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Ruts Are the Road


By: Michael Aun



I used to complain about the ruts in the road until it finally dawned upon me… the ruts are the road. In life, success and failure are artistic terms, not scientific terms. Still… the winner’s motto:  Perfect is close enough!

I began “journaling” when I was only ten years old. Today I have over 250 of these books of wisdom that I have collected, gathered, amassed, accumulated or outright stolen from the best minds in the world.

My grandfather Eli Mack, Sr. would say to me (pointing to his head), “This is not a filing cabinet. Learn to write things down.”

As I struggle to relate to the thinking and philosophy of today’s millennials, several things pop up in my mind. I was speaking to administrators from a consortium of colleges and universities some time back and guess what? They fight the same battle with millennials too.

I have told my own kids many times: Don’t worry what you are going to be when you grow up… it ain’t been invented yet. And, in fact, 4 of the top 10 “in-demand” jobs today did not exist in 2004.

Muhammad Ali may have said it best: “Stay in college and get knowledge… stay there until you’re through. If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, you can make something of yourself.”


A poem titled “Winners” also expressed it nicely:

If you think you are beaten, you are.

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you like to win but think you can’t

It is almost certain that you won’t.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger woman or man,

But sooner or later, those who win

Are those who think they can!


I have been a student of winners most of my life and I have concluded that they are great, not because of their skills, but because of their passion for what they do. Things work best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

One of my fellow Toastmasters in Club 1841 in Kissimmee, FL recently asked me why I write things down. When you watch your thoughts, they become words. Words become actions. Actions become habits. Habits become character. And character becomes your destiny.

Always be on the lookout for the best words others share. Here are some to consider.

  • The 6 most important words: “I admit I made a mistake.”
  • The 5 most important words: “You did a good job!”
  • The four most important words: “What is your opinion?”
  • The three most important words: “If you please.”
  • The two most important words: “Thank you.”
  • The 1 most important word: “We.”
  • The one least important word: “I.”

To paraphrase Will Rogers, “I go to Toastmasters every week because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as all the others go by.” I am never scheduled to speak and only get called on when there is a no-show. I go to continue my learning from the next crop of leaders who are germinating in front of me.

At Toastmasters, we give one another constructive criticism. We avoid telling others about their faults. They will correct the fault, and they will never forgive you.

Sometimes I feel like Toastmasters goes to great pains to teach people to say nothing well. The substance of their speech is why I am front and center at 7AM every Friday morning in Kissimmee, FL. What else did I have to do? Sleep another hour?

I am at that time in my life that I feel compelled to repay the debt that I owe for any success I have enjoyed. Malcom Forbs said: “Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.”

I guess you could say ruts are the road. The trouble with the future is it keeps getting closer and closer. I have lots of work to do and may debts to repay.

Michael Aun, CSP®, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame® is the author of “Build a Better You- Starting Now” Volume 26.