There Are No Secrets to Success

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” -Colin Powell

Success is too often attributed to luck by those that don’t understand it. Somehow too many believe that fate rolls the dice for us and we just get whatever comes to us.

In one sense it’s true; fate brings us whatever we focus on the hardest. If we aren’t thinking or working that hard for a particular goal then we won’t get much in return. Those of us that just wander through life never thinking beyond the scope of what we want in the next minute or two, never really find another way to live and indeed chain themselves to fate, which always takes the weakest approach and offers no real growth.

We are wise to remember we have the will to direct our focus on whatever we want. It must be a conscious choice to act upon our will, but it’s what makes the difference between winning and losing, wealth and poverty, progress or stagnation. We certainly must live in the moment, but without a goal to aim for we will wander endlessly and aimlessly until the end of our days.

Colin Powell well proves the point that there are no magic tricks to success or that one must be born of privilege to get what they want out of life. He was born to Jamaican immigrant parents in Harlem, raised in the tenements of the Bronx and educated in the New York public school system. In spite of his difficult surroundings he participated in ROTC while earned a degree in Geology, graduating with a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army.

Over the next 35 years he would work his way up through the ranks through various offices and assignments until he earned the position of the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. Along the way he received countless medals and other honors, all while raising three kids with the same woman he has been married to since 1962.

Retiring from the military in 1993, he went on to write an autobiography, started a nonprofit organization for the advancement of youth, and toured as a public speaker. 8 years after the end of his time in the Joint Chiefs of Staff he was sworn in as the 65th Secretary of State under George Bush.

Honor and position such as held by Powell are not found by luck. They come from dedication, persistence, and a commitment to work even when it’s not easy. Taking ownership of our mistakes as much as our wins accelerates our growth well beyond what we could ever do otherwise. Attempting to pass the blame doubly causes problems: first, because we’re creating ill-will with those we’re attempting blame while secondly, we’re ignoring a problem that clearly needs our immediate attention.

In other words the fastest route to your success is to take ownership of EVERYTHING that happens in your business and your life and addressing it accordingly. Developing your own expertise could be the only possible shortcut to all of this and even in that we can’t be passive participants.

Once we have a basic understanding of our expertise and laid out our game plan, it’s easier to create the systems we need for improved habits and behaviors that will propel us forward. As we learn from our mistakes we continue to fine tune our systems which become a self-propelling cycle that continuously builds upon itself. And that’s where our real growth comes from.

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