10 Steps to Success-No Charge

angelouDon’t worry I am not going to sell you a program that will change your bank account to gain thousands and thousands of dollars. I’m not that smart.

While perusing YouTube, I came across a Channel called Evan Carmichael Believe. What is Your One Word? I stopped to watch a specific video with Maya Angelou – she has always been one of my favorite poets! However, the video gave me pause because Evan Carmichael put together a montage of practical advice from Ms. Angelou’s various interviews throughout her life! The 10 Steps to Success where so real and authentic because she lived through them. I wanted to share those steps with you, but I am going to add my thoughts about these tips:

  1. Just Do Right – Dr. Angelou provided an illustration about this: She said if your name is said and people respond with an “Oh damn…” that means that something isn’t right about you. In other words, when you’re mentioned in a group and people respond with positive words, then you are living right! You are doing something right! Doing the right thing is so much easier than doing the wrong things in life. We are not perfect beings, but what does it hurt to be nice to others? What’s wrong with smiling and saying hello? What happened to be polite and showing compassion and understanding?
  2. Be Courageous – Read the definition of courage according to Dictionary.com: “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”  When I heard about being courageous, I immediately threw up my hands and said to myself, “I’m not courageous!” But, that’s not true! In the recesses of my mind, there was a lot of courageous acts that I successfully completed! When I was younger, I was stricken with pneumonia. My mother used to tell me how she was so upset to leave me to go to the store. I told her, “I’ll be OK. Go ahead.” Well, my mother was not the type of person to leave her child like that, so she waited until one of my older siblings came home from school to sit with me. She said I was very brave. The death of my parents and I say this because many people have said to me, “I can’t imagine losing one of my parents…I’d die. I couldn’t take it.” I thought the same thing. I felt that if I lose my parents, I would be in some mental hospital and I wouldn’t be able to stop crying. But, eventually, it happened with my mother in 2004 and my dad in 2008. My heart broke twice – but I was able to withstand the pain of not seeing their physical bodies on earth anymore. Being a teacher is courageous! Every day I am deemed with a duty to teach my students an enlightening lesson in order for them to become literate, skillful, and critical thinkers. It’s not as delicate as a doctor performing surgery, but it’s close – to install those processes into young, vulnerable brains is precious, yet serious.
  3. Love – Dr. Angelou proposed that in order for us to love each other, we must first love ourselves. I don’t think she was talking about being a vain person, but to love yourself is to respect yourself. You have to feel good about who you are! I struggle with that. Someone whom I just met asked me, “You have low self-esteem, don’t you?” Yes, I do. I don’t know where it comes from, but it will rear its ugly head at times. I know that my parents raised me to be a decent human being. I am nice to people because I expect that in return! It makes me feel good to share with people and to give them my heart whenever possible. I believe in love…I believe that when we genuinely have a love for each other, our communities and world will be a better place to live! However, love begins from within. We must love ourselves, and change that part of us that we don’t love.
  4. Laugh – A person who cannot laugh does not have joy in their heart. It’s a different story to laugh at something that is not funny – but to laugh at yourself or with others shows that your heart is cold and rancid. Love and laughter go hand in hand because, in order to laugh, you have to smile, and to smile allow the soul to see light! The old adage is “Laughter is the best medicine” is true. When you have a good laugh, you have literally released a huge amount of endorphins! According to the Mayo Clinic, laughing does three things to your body: 1). Stimulate your organs with oxygen-rich air. 2). Activate and release your stress response – in other words after you have laughed so hard, you feel relaxed. 3). You soothe tension in your muscles. Now, these are only short-term benefits; however, the long-term benefits are an improvement to your immune system, relief from pain, coping with difficult situations and connect to people, and lessen depression and anxiety. This means that you must incorporate a sense of humor into your personal diet. Remember, laugh, and the world laughs with you!
  5. Be a Blessing to Somebody – What a satisfying feeling to hear the words from someone “You’re a blessing to me.” Yes, you know me – the English teacher – I’m going to define the word blessing to you because some of you may crinkle your nose or furrow your brow with the word blessing. A blessing is defined as: “bestowing favor upon someone.”  (I concocted that definition, but it’s true). When you show favor to someone by offering your kindness, and the recipient is thoroughly satisfied with that offer, you are a blessing! It doesn’t mean to give the sign of the cross or pour water over their heads – it is providing a necessity to that person. Some people just need an open ear and heart to talk to, or some need practical, material things to help them through difficult situations. Whatever it is that you offer and it is given with kindness, you are a blessing.
