3 success secrets I learned from my dad

Here are three pieces of common-sense advice that anyone can follow.

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  • Editor's note: This article was previously published in the Gwinnett Daily Post. It has been republished here with permission.

  • We've all heard the old saying, "Aim for the sun and land among the stars." That analogy might not be astronomically accurate, but most of us get the gist: strive for excellence and, even if you don't quite get there, you will still have succeeded.

  • Obviously, in my quest for the sun, I landed somewhere among the stars. But that's OK. It's been a heckuva flight. I've gotten to do pretty much what I wanted to do in life, and that has given me a great deal of satisfaction.

  • Any modest success I've had, though, I owe to three things my dad taught me:

  • Start where you are

  • The "secret" to getting started on any endeavor is to start. Quit making excuses or waiting for just the right time. With apologies to Nike, just do it.

  • I remember a conversation I once had with a friend who wanted to be a medical doctor but was afraid to take the plunge. "I'm 35 years old," he told me. "If I start medical school right now, it will probably take me 10 years to become a practicing physician. By then I'll be 45."

  • "True," I said. "But if you don't start medical school right now, in 10 years you'll be 45 anyway and you still won't be a doctor." He went to medical school.

  • Use what you have

  • My middle son always dreamed of being a high school basketball star and he used to bug me all the time to take him to the gym. I did whenever I could, but I'm a busy guy, and gym time is hard to come by. Then I noticed that if he wasn't at the gym, he wasn't doing anything.

  • "Son," I told him, "you've got everything you need to become a better player. You've got a ball. You've got a decent goal and a relatively flat driveway. You've got a quiet suburban street for running wind sprints. Quit worrying about what you don't have and start using what you do have."

  • He took my advice and went on to become team captain and leading scorer his senior year and made the county all-star team.

  • Do what you can

  • I always wanted to be a writer. But, I went many years without writing anything. Then I realized, in my late 30s, that if I was ever going to write I'd better get started.

  • At the time, I had a very demanding job and four young children. But I mapped out a book, resolved to set aside one hour a day, and started writing. I was amazed at how fast the pages piled up — and that manuscript eventually became "Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility," which is doing pretty well, thank you.

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  • I'm grateful to my dad for teaching me those simple principles of success. And the best thing is, they'll work for anyone — anytime, anyplace.

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Rob Jenkins is a newspaper columnist, a happily-married father of four, and the author of "Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility," available on Amazon. E-mail Rob at or follow him on Twitter .

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