Episode 77: Success is Just Beyond Your Fears

Do you ever wonder how some people achieve success and make it look easy? You can too! Jimmy shares three powerful strategies to not only achieve success on your own terms but sustain it.

Episode Keys

  • Defining success on your own terms.
  • How to eliminate the negative atmosphere and people that are holding you back from realizing your potential.
  • Why it is important for you to measure your progress from looking back in time instead of looking at your ideal future.
  • What type of person Steven Tyler, the lead singer and rock star of Aerosmith, is when he is not on stage!
  • The role discipline plays in achieving and retaining success.
  • Why selecting your associations properly is important to your growth as a person and your ultimate success in life.

Podcast Transcription

Do you know how to define success for your life? How about success for your family? Or the company you work with? This is a very difficult question. So many definitions apply to what is success. But I want to give you today, some guidance that will help you define, achieve and sustain real success in your life. 

Hey, good morning! This is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life by Design. Your Monday morning moments of motivation to help you live a bigger, better, and bolder life on your own terms. I have studied success my entire life. Literally. When I was a very young boy, I took on enterprises that I could think about maybe turning my entrepreneurial spirit in to something that was successful in life. Now, I will explain. I actually did achieve success as a little boy. But let me define what that success was. There was this new bicycle called a ten speed Schwinn that was just new in the marketplace. I was a young boy, I was about 8 years old. And I was tall for my age and I thought, you know, if I could get rid of this old single speed bicycle that my parents had bought me that had been just perfect for running around town with my friends. It was a great mode of transportation, if you think about it in 1973, but here came a ten speed bicycle. 

Now I didn’t live a very sheltered life. I knew about three speed bicycles. But think about this. Ten speeds must have allowed me to go at least 50 or 60 miles an hour down the road under my own power. Well, at least that’s what I thought. To succeed in life was to own this ten speed bicycle. And there it was, right there in the store waiting for me to purchase it. There was just one little thing that stood in my way is I didn’t have $71. You’re gonna laugh, that was a lot of money back in that day. This was a brand new, bright blue, Schwinn ten speed bicycle. So I set my mind to work on how could I achieve success as defined then, with this ten speed bicycle? And I did about everything you could imagine as a boy. I sold flower seeds. I threw newspapers. I picked up aluminum cans. I mowed yards. I did handy work for anyone. Now, handy work at my age then was simply this, picking up rubbish and taking the trash out and so forth. Maybe doing some painting. 

Success as I defined it then was ultimately achieved as at the end of summer my father takes us to town, he stands with me beside that bright blue bicycle and he says these words, “Son you have enough to buy that bicycle. Do you really want to spend all your summer earnings on that bicycle”? And I looked at my dad, I’ll never forget this, I was about eight or nine years of age, I will never forget what I said to him, I said, “I have worked all summer for this reason right here”. And I pointed at that big blue bicycle. Well, as you can only imagine, I was getting it adjusted, the seat adjusted. Tire air pressure maintained properly. I was making sure the chain was oiled and so forth. And we did all of that before we left the sporting goods store that day.

I literally rode that bicycle out the front door of that store with my dad yelling at me, “Don’t ride in the store!” I peddled out the door of that store into the parking lot, which I wouldn’t recommend kids to do today. But I had the best time sustaining the success I had by riding that bicycle around town. I’m not gonna kid you, man, my head was held high as I could get it as I peddled past my friends on their simple single speed bicycles with banana seats. Man, I had the cream de la cream. I had the best thing you could buy of bicycles in 1973. A ten speed bike. Little did I know that the luster wears off those ten speed bikes after you’ve been peddling them a few months.

You know, they become just another asset, right? Just another item that you own. Whereas before I would always make sure my bike was on the porch, or in the garage and it was standing up. It wasn’t just a few months later, as winter approached, that I just laid it down out in the yard and went in the house. It’s just one of those things in life that I grew as a person after that and the luster of the new bike did not appeal as much. 

So let’s talk just a few minutes about success. Why is it so hard for people to attain? The simple answer to this latter question is fear. People fear failure to the point they don’t even attempt to bring their dreams to reality. In this episode of Live a Life by Design I will share with you three powerful strategies that have been the catalyst to my success in life. Success is not the simple presence of material wealth. No! It is far more than the simpleton explanation that I have a lot of assets and money so that must mean I’m successful. Folks, I know people today who had success at a point in time and by their lifestyle, their emotional imbalance, or simply because of a lack of wisdom no longer have success. It flew in and out of their lives as quickly as it could. And they are not the better person because of it.

Success is that recognition of your contribution to the benefit of your profession. Or to mankind in such a way that you have changed the world for only a brief moment in time. To make the world a better place, a challenge I gave our daughters as they were growing up and looking for their passions in life is an admirable dream. But is it attainable? Empathically I say yes it is! 

