Winners' Wisdom
by Jim Stovall

Get the Facts

We succeed or fail in this life by making good or bad decisions. We can't always choose what happens to us, and it is a certainty that from time to time bad things do happen to good people; however, we can always choose our reaction to any and every situation.

Sometimes bad decisions are made because the consequences are not fully understood, but a far greater percentage of the time, bad decisions are made simply because a person doesn't have all of the facts. Once all of the facts are in place, the right course of action is generally very obvious.

The key to plotting a course to any destination is, first and foremost, to know where you are right now. Whether you want to lose weight, reach your financial goals, or travel across the country, you must first know your exact position before you start. The most detailed and accurate road map in the world is absolutely useless unless you can determine where on the map you are currently located.

Oftentimes, people are afraid to get all of the facts because they fear they will learn some bad news. Whether the news is good or bad, once it is known it can be dealt with. It is impossible to solve a problem that is not clearly understood or to answer a question that is unclear; therefore, we should never fear the facts. We should, instead, fear being ignorant or uninformed.

I have had the opportunity on several occasions to do business with people from other countries and other cultures. Many well-meaning people trying to do business in the same foreign culture have inadvertently lost great deals of time and money out of their own ignorance. Without meaning to, they have violated certain common courtesies within that culture. Not because they were rude, but because they did not take the time to get the facts.

If you know where you are, who you are dealing with, and fully understand all the terms and conditions, coming up with a mutually-satisfactory outcome in either your personal or professional life is usually fairly simple.

As you go through your day today, don't worry about the facts you know. Worry about the ones you don't.

Things You Know

Knowledge is a key to success in every area of life. With the advent of the Internet, we are bombarded with knowledge from every direction. You can readily access almost any information you want from the convenience of your home or office.

While knowledge is a key to success, the application of the knowledge is wisdom. Wisdom is success in and of itself. While knowledge is critical to the process of succeeding, unless that knowledge is applied, it simply lies dormant like an unread book on the shelf. Most of us have the knowledge or certainly access to the knowledge that we would need in order to succeed, but few people apply the knowledge that they have to create wisdom; therefore, we don't fail because we don't know what to do, we fail because we don't do what we know.

How many things could you list right now that you know you should or ought to do? Everything from making that critical business contact to checking the batteries in your smoke detector. We know what should be done. We often fail to act on the knowledge we already possess.

We often have trouble seeing ourselves as wise people. This may be because the success we are seeking may not yet be evident in our life. We have no trouble recognizing the applied knowledge in the form of wisdom among people we consider to be rich and famous. But it's harder to trust that knowledge in our own lives.

Think of all the people you know who possess as much if not more knowledge than the people they envy or are seeking to emulate. Look at your primary life goals and realistically assess the knowledge, contacts, and actions it would take to get you from here to there. If you are honest with yourself, you will probably discover that the knowledge and the access to the contacts you need are probably at your fingertips on a daily basis.

Think of the people you know who have already reached their goals and ask yourself: What would they do in my situation? It is often easier to see the pathway to success for others than ourselves.


The only thing in this life that remains constant is, of course, change. We human beings always struggle mightily to maintain the status quo. This is simply that, for most of us, the thought or idea of making a change - personally, professionally, or relationally - is terrifying.

I have often wondered what it is about us that causes us to assume that all transitions will bring about negative consequences. If you will look back on your life at the very best times, you will realize that they have all been preceded by change. Unfortunately, I would have to admit some of your worst times will have been preceded by change as well; therefore, if we cannot control or predict change, we can at least try to anticipate it and maybe manage it.

All positive transitions do not come labeled as such. There are times that we go through a struggle with the ultimate outcome being a much greater good; however, at the time it appears to be nothing more than a difficult struggle.

Recently, I was re-reading one of the many books I have read on the subject of mountain climbing. People who climb mountains fascinate me. There are times when a group of climbers will progress far enough up a mountain so that they can then view the course ahead in a way they could not from below. Many times, this new view of obstacles ahead forces them to change their course and, oftentimes, actually retreat some distance back down the mountain in order to take a better path to the summit.

It is important for us to realize that progress does not always involve an obvious step forward. Sometimes we are forced to retreat and regroup temporarily, or we find that a change in the situation is causing us to take a new path.

During a recent flight, I was listening to the emergency announcements being given by the flight attendant. Like you, I have heard this countless times, but I had never before noticed that when they were describing where to locate the emergency exits they alerted us to the fact that the nearest exit could very well be behind us. While our natural tendency would be to rush forward, the more well-thought-out successful path might be to take a step back in order to find what we seek.

As you go through your day today, embrace change as a vehicle to better days ahead.

Another Road

The most treacherous and rugged terrain on earth lies in the Himalayan Mountains. In the midst of the jagged peaks and breathtaking gorges live the people of Tibet. Among these Tibetans, there are wise men and travelers. They journey through this seemingly impenetrable region via little-known routes, much as their ancestors have traveled for thousands of years.

Even now, in the 21st Century, they walk obscure trails to distant monasteries and places of worship. They traverse routes that predate recorded history. There is a greeting among these travelers. "Yol Bolsun." Loosely translated, it says, "May there be another road."

At first glance, this seems a strange communication among travelers who are always seeking to complete a journey and reach their destination. This seems strange only because most of us do not understand the heart or the spirit of these travelers. They do not live to reach their destination, they live to arrive at a place, deliver their message, and travel on; therefore, the greatest blessing for any traveler is that "there be another road."

Although we may live half a world away from these people, and although our lifestyle may appear to be totally different, we share at least one thing in common. We find our sustenance and very being within the heart and spirit of the journey and not the destination.

Among the twelve books I have written, most recently I have ventured into the area of fiction. When one writes a novel, it is important to create separate chapters within a seamless story. Each of these chapters should come to a conclusion but leave a small hook so that it can be connected to the next chapter and, therefore, allow the story to flow.

Our lives, goals, and destinies are much the same. We may finish one chapter in life, but there will be another mountain to climb and another road before us. As you go through your day today, and as you seek to reach your goals and complete your journey, my admonition to you would be that of the ancient Tibetan travelers. "Yol Bolsun." At the end of your journey, may you always find another road.

Today's the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author, columnist, and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at . Visit for additional information.

Many more articles in Personal Development in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2003 by Jim Stovall. All rights reserved.

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