Conducting Your Life with the 7 Cs of Success

Tom Coble
Midwest Regional Manager for Trigent Software, Inc.
Headquarters in Bangalore, India and Southborough, MA

I stumbled upon True Success after having read an interview with Tom in Fast Company magazine. The 7 Cs of Success soon wove their way into my life, both professionally and personally. For me, one of the great values in using the 7 Cs as the foundation for success is that they are applicable to achieving success on many levels. Whether it's a life plan or a singular goal, following the 7 Cs pays off solid, and sometimes spectacular, dividends. Today, when I hear of others' success, I often find that they, too (whether consciously or not) have worked the 7 Cs to fulfill their own personal missions. A recent story in the news reminded me of just that.

High School student, Braeden Kershner, of Goose Creek, SC, had a clear conception of what he wanted. He wanted to get a chance at conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra. Clear, imaginative, vivid. He saw himself living out this dream from the moment he conceived it. Two years back, he read that the Boston Pops entertained (albeit infrequently) guest-conducting opportunities. In order to even be considered, one had to ante up a $10,000 donation. An impossibility for a high school student working part time, right? Well, maybe for one who did not possess such a clearly conceived vision.

Kershner was confident that he could obtain this lofty goal. Here was his take: "It sounded reasonable when you think about it, dreams are priceless and if I can price mine at $10,000, that's a lot less than others have to pay for theirs." Instead of being scared away by a figure obviously intended for well-healed benefactors, Kershner reveled in the fact that he had a tangible and concrete cost toward which he could direct his effort. He knew what he had to do to achieve this dream. Sometimes that's the most difficult part. This young man had that part taken care of, however. So what if it was a nearly impossible task to undertake?

Braeden then took it upon himself to turn his focus to making this dream happen. He wrote letters to the Boston Pops informing them of his desire. He mowed lawns, washed cars, and even took a job as a late night server at a Waffle House. In fact, as I tried to research into this wonderful quest, I came across a community hearing where he informed his Goose Creek town council of his goal and asked for whatever assistance they might be able to give him. He worked and worked toward his dream, day in and day out, for months. He was focused. He was consistent. He planned his work and worked his plan. Sometimes I wonder if his concentration ever wavered upon looking down, at midnight, over a plate of "scattered, smothered and covered" hash browns, but apparently even that did not break him of his pursuit of his vision. Now that's a stubborn consistency.

He also made his close-knit group of colleagues in his high school band aware of his dream and what he was doing to make it a reality. Those around him recognized his emotional commitment to what he was doing. And by including them in the journey, he then had a group of advocates rooting for him all the way. In fact, unbeknownst to Braeden, his band teacher had clandestinely worked out an arrangement through the families of the band members, and with the school itself, to come up with whatever funds necessary, should Braeden fall short of the $10,000 target.

The importance of the emotional commitment to what we are doing and the people with whom we are doing it is, quite possibly, the most valiant warrior of the Seven Cs. We cannot always do it alone. Sometimes we need teammates to propel us forward when our personal well of energy begins to run dry, or when we don't have full control of the circumstances we confront. It harkens me back to Tom's story of Rudy Ruettiger, a story nearly indelible in many Americanšs minds now that it has been told on celluloid, in the film "Rudy." If Rudy not enjoyed the support of his teammates and the fans ­ if he not had that emotional commitment to what he was doing that generated a responsive commitment on their part to him, as well as to his goal ­ his dream might have never been completely fulfilled. If you have seen that great movie, you may recall that it was the pleas of the fans and his teammates that ultimately got Rudy into the last game of his Notre Dame career. If we have a deep emotional commitment, it is infectious. The group of supporters that our own energy can bring to us will often prove vital to the success of our quest.

Kershner's character was apparent during this whole mission. He never asked for anything gratuitous. He simply asked for the support of those around him as he tirelessly pursued his dream. I remember my own high school years, and my inability to think much past the confines of a single sports season when committing to a goal. Those around Braeden watched him work toward his dream, consistently, diligently, and elegantly, for two solid years. I don't have any independent knowledge about his private life, but I find it hard to imagine that he was able to stick it out through this long, uphill battle without a strong moral compass to keep him on the proper course.

Lastly, was Braeden's capacity to enjoy the process along the way. It was a wonderful, though at times grueling, quest that included the people that meant the most to him. He thrived on the tough jobs that he had to do, knowing that they validated the difficulty, and the merit, of his goal. As the time came near to his attainment of that goal, he planned what he would do onstage. He would wear a pair of blue suspenders, just like his idol, Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart. It reflected his enjoyment of the journey and the joy of its culmination.

For those who haven't heard, Braeden Kershner conducted the Boston Pops in a rendition of "Stars and Stripes Forever," on March 5. He only raised $5,000, but his story so moved the folks with the orchestra, that they bent the rules this one time. Bent them so much that they gave the $5,000 back to him to use for college. He stated simply, "It was the most fun Išve ever had."

I find that in so many aspects of life, whether business growth, athletics, personal quests, or whatever other areas where we might be looking to achieve something great, the 7 Cs resonate throughout all of the successful journeys. Oftentimes, it just happens. Certain people are in tune, and just inherently follow the path of the 7 Cs. For most of us, however, we do much better when we consciously rely on the 7 Cs as our guide. We flourish best when use them to plan our mission and to stay the course. We experience the greatest atainments when we leverage them to passionately live the journey and its destination. No matter how we come to follow this path to success, though, when we do recognize the strength of the 7 Cs, and plan and live our goals in accordance with them, the results can be truly astonishing.

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