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Today we have the second post in a series on success, written by our marketing assistant Ryan Smith. 

Here's what he has to say:


LanearrowIn my last post, I defined successful people as those who live with intention. They have a purpose and realize that reality depends on them, not the other way around. They don’t make excuses or misplace blame on other people or outside factors.

This is purely mental (as are most things), however adopting this mindset will change nothing in your physical world if you are not taking action, which brings me to the crux of this week’s blog.

Successful people act on their goals while other people daydream about theirs.


It’s a simple concept, yet so many people would rather spend time fantasizing about what they could do, hope to do, or should have done, essentially doing everything except what will move them forward. Successful people take advantage of the opportunities they are given no matter how insignificant they may seem. Eventually, this compounding interest of work ethic develops into what other people will chalk up to luck or privilege.

So, how do you develop this work ethic? There is one thing that is more important than others:

Align your goals with your interests.

You are far more likely to succeed at something if you actually enjoy doing it. The difference between people who like what they do and those who don’t, are those who don’t work 40 hours a week while those who do never clock out. While one is dragging their feet and working for the weekend, the other doesn’t even know/care what day of the week it is.

It’s pretty easy to get stuck in a routine when you have things to look forward to (vacations, parties, retirement), steady pay, and job security, then come home and distract yourself with TV. This turns weeks into months into years, until eventually one decides it’s too late to chase their goals.

The issue here is that these “goals” might not actually even be theirs. If someone’s goals are too general (lots of money, certain house or car, retirement by a certain age) then they failed to realize something...

The reason they never had the motivation to go after their goals is that their focus was never on the process but more so on the end result. This is not a strong enough incentive to keep them on a grind day-to-day.

Successful people are different in that they have aligned their goals and interests to a point where their goals are not daydreams to fantasize about, but thoughts that constantly occupy their minds.

Your goals should bother you for not chasing them.


Like a dog you haven’t fed in three days, your goals should be unignorable. The dog will bark, whine, scratch, and plea for you to feed it. Eventually, if you don’t feed it, the dog will eat you.

If your goals don’t bother you then you haven’t taken the time to learn about yourself and decide what you want to do. If you don’t know what you want to do then it makes complete sense that you won’t find success. Rather, you will likely end up aimlessly floating around through life dreaming about an end goal that will never come because you never thought of how you would get there.

So, to develop this drive is simple:

Quit distracting yourself, find out what you want, how to get it, and then go do that.


And enjoy the process.

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ScienceMachineMost of us don’t want to screw things up. We want to get it right. Most of us, though, get in our own way because we focus on the results, rather than the process.

Scenario 1:

We stumble into the right thing. We get something right in spite of ourselves. And sometimes, despite completely coming at things the wrong way, we accidentally get what we are looking for.

Chances are, though, we can’t do that more than once. Or more than a few times, or under very specific similar circumstances. For most of us, though, that isn’t enough: we want to be able to be consistent no matter what.

Scenario 2:

We have a big decision to make. A decision so big, or so complex, that we’re not convinced we have any way of seeing the whole picture – including the consequences of the decision. How can we be sure we’re getting it right? Especially if the decisions have risk, are emotionally fraught, or have to be made without all the relevant information, we need to know we did our best, so that if the outcome ends up not meeting our expectations, we can still be happy with our part.

We want to get it right. The outcome of what we do does matter. But focusing solely on the outcomes or results has five problems:

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A guest blog by L M Thomas Group Marketing Assistant and University of Illinois Class of 2021 Ryan Smith

plantingtomatoesA successful person lives with intention.

That’s it.

Yes, there are more factors, but at the end of the day, no matter what someone’s bank account says, or social status is, if they are a successful person, they have goals and are actively pursuing them. For example, Conor McGregor, one of my favorite athletes of all time, has been quoted saying, “I am not talented, I am obsessed.” Successful people have a purpose, and realize that reality depends on them, and not the other way around.

You can be successful and unknown: that’s most successful people. There is a very strong argument for wanting to be successful and not wanting to be famous, especially today. I also don’t necessarily believe there is a set income that would qualify or disqualify someone from being successful. I do, however believe that all successful people share similar traits, for example, self-reliance, commitment, positivity, focus on their goals, confidence, and more.

How someone can someone make the switch into adopting this way of thinking and living?

Above all else, successful people don’t make excuses or misplace blame on other people or outside factors even when it could be considered completely rational to do so. You may have heard the phrase, “Everything that happens to you is your fault.” A successful person would agree with this statement while others may not. It is very easy to pick it apart and say, “Well I didn’t go to the gym today because the weather conditions caused too much traffic, so it’s not my fault.” That may be a fair statement, however: since successful people are intentional, follow-through and reaching their goals becomes non-negotiable.

