Yesterday, I received a rather disturbing email message from someone berating me for sharing what he felt were some aspects of my success via my FaceBook Fan page (mostly relating to discussions about my business travel and corporate meetings I did from my lake home over the summer). I have to say it brought me down a bit so I went to my library and picked up a book I wrote about 7 years ago called Masters of Success. I read a piece in it that I wrote called “Success is Not an Entitlement” which I hoped would re-focus my mindset after receiving this vitriolic piece of email.
I’d like to share an excerpt from it with you here today in my blog. I’ve updated some of the material in brackets. The excerpt at the end about “being lucky” goes out to my email critic. I hope everyone (including my critic) can see some value in this message.
Everyone wants some degree of success. We might want it in different forms, but I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want to be successful at something important. This is good. I believe everyone is entitled to pursue success.
But success itself is not an entitlement.
Not long ago I was talking to someone I’ve known for years about my personal success, the growth of my business, and some other personal goals I’ve recently met. He said, “Man, you’re lucky! It must be nice.”
“Yeah, I’m lucky,” I responded. “Let me tell you the secret of my luck. First, I went to college for ten years. During that time, I started several businesses, and for the next [twenty five years] I worked really, really long hours. Along the way, I mortgaged my house a couple of times for one of the business and I wrote [twelve] books. If you apply that kind of effort to whatever you do, you too, can be just as lucky.”
He laughed and said, “Okay! Okay! I get it!”
Did he really get it? I don’t think so, because he hasn’t changed his behavior or started making different choices.
For about twenty of my twenty five years of hard work, I didn’t feel very lucky or incredibly successful. It took time, effort, hard work, and decent choices before I felt a modicum of success. The problem is that many people want to go from point A to point Z and bypass all the challenges in between. They work hard, so they “deserve” the success they want. And they tend to resent the success that other people have!!!
Success is not an entitlement. It’s not a right or a claim that we should have. Yes, people have the right to pursue success, but that’s it. Success is most often earned, not handed over because you are entitled. If being successful were that easy, everyone would have the success he thinks he deserves. I think I was in my thirties before I truly understood and internalized that idea.
I’ve been trying to instill this wisdom in my nine-year-old son [now 17] by teaching him my “mantra of success.” [Years ago] I asked him, “Trey, what’s the secret to success?” He said, in a young boy’s slightly bored singsong tone: “The secret to success without hard work and good choices is still a secret, Dad. Can I go out and play now?”
OK, maybe nine was a little young to start the training. But maybe not.
True success is the result of hard work, period. I love my business, I love helping people, and I’ve achieved a level of success doing both. I am very grateful for my success and proud to have achieved it in a way that benefits others and helps them grow their businesses as well. I am also very blessed to be able to open my home and a large part of my life to the people from my companies, and to give back to the world through the BNI-Misner Foundation.
From time to time, I share comments about these things on my social media sites and true friends are most welcome to share in the positive conversation about these things. If it troubles anyone to read about these things, however, I certainly won’t be offended if they unfriend me.