About the Author
JACKIE GINGRICH CUSHMAN writes a weekly human-interest column for Townhall.com. Her nonprofit activities include serving on the Georgia Advisory Council: The Trust for Public Land and as president of the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation, which she founded in 2006. Jackie and Jimmy Cushman Jr. live with their two children in Atlanta. Visit www.jackiecushman.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The number five is important. The idea that any one
of us–or our children or grandchildren–can learn
a finite number of things is important. We don’t have to
learn one hundred rules to live successfully, we simply
have to learn five principles and live by them.
Success. We hear the word often, but what is the definition
of success? If you ask five people to define success,
you will get five different definitions. Many people strive
for material success–large homes, expensive cars, and
designer wardrobes. Others look to recognition, celebrity,
or societal impact as a marker. Some view success
from a much more personal perspective: being a good
mother, father, brother, sister, or daughter.
Since this book is focused on helping you achieve success,
you might wonder how we define it. We focus on
the long-term effects of our actions. For example, are we
making the world a better place for our children and
grandchildren? To us, success means adding value to
people’s lives and making a difference in the world
Each of us has to determine for ourselves how to define
success in life. Americans tend to focus on achieving
success, but we often forget to focus on what creates
success. Success does not happen overnight, and it does
not happen easily. But we believe that everyone can find a
way to be successful. The outcome is simply a result of
an ongoing process–learning to live successfully.
Together our family has found that by following five
principles, anyone can improve his or her life and create
success: Dream Big, Work Hard, Learn Every Day,
Enjoy Life, and Be True to Yourself. We began brainstorming
on writing a book about these ideas a few years
ago, when Jackie’s children, Maggie and Robert, began
to ask questions. Questions about how their grandpa became
Speaker of the House. We thought it might be best
for them to understand the process and how it happened
over time–not overnight. Our goal is for Maggie and
Robert and you to understand that success is a process
that involves a lifetime of learning about how to succeed.
While these principles might appear to be simplistic
and easy, mastering them requires diligence and
perseverance. The application of any one of them might
result in progress, but the integration of all five can lead
to stellar results. Believe us; we know that sometimes
it’s challenging to live by your principles. Do not deceive
yourself; there will be occasions when you will fall short.
But in the end, it’s about picking yourself up and moving
back to the path that you want to follow. If you focus first
on these principles and your values, you’ll always make
the right decision and follow the right path.
Both of us have tried to follow these five principles
throughout our lives.
We know they can have a positive impact on anyone
willing to learn them and live them, and we want to
share them with you.
In this book, we hope to provide you with a playbook
for success. Not a guarantee, but a path to follow that
will improve your odds. We have included quotes from
many people who are successful in a variety of areas.
These individuals provide real-life examples of how they
achieved success by following these five simple principles.
Our dream is that this book will inspire and encourage
you to pursue your happiness and that you will
enjoy it once you find it.
Newt & Jackie
Principle : 1
If you can dream it, you can do it.
As a young man, I planned on becoming a zoo director
or a vertebrate paleontologist. Yet during one special
weekend as a teenager, I learned a powerful lesson
that sparked my dream of entering public office and becoming
a leader of our nation.
It was 1958, I was fifteen years old, and we were living
in Orléans, France. My father was a career soldier–
an infantryman. He served his country in World War II,
Korea, and Vietnam. He understood that freedom is not
free. During our time in France, my father took me to
Verdun. That battlefield had been the largest and bloodiest
on the western front in World War I. While there,
we stayed with a friend of my father’s who had been
drafted in World War II and sent to the Philippines, survived
the Bataan Death March in 1942, and went on to
spend three and a half years in a Japanese prison camp
during World War II. During that weekend, between
talking to my father’s friend and learning about Verdun,
I was immersed in stories of the human sacrifices that
were made for freedom throughout both world wars.
I learned that the freedoms we now enjoy and take for
granted were paid for in blood. This truth became very
real tome during those three days at Verdun.
The lesson from history is that it is possible for bad
leadership to result in the collapse of seemingly invulnerable
societies. I was shaken by the realization that
countries can disappear with remarkable speed when societies
and their cultural values collide.
As an American, I believe everything we hold dear–
our freedom, our prosperity, and our safety–is very fragile.
During that summer at Verdun, my father taught me
that we desperately need leaders who look beyond the
present, who understand the seriousness of the threats
we face, and who are willing to commit themselves to
finding solutions worthy of our challenges.
The ultimate fate of any free society rests with our
elected political leadership, and I decided it was my duty
to become one of those leaders. This became my goal,
my mission, my dream. That lesson from Verdun never
left me, and it was the reason I ran for office. I ran for
Congress twice unsuccessfully, but I never gave up on
my aspiration to serve the public because I remembered
those who never gave up defending freedom with their
lives. After two defeats I won election and achieved my
dream of becoming a leader for America.