The Drive to Success (Excerpts from the The Courage to Stand: A New America)

something amazing imageSuccess is finding your passion in life without being limited to your environment that you grew up in or that you are in right now.  Success does not necessarily equate to fame, possessions, or money.   I often give the example of the Christian missionary who is highly successful at what he or she does in helping others and spreading the message of Christ through hope and love, yet they often struggle financially or live on what most would consider a meager wage.  Yet, they are some of the most successful people I know!  It is because they have found their passion and life and oftentimes, it is simply making a contribution to society in a positive way, doing something you love!  Side note, if you can, support a missionary today financially and sponsor them to continue to do deeds of kindness around the world.

I want to share a brief excerpt from my life story and how I have gotten to this point. Somehow I have always had a drive to succeed, and I discovered I had leadership qualities. I grew up in the inner city of New Orleans in what is called the Seventh Ward. Louisiana continues to use wards instead of districts because of its ties to the Catholic church; it arranges counties on a parish model. The housing and neighborhood would definitely be considered lower class, without the amenities of a suburb. There was little park space, and the houses were built side by side with little space in between them. Further, as I pointed out earlier in the book, the neighborhood was full of bars on many of the corners, which made an easy environment for excessive drinking and chemical dependency.

I was raised a Christian, although I wouldn’t say I was a Christian early on. As I look back, it seems that I was always in a leadership position. I didn’t ask to be in those positions, but that’s eventually what happened in most instances. There are key things that happened in my life, and I alluded to some of them earlier in the book. I believe they were key to making the difference in my life and helping me to become a successful person in society. First, I had a two-parent household where my parents nurtured, mentored, and loved me. I wrote about this earlier in the book; even though they were not perfect, they were a large part of my life and invested in it as they could. They poured love into my life and helped me to believe in myself. Again, as I stated earlier, this does not mean that a single-parent household are less than or cannot produce successful children in society—that is often the case, but the struggle is often great comes with great sacrifices.

Second, I had a positive environment with meaningful extended family members. I have listed my uncles and aunts, grandparents, and family friends who contributed immensely to my well-being as a youth.  I was mentored on many levels and without their investment and influence I am sure I would not have made it to this point in life.  Family makes a difference.  I know of friends who refused to let their niece or nephew fall into the web of state care when the family was shattered, but instead chose to raise them on their own. I am a first-hand witness and can attest to the major impact family makes in our lives.

Third, I believed in academics. I won at least fifty to seventy-five academic awards from elementary through high school. I was an honor graduate from kindergarten at Martinez Academy. I was the second-ranked student in elementary at a public school in New Orleans named McDonald No. 42, with a host of awards along the way. The trend continued in junior high and high school and throughout college, ultimately ending with seven academic degrees.

The fourth element I believe that kept me grounded was my Christian background, even though I cannot say I fully embraced Christianity until I was nineteen years old and in the military. While I participated in a Christian upbringing, I don’t think I fully understood what it meant to serve God. Needless to say, my Christian upbringing had a huge effect on my morals and sense of rightness. It is clear that faith made a difference in my life and my parents were essential to planting the seeds of faith.

I believe those four elements are what drove me to have a vision and goals in life. I did not know what I would become, but I knew I was destined to find my passion in life.  What about you?  Are you ready to succeed and reach the highest heights in your life?    No matter where you are now, make up your mind that you will drive to success and begin fresh and anew.  Get a vision, set goals, chart a roadmap to where you want to be.  Find your passion and go for it!

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