I have a confession to make. I can’t exactly number them, but I’ve wasted more than a day waiting for something to happen. In fact, I’d admit there have been too many of them to count.

It’s not for a lack of desire. If we’re lucky, we all have dreams and I do. But it’s something inherent, deep within me that I’ve only recently discovered. And people smarter that me, have been telling me about it for years—in complete books in fact—yet, I haven’t understood how to listen. The key is energy.

Energy is essence. Personal success requires a power source, something that can be tapped into daily. And as it turns out it’s a battery that exists within.

As the best-selling author and advertising legend, Paul Arden, wrote:

Energy. It’s 75% of the job. If you haven’t got it, be nice.

There it is. But is it true that the opposite of being energized is “nice”? What does Arden mean?

Energy sets our creative minds free and all business is based on standing out—having a different message—possessing our own edge. More so, it’s what picks us up after a slap of rejection and gives us the courage to redefine, regroup and reappear.

Everyone has been rejected at one stage or another: every great artist and possibly every great idea whether by fear, an unprepared market, or bias.

But what Arden intends by “nice”, is conformity. Have you ever met a conformist thought-leader?

My problem is, I was taught to be nice as a child. Nice was my automatic reaction to the world.

Now this isn’t a bad thing on its own—for no one likes a yahoo. But I wasn’t encouraged to break the mold despite there always being something nagging at the back of my head telling me to stake my claim. I just wasn’t shown how.

Today, after calendars of introspection, it’s clear that success requires we stand up for our beliefs, never fearing being shown the door.

We then surround ourselves with honest criticism but not negativity—there is a difference. We learn the rules of our industries and then commit to re-inventing them. We never fear a nosedive because rejection earns us praise for trying.

That last one is a hard lesson to digest. As it turns out, no one values the easy road taken—the person who never dissents or lacks the courage to say, “There is a different way.”

This of course, doesn’t mean we can disregard everything people demand. Not at all, especially as the folks we seek are our ultimate arbiters as they must be.

But applying our energy in putting considered alternatives before them, daring to differ, and making the best of whatever we have in our hands—that’s how a reputation for trust and ability is built. And this truth applies whether our clients are our colleagues, bosses, or people we meet in the street.

Arden passed away at the age of 67 from a heart attack, which is ironic given his advice to push the limits. However, I don’t believe it’s ever too late to shake the past free.

If we have our health, then stop waving life goodbye. It should be a wake up call to plug in and turn the neon on.

Yes, we must fail more than we succeed, because that’s how life is. So by that math, it means we can pick up the pieces at any time too. The trick is to do so with the lights flashing in a really big sign. It should look something like this:

(insert your name here).

© 2014 Adam Parker.