Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

March 28, 2014

Success is built through relationships

GLASGOW — In recent weeks, there have been similar messages delivered by two very different people.

Col. Terry Wilcutt has literally been to the top of the world (and beyond) as a fighter pilot and astronaut. How did he get there? He had the ambition to be around smart, hard-working engineers and pilots.

Maurice Clarett was the best football player in the nation, according to USA Today, as a high school senior. He was a national champion as an Ohio State University freshman. How did he get there? By being around hardworking, focused, motivated people.

Wilcutt had a vision for what he wanted to accomplish in life. He put himself in proper position to take advantage of opportunities as they came along.

“I always wanted to be a pilot,” he told me after speaking at the South Central Kentucky Business Expo in February.

We spent 13 minutes and some change talking about how Wilcutt went from being a math teacher to flying a space shuttle into space four times. While he emphasized being prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they come along by having the proper training, he also continued to say what motivated him was to be around “all of those really smart engineers.”

“As I flew planes,” he said, “I became more interested in how they worked.” He wanted to know more about what kept them in the air and the people with those answers were the engineers. Basically, Wilcutt improved himself by being around smart, hardworking people. Their brilliance and dedication pushed him to up his game, so to speak.

Clarett’s path in life has not been so clean nor clearly conceived. He spent time in juvenile detention as a 10-year-old, an 11-year-old and as a 12-year-old, he told students at Glasgow Middle School on Wednesday.

When students asked him why he got into trouble at such a young age, he told them he was trying to impress older kids, especially his brothers and cousins. He wanted to hang out with them because he thought they were examples of being men. In his neighborhood, being a man was important, but there were no strong positive male role models.

“I didn’t know what being a real man was,” Clarett said.

This lack of knowledge led him to be around people who had no greater aim in life than to hang out and commit criminal acts.

Clarett initially escaped the cycle of crime when he went to high school. At Warren G. Harding High, he blossomed into a football star because, as he said, he was with people who all had a common goal of being the best football players possible. That effort carried him to being voted the top football player in the U.S. and to being a top-notch freshman player at OSU.

Clarett found himself after his freshman season being surrounded by the same types of people he knew as a pre-teen. That led him to a path that destroyed his career and landed him in prison.

Now out of jail and involved in business, Clarett is sharing his message about how important it is for each of us to surround ourselves with people who have dreams, motivation and practice habits of success.

Wilcutt and Clarett both emphasized the need to have dreams and plans to succeed, but to also be with people who will help us grow and improve as people.

James Brown is digital editor for the Glasgow Daily Times. He can be contacted at jbrown@glasgowdailytimes. com. Follow him on Twitter @JbrownGDT.

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