The Key to Excellence, my favorite speech of my late father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, was recently transcribed into the latest volume of our Life-Changing Classics series. It was originally delivered back in the late ‘80s and is one of the funniest, yet most pragmatic, 42 minutes ever recorded on discovering that the key to excellence is all about thinking and realizing, not listening and memorizing.
Learn to laugh at your mistakes. As Mr. Jones said, “Laughing at your failures doesn’t mean you like to fail. It just means you’re learning to capitalize on what goes wrong.” No normal person likes to fail, he explains, but if you don’t learn to capitalize on what does go wrong you’ll never do as much as you could have. As Ethel Barrymore said, “You grow up the first day you have your first real laugh—at yourself.”
Get others to learn to laugh at their mistakes. One of the funniest moments is when Mr. Jones shares the result of his thirty-five years of experience distilled into two words. He claims this knowledge is experiential and not theoretical and then proclaims at the top of his lungs, “NOTHING WORKS!” much to the delight and roars of laughter from the audience. Learning to laugh when you hurt and things go wrong ensures you become better and not bitter.
Be learning that communication is not from your mouth to another’s ears, but from your heart to your mouth. When you speak from your heart you begin to identify with the other person and the barriers begin to come down. Even in today’s virtual world, communicating with people is a necessity and a tremendous therapy and one of the greatest keys to our success.
Being in the business of listening to, writing, publishing, and promoting personal-development material over the past three years has reinforced one critical lesson that I’ve been learning my entire life. Real help, real motivation, and real discipline are drawn out of only one source—you. You are the only architect of the greatest DIY project on planet earth: yourself. As Galileo Galilei said, “We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.” Reading great books and being around positive people to draw it out of you are proven keys, so start by getting your copy of The Key to Excellence and unlock a Tremendous 2012!