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Choose Your Success Team Wisely

?Choose friends wisely. Like elevator buttons, they will either take you up or down.? Dr. Vincent Muli Kituku

Think about it. You want to be a professional speaker. You live in Boise, Idaho. English is not your native or second language. Your academic back ground is not in communications, education, business or psychology.

No problem, my association with professional speakers more than compensated for all the challenges expected in this mission?making a difference in other people?s lives through the power of the spoken and/or written word.

In whatever field you are devoting your energy, your growth curve and rewards, both tangible and intangible, will depend on the people you surround yourself with.

You may spend years with a hero or just minutes. A few minutes are what God allotted for me to be with Cavett Robert, CSP, CPAE, the founder of the National Speakers Association. He died about two months after the 1997 NSA convention, which was my first time NSA conference. He didn?t say much, beside a gracious smile that seemed to tell me, ?You too can do it.? I had learned about his inspirations, encouragement and generosity. We posed for a photo.

At that convention, I sat next to another attendee during a morning sessions without knowing that he was the featured luncheon speaker. It was Willie Jolley. In his speech, he talked about the obstacles he had overcome. Then he read this quote by Dr. Benjamin Mays, ?It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn?t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in not having a goal to reach for. It isn?t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal. It is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach your stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for?? I had and did set time to ?pick his brains.?

These were the folks I wanted in my team. I scheduled time to visit with many including Zig Zigler (See You at the Top), Mark Victor (Chicken Soup for the Soul), Harvey Makay (Swim With Sharks), and Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People).


What will propel you faster, with less stress and zero confusion, into real professional success and fulfillment in personal endeavors, is the kind of people you surround yourself with. These are the people who inspire you to get from your comfort zone to rewarding living. The ones who, once they learn your vision and listen to your questions, have the words you must hear in order to act. They lead you to other people or resources that you need to make your vision a reality.

I consider the quality of associates a dominant factor for anyone?s success or failure. I spent two years in 2nd grade. I have no clue why. I spent two years in 6th grade and two more years in 7th. Yes, one can attempt to attribute my setbacks, especially failing in 6th and 7th grades, to the unimaginable turmoil of watching my mother breakdown helplessly as my father became a polygamist. Or the time I spent admitted to the in hospital suffering from stomachache and malaria. All these factors for sure had some impact in my academic performance.

Looking back, more than thirty years later, however, I can say the main culprit for my dismal schooling performance could as well be the group I associated with. That is until I was in the 7th grade for the second time. None of my close friends, the ones I felt comfortable with and grazed cattle with, ever got a ?C? grade. One failed the high school entrance exam but managed to attend a poorly staffed high school where his final grade was an ?F.?

In a previous article, I wrote about my daily commitment to thirty minutes of study after everybody else was asleep. I also mentioned about my change of friends. Jackson Kiio Maingi became the boy to hang around. He was a neighbor who lived less than a mile from my home. We were classmates before I was forced to repeat the 6th grade. By the time I was in the 7th grade for the second time, he was two grades ahead.

Mr. Maingi, a humble and hard working young man, was a gold medalist as far as academics are concerned. He didn?t get involved with drinking or smoking like my previous friends and me. When we were together, we talked about school life, exams, and what could prepare someone for the monumental university entrance exams. During the school holidays, we would go to the local elementary school and study together.

My academic life was changed forever. My top friends in high school were also top achievers. In college, I hung around some postgraduate students from whom I learned there was more learning beyond the undergraduate programs.

Forget the money you might spend to grow professionally. The knowledge you have to start with may play a minimal role to get you to new heights. Don?t think your school diploma or degree is the item to elevate you.

The spark that jump starts your growth are the stars in your profession who have walked the path you are embarking on. Those are the people who know the pain of lacking tangible returns for their enormous sacrifice. They took the risks of leaving comfortable zones. They know the rewards of pushing forward, albeit sometimes against the tides.

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