Fathers: What You Do is not Who You Are!

Happy Fathers Day to all of us Dads! This year Father’s Day has fallen on the last day of my summer vacation.  Summer vacation is always a time of introspection and contemplation for me, and this one is no exception.  On this Father’s Day post I wanted to share a belief with Dads that might be either liberating, or devastating depending on where we are in life’s journey and what we have done with our life to date.  That belief is:

What you DO is not who you ARE!

Have you ever been in a new social setting like a block party, church function or cocktail party and been asked something like, “So tell me about yourself.”  When men are asked this open-ended question our response is almost always to launch into information about our careers.   In fact, when we are the ones asking the questions we usually cut right to the chase with “So, what do you do?”  It is as though the sum of our existence can be encompassed in a resume!

That, of course, is not true.  We are so much more than the litany of our professional accomplishments.  So why do we often reduce our existence to this when we describe ourselves?  It is because we mistake our work life for the rest of our being.  We put so much time and effort into our careers that it can become all-consuming, leaving us disconnected from what should really set our course and drive us.  We fail to recognize that what we DO should flow out of who we ARE, not vice-versa.

For me life is really about three things.  Faith, Family, and Fulfillment.  My career is EXTREMELY important to me and I make no apologies for that.  I work long hours and I work hard!  I have done so for 36 years now.  I have chosen a career in Healthcare Administration because it is fulfilling work where I can live out my faith, and provide for my family.  The success I have had in my career has allowed me to change my family tree, assure my children’s higher education, and given me the freedom to spend the rest of my life doing anything I want to do.  My career is only important to me because it allows me to connect with those greater purposes.

There have been points in my career where I have had to sacrifice time with family.  There have been seasons where there were not enough hours in the day or gas in my emotional tank to also serve my church and my community, but those were only short seasons.  If we fathers allow our careers to always dominate our calendars we will fail to connect to the reasons we work in the first place and we will be left with shallow, purposeless lives. We must guard against that, Dads.  Our families, communities, future generations, and even eternity need us to be what we are created to be.  We have to connect what we do with who we are, or better yet, who we want to be!

So, as you look at your life, how much of it can you connect to the greater purposes you have identified for you?  If it is not enough, change your calendar.  You still have time.  Take charge of YOUR time and use it to fulfill YOUR purpose.

For some of us, we may not be sure of our true purpose.  If that is the case we cannot waste another day grinding away trying to win at the game before us.  Instead, we need to connect with the One who made us and find our purpose!  What a sad thing it would be to find ourselves at the top of our game, only to find out we have been playing the wrong game all the while.

Even if that is the case, know that nothing surprises the maker of the universe.  He has a purpose for all of us from this day forward and He wants to reveal that plan to us.  Living out that plan requires us to BE first, then DO.  So, WHO ARE YOU?  Maybe more importantly, WHO WILL YOU BE?

The Dreamer, The Doer, or The Dud. Which Do YOU Choose?

I have a great respect for Dreamers.  The Bible tells us that “without a vision, the people perish.”  We need visionaries (dreamers) to inspire us to accomplish the tremendous things of which we are capable.

Then there are the Duds.  I call these people the Eeyore’s of the world.  You know; the donkey from  Winnie the Pooh stories?  They are the ones that can tell you, at length, every reason something will not work and every bad thing that happened to anyone who ever tried to accomplish anything!  They are the “naysayers,” the “wet blankets,” the “glass ALL empty because it has a hole in the bottom that can never be repaired,” crowd.  They will drain every ounce of positive energy from you if you hang around them too long. I would rather spend my life around a Dreamer that never accomplishes anything than a Dud who never even dares to dream.

Finally there is the group of people to which I aspire.  They are the Doers.  This group is composed of Dreamers that are accomplishing their dreams in a way that inspires others to dream and do as well!  They are leaders not only by virtue of what they have done, but who they are.  They realize that dreams are great, but no dream comes to pass without help from others.  They have learned “no man is an island.”  To that end, they engage others in the process of actualizing their dream by first helping others dream and accomplish their dreams.  They are the “Connectors” of this world, building networks of Dreamers and Doers, some of which they have converted from Duds!

