I don’t remember family warnings about showing off or being told that bragging kids deserve to be ignored. I don’t remember any rabbi advising me to be humble, although I’ve heard from my Christian friends the Scriptures say something about that.
There was that one time though, when I came home from college for a weekend visit.
Whoa! That stung! I emphatically denied it, and justifiably so. From the time I was six I knew thinking in terms of ME-first was a no-no. I had learned it at home ‘cause Dad was selfish and that hurt Mom. And I had learned it in school ‘cause kids talked about other kids being “stuck up” or “conceited” all the time.
“Jane thinks she’s better than us,” or, “Dick thinks he can have any girlfriend he wants.”
This was ninth grade gossip but notice I didn’t use the word say? Dick and Jane didn’t verbally broadcast their eminence. They thought it, and probably believed it, because WE believed it. Heck! They were better than us! They acted like it – so self assured. You could tell they trusted themselves just by the way they talked. They never questioned their ideas, took charge and attracted envious fans, of which I was one.
Now of course there were obnoxious jerks who mouthed off about getting laid with her and her and her but we never believed them. The real achievers didn’t try convincing us they were special. They made and did special things, then became our school quarterbacks, cheerleaders, class presidents, valedictorians and Homecoming Queens.
But that was high school and maybe college. In the real world, it’s an open field where introverts and shy ones come out of the shadows and excel. It’s also the place where untalented hustlers oozing with confidence convince others to follow them. It’s the launching pad where that nerdy gamer in the back of the class ends up inventing EMPIRE or SUPER ROAD TRIP. It’s the land where an “average” kid becomes an accountant, takes a graduation job as a level four controller at Warner Brothers and twelve years later becomes the studio’s CFO. It’s the space where an inspired Earvin Johnson Jr. becomes Magic Johnson.
And because in America, where so many Nobodies become Super Somebodies, we’re taught we all have a shot at becoming the President of the United States. Now even minority kids believe it and perhaps it’s so more than a few times. I hope greater numbers of minorities and women take leadership roles. I hope it gets easier for people not born into power. I hope this post helps you and me. Let me try by listing six principles of success.
Okay, assuming you’re not starving, dead broke, unemployable, near death, illiterate, in jail or undocumented, these reminders about “making it” just might boost you into the Big Game. It’s practical stuff that works but often gets sidetracked.
1. You need a primary vision and you can’t be conflicted about it.
By conflicted, I mean you can’t doubt that you can achieve your goal, nor can you have a contradicting agenda that pulls your attention away from you main purpose. If you want to be a rock star but deep down think that’s too long a shot, you’ll never put in the practice time and make music connections to get you there.
If you want a musician’s life but insist you need a backup business degree, you’ll split your time and efforts between the two and achieve one or the other and maybe a little of both. But without 100% commitment to music OR business, you’ll never realize 100% of your dreams.
Still, compromise is okay. In fact, it’s better than okay. It’s practical and 99% of us live this way. So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not the best. Only a few people in the world gain the gold and they usually sacrifice important things to get it.
Rising to the top of anything takes connections, mentors and a lot of luck. If you’re conflicted about your direction, if your confidence wanes when the door opens and you stay put, that invitation may never come again.
Commit to your dream, make priorities, stick to them and take the leaps when you reach those steps going up.
3. It helps a lot to like people and be a joiner.
As I just explained, rising to the top takes connections and mentors. There are professions where personal contact is limited but you’ll never lead others unless you’re willing to convince them to follow you. And to do that, you have to connect with people so they know who you are, even if you’re writing research papers in a university lab.
4. Don’t be afraid to express your enthusiasm. Be proud of your passions.
Keep in mind that what you DO is different than who you ARE. If you conjure a better mouse trap, it’s okay to praise the design. You’re not telling people you’re a genius. You’re telling people about how your smart thing works and why you’re excited about it. Hey! You’d be excited even if it wasn’t yours. So present it that way.
Again, your pitch isn’t about you. It’s about the thing you’re offering. So don’t be embarrassed about praising something you did or made. Because if you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY believe it’s great, people will sense your sincere confidence. They’ll know you’re genuine, which brings us to the next reminder.
5. Don’t bullshit. Eventually it catches up with you.
For every lie you tell, even for all the “right” reasons, you need another one to verify it. And then another and another until eventually the rerouted logic becomes so complex you lose track of what you said to whom and where. Then your story falls apart and you lose the trust of the people you lied to.
So be honest. It’s much more manageable and you won’t have to worry about a false history when potential bosses fact-check your background. More importantly, honesty builds self-confidence and confidence is what people want from you, specifically: Conviction, Commitment and Integrity. If you’ve got that in place, the jobs will come and the work details can be learned along the way.
Finally, the most important note…so simple and obvious, yet the biggest trap of all.
If the late, great innovator Steve Jobs can be fired from his own company, Apple, and then release market failures like Lisa, NeXT and The Cube computers, you too have the permission to miss your goals. If Robert Downey Jr. can crash to the bottom with drug addiction and then rise back up to become the highest paid actor in the world, you too can have your ups and downs.
Everybody makes lots of mistakes before finding the best solution or refining the highest skills. We all know that and still, no one is comfortable with failure. We all want to be winners starting out. We don’t want to disappoint ourselves and others. So sometimes we give up rather than flub one more time. But that’s okay. Not everyone is suited for everything they pursue. And it’s also okay to fail and fail and fail again until you finally get it…or don’t. Trying is good. Trying is growing. Trying in honorable.
So now it’s my turn to try something, a first in this blog. I’m going to direct you to what others have said about my novels. You see the book covers to the right while reading this article? Have you ever clicked on them? Clicking brings you to Irving Podolsky on Amazon. Have you read the reviews there, or on Goodreads?
Those four and five star critiques did not come from friends. They were written by book bloggers and readers I don’t know – readers like you who won’t waste their time with stuff that doesn’t connect or isn’t entertaining. And get this, the books are comedies, a style I rarely use in blogs but love to write. Those yarns were fun, fun, fun to shape and they’re fun to read. Promise!
So check’em out. The trilogy will sweep you to realms you’ve never imagined…unless you’re my age, lived in LA and Atlanta, worked in porn, mental hospitals and French restaurants, backpacked in Europe, zipped into out-of-body travel and dated girls from South Africa, Germany and Lobbock, Texas.
The ebook versions? Just 99 cents. Practically free. They’re gifts, really. ‘Cause I want you to have a riveting ride as we share the seventies and a magical journey.
Convinced yet? Give’em a shot. And when reaching the epoch’s end, if it sparked new ideas, if you’re left uplifted and sentimental…that would make me happy. Because you’re happy!