Posts Tagged ‘how to be successful’

I woke up this morning with a choice. We all do —  ambivalent or focused, bifurcated or fired up for a kind of single-minded success.

I chose, just what I wanted to, and not what I didn’t. I finished the book of Proverbs along with my chai tea latte and steel cut oatmeal. Super-cool wise stuff is found in Proverbs, like, “The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength.”  Proverbs 24:4-5

Kathy Korman Frey, Harvard MBA, a kind of confidence guardian, has posited that successful women benefit from their experiences of mastery, choosing to find things they do well that build confidence to do other things well.

Tea, oats, proverbs — it’s is smart to choose to grow in power. The use of power, the mustering of  strength — this is not merely the heady stuff of tyrants and despots but also the way of the godly wise. The godly wise proceed with things that build up their strength; they move forward in ways that build up their confidence.

After my reading, I went out back to my lily pond and mucked it out. I threw my aluminum ladder across the pond, crawled out on it, lay down and began pulling the last year’s cattails out.

The long webbed, fleshy roots came out with a sucking sound. The water was cold, but the day was hot and under the gaze of a gorgeous Santa Anna wind and a cornflower blue sky I mucked and tucked and chucked out my pond. Monet-like, I gently lifted my lily pads, gave them space to thrive, flipped them back upright, left just enough cattails to grace the water with height again this spring.

Then I set on the papyrus growing at both ends, cutting back the dead brown stalks, leaving the bright green new shoots to poke out of the water like exclamation points with fireworks at the ends.

Then, there, thus — I set back and soaked in, my pond, lake, sea; my strength, my chosen yard of life, my several meters of canvass to paint, my long, limned, lovely, lined, lipped, lopped confidence.

And thus it is so that this and that and those like these will lead to more and more and more of that — power! Exploding! Like papyrus in the Nile, and lily pads in my backyard pond.

I know this about myself: it makes me strong to fix things, and it really fires me up when I create beauty — a backyard pond, a school in Southeast San Diego, a school in Tijuana, a community center in Nicaragua, a church in South Africa, a church in Brazil, a church in Chula Vista.

This afternoon I write on my iPad, under the same sun that I labored under this morning, the same sun the pharaohs built the pyramids under, the sun filtered through the shade in the window at a Starbucks near my house.

I’m here because ponds and pages and the music and the smell of coffee just do it perfectly for me. Mucking out lily ponds and jungles and schools and writing blog posts — these are my mastery experiences. So too are my sermons, and my modern proverbs, my fables and modern soliloquies too.

This is what builds up my confidence — what about you?

I suggest you do things that fill you up inside.

Go grow — in strength!

By doing things!

That build mastery!

Things that decrease ambivalence.

Things that increase confidence.

Did you think that you weren’t supposed to be strong?


When we occasionally glance ahead, look down the garden path, attempt to peer ’round the blind corner — perhaps we are at a wedding or funeral or looking over water or falling off the edge of day and almost asleep — we sometimes startle and steel ourselves, for just head it comes to us that there might possibly be bits and pieces of difficulty, minor disturbances, a war, aging, another recession, even the annoying matter of dying.

But do we ever, and perhaps we just might need to, steel ourselves, in quiet moment of reflection, for success?

Success needs to be braced for, because it isn’t ease. It isn’t a non-stressing event, the calm of anonymity, the hide-and-seek moment of repose found in not having yet been found. Success isn’t business-as-usual, the casual kiss upon arriving home again at night to old, familiar, comforting foods and loves.

Success is adrenaline. Success is life — caffeinated. Success is an aphrodisiac. Success is a tyrant. Success is the stress of living, not dying, the crazy, hyper-active moment of being found, of jumping up and running hard, the anxiety present in the award, the demanding residue resident in the encore, the infectious blush of being kissed by strangers, of being expected to appear, over and over and over again.

Most people run from this.

But success is life, saddled up and riding right along side of failure, and one should expect success, steel oneself for it, lean into it, if nothing else than because of the inevitability of it, and for the kicks present in it, for the laughs, for the poof and goof and sheer outrageous broad smile and back-stage-arm-pump of it.

We will succeed, if we don’t sabotage our own success out of the fear of not being able to handle it. We will succeed, if we are willing. And success will change us, but in good ways, not destructive ways, if we get our heads first spun right for it.

How? This: We can survive success by means of humility. We can steel ourselves for success by putting a knife to our own throats, by first fencing in our own lust and greed so that we don’t harm ourselves and others with it. We can best prepare ourselves for awards by dressing up and putting on the demeanor of waitresses, janitors, busboys, Motel 6 housekeepers, slaves.

The survive-the-success-thing is found in this, to abstain from what we most want to eat by making friends with not eating. To prepare for banquets, we must first get used to gut-gnawing hunger and stomach cramps, so that when the feast is set for us, and our forks are raised to eat whatever we want, we won’t.

And we may also do this, get ready, by screwing our heads on straight concerning the sources of success.

Every success is a gift, given not by ourselves to ourselves, but given by others, by life, and by God. We will not, nor ever will do, anything that should make us preferred, over and above anyone else, since it does not originate in us but outside of us and in them. It is all given, the DNA, the birth place, the stretch and wave of time, the procreative influences, the mentors provided, the unsought opportunities, the universally salutary milieu, the open sea, shore, boat, wind and clear sky of it.

So, do — steel, brace, prepare, bow, receive, enter and humbly enjoy — success, when it is given to you.