A person acting with intention might instead check the weather the night before and go shovel, so that they are not stuck in that situation. This example applies to many areas of life. And when you start to listen for it, you may hear it coming from yourself or others around you. It is very apparent that many people are willing to concede their goals if their excuses are good enough. The great thing here is that accepting you are fully responsible for being in control of your life is liberating. To me, this mindset seems to be not only the most prevalent quality of successful people, but the easiest quality for anyone to attain who might not already be living a successful life.

When the opportunity arose to start blogging for the site, I wanted to make sure I wrote about something that interests me, but also benefits the readers.  Eventually the series, "Habits of successful people”, was born. The irony of a college student telling people how to be successful does not escape me: in fact, I wouldn’t necessarily say I am a successful person just yet because I have a lot of things I still need to accomplish. Honestly, this series is meant to help me just as much as it is meant to help the reader, so I will be putting in the time to make sure good insights are drawn from this.

 Each blog will focus on a single concept that is shared amongst people who have succeeded in their lifetimes. I may bring up famous people, or regular people from my life that are successful, but they all will have certain attributes/attitudes that align.

Come back for the second part of this series, and if you are interested in anyone specific, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll research it. Thanks!

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Returning from Injury

The 140kg Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

In April, 2017, I landed on the point of my left elbow. I had a 140kg (309lbs) tackler on my back. In that moment, I was pretty pleased with myself as I had just made a brilliant offload to set up an easy score for a teammate. Everyone else was a bit horrified because my humerus had not survived the passage of play.


I was rushed to the Emergency Room. They sent me home in a cuff and collar. The next day, I scheduled a surgery date. I spent a day and a half in hospital while they rebuilt my arm. Then, it was six-months of physical therapy. I still have to do daily band exercises to this day to keep the muscles around the surgery scars strong.


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Leader comforting businessmanLeading as the non-anxious presence aligns our organizations around mission and purpose and increases our change capacity. Therefore, being the non-anxious presence makes the enterprises we lead more sustainable and capable of achieving our goals.

We are going to look at the impacts of non-anxious presence in two areas: change management, and organizational alignment.

Managing Change

“They won’t change, because they hate change.” I have heard this statement more times than I can count. I’ve heard it as an explanation (or excuse) for why an organization has gotten itself stuck. “People just don’t like change. People like routine.” This is taken as axiomatic truth: the world is defined around the fact of change-hating.

Except it is fundamentally not true.

People may hate some change, and fear other change, but it’s not because it’s change. In fact, even some of the most change-averse people look forward to change, and can be some of the most adept in making the sorts of changes that preserve their status quo.

Before you shake your head and quit reading, hear me out. I have some examples:

  • I have seen people teach themselves highly complex procedures to be able to continue use out-of-date, unsupported software they are determined to still use.
  • During the pandemic, people adapted to using online meetings to get together with family for holidays.
  • We have seen entire political movements organize and develop based on nostalgia and “bringing back” something that has otherwise faded or disappeared.

From these examples, we see that people really don’t have an issue with change, generally, per se.

Then what is the problem, exactly?

People hate loss. We fear it. Change requires loss in exchange for something else. The challenge arises when the “something else” isn’t as desirable than the status quo for whatever reason: and in this case, perception is more important than the reality.

These fears often operate at the fundamental level of our psyche. If change risks our livelihood, we fear having enough to eat, being able to provide for family, and so forth. We fear loss of face – shown to be incompetent, wrong, or foolish. Perhaps we fear loss of our reputation, carefully crafted over time. We fear anything that makes us feel vulnerable, inadequate, or superfluous.

Most organizations and leaders never name these fears out loud, so they become underlying organizational anxiety: unspoken, unacknowledged, ever-present. This tends to make people more reactive and defensive, ready to create turf they can hold on to.

When we enter into this sort of situation as a non-anxious presence, we can help others navigate change. Being non-anxious allows us to name the fears we see around us. By naming these fears, we can help people validate and respond to their existence – thus building resiliency. When people feel like what they say and do matter, they are more likely to open up to the ideas and actions of others, and become less defensive of their own territory.

Being non-anxious in change management allows us to be empathetic with others. This empathy creates space for people to resolve their emotional blocks toward the change everyone is experiencing, and move toward active participants in the work together.

Organizational Alignment

When working toward organizational alignment around a common purpose, goal, or vision, there is always change involved. Our vision is bigger than we are now; anything we do to achieve it changes what we do and how we do it. The very act of pursuing vision is itself a change.

As we work to align around our vision, mission, and purpose, we ask people to change to meet the objectives we laid out. Being non-anxious in getting people aligned helps them deal with the fears that come from the new and the unknown – and the potential for failure.

Emotional Intelligence

Sustainable companies develop non-anxious leadership as a part of their emphasis on overall emotional intelligence: the ability to be aware of emotions (ours and others’) and manage those emotions in a constructive way.

Would you like to chat about being a non-anxious presence in your enterprise? Let's find a time.

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