Have you ever stopped to think what may be holding you back from your truest potential? For a brief moment in your busy schedule, stop and pull out a blank piece of paper or even a whiteboard. Write down all the reasons that you have as to why you aren’t where you believe you should be. Once you’re done, take a look.
How many of them are nothing more than alibis or excuses? I would wager that a vast majority of the things on your list are hurdles that have seemed insurmountable in the past, but now just seem like a waste of time. Truth be told, the only way that you are going to change where you are is to start moving in the right direction.
Near the end of April in 1992, I went to the Golden Valley Country Club in order to meet a man by the name of Peter J. Daniels. He was a sixty year old man, who had truly made a name for himself through the years. He was one of the wealthiest men in Australia, and his job was to consult with everyone from corporation heads to international political figures. He demanded a fee of $10,000 per hour and received it on a regular basis.
Like all success stories that inspire, however, this man definitely did not start out with what he has now. At twenty-six years old, he was married with two children, and financially bankrupt. He grew up in a broken home and on welfare. He had lived with a number of different families, having a total of three different mothers and four separate fathers.
At this point, from these beginnings is where the classic feel-good success story would take a turn for the better. In the case of Mr. Daniels, however, the rest of the story, the part that most people don’t hear, make his success that much more powerful.
It turns out that at the age of 26, he was not only married with two children, but he also couldn’t read. He was completely illiterate. It got so bad that one day, he made the conscious decision to make himself, and his life better. He made the deliberate choice to learn to read, and vowed to improve himself with one book at a time. Over the next 34 years, this man read over 5,000 autobiographies. That breaks down to nearly twelve per month. During that time he has also written over six books, and travels worldwide.
Remember that list you made? Take a second, closer look at it now. You’re starting on solid ground, at level one. Mr. Daniels reached the pinnacle of success, and he started out in the root cellar far below where you are. If you take a look at all that he accomplished, and all the things that you have to build your foundation on, can you honestly say, that that list is really standing in your way?
In reality, the list of excuses and alibis that are sitting on that page in front of you isn’t what is holding you back from success. In a very real sense, it is those obstacles that can catapult you to the place you’ve always wanted to be. Adversity, in all its forms is a great way to teach you how to focus your energies. Remember, the problems you face today are the world’s way of making sure that you have what it takes to reach the top. Absolutely no one who is a success in any sense of the word went through their life with no troubles. Adversity is always a companion, and life in general is not fair. So the real test is whether or not we accept these facts of life, and what we do about it.
One of the first and probably most productive things that we can do is to learn from what we have experienced. Try keeping a journal, or talk to others who have tread the same path that you are on. The bottom line is that there are really only two choices in life. You can either act to make the changes you want, or react to the changes around you. One leads to a way to improve yourself daily, and to be the best that you can. The other choice keeps you always just a half step behind. Whether your life is a success is entirely up to you. As the incomparable Bill Cosby once said, “What are you going to do about it”?
Think about this for a minute. If you are reading this post, you are one step further ahead than Peter Daniels.