"Our purpose in life should be to build a life of purpose.” —Wade B. Cook I have been a student of life and of people. I notice things and try to connect the dots. Life is wonderful, mysterious and sometimes bewildering. I have found answers for these times. Often, I find guideposts and often these are found in simple words and maxims.

These short, terse sayings have been of strength to me.

“Words and wisdom from the books I’ve read are much like the food I’ve eaten; I can’t remember what it was, but it has made me who I am.” —Wade B. Cook

I have collected quotations since I was fifteen. Each day, my English teacher would write one on the blackboard. I started writing them down, memorizing them, internalizing them. They have helped me immensely.

I noticed something. Many of these sayings had their genesis in the Bible. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”—Ecclesiastes 1:9. The fact that so much good comes from the Bible is the way it should be. The Bible, what a treasure chest of wealth, inspiration and edification.

As you read these thoughts and sayings, you might think you have read such elsewhere. You have. These thoughts have rumbled around in my mind for years. I humbly present these thoughts here to enliven you, uplift and, to quote the Army, to help you be all that you can be.

Write Your Own Success Story

Write your own success story. Write in intrigue, obstacles, problems, conflicts—then solutions, resolutions and the development of winning attitudes.

Winning attitudes produce winning ways.

I’m not big into New Year’s Resolutions-type goal setting. It’s shortsighted and lacks resolve and the will and action to finish the process. Most people focus on the prize, not the price. Few know the price of success, and once they do, fewer still are willing to pay that price. Target, direction and priorities lay the foundation of success. Write things down. Follow the direction you set for yourself—look at your blueprint constantly. The right way is the write way.

Your book should be like all good books—the further into the plot you go, the more enjoyable it becomes. Write in failures and success, and what you learn from each. Explain fully how your friends have come and gone and how they helped you. Kindly write out all those who hurt, betrayed and let you down. Were they ships in the night or were they fellow hands on deck?

Explore your passions, your likes and dislikes and above all tell us of your relationship with God. Tell, please, what makes you tick! Today, your life is an unfinished story. That’s the beauty of the start of this plot.

Common Characteristics of Success

Before I go on, I want to include a few insights into common characteristics of great people.

I wrote a book called Success: American Style. Writing this book started me thinking about common threads in the lives of great people. I noticed several things that definitely were “bridges of commonality” among truly great men and women in this country. Let me give you a quick list of those observations.

1. Almost every great person whom I have observed and studied had, if not a passionate love for God, at least a reverence for the finer things in life, meaning in this instance the spiritual side of life. Their side of life was not only important to them, but it is opening apparent.

2. I saw that almost all great people were very active in the lives of their family and friends. If their families were not involved in their businesses or their careers, at least they were involved in major portions of their life.

One of the things I have consistently observed in our Wall Street Workshop graduates is they usually come up and tell me their stories in twos and threes; families, husbands and wives, or fathers and mothers with their kids. The most excited ones were trading together, in a group with their family or friends.

3. The next thing I observed in the lives of truly great people was that they took control of their own education. Nobody had to tell them to get educated. Can you imagine Abraham Lincoln being scolded by his mother for not studying late at night in front of the fire? Can you imagine George Washington Carver, or Thomas Sowell, or any of the other great leaders of our country in that scenario? They were a step ahead of virtually everyone else, but knowing what their education was going to do for them. They knew where they wanted to be, and they knew that knowledge and the proper application of knowledge was about wisdom and good results.

4. Every great person I have studied had a passion for excellence. They knew that winning in life or being successful in any business enterprise means dealing with the details—and as I’ve said in many of my seminars recently, you need the three “Ps”: Passion, Precision, and then the Profits. And there are a lot of people who want profits without the passion and the precision.

5. I’ve also noticed in reading about the studying these comments, and studying these extraordinary people that they have a tremendous love for all people—specifically those they were working with and others around them. This love spills over into their actions. The point is, they realize they are part of a whole; they can do great things, but they also want to share those great thing and have the people around them also doing great things and share in the blessings.

Let me share a quotation with you from Woodrow Wilson:

“You are not here merely to make a living.  You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, but will lessen yourself if you forget the errand.”

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