You’ve read all the books, listened to the tapes, and attended the seminars. You most likely already know what steps you have to take to ensure your success. Knowing the right steps is a good beginning, but it’s not enough. Sometimes, it just takes good old courage, to succeed. I once heard that courage is not the absence of fear, but instead, it is the conquest of fear. Do those things that others, who are less successful, just don’t, won’t, or can’t do.

In W. Clement Stone’s book, The Success System That Never Fails, he used the phrase, “Little hinges swing big doors”. I can close my eyes and picture it, can’t you? It’s a powerful image, isn’t it? In other words, it is the little things that can and absolutely do make a very big difference. What follows isn’t anything new, but I hope that it will provide you with a B.G.O.-blinding glimpse of the obvious. Rate yourself on how you’re doing in area. Be critical, but not overly so. Then, write down one or two actions that you will take in each area to move closer to achieving the success you desire. Let’s take a closer look at how COURAGE can help you to succeed not only this year, but in the years to come as well.

C = Commitment--Commitment to yourself, your family, your organization, your spirituality, commitment to your goals, and to be the best that you can be. Commitment requires action and action requires both a written plan and a tracking system. Just keeping track of what you commit to in your head isn’t enough. Write down your commitments. Verbalize them to those people you trust and respect and who will help to keep you on track. Check your progress regularly and make the necessary course corrections as required.

O = Organization--Be organized. Plan your work and work your plan. Remember that being organized is only half of the equation. Peter Drucker has the other half, he says that: “Efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things right.” Why not plan on being effective? There are many tools on the market today to help keep you organized. I have my favorites and I’m sure you do too. Are you using those tools to obtain maximum results? I find that from time to time my use of the system deteriorates into nothing more that a glorified to-do list. A plain sheet of paper can do that! Once every month or two, check to see that whatever system you are using is keeping you focused on tying in your goals, values, and commitments to your daily actions.

U = Understanding--Make it a daily habit of increasing your understanding of yourself, your clients, your family, and the people with whom you have daily contact. Books have been written about this subject. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that behind every sale is a person. The topics and solutions you present to your prospects and clients may not be new to you, but may represent new thinking or revelations to them. A wise associate gave me some advice when I was in my first year in the business. He said that, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. Remember to listen with your ears, but hear with your heart.

R = Responsibility--You and only you are responsible for your own success. It can be easy to complain about not having the right tools or training or systems in place to help you to be successful, but the bottom-line is that only you have the control to do what is necessary to guarantee your own success. Become a student of the business. Not just the nuts and bolts about the products you sell and the forms you need to fill out, but also, the business of running a business. Embrace the lifelong learning philosophy.

A = Activity and Attitude--Howard Wight, a past main platform speaker at MDRT meetings said that you control two things in your career; your attitude and your activity. Skill is rarely the element that distinguishes productivity. Fortunately, we have many commercial and company specific tools to help to keep us on track in these important areas. I heard Zig Ziegler speak at a conference several years ago; he asked the group two questions that I’ll never forget. They were, “When was the last time you had a check-up from the neck-up”, and “Do you suffer from hardening of the attitudes?” Two simple questions, yet they are very profound. Activity is the other key to productivity and success. Develop a bias for activity. Don’t have too many good ideas and not enough people to share them with. Talent without action ceases to exist. In addition, develop the capacity to relive your successes. Why do most people dwell on the few times something didn’t work out and ignore the majority of times that goals were met and successes achieved?

G = Goals--Your goals need to be of your own creation and should be meaningful to you. Goals need to be written, have a time frame for completion, be broken down into bite sized pieces and should be reviewed and worked on everyday. Another important fact to remember about goals is that it’s ok to change them. Some people become paralyzed when it comes to setting goals. They feel that they need to get it 100% correct before proceeding. Not true! It’s more important to begin the process and then make changes, as you go, then never have begun at all. Remember that achievement is related to the struggle; little struggle-little achievement, big struggle-big achievement.

E = Excellence-- Strive for excellence in everything you do, but remember that striving for your goals and the pursuit of excellence are important journeys and not destinations. You’ll never reach the end of the road and isn’t that terrific! Become a student of the business to separate yourself from the pack and remember that school is never out for the professional.

Have the C.O.U.R.A.G.E. to succeed and you will achieve all that you set out to accomplish. Good luck on your journey to success.

Take the C.O.U.R.A.G.E. assessment below to evaluate your strengths in 8 key areas that lead to success.

Using the descriptions below, rate yourself on a scale of 1-5, where a 1 means low or never and a 5 means high or always. Then read the suggestions that follow. They will help you create an action plan for improvement.

To what extent have you pledged to yourself and perhaps to others, your goals, dreams, and desires? Are your commitments "top of mind"? Do you review them daily?

Are you getting accomplished what you set out to do each day? Have you put processes and procedures in place to ensure that the most important work gets done, everyday?

To what extent do you practice the Golden Rule? Do you take the time to "walk a mile in the other persons' shoes" to better understand where they are coming from?

To what extent do you believe that the "buck stops with you" and that you have the sole responsibility for your own success?

To what extent are you doing all of the activities that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to guarantee your success?

To what extent is your attitude aligned for success? Does your attitude act as a magnet for success?

To what extent are your goals personally meaningful to you and are clear and focused? Are they written down? Do they have a time frame for completion? Do you know what the benefits are for achieving your goals?

To what extent are you a life long learner? Do you continually strive for excellence in everything you do, both personally and professionally?

Do you…

Write down your commitments
Review your commitments every day
Write out affirmations about your commitments
Visualize the successful completion of your commitments
Share your commitments with others
Modify your commitments to adjust for new information or priorities
Develop fail-safe ways to carry out your commitments
Create/associate with a support group
9. Reward yourself for successful completion of your commitments
Once accomplished, create new commitments
Do you…

Make it a daily habit of organizing your day into tasks and then prioritize the tasks
Don't leave it to chance, write down your game plan each day, including blocking out time on your calendar to do what's required
Create an ideal work week schedule
Have others help to hold you accountable to your schedule
Determine what gets in your way of being organized
Develop systems that prevent roadblocks to your plan
Determine which tasks can be delegated and do so
Ask for help from others who you feel are more organized than yourself
Evaluate how well you kept to your game plan every day
Based on your evaluation and feedback from others, modify your plan as necessary
Do you…

Apply the Golden Rule
Listen actively and sincerely to others
Put the needs of others before your own
Read books or take a class on understanding others
Assess "personality style" and modify yours accordingly before presenting an idea to others or going out on a sales call to a prospect or client
Debrief each sales call or interaction
Seek first to understand before being understood
Do you…

Cultivate the attitude that "the buck stops with you"
Proactively take action
Volunteer to do something that will make your agency, company, or organization better
Take calculated risks
Follow through and do what you say you will do
Do you…

Break down your goals into daily, weekly, and monthly segments
Track your progress everyday against those goals
Keep accurate activity records
Develop activity ratios
Develop an ideal work day and work week that includes the activities you have identified that support the achievement of your goals
Score yourself each day on how well you adhered to your ideal game plan
Be positive
Listen to your self talk and correct if necessary
Surround yourself with positive people
Keep a success journal
Don't dwell on past failures, the past does not equal the future
Write out affirmations that are meaningful to you
Develop an attitude of gratitude

Write down your goals
Share your goals with others
Your goals should be meaningful to you
Write down your goals as if you have already achieved them
Develop short, intermediate, and long term goals
Don't be afraid to eliminate or modify your goals
Good luck to you on your journey to success.