‘If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying’. I have heard this more than once. I hear this from students, colleagues, and other professionals. Sometimes I wonder if they are being serious. I live in a military town. And that concerns me!

I am learning that cheating your way to success is commonplace. For the past decade, more blogs and articles have been written on success. Adults are cheating their way to success – at work and in life. As I dig a little deeper, I gain a better perspective of the phrase: ‘if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying’. It’s about perspective.  

Cheating means manipulating others to get something you want. We tend to look down at dishonest people. We do not trust them. At least, we should not want to trust them. We feel that cheating is like stealing. When we are cheated, we feel like someone took something away from us.

It could be something tangible, like money lost at a poker game. Or it could be intangible, such as frustration. Other professionals are more successful than you. But how? You feel cheated. You feel like they took something from you. You feel frustrated, angry, and betrayed. 

‘If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying’.    

People want to achieve a certain level of success. Although success is subjective, it is still a matter of achieving something you want. Some people seem to navigate their way to success rather easily. Others struggle. Are successful people better at cheating their way to the top? The answer is yes. But there is more to the story.

What some people call cheating, others call leveraging. Each of us possess talents. We excel at different things. We are given opportunities to display these talents in work and in life. Cheating, you see, is not being dishonest. It’s how you set yourself apart from the crowd.    

When have you not taken advantage of a situation? Think of a time when you saw an opportunity to use your talents and showed people just how skilled you really are. Did it feel good? Did you outshine your competition? Did you make that promotion? If so, then good! If not, we need to talk.

There are three things you need to do to launch your success in every aspect of your life.

In our pursuit for success, we leverage what makes us different. That is, when we know what makes us different from others, we can use that to our advantage. This is leveraging. Learn to do it well!


The first thing you need is an action plan. You may wonder why discipline is the first thing on the list of personal assets to develop. Reason: Without having specific habits in place, reaching the goal of success will be difficult. To learn discipline, create a daily plan of action.

You will need a journal. Write the action plan in the journal. The action plan will include the things you need to accomplish each day. Schedule your day. Although this may seem weird, stick to it. Your brain will react positively to a written schedule of activities.  

At the end of each day, review your actions. Yes, think about what you did. You are developing metacognitive skills. Ask yourself some basic questions. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? If yes, then consider what happened to ensure your success. If no, consider why not. Get specific answers from yourself.


The second thing you need is a support system. If you intend to start setting goals, you will hit points in your journey where things might get tough. The old saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” is a lie. You need people around to help keep you motivated.

The goal is to practice persistence. You must develop routines, especially in managing your time. Then you need to do things over and over so that you become an expert at the things you do. The work you put in now pays dividends later.

Use positive words when you speak. Think about the things that you do well. Transfer those thoughts into words and actions. Direct these positive energies to the activities you do not do well and keep yourself focused.


The third thing you need is a goal. Why does the goal come last? You must practice discipline and diligence before you can work on goals. Now that you have a schedule, and you have mastered your thoughts and actions, start setting long term goals.

You must know where you are going to get there. Once a goal is set, create the path to the goal. At the start, identify the big, high-level steps that will lead you to the goal. Do not worry about the details until you need to.

Check off your progress. Yes, use a check-off list. Your brain will react positively with each accomplishment. This will keep you motivated to reach the next step on the path!

Success is waiting for you!