Success Secrets: Why It’s All Up to You

Image courtesy Rollan Budi | flikr
Image courtesy Rollan Budi | flikr

I had the opportunity last night to speak at my alma mater, Boise State University. The audience consisted of students pursuing or considering studies in English.

The topic: How did your education impact your career?

The panel I was on included a scholar, teacher, grant writer, and me. I so enjoyed listening to each of the panelists’ experiences. What was especially interesting was hearing a common theme: hard work and adaptability.

Each of the panelists discussed how they went beyond their degree requirements. They described internships, assistantships, professional jobs, and other opportunities they sought out while completing their studies. These successful individuals didn’t just half-heartedly sit through class and drink beer on the weekends like so many college students do. No, they made their education work for them.

What a fascinating, accomplished group of people!

Personally, my undergrad was a time of intense focus. I worked a full-time job—and, at two different times, also picked up part-time work—and usually took at least 17 credits per semester, usually more. I didn’t have the “traditional college experience” because I was just too busy. During my graduate program, I balanced an assistantship, full-time classes, and my business.

After college, I kept working hard. While living abroad, I brought work on vacations. I built my business after 12-hour days of teaching. I pursued opportunities with fervor. I refused to settle for less than my ideal life.

I also never doubted myself. I believed in my abilities. I dreamed big. I still do all of these things.

To the students who attended last night, and to anyone else searching, hoping, and dreaming for a better life, I say this:

Two of the “secrets” to success in any field are hard work and a willingness to be flexible to the opportunities you’re given. That, and unwavering faith in accomplishing your dreams.

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