Allow me to jump right in. Do you know why most people will never become successful?
No, it’s not because they do not have a goal, vision or plan. It’s not that they fear success or lack motivation, discipline or knowledge. It’s not even because they’re lazy, entitled, negative, make excuses, waste time, think too small, do not believe, spend too much time on social media, listen to the wrong information, hang around losers, distracted, or don’t execute.
I was sixteen years old—having fun at the beach, in the Virgin Islands, where I was born and raised, with a bunch of friends from church. I will never forget that fateful Sunday. Like most enterprising and adventurous teenagers, we all thought we were invincible. So, it happened that while we (the boys) were standing on the shore talking about which of the many pretty girls we liked and would love to go out with, we came up with a plan that we thought would impress the girls.
Our grand and audacious idea was to throw a floating object as far as we could into the water, and the guy who swam to the object and brought it back first would get to go on a date with one of those charming princesses. The girls went along with our plan and promised that the guy who successfully accomplished the task would be the happiest teenager in history (wink, wink). Okay, it’s not what you’re thinking. These girls were level-headed and were not easily enticed or ensnared.
Although I was an average swimmer at best, I decided to participate in the contest because my eyes were set on the most beautiful girl on the beach that day, and her name was Stephanie. I had to win—I needed Stephanie to see how dauntless, fearless, and valorous I was.
“On your mark, get set, go!” someone shouted. We dove into the water and swam like mad men over and through the waves towards the floating object. All I could think about as I was swam to the illusive object was Stephanie. Although most of the guys who competed were incredible swimmers—no one was going to beat me that day. I was determined to win, and I did. I didn’t reach the object first; however, the few guys who got to the object before I did were busy jostling for position, and while they were busy fending off each other, I dove underneath them and surfaced with object in my hand. The girls on the beach screamed in excitement—cheering on the victor, yours truly.
Some of the losers swam to an island of rocks about one hundred yards away while the other dispirited guys swam back to shore. I had accomplished half of the challenge. And the next half was to bring the prize to the ladies. With the object in my hand, I started swimming to shore. Then I realized something. The shore was really, really far away—and the people looked really tiny. During my mad dash, I didn’t realized how far out I had swam. Remember, I was an average swimmer.
I told myself that I wanted to live, more than I wanted to die.
Well, I started swimming back to shore, and for some reason the shore was not getting any closer. So, I took it up a notch and kicked harder and gave it everything I had. But in doing so, I ran out of energy halfway to the shore. I felt myself starting to panic, but I did some positive self-talk, which bought me a half-a-minute of energy. But those seconds passed by quickly and my arms started to feel like stones and my legs stopped kicking altogether. I was about to drown right in front of all of my new female fans—but my fans were no longer paying attention to me. They’d quickly forgotten about me and were eating, listening to music, and having fun.
When you’re staring death in the face, you can do two things. You can accept the inevitability of it, or you can choose to fight. I chose the latter. I told myself that I wanted to live, more than I wanted to die. In those seconds, which seemed like an eternity, I felt as if I were having a conversation with the Grim Reaper himself. And I told him “Not today, buddy. First, I am not drowning in front of my friends and fans. And secondly, I am determined to go on a date with Stephanie. So keep moving.”
Wouldn’t you know it—I found new life and energy. And I darted towards the shore, which was still quite a distance away. But the trouble wasn’t over yet. Once again, I flamed out. However, I flamed out right next to a friend of mine who saw that I was in trouble and was watching me the entire time.
She swam to me and jokingly said, “Joe, you don’t seem to be doing okay.” To which I responded, I don’t think I’ll make it to the shore, could you help me?”
“Let me think about,” she said.
“Please,” I begged. “I’ll do anything.”
Her face lit up like the sun that was bearing down on us. “You gotta go on a date with me,” she replied.”And you can’t go out with Stephanie.”
“Not happening,” I rebutted.
“Fine, then I guess I’ll just watch you drown.”
“Okay, okay, what?”
“I’ll go on a date with you,” I said, with what I thought would be my last breath.
This guardian angel kept her word and allowed me to rest my hand on her shoulder as she towed me in to shore, where I collapsed from sheer exhaustion. After regaining my energy and bearings, I sought out my new angel and told her that I planned on keeping my word. She told me that she was kidding, and encouraged me to go out with Stephanie. She even gave me a few pointers.
Here’s the heart of the matter. Most people will never become successful because of one simple reason—they don’t want success badly enough! Unless you want success as badly as you want to breathe, then you’ll never be successful. On that day when I was faced with the odds of choosing between life or drowning—I chose Stephanie!
You, my friend, are endowed with everything you need to succeed at the highest levels! So, why not take a chance on success and see what your life could be.