  6. Turn Struggles into Triumphs – I’m not sure if you read my blog “Don’t Give Up.” I was on a rant about money (it’s the thorn in my side). Well, during this monetary battle, I’ve learned a few things thus far and one of them is TO DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE MY SITUATION!!! So, instead of struggling with money problems day after day, paycheck to paycheck, I enrolled in a course with Biblical standards about money. It is a 28-day course and I’ve downloaded an online budget template to help me monitor my finances. I am taking steps to relieve some debt and pay back some people who were a blessing to me within the past few months and years. These struggles are slowing morphing into triumphs! Dr. Angelou mentioned how she was raped by a good friend of her family when she was a young girl. After the man was released from prison for her rape, he was killed. She thought that because she had spoken his name, she had caused his death, so she stopped speaking for a few years. Yet, within her struggle, she read. Dr. Angelou said she memorized Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays; she read many of the classics in literature such as Poe. She read and educated herself and grew from what she read. Her struggle became a triumph because she became one of the most prolific writers in the 20th Century!
  7. You are Talented – Whenever I told people who I love to write, I would hear them say, “Oh, I can’t write.” That’s not true. What is true is that you don’t have the desire to write – but you can write. In “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainier Maria Rilke, Rilke told the young man who if he goes to sleep thinking about writing and wakes up thinking about writing, then he is a writer. Your passion will become you! Everyone has a talent! My mother was an excellent seamstress! Many women would come over to our house with patterns for different stylish dresses, and my mother would make them with her eyes closed. I never saw my mother so content and happy until she was at her sewing machine. Give yourself a chance to find out what you’re passionate about. I show my students a video of Alan Watts’ lecture about “What do you Desire?” and Watts asks the question, what would you do if money were no object? If there is something you would do and you wouldn’t get paid for it, that’s your talent. If you’re not sure what your talent is, then do a talent search…on yourself.
  8. Learn to Say No –  It is the hardest two letter word to say to people. This step is not for everyone because there are some people out there who can say no faster than a speeding bullet! But, for some of us who feel that if we say no, the entire world is going to blow up; it is a struggle. To say no quite simply means, “I am not able to do this because I would not give it the proper attention and time that it so deserves.” Doesn’t that sound nice? Therefore, when you have to say no, think about that phrase and “no” will come out easier.
  9. Always Do Your Best – This is a phrase I’ve repeated to my students. They need to know that I am expecting their best because I am giving my best to them. Doing your best shows integrity and responsibility – but do your best for you! First prove to yourself that you are able to do excellent and when you accept a task from others, you will have the confidence to know that you will do your best! Doing your best gives you a satisfying feeling about yourself.
  10. Keep Rising – Dr. Angelou wrote a poem (my favorite, by the way) called “Still I Rise” (if you want to hear the poem recited by the poet, click here: https://youtu.be/w5lgxayzy_k).  I am going to use a term that has spread from the urbanized streets to the Wall street boardrooms – People are going to hate on you as you internalize these steps to success. They are going to envy you, play games with your head, and even make you feel that you are “too good” for them to be around. Don’t worry. The people around you are not yet at the level to change their circumstances – and it also depends on how you are handling your new-found success. Are you being humble? Stay humble as you rise up from where you’re at. Don’t look down on others as you rise! Grab someone’s hand and say, “Come with me!” Just like a balloon with helium rising above the clouds, as you follow these 10 steps, you will rise above the awful circumstances that have kept you grounded for so long!

Now, there it is! The 10 steps to success free of charge! I’m going take these steps myself because I’ve been on the ground with broken wings. Stay tuned and subscribe to my blog to witness my flight!


*To see Evan Carmichael’s video click here: https://youtu.be/iU46Lv4jVAw


Author: L.S. Watson

Hi. My name is L.S. Watson, and I'm an English teacher at a charter high school. I enjoy traveling (my favorite places are Rome and Paris), writing poetry, and watching documentaries. I have a lovable yet stubborn Yorkie-Poo named Chuy.

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