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Kelly Odell

- A blog for leaders
Success in 2017
15 Dec 2016

Ten Commandments for Success in 2017

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Every New Year I publish suggestions for being successful in the new year, some of them stay the same year after year and some change.  It is important for all of us to stop and reflect from time to time (ideally more often than once a year) on where we are, where we are headed, and how we are going to get there. More importantly, we should think about whether our personal ambitions, as well as the visions of our organizations, are focused on creating a better world. Anything else is short-sighted and destructive.

I remember as a child when we went on cross country vacations in the car.  We often drove across the USA to go to one destination or another.  My mother was a music teacher and my sister and I grew up singing.  When we were on those long road trips, we would sing the scores of every Broadway musical we knew as well as just about every other song we could think of. Everything was in 3-part harmony. Mom, my sister, and I would sing while dad filled the role of audience (he was one of the only people I have ever met who truly couldn’t sing).

Today, forty years later, I only have vague memories of our destinations. I don’t remember much of the about Disneyland or being seasick on the fishing boat in Oregon.   But my memories of singing, laughing, talking, and sometimes fighting in the car on those trips are as vivid as if they happened yesterday.  If you have ever heard someone say that the journey is more important than the destination, believe them.  I suspect that the milestones in our lives, as important as they may seem at the moment, will fade with time, but the paths we took to reach those milestones stay with us forever. Enjoy the trip.


  1. Decide to be happy! It’s not magic. Deciding to be happy doesn’t automatically make you happy and being happy can at times involve hard work. But deciding that you want to be happy and deserve to be happy is the first step that will lead you to making the necessary decisions and choosing the actions to move you in the right direction.


  1. After you have done step number one, forget it! Happiness is not really something you can strive for, it is more of a byproduct than a goal. Happiness is a symptom of a well lived life not a goal. Ultimately, happiness is a byproduct of living a life full of meaning and purpose. I believe that each of us is free to create our own meaning for our lives but we are also free to create no meaning at all. Those who find a meaning or purpose and strive to fulfill that purpose become happier and more fulfilled themselves. To be truly happy our focus needs to be on something other than ourselves.


  1. Be forgiving! Forgive others and possibly hardest of all forgive yourself. Everyone drops the ball, that’s just part of life. Forgive and move on.


  1. Keep learning. Be curious. Ask more questions and really listen to what people say. Talk to strangers. Read more books. Question your own “truths”, those strongly held beliefs that guide your behavior. If we stop questioning we stop growing.


  1. Get involved in something outside of work that is voluntary. Your kid’s football team, a charity, a church or a scout troop, whatever it is get involved and invest some time in it


  1. Don’t work for money. Work for stimulation and satisfaction. The money will follow. I often speak at high schools and young people often ask me what I think they should study. This is a bit of an odd question since I have usually never met these young people before and don’t know anything about their interests or talents. I usually just tell them to pick something that they enjoy. I tell them that if they pick something they truly enjoy they will be willing to work harder at it. If they work harder, they will become more successful and will probably even make more money at whatever they are doing. All we really need is enough money to get by and a job that you don’t enjoy could never pay enough to make it worth your while.


  1. If you find yourself in a bad situation, for example at work or in a relationship, create a plan and take the necessary steps to either improve the situation or to move on to a better one. If you find yourself in a good situation invest more of yourself into it.


  1. Spend more time with friends and family. Try hard to really be with them when you are with them. That means turning off the TV or your cellphone as well as whatever problem is mulling around in your head, for just a little while and just be. And don’t avoid people you don’t like. They will help you learn a great deal about yourself.


  1. Work hard! Be wary of easy answers and quick fixes. Creating anything worthwhile whether it’s a painting, a career, a relationship, or a good life is hard work.


  1. This moment is the only moment you have and it will never come back, make the most of it! The past is the past and if you are lucky enough to have a future it will be the result of how you spent the accumulation of all the moments just like this one leading up to it.

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