The secret of my success really isn’t a secret at all. When I say success, I am not talking about money, status, or power. I am speaking about fulfilling a dream or accomplishing a goal. Anyone who has achieved any amount of success knows that it comes from a combination of factors. I like to think it results from applying the three C’s, equally as potent and essential as the vitamin: confidence, courage, and commitment.
What does confidence have to do with being successful? Everything. Whether you intend to or not, you leave an impression everywhere you go. When you lack confidence, everyone can see it in your facial expression, your body language, and the way you carry yourself. If you do not believe that you are talented, intelligent, capable, valuable, or worthwhile, it will be hard to convince someone else that you are. However, when you have a positive self-image, people take notice right away. The way you view yourself is the way others will view you, as well.
When I began teaching high school, I was not sure what to expect. I did not go to college with the intent of becoming a teacher. Therefore, I had not taken any education courses or had any formal training in teaching. During my interview, the vice principal commented on the firmness of my handshake. I did not give him a wimpy, wet noodle handshake. I gave him a solid shake and looked him directly in the eyes. He was impressed! He told me that my handshake sent a strong message-confidence. The first day I entered my classroom, I knew I would need to show the same level of confidence. I stood in front of my students determined not to let them break me. After two weeks, I realized two fundamental truths that have helped me throughout my teaching career. First, I will also be older and wiser than the students I teach. No matter how intelligent they are, wisdom comes from experience. Second, I am the expert in my classroom. Once you see yourself as a wise, old, expert, confidence comes easily.
Courage, however, does not always come as effortlessly. Poet, Edgar A. Guest, says “[c]ourage must come from the soul within.” It is often referred to as guts, nerve, or boldness. I believe confidence and courage are a package deal. In my experience, if you are confident in your ability, you are more willing to take the risk. Whenever you are pursing your dream, there is always a risk involved. There is always going to be the chance that you will fail. However, there is always the possibility that you will succeed. The only way to find out what will happen is to actually do it. Taking action is the major difference between those who live out their dream and those who talk about it. Those who live out their dream may have felt afraid, but they did not let fear stop them from moving forward. In the end, the important question you must ask yourself is: Am I more afraid of never seeing my dream become a reality than I am of trying to make it a reality?
Surprisingly, sometimes the sweetest success often comes after many failures. Of course, it feels good to get it right the first time. However, there is often an important lesson to be learned in the process of attaining success. Many people never learn the lesson because they never start the journey or they give up too early in the process. For instance, between junior high and high school, I tried out for cheerleading three times before I made it. After practicing with some girls who were on the squad, I finally learned how to do the moves correctly and made it. From that experience, I learned that asking for help can make a huge difference. I believe that the level of commitment you have will determine your level of success. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t stop until you do! The only goals in my life I did not accomplish are the goals I gave up on. In contrast, the most significant accomplishments in my life required me to commit a tremendous amount of time, effort, and sacrifice. With every endeavor, I have gained more confidence, become more courageous, and learned the value of persevering.
Be confident in who you are, bold in your actions, and committed to your goals. Whether you fail or succeed is a decision that you make. You have a choice. Choose to succeed!