Take the Leap, Chase Your Dreams

Inspirational, Successful Climb to Mountain Sunset

If you haven’t noticed by now, I tend to write about such lofty and ambiguous ideas as following your passions, doing the most good, taking time to appreciate the simple things in life, and all those crazy concepts. “O, to be young and ignorant,” some may say.

I have my reasons for this, of course, and it comes down to one core principle: nothing, aside from God Himself, should be able to stop someone from achieving their goals and living life to fullest.

For each of us there are tasks and processes at which we exceed. There are often others which we greatly enjoy. Meld these two, and you find passion. Critical to the aforementioned core principle is taking passion, and harnessing it into three areas of duty: doing good for others, stationing yourself as a center of influence, and supporting yourself, your family, and anyone else applicable.

Easier said than done, right? It always is.

Aligning life’s passions with support and influence is often a determining factor in whether an individual becomes successful – success hereto defined as making the most of which you wish to make the most of. The immensity of this task in and of itself may well speak for its difficulty, but why should it matter at all?

We need to do good for others because that’s how we improve our wreck of a world – no, it’s not by making more money, go figure (though that can often be a nice bonus). “Do a good deed daily” is what we always said in Scouts. “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle,” is also a phrase that can be seen at the bottom of emails sent by several of my family members.

Your influence upon others and upon this world are what define success in life. There’s nothing better than contorting your passions to achieve this.

We need to station ourselves as a center of positive influence because that is what we are called to do, to lead by example, to let our faith show through our actions. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Better yet, be the change you wish to see in your neighbor or co-worker.

We need also to support ourselves and our families for the obvious reason of living expenses. More than that, we need to put ourselves in a position where we may simply have the time and resources to tend to our loved ones. This, of course, comes back to doing good for others – being there for those important to you. You may be noticing a trend.

Alas, individuals rarely combine passion with positive influence. Why is that? In my incredibly humble opinion, and I’ve been wrong before, so feel free to question me, this is largely because individuals do not take chances. A better way to say it may be that people often do not take advantage of opportunities because they are difficult and look like risk – a theory which certainly holds true for me.

Finance 101: Where there is great risk there is opportunity for great loss. Where there is no risk, there is no opportunity for loss. Sadly, this how we often view life events. If we don’t really try something, we’ll never need to worry about failure.

Everyone in the finance industry reading this is thinking, “Yeah, but with great risk you can also have great return.” That’s exactly right! Sure you may get burned, but if you never try to light a fire, how will you eat?

I’m not here to say “shoot for the moon, because if you fail you’ll land among the stars” (which is anyways scientifically inaccurate). But take a chance. If the opportunity you’re looking for isn’t out there, create it! If it’s out there, but it requires change, it’s probably time to shake up your routine anyway. Open that business, go back to school, move cities, start a band, adopt that child – do what you’ve been feeling led to do, but have talked yourself out of.

Follow your passions so that you may be a beacon of positive influence to the world.

I want to see people take advantage of opportunities. I want to see people taking hobbies and turning them into successful ventures. I want to see people making a positive impact in the lives of others. And I want to see people happy.

Nothing’s holding you back. Take a chance.


Kenneth D. Burke

4 Things Successful People Never Do

People often ask the question, “What does it take to be successful?”  The specific answer is different for every context, but more often than not the reply is to perform 3-5 actions relating directly to what one wishes to be successful, and 1-2 character changes or behaviors that are indirectly related, such as “read this book” or “be disciplined in a framework that works for you.”  After asking this question, myself, to dozens upon dozens of people I view as successful, I’ve realized several things that successful people DON’T do.  When I use the term “successful,” I’m referring to someone who has risen to the top of their field, usually very rapidly, who has become a very well-respected leader and teacher in that field, and who, often times (though, not necessarily), has large amounts of liquid assets and residual income.  The following four points are not based on what (very little, if any) success I’ve had, but on what I’ve discovered through discussions with those who are and have been very successful.  In order to get a full understanding of what I mean to convey, it would do you well to read the descriptions of each point rather to skim the headers.