There are three steps by which one can move from either Dud, or Dreamer and become a Doer.  They are:

FOLLOW FIRST

One of the biggest reasons someone is a Dud is they remain in isolation.  Something is broken or dead inside them.  There are many reasons that might have caused this which are inconsequential, but what Duds have in common is a total lack of HOPE!  Their natural demeanor caused by this state of hopelessness drives people away from them, and drives them away from people!  They are the people “without a vision.”  The first step for them to move towards dreaming is to FORCE themselves to be around Dreamers and Doers who have enough HOPE to spare!  In fact, when one is around the latter groups they will catch HOPE like a virus.  It is contagious.  This is a fact that has been exploited by cult leaders and dictators for all of history, so it is important to follow people whose dreams and visions are grounded in TRUTH.

For Dreamers, following is hard!  They are the visionaries pulling others in their wake towards their dreams.  Doers, however, have learned to value others and recognize that others have knowledge, skills, connections and influence that can be leveraged for the sake of the dream.  In order to accomplish the dream they often have to first serve and submit to authority.  They must work their way through infrastructures and bureaucracies to find the resources, human and otherwise, to bring their vision to pass.

FOUNDATION NEXT

At this step we have lost all Duds.  They have either been converted or left behind.  Now it is all about what turns Dreamers into Doers.  Someone once said “A dream without a plan is just a wish.”  We all know dreamers that have never accomplished anything.  It is so prevalent in this generation that to be called a Dreamer is an insult!  There are two reasons many Dreamers fail to realize their dreams:

1.  Lack of a plan:  Usually caused by ignorance or laziness.

2.  Lack of a good plan:  Most likely caused by never FOLLOWING.  Dreamers create a plan based on their own thinking, failing to leverage the wisdom of others (even the pitfalls one could learn from the Duds), or the resources in the hands of others.

FINISH STRONG

The last step to go from Dreamer to Doer is the hardest.  It is Executing the Plan.  Despite the best plans, and dreamers that have secured the hearts and minds of others by following first, DREAMS ARE HARD TO ACHIEVE!  They take time that requires patience, energy that requires endurance, and will be met with much resistance which will require perseverance.  These traits are rare in our “Microwave”, “Gotta Have It Now,” culture.  Many dreamers have abandoned their quest within steps of the summit because they allowed their hope to be stolen by the blinding storm that kept them from seeing they were so close to the top.  The last lesson here, as stated in a previous blog post is, NEVER GIVE UP!

What is Your Experience With Command and Control Leaders?

Have you ever been on a team where the leader was constantly pushing?  You make it to the end of the week and feel like you have been “rode hard and put up wet.”  You have nothing left to give to your family and friends?

Such is life under a “Command and Control” leader.  This type of leader can accomplish much for short periods of time.  They pride themselves in getting the most out of their team.  They can be very effective in turnaround situations.  However, in my experience, this type of leader’s success is short-lived.  People perform under their leadership because they are afraid NOT to!  Given an opportunity elsewhere, team members will jump ship faster than Jack…  You know… Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack’s now captaining the competitor’s ship!

High performing teams will not thrive under Command and Control.  They do not need to be pushed, so they resent someone who thinks they do.  Instead, they want to be led by someone who gets out in front of them, shielding them from the attacks of enemies, breaking down barriers of bureaucracy, and putting themselves at risk.  Give high performers a leader like that and they will follow her fearlessly, tirelessly, and passionately.  They need inspiration, not subjugation.

There is an old adage that says teams are like rope.  They are a lot easier to pull than push.  If you stand behind a rope and push it, it resists and twists and turns.  It is a futile activity.  On the other hand,  if you grab the leading end of the rope, and pull it, it will follow you anywhere you go.  Leaders should lead.  They need to do so from the front of the pack if they want the most from their teams in the long run.

The whip and spur approach of a command and control boss might drive mules to win short races, but over the long haul, thoroughbreds need to be fed, watered, groomed, and even loved by their trainers.  On the track, they will perform best when you trust them enough to let go of the pressure on the reins and give them the bit.  That is how the long races will be won.

Here are three ways to move from command and control to an inspirational leader.

1.  Focus on the five-year strategic plan, not the quarterly incentive plan.  Short term goals lead to short-term thinking which almost always detracts from long-term performance.

2.  Request twice as often as you Require.  Often the difference does not have anything to do with how much you are asking of people, but in how you ask (or demand) it of people.  Acknowledging that the ask is above reasonable expectations sprinkled in with a good measure of appreciation will go a long way toward being inspirational as opposed to unreasonable.

