The Number One Way to Be a Success

Barbara Corcoran is one of the feisty ladies on the Shark Tank TV Show. I like her because she’s smart, respectful and straightforward. She doesn’t pull punches, but she’s not demeaning either to those who make a poor pitch. She exudes confidence and personal power.

Success tip by Barbara Corcoran

I heard her on an interview recently and she said,

“In my experience, the one thing that distinguishes a successful salesperson from an unsuccessful one is that they all have something to prove.”

Does that mean they’re insecure or trying to get back at someone?

No, I don’t think so. I believe an “I’ll show you” attitude helps us overcome life’s most gnarly struggles.

Think about the last time you fell to your knees in shock or despair. Most likely it was due to a significant loss. It may have taken you days, months, years to get over it. Perhaps you’re still working on it.

You may have felt like giving up.

But at some point, I’ll bet you reached down deep inside your gut and drew from a storehouse of resolve. Then you said to yourself, “This is NOT going to get the best of me.”

You created an imaginary foe who taunted you, “C’mon. Prove it to me. Prove you can do this! Prove you can make it happen! Show me what you’re made of!”

And every time you got weak and stumbled, you remembered that challenge.

You BET we’ve got something to prove! We’re fast enough, strong enough, smart enough.

Revel in that feeling. Even if it makes you a little bit mad. (How dare they count me out!) It’s fuel to motivate and inspire us.

Time after time on The Biggest Loser TV show, we watch the coach urge a protege to stretch beyond their limits.

They don’t know how far they can go until they’ve been pushed.

Well, push back. Step right on up there and prove to the world you have staying power. Get a little mud on your tires. Ruffle a few feathers if you must.

Make sure they know you’ve got something to prove!

3 Steps to Find Purpose in Work and Life

Do you want your life and work to have purpose and meaning? If you know what your purpose is, can you put it into words? How would you feel if you knew exactly what you were supposed to be doing?

How to Find Purpose in Life by Laura Benjamin

You’re probably thinking, “What kind of fairy tale is this, Laura? Don’t you know I’m just trying to keep my head above water, hold onto my job, juggle the family and squeeze in a little sleep now and then? Purpose is something you get to think about when you retire – something I may never be able to do!”

Au contraire! It’s very possible to discover why you were put on this earth and what you were meant to do along with everything else on your plate. In fact, it will make your “plate” more fulfilling. It’ll reduce stress, bring more joy into your life and give you a greater sense of direction.

Sound like a miracle cure? Well, it is. But it takes some internal work to get there. I’ve put my thinking cap on, done a little research and pulled together resources and ways you can start the process:

Step 1: Become Self-Aware

You’ve got to know what makes you tick. Getting to the core of who you are with specific words and language makes it possible to keep a clear “avatar” in sight. (A graphical representation of a person’s alter ego, just like in the movie.) That way we stay congruent and avoid confusion when life throws us a curveball. It helps us make better choices about work and relationships. We won’t get distracted, frustrated or feel like we’re spinning our wheels as much.

So for starters, get the book StrengthsFinder 2.0. In the back of the book is a key code to take an in-depth online assessment. It will identify your top five personal strengths. It may validate what you already know about yourself. Here’s my profile if you want to see a sample of the report. You can use your strengths in a variety of occupations, but as long as you keep them front and center in your world, work and life will feel more rewarding.

Next, go to to learn your “Purpose Pattern” – there is no cost to this. You’ll get a purpose statement that clarifies who you impact, why you do what you do and how you achieve impact. I can’t speak to the validity of this assessment, but it seemed to spit out some pretty accurate statements when I took it. It definitely lined up with my results on the StrengthsFinder.

Create a Purpose Statement. Print out those assessments and use a highlighter to indicate keywords that really resonate with you. Then, combine the best-of-the-best into a sentence that summarizes your primary motivator. Ex: My purpose is to help individuals or groups create opportunities for success by leveraging strengths, building engagement and taking action. Your purpose statement will not include a specific occupation or cause. It should reflect what drives you – what makes life more meaningful, regardless of the job you hold. But the more you build your life and work around a purpose statement, the happier you will be.

