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Ken Keller: Move always forward, never backwards

Posted: January 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.

In May, 1976 I had just finished what I first thought was my junior year of college. When I put a pencil to things, I discovered I was not 12 months away from graduation, but closer to two years.

A year later, I was a very proud and exhausted owner of a college diploma, every credit legitimately earned.

When I watch a football game and the team behind comes out on top after a flurry of activity in the final minutes I wonder why the team didn’t play like that for sixty minutes.

Then I remember how I felt that sunny May morning when I was handed my diploma. Teams have those furious explosions of scoring and superhuman play only when they decide they go all out for victory.

I didn’t work hard those 12 months for pleasure; I did it because I wanted something.

Brian Tracy is a favorite author of mine. In his video, “Success is a Journey” he talks about a trip he planned and took as a young man. This journey changed his life, and many others he has since influenced.

At the end of his talk, he recaps seven key lessons learned.

Two of the lessons applied directly to me. The first was always forward; never backward. The second was that the goal you set never changes, but you need to be flexible how to achieve it.

Assessing my situation in late May 1976, I came to the realization that I not only wanted to graduate in four years, I needed to.

After 3 years of a hand to mouth existence and a life of nothing but class, studying, working and sleeping, and feeling guilty about not studying when doing something else, I was tired of school. I was ready to try something new, like making money. But I wanted a degree more.

When I assessed how I was going to reach my goal, I realized I had two choices. One way was to quit school; get a full time job and complete my degree by going to night classes. But that would have simply extended the pain instead of finishing it. My choice was similar to removing a band-aid slowly versus ripping it off quickly.

The other choice, the one I picked, was to stick with college for twelve more months; get the degree and then put the diploma on the wall.

My issue was earning almost two years worth of units in a year. I worked creatively to secure the necessary classes. I transferred units from a junior college; went to summer school at outrageously high tuition rates; completed 17 units each semester and took a class during the month long winter term.

I did all this while working 20 hours a week for rent, tuition, books and gas and I also fit in a 20 hour a week internship at a nearby City Hall.

What happened was with the goal clearly in sight and a realistic and achievable plan I became intently focused, quickly regaining my energy and my drive. I learned that a person with goals who takes action might become discouraged but can’t be stopped.

I’ll close by asking if your business has clear goals for this year; if you have a realistic plan to achieve those goals; and if everyone in your company knows what they need to do to help your company succeed. If you cannot answer those questions affirmatively, it is not too late to take care of these key elements to having a very good 2014.

Ken Keller facilitates The Wise Owners Advisory Boards, bringing business owners together for education, sharing and on-going success. Contact him at Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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