Thursday, August 03, 2006

So What Do They Have That I Don't?

I've been thinking about the secrets of success a lot lately. In a number of spheres: writing, art, business, relationship, financial... you name it. What is the secret of success? I don't mean a rehash of some self-help guru's philosophy. I mean REAL people. People in my life, who I know. What is the secret of their success?

When I taught journalism, I had an outstanding student named Coster. He wasn't outstanding because he wrote brilliantly - he wrote well, but not brilliantly. He stood out to me because of his determination and tenacity, his will to not give up, no matter how adverse things were for him.

Coster worked night shift as a security guard. English was his second language. A year before he took the journalism course I was teaching in central Johannesburg at a business college, he took a business English correspondence course in the hope that he could improve his English before becoming a journalist. Being a journalist was his goal, his hope, his dream, the reason he got up in the morning and he was prepared to do whatever it took to realise that dream.

By the time Coster stepped foot into my class, he had a good command of the English language. He turned up to every class during the six weeks the course lasted. Every assignment was handed in on time and he did well in his exams.

So what? you may say.

So... Coster worked a full night shift as a security guard. He would then go home at 6am to his home in Soweto and then come to my class in the city for 8:30am. He would then go back to his home, get maybe two hours' sleep and go back to work.

And this feat is what set him apart from other students.

I've never met a more dedicated person who was not going to allow anything to stand in his way. After the course he was planning to take a photography course so that he would be more 'marketable'. I have no idea where he is today, but I have a feeling that the reason I am thinking of him now is because my experience with him almost ten years ago is trying to teach me something.

What is YOUR secret of success?


  1. Wow, I hope he succeeded - he certainly deserves to.

    Most successful people I know are absolutely sure of themselves - even when proven otherwise. They also tend to spend every waking hour working.

    Sometimes I wish I was successful but in a way I am, I can go home and relax with a family I love.

  2. I know one of the reasons I haven't gotten further in life is my lack of persistance. I have battled with poor self-confidence as long as I remember. It's easier to just hide out than be disappointed.

    But, I'm working on that. :)

  3. You have to know what you want. Then you have to make up your mind that you are going to do it. Visualize it. Then you have to do it.