I’m a big fan of DISC personality assessments too. (Here is my personal profile.) I’ve used DISC for 20 years in my work and think it’s easier to understand and apply than many others. Also, Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, has created a few profiles on personality, values and spiritual beliefs from DISC theory. (Affiliate link)

Step 2: Experiment and Innovate

I don’t believe we wake up one day with a great epiphany about what brings us meaning in life. I’ve found it’s a gradual discovery process that follows the “lean” approach: try something on for size, experiment, and learn from our efforts. Then try it over again with new information. Over time, we get closer and closer to a perfect fit. As long as you’re innovating and moving forward, you’re successful.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David & Goliath, he says that innovators possess “openness” – they challenge their own preconceptions. They are also “conscientious” – they have discipline and persistence to carry out ideas. They are “disagreeable”, meaning they are willing to take social risks and do things others might disapprove of. They are willing to test and see what works. Then they adapt and test again.

What holds us back? Gladwell says, “We are prone to being afraid of being afraid.”

Step Three: Face the Fear

Art of Work Book by Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins has just written The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant To Do. I haven’t read it yet, but I was pretty impressed with his podcast, The Seven Stages of Finding Your Calling.

In the podcast he says, “If you wait to feel courageous, you’ll never move forward. They (people who found their calling) learned to do it afraid. Fear does not prevent you from a dream. It tells you you’re on your way.” ~Jeff Goins

So list your fears. Bring them out in the open so you can stare them down, eyeball to eyeball. They serve a purpose. We take action when the fear of doing nothing outweighs the benefits of standing still.

“Work begins when the fear of doing nothing at all finally trumps the terror of doing it badly.” ~Alain de Botton

Second-guessing is fear in disguise. We talk ourselves out of some fabulous ideas. Stop over-thinking things. Few people are actually watching – they’re too distracted by their own problems.

Take a step. Give yourself a project. Don’t remain frozen in place. Your action may not be THE solution, but it will lead you closer to better outcomes. Movement helps us focus on process rather than fear.

Finally, please know that most of us wander this world wondering what we are meant to be and do. You are not alone. But rather than stay frustrated, put yourself in situations where you can apply your strengths and live out your purpose statement. It’s possible you may find purpose in one segment of your life at a time – faith, family, fun, work. And clarity in one area leads to another, and another. Have patience. Give it purposeful attention and the puzzle pieces will start to fit.

Additional Reading:

  • The Purpose Economy by Aaron Hurst
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Why Your Biggest Embarrassment Makes You More of a Leader

Has something happened to you that you’re embarrassed to admit? Was it fair? Was it your fault? Do you feel like a fraud? Are you letting it keep you from leadership in your field or being of service to others?

How to get over your fear of failure

We were having lunch, my friend and I, catching up on business and life. But there was a purpose for our meeting that had a lot to do with his future plans. So after the small talk, he told me his story.

“I was passed over for promotion. It took me totally by surprise and put an end to my career. The worst part was, everyone knew it. I went from being the ‘go to guy’ to someone they’d pass in the hall with little more than ‘hello’. My opinions were ignored. Invitations dried up. It was the longest year of my life.”

But the opinion he held of himself was more significant than the reaction of co-workers. It shook his self-confidence and made him question the future.

“How can I help others achieve great things when I wasn’t successful in my own career? What gives me the right to offer advice, when I feel like I was a failure?”

  • Can you improve a relationship after you’ve been divorced?
  • Should you sit on a panel if your business went bankrupt?
  • Can you still parent if your child took a dark path?
  • Are you considered a community leader after losing an election?
  • Does depression keep you from offering hope to another?

Are you ashamed of something in your life that you’re using as a reason to keep from moving forward?

My friend almost did. And that would have been a darned shame. It’s because of that experience his value increased.

