Distilling the Giants for their Keys to a Fulfilling, Happy and Successful Life
Expert advice on a fulfilling life
What are the keys to success and happiness? What gives us purpose and drive to get out of bed each morning and take on the world? For millennia man has tried to answer the questions “Why am I here?” and “What is the meaning of life?” The truth is that there are no correct answers to those questions.
Many people have tried to find these secrets and some have succeeded in their own way. As mankind has accumulated knowledge and experimented in the laboratory of life, we have built, expanded and refined those qualities that give our lives meaning. Many experts, philosophers, theologians and other great thinkers of the ages have passed on their knowledge. Others have studied various aspects of the qualities that humans strive for. These are the Giants. These are the people who have done extensive research and shared with us their secrets for success, happiness, inspiration, financial well-being and generally just feeling good about one’s self. These experts – the Giants – in their fields have an abundance of knowledge about what makes us tick … really tick! They study, practice, live and preach these things designed to make our lives better.
I have been reading their books, listening to their recordings and watching their videos for a couple years now. It has all been phenomenally life-changing. That brings me to the purpose of my prose. In this hectic, fast-paced world, most people don’t have time or won’t make the time to listen to these pied pipers of eternal euphoria. Let me make it clear that I highly suggest your buy the books, recordings and videos yourself and get the full impact of what they have to say. What you’re reading here is just the CliffsNotes of mounds of information refined from centuries of research.
I’ve studied the likes of Zig Ziglar, Dave Ramsey, Daniel Pink, Rick Warren, Stephen R. Covey, and Dale Carnegie, among many others. The ultimate source I’ve studied is Jesus, the Christ. As I’ve studied the works of these brilliant people I have come to learn that they have a lot in common. There are core principles that drive our lives. The other principles build on this framework. The various opinions and philosophies weave a beautiful and powerful tapestry which hangs on the foundation of these beliefs and practices.
What I have done here is distilled the most powerful and common ideas postulated by the Giants and condensed them for easy reading and understanding. Please keep in mind that what you see here is just an outline. To see the big picture you must first look into the details of their hard work and discoveries. Do not stop here, but rather use this as a launch pad into a world you never knew existed. If you do know about these things, let this serve as a reminder to pass along what you know to others.
As part of the distillation process, I am combining the topics of success, happiness and inspiration into one package called fulfillment. I know they are very different things, but they are also closely tied together and have much more in common than you may realize.
The Ten Giant Traits
As I look over the wisdom imparted by the Giants, along with inspirational quotes from many others, I have concluded that these ten attributes are the consistent keys to a fulfilling life:
6. Dreaming/Goal Setting
Next in no particular order are: Quality, Excellence, Value, Trust, Inspiration, Focus, Learning, Creation, and Will. To be sure there are many more. From what I have learned, however, is nearly every one of the Giants key-in on most or all of these things.
Belief is paramount. It tops the list for many reasons. Without belief we lack purpose and conviction for what we do. Belief creates purpose and motivation. Belief in God, belief in yourself, and belief in what you are doing and how and why you are doing it are the reason and motivation for whatever you do.
You have to believe that God made you for a reason. You have to believe that he equipped you to be the best you that you can be. He gave all of us the ability to grow beyond ourselves. Even if you don’t believe in God or a higher power, you must believe in yourself. What are you if you cannot believe in yourself and your abilities? Belief in yourself gives you the conviction to achieve things greater than yourself.
Consider these quotes:
“‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” Mark 1:15
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.’” John 11:25
“He does not believe that does not live according to his belief.” – Sigmund Freud
“Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” – William James
“If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities.” – Dale Carnegie
Love is more than a choice or a feeling. Love, like belief, gives us motivation and guides us in the things we do. Love fuels our passions and governs our desires. It gives us clarity and focus along with purpose and reason.
