published Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Roberts: There are two faces of success


by Dalton Roberts

Someone once told me the real purpose of life is to use our greatest talents to succeed, and I thought to myself, "That's only half of life." The other part is to tune into our failures for information.

I finally found a quote from Gandhi that said it like I saw it: "My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing as my successes and my talents."

I once read a life-changing book titled "How To Make a Habit of Success." Within a month of reading it, I doubled my salary. Within six months, I doubled it again. And it all came from one change in my mindset. That was studying my past little successes for clues to my big success and riding the talents I used to attain those little successes.

That seems to be contrary to what Gandhi said, but I don't think it is. It's two sides of the very same coin. The coin is success, and both mindsets are essential to our success. The one to become aware of our little successes is the most important, but learning what to do with our imperfections and failures is also important.

I have seen great men almost destroyed by one little imperfection. Like Bill Clinton. Like Richard Nixon. Our imperfections are like little time bombs we carry around with us all the time. They are not a serious threat unless we are unaware of them. Being aware of them makes you their manager and makes them less likely to go off.

I am glad I fixed the brakes on my car one time, although mechanical skills have never been my forte. The truth is my father poked fun at me for being unable to fix my cars. He could fix any car in the world, no matter what was wrong with it. Most fathers secretly want their sons to have all of their strengths -- and Dad had some powerful ones -- so he set in to make me an auto repairman.

The brakes on my Plymouth went out, so I bought the Plymouth repair manual and learned how to install new brake shoes and all the braking mechanism.

I skinned up both hands, but I finished the job. After I test-drove it, I came back to the house and washed up. Dad was sitting at the kitchen table working a crossword puzzle. I walked up and showed him my hands. I said, "Dad, those are the hands of a guitar player. I skinned them up to show you I could do work on cars if I needed to. Now please don't make fun of me again about my klutziness as a car repairman."

He grinned and said, "I didn't realize I was such a problem to you." Well, he was. Burt Reynolds said, "No man is a man until his father tells him he is," and there's some truth in that. I had to let him know what I could do if I chose to. I also needed to let him know I was not going to spend my life trying to prove it.

Ride your success traits hard as long as you live, but be aware you tote around a few time bombs in your toolbox.

Email Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.

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