Give me a bump in the road….

Wow – my recent lead article here stirred up some interesting comments.  I had referenced Michael Phelps stunning accomplishment at the Olympics – and that he had ADD, divorced parents, no college degree and a DUI in his background.  I went on to say that too many advantages early in life may be more of a disadvantage than a blessing.  Challenges often are the motivating factor to bring out our very best.

Well, the questions came pouring in.  Questions from people who suspect that their lives have been too easy – and consequently, maybe they have missed developing skills or levels of success that hardships would have stimulated. 

Here are just a couple of those questions: 

I may be one of those… So, now what? I’m not ready to give up, but don’t know how to overcome this “early-life-blessing-later-life-curse” thing.  Do I need to go back and pick up some success stuff I somehow unknowingly left behind?  Am I still doomed to mediocrity just because I got blessed on the front end of life?  How do I learn to convert this blessed life-currency at a positive exchange rate for my future? 

Or this one:

Dan, You hear a lot of success stories about those who have had something to overcome, but not many about those blessed from the beginning.  Can you give some more insight for the mediocre, middleclass, in middle management, who know we have something else to offer, but were never blessed to experience the challenges of more successful leaders?

No, I don’t think you’re guaranteed success if you had nothing but rice and beans growing up and that you had to walk to school, barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways.  Or that you’re doomed to mediocrity if you had six pairs of blue jeans, vacations in exotic ports and got a new Mustang on your 16th birthday.

But we do know from lots of lessons in nature that struggle produces strength.  Help a caterpillar out of a cocoon and it never becomes a beautiful butterfly.  Protect your muscles from any resistance and you’ll stay soft and weak.

So there’s the key.  If life hasn’t forced you to struggle for survival, set some goals that you know will stretch you.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Decide to run a marathon.  The physical discipline required will allow you to experience the immediate benefits of daily training.
  2. Give more.  You may set a goal of giving 20% rather than 10%.  The extra stretch here will loosen up the blindness that greed causes and make you see new ways of generating income.
  3. Commit to spending one hour a day for personal growth.  Choose positive materials for meditation, go to workshops, or sign up for teleseminars.  There are many opportunities for stretching yourself in this area.
  4. Read at least one new book a month.  This will accelerate your ability to increase your “preparation” and to see new ways to grow.  Remember, “Luck” is when “preparation” meets “opportunity.”
  5. Design a break in your normal schedule.  Getting away from a routine is one of the best ways I know of unlocking creativity and innovation.  I have spent 3-4 days at a monastery, just as an attempt to tap into new insights and inspiration. (The Abbey of Gethsemani)
  6. Create your own timelines.  If you want to write a book, decide when you will have the chapter outline completed.  If you need to update your resume, decide now to have that completed in two weeks.  Whatever it is you want to accomplish, set your timelines to propel you on.

All you’ve got to do to reach new levels of success is to stretch yourself beyond complacency.  Recognize that if you are not setting goals that push you forward, you’re likely to be far below your real potential – whether you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth or in a one-room shack in Bangladesh. 

And if these don’t work – let’s see – you could put a pebble in your shoe, or tie one hand behind your back, or try to pick up an addiction.  No – don’t wish hardship on yourself.  There are better ways to prompt yourself to greatness!

And just for the record – yes, I was one of those that got my annual pair of blue jeans and an orange for Christmas, got my bicycle from the county dump, built my first car from junk parts, and had to shovel snow in Buffalo, NY to get to the unheated barn to milk cows (by hand) at 5:00 AM starting when I was 5 years old.  I wouldn’t change a thing – but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone and certainly did everything I could to provide more for my children. 

If you don’t set goals for yourself, you are doomed to work to achieve the goals of someone else. — Brian Tracy

11 Responses to “Give me a bump in the road….”

  1. Jay Peroni Says:

    I love your list Dan! Points 2,3,4 are critical as we strive for excellence and making a difference in this world.

    Of the hundreds of faith-based millionaires I have encountered, here are a few pieces of valuable advice I have learned:

    1. Love what you do each day. I’ve never seen anyone succeed who didn’t love what they were doing.

    2. Don’t let roadblocks get in your way. You cannot stop. If there is a concrete wall in front of you, you have to find a way around it. You can never, ever give up or even think in terms of giving up.

    3. Confidence is a very important thing. But confidence isn’t something you just develop by saying, “I’m going to do this or that.” You really have to believe it. Just saying you can do something is not enough. You have to take steps toward actually
    doing it.