The first strategy I use to reach and retain success is focusing on the positive inputs in my life. You notice I said positive inputs. You see I don’t give a whole lot of time to things that I don’t enjoy or that are negative. Whether that be people, places, or things. I’m going to share a secret with you today, and I’m only sharing it with the thousands and thousands of our subscribers across the world. We are blessed to be in 28 countries now. And I am excited to share this secret with you today. I dislike broccoli. I mean I dislike it immensely. What does broccoli have to do with success strategy, you ask? Well, nothing really except that it is something good for you, but I don’t appreciate the taste. Now, if that’s the only thing I’ve got on the plate that night and it’s either eat broccoli or go hungry. I’m gonna give some serious thought to the hunger pains I’ll feel later tonight. I just have a distain for broccoli. 

But the experience of eating broccoli, it just wasn’t positive to me as a child. And as a little boy, my mother prepared wonderful dinners for us. She is quite the cook and baker. I mean, we just didn’t have food, we had deserts big time. But she literally forced me to eat broccoli. Now as an adult I choose the foods I enjoy and are healthy for me. Some not so healthy, but that’s another story. Instead of eating the foods that I do not enjoy. The same mindset should be applied to all phases of life if you wish to reach the pinnacle of success and stay there. Don’t  compromise your principles in life to simply get ahead. This is a fleeting moment of success. You must uphold your principles to achieve and sustain true success.

When asked what was the most important valuable item to them, money or assets, a list of 100 multimillionaires that was a poll taken, gave assets and money the number five out of a list of ten items as to what they valued most. You’re wondering, well, wait a minute, what were items 1 – 4. You know, what could have been so important to them, the wealthiest of the wealthy that they only listed money and assets at number five. It is not the accumulation of wealth alone that brought them success. It was the person they became while achieving success that truly made the difference. One of the most valued traits of being successful is their approach to living optimistically. They expect good things to happen to them and for them. 

Spend a few minutes with someone that you believe is successful. In the way you define it. And notice how they speak. Their demeanor. Their dress. The care they take to be mannerly and a gentle person. One particular characteristic about successful people is that they value their freedom more than the wealth they’ve accumulated. Yes, it takes assets to live a life of freedom, but the money isn’t the end, but the means. You see, too often we get these backwards. Too often we say, if I can only work this hard, sacrifice and do myself a very difficult life from a to z, I can get rich. Folks, I’m not talking about riches. I’m talking about success. 

And if you wish to have a lot of money, you must first be successful to keep it. If most of the successful people I know and admire were to lose their wealth tomorrow, through whatever catastrophic event that came their way, I assure you that each and every one of them would be right back to the same successful state in life that they were before the incident in just a short period of time. And why this is, is because it’s more about your principles, your thoughts and your values in life, than simply making money.

Focus on the positives in your life. Your religious beliefs. Good books of other successful people and friends that are similar to you in seeking goals and achievement. One of the simplest methods of changing the lives of others is to spread positivity with whomever you meet. We would be appreciative if you would share the podcast link with friends that may need a little boost in their mental energy and self esteem. By sharing this podcast, you will be creating a bond that will be forever remembered for the difference you made in their life that day.

Thank you to Adam for a five star review on iTunes recently. Adam stated, “These podcasts are a great way to start the day and one of my favorite things to listen to on my long five hour car rides back home from college. I’ve even got my dad hooked on them now. Great work.” Well, thank you Adam, for those kind words and that five star review. It simply takes a few seconds to change the way someone feels about themselves and the world that you reside in. 

So, the second strategy is to purposely seek the friendship and fellowship of people I admire that have achieved tremendous success in their chosen field. In my life, I have been very fortunate to meet some of the most successful people in the world and always left them thinking, hmmm, I could do that. The list of the occupations and names of these people are irrelevant to our discussion on success. But what is critical are the traits exhibited by these wonderful people that attracted me to them in the first place. 

One such occasion was in 2010. Ten years ago. I was walking out of the entrance of a five star hotel, the Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel. It’s a member of the Waldorf Astoria chain. I’m talking it is plush. And I was honored to stay in this hotel. And standing in front of me, as I stepped down those marble steps in the front of the hotel was a man I recognized. I’d never met, but I knew who this man was simply by his outward appearance and his voice. I heard this familiar voice as I walked down the steps, looking at the steps to make sure I didn’t fall or anything. And I’m looking and hearing this voice and I said, it just can’t be. It can not be who I think this is. But it was. 