No one wants to follow someone who’s never been tested. You have figured out ways to bounce back from disappointment, rejection and loss. Like Thomas Edison, you’ve learned thousands of ways NOT to do something. You have learned how to navigate rough waters.

Do not let your worth be defined by one sliver in time. And don’t let the wisdom and experience you’ve gained from life’s ups and downs go to waste.

If you allow this one event to keep you isolated and diminished, someone somewhere will suffer because they didn’t have access to lessons you’ve learned.

You offer others a high value alternative to what, too often, is the norm: Big Hat, No Cattle (Randy Newman)

“Big head, no brain. Big snake, no rattle. Big boat, no paddle. Big belly, no heart.” 

You may not be “perfect”, wealthy or powerful by popular measure, but people of substance recognize battle scars as stripes on your sleeve.

In basic training, they took away our civilian clothes and issued fatigues, a version of the working man’s overalls. Only after we passed numerous tests and weeks of training did we get to wear our dress blues. Basically, you had to “earn your clothes”.

You have earned your clothes and through those struggles have built a great deal of equity in character and competence.

And you’re not alone. Many around you have forged ahead despite tremendous turmoil. You can tell who they are. There is wisdom in their eyes, patience in their soul and compassion in their hearts.

Those are the folks with the biggest impact on others. They’ve earned the right to say they are leaders.

13 Truths to Help You Take Charge

I hiked up a hill where the end of the trail was uncertain. Willow brush grew all around, making it hard to see where we were going.


My guide had been there before and was yards ahead of me. Yours truly has short little legs, so I struggled to keep up. “Hey”, I shouted. “Slow down. How much farther ‘till the end? Are we there yet?”

He yelled back, “We’re on the right path. Hang in there, it won’t be much longer. Are ya with me?”

Good grief! I felt like I was flying blind. The mountain was steep. My legs were sore. And since it was impossible to look over the willow tops, there really was no end in sight.

“Are ya with me?” he yelled. Sheesh! What choice did I have?

So up we went. I had to simmer down and trust my guide that the trek would be worth it. And it was. We’d come through the brush like mice in a maze but there was a big old piece of cheese waiting at the top. The view was spectacular.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” -Confucius

I know you’re struggling up your own personal hill. (I said hill, not hell.) It’s probably hard to see where you’re going and picture the top of the trail.

Perhaps you’re ready to start a new phase of life and don’t know the best time to launch. Maybe you’re gritting your teeth, wondering how much longer to tolerate a difficult situation. Some lose trust. Some want a different guide!

Whatever your circumstances, take charge of something – even if it’s only one short leg of your “trip”.

Also consider this:

  1. Follow your instincts. You know best how to serve the people who matter.
  2. Discover your mission. What cause are you fighting for?
  3. Have faith. Now may not be the right time, but it will come.
  4. Do one thing each day to make forward progress.
  5. Use this time to build resources, gain advice, map strategy.
  6. Don’t judge success or failure by one sliver in time.
  7. Know that fear may be part of the package, but so is the joy.
  8. Build on what brings you confidence.
  9. Explore what you’re capable of.
  10. Expect uncertainty. It is a time of transition.
  11. Decide. Choose a first step, then commit to take the second.
  12. Remember, the path you take will also leave a trail for others.
  13. And when in doubt, look up.

My Mom gave me a rock as a gift. (She’s frugal that way.) The front says, “Turn me over…”


and the back says, “Thanks”.


When she first gave it to me, I stood there flipping that darned rock over and over trying to figure it out. I thought I’d find a punchline on the backside. I had expectations of something significant. I just didn’t “get it”. But there really wasn’t a point to get.

Don’t do what I did. Avoid investing time in a game that leaves you wondering, “Where’s the punchline? Is that all there is?” Your future has to make sense. It’s a bonus if you matter to others, but your life should definitely be meaningful to you.

So go get yourself a rock and a felt pen. Try out the joke on your spouse, a neighbor or co-workers. Now that YOU know, let’s see how long it takes them to “get it!”