Succeeding With Honour And Integrity – The Underlying Philosophy
What I share in this article is based on past and current achievements in which I have NEVER had to depend on any “Godfather”, or “Connections” to succeed in whatever I embarked upon. You do NOT need to concentrate your efforts on searching for someone to help you start from somewhere closer to the top in order to get to the top faster. Many times it pays to be able to go through the process of “building your success from the ground up”. This is not about re-inventing the wheel. There are certain experiences that one NEEDS to have in order to be fully competent to achieve at a certain level.
For instance, it is very unlikely that an upcoming boxer being likened by experts and bookmakers to “Mohammed Ali” because of the great skill and talent he shows in training, will fulfil predictions about him if he is not exposed to quality opposition. No matter how much his coach/trainer loves and believes in him, he ALONE will have to step into the ring and win EACH fight.
If someone outside the ring puts a drug in the opposing boxer’s drink or does anything else to “weaken” the opposition”, or influence the outcome of each fight, they would NOT be helping the “rising star” actualise the potential they believe he has. They would in fact be doing the exact opposite because he would never be driven hard enough to push himself to that crucial threshold point where every person who seeks authentic achievement digs deep enough into him/herself to discover his/her other self.
Trust me – I KNOW because I have gone through that process more than once:- Starting as a nobody in a new/different area of endeavour and then over time doing enough to earn the recognition and respect of all around me – including those who previously wrote me off, saying I could not do it(something that made me even MORE determined).
If you want to achieve authentic success that is truly YOURS and for which you will not have to tolerate or endure ANYONE say you owe him/her for it, then follow the ideas I offer here. People may do one or two things that help you on your climb up to success – no doubt about that. No man or woman is an island. The fact however remains that if you do it right, EVERYONE who sees you succeed will acknowledge that you DESERVE the success you eventually achieve. The key to succeeding with honour and integrity is to aim to EARN that success by putting in the necessary effort without seeking to cut corners in order to get there faster or with less pain. It’s that simple.
Success Will ALWAYS Mean Different Things To Different People
Success means different things to different people – and very often it has LESS to do with money or material possessions, and MORE to do with self-fulfillment.
But some people find it difficult to understand that TRUE success – even for themselves – really needs to go beyond having money, power, influence, wealth or fame. They fail to realise that TRUE success is best defined(in my “humble” opinion :-)) as Emerson once stated:
“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!” – Ralph Waldo Emerson :
In my opinion, a humble beginning can be just as good as a quick rocket-like jump to success. In fact many times, the person who starts from a humble beginning may arrive late to the top, but actually end up staying there LONGER and doing BETTER than those who got there earlier.
The Reason: A humble beginning challenges a person to dig deep within him/herself to discover his/her other self in order to succeed. That self-discovery subsequently equips him/her to perform optimally in virtually every area of endeavour s/he SUBSEQUENTLY ventures.
Questions To Ponder About Success And Humble Beginnings
This may not make for pleasant reading – initially – but it is true that some people fail to understand that life cannot be viewed from the same perspective by everybody. Over the past five years, I have had cause to ask myself the following questions following my interaction with certain types of people who tried to force their fixed ideas/opinions down my throat. The reason they did this was that they questioned my willingness on many occasions to endure considerable lack – and even risk financial ruin – in order to achieve my purpose. Ironically, quite often I eventually succeeded(to their un-ending embarrassment)!
Here are twelve(12) questions I have had to ask myself while pursuing a humble beginning to my desired successes, because of these types of people. Depending on the kind of thinking that prevails in your socio-economic environment, if you are working to achieve YOUR OWN success with honesty and integrity, you might just find yourself asking the same questions too!
1. Why do they think because they put their love of money above all else, that every other person does(or will) – and that anyone who says s/he does not is only pretending?
2. Why do they think because they want to(or have already) become rich quick, every person does(or will want to) – and that anyone who says s/he does not want to is only pretending?
3. Why do they think because they believe in oppressing less fortunate people with their “hurriedly acquired” riches or power, every person does – and that anyone who says s/he does not is only pretending?
4. What will it take to make them understand that not every one goes through life thinking ME, MYSELF AND I every single minute of they day?
5. Why do they find it so hard to believe that a person can undertake major self-denial/sacrifice in order to find a solution that works for a larger majority of people in society?
6. Why do they assume every other person thinks like them, and is not capable of doing something out of an honest desire to help others and WITHOUT expecting ANYTHING in return or having any ulterior motives for doing so?
7. Why do they think because they find it easy to lie about their achievements, that every other person will be the same? Why do they fail to see that some people have too much self-esteem, and are just too achievement oriented, to descend to the lowly levels of making false claims about their achievements?
8. What will it take to make them understand that there are some human beings(like me) who do not believe they need to prove they are better than anyone else. And who instead prefer to think of how they can help as many people as possible who need it become BETTER than when they first met them?