    4. Don’t let criticism get you down. You have to remain cool under
    fire and let criticism roll off you. Good leaders handle conflict
    easily; bad leaders are eaten up by it.

    5. Become a people person. Learn to network. You must work well with others and be loyal to your team.

    Jay Peroni, CFP
    Author of The Faith-Based Millionaire

  2. Celeste Davis, Whole-foods Lifestyle & Detox Coach Says:

    Hi Dan,

    I coach executives who make millions, college students who can only spend $35 a week on groceries and working families who live pay check to pay check.

    95% of my clients succeed in achieving their health goals of weight loss, more energy, and improving their entire lives just by changing their food.

    Money, education, upbringing have nothing to do with whether these people are successful or not. The common denominator for their success:

    They Are Willing To Do The Work, No Matter How Hard Gets.

    These people, the 95%, not only accomplish their health goals but go on to see dramatic improvements in every area of their lives. I get calls and letters months and even years later from the 95%, excited to tell me about their new adventures in success.

    The 5% who do not accomplish their health goals quit when it seems hard. Interestingly enough, they don’t usually quit because of a diet or physical feelings. They quit when the work becomes personal.

    100% of those people quit at the pinnacle of reaching their health goals. They quit when it is time to work on issues of unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment. All of them become even more stuck in their lives.

    A few of the wise ones end up coming back months or years later. They value their health more than their treasured secrets and grudges. They are now willing to do all the work; they become part of the 95% who succeed.

    People who have means are sometimes willing to do anything as long as they can pay someone else to do the parts they don’t want to do. Those who struggle financially may feel like they would be able to do more if someone would pay for them to do it. Both excuses are the same; they are looking for someone to remove the difficulties.

    It all boils down to what you value most. “This is something I want, I am willing to do what it takes to get there.”

    Celeste Davis, Whole-food Lifestyle & Detox Coaching
    Author of Give Your Body A Break and 8 Simple Secrets
    Improve Your Life by Changing Your Food

  3. Joe Gifford Says:

    I am one of those who never lacked for the things I needed growing up, although my parents, a carpenter and a secretary, certainly lived leanly. I have struggled with the notion of not being challenged enough growing up, and thinking that I could never be like some of our great leaders who did faces challenges.

    A few thoughts:

    1. Like many people of his era, my grandfather started with nothing, but became a successful builder and developer through hard work and creating relationships. He wasn’t wealthy, but was very well liked and respected, and the houses he built are still known for their quality. My father continued in these industries, but was not terribly successful, mostly due from a lack of confidence in his own abilities. I feel that my mission is to continue what my grandfather started: owning and operating a successful business. I don’t face the challenges he faced, but I do face challenges of my own: lack of capital, lack of experience, etc… If I can overcome these hurdles, people around me will benefit, as will I. This is what my grandfather worked so hard for!

    2. Not to get too esoteric, but it seems that not having challenges growing up creates a challenge in itself! Work on overcoming THAT challenge.

    3. If we don’t have challenges ourselves, there are certainly plenty in the world that could benefit from our attention. Get involved in a problem area in your neighborhood, or your city, or beyond. Who knows, you might find something you love, or are passionate about making better. Helping others is a great way to get out of your own rut.

    Just writing these thoughts out is motivating me to get going! I hope they help someone else as well.

  4. James Joyce Says:

    I am 82 years old; the sonof a poor dirt farmer in NE Wisconsin. I always had the necesities in my childhood but I had to work for them. Dad needed my help and I gave it. Not always willingly but I did it.

    I have been lucky in life – I believe that you make your luck. After WWII I went to college and worked in manufacturing companies as a foreman, superintendent and manager. I did not do it alone. Others helped all the way. The most common theme was when I was helping someone else, others above me seemed to decide that I too needed a hand up

    Give and it will be given to you.

  5. Nancy Says:

    Thanks Dan!!! That was very helpful. I am going to pick one thing or maybe two to work on so I can move forward. God knows I needed the push!!

  6. Connie Says:

    I was surprised to see all the suggestions regarding stretching yourself, challenging yourself and even increasing tithing. What wasn’t on the list was being of service to others? There are so many people in need and there are so many ways that people can help without give up a lot of time or money. Sometimes, the unpleasant things we see, are exactly what we need to look at. This is where we need to challenge ourselves by stepping up to the plate and getting involved.

    When you meet your creator and you are asked; How did you serve humanity? What will your response be?

