Another Look at Success
Learning Without Scars is pleased to introduce our new guest writer, John Andersen. As one of the original owners of PFW Systems, John Andersen was the first person in the industry to be labeled an Evangelist. Over his 30 years with the company, he visited thousands of dealers in North America sharing a unique vision of the heavy equipment industry from a dealers and customer perspective. With over $150 million dollars in sales credited to his commercial teaching skills he later aided in the transition to CDK Global where he continued as Director of Sales before “retiring” in 2016. John now operates as a freelance consultant bringing vastly diverse experience bridging technology, consumerism and sales to several industries. We invite readers to join us as we take another look at success.
Another Look at Success
I read a recent blog from Learning without Scars about success and its various definitions. Insightful as all of Ron’s blogs are, this one really sat with me for a long time. The definition of your own personal success and measurements of it can really shift over time. The most important takeaway for me was that long term success seldom happens by accident and recurring themes like hard work, dedication and sacrifice always bubble to the top. You don’t often hear someone talk about a myriad of miscues, wrong turns, or potholes along the way, but I believe they are the catalyst to continued success.
I have been known to bring a box of mistakes with me to a presentation just to illustrate. It’s filled with items like a RIM Blackberry, a Hughes Satellite terminal, my Grandmother’s pressure cooker, and a treasured Dick Tracy watch from my childhood. The reactions are always the same when I present these items one by one. Nods of approval or, “I remember that”. Each has been replaced with a more successful or refined success like a Google phone, a Starlink system, an Instant Pot, or even my trusty Apple Watch. This kind of evolutionary success doesn’t happen on its own.
For each success someone has taken the time to look at the result and ask what could be better. On rare occasions the answer jumps out, in most cases it requires a hard look followed by harder work and even greater investment. This begs the question, what would happen if you looked at your own success with that same intention. What would you look like if you went from a 1960’s pressure cooker to a Ninja Foodie?
The first step is the toughest. It takes an incredibly difficult look in the mirror. A stripped down, honest, humbling introspection is the hardest thing to do when looking for a model of success. Let me share a story.
I always viewed the peak of my success was in 2010. I was 46 years old with a thriving lifestyle. I traveled the country as the evangelist for a growing software company. I was married to the love of my life and together we had a 10-year-old princess. I collected interesting cars; we celebrated birthdays in Disney, and we cruised the islands a few times a year. We had completed our dream house and were just settling into the most “successful” part of our lives. In July of 2010 I walked up the stairs and dropped from a heart attack called the Widow Maker. Lies, I’m still here. Shortly after that my beautiful wife was given a terminal diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. I left my career to take care of my family, my heart, and those who shared my heart. That was my sole mission for the next 5 years.
As rewarding as that was, I felt like there was more left to do. The measure of success hadn’t been met in my eyes. I worked for a few folks, took on some side gigs, even tried my hand at some new industries but nothing gave me that feeling. I was forever looking for that opportunity. Fast forward through Covid when like everyone else I had the time to finally take that hard look over the wall. If my new role was that of caretaker to my family, then I better be able to do it both mentally and physically.
I started with a lifestyle coach. That meant a huge change in what I was eating followed by what felt like ridiculous amounts of exercise. I had a group that helped with the physical and mental side of getting healthy. I know now that’s the the trinity of well-being: mental health, physical fitness, and sustainable healthy fuel. What’s the worst that could happen? I lose a few pounds make a few friends. Perhaps it would help me sleep better, snore less, walk easier and smile more.
I could not have predicted the result. I was evolving into my own success model. I found myself changing from a Blackberry to an iPhone, or a Hughes satellite to an Elon Musk powered Starlink. The transition was slow at first but like most good ideas it started picking up steam. Pounds fell off, energy levels went through the roof, sleep came peacefully, and most of all…. I felt great!
So, what does success look like a year after the hard conversation with me? For starters I’m 70 lbs lighter. I go to spin classes at 6am twice a week, I go to the gym three times a week, and on Saturdays I RUN! I mean 5k, 7k, even 10k and nobody is chasing me. I run in the heat. I run in the cold. I run and listen to Ron Slee podcasts. I smile when I run, and I think deep thoughts when I run.
I would have to say my most successful time is now. The love of my life is still here and still fighting, my daughter met all of her goals so far (she even runs with me sometimes) and I have found my version of the fountain of youth. I think clearer, everything is a half-step ahead, and most importantly opportunity now seeks me.
Seeking success requires a first step. Take a hard look at you, your goals, your dreams and most importantly your “why”. Everything you are already good at will remain, but the add on skills will put you in a new stratosphere. Measure yourself honestly, painfully, and accurately then just do something. You don’t have to be a 1960’s pressure cooker. You literally own your success. It just takes a difficult conversation with yourself and then, like every success: hard work, dedication and investment.