From the Teacher’s Desk: On the Path to Success and Significance


By Leonard Quilty

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.

–       George Bernard Shaw

Last week I gave another speech to my local Toastmasters group. The title of my presentation was “How to Take Charge of Your Life.” It was a five to seven minute persuasive speech that I plan to develop into a longer talk.

What’s that? You’d like to know what my speech was about. Sure, I can share the jist of it with you!

In the brief time allotted, I was only able to make one main point. That point was: in order to take charge of our life, we have to get a “GRIP” on our potential. I used the word “grip” as an acronym.

The “G” stands for gratitude. The famous stress doctor, Dr. Hans Selye, said that “gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.” I remember reading in Rhonda Byrne’s great book called The Magic that practicing gratitude does indeed improve our health. On the topic of gratitude, I really like the words of the Persian poet Rumi. “Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” Isn’t that a beautiful thought?

The “R” stands for react or respond. Author and preacher, Charles Swindoll, when writing about the importance of attitude, had this to say: “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” That’s so true, isn’t it? In this regard, I’m reminded of one of the four agreements (in the book by the same name) by Don Miguel Ruiz. The second agreement is, “Don’t take anything personally.”

The “I” stands for invest – that is, invest in our own self-education. We can do this by reading great books, like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. What a great book! It’s filled with wisdom and strategies that, if utilized, will really grease the wheel of life and put us on the path to success and significance.

The “P’ stands for protect. Motivational speaker and author, Jim Rohn, advised us that every day we need to stand guard at the door of our mind. In other words, we need to regulate the intake of negative influences and corral our thoughts around more positive ideas and outcomes.

Related to Mr. Rohn’s point, while I was preparing my speech, I came across (on Twitter) an interesting quote by the founder of Taoism, Lao-Tzu. Lao-Tzu was referencing how, in order to better the world, we need to work on our own self-awareness. “If you want to awaken all humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” Wow! Those are powerful words.

Yes, indeed, as I told my audience that night, we can really take charge of our life if we get a “grip” on our potential.

As my speech drew near its close, I wanted to leave my listeners with a personal call to action from Wallace D. Wattles, the author of the book, The Science of Getting Rich. Mr. Wattles’ words are echoed in the above quote by Lao-Tzu.

“The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.”

Leonard Quilty is a guidance counsellor with the Centre for Learning@Home in Okotoks, Alberta. He can be reached by e-mail at