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What is success?

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What is Success?


To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

( Courtesy:  )

Success: What is it?
Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH, FASEP
Professor and Chair
Department of Exercise Physiology
Director of Exercise Physiology Laboratories
The College of St. Scholastica
1200 Kenwood Office
Duluth, MN 55811


"Any man may commit a mistake, but none but a fool will continue in it."

Success? What is it? What is the way to it? What are the rewards? Do you have a right to succeed? The answers to these questions are in this brief article. It is about success. It is about you and how you can succeed and, in particular, in the profession of exercise physiology.

All too often we hear others saying, "Get in line and wait your turn." This idea is all too common. It isn't the road to success, but rather failure. It turns our hopes into forgotten dreams. So, we must be on the look out for such statements, particularly if they are designed to keep us from realizing success.

Yes, being successful can spoil some people. They begin to think everything revolves around them. They become egotistical and, unfortunately, believe only they have the right answers to every question. The dangers of success have been written about for years, but that is not the purpose of this article.

This article is about "What is success, the way to it, and your right to be successful?" It is about you and how you can become a success. In this article, I am especially concerned with the compelling vision and objectives of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP). I take the view that success is just minutes away from fulfillment by joining the Society. I won't pretend that you can't succeed in other organizations -- of course anything is possible. The truth is that I want you to consider membership in the Society of exercise physiologists.

Through hard work and dedication to ASEP's vision, members of the Society are working hard to achieve the extraordinary. They are working together to design and secure the future for all exercise physiologists. But, before you read any further, stop and tell yourself:

  • It is O.K. to want your own organization.
  • It is O.K. to think as an exercise physiologist.
  • It is O.K. to look out for yourself.
  • It is O.K. to believe that sports medicine is not exercise physiology.
  • It is O.K. to recognize the need to professionalize.
  • It is O.K. to want to succeed as an exercise physiologist.
It is O.K. to be an exercise physiologist! You don't have to apologize to anyone. You don't have to feel guilty about what is logical. You have the right to your feelings even though others may tell you that success can't be realized outside of sports medicine.

Success begins, therefore, first with your instincts to follow logical thinking. Then, the best way to succeed is to begin with a reasonable plan for realizing your hopes and expectations. The process is a journey if not an adventure with surprises on every front. It begins with the first step, however small even if your goals should change along the way. At least, take the step and become part of history.

I do not personally think it is necessary to be mean or unethical to be successful. Certainly, many successful people are mean, closed-minded, and unethical. When their views are too one-sided, they set the stage for infighting along the way. The result is unfortunately a lost opportunity to build into existing organizations new ideas and possibilities. For the members who are determined to succeed, the lack of understanding from top down serves to bring them together with greater motivation and desire.

To be successful, to do something that will help others, and to keep a sound mind in the process, you must be motivated to succeed regardless of the consequences. You must be willing to work hard when you have to. Are you willing to take risks? Do you sincerely want the dream of professionalization to become reality? That is, as a member of the Society, have you got the guts to do what it takes to professionalize exercise physiology. I know that you know far more than is necessary to get the job done, but are you ready to concentrate on the professionalization of exercise physiology and put to use all of your insights, ideas, and energy to see it to reality?

If your answer Yes to these questions, then you are ASEP material. Don't ponder that you don't have what it takes. If you have the desire and determination to make a difference, then you have the qualities needed for success. You can stop conforming and fading into the woodwork of non-exercise physiology organizations that have hopelessly handicapped the growth of exercise physiology. In short, you don't have to keep on doing the same passive gestures towards helping exercise physiologists.

Take on the responsiblity, difficulties, and doubts of other people and take control of your future by joining the Society. It is easy to continue "what is...and has been" but successful exercise physiologists must be willing to accept personal responsibility for the success and actions of the people who work in exercise physiology. Dr. Robert A. Robergs of the University of New Mexico is a person who thrives on responsibility. He is ASEP's new President (1998-1999). Robergs is eager to accept responsibility; a natural leader who is in no way awed or frightened by people with egos. I feel certain he thinks as I do and that is, "You're always got to work on the assumption that you have a right to do anything you want to, and act on it."

Exercise physiologists should never ask, "Is it O.K. to start an exercise physiology organization?" because the chances are that somebody will say No! If you want an organization like the American Society of Exercise Physiologists, don't ask for one, go out and build it, then put it to the exercise physiologists worldwide. Every exercise physiologist must act and believe that she/he is something, in fact, that exercise physiologists are a special group of professionals with academic and/or hands-on abilities few other professionals possess. They are unique and have a right to their professional qualities.


Remember: Successful people want to take on professional responsibilities and enjoy making endless decisions to help others.

  • They are not troubled by insecurities.
  • They are convinced of their own worth and self-realization.
  • They know that responsibility is the key to becoming autonomous.
  • They expose themselves to risk.
  • They are curious.
  • They ask questions.
  • They listen to other people's problems.
  • They deliver what they promise.
  • They are ready to seize the opportunity.
  • They are ready to gamble on their hunch.
  • They are able to concentrate on what is important.
  • They have a passion for winning.
The problem is that too often even successful people make major mistakes. They ask for less than they could get! Despite the proliferation of benefits available to sports medicine professionals, exercise physiologists have been asking for less professional status than they could get. It would have been better (from the beginning) to have requested for far more than we thought we deserved, and surprisingly we would have gotten more (and, in particular, respect). It is just good common sense to prefer a professional who thinks highly of himself to someone who seems to lack confidence and position.

Also, despite the arguments that exercise physiologists should continue with sports medicine, it no longer means anything. The Society has now put exercise physiologists on the map. ASEP is a constant reafirmation of success. We have, all exercise physiologists have, the proof and leverage to continue surrounding ourselves with motivated professionals to improve the quality of life for all exercise physiology graduates. We owe it to them!

Success, stimulated and made possible through ASEP, has given exercise physiologists a new lease on time and energy used to reshape the profession. In a sense, success is a rebirth with significant in-roads into new responsibilities and possibilities. It is as if the Society is a single entrepreneur arising from obscurity to sudden recognition, self-esteem, and self-confidence to stimulate change. It may be the ultimate turn-around in the liberation of exercise physiologists from an otherwise relatively static and professionally painful existence.

We did it ourselves! How? By expending the energy, working the long hours, and draining "whatever" resources necessary to get the job done. It was about dreaming "what if" -- letting our minds go, freeing the imagination, and indulging fantasies. It was about setting out to doing something and then completing it."

The Society's new President, Dr. Robergs, is an important example of this type of determination. It is what he was willing to do that will help others stay on course. Robergs, himself, is a person that looks alive and alert. He moves fast with a purpose, engaged in both academics and research. He is a successful, published author with several popular college texts. He is the kind of person who would never walk away from failure, but instead study it carefully for its hidden points to cultivate yet another approach to succeed. When he is speaking, others will listen. He is a fast thinker, and his message is to the point with meaning.

Dr. Robergs would say, "Do not be afraid to fail." Failure provides increased opportunities for success. He might say as well, why not dare to try, to take a risk, and to grow with the only organization of exercise physiologists in the United States. The road to success, to grow, and to start being an autonomous professional lies within you. Do not lose courage thinking about what others think is the right thing for you to do, but instead decide for yourself. You too can be a success and, as a member of ASEP, you can help others become successful.

I can't remember who said the following, but it has an interesting ring of truth. "He who is waiting for something to turn up might start with his own shirt sleeves." 

( Courtesy: )

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