How exciting to be at the beginning of a new year—twelve new unused months lie ahead. A new year where anything can happen and everything is possible!

Evaluate and act. The beginning of a new year has always been an important time for me. I try to do an evaluation of the past year’s performance in all aspects of my life. This can be a sobering experience as I often come up short in some of what I had hoped to do and to become. Nevertheless, it is important to reflect and to renew the determination to keep pushing forward. As we all know, it is in the “struggle” that we develop the strength and refinements that bring lasting satisfaction.

I’m certain that there are those who did not achieve all of their goals for 2016. Each of us has had years when we didn’t really get where we wanted to go—or at least as far as we wanted. A year like that can be absolutely critical to our future happiness—if we choose our response to it correctly.

If we choose to mope about or engage in self-pity or worse yet, in blaming others, we are most likely to repeat the unsatisfying year or do even worse. On the other hand, if we learn from our mistakes, build on our successes, and reignite our enthusiasm, then that disappointing year becomes the platform for our future success.

All of the really important successes that I have been blessed to enjoy have come after a disappointment. In fact, it was from the failure to achieve that I learned what I needed to know to get what I really wanted.

Success comes from hard work. I believe that success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals. One fundamental lesson I learned early in life is that hard work is the great equalizer.

You may not have all the talents another person enjoys but you can work hard enough to be equal to, or even greater, in achievement. In my 20s, I realized that there were a lot of people more talented than I am and smarter than I am. I decided that if I was going to be, do and have, all that I had dreamed, I would have to work harder than those more talented people.

I consider that decision to be one of the most important decisions of my life. What about you? Your gifts and talents are what they are, but your choices are yours to make every minute of every day and it is in your choices that success is determined. This was when I started to grow into my potential.

Potential becomes leadership. Something magical happens when people start to grow into their potential. Leaders should teach people how to teach people to live better. In short: we teach people how to be leaders. Building leaders always requires getting knee-to-knee and eye-to-eye. It requires building and sustaining value driven relationships. Dag Hammarskjold, past Secretary-General of the United Nations, said, “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.”

Leadership is about vision and imagination and stretching for greater heights. It’s about affirmation and encouragement. It’s about teaching and correcting. It’s about good listening and good coaching. It’s about planning with a purpose and working hard to turn good plans into good results. It’s about changing lives for the better.

When you become a more effective leader—with your business, or at home, at church, in the community and elsewhere—your life changes for the better, too.

Let us make 2017 a personal call to leadership. Becoming and creating leaders should be our highest priority, our greatest strength, our most significant contribution, and our solemn promise.

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