173. Success Leaves Clues

If your head is not firmly planted into a book on a daily basis, you're not serious about taking your game to the next level. There are way too many books that highlight the success of people. And, if there is one thing I've learned as an avid reader, it would be the following:

Success leaves clues.

Every time I read a suggested book, I can almost always find a pattern. With great achievement comes great desire, hardship or challenges one had to overcome, consistency, persistence, service, and an insane amount of dedicated hard work.

All of those adjectives probably mean nothing to the average Joe. It may just be a string of cliche words they believe people say when they don't want to reveal the secrets to their success. But, for a person who knows better, for the avid reader who studies the patterns and clues in successful people's stories, we know that these are not just a string of words. These are themes that have been proven to be true throughout history. 

For example, I've just finished Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. Through all of the content about showing interest in others, bringing the best out of people, and finding ways to give instead of get, the most impactful part of the story -- for me -- comes at the end.

It's a short account about Dale Carnegie written by a Lowell Thomas in 1936. He writes about Carnegie's humble beginnings, his despair due to his lack of success, and the idea that brought him opportunities that he fully capitalized on. 

The more I read, the more I identified myself in the text. The more I began to see that this account was speaking directly to me. Thomas was leaving me clues about Carnegie's success, so that I could use those breadcrumbs to create a feast of my own. 

Here's what it says:

He went to work, selling automobiles and trucks for the Packard Motor Car Company. He knew nothing about machinery and cared nothing about it. He was dreadfully unhappy.

He longed to have time to study, to write the books he had dreamed about writing back in college. So he resigned. He was going to spend his days writing stories and novels and support himself by teaching in a night school.
— -Lowell Thomas, "A shortcut to distinction"

This reminded me of the time before I started teaching. I worked for a software company as a technical writer/instructional designer. I created training courses in the oil and gas industry for companies like Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Halliburton to name a few.

I felt limited in my role, and I didn't find the opportunity to grow within the company. I felt like my talents were being underutilized although I offered to do more. So, I sought meaning and purpose while longing to do what I've always dreamed of -- writing books. 

The moment I read about Carnegie's story, I knew I had to pay attention. Thomas was about to drop another clue. Obviously Carnegie had written books that changed many people's lives, so what was the process? How did he get to that point? It was time to look for the crumbs dropped along the way.

Thomas continues:

Carnegie urged the YMCA schools in New York to give him a chance to conduct courses in public speaking for people in business.

When the YMCA refused to pay him a salary of two dollars a night to teach, he agreed to teach on a commission. Within three years, they were paying him thirty dollars a night.

The course grew.

He started out conducting a course in public speaking but the businessmen and women wanted results and wanted them quick. So he was forced to be swift and practical.

Consequently, he developed a unique system of training.

Look what happens here. Carnegie has a desire to write books and help people. So, he identifies a need. He sees that public speaking is an arch nemesis to many people, especially those in the business industry. Once he helps people develop confidence by conquering their speaking fears, people flock to his course. Carnegie develops a tried and true method that delivers efficient and helpful services. 

In an effort to not make this blog post too long, because I could write a whole entire book about this topic alone, I can tell you that the brightest bulb shined in my head. I immediately asked myself:

In what way can I fulfill a need?

What materials will I need to create a solution for that need?

What system will I use to put these solutions into place and replicate it?

Although I had more questions burning inside of me, I knew that these were the three that were going to jump start something. I knew that it was not a coincidence that I was once an instructional designer, technical writer, and now I'm a certified teacher. How are we going to use all of those skills and certifications to elevate my game? How will this mix with my desire to be a best-selling author?

I think I have the answers to those questions. I've paid attention to all the clues around me. 

Get your head into a book. Find someone who is doing something that you like, and find all of the clues they've left behind. You'll soon discover that there is a blueprint within the words that will allow you to create success for yourself. 

Success leaves clues.