Sometimes it is hard to say goodbye to a good friend, especially when that friend gives good advice that you might have forgotten about over the years. That is what it feels like to realize that, last week, I finished writing about QUALITIES OF SUCCESS. I’m not saying that I will never write about them again; it’s kind of hard to be “done” with something that hits so deeply into the core of my beliefs about life in general and personal finance specifically. What I am saying is that I’m done with the series now that all of the qualities have been defined and described.
There is a little sadness here, because writing about the Qualities really has energized me, not only with FINANCE FOR YOUTH, but in my personal life as well, and now that this chapter is “done”, I feel a little sad that I won’t have the constant reminders of what the Qualities are all about. Luckily, having committed them to writing, those reminders will always be there for both myself and for all of you long after F4Y has signed off permanently.
I wanted to do a recap of all the Qualities, but I thought about it and decided against it. The Qualities are what they are: They don’t need to be distilled or clarified any more than they already have been. At this point, if you don’t understand the Qualities, no short blurb about them will be able to enlighten you. And if you don’t quite get the Qualities, don’t worry too much over them. They are difficult concepts to master (I’m still not there yet), there are a lot of them, and (for better or worse) they stray so far from what “conventional wisdom” tells us. If being truly successful is that important to you, working on the Qualities in almost any fashion will get you there. I don’t know anybody who has ever been able to get them all right immediately.
There are times when I’ve been asked about which of the Qualities are most important. Usually, I answer that they are all important, and that one can’t just easily quantify which is more important than any of the others. I truly believe this, but I also think that there are a few Qualities that, if not more important, are at the very least, first among equals. Those who know me well understand that three of the Qualities are ingrained so deeply into who I am that they define me.
HONESTY: If you think that there is any way for you to be successful while not being honest in all dealings, you’re fooling yourself. It can’t be done. Aside from the practical problems with trying to remember who you made what lies to and when (I know, there should be a diagram for that statement, sue Me.), there is the problem of when you get caught. Once you get caught in a lie (and you will be caught), everything you ever say after that will be viewed with skepticism (and rightly so), and people will spend time dissecting what you say.
INTEGRITY: Being honest all the time is good, but if people think you aren’t being honest, or if they think you are being evasive about something, they won’t trust you, the same as if you actually lied to them. You have to maintain your image in such a way as people are more inclined to believe you, not less. You may have even seen people like this. These are the people that you might not like what they say, but you know that they are giving you the truth. These are the people whose word is their bond, who close deals with a handshake, and you know that they will live up to their part of the bargain, no matter what. This is what you want to be at all times.
LOYALTY: As you grow and become more successful, you absolutely have to remember those who helped get you there, and you have to make sure that you are helping those who are helping you. Of course, your first loyalty is probably going to be to yourself and your family, but don’t forget good friends, co-workers, class mates, or anybody else who is fighting on your team. When the time comes that you see a chance for advancement, and the only price is you screwing one of these people over, let that chance pass you by. Whatever small gains you make are nothing compared to the cost.
Finally, I have given one Quality the position of most important. That is the Quality of HONOR: You will notice that once you have mastered the first three Qualities, as well as all of the others, that you will also have honor. Who you are will shine brightly through your words, your actions, and pretty much everything else as long as you stay consistent with who you are. Once you start acting in a way that is contrary to who you are, you start to dilute your image, and you lose honor.
While I am a little sad to know that I won’t be writing so exclusively on the Qualities of Success, I am also very excited to know that we can now move past the basics, and onto the details that will help you achieve the success you desire.
The next series will be an answer to one of the most common questions I receive. Almost daily, someone will ask me how I learned the things I know, where I got the wisdom that they see in F4Y: The Blog as well as when talking to me. While I might take issue with the concept of me having wisdom, I will be going into detail about where I have learned the things I have: From life. Honestly, I get a lot of it from watching TV and movies, and throughout this next series, I will go into some of the lessons I have learned from some of my favorite movies and TV shows. Of course, I also would like to have input from my readers. If you have learned something from a particular TV show, movie, or life event (how sad is that, I lump life events in with TV and movies? Really, it’s not a bad life…,), I want to know about it. Share the wisdom you have gained even as I share what I can.