Success today is not something that happens to other people; it is not out of your grasp; believe me, the deck is not stacked against you; and yes, no matter your definition, if you want it (success), you can have it! A few weeks ago I was up early fixing coffee, and I had just turned the television on. Unfortunately, it was still election season, and the first five minutes of noise I heard was nothing but commercials for candidates telling us more about why we should not vote for the other guy, then why we should vote for them. As I tuned out most of what I was hearing, one voice caught my ear. I was pouring cream into my badly-needed first cup of Joe when I heard Morgan Freeman’s voice in a commercial for Barack Obama. It caught my ear, not because of what he was saying, but because he was Morgan Freeman. As I stood there, I got to thinking about Morgan Freeman: Academy award-winning actor, Golden Globe winner, star of film and stage, and now doing voice-overs for the President of the United States. As I listened, I wondered, how did he get there, and how do you wind up doing voice-overs for the President when your first real gig was the Electric Company? Now I probably just dated myself, but does anyone else remember when Morgan Freeman was on the show the Electric Company? The Electric Company was a children’s television show that ran from 1971 to 1977. A lot like Sesame Street, it taught grammar and educational skills to children. However, it was much sillier and obviously much less successful than shows like Sesame Street that are still running. But I thought, “Where would Morgan Freeman be today if he had never taken that job?” Now I am guessing (because you ought to see the skits) that at the time, this was not the job of Morgan Freeman’s dreams, not where he saw his life going, and certainly not his definition of success. I think this is a good guess, because just watch an old episode or two, and you will notice that Morgan Freeman did a few things that required him to let go of his ego. My point is: I see a major difference between those businesses, corporations and people that are succeeding today, and those that are struggling. The difference? Where and how you start; what you are willing to do and not do? Success boils down to your ability to be humble, open, courageous, and hard-working. Are you those things? Let’s see: Humble — Can you take on and do a job or a project that you feel may be beneath your talents, skills, or even what you should be paid? Are you open to observing and learning from those you feel are less educated or talented than you? Open — Then, can you be open to believing that even this role has opportunities? Can you set aside your ego so that it stops blinding you, so you can see what surprises lie in this opportunity? There are always skills you can develop, connections you can make, and doors opening all around you. You just have to be open to seeing them. Courageous — To put yourself out there, set goals and realize this is not your end game, but merely a stepping stone. There may be opportunity all around you, people who can help you and skills you can learn, but if you do not have the courage to step up and ask for what you want, and take on more responsibility, then you will miss it. Hard working — If I had to put my finger on the one thing that separates successful people from those who are struggling, it is the willingness and desire to give it everything they have and just work hard. To get where you want to go in life and in your career, believe me you will have to take a few detours and do some things you do not want to do. The road to success is never straight, and quite frankly, those detours are what make the success all the sweeter when you finally arrive. There you have it. Success is well within your grasp if you really want it. Don’t believe me? Go watch a few episodes of the Electric Company. Honestly, it is amazing enough that someone (Morgan Freeman) raised in low-income housing, youngest of five siblings, with no connections in the acting world, got as far as being on the Electric Company — let alone became one of our most respected actors and directors — and voice for our President. And believe me, there is no gap between you and Morgan Freeman that a little willingness to be humble, open, courageous and hard-working can’t close!
Success = Lose the Ego, Get Started, Keep Moving!