Holding ground won’t win the war, you need to keep alert and always look for the “one more thing” that you can be doing to win. And, when you have done it. Don’t stop there, because there is still one more thing you can do. In life, advancement and achievement are moving targets. The only way you can expect to succeed is if you have the drive within yourself to stay proactive and exhaust every avenue on the path to achieving your goal.
Don’t wait for opportunity to knock.
Put yourself in the driver seat of your own future. If you want something, go after it. Don’t ever assume that an opportunity will come find you.
In February 1940, senior year in High School, I was offered a job by the Kentucky Senator “Happy” Chandler in the Senate Book Warehouse in Washington, D.C. $30.00 a week. My Dad had worked on his behalf in election campaigns. I left home the next day thinking I’d have a good chance of finding an appointment to the Military Academy in Washington where Senators and Congressmen were. I rented a room and finished high school at night in June 1940 with middle-aged cab drivers and government workers.
Then went to George Washington University at night year-round until June 1942. Periodically the Army published a list of Congressmen and Senators who had still had Appointments unfilled to West Point. The Senate Warehouse being close to the House and Senate Office Buildings, I knocked on doors, and asked for an appointment. No luck – for 2 ½ years. In June 1942, Congress doubled the numbers of Cadets and Midshipmen in the Service Academies. I went into high gear visiting Congressional offices. Again, no luck.
However, my own Congressman – Ed Creal, 4th District, Kentucky said he WOULD appoint me to the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. I thanked him very graciously and respectfully; then asked if he would appoint another Congressman’s man to Annapolis if that Congressman would appoint me to West Point. That set him back. Mr. Creal was surprised BUT he agreed to such a possible swap. I really went into overdrive then, and found Congressman Eugene E. Cox of Georgia who agreed to the deal. He appointed me to West Point. I received a telegram from the War Department to report in to the Military academy on 15 July 1942.
If a strategy doesn’t work, invent a new one.
NEVER QUIT! When you take a big hit, get back up. It’s a lot easier to go down than to CRAWL back up when your morale is down. JUST DO IT! You CAN control your will to win.
Three strikes and you’re not out.
My principal problem at West Point centered around all the mathematically based Engineering subjects. The B.S. degree awarded was in “Military Science and Engineering” so the bulk of the courses were in Higher Math; Civil, Electrical, Hydraulic, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry and the like. By the end of October, my first year, my name was on the list of men who were “deficient” in Math. If I had continued so, I would have been discharged from the Military Academy at Christmas. I was severely frightened. After all my work getting into West Point, I was in danger of being kicked out. I was determined that would not happen. From then on, by memorization and study from 7:30 – 12:00 or 1:00 at night, I made it through and graduated, proud to say, in the top of the bottom 25% of my class.
Go beyond the call of duty.
Early on I discovered that on occasion the officer who’d called the meeting had not thought through a logical plan on which to move the meeting through an issue. From then on, if time permitted, when I was called to a meeting, I would prepare several copies of an agenda which related to the issue but which was constructed to advance my boss’s position.
Let the other guy say no.
Never say “NO” to yourself when confronted with asking someone for something when you know you have a REASONABLE request. Ask it and make the other guy say no!