The C-Crets of Success

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The C-Crets of Success

Black Belt Leadership
The C-Crets of Success
John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader

I am often asked if there is a Secret to Success. The short answer is Yes. When preparation meets opportunity, success happens. It starts with preparation. Becoming a better version of yourself by committing to a lifetime of learning is not an option if you want to be a success. What got you to where you are today won't get you where you need to go tomorrow.

What got you there will keep you there, but if you're not constantly growing yourself as a leader, you will advance no further. Far too many people live below their potential because they refuse to pay the price to continually develop themselves. I'm mindful of Coach John Wooden's wisdom, "When opportunity knocks, it's too late to prepare."

I recently had an opportunity to hear Cory Cangelosi share a message about overcoming Fear. As I later reflected on his words, my mind saw a different application for the points he shared relating to learning to lead ourselves, so we can effectively lead others. Let me briefly share these insights.

There are 3 C-Crets to Success, and all three are byproducts of preparation:

CONFIDENCE: Know who you are.

As you grow as a leader and begin to apply what you've learned in your own life (and in the lives of others), you gain experience and insight. That, in turn, leads to a new level of confidence. You begin to discover who you really are and who you're capable of becoming.

As you gain confidence in WHO you are, that confidence permeates everything you do. In a recent article, I highlighted the leadership of Kobe Bryant. Perpetual preparation was an integral part of he was as an elite NBA star. Because he knew who he was, he knew what he was capable of doing - and demonstrated that on the Court. Kobe continually honed his craft, as do all world-class performers.

Watching a student go through the ranks of the martial arts is watching a journey of confidence under development. By the time they earn their 1st-Degree Black Belt, students walk, talk, think, and act differently. They exhibit a quiet sense of confidence as they gain wisdom and experience through years of training. They understand they haven't arrived, but they are better equipped to continue the journey. Perpetual preparation is the martial arts journey, and it's the journey of every Black Belt Leader in Life.

Confidence comes from continually cultivating the Black Belt Leader within.

CLARITY: Know where you are going.

Preparation is not only about knowing who you are. It's about knowing what you've been put on this earth to do, and doing it. Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why." When you know your WHY, you know where you're going. When you discover your PASSION, that's what you spend the rest of your life pursuing.

There is great clarity in that knowledge. When you know who you were put on this earth to serve, the problem you were put here to solve, or the cause you've been put here to champion, your life changes. You not only have confidence, but you can also see clearly the path that is set before you. That further refines your preparation routine, as you now know what you are preparing to do.

Clarity brings focus and intentionality to your preparation.

CAUTIOUS: Know who is influencing your life.

It has been said you are the sum total of the five people closest to you. The people you give permission to speak into your life have great influence over shaping your attitudes, beliefs, values, and choices. The old adage, "You can't soar with the eagles if you hang out with the turkeys" is true.

It is critical to your success that you be highly selective in the people who place in your inner circle. Your inner circle should be people of character who can inspire, uplift, motivate, mentor and guide you as you pursue living life with Black Belt Excellence and daily strive to become a better version of you than the day before.

It's also been said if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room. If you don't have a mentor and a coach, you're only going to go so far. Every successful leader is also a follower. No one can ever achieve world-class status on their own. We all need someone who is farther along in their journey in whatever field we're seeking to lead ourselves and others in, to help us uplevel our own skillset.

When you're being mentored by someone who is ahead of you in their own leadership journey, your preparation time is compressed. Why? You now have the opportunity to learn from their life experience without having to experience it on your own. If you know where the potholes are on the road you're traveling, you can enjoy a smoother ride.

If you want to see Success, be mindful of the C-Crets to Success. You've got to prepare so when an opportunity does appear, you not only are prepared to see it, you're also prepared and ready to take action. If you're going to be a Black Belt Leader in Life, you're going to be constantly learning, growing, and honing your craft.

In other words, you are living life with Black Belt Excellence. You're living life on purpose, for a purpose, with confidence, clarity, and a sense of cautiousness guiding you on your leadership journey.

Preparation + Opportunity = Success


2X martial arts Hall of Fame inductee, John Terry (The Black Belt Leader) is passionate about helping others become Black Belt Leaders in Life. He is a motivational speaker, leadership, sales & communication coach and trainer.   

Jessie Terry, John's daughter, is a Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team and is actively involved in the JMT Global Youth Initiative. She is also a Real-Life Management trained coach and a certified Women-Safe Self-Defense Instructor.

For more information, schedule John (or Jessie) to speak to your organization or to book a personal, group or corporate coaching session, visit our website at:  

If you are a faith-based organization, learn more about John and Jessie's outreach to churches, para-church organizations or faith-based volunteer groups by visiting

John is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and is passionate about helping others pursue excellence as they become "Leaders in Life". He is also a Master Coach & Trainer with Real Life Management, a human behavioral training organization helping people learn how to live "Real Life" and make better choices when it comes to relationships, money, health, and wellness. John is also a certified DISC Human Behavior Consultant.

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