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Under Construction! The Beauty of Investing in Building Your Path to Success Regardless of the Challenges

Under Construction!  The Beauty of Investing in Building Your Path to Success Regardless of the Challenges

BY: TRAVIS DONNELL WALKER J.D.

“Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development because success is something that you attract by the person you become. – Jim Rome

How do you spend your time?  The American Time Use Survey, which was published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, says that Americans spend most of their time working, sleeping and watching TV.  Does that sound about right?  Well, two of those are necessities for life, assuming that “working” leads to the ability to obtain resources like food, water, shelter and clothing.   The survey says that individuals between the ages of 15 to 44 read an average of 10 minutes or less per day.  Those between the ages of 45 to 75 read an average of 44 minutes a day.

Compare this to the average 2.8 hours per day we watch TV.

 Let’s add this up.

Professional and Personal Care Services

.09 hours

Educational Activities

.46 hours

Attending Class

.24 hours

Homework & Research

.19 hours

Organizational, Civic, and Religious Activities

.30 hours

Participating in Sports, Exercise and Recreation

.31 hours

That totals 1.59 hours of self-care/self-growth per day, a little more than half the time we spend watching TV. 

Success boils down to effort and opportunity.  The former usually dictates the latter.  It’s sometimes easier said than done.  You might be reading that last statement and rolling your eyes saying something like…

  • “You don’t know my struggle.”  
  • “I haven’t had a fair shake at life.”  
  • “How am I supposed to give more effort than I already give?” 
  • “My circumstances limit me, and you aren’t taking my circumstances into consideration when you make that statement.”  

 Let me tell you a story of overcoming adversity even when odds are stacked against you

  • A young woman grew up in a tough neighborhood.  Her parents both worked so at the age of 8 she had to babysit both her sister and brother.  It was a heavy weight for a young child to bare, and her story is shared by too many Americans today.
  • She became pregnant at age 16, left home, while making it a point to graduate high school on time, while raising a new-born baby. 
  • After marrying and having a second child, she divorced her husband, leaving this stay-at-home mother to get a job and raise two young girls on her own, while accepting no government assistance.  
  • Thanks to her work ethic, desire to succeed, and the kindness of her support system, she was able to get her children into a great school and remarry the love of her life, eventually having a third daughter.
  • She always made sure she “moved forward,” so she helped raise her two nieces, teaching them to read, count, potty training one of them, and also helped feed and clothe them.
  • She took in her nephew whose mother died in a tragic car accident and is now raising him as her own son.  
  • This semester all four of the children she raises under her roof, along with one of her nieces that finished 1st grade, received their highest grades (, all honor roll students.)  Two are in college, one of them is on the dean’s list while playing college soccer.  For the first time, her nephew earned straight “A’s” in consecutive semesters.  Her youngest daughter had the highest GPA in the class, is part of a gifted youth learning program delivered by Northwestern University and is skipping a grade.
  • She is accomplishing all of this while coaching soccer (her team won the championship in her first-year coaching,) supplementing the children’s learning where needed, and dealing with a pandemic.  

I know this story so intimately because I’m lucky enough to call this strong woman my wife.

How did she do it?  How do other successful people succeed?

Whether you have had perceived advantages that others haven’t had and you are already enjoying a certain level of success; or you are statistically supposed to fail based on your situation, as the person in the story, these 3 tips will help you achieve the level of success that you strive for.    

3 Tips to help you achieve success regardless of your circumstances:

  1. Max Effort Equals Results

  2. Personal Growth is THE Priority

  3. Surround Yourself with Champs, NOT Chumps

Max Effort Equals Results

Effort is free!
Are you giving your maximum effort?

Max effort equaling results is not a new concept.  Athletes talk about it; actors talk about it; CEO’s talk about it.  Exceptional work ethic is usually the first ingredient in making success a reality.  “Max effort” is not the same as “effort”.  Effort is saying, ‘I woke up on time, I went to class, I did my homework, I turned it in, and I got a C+ because I’m not good at math.”  Max effort is doing all of those things but waking up early to get extra help with math.  It is asking the teacher an uncomfortable question that might “make you look dumb,” so that you understand the answer.  It is jumping online in your free time to watch videos on the math subject you are struggling with versus playing video games or Tik Toking with your friends.  It is testing yourself before the exam to make sure you know the material.  All of this could take double the time you would spend on math and eat into time for more enjoyable topics.  But getting that B+ in math might make you eligible for a scholarship that you wouldn’t be eligible for with a C+.  Getting a B+ could lead to an opportunity to get that extra look from an admission officer that you wouldn’t have gotten if your GPA wasn’t boosted by the B+.  Getting that B+ now puts you at a school that has a significantly higher employment placement rate than the school that would have accepted you with that C+.  You now have a higher paying job, can buy a home, start a family, all because you gave maximum effort in a subject that was hard for you.  The reality is that it is not actually about the B+.  It is about the way you approach life and challenges. Consider the following questions:

  • Do you do all that is in your power to overcome challenges, or do you give in to your circumstances?  You owe it to yourself to make every decision count!  
  • What time do you wake up in the morning?
  • What are you going to wear to that interview?
  • What activities do you fill your day with?

