Success is easy

Published 10:16 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012

By Steven S. Kirkpatrick

Now more than ever, our society is being poisoned with the myth that “success” happens only to those who are “fortunate.” We are led to believe there is little or no connection between having wealth and doing the work necessary to create it. We are told those who are better off got that way, because they hoodwinked some poor unsuspecting sops who are the victims of these wealthy people. This is toxic nonsense.

In order to accept this line of thinking, you must first believe that you have no control over your destiny — and instead accept the false premise that life is nothing more than a random series of events. According to this logic, those who accumulate wealth are the “winners of life’s lottery” while the poor are the losers. Aside from the tiny fraction of Americans with sizeable inherited wealth, this is patently false. But the myth lives on. Why?

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Modern American culture is deeply rooted in a sense of victimization. It means being able to blame something or someone else for your station in life. It’s a way of giving yourself permission to be a failure and an excuse for not even trying to be successful. After all, if your failure is caused by something else, then you don’t even have to try to advance yourself. We bemoan the fact that life isn’t fair, and we hear our leaders make pronouncements that everyone should be able to compete “on a level playing field.”

Well, guess what? Life isn’t fair — so get over it. Or go mope and cry about it and see how that works for you. The problem is this: More and more of us are accepting the notion that we are victims. Not only that, increasing numbers of us are making demands — mostly from government agencies — to get something for nothing. More than half the people in this country receive some form of government largesse.

Victimization breeds dependency and helplessness; it feeds upon itself and leads to a cycle of destitution and despondency.

Breaking free of this malaise is easy — just not as easy as being a failure. It begins with a simple philosophical approach to life in which you accept this basic premise: “I have what I have in my life, because I chose for it to be that way.”

This is a profound truth, and one that has provided life-changing benefits to me personally. When you realize this — or even if you just try to accept it on blind faith — your life will change forever. Life begins anew every day, with every decision you make.

So, instead of watching TV, read a book and learn something new. Instead of surfing the Internet for idle entertainment and distraction, take an educational webinar about your business or industry. Learn something new every day, and apply it the next day. Take care of your body and show it respect. You’ll be amazed how quickly your life will change. Go the extra mile at work — follow up on loose ends, double check your work, ask for constructive feedback and take it to heart.

Being a success isn’t really some monstrous challenge that you tackle all at once. It’s really nothing more than a bunch of little decisions that you make every day. It can be as simple as showing up for work on time, ready to work and with a good attitude. It also means not being jealous or envious of the success of others. If they can do it, then so can you.

Don’t expect success to happen overnight — it happens slowly at first, and it entails lots of little steps grounded in a life philosophy of personal responsibility and accountability. You really can become successful — just take it one step at a time.

Steven S. Kirkpatrick lives in Chuckatuck. He is a consultant and advisor to entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout Hampton Roads. Email him at