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Self-trust is the first ingredient of success. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the great freedoms of owning your own business is it allows you to choose how you will live your life.

With this freedom comes great responsibility. You must be prepared to own not just all of your choices but, also, the consequences of them.

When you have been in business as long as I have, you see and experience a lot. Not all of these character-building exposures are positive, though each contains the seed of a great gift. If you choose to plant the seed and allow it to grow, it will ultimately flower (in its bloody own good time for which you must be patient) and bear fruit.

Regardless of the nature of one’s chosen life path and professional career, we all hope to succeed. Though, truthfully, some are not yet mentally strong enough to shoulder the burdens of responsibility bestowed by the journey. This is evidenced by a propensity to attack others and blame circumstances rather than hold themselves accountable.

The first ingredient of success is self-trust. It will be tested countless times in the process of preparing you for success. Your only acceptable response is to maintain integrity, even (no especially) when enduring the betrayal of false friends.


Integrity Triangle



The geometry of the upward path to success is simple. The triangle of integrity balances a unified mind, heart and voice.





Your mind must be congruently aligned to your heart and voice for your integrity to remain solid, intact and unshakeable. If any one aspect is out of sync, you risk acting or speaking out of integrity. Subsequently, any success that may arise will be hollow and short-lived. And you will not be able to believe in it or yourself when all around you speak otherwise.

Personal injuries, such as those I sustained in the accident, may have weakened my body and threatened my spirit but my integrity has held fast. Though, to be honest, I am dreadfully tired of having to defend it (and the success that resulted) from 5 years of relentless, vicious attack by my adversaries (the two insurers).

One of the stumbling blocks to their acceptance of my professional success was I did not surround myself with the trappings of it. No fancy car, no McMansion, no history of luxury vacations or living beyond my means in high style such as society expects of the truly successful.

Instead, I chose to invest in and give to others. All the while working less and less while earning more and more.

I also had a goal to keep my beautiful (but ordinary) car on the road 20 years or more just because I believed it possible. (It had been meticulously maintained and was 16+ years old when it was totalled in the accident.)

Although I don’t define myself (or my success) by the type of car I drive, apparently, insurers do.

Prior to the accident, I lived happily and well in a quiet, secret-millionaire-next-door kind of way. I enjoyed sharing the good fortune resulting from my work with those who needed help. I did so anonymously and quietly most of the time.

After the accident, I also found ways to live happily and well despite significantly reduced circumstances and never-ending medical obstacles and life challenges. I kept up with the sharing too albeit in much smaller scale ways. And I’m thrilled to report the positive impact was just as great! There is no fancy car or house on earth that can match the joy that comes from giving back to enrich the lives of others.

I am saddened by the narrow view of the measures of success held by our society. The number, nature, and size of toys and material belongings are not reliable measures of success.

In the same way that tools don’t make a carpenter or paint, an artist.

I don’t know about you but I measure success in integrity, freedom, and opportunities for growth. I’m convinced you can come back from any adversity if you have that.

So now, it is time to rebuild and work to recover from loss. To start, let me share this gentle reminder:

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

~Polonius in Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82

More next time. Until then, remember to LOVE YOUR WORK, whatever it may be.

PS I hope you’ll find the new RAISING THE BAR series inspiring. If so, please share this post with friends and followers. You never know what burdens others are carrying or how much their load might be made lighter by doing so. ♥♥♥


Raising The Bar is a new series for the SMARTSTART community that has been taking shape in my head for most of the time I’ve spent working to recover from catastrophic brain, spinal cord and psychological injuries resulting from a near fatal accident in 2009. Success, whether it’s in rehab, business, relationships, or life, hinges on our ability to master this simple formula: Belief (B) + Attitude (A) = Response (R).

I’m excited to be sharing it with you now as a next step in my injury recovery. Consider this your invitation to join me on a grand adventure. Oh, the places we will go! Including all the places that scare us most. For that is where the greatest opportunities for joy and happiness — the true measures of success — reside!