It is abundantly clear that we are to love God and other people more than we love ourselves. In the Bible, when the teachers of the law asked Jesus which of the commandments was most important, Jesus told them to love.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
In 1 Corinthians 13:13, love is prioritized. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Consider these quotes:
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:2-8a
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
“The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.” – Rick Warren
“It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” – Rick Warren
“The greatest single cause of a poor self-image is the absence of unconditional love.” – Zig Ziglar
“A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.” – Thomas Carlyle
“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” – Charles Dickens
“A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.” – Joseph Joubert
Giving is the outward expression of love. There are numerous sources and studies, both biblical and secular, which say the happiest and most blessed people are those who give. It’s not just material things, but giving of time, talent, self, attention, aid, and so on. This means developing an attitude of giving and putting others first. Remember the adage “you have to give if you want to receive”? It’s true! Giving means putting the needs of others ahead of yourself. It’s the Golden Rule personified. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) If you notice, it says to do first. That means act, not react.
In Luke 18, Jesus tells the rich ruler to sell all he has, give the money to the poor, and to follow Jesus. It is the man’s inability to give up what he has that keeps him from his greatest reward.
Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” said that in order to help others, you must first know and understand what they want. Once you know what they want, it makes it easier to give.
“‘Seek First to Understand’ involves a very deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives,” he said.
Daniel Pink, whose book “Drive” details motivation in business, said the best-performing companies will inspire their employees by giving them autonomy. When they feel a high degree of satisfaction and accomplishment, they perform their job better and more enthusiastically and thus the company performs better.
“Allow people to complete a task their own way. Think autonomy, not control,” Pink said. He later writes that employees are more satisfied when they have a say in the company’s charitable activities – the giving.
Dave Ramsey, perhaps the world’s leading authority on personal finance, makes it clear that getting out of debt and accumulating wealth isn’t worth a hoot if you don’t give some of it away. “Financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this,” he said.
Elsewhere he said, “It’s time to build wealth and give like never before. Leave an inheritance for future generations, and bless others now with your excess. It’s really the only way to live!”
Consider these quotes:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
“The Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35b
“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24
“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:42
“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” Luke 6:30
“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
Closely aligned with giving is serving. Serving is not only giving of oneself, it is the art of putting others first. Rotary International, among others, is known for its motto “service above self.” That principle applies to the U.S. military, specifically the Air Force. They are known, after all, as “servicemen” and “servicewomen”. Service and sacrifice are close kin. Sacrificing your own wants and needs to serve others is a reward unto itself.
Service does not mean being a doormat. It does not mean doing anything and everything for everyone. That’s foolishness. It means having the heart and the will to put the needs of others first. It means doing the things that you know are best for all involved. Remember, being a servant does not mean being subservient. There are plenty of times when you have to say no to someone so you can take care of your own needs. Don’t let others take advantage of you; you take the advantage by being of service to others.
Consider these quotes:
“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” Mark 9:35
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy
“You’re happiest while you’re making the greatest contribution.” – Robert Kennedy
“The only really happy people are those who have learned how to serve.” – Rick Warren
“The only way you can serve God is by serving other people.” – Rick Warren
“It comes from service. It is by giving our lives away that we find meaning, because that’s the way we’re wired, I believe, by God.” – Rick Warren
“You don’t judge the strength of an army by how many soldiers sit and eat in the mess hall, but by how they perform on the front line. Likewise a church’s strength is not seen in how many show up, but in how many serve in the ministry.” – Rick Warren
When it comes to integrity and character, it’s true when we say that a man (or woman) is only as good as his (her) word. You can’t be trusted and your reputation is shot if you lack integrity. You are what you do when no one else is looking. It is vital to be honest and forthright in all of your dealings, whether anyone knows about them or not. Hold unswervingly to all the traits of good character. Be honest, dependable and reliable in all that you do or say.
Even the person with the utmost integrity will occasionally slip. That is to be expected, as we are not perfect beings. A person of integrity, however, gets back up. He takes ownership of his mistakes. Dave Ramsey put it superbly when he put it this way, “For your own good, for the good of your family and your future, grow a backbone. When something is wrong, stand up and say it is wrong, and don’t back down.”
