Last month I had the privilege of speaking to a group of kids at a local organization’s youth activities banquet.  While the message was directed at kids between the ages of 8-18, it’s a message for all ages:

I recently heard a quote by Larry Page, the co-founder of Google:

“Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting!”

I found it to be a very inspiring quote. It’s a reminder that we should all challenge ourselves for personal growth.

Four days after hearing the quote, I was asked to speak at a youth activities banquet.

There I was, at a crossroads.  Did I believe in the quote enough to live it and accept the invitation to speak?

I was excited at the idea of speaking to an audience, but I have not written or given a speech since high school, a time when most of you weren’t even born yet. 

Did I want to challenge myself to do something uncomfortably exciting? The answer was YES! It’s important to me to push the limits of my comfort zone, and giving a speech after not having done one in 35 years, definitely fits the bill!

How does the dictionary define success? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines success as “favorable or desired outcome.” 

Notice it doesn’t say “title” or “money” but “favorable or desired outcome.”

Successes can be found everywhere, in all walks of life, and in any given profession or hobby.

Success is defined differently by everyone, but what you have to do in order to be successful, does not change. 

In order to be successful, you have to put in the time.  You have to do the work. 

Whatever your aspirations in life are, whatever your defined measure of success is, it will require effort. And lots of it.  Think back to when you learned to ride a bike. Or drive a car. How much work did you have to put in, in order to take off your training wheels? How much time did you practice driving your parent’s car before you got your license?

You simply cannot get around it. You have to put in the time. You have to do the work.  But if you love what you do, it’s not hard to put in the time or do the work.  So find something you love to do and believe in yourself and you will find success.

Secondly, surround yourself with exceptional people!  Most of your life, you will be part of a team. You were born into a team – your family. You had a team in school – your classmates. Maybe you play sports or play an instrument in band or maybe you are in theater and are a part of the cast or crew. If you go to college, perhaps you will join a fraternity or sorority. You are part of a team in a relationship. You are a part of a team when you join a company. 

My point is, very rarely does anyone truly go it alone in life. So why not surround yourself with the best and brightest! Be kind to one another. Support each other. Do not be intimidated by those who know more than you. Don’t forget YOU have something to offer as well. Embrace each other’s knowledge, learn from one another. 

As we say at Cadre, “teamwork makes the dream work!”

Thirdly, make your bed.  As funny as it sounds, making your bed sets the tone for your entire day.  If everything else falls apart in your day — and we all have days like that —knowing you accomplished something right off the bat, right away in the morning, does make a difference. 

Admiral William H. McRaven said it best when he addressed the graduates of The University of Texas at Austin in 2014.

“It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Just like growing a flourishing business, flourishing as a person isn’t something that is ever completed or finished, but rather is an ongoing process.

The original meaning of “flourish” is literally “to flower”.  A bloom is a “success”, but it isn’t a final product. Instead, the bloom produces the seeds of future growth. Change is constant. You never stop learning and growing. Set new goals to strive for. Find things in your life that are uncomfortably exciting. Don’t be afraid to put in the time and do the work. Surround yourself with exceptional people.  And always, always, always make your bed! :o)