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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Self Reliance – Secret To Success

Self Reliance – Secret To Success

By Terry L. Brock

“If you always lean on your master, you will never be able to proceed without him. It is part of the American character to consider nothing as desperate; to surmount every difficulty by resolution and contrivance [planning].” Thomas Jefferson to his daughter Martha, March 28, 1787

You can’t depend on another to create your success. You can’t depend on someone else to do your marketing for you. This has been true through the centuries but even more so today. You have to be not only pro-active (positive and forthright) but pre-active (seeing what is coming and positioning yourself for it). This is most important in a hotly contested political year. We can’t depend on any candidate to solve our problems.

Many feel that if they only elect “the right one” that our problems will be solved and the world will be a better place. History has shown over and over the fallacy of that approach. If people fear that the “wrong one” will be elected, they embrace frenzy and arguments that erupt in place of civil discourse. However, the truth is that your life success is 99.99% up to the one you look at in the mirror.

In marketing, you can’t depend on someone else or the economy. You have to generate leads, prepare diligently, implement decisively and make your own path. You have to work hard to make sure business gets positive results. When (not if) others let you down, you learn to anticipate it and have plans in place to deal with the issue and get results --- on your own. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, right where you are.” This “make it work regardless” attitude is what propels all successful people forward. Losers spend time blaming others for their problems and always looking for a savior (read political candidate) who will magically do all the work necessary.

This doesn’t mean you operate alone. Successful people today bring in lots of others around them to work in a value-for-value way achieving goals. However, you don’t depend on the others for your success. You accept 100% responsibility and help others as they blend their lives around you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his famous “Essay on Self-Reliance” which I consider a must-read in this wonderful, adventurous journey called life. In that essay he admonishes us to rely not on the whims and passing fancies of the day, but to rely on our own skill and fortitude to face the incertitudes of life. This is true in business. We don’t know the future. Mistakes are often made believing that the past equals the future. Life is constantly presenting us with new ventures, new opportunities and new challenges. What worked in the past will not necessarily work in the future. Therefore, the wise regularly adapt, change and morph continually into what will pragmatically be effective today. This is real success.

Take control of your own destiny for your business success. If you’re in sales (and aren’t we all?), don’t rely on someone else to generate leads for you. Make it happen. If you’re in management delegate tasks, (Peter Drucker helped us enormously with this important admonition) but don’t stop with delegation. You have to take responsibility for follow-up and confirmation that the task is completed. Ultimately it is up to you.

Educate yourself continually. Thomas Jefferson believed that education was not preparation for life but a way of life. This is the creed of the successful businessperson today. Learn relevant, profit-building and productivity-enhancing technologies and principles on a regular basis. Change and adapt as times change and new technologies emerge. Regularly budget your time, money and effort (TME) for skill and knowledge acquisition in those areas that will benefit you and your company.

This realization makes life exciting. Your success is not dependent on the person elected! You are not dependent on the representatives who happen to win an election. Frankly, you have as much control over that as a mosquito burping in a stadium. Instead, you have full control over your own reaction and what you are going to do about your own business and your sales. Take matters into your own hands. Rely on what will work for you practically and in a tangible way. Focus on helping others and making their lives better and good will inevitably come back to help you.

So why not make it your goal today to do something on your own, to help others and build your own sales and business? Make the extra sales call. Learn that extra worthwhile business-building skill. Go the extra mile.

Somehow I think this level of resolution and commitment to achieving success would make Thomas Jefferson proud.

Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at