#1  Sleep In

It seems like a no-brainer at first, but I can’t say I’ve ever known someone successful to get up at 7am or later, regardless of what day it is.  Those who have done well avoid slow starts to their day.  They don’t stay up late, and typically are up and about by 5am (ranging anywhere from 4:30-5:30 depending on their field of focus).  Resting for successful people doesn’t mean sleeping in, it means using that “free time” to read, do yard work, go to church, exercise, volunteer, research (for pleasure), join committees, or enjoy weekend getaways.  Successful people are constantly active in something that is fulfilling and self-actualizing.  Often this involves service to others in some capacity.

“But I’m a night owl, I can’t function that way.”  It doesn’t matter.  Do you really think you’re the only one like that?  Those who are successful don’t stay up to catch Jimmy Fallon.  They get up early to read, exercise, and plan their day well before 8am.  If you’re current body clock isn’t on that kind of time, change it.  If it’s a drastic time change, it takes about a month to develop the proper habits, so you’ll need to be disciplined and decide this is what you actually want.

#2  Accept Excuses or Failure

Everyone’s familiar with the “no excuses; failure’s not an option” philosophy, but not many (including myself) put that into practice.  To be fair, there’s a very fine line to teaching this concept between being a terrible manager and growing someone.   This is a mindset that has to be internalized.  If I know I have to get up at 5am to work out, plan my day, and get ready before 7am, “I’m too tired to get up” really cannot be at all acceptable to me or to those I’ve asked to keep me accountable.  If I know I have to set 10 meetings today for whatever reason, the fact that it’s already 5pm and I’ve got 9 set cannot be acceptable.  If I know I need to practice a particular facet of my craft for 3 hours today, and by 8pm I’ve only practiced for 2 hours, I still have another hour of work before bed.

Don’t stop until you’ve surpassed the mark you set before yourself.  If you stop prematurely, you’re only setting a precedent for what you’ll do next time, creating negative habits.  If you think one or two times isn’t a big deal, do a bit of research on neural pathways and habits.  Successful people have their goals.  They know what they have to do to accomplish those goals.  They do it.  No questions.  No excuses.  Successful people are reading this having to Google what the word “failure” means because it’s not in their vocabulary.

#3  Dress Like Everyone Else

Simple and possibly cooky, successful people do not dress like everyone else in their demographic (at least not before they’ve been successful for quite some time).  Whether it’s a sock and shoe combination, extra means taken on hair care, constantly making an artistic statement, or wearing a suit every day of the week, those who are successful dress like someone who has already been where they want to be for decades.  They don’t look like an up-and-coming anything, and especially don’t look the part only during “working hours.”  Successful people always dress how they ideally want to be perceived.  They look like they’ve made it big before they’ve come anywhere close to doing so.  They set a precedent for themselves and how others should view them from the very start.    In time, those around you cannot see you as anything other than how you’ve portrayed yourself.

#4  Think for Themselves

Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?  Aside from the rare Facebook and Apple computers situations of the world where one or a few person(s) has a novel idea and works their tail(s) off for it, those who have been truly successful are the ones that didn’t try to reinvent the wheel.  Somebody (if not thousands) before them figured out a method to follow to reach necessary goals.  Often this method has been found in the midst of many failures and learning opportunities.  If you’re an athlete, your coach has learned there are certain things to instruct you to do, and if you follow those insights you’ll do well.  That coach would also know that there are certain things that appear to be really helpful, but aren’t in practice, or aren’t as beneficial as other options.  In business, if you follow the numbers and ratios placed before you, you’ll succeed – that’s pretty straight forward.  In music, there are certain practices to help one improve their technical and theoretical skills.  Those who are successful in these and most other areas are those who don’t try to come up with some new way to get where they want to be.  They listen to the numbers, to the processes, to their mentors who’ve been there before them.  They put their heads down and do it.  No questions, no overthinking.  The statement I’ve heard a thousand times over is, “Don’t overthink it, just do it, and don’t worry about why or how.  Trust me, you’ll be thankful you did.”


Kenneth D. Burke