9. Why won’t they understand that life is more successfully lived when it is spent doing things that ultimately make the lives of others better?
10. Why is it so difficult for them to understand that everyone cannot follow the path THEY took to achieve their own version of success? Why can’t they see that many roads lead to the market, and that each person will find a route that suits him or her best?
11. Why does it take them so much effort to imagine that someone can be willing to wait and learn over a protracted period how to become a long term authentic success at what s/he does? Why do they think every one has to be in a hurry to get everything the way THEY are?
12. Why do they think if I really have money, or if I’m really financially successful, the only way to prove it is to adopt (or return to?) a high consumption lifestyle?
Note: With respect to the last question(No. 12), I will add that anyone who has read the book titled “The Millionaire Next Door” knows that most truly financially successful/wealthy people live lives of frugality and prudence, because that’s why/how they got to be wealthy in the first place!
For Greatness To Be Achieved A Humble Beginning May Sometimes Be Required!
According to the Bible, John the Baptist lived in the wild and ate locusts with honey. Yet he was the one who heralded the arrival of Jesus Christ whose birth is annually celebrated by millions the world over today. It was also John, who had the courage to face King Herod and publicly rebuke him for his bad deeds. John the baptist did not wear flashy clothes; rode no fancy horses/carriage and certainly did not have servants. And the manner of his death was not exactly what one would have expected for someone destined to play a crucial role in the making of history.
If John’s circumstances could have been THAT “humble and humbling”, despite the great role he was destined to play, how can anyone else who seeks to be great doubt that a humble beginning can lead him/her to succeed?
Don’t be misled. Don’t let THEM put pressure on you to do what goes against your feelings, values or morals. If you seek true success, follow the route that your heart tells you is right. Don’t let the “hurry merchants” deceive you into thinking getting there through ANY route brings the same rewards: I want you to KNOW THAT IT DOES NOT! Here’s a good way to know the difference:
a. A person who gets there quick/by cutting corners is SELDOM willing to take up a challenge to give it all up and start all over again from scratch – even if for the fun of it. In fact s/he would typically act TERRIFIED at such a proposal, and will often show desperation to ensure s/he never loses the riches already made or success/position already attained. And if/when s/he does accept to take up such a challenge, it is likely to be with the intention of cutting corners AGAIN to get it all back!
b. In contrast, the one who gets there though painstaking effort and perseverance, by learning to overcome humbling circumstances, will often demonstrate a calmness and confidence that is immediately obvious. S/he will act in a manner that shows his/her self-esteem is not derived from the presence or absence of whatever position, wealth, riches or fame s/he has acquired, but from a clear knowledge of who s/he is, and what s/he KNOWS s/he can do. In order words s/he will NOT be or act INSECURE.
What Would You Do If You Lost All Your Success & Wealth? Henry Ford(A “Humble Beginner)’s Answer…
One more thing. Anyone who achieves his/her success, wealth or fame via a humble beginning is likely to give a response similar to that given by Henry Ford when he was asked what he would do if he lost all of his wealth/empire. He is reported to have said…”I’ll have it all back in five years”. How could he have been so sure? Because he KNEW what he would have to DO to get it all back. He had done it before and he knew HOW to do it again to get the same results. If he had cut corners to get there the first time, he would never have been convinced he could produce the same results again.
That’s what passing through humbling circumstances to “claw your way to success” will do for you. It will make you KNOW yourself well enough to know HOW to make yourself achieve the results you want as many times as necessary. What could possibly be better than KNOWING that you can REPRODUCE your success REPEATEDLY, as and when you want? Nothing that I can think of – it’s the best possible way to live life!
What I Ask You To Do, I Have Always Done(And Will Continue To Do) – With Great Results To Show
And in case you are wondering, the answer is YES. I have done(and continue to do) exactly what I have said above. Early in my entrepreneurial career I met some entrepreneurs and so called elders who insisted to me that I was struggling to find clients for my services because I refused to “play the game” the way other entrepreneurs were playing it. Among other things, they referred to a widespread practice of offering someone(in a prospective client company for instance), a “piece of the action” in exchange for their influencing the award of a project. But having gotten used to getting ahead SOLELY on merit, by showing what I could do through most of my past life, I just could not come to terms with doing what they suggested. Here’s what I said to one of them:
“If you are a TRUE entrepreneur, and you are sure you are competent enough to do what you claim you can do, then I do not see any reason why you would feel a need to influence the process of getting chosen by a prospective client. I am in business to make money profitably by delivering services or products that ADD VALUE to my clients. Any client who wishes to have me work for him/her, I will assume believes I am capable of doing just that i.e. adding VALUE to his/her business processes or operations. And it is that value they expect to get, that will make them willing to PAY ME PROFITABLY to do it.”
