them and either one can make up for lack of the other. For those that make this realization, I envy you. Tomorrow you will wake up with a brand new perspective on life. There are few that ever have that awesome moment. Good luck my friends.
So there you have it. Ambition and ability. If you don’t have them, it is your own fault and your own problem. No one can gift them to you, and no one can take them away. Take matters into your own hands, and acquire a large dose of both before time runs out..
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