  7. Linda Fairchild Says:

    Wow, I am wondering when the later life blessings will arrive. I feel like I have had nothing but struggles from the very start (alcoholic, abusive father, divorced parents, husband’s car accident, etc.). I know these challenges have made me who I am today, but I still can’t figure out what I am supposed to do with it. I missed out on early dreams because of the lack of money to fund them early in life and now I am feeling a bit beat down and and not as driven as I one was. I am hoping for a second wind of enthusiasm about something. I just don’t know what that is yet. I think I need some rejuvenation and inspiration.

  8. Damon Says:

    Sometimes your misery is your ministry. Maybe there’s a reason you’ve had so many struggles. Start thinking of how your struggles can help other people. For instance, are there other people who have struggled with addictions or have had an abusive parent? What about those whose spouses have suffered major loss or the number of people dealing with the pain of divorced parents. Could any of these people use encouragement?

    The very thing you’re looking for could be the very thing you’re suppose to give to others. It’s not about puling up your own bootstraps; it’s about pulling up other people’s bootstraps. Somewhere in the process yours get pulled up as well.

    God often takes pain and uses it for good.

  9. Alice Posey Says:

    I have been blessed today by the above comments.
    I am 72 years old. Had a great life (not easy) sence I was born again and God gave me a wonderful husband and 5 equally as great children, 20 of the greatest grandchildren straight from the hand of God, and now 2 great grand daughters who are the cutest kids anyone could ask for. How good is that!!!!
    I have been looking for more direction and meaning in my life for about 30 years wondering what to do next. Still wonder sometimes – I have always had to make a dime go for a thousand – but in looking back and also looking forward (I plan to live productively for another 50 years if the Lord doesn’t come sooner) I find there are so many fun things todo and so much to learn and know I am not worring about it anymore.
    Right now I have a vision of God transforming our women’s prision into a place of victory by giving -one by one – of these inmates, guards and prision workers a message that if they choose they can have their lives transformed by His wisdom, power and might.
    I am excited about what is happening! What God is doing in the hearts of people. It is so fun to be a little bittie part of His tremendous plan. I mostly have no idea what will come next… but I know it will be beyond my wildest imagination..
    Gramma in Alaska!!
    Hay all you political people out there Take a look at Our Sarah Palin. She a good one!! If she gets choosen we Alaskans will be hard put to find a governor to fill her office!!

  10. billmac Says:

    Thank you Dan! I appreciate your ideas. I have implemented your book-a-month and the hour-a-day personal development suggestions and plan to develop more goal timelines, take on a physical discipline challenge and schedule in a creative/innovative break. At least for now, I will try refrain from implementing the “peeble in the shoe, one-hand-tied, addiction suggestions. Dan your work is like a blast of peppermint in a sirocco!

  11. Grace Onyango Says:

    Thanks Dan. My life has been a roller coaster, struggles but with happiness too, but one thing I know. I have not tapped my best potential yet, I have to set myself free and make some choices, still on that path. Like you said we have to stretch ourselves always. I would like to share a story of what is happening in my life now just to show how important this aspect is to my success and to anyone out there.

    I am from Kenya but currently in the US. Seven years ago after college I went to teach in my village, a remote part of Kenya. While there I met Benedict, blind, and living in abject poverty. In one sentence, written off, nobody thinks he can amount to become anything. However I saw potential in him. I set out to help him. the problem. he had dropped out of school more than ten years ago due to lack of school fees, this guy has been wallowing in blindness and poverty for all those years in some remote part of Kenya. I did not know where to start. My first attempt was to pull people who knew him and friends together so that we raise money and take him back to school, well, that failed miserably, no one was willing to help. Step two, I came to the US, left my teaching job and joined my husband who is a student here. I searched allover the net for organizations that help, blind or poor people in Africa. Wrote mails and made calls, nothing went through. I kept on praying.

    Then to step three, I sat my husband down and told him how I have wanted to help this guy and yet we have no money to do that, but we can cut our budget squeeze the little we have and take this guy to school. We are in a stipend, not a salary and with children. He accepted. It was a big joy to see him set off to a rehabilitation center this year, he will join school next year. This has been hard and is going to be harder yet, he still has four more years.Back to school at the age of thirty nine now, high school. I told him if he wants to go back, I will be there, with God of course. It gets so hard like this week, when school opens, I just wanted to tell him to go back in the village and somehow, God will see him through, but we are sending the money anyway. I thank God.

    Why do I share this. It has made me sit down, look at myself and see how else I can make money without applying for a traditional job. I still want to help more people, and I have realized, I will not borrow from anyone or even beg. I will soon join the 212 connection, I cannot wait. Thank you so much Dan, you have impacted my life so much from your articles, I know it will be great when I join. God bless.

    Grace NJ.

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