3.  Listen twice as often as you speak.  Once you have laid out what it is you need from your team, ask them how they think they best can get there.  If you have a high performing team, they likely are subject matter experts that have been there and done that before.  Use that knowledge and expertise by deferring to them as often as possible.  If it is their plan, they will execute at a higher level than if it is yours.  My mom used to say, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  Use those gifts in proportion to the way they have been given!

Now it is your turn!  Tell us about your experiences working for a Command and Control boss and lessons you would like them to learn!

 

What is Better Than Success?

Strange title to appear on a blog titled: 3RsofSuccess, right?

The truth is, the longer I write about leadership and success the more I realize that real success is not what most people envision.  If you did a word association test with 100 people and asked them to say the first thing that popped in their heads when you say, “Success!”  What kind of responses do you think wou would get?  I believe it would be things like: money, power, riches, mansion, Lamborghini, wealth, friends, influence.

Those things are all wonderful.  I would be happy to have them all, and in quantity!  The problem is a lot of people chase these things, maybe even attain them all, but never becoming successful.

I am a firm believer that real success may lead to the things on the list above, as well as love, peace, joy, happiness, strong family relationships and more.  Yet most people who chase after these things end up like King Solomon at the end of his life realizing that all the striving for material and or even the more noble vestiges of success, do not create success.  Chasing them is like chasing the wind.

So what is the secret of success?

I believe Albert Einstein summed it up nicely when he said, “Don’t try to be a man of success, rather try to be a man of value.”

When one focuses on being a man of success, the focus is all internal.  What can I do, be, get, that will result in me being happy, wealthy, revered, powerful, etc.  On the other hand, if one wants to be a man of value the focus shift 180 degrees to see what it is you can do that will help others.

In order to add the most value, I believe we have to first be connected to a greater purpose.  I believe we are all in this world for a reason, and have been gifted with talents and abilities to achieve great things.  That belief takes all my fears away because it is not all up to me to win or lose.  I am just part of a plan.  That belief also propels me to give my all to the purpose for which I was created and to be a person of character, because flaws in character, judgment, and integrity could cost me the opportunity to fullfill my purpose.

Once I am connected to my purpose and grounded in integrity, my focus to add value causes me to look at my family, my community and my world and ask, what can I do that will truly serve these people?  What gifts and talents have I been given, and how can those be used to help the most people?

I am a student of history.  When you think back to high school or college history classes, who are the people that you admired most?  Was it the conquerors and empire builders?  Was it the political or business leaders that dominated their day?  Or was it the people that added value like Eli Whitney, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Ghandi, or Lincoln?  Who’s legacy will be seen more positively; Joseph Stalin or Mother Theresa?

So what is better than “success?”…  Serving!  

I guarantee if you are a Servant Leader, and serve enough others well, connecting to the purpose for which you were created, and using your unique talents and gifts, the other things on your success list will also start showing up.  You will not have to chase after them, they will be attracted to you like steel to a magnet!  I have seen it in many successful people’s lives, and have been blessed to experience it in mine.

3 Questions Leaders Must Answer to Engage Stakeholders in Change

I have made a career out of leading change.  I enjoy the change process.  It is time-consuming, always difficult, politically dangerous, and often frustrating.  It takes long days, short nights, and meetings.  Lots and Lots of meetings!  Why doesn’t everybody love this?

What makes change worthwhile is when the change has worth.  Change for change sake is a waste of time, energy, resources, and political capital.  The problem is, people never know if the change you are trying to engage them in is change for change sake until you answer three important questions.  If you can answer them to their satisfaction, you will be able to engage people in the change.  If not, well, better luck next time!

Why Do We Need To Change?

Stephen Covey calls this “beginning with the end in mind.”  Leaders must cast a vision.  There is a proverb that says, “Without a vision, the people perish.”  The same is true of a change initiative.  If you cannot connect your change initiative to the Mission and Vision of your organization, assuming that the Mission and Vision itself is accepted, your initiative is doomed from the start.  People will only endure pain, only if it is connected to a greater purpose.  As Quint Studer, leader of the Studer Group consulting firm whose mission is all about changing institutional culture, says, “We must connect to the Why” in order to experience “meaningful, purposeful work.”

What’s In It For Me?

