Tag Archives: Success

Success Cannot Be Legislated: Success Comes from Service (Action)

In his article “Success Cannot Be Legislated: Who Said It?“, Stephen J. Dubner of the The New York Times (and of Freakonomics Fame- a book I highly recommend) lists this quote:

The people cannot look to legislation generally for success. Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or resolve. Government cannot relieve from toil. It can provide no substitute for the rewards of service. It can, of course, care for the defective and recognize distinguished merit. The normal must care for themselves. Self-government means self-support.

Calvin Coolidge

In an elegant way President Coolidge said someone else can’t give you success- not the government, not your mommy and not your spouse. You acheive success through (service) action.

What action will you take today to achieve success?

What is Success?

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Ms. Wheelchair Texas 2008!

A while ago, Lifehacker posed the question How do you define success? It’s obvious that each person defines it different but I think the underlying theme is that success is achieving what you want. Acheiving what you want is the premise of the Success Making Machine– you can be successful at anything. Want it and then go get it the best way possible .

For me, success is “quality” time- I want all my time spent doing what I want and enjoy. Enjoy my kids. Enjoy my spouse. Enjoy my work. Enjoy my friends. Control my time. Make a difference in my community. Controlling my destiny and enjoying every minute of it. It’s important to enjoy the little things.

How do you define success?

photo credit: eschipul

The Super Goals- The Missing Ingredients For Your Success

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Multicolour PeppersThe difference between a dream and success is whether you pursue your dream.

You’ve no doubt heard you need to set your goal before you achieve it. If you’ve thought about your goals you’ve compiled a long list of all your projects. But it’s likely there’s one project you missed- your life goals(a.k.a. dreams). Dreams are the ultimate that you want to achieve. They are your super goals. Here you are picturing what success looks like for you.

To set goals, you first need to crystallize your dreams. What do you want? What do you want out of life? How do you want to live it? Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 25 years? These large decisions can have effects down to: How do you know which job offer to accept? Which house should you buy, if any? To the day to day decisions: should I buy this fancy coat?

What’s stopping you from achieving your dreams? For many people it’s simple, they haven’t verbalized their dreams. Without verbalization, dreams can’t happen. One way to put some structure around your dreams is to determine your dreams for each area of your life: career, financial, family, social, community, health etc. When you are verbalizing your dreams- focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, “I want to be fit” is more powerful than “I don’t want to be fat”.

A dream should be something you truly want. Then set your energies to it. Your thoughts, beliefs and actions should be geared toward achieving this goal. You’ll need to believe this dream is possible. You don’t need to know all the details of how it will happen- just know that it will. Logic tells you if you believe something, invest yourself in it and your mind works toward achieving it, you will be more likely to succeed.

Before you commit to a dream ask yourself if it’s really what you want. Picture your life with your dream achieved. You may find that it isn’t quite what you want. Growing up, many of us wanted to be sports/music or film stars. If a genie came and offered to grant you that wish would you still want it? Maybe you wanted the fun that went with being a baseball player but do you really want to play every single day for 10-20 years? Perhaps you may want it, but do you want to keep up that rigorous travel schedule? The pressure of performing every day? How will this correspond with your goal of raising a family? So before you commit to a dream- think it through.

Just verbalizing your dream will get you closer to achieving it. Add your dreams to your goal list so you take steps to make it happen. Layer your dream to break it into reasonable parts. Review your dreams often to ensure you’re still striving to reach it.

May all your dreams come true.

What are your dream?

photo credit: Tracy O

Getting Dreams Done Part 2: The SMART Way To Reach Your Dreams

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Horizon of my LifeIn this series you will learn the steps needed to turn your dreams into reality. In the first part of this series we saw how to define your dreams. Dreams give you something to shoot for and strive for. In this part we’ll take dreams and turn them into goals. Without goals you wont know what needs to be done to achieve success.

Let’s take the “standard” dream “I want to be rich and happy”. That’s actually touching two parts of your life (some would say one leads to another but that’s for a different post): financial and personal. We’ll take your financial goal first as that is easier to quantify. We need to turn rich into something we can quantify (not necessarily in terms of dollars but in terms of actions). Your gut reaction may be “I want a million dollars” (or even a billion if you’re “ambitious”) but is that really what you want? You probably want what that money can buy. I’m not talking about physical assets- a car, a boat, a house in Italy. I’m talking about a life style. When you take out the physical items what you really want is the independence, fun, excitement, prestige etc that goes with those objects. As you peel layers off your dream you find out what you really want. Then you can start defining your goals. Goals are the subset of results you want. In this case you may say: “I don’t necessarily need to be rich, but I want to be able to retire when I’m young and spend my time traveling- then life would be grand”. There’s a simple way to make the dream more realistic and aligned which what you can achieve. Let’s make the dream SMART- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely- then you’ll succeed.


