Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Each year, I get to welcome a group of local, future leaders to “my house,” our offices at Southwest Michigan First. Recently, I found myself being a bit overwhelmed at the opportunities that each of these kids has in front of them. The generosity of the Monroe Brown Foundation, which has arranged for each of these dynamic young people to not only receive a tremendous internship with an innovative company, but also a college scholarship.
I consistently have great conversations with most of these young people but one that stands out was not the one that thanked me for the free food, or for helping the Monroe Brown Foundation. It was the young lady that asked, “Other than education, what else should I do to succeed?”Never aspire for average. #AlwaysForward Click To Tweet
I did not have a good answer for that great question, but after a little retrospect and asking some of my mentors that very question; I think I have an answer for her now. Education is without a doubt the great economic leveler but education is not the only key to the future. I believe that there are 7 additional factors to your success:
- Above all be true to yourself. That little voice in the back of your head is usually correct, listen to it.
- Give back. Repay the gifts you have been given for your entire life. You do not have to be able to afford to feed 1,000 people to have an impact, just ask the child who is not hungry because of the one meal you paid for. In whatever way you feel pulled, choose to use your blessings for greater impact. Generosity is a habit.
- Never aspire for average. Average is the best of the worst. You were not put on this planet to be in the bottom 50%. Find your talents and then don’t stop working for growth.
- Never quit learning. Ignorance is your enemy and your learning does not stop when you walk across the graduation stage. Futurist Tom Peters states that just a few years ago, one-third of everything you knew was obsolete in 7 seven years, that number is now down to 18 months. If Tom is correct, and I believe he is, your future is highly dependent to your commitment to being a lifelong learner.
- Surround yourself with people who make you better. I am blessed to work for a Board of Directors but most people do not have this advantage. So go out and find your own board of directors. Find those people who understand you and where your opportunities are who can help coach you to success.
- Bad things happen. Be prepared. Keep your financial and personal affairs in order to allow you to sustain yourself financially and emotionally when the ill winds blow.
- Live gratefully. As you have been told your entire life, you are what you eat, it is also true that you become what you value. It is important that each day you evaluate the day’s blessings, give thanks and then use it to set the course for the next day.
Question: If you had to write the eighth factor of success, what would it be?