This is a question you must answer for every individual you need to participate in the change.  I used to see this as selfish and annoying.  I believed the greater good should override any self-interest.  That is how I am wired.  As a leader, however, I cannot usually rally enough people to enact significant change without addressing this question.  Additionally, I have discovered by endeavoring to answer this question I achieve far greater results.  This is why.

Answering this question requires meeting with the individuals, hearing their concerns, understanding their current situation and how they believe this change will affect them.  Often you will start to hear major recurring themes among the people involved that will necessitate precursor change prior to the change you envision.  Without this process, the change you plan might fail miserably.  Addressing the issues of the individuals leads to a better outcome and also gains more engagement.

Will This Last?

There is nothing more disheartening to a team than to fully engage in a change and then have some new initiative pull away the focus, resources, and commitment to sustain the change.  Answering this question is always important and applies to any change.  Whether it is an individual person, a department, an entire hospital system or Fortune 500 Company that is engaging in change, people want to know that this is not the flavor of the month.

If you are not 100% sure of the change then consider using a “rapid cycle” change process with a small test of change that is much less resource intense than the complete change initiative.  Make sure the participants understand that this is a test, or a pilot so that if you back out of the initiative, you will not dishearten them and lose them for future change initiatives.  I do caution over-use of this process, especially in professional service industries.  No matter your good intentions, this can often lead to a culture of change fatigue and a perception that the organization enacts change for change sake, and that leaders do not use evidence based thinking.

Final thoughts:

We live in an age where the only thing constant is change.  As leaders, we need to assure our teams that the change we ask of them is ultimately for the long-term viability and stability of our organizations and the needs of the customers we serve.  It cannot be about our pet projects, adding to our fiefdom, or impressing the C-Suite.

Finally, if you do not need to change, don’t!

Good luck finding that scenario!

Want Results as a Leader? Respond, Don’t React!

In my professional life, this week, I had to deal with conflict.  Has anyone other leader had to deal with conflict in the workplace in their career?  If you answered no, please let me know where you work, and tell me if there are any openings!

Today on my “3Rs of Success” blog I will address the 3Rs of Conflict Resolution.

Dealing with conflict on the team is one of the biggest drains on my energy and enthusiasm as a leader.  Yet, if addressed in a positive manner, it can lead to some of the best RESULTS the team can produce.

In order to see those positive fruits out of conflict, the secret is to RESPOND rather than REACT.  Dictionary.com defines the two terms this way:

React:  to act in opposition, as against some force.

Respond:  to react favorably.

When faced with conflict, one can take either of these two approaches.  Which do you think will build the team?  Which do you think will tear it apart?  The answer is pretty self-evident in these definitions, right?  But, what steps do you need to take in order to respond to a conflict, rather than react?

1. Deal with it!  Now!:  The first thing you have to do about conflict is address it!  In my situation this week, conflict had been brewing for a couple of weeks, and I  ”had not had time” to deal with it.   We HAVE to TAKE TIME.  The sooner the better!  It can be the difference between a bump in the road to a 20 car pile up!

2. Begin with the end in mind:  What is the goal of conflict resolution?  Is it to get both sides of the story documented, assign blame and keep score?  I hope not!  The goal should be to bridge the gap caused by the conflict and unify the team.  If a leader keeps that goal in mind it will lead to the positive outcomes that can result from team conflict.

3. Find the underlying issue:  Bad behavior needs to be addressed, but often the behaviors stem from underlying causes that a leader can also affect.  If all we do is confront the behaviors it is like treating the symptoms but ignoring the disease!  If emotions run high because of perceived inequities, we need to address the perception of inequity.  If the inequity is real, we must address the reality.  If inequity is caused by lack of skill sets for part of the team, we need to add to the skills of team members.  You get the idea…   Great leaders dig deep to get at the root causes and effectively deal with them.  They do not believe in Band-Aid approaches!

Thankfully, I have a great team and we worked together to respond to conflict this week.  The results were positive and I believe we can move forward from here with greater trust and unity.  All because we chose to respond rather than react.

Special thanks to the team member who brought up the difference between responding and reacting, inspiring this blog post!

Does anyone else have tips to help us respond rather than react?

What Are Your Kids Learning From You?

I am living a blessed life.  A result, in part, of learning from my Father.