Use the 6Ws (Who, what, where, when, why and which) and how to get as detailed as you can about what you really want. Here you will pick the lifestyle you want your dream to achieve. You may decide that retire doesn’t mean not working- what are you going to do if you don’t work? Retirement may mean working the hours you want at a job you want. You may decide you want to teach or freelance etc. Perhaps you’ll want to join the peace corp- you get to experience more of the world, fulfill your consious and it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.


What gets measured gets done.

How will you know when you reach your dream? I’m sure you’ve read about all these quotes from rich people. I just need a few more millions and I’m done. Then when they achieve it they keep trying until they work themselves into the grave. Usually this translates to a date and/or a number. What number is “young”? A 90 your old can consider himself young and a 26 year old can consider herself old. What age do you want to retire 30? 40? 50?


Are you able to do this? Is it reasonable? Do you truly believe it can happen? Can you reach a billion dollars? You can’t assume that you’re salary will be increasing at 100% a year without some major changes.


Is this something you can make an impact with? Is it important?


Give yourself a deadline. Nothing gets done without a deadline.

With a SMART goal you are more likely to know what to do to get it.

As far as your happiness goal. The more you succeed at achieving your dreams the happier we’ll be but I offer you this quote by Abraham Lincoln: “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

photo credit: krisdecurtis

The Two Minute Guide To Success

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VictoryThe Two Minute Guide To Getting Things Done(GTD) went through the steps to start being more productive. Here we’ll talk about how to become successful.

Rule 1: Write down what you want

If you don’t know what you want, you can’t get it. Take a paper and write down your goals.

Rule 2: Review your goals often

Be sure to schedule time to review your list, otherwise you’ll never get to it. The process of reviewing will keep your goals fresh and give you ideas on the next step to achieve them.

That’s it. This isn’t earth shattering. This isn’t anything you didn’t know. But this time I hope you do it.

Use your next minute to start your list.

photo credit: Georgio

Productivity vs Success: Why Do You Need Both

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SuccessPeople throw out the term productivity all the time so it has earned a negative connotation.

Productivity is a process- do it better, faster, cheaper, with more quality. Success is a result- when your efforts work out well.

You can be successful without being productive- think of digging a large hole with a spoon. You can be productive without being successful- think of digging efficiently with a shovel for a treasure, but in the wrong spot.

To maximize your machine you must identify success and get there in the most productive way possible.

Ultimately success is most important (as evidenced by the name of this blog)- because if you aren’t succeeding you aren’t getting anywhere.

photo credit: aloshbennett

Want more success?

Change ThisElections are just around the corner and whether your republican, democrat, independent, conservative, liberal or anything else the choice is clear- vote for my proposal: Stop Being Productive, Start Being Successful. Just click the vote link on that page.

I mentioned previously, I submitted a proposal to ChangeThis. If my proposal gets the most votes then they will distribute my manifesto (long article). Which means that you’ll get a quality(i hope) information on making yourself more successful. Here’s the text of my proposal:

Are you working harder and harder and becoming more “productive” yet you still feel like there’s much more to do with no end in sight? The problem is that productivity (doing something well) is only one of the three pillars of success. I will explain the other two pillars and show you how you can use a few easy steps to significantly increase your ability to succeed.

Voting ends on Sunday so vote now.

Dazzle Your Boss: Solve the Problem, Not the Request

How often does your boss come to you with a very specific question/request? If you’re like most good employees you’ll try to work on it quickly and answer his specific question (bad employees will not even take the time to understand the request). I’m here to tell you that’s not a good idea!

Many times your boss is just trying to simplify the problem for you and he glosses over important details. Or worse, he doesn’t know exactly what he wants but comes to your with confidence asking for the wrong thing. What you need to do is to find out what he really wants not what he says he wants.

How can you do this? Simple, ask questions to ensure you understand what he really wants to accomplish.

