A Secret About Life
How To Be Successful

I can’t recall why I had a chat with Ayanna, my granddaughter, who lives with me in Crown Point, IN. Regardless, I started my discussion by telling her that I was giving her a secret…a secret about life. If you wish to be successful, you must address the things that trouble you the most.

Randy Pausch said, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” A less poetic way of saying this truism is the phrase, no pain, no gain. It is up to each of us to respond to our own personal Sitz im Leben. That phrase is a German expression, which means situation in life.

Ayanna has heard me talk about the curse of going to school in Mt. Lebanon, PA. My parents moved to Mt. Lebanon when my father was transferred from Pennsauken, NJ to Pittsburgh, PA. He wanted to provide for the best education possible for his children, and Mt. Lebanon had the best schools in the Pittsburgh area. It was also the 19th best school system in the entire country.

Along with the excellence in education, it was the wealthiest community in Western Pennsylvania. I learned two things while going to school in Mt. Lebanon; I was dumb and poor. I understood back then that Mt. Lebanon was a golden and educational ghetto. I was used to being above average in school and my parents were doing nicely in Pennsauken, but now we live in Mt. Lebanon. My life radically changed.

That negative feeling haunted me for the early part of my adult life. Once that I realized my mistake, I was able to turn that curse of feeling dumb and poor into blessings.

While Ayanna and I talked, I suggested that she would make a list of 25 famous people who were successful in their lives and with whom she wished to emulate.

This essay is designed as a means of help my readers to obtain success in their lives. Therefore, jot down a list of potential mentors of yours as you walk down your yellow brick road of life. The life’s story of many of them you might be aware of some detail. If not, Google their life stories.

Bobby Kennedy is the single most important person in my list. He too lived in an actual golden bubble. His father was wealthy, which often doesn’t guarantee successfulness. Nevertheless, his father viewed Bobby as the family’s black sheep. The actual term that his father used was “the runt.” Bobby felt less than his brothers and that troubled him. Bobby often felt lost and alone on his life’s journey. “Sometimes people think that because you have money and position you are immune from the human experience. But I can feel as lonesome and lost as the next man when I turn the key in the door and go into an empty house that is usually full of kids and dogs.

Bobby addressed that issue and became, for me and millions of others throughout the world, someone that we could look to for guidance. Bobby, due to his suffering while growing up, turned that curse into a blessing. Do you see how his example motivated me?

Bobby in South Africa

Bobby said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Bobby’s comment about failing resonated with me. I often felt afraid to try because I was afraid to fail. I already felt less than what I should have felt. To me and many others, if we want to be successful, it will only be achieved by risking failure.

Anytime that Bobby said or wrote was date-sensitive. We are living a chaotic world with 18 million cases of the coronavirus and 320,000 deaths. If that isn’t troubling, we have a loser as our president who tweets rather than lead. He is considering marshal law to keep himself in the White House. Listen to Bobby’s comment, “All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.” Indeed. Greatness is only achieved when facing chaos.


Bobby wanted us to stand up to those chaotic times. “Each time a man stands up for an “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

However, Bobby paraphrased a one-liner from George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah. “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.”

I dream things that never were and say, why not.

None of those successful people that you picked for your list was able to achieve greatness without some sort of problem or pain, which they addressed. The greater the pain, the great their success.