Consider these quotes:
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Proverbs 11:3
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4
“With integrity you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt. With fear and guilt removed you are free to be and do your best.” – Zig Ziglar
“You can get everything money will buy without a lick of character, but you can’t get any of the things money won’t buy – happiness, joy, peace of mind, winning relationships, etc., without character.” – Zig Ziglar
“The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.” – Zig Ziglar
“You cannot dream yourself into a character: you must hammer and forge yourself into one.” – Henry D. Thoreau
6. Dreaming/Goal Setting
I put these two together because goals are the plans for achieving dreams. I’m not talking about the dreams of sleep, but the dreams of great minds. The things we envision having and doing in life (our dreams) become our goals and goal-setting is our road map to achieving them. Every person has a dream or desire of something they would like to do with their life. Few people achieve those dreams because they lack self-confidence or are too willing to settle for what is good rather than strive for the best.
Zig Ziglar has published a great deal of material on goals and is quite possibly the greatest authority on the subject in our time. I love this quote of his: “The great majority of people are ‘wandering generalities’ rather than ‘meaningful specifics’. The fact is that you can’t hit a target that you can’t see. If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. You have to have goals.”
Consider these quotes:
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
“You were born to win, but to be the winner you were born to be you must plan to win and prepare to win. Then and only then can you legitimately expect to win.” – Zig Ziglar
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar
“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” – Zig Ziglar
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Zig Ziglar
“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” – Stephen Covey
Begin With the End in Mind: “(This habit)...is based on imagination -- the ability to envision, to see the potential, to create with our minds what we cannot at present see with our eyes...” – Stephen Covey
Put First Things First: “Create a clear, mutual understanding of what needs to be accomplished, focusing on what, not how; results not methods. Spend time. Be patient. Visualize the desired result.” – Stephen Covey
“If you want something you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.” – Dave Ramsey
“1. Establish a big, hairy, audacious goal- a goal that is just outside your reach but attainable.
2. Plan out in incremental steps the details that will allow you to accomplish your big goal.
3. Find people who have accomplished similar goals and study them.
4. Heed warnings from the experts but don’t let them become negatives.
5. Decide on what you’re willing to sacrifice to achieve your goal.
6. Stay away from negative people and surround yourself with positive influences.
7. Visualize your plan in detail.
8. When you win, achieve your goal, then celebrate!” – Dave Ramsey
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Failures do what is tension relieving, while winners do what is goal achieving.” – Dennis Waitley
“All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.” – T.E. Lawrence
Why am I here? It’s one of the most perplexing questions of the ages. It has no right or wrong answer. Each answer is different for each person. God made each person on purpose and for a purpose. Purpose is the intentionality of our lives. Once we discover what we want to do and how we want to do it, purpose is what drives us. It is what commits us to action and keeps us going. Without a sense of purpose you do not have a sense of direction or reason for anything you do.
Consider these quotes:
“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Exodus 9:16
“Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:5
“You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.” – Rick Warren
“Being successful and fulfilling your life’s purpose are not at all the same thing; You can reach all your personal goals, become a raving success by the worlds standard and still miss your purpose in this life.” – Rick Warren
“To forget one’s purpose is the commonest form of stupidity.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
“When I chased after money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous.” – Wayne Dyer
“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – John F. Kennedy
“Success demands singleness of purpose.” – Vince Lombardi
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” – Helen Keller
“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.” – Napoleon Hill
“Many entrepreneurs, executives, and investors are realizing that the best performing companies stand for something and contribute to the world.” – Daniel Pink
“Within organizations, people need to have purpose: In goals that use profit to reach purpose; in words that emphasize more than self-interest; and in policies that allow people to pursue purpose on their own terms.” – Daniel Pink
Attitude is everything. One cannot emphasize enough the importance of a positive mental attitude. As we focus our minds we focus our actions. It is true that you are what you think. When was the last time a pessimist won the Super Bowl or an election? All successful people must first visualize themselves winning or achieving their goal. Anyone who visualizes or plans for failure will accomplish exactly what they set their minds to.