My Dad taught me a lot of important lessons by example.  He was a hard worker.  He was sent off to military school as a tween, then did a tour in the Marines, followed by cooking and managing in restaurants from the Ozark mountains to Washington D.C.  He often took second jobs in construction to make ends meet, and to pay finance payments on campers and boats, as well as fishing and hunting gear with which he had many bonding opportunities with his only son, me!  We probably went fishing, hunting, and or camping at least 15-20 times a year from age 4-13.

I played 3 years of baseball, 3 years of football, and 2 years of basketball before I was 13 and I can only remember my Dad missing 2 games, though he worked 50-60 hours a week.  In addition we shared a passion for Ohio State and Redskins football.  I remember many Saturdays and Sundays spent in our Volkswagen camper behind whatever restaurant he managed with a little 9 inch TV plugged in to an orange extension cord running out the back door of the restaurant, or listening to the game on a big battery-powered radio at a construction site while I “helped” Dad as he hung dry wall.  My Dad definitely taught me to value time with my kids and to find a way to make it work even when working hard.  He taught me to tell my kids I love them often and back it up with a commitment of time and energy.

Other lessons I learned from my Dad were not from things he did well, but from the things he did poorly.  At the age of 6 my Mom left my Dad and me and moved back home to her family.  My Dad never admitted a moral failure suspected by my Mom, nor did he admit to one when he got divorced from his 3rd wife when I was 15, nor did he see anything wrong with marrying his 4th wife, an 18 year-old, when he was 47.  He had no relationship with his two daughters from his first marriage before he married my mom.  Nor did he stay in touch with his three children from his fourth marriage that imploded.

My Dad put energy and effort into relationships as long as they were good for him.  When they were not, he just walked away and started over, but never learned from the mistakes of his past.  This fact marked me, and I have fought to never let that happen to relationships with the ones I love.

At age 11, after uninsured hospitalizations and surgeries for me (benign tumor) and Dad (double hernia) the mountain of debt he had accumulated fell in on him.  We lost our home and everything else we owned (or should I say owed) in bankruptcy.  I promised myself I would not allow that to happen to me, and have been debt averse and savings minded since.

Part of what contributed to the need to file bankruptcy was my Dad’s continuing devolving career.  When I was four, my Dad was on a very successful  management track with Marriott restaurants.  He left because of a falling out with his boss.  The same reason was given when he left employment of three other independently owned restaurants, and a stint at Ft Belvoir’s Army base cafeteria as well.  I remember at least 6 different restaurants he worked at between age 4 and 13.  My Dad was prideful and could not submit to authority.  I swore I would not make that same mistake and have probably been overly loyal to my employer’s in my career, but it has paid off with continued upward mobility.

I often wonder how some people, like me, learn from other’s failures, while others seem to be destined to repeat the same mistakes, generation after generation?  How can I make sure my sons learn from the good and bad they have seen in me to have a better life?  How can we, as leaders, help our teammates overcome their past so they can be productive, engaged and committed?  Finally, if you are a parent, what are your kids learning from you?  Is it what you intended them to learn from you?

FREE Book Offer: “Home Run” by Kevin Myers and John C. Maxwell

If you have been reading my blog (3rsofsuccess.com) you know that I believe that success is not rocket science.  I believe there are basic principles that, when mastered, lead to success.  Just like “Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic” (3R’s) are the building blocks of success in education, any endeavor in life has fundamentals that, when mastered, will cause one to succeed.

In the new book, Home Run, Kevin Meyers (pastor of 12 Stone Church) and his mentor, John Maxwell, give us a basic game plan for a successful life.  They use 4C’s instead of 3R’s but I can overlook that!  These basic principles can be applied to any and all areas of one’s life: business, relationships, artistic endeavors, sports.  I will give you the basics in today’s blog, but you HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!  To that end, I want to give two fortunate people this book for free.  Comment on this blog and you will go into a random drawing.  I will contact the winners for an address to mail their book.  Simple as that!

Myers and Maxwell (M&M) use a baseball diamond as their illustration of how to be succesful in this life.  The four bases are the principles to be mastered if one wants a “Home Run” Life.  They assert that we all start somewhere, (Home Plate) and are all looking to score.  They maintain that to really do so, we need to run the bases well.  Here is a breakdown of the bases:

Home Plate:  Connect with God:  This gives you purpose and connects you to power that can overcome any adversity life can throw at you.  In a culture that idolizes rebellion, they say we must rather acknowledge the reality that we are completely dependent.  If we do that, we are ready to run the bases.

