My Definition Of Success | In the early stages of my career (and life) I defined success much like most other Baby Boomers, it was about the accomplishment of goals and attainment things, positions, honors, wealth and the like. Today, it is so much less about what I “get” and so much more about what I “give”. My personal mission statement is “to inspire people to believe in themselves, and become everything they are capable of becoming.” And on any given day where I may have inspired just one person to awaken to the limitless possibilities of their life, well that would be a really successful day.
I Am Driven By | I believe we are all here for a reason, to put our own little dent in the world, a dent that is uniquely ours. If we get to the end, and we haven’t done what we were put on this earth to do, it won’t get done. This may be better described as the extraordinary potential we were born with, the potential to live a life of meaning and contribution, to live a life that matters. As such, I am driven first to find my own voice – to live, work and lead aligned with my personal core values, principles, beliefs and purpose – as it is from this place (and only this place) that I can help other people find their voice so that they too can experience a life well lived as their best, authentic self.
A Key Talent | A while back when my grandfather (and my hero) Johnny Rocco was still alive we were celebrating his 90th birthday. He was one of those immigrants who landed in the states with nothing and went on to live an extraordinary life. We asked him what the keys were to his success and as a man of a few words he replied by saying one thing, ‘hard work’.
It seems I may have inherited this same ethic from him as I’ve never been one to shy away from hard work or working hard. Embedding this in all parts of my work and life has seemed to serve as a catalyst not only for achieving the things I set out to do, but also as a path for learning and development. I believe we grow when we are stretched and challenged. Working through these moments require an attitude of rigor and grit that are synonymous with working hard.
The best way to develop an attitude and ethic of working hard is to first and foremost be intentional about doing so. Most of us are aware when the going gets tough, and it is those moments that make or break us. Do you dig in and do what it takes to get the job or task done, or do you simply find a reason (and usually there are plenty) to walk away. By digging in, you start to develop the attitude and behavior you are looking for. And by ratcheting up the things we are willing to try and take on, even when we are unsure of our ability to do so, then seeing those things through, the ethic becomes stronger and stronger.
Life is simple, it’s just not easy. This being said, nothing worth having comes easy.
The Characteristics Of Success | I believe trust building and relationships are exceptionally important, and ‘doing what you say, saying what you mean and being what you seem’ (my definition of integrity) go a long way toward building both. Trust building and relationships take time however can be lost in an instant of untrustworthy behavior. Tread lightly and remember leaders always go first, extending trust or reaching out to someone new in an effort to forge a new and meaningful relationship.
There is also something to be said about grace, an ethic of kindness. Grace is not only something we need to extend to others but also to ourselves. As Plato said, everyone we meet along the way is fighting a hard battle. We could all benefit by giving each other and ourselves a break. An offer of grace can go a long way toward inspiring (breathing life into) another human being.
I am also a big believer in characteristics such as courage, character strength and commitment. Mindsets and behaviors that drive us to stand up for what we believe in, stay true to what we said we were going to do, be persistent in the relentless pursuit of our dreams and aspirations, and never give up.
Last and most important is our belief in ourselves. Every single one of us was born a ‘superhero’, an extraordinary human being with limitless potential. Unfortunately many of us experience life being told or getting messages that sound like “I’m not good enough or I’m not smart enough etc…” There are few things we could do that are more important than believing in ourselves, putting our capes back on and making the difference in the world we were put here to make.
Principles I Live By | My personal core values are integrity, excellence, discipline, humanity and significance. These are the ones that I feel are important to live ‘my’ life by however this does not make them right for anyone else. Each of us has our own set of core values; our deeply held beliefs about what is right and good. What’s most important is that we do the hard work of understanding and embracing what our own core values are. Then live our lives in alignment with them, not what somebody else tells us they should be.
I like to think of principles as universal values that the world agrees on. Examples include honesty, trust, relationships, fairness and grace or kindness. Universal principles can serve as wonderful guides for our lives and serve as common ground for societal norms. In cross cultural situations, it is always beneficial to act and behave in alignment with universal principles as odds are the people around you will believe in them also.
Performing At My Peak | It may be a stretch to believe that I (or anyone) am “always” performing at my peak. We are all perfectly imperfect human beings and each of us have “those days” when we may not be showing up as our best selves. This being said, I do believe there are specific things we can do to ensure we have many more good days in our lives. It begins with knowing who we truly are on the inside, what we value, what we believe in, and what purposefully drives us. From here, we have a mantra about “finding your dance floor”. This simply means finding and spending time with the people, spaces and places that are an expression of your own unique gifts and talents and that celebrate you for being you. And last is we must invest in ourselves by being very intentional about our own health and well-being, an investment if you will in our mind, body, spirit and emotions (heart).
For me, my performance is at a premium when these three things (know and understand myself deeply, find my dance floor and invest in me) are present in my life.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | I’d have to break this down into two parts, one is about perspective and the other is about choices. As far as perspective goes, one of the best lessons I ever received was from a wonderful mentor of mine who never seemed to get too overly emotional about things and as far as I could tell simply loved life. He used to remind me over and over of the famous quote from Robert Frost who said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” And in those moments early on in my career and life when everything seemed to be going wrong, these words always provided such good perspective and a message of hope.
A second favorite quote of mine is from Richard Paul Evans who said, “The most important story we’ll ever write in life is our own – not with ink but with our choices.” I do believe we are the authors of our own story and the choices we make day in and day out make up the words, paragraphs and chapters of our life. And our story is not only about the legacy we leave behind but the impact we have long after we are gone. Choose wisely.
Advice On Building Wealth | Much like Victor Frankl said in Man’s Search for Meaning, I believe monetary success or wealth should not be pursued. It should however be an unintended side effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself.
On Inspiring Others | My personal motto is if you love your folks to death, give them something to believe in, and obsess everyday about them becoming everything they are capable of becoming; everything else will work itself out. And it usually does.