There are two kinds of people: Those who light up a room when they walk in and those who light up a room when they leave. A sunny disposition, cheerful smile and a positive attitude will take you much farther than a single doubt or negative attitude ever will.
Consider these quotes:
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.” 1 Peter 4:1
“I’m so optimistic I’d go after Moby Dick in a row boat and take the tartar sauce with me.” – Zig Ziglar
“Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give him yours.” – Zig Ziglar
“Far too many people have no idea of what they can do because all they have been told is what they can’t do. They don’t know what they want because they don’t know what’s available for them.” – Zig Ziglar
“You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” – Zig Ziglar
“We all need a daily check up from the neck up to avoid stinkin ‘thinkin’ which ultimately leads to hardening of the attitudes.” – Zig Ziglar
“It’s not what happens to you that determines how far you will go in life; it is how you handle what happens to you.” – Zig Ziglar
“You cannot tailor make the situations in life, but you can tailor make the attitudes to fit those situations before they arise.” – Zig Ziglar
“Of all the ‘attitudes’ we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing.” – Zig Ziglar
“If you treat your wife like a thoroughbred, you’ll never end up with a nag.” – Zig Ziglar
“To respond is positive, to react is negative.” – Zig Ziglar
“Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have.” – Dale Carnegie
“Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” – Dale Carnegie
“Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions; it is governed by our mental attitude.” – Dale Carnegie
“Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.” – Albert Einstein
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts; therefore guard accordingly.” – Marcus Aurelius
“The way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel determines the way you act.” – Rick Warren
“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” – Vince Lombardi
Don’t let contentment kill your passion and drive, but rather enjoy it as a key to happiness and satisfaction. Without contentment, success has no goal. We must learn to be content with what we have, where we’re at and who we are. If we lack contentment in any of those things we must change it. That does not mean going into debt to keep up with the Jones’s. No one can be truly content with debt.
If buying a certain thing makes you happy, then, assuming you can afford it, get it. When you do get it, be happy with it. Don’t fret because it soon becomes obsolete or out of fashion. The same goes for your location. Be happy where you are. If you wish to be elsewhere, make a plan and go. Likewise, if you don’t like what you’ve become, make the necessary changes to become the person you want to be. If that means losing weight, getting fit, earning a degree or changing careers, so be it. If you never experience contentment you will never know the taste of success.
Consider these quotes:
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.” Ecclesiastes 7:14
“If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.” Job 36:11
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8
“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want the most for what you want now.” – Zig Ziglar
“The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.” – Doug Larson
The Nike shoe company has sold a lot of product with the advertising slogan “Just do it”. The slogan has nothing to do with shoes. It is a metaphor for life. In order to do or accomplish anything there must first be movement. Inertia must give way to action. The previous nine qualities cannot happen without action. Love unexpressed is not love at all. Dreams and goals are just idle thoughts unless you engage them. You can’t give or serve without first making an effort. Even if your first step is wobbly and uncertain, it is still better than the step not taken.
Consider these quotes:
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16
“If you will pump long enough, hard enough, and enthusiastically enough, sooner or later the effort will bring forth the reward.” – Zig Ziglar
“Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.” – Dale Carnegie
“Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive. It does mean recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.” – Stephen Covey
“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” – Daniel Pink
“Only engagement can produce mastery – becoming better at something that matters.” – Daniel Pink
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” – Vince Lombardi
“Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration.” – Evan Esar
“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” – Francis Bacon
“To reach a port, we must sail — Sail, not tie at anchor — Sail, not drift.” – Franklin Roosevelt
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” – Thomas A. Edison
“The best things in life make you sweaty.” – Edgar Allan Poe
“Pray like it all depends on God, but work like it all depends on you.” – Dave Ramsey