Toolbox for Success

by Dwayne Melancon

What's in the book?

    • Living for Success
    • Honing Your Professional Skills
    • Seek the Productive Life
    • Tap Into Technology
    • And more!


I consider myself to be a lifelong learner, and am always on the lookout for new things to learn. That tendency, plus a willingness to jump into the unknown to solve difficult problems, has served me well.

Back in 2005, I began writing about the things I was learning in the hopes that I could share my journey with others. I soon found myself connecting with a large community of people around the world, and learned even more through those relationships—the “network effect” really works.

In this book, you’ll find a collection of lessons learned, resources that have helped me, and stories that I offer to help you on your journey to greater success.

I’ve learned some valuable principles in my quest for knowledge:

1. There is no “one size fits all” solution for achieving success.

Advice is like medicine—it must be prescribed based on what the patient needs or it won’t be effective. Throughout this book, I offer a collection of stories and lessons. Some of these may work for you, some may not. You may find something that doesn’t work for you, but it might enable you to help a friend who’s struggling with a big problem. If that happens, feel free to “prescribe” it for them.

2. Stories are one of the best ways to learn and teach.

One of the people I’ve met on my journey is an amazing woman named Rosa Say (leadership coach and author of Managing with Aloha). Rosa taught me the Hawaiian tradition of “talking story” in which people gather together and talk about problems, ideas, things they’ve learned, etc.

Use stories with friends, families, and co-workers—you’ll get so much more out of life by utilizing the talking story tradition.

3. It’s important to “try on beliefs.”

Sometimes you run across something that really pushes you out of your comfort zone. Rather than dismissing it, try to pretend you believe it will help and try it out for 24 hours and see what happens. I’ve found a few helpful techniques by doing this—some of which I still use all the time (such as the “genuine curiosity” techniques for which my blog is named—more on that in the conclusion of the book!).

4. Sometimes, you have to be willing to show up and see what happens.

Facing the unknown is hard, but a lot of my success has been due to my willingness to take on new challenges, show up, and see what happens. Some of my best learning has come from my scariest and most difficult assignments and challenges.

5. If you know what you want and you ask for it, chances are you will get it.

This was a hard one for me since I felt like it was selfish to ask for things, and I should just work hard and hope that someone would notice my effort and help me or reward me. Yeah, right.

If you want something, ask for it and you have a shot at getting it. If you know what you want, you know what to ask for, and—this is vital—you also know what kind of help to ask for. Believe it or not, people want to help other people, and the more you can help them understand what effective helping looks like, the better the results.

6. Pretend you’ve created everything that happens to you.

When you find yourself in a situation you don’t like, ask yourself what you’ve done to put yourself in that condition. Often, you can identify a few decisions, actions, overreactions, or lack of action that contributed to the unwanted outcomes you’re experiencing. When you figure out how you’ve contributed to your own problems, it’s easier to find ways to learn and improve. After all, if you got yourself into this mess, who better to get you out of it?

Which leads me to the last precept…

7. Take responsibility for your own well-being.

If you are feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, stifled, frustrated, etc. it is up to you to do something about it. As they say, “Nodding the head does not row the boat.” Grab an oar, start paddling, and take responsibility for where your life is going.

These seven principles have served me well, and have led to the creation of this “toolbox” you’re about to explore. I hope you enjoy the stories.

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