I had this relationship with one of my bosses. I kept asking questions so that he stopped just giving me a quick command. Instead, he spent a minute or two explaining the background. Sometimes I had some good suggestions, other times it really was a simple request. Through all my questions an interesting thing happened- my knowledge of what was happening around the company increased. I gained a better understanding of projects my department was working on. I was able to take on more complex projects because I knew the background that gave me a foundation. In short, I became a more valuable employee because I knew more and I solved problems.

Did you ever give your boss what he asked for only to do it over again once you found out what he really wanted? Stop and ask. Comment below on how your situation turned out.

The Big Fat Productivity Curse

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Productive Eating- Not!
Being more productive has many advantages including getting more done and feeling empowered. But productivity on its own, can cause your belt to become less productive. You see there is no need for a belt when your stomach gets so big it can hold your pants without assistance. In fact, the more productive you become the more likely it is that you are getting fatter. Here’s five ways productivity can make you get fat and what you can do about it.

Too Efficient

Being productive can make you too efficient at getting the wrong things done. For example your to do list will work perfectly when you’re shopping- even when this means adding a “family size” bag of chips to go with the super-sized chocolate bar. You end up buying all the wrong things because you’re used to it and you’re good at it.

Solution: Take the bad foods off your list. Replace it with healthy (or at least healthier) alternatives. Avoid being in a position to see the “bad” items.

Work Long Hours

A strange phenomenon happens to productive people, they get more responsibility. More responsibility equals more work. Long sedentary hours especially when coupled with the lack of time to exercise leads to more weight.
Solution: Schedule breaks. Delegate: see if others can do some of your tasks(especially the ones you did before you got increased responsibility). Train others to do what you do- it’s worth the investment. Studies have shown that long hours lead to decreased mental function, so limit your work time. Use the extra time to do something fun and active.

Look to fill every second

Productive people don’t want to waste a second. You are always looking to use every minute of their time. So if you have an extra minute that may mean an downing an extra snack or treating yourself to a double moca latte.

Solution: Allow yourself time to soak in your surroundings and think. Thinking can lead to creative solutions. Let yourself unwind, being stressed can make you less productive.


Productive people look to save time – this includes doing two tasks at once aka multitasking. Sometimes people will combine food with another task- thinking they’re saving time. The problem is that they’re so busy doing the other task, like watching TV, they don’t realize they’re eating. Before they know it they have scarfed down a huge meal and they don’t even know what they ate.

Solution: Multitasking has been proven not to work, doing two tasks at once means one or both won’t get done well. Don’t multitask! You can combine tasks if you want though. Combining a task means that you’ll spend the right amount of time on each one- you are just doing them together. For example, you can schedule a meal with a friend- you’ll get your networking/socializing opportunity yet you wont be scarfing down the food. You’ll be eating at a reasonable pace and interacting- the best of both worlds.

Finish Everything

Productive people like to finish everything they start. That means that super-sized meal will be finished in no time even if it isn’t needed.

Solution: Stop yourself, realize food is not a task. Even simpler, take smaller portions.

Of course there’s more you can do to become leaner and healthier but frankly changing your approach is easier than dieting or exercising. Keep your eyes open and see where your habits are bringing you into bad situations. Then use your productivity skills to productively wipe it out.

Photo credit: Melting Mama

The Two Ear Rule To Success

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Not listeningRecently Sara contacted me off-line she wanted to subscribe to my site but got gibberish. I tried to explain that when she clicked on my subscribe link she got information to subscribe to my RSS link. The response was “what’s that?” With more explanations I got more questions. A long conversation ensued and I ended up helping her subscribe via email- her preferred way to keep up.

I was thinking about this episode and was surprised that she didn’t know what RSS was- most sites only give a subscribe link to their RSS feed. “This isn’t so complicated” I thought. Then I thought of the advice my mother once told me: “People have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak”. I was talking too much in that conversation. I realized that these technologies are recent innovations and aren’t common knowledge. The inability to subscribe may be happening to many people. Not everyone knows RSS, Feedburner and Google Reader and they shouldn’t have to just to read my site.

As a result I introduced a subscribe page. It’s not elegant but it starts pointing people in the right direction. Another example of layering in action. It’s a lot easier to make it easy for them and give instructions than to have phone calls and explain this one.

Are you expecting too much knowledge from your customers? Are you talking more than listening? Make it easy for them to start with you and even easier to stay with you.

photo credit: twenty_questions