Have you ever watched someone who seemed to possess second-rate skills or talent have a first-rate success? Did it make you wonder why, since so many people who are more gifted or smarter go nowhere? The latter ones may have a key component to success in common—a determination to rise to the top of their game and their careers and they go the distance to achieve it.

Actress Sophia Loren said, “Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent but with great inner drive go much further than people with vastly superior talent.”

All the talent in the world won’t help if you don’t use it. Being the most delicious cookie in the box won’t get you eaten if no one picks you. Being the smartest person in your office won’t help if you don’t open your mouth and show your smarts. Many people waste their natural abilities by not putting them to the test and proving what they’re capable of.

This Recovering DoorMat has learned she can do anything she chooses too. YOU can too!

Think about what you could accomplish if you develop the ability and the inner drive to advance in whatever you want to do. How can you prepare yourself to take the steps to pursue what you say you want? The keys to making progress are:

* Learn what you don’t know. Take a class, get a tutor or mentor, read books, or whatever it takes to teach you what you need before going forward.

* Practice your skills until you improve them and then keep practicing to be as good as possible. Practice may not make you perfect but it will make you better. And the better you get, the stronger your confidence becomes.

* Ask yourself, “How badly do I want [whatever it is you’re pursuing]?” If it’s just a whim, let it go. But if it’s something you want from your soul, acknowledge that. Focus on it. Write it down. Keep in on your mind so you can build a mental momentum.

* Stop making excuses about why you’re not ready or can’t do it. Excuses are self-inflicted road blocks. They say you’ve made a a conscious decision not to go after what you say you want. “I can’t learn to ski since I’m not fit enough.” Give it up or eat healthier, hit the gym and improve your fitness. “I don’t know enough to run the office.” Give it up or educate yourself. Ask lots of questions. Write down what you think you don’t know and find out how to learn it. It’s your choice, not your sentence, to let excuses stop you.

* Decide if achieving your goal is worth the effort. Literally make yourself choose if you prefer to complain or make excuses or do what you’ve gotta do to make it happen. Consciously make the choice. And if the choice is to go for it, start doing the work.

* Affirm your intentions. “I trust myself to do____.” “I want___ enough to do what it takes.” “I can do it!” “I’m good enough!” Make up your own affirmations to fit your situation.

* Focus on doing what you have to. Start with one baby step at a time. Do something to move forward, even if it seems trivial. One step closer is one step closer! Then take another. Even if reaching your goal takes time, keep moving forward.

* Push through the doubts or fears or pain if you want to get to the other side. It will be worth it when you get what you want.

This morning I saw gymnast Kerri Strug on a TV morning show. I remembered watching the gymnastics finals in the 1996 Olympics. The US team was in contention for a gold medal and Kerri was last to do her vault. It was all up to her. Everyone thought it was over when Kerri fell and injured her ankle on her first try. She was in pain but needed to stick her landing on the second vault. Most athletes would have mourned their bad luck and allowed themselves to be carried off. Not Kerri!

I held my breath as she focused on her second vault with determination. She did it perfectly, landed on both feet and held it long enough to secure gold for the American team. Then she collapsed from the pain. Some have it, some don’t. It’s hard to stay in the game and not get discouraged or give up because of difficulties. Advancing in any career takes work. Some goals add extra elements of difficulty. You need a strong soul, and strong faith, in both you and in knowing you have spiritual support. Kerri Strug wanted to win badly enough to endure the pain and focus on what she needed to do. Do you?

Kerri is now working with ING to encourage young people to get out and run through a program called Orange Laces. Check it out and donate if you can! She’s now determined to help kids become more fit.

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