This article first appeared on August 13, 2014 in The Chattanoogan.com. Enjoy.
The recipes for success that work repeatedly in all aspects of life all revolve around becoming a leader. The leader of the pack enjoys many perks not available to the rest of the pack unless he or she grants them; Nature shows us ourselves in action. It does not matter what the endeavor is, legal, illegal, ethical, unethical, moral, immoral, selfish or charitable…leaders arise when there are two or more people in an enterprise. Certain situations call for leaders of great courage, integrity and social grace, others call for violent, tyrannical sociopaths who will stop at nothing to get what they are after. In both of these extremes, we often see what I call the “Pretenders” like Justin Bieber, who wants us to suspend reality and believe he is a tough guy rapper! Authenticity allows a person to dominate and lead a group; pretenders prance around the Alpha, acting like “Mini-Me” in the movies…big hat, no cattle.
You will mimic the mannerisms, clothes, talk, appearance and values of those whom you aspire to be like… be extremely careful what you wish for, before it’s too late. Decide early in life which direction you want to go and do not allow your buddies to drag you down to their expectations in life… I know, for I walked out of a pool hall at 18 to go to college and make something out of myself.
Peer pressure when we are young has so much to do with how we turn out as adults. Just the luck of the draw on the community you were raised in and who your friends were in high school means everything. The old-timers used to say: “If you lay down with dogs, you’ll get fleas”. Those old maxims are there for a reason – they are true!
We live in an age of professed “non-conformity and individual expression”, yet there is a very rigid dress code for each group of kindred spirits – a virtual uniform for each one, just like the prep schools… but no khakis!
The human mind evolved from our early beginnings, a time before language and the written word to quickly identify the symbols or signs of danger or friendship. We wave our right hand in the air or offer a handshake as an ancient symbol that we come in peace and are unarmed. We are all profiled hundreds of times each day by the new faces we see out and about at work or play. Our survival instinct requires that we make an instantaneous judgment on anyone or anything that enters our personal space. Everything you present about yourself is a perceived symbol of your values, trustworthiness, competence and self-discipline.
Do not allow a few poor choices early in life to define you to the world and limit your ability to become that great person you were destined to be. You are not meant to fail in life. The hard truth is that you have to take personal responsibility for getting and staying upon the right path to lasting success. It’s not easy, but well worth the effort.
My sister, brother and I all graduated from the University of Tennessee because we had working poor parents who refused to give up on us having a better life. They knew what success looked like and they drilled hard work, integrity, courage, honor and citizenship into our heads (and applied the belt to our rear ends several times a week), all combined with love and encouragement that we had a destiny to fulfill in life that was extraordinary. Our school teacher Mother would not allow us to use poor grammar in her presence and demanded that we speak proper English, like gentlemen and ladies…even if it took a bar of Palmolive soap in my mouth a few times to wash out the dirty words! Mother wanted to hear something better than:
What’cha wanna be when you grow up? I dunno either…Mom & Dad knew that language and personal traits were the first ticket required to get into the economic Disneyland that the successful people enjoyed. They are not any smarter than you! You just have to level the playing field by outworking and out thinking them. Success is not a birthright…but it is your right!
About the Author: Bill Hewgley is President, Metalworking Solutions, LLC, a company he founded after retiring as President of American Manufacturing Company. One of his chief priorities is to mentor this upcoming millennial generation, while honoring those who helped him find his own way in life, by passing it on.