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What Does It Take?
by Serge Kahili King

You have probably heard the phrase, "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" It could also be applied to "healthy, happy, or whatever." You may have used the phrase yourself on occasion.

Well, its time someone told the world the truth. Being smart has nothing to do with being rich, healthy, or happy. More geniuses, intellectuals, and just very clever people are poor, sick, and in financial or emotional trouble than are not. Brains aren't the answer. Neither is education. Go to your library and pick out some biographies of very rich people, for insurance, and see how many had Masters degrees or doctorates that weren't honorary. You'll find very few. Education doesn't help you avoid the flu or high blood pressure, and it sure doesn't stop you from going into a depression or having a nervous breakdown, either. So don't think a lot of schooling is going to automatically zap you into a life or prosperity, high health, and emotional satisfaction. It isn't. The only thing education does is give you a lot of knowledge, a lot more things to think about. That can make life more interesting, but not necessarily more fun to live.

Talent is a form of smartness that a lot of people think is the key at least to wealth and happiness (I've never heard anyone claim that talented people don't get sick). We see and read about athletes, movie stars, and authors getting million-dollar contracts, and almost always they are photographed with smiling faces as if they are really enjoying life. This is in spite of the fact that some of them have a tendency to lose their money nearly as fast as they make it, and others have personal lives that are emotional nightmares. Yet, people like to think that it was their talent that got them to the top, and that "at the top" is like a paradise of fulfillment. Not true. In every field where talent is an important asset, you'll find exceptionally talented people staying at the middle or even the bottom of the heap. Talent is just that—talent. By itself it isn't a key to success.

I read a story once - I think it was by Mark Twain - that illustrates the point. Someone had gone to heaven and was being introduced by an angel to the greats of history. At one point the angel said, "And there goes the greatest writer who ever lived." The visitor looked around for someone he could recognize, but all he saw was a youngish man in scruffy country clothes. The angel told the visitor that the young man was from the hills of Tennessee and that he had written exquisite poetry, plays, and prose. "But I never heard of him," protested the visitor. "Of course not," said the angel, "he never published anything. But he was still the greatest writer who ever lived."

It isn't talent or education or cleverness that make you successful. What is it? First I am going to tell you several other things that don't do it.

Hard work alone certainly won't do it. Although this is a popular intruction given to children by parents, a simple observation of life will destroy this idea. Millions of people all around the world work very hard at what they do, but not many of them could be called successful.

It isn't who you know, either. If it were, everyone who knew someone important or outstanding would be successful, and that obviously is not the case.

It isn't luck, or what you might call being in the right place at the right time. If that were the case, then it would be pointless to do anything to become successful. All you would have to do would be to wait around until it happened to you. Unfortunately, an awful lot of unsuccessful people still believe in this. And unfortunately for them, there is no such thing as chance. If you accept the idea that luck is when preparation meets opportunity, though, you are getting closer to the mark.

If you want to become successful, it is extremely important to realize two things: first, no one and no thing outside of yourself is going to make you successful; second, no one and no thing outside yourself can stop you from being successful.

Maybe you have already guessed I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway in a different way. I'll tell you ahead of time that these are trick answsers, but I'll also give you a clue as to their real meaning: free will.

  • The only way to be successful is to feel successful.
  • The only way to be healthy is to feel healthy.
  • The only way to be happy is to feel happy.
  • The only way to be rich is to feel rich.
  • The only way to be in control of the world... is to tell the world to do what it's doing.
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