This 40 for 40 entry is the second of several amuse-bouches (bite-sized hors d’œuvres) that I'll sprinkle in throughout the series occasionally. Here's today's serving: "A "Winning" Philosophy for Long-term Success.
Several years ago I had the opportunity to help develop a student success program that was designed to help increase the retention and graduation rates of African American male students at my previous institution. After my team of colleagues and I did the grunt design work of putting program together during the late spring and early summer months, we had reached the moment that we would launch a series of events for the program participants. Taking my cue from DJ Khaled, Ludacris, Rick Ross, and T-Pain, I led a talk entitled, "All I do is W.I.N...." (which was one of DJ Khaled's biggest hits at the time) to encourage the young men. Today's 40for40 amuse-bouche is all about providing practical tips for success, both in and outside of the classroom or workplace. Unlike the audience that night, I'll spare you from my non-auto-tuned singing voice.
A "W.I.N"ning Philosophy: Embrace your Ws (Who, What, When, Where, & Why)
Take the time to ask yourself the following five questions.
Who are you?
What are you doing to accomplish your goals?
When will you have achieved success?
Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years?
Why are you here? (Motivation)
One of the most important first steps towards success in business and life is examining these questions carefully. It's amazing how much perspective we lose and energy that we use inappropriately when we focus on external threats and opportunities before assessing our internal desires. Whether it's your first day as college student, intern, or early to mid-career professional, without honing in on "the Ws" we cost ourselves the power of being properly self-motivated. How many bad decisions have you made (personally or professionally) that can be traced back to not having the appropriate motivation prior to making the error or lapse in judgement? Think about it; motivation"...is a hell of a drug." (In my Dave Chappelle as Rick James voice).
A "W.I.N"ning Philosophy: I = Independence, Incentive, & Inspiration
While it may be common knowledge that knowledge is power, did you also know that a significant byproduct of Independence is peace? A good friend and I recently shared a great lunch conversation. He mentioned that the best decision he made occurred roughly 30 years ago when he set out on his own to start his own business. While everyone will not be a successful business owner, and should not simply walk away from their current responsibilities, the wisdom in his remark is that the security of the job he had was a barrier. He went further to highlight that "while paychecks are good for paying bills, they're also good for keeping you stuck and dependent on them." He received the "gift" of finding a new incentive and inspiration by leaving his job as a young, newly married man without the "security" of a secure check. He lived out the tale that many successful business owners cite often, that by channeling all of his energy and motivation to success of his business, he made plans "B -Z" to be getting back to his plan "A". That high risk comes with a huge reward for those who see it through to the end. What I find somewhat discouraging when I speak to some students or clients occasionally, is that somewhere along the road of life they no longer embraced the aspiration that they were a person capable of adapting, growing, learning, and earning the success they once sought. Avoid that trap like a bubonic plague. All of your aspirations can be achieved with hard work, dedication, patience, a few good breaks, and most importantly...faith.
A "W.I.N"ning Philosophy: N= Numbers
I'll be brief on this last one. You are more than just a number! The truth is that while statistics may for or against you, there is a reason that the adage "there are lies, damn lies, and STATISTICS" rings true with so many people. Numbers can be used to motivate or deflate, the choice is yours. For example, given the statistics on educational attainment, incarceration, and employment, as an African American man I have one of two choices. Let the numbers discourage me into a spiral of negative self-talk and doubt that conditions will never improve, or vehemently reject what the numbers say and do everything I can to help improve them. If you've made it this far through a post entitled "A "Winning" Philosophy for Long-term Success" you should be able to easily guess where I stand. My suggestion to you is to do the same. Reject all narratives that lead to self-deprecating thoughts about your future. Do this immediately, intensely, and consistently.