All of this will bleed into the amount of effort you will give to get the result that you want.

Personal Growth THE Priority 

Our society has become one where we ask for more than we earn.  Unfortunately, we have created an entitled environment where we expect our food now (microwave,) entertainment now (TV on our phones,) social interaction now, (social media.). This has led to an idea that there should be a sense of immediacy to success because I put in some work.   However, we don’t fertilize our brains and bodies with the goodness that leads to personal growth.  Our priority has to be: how do I work on being a better version of myself today, than I was yesterday? How can one do this?

Finding time to invest in yourself is the most valuable investment you can make.

First, commit to reading daily. There are countless articles and studies on the internet that talk about how reading can improve memory or how it helps with visual and auditory processing.  It can improve your attention span.  It helps you focus and concentrate.  All things are important if you are trying to improve and grow towards your goals in life.

Second, explore the practice of meditation. Meditation is impactful to your personal growth.  It helps you be more mindful.  Meditation can reduce anxiety.  It has also been cited as treatment for physical and mental ailments like high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic pain or depression, all negatives when talking about personal growth.

Third, make exercise a priority. There are studies that talk about the effect of exercise on your immune system.  It can boost your white blood cells.  It helps with keeping your mind as it increases blood flow to your brain.  Physically, it also keeps you healthy.  Exercise is paramount to your personal growth.

Taken together, you participate in the process of personal development through learning. Learning anything new actually stimulates neurons in your brain.  The act of learning for learning’s sake helps to rewire your brain in a way that gives you the ability and knowledge to help you deal with the challenges that might be the way of reaching your personal goals.  Successful people will tout their curiosity as one of the most important qualities of their success.  If you are curious, you will learn.  Learning is the key to growth.

Additionally, it is important to remember that your growth isn’t going to come instantaneously, just as if you were growing vegetables in the backyard.  You don’t plant the seed and then come back five minutes later and say, “Where are my green beans?”  It takes time and nurturing to grow a garden.  And just like with your bones when you’re growing, sometimes growth is painful.  To do anything significant in your life, it will take time and pain.  So, get ready for it.  Embrace it.  Your personal growth is worth the pain.  Make it a priority in your life by planning time for it.

  • Put it on your calendar
  • Write down your goals
  • Have a journal
  • Make a reminder in your phone
  • Have an accountability buddy  

If you take one step closer everyday growing personally, you will see distinct results when you look back in 90 days.  

Surround Yourself with Champs Not Chumps

Keep your coach or mentor in your life to help you reach your life goals.

What tends to happen when athletes hang around with the wrong crowd?  When you reach a certain level of success in life, you have to surround yourself with people who will uplift you versus bringing you down.  You should surround yourself with people who are better than you.  If you are always trying to find people that are better than you, you will always be growing, and you will have to put in max effort to keep up.  When you find mentors, friends, counselors, coaches, and teachers that push you to find gears inside of yourself that you didn’t think existed, you find success at levels that you can’t imagine.  Allow yourself to be challenged.  Seek out feedback; don’t run from it.  Criticism, when it comes from a good place, is healthy and necessary to the growth process.  Your favorite TV show, or writer, or doctor, or politician, has someone that reviews their work and gives them direct feedback on how to make it better.  Don’t you want someone giving you direct feedback when you’re having a tough time reaching your goals?  When life seems to be too hard and you aren’t the parent you want to be?  When your job isn’t going in the direction you think it should and someone gets that promotion that you just KNEW you were going to get?  Personal trainers at the gym get results.  If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in every gym in America.  And what usually happens when a person gets rid of their personal trainer?  They go back to their bad habits.

  • Beg for it
  • pay for it
  • barter for it
  • Get someone in your life that will champion your goals verses being an albatross.  

Take these actionable steps that can help you overcome your circumstances and make your development a priority in your life, because YOU’RE worth YOUR time.

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