Ladies and gentleman, I walked right up to Steven Tyler. Mr. Tyler is the frontman for the rock supergroup, Aerosmith, and at the time had just assumed his role on the popular tv show American Idol. Well what ensued was a valuable lesson to me. Tyler accompanied by a rather large bodyguard lit a cigar and provided me a great lesson on the value of experience in life. As he regaled me the story of his very humble beginnings. And how he had risen in his career through discipline. And I do mean discipline. The practice of his instrument, the dance routines he uses on stage. The voice lessons he still takes to this day. The practice he puts in literally hours a day to refine his craft and talent, achieved success for him as he defined it. And at the point of walking down the street, simply talking to this man that has been at the top of his field of entertainment gave me some great motivation in life. 

Now some of his experiences really didn’t appeal to me. You can imagine what they were in the rock and roll business. However, the frank discussion about business, family, his wife at the time was from Tulsa, Oklahoma. We knew some common people that he had mentioned. And how to brand yourself for attraction of success, I found these stories and lessons to be invaluable to me. His raspy voice and friendly demeanor created an air of a simple man that just happens to be a rockstar. His on stage persona was nowhere to be found during our two blocks walk from the hotel. Instead his kind comments and friendly nature gave me even greater motivation to exceedingly ambitiously seek another level of success in my own field. I was walking out of a five star Waldorf Astoria hotel. I had reached some degree of success. But he helped me see that there’s even more potential in the dreams that have yet to become reality in my life. 

And I hope you have those dreams. You know it is sad that when men die with their dreams still within their minds as opposed to them becoming real in their life. You should be achieving your goals and dreams in life. This should be a purpose each morning you get up. To get closer to those dreams and goals that no one else could touch that are simply your life unfolding in the manner you wish. 

Well, since this chance meeting with Steve Tyler, I have been fortunate to share moments of opulence while dining in a five star restaurant located within the Eiffel Tour of Paris, France. The service was impeccable. The food was just delicious and the view and ambiance could hardly be described. As we looked across the cityscape of Paris that evening. As the lights changed every hour on the Eiffel Tour, blinking different colors. I looked at my wife and our two daughters and I simply said, “I’m a blessed man”. We have opportunities given us in life that we must seize them if we are going to achieve lasting success. 

I captured the moments of visiting Paris, all the historic sites. Versailles, the Louvre. We took in every site we could and then we went to the one big reason, the one site and location of why we went to Paris in the first place, you guessed it, Euro Disney. Our younger daughter Gabrielle had a goal in life, she wanted to visit Euro Disney and all Disney installations at that time across the globe. That was her dream. Her goal. And we wanted to help her make this dream come true. So we spent about 10 days in Paris and had one of the best vacations our family’s ever experienced. But it’s not just the places you go. The places to stay. It’s not the people you meet. It’s some of those people you meet that leave a more lasting impression than others.

Let me tell you about some of the great fortunes I’ve experienced in life by spending time with legendary coaches. I’m talking about coaches when I say their names on the podcast you will immediately flash back to the era in which they earned their greatness. The hall of fames for their respective sports currently holds up their likeness and it is phenomenal the stories and lessons you can learn if you’ll simply listen and take note of what got them their success in life. I’m talking about people that use hard work, discipline and ethics as the baseline for their performance. Everyday, never wavering. I’m talking about people like Joe Gibbs. Former coach of the Washington Redskins, now a Nascar Hall of Fame member as well. He not only got into Nascar, he had a four car team in Nascar to this day. He has known success and continues to stay at the top of his game because of his hard work, discipline and ethics. To hear the coach talk, I was just enamored with what he would say and how he would define those important things in life and he didn’t mean holding up the Super Bowl trophy. He talked about the player that impacted his life that without football would not have had a chance in life. That that was their only opportunity, the physical and mental prowess they held for the game to take them to the top of their potential success.

I put on that Super Bowl ring and took my picture with it and it felt like it weighed five pounds folks. This man had this ring on his hand that looked like a bracelet on a finger. I mean it was humongous. And he said, you know, “It wasn’t the ring that made me feel successful”. And I said, “Well, Mr. Gibbs, what made you feel successful if it wasn’t the trophy and the ring?” He said, “No, it was the lives that were changed on that roster of a football team from the start of the season where we talked about our goals and dreams to that day in January when we realized the big dream”. The Super Bowl. Now that folks, is a powerful story that will motivate us. And then there’s also another coach. A little different style then, you know, what we’d see with Coach Gibbs. 

