“Good morning John, I’m glad to see you.” Mrs. Carter was dressed in a yellow suit, and her hair was in a tasteful twist. She looked younger than she was, and it appeared effortless for her.

“Good morning, Mrs. Carter. Thank you again for agreeing to mentor me.”

“You’re welcome. Take a seat. Would you like something to drink?” she looked through the open door for her assistant, but she was not there.

“No, thank you.”

The executive settled into her chair. “So, John, are you ready to begin this journey?”

“Mrs. Carter, I told you that I’m serious. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to stay in your good graces.”

Mrs. Carter chuckled. “All right then. Let’s begin with some myths that limit people’s success.”

John began fishing a notebook out of his bag as she continued. “Wait until my ship comes in. That ship may never come into port. More than likely, you will have to swim out to it. The ship symbolizes success. You have to go to it; it does not come to you. You may have to swim past, through, around, over or under sharks, barracudas or jellyfish. If you want success, you must go to it; it will not come to you on its own.” She paused to offer a pen to John, who was scribbling furiously trying to get ink from his own.

She went on. “Learn the tricks of the trade. Before learning the tricks of the trade – learn the trade. People all over the world are trying to find short cuts to success. I’m here to tell you, John, that there are no shortcuts. Some people find success sooner than others do, only because each of us is on a separate path to it. Invest the time to learn the trade before concentrating on the tricks.” John nodded as he wrote.

“Practice makes perfect. Not true. Practice makes better, not perfect. Perfect practice can produce perfection, but who can practice perfectly?” John looked up at her with raised eyebrows. “Pursue excellence in all that you do, John, and you will find the success you seek. Are you with me?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m with you!” John gestured to the scrawl in his notebook. “I never viewed these myths as limitations, but I see what you’re saying.”

Mrs. Carter grinned. “Good. Let me share with you another success limiter.” John could tell that she was in her element. “Complaining. Many people complain because they can. They do not complain to focus on the problem, but to focus attention on themselves. They complain without offering a solution, certainly not one with meaningful results.” She pointed toward the door and continued, “On my assistant’s desk over there is a small plaque engraved with the words ‘Do Not Complain About What You Permit.’” John recorded that phrase in his notebook as she continued. “Complaining without a solution – or the willingness to develop one – is a waste of time.”

She paused to let him catch up. “You know that I often told you as a child, ‘What is-is. The question is–‘”

“What are you going to do about it?” John interrupted her, then smiled. “See, I listened. Truly, though, I know people who complain all the time. Family members, friends, co-workers, politicians… Years ago you helped me see that complaining does no good if you’re not willing to change the situation. ”

“Exactly!” said Mrs. Carter, slapping one hand on her desk for emphasis.

Energized by her affirmation, John continued, “Complaining is a waste of time.”

“Well, not always John. If it is done constructively with the intent to improve the situation and obtain a meaningful result, then it’s not a time waster.”

“So you take the negative and make it a positive.” John offered.

“Right again,” she said.

Excerpt from The Quest for Success by Clifford Bailey
(c) 2010 Clifford A. Bailey

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