You will not believe the number of people who looked at me sadly shaking their heads to indicate how sorry they felt for me, for adopting this uncompromising stand in an environment where – in their opinion – “buying your way” to get awarded projects worked better and more often – especially in a field like that I was engaged in(i.e. software development) which tended to be a bit “slow” due to a thriving software piracy industry.
Let me shed more light on how I see this issue, and how my perspective has helped me achieve the success I now enjoy in spite of expectations to the contrary.
The contact person that I meet in making my service or product offer to the prospective client will, I expect, have the potential value I promise to deliver in mind when trying to decide to hire or recommend me. If that is the case, s/he will therefore have NO REASON WHATSOEVER to ask me to share what I am going to be paid with him/her in order for her to influence the decision of the company in my favour. If I accept to do such a dis-honourable thing, I inadvertently admit that I am not as confident of my competence as I claim to be. Also I will be giving him/her the impression that I need him/her more than s/he needs me. Thirdly and consequently, I will LOSE ANY RESPECT I have as a professional before such a client’s representative.
None of these three possible “rewards” appeal to me. And that is why today I have gradually built a reputation for building custom Excel-VB driven software, websites, natural aquariums etc for individuals and organisations by asking for (and very often getting) my payment 100% in advance. That my clients accepted to pay me in this unusual manner I believe is a VERY strong indication of the fact that they were CONVINCED of the value I could add to them through provision of my services*. Just four days ago(12th March 2007), I got a call from the accountant of a large Lagos hospital to pick up a 100% advance payment cheque to build an automated cash book for his department. This is the third time in 2007 that I will be building this kind of application for a hospital here in Lagos. And each time I have used the more recent version to “sell” my services to the next prospective client.
It took me over four years to get to where I am now. Yes, I did have to endure repeated rejection and puzzling lack of patronage from those I thought really should have seen that my services could help them, BUT I never let that sway me. Today, I am able to command the favourable attention and interest of a certain category of prospects who are willing to pay me very profitably to serve them. The reality from the foregoing is that I am, by insisting on following the unpopular path, achieving my desired goals and success with honour and integrity. If you follow the ideas I have offered in this article, you can do the same for yourself.
*HINT: If you are wondering what exactly it is that I SAY to my prospective clients to get them to the level of conviction where they agree to pay me the way they do, I suggest you read my recent article titled “Win New Customers Repeatedly & Inexpensively, Using YOUR Public Speaking For Business Marketing System!”.
Identify The “Hurry Merchants” Around You, And Steer Clear Of Them!
I have met and in certain instances worked with (or studied closely) some business owners who call themselves entrepreneurs but display traits that suggest they are not. By this I mean that they demonstrated in their daily actions a lack many of the most distinguishing qualities of true, authentic entrepreneurs: Vision, Passion, Creativity, Originality, Risk Proclivity; Willingness to endure prolonged periods of suffering, hardship and adversity to achieve their dreams the right way i.e. without compromising, or cutting corners; Enduring love for what they do, regardless of whether or not the desired financial rewards are being reaped etc.
These individuals I noticed tended to measure their progress(and therefore that of anyone else they met), in terms of how quickly and easily they could make money and almost nothing else! They tended very often not do discriminate about how they made the money. That’s why people like them are often prepared to buy their way repeatedly to get awarded jobs.
The above are some of the distinguishing characteristics of the “hurry merchants” I would suggest you avoid spending your quality time with – or more importantly – taking advice from about how to go about achieving your success. Over a year ago, I wrote an article titled “Avoid Taking Lessons On Entrepreneuring From The Wrong Person(s)” and another titled “Why You May Want To Rejoice When Others Mock You!”. I suggest you read both of them for more ideas.
Do you want to be successful(financially and otherwise) and at the same time have PEACE of mind without EVER feeling threatened by anyone else?
If YES, then take my advice: Adopt a humble beginning in your pursuit of success, so that you can learn the rudiments of how to build your success from the ground up. That way, no matter how many times you may fall or lose anything you have(and this CAN happen to prepare you – if you let it – to succeed at a higher level!), you will KNOW how to get it back again, and again, and again. You would by so doing be able to achieve what is called SUSTAINABLE long term success.
There is nothing wrong with a humble beginning. If that’s what you find yourself having, BE GRATEFUL, and use it to your advantage. In future, when you have succeeded, you’ll be glad you did!
FINAL WORDS: For those who may feel that the “tone” of this article suggests I am trying to show off or blow my trumpet(i.e. I am not being humble…or not humble “enough”), I will say that my attitude has always been that it does NOT do me or anyone else any good to keep useful information in my possession away from those who may benefit from using it simply because I want to avoid being perceived to be “UN-HUMBLE”!
Lastly, I believe it is not wrong or bad to be humble, but it will NOT help you to become OVER-HUMBLE! Read my article titled “To Perpetually Achieve Noteworthy Success, You May Need To Be Moderate In Your Humility” in which I explain how Mohammed Ali became a great boxing legend by being EXTREMELY moderate in his humility without becoming arrogant.