His name is Bobby Knight. Most people recall Bobby Knight as the coach that threw the chair across the gymnasium floor at an official to protest a bad call during the game. I’ll never forget that, it’s been played so many times on historic ESPN events, but Bobby Knight, respectfully known as ‘The General’ is a hall of fame coach as well, of the Indiana Hosiers, as well as the US Olympics basketball team. When I was talking with him, he asked of my background. I simply stated as I always proudly state, I’m from Oklahoma. And he real quickly changed his facial expression. Now, Coach Knight doesn’t always smile, right, but when his eyebrows went up and a small smile came across his mouth. I thought, hmm, I must have hit a nerve. He looked at me with those raised eyebrows, and he said, “Hey, you know my wife Karen is from Oklahoma. And she was a basketball coach”. And I said, “I did not know that”. But immediately we hit it off and the conversation continued for a great period of time until I felt I had selfishly taken way too much of this time. I kindly asked him to allow me to remove myself and excuse me and I left there with one of the biggest smiles on my face. You have to find similarities with people you share that this success will be something you can learn from and not to say you’re chasing their success but to take the lessons you learn and apply them to yourself and see how that will help you achieve your success.

The third and final strategy to not just achieving but sustaining success on your own terms is to remember to measure your progress backwards against your previous actions and progress. To see that you do not forget you are growing as a person and not trying to measure your success against your ideal person. You know, it takes actions. It takes attitude and you need to determine how much growth you have annually. I purposefully look at my goals every year and I go back to the previous year and say, did I not only make that goal, but did I sustain that and go even further? And I’m pretty tough on myself. Of all the evaluations I’ve had in my career from wonderful supervisors and partners of firms, they may have thought they were being hard on me to grow even more, I was even harder on myself. I give myself an evaluation each year as to my performance and most of the time I rate myself much harder than anyone else. 

But if you’re driven to succeed you tend to be harder on yourself than anyone. To become successful and stay that way, you must learn to measure your current status in terms of growth based on your past, not your future ideal self. In Strategic Coach, the coaching program I’ve now been a member 8 or 9 years, this approach is commonly referred to as going in the gap. What that means is, you’re measuring your performance to the ideal and I can assure you in life, and I believe Coach Gibbs and Coach Knight would say the same. There’s not one athlete that they’ve coached that hit 100% of their shots taking in the field. There’s not one quarterback that’s thrown the football for any size of length of pass that has hit that receiver and been caught 100% during a game. It’s just not done. The ideal is perfection. No one but one man achieved perfection on this planet. And it wasn’t Jimmy Williams. 

So, I don’t measure my progress against the ideal. I measure against my previous progress and actions from the prior year. I look to see if I achieved growth in several areas. Did I grow as a person? Intellectually as well as emotional for example. You don’t allow yourself to become a mediocre person. You set for yourself goals that will require you to stretch beyond your current capabilities. I will honestly say, I have not reached 100% of my goals in the last 20 years. And, man I have hit them hard. I’m talking 82%, 90%, 92-93 maybe the highest I achieved in one year, but I never hit 100%. And I didn’t look at that and say, hmmm, well, I failed. I looked at those 92% years and all that was accomplished and how I had grown in my areas of skill. Or attitude. Or helping the team grow. These were all important parts of that goal achievement and I looked at each one of them looking back and said yes, we did it. We reached the goal at least 92%. That 92% goal, though, and I’m being honest folks, would embarrass some of you when you look at your own. I mean I don’t just write down simple goals. I put stretch in the middle of them, and it makes me as a person reach down deep for that discipline everyday for that ethics of a person everyday. And for me to have that ability within myself it’s a daily function. 

So don’t allow fear of failure to cause you to live a life of regret. You do not want to live life thinking what could have been instead of I’m glad I did. You possess the ability and discipline to achieve success as you define it. Be daring, be bold. Swim against the current of the world to make your life what you wish. Don’t we all want to live a life by our own design? And that was a shameless plug to this podcast. You are the only person that can give you lasting success on your terms. Check your attitude at the door. That will not get you where you want to go in life if it’s not the right attitude. Proceed to real growth that will help you become and stay successful. 

These three powerful strategies, practiced everyday, will attract success to you before you realize it has happened. First, only allow positive people and experiences to occur in your life. Second, purposely seek out people you admire that have earned their success and talk with them. Share with them. Find out the real truth behind all that hard work that appears they didn’t have to do because they’re so successful. I assure you they had to put in the hours. Lastly, don’t measure your progress through the lens of the ideal. But rather by looking back to see how far you truly have come. This week, change your approach to life to not only see your dreams, but realize them. Don’t allow others to keep you moored to the world of mediocrity that they claim. You are more valuable to this world than to simply breathe air and occupy space. Reach down deep, in your heart and seek a higher calling to make the world a better place. The best memorial you could leave this planet is the admiration and joy shared by millions of people because of the change you brought in their lives. Go out now, and change the world for good, by living your life by design.

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