First Base:  Character:  The Personal base.  This is where we get Self Respect, by winning within.  Only by being a person of character first, are we ready to move into scoring position.

Second Base:  Community:  The People base.  This is where we learn to win with others.  We learn here that it is not all about us!  True success in any arena of life comes through serving others well!

Third Base:  Competence:  The Performance base.  This is where we win results.  We are at the top of our game! We are almost there! We are successful, and people see that and admire us.

Our culture in the US is all about performance.  It drives us so much that we want to short cut or cheat the other bases so we can get to third quicker!  We cheat our dependence on God, our development of character and our service to others in the name of getting ahead…  M&M liken this behavior to a tee ball player who is so excited when he hits the ball that he runs the bases backward!  You may get to third quicker, but you have violated the rules of the game and you will be called OUT!

Home Plate:  When we round the bases we end up at Home again.  This second time at home plate, we have scored.  We have created significance with our life because it has been lived connected to purpose, with integrity, serving others in a way that has had impact.

One other great thing about the baseball analogy is that the game is not over until the lights are turned off.  You have another inning… another at-bat.  You can still score the winning run for your team.  There is always hope until the lights go out…

Believe me, I did not do the book justice with this post!  It is full of wisdom mixed with heartfelt transparent stories and truth.  For your chance to win a copy for free, Leave a Comment or click the follow button and subscribe to this blog!  If you do not win, pick it up om Amazon!  Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Home-Run-Learn-Gods-Leadership/dp/1455577227

WORK ETHIC: There’s No CheckFree, Only PayPal (Re-Post)

I heard a quote from Rory Vaden, New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs, recently.  He said, “You always get paid for the work you do; sometimes now, often times later, but always eventually.”  It harkens back to the biblical proverb, “As a man sows, so shall he reap.”

Sometimes, these statements appear not to be true.  For instance, when banks have to be bailed out by trillions of dollars of taxpayer money because they lent without regard to the recipients’ abilities to repay, or when “Green” companies get hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, only to fold without contributing one bit of service or product they promised.  How about when an average family of four pays out over $22,000 per year for their healthcare (recent study)?  Consider when college students default on 10′s of thousands of dollars in student loan money they used to take Spring Break trips to Cancun and pay car payments on their new sports car, but never graduated from college?  And what about those who pour their blood, sweat and tears into a family business, only to see the economy tank, the business fail, and they end up in personal bankruptcy?  This world does not seem to be fair when one looks at these scenarios.  It does not appear that people are reaping what they sow.

That is why I like the Vaden quote.  It helps us get the long-term view and realize that “eventually,” THE HARD WORK WILL PAY OFF.  The application of this truth in the work place is best explained by the “Flywheel Principle,” offered by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great.  The concept is that you have a massive 5,000 pound steel wheel that lies horizontal on its axis. One push will not move it, but consistent force, over time, in a constant direction, starts the flywheel in motion. It moves, oh so slowly at first, then faster and faster, until at some point the momentum of the flywheel is greater than the force of all the pushing, causing it to spin on its own.

That is how we see Vaden’s quote becomes real in our work life.  If we work consistently, doing the everyday things every day, we will build momentum.  We will start to accomplish more in less time as we continue to push toward our clear direction.  If we let up, we will lose momentum.  If we are not clear about our direction, we will lose ground.  But if we continue, day in and day out to deliver our best, it will pay-off for our organizations, our customers, and for our careers and personal growth.

Still skeptical?  How can I know that will really happen?

The truth is I cannot prove it to you.  It is a leap of faith.  Millions of people everyday check out and give up on the process.  The flywheel feels more like a millstone grinding them down, day after day, so they quit.  I wonder how many were one push away from the momentum swing that would have led them to the success they had been striving for?  The principle can apply in any arena; work, marriage, parenting, personal finance, etc.

Whatever areas you are fighting to succeed in, I encourage you to keep on pushing.  Also, if you have been through the process and your flywheel is humming, jump over to help someone else push on theirs.  The only thing more exciting than personal success is helping someone else achieve theirs!

In the end, you will reap what you sow.  There is no free ride, no Checkfree.  If you want to succeed, you are going to have to PayPal!