Posts tagged #Success

Do What The Great Ones Do

As a speaker and writer, I do my best to learn what makes the “great ones”—orators and authors of the world renown—great. I study their speaking and writing styles, their word choices and use of language, their presentation skills and means of grabbing and maintaining the attention of their audiences. More than anything else, however, I study their lives, specifically the obstacles and trials these men and women had to overcome on their paths to success. What I glean from my examinations I integrate into my own life because, if there is one common thread of human character that links the past, present, and future, it is our ability to persevere.

JK Rowling's most famous book series.

JK Rowling's most famous book series.

As evidence of this, consider the example of a poor, single mother who once lived on welfare. Divorced and jobless, she had been diagnosed with depression and had even contemplated suicide. Then, while taking a train trip one day, she had an idea for a novel. She worked on her book in local cafes while her baby took naps in the stroller. Once her manuscript was finished, she submitted it for publication; it was rejected countless of times before a publishing house finally accepted it. This woman’s birth name was Joanne Murray, but today people the world over know her as JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.

In a commencement speech at Harvard, Rowling mentioned something about failure that I believe is very relevant for us to truly understand and grasp what perseverance means.

She said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Rowling did not allow her difficulties to keep her mired in poverty, but rather endured them and, as a result, became the world’s first female billionaire author. She is literally living the “rags to riches” fairy tale, all because she chose to persevere rather than surrender.

Struggles in life are unavoidable. As surely as the sun will rise, they will come. Some may batter us so badly that we will want to give up on everything we have planned, but that does not mean we must allow them to steal our hope. We can instead choose to see our trials simply as steps we must take along the path to greatness.

Remember this: You always have a choice; persevere or surrender? The great ones; leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, students, artists, etc. know that greatness comes because they choose not to give up on their mission. 

What will you choose today?

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The Biggest Failure

            January 31, 2017 marked exactly three years since I took one of the biggest leaps of faith ever in my life. With that one decision, I let go of stability, comfort, and the only career path I had known for thirteen years. I chose to walk away when many people and even myself knew that there were many more years left for me to impact the lives of students, lead teachers, and move up the educational ladder. However, in my heart, I knew there was more for me.

            Some say ambition can be lethal because it causes people to dream big, take risks, and be different from the status quo. I can agree with that assessment, but for me, ambition is more.

            Ambition is tied to a person’s passion.

            You know that desire that wakes you up in the morning ready to take on the world. Passion; that fire that can’t be quenched by mediocrity and simply living life going through the motions.

            There are many people who live life simply going through the motions, and it’s a shame, because is that truly living? Many people entered the New Year a month ago with the expectation that 2017 would be better. Why? Was it simply because we ushered in a new year and closed the book on 2016?

            A new year means nothing if you enter it with the same mentality. What is a new year going to do for you if you still think the same way and in turn act the same way? Our beliefs determine our actions. Therefore,

            If you believe your life can’t get better, it won’t.

            If you believe you can’t make a difference, you won’t.

            If you believe your students can’t learn, they won’t…and it’s not because they are incapable of doing so. Rather, it is because your negative belief in them keeps you from giving your best. You can’t control them, but you can control you. But, again, why would we give our best when nothing good is going to come out of it, right?

            I don’t want to fail, so why try?

            I don’t want to look stupid, so why give it a shot?

            I don’t want to be laughed at, so why risk?

            I must admit that I have wrestled with the same thoughts. It hasn’t been easy for me going from getting a steady paycheck to making sure I close a deal to make certain I have the necessary means to provide for my family. I don’t say that for you to feel sorry for me. I say that because I know what it is to enter a new year thinking that a new year itself is going to make things different. It doesn’t. You make things different.

            As I finished 2016, I finished it with the mindset that I will get continue to get better. I will continue to risk, dream big, work hard, and try. Why? Because my ambition, my passion drives me to make a difference. Therefore, I will continue committed to that path.

Some of the Plano Senior High School students.

Some of the Plano Senior High School students.

            See, if I had given up and not tried, I would have never had the fortune to serve the youth and youth leaders of the Western Shoshone tribe in Nevada.

            I would have never had the chance to serve the educators of Pearsall ISD and challenge them to see the greatness not only in their students, but also in themselves, because they truly matter.

            I would have never had the opportunity to serve 200 plus students at Plano High School by sharing my heart, and hearing their cries and needs for hope in a future that sometimes seems uncertain to them.

            You can make a difference today right where you are at in your job, your community, and family. Stop worrying about whether it's going to fail or not.

Do the best you with what you are given and share the light inside of you.

            If you fail, you get back up. Some would say that I’ve failed since I left my position as a school administrator because I don’t have the leadership title anymore, the income I used to have, I’m not on T.V., and social media doesn’t really know who I am yet. But that’s far from the truth because the biggest failure in life is knowing there is a longing inside of you, but never having the courage to pursue it.

The biggest failure in life is simply not trying.

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Keep Smiling Your Way To Success!

There’s a Spanish proverb that says, “El hombre propone. Dios dispone.” Simply translated: We as humans make plans, but ultimately it is God who determines and places in order what actually happens in our lives.

Another familiar saying is, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I am not trying to make God out to be some sort of cruel deity. Nor am I implying that we shouldn’t make plans.

On the contrary, I know that in order to successfully achieve a goal or fulfill a dream, you must have a plan of action. No purpose is ever achieved without a plan that isn’t actually carried out.

Yet, the reality of life is sometimes things don’t go as planned. Many things can happen and often they do, but does that mean that whatever difficulty you encounter will ultimately stop you from achieving your goal?

If you face challenge after challenge, does that mean you are not qualified to go after your dream?

If your business ventures have failed, does that mean you won’t ever succeed?

If your situation doesn’t look promising, does that mean that the tides will never turn for you?

What you believe during difficult times determines what type of life you lead. If  challenges convince you that you aren’t any good and that nothing good will ever happen to you, then you’ll quit on yourself and your dreams as soon as life gets hard.

If your failures lead you to believe that you won’t be successful, then you won’t succeed.

If you believe the storms in your life won’t ever stop, then the tides won’t ever turn for you.

Your belief is important because you are what you believe. My question to you then is: Can you smile? Can you stay positive when things don’t go as planned? Can you keep believing in yourself and in your dream when the temporary circumstances of life tell you that you shouldn’t?

It’s all temporary. Successes and failures are. Trials and triumphs are. No circumstance will last forever. We cannot control what happens to us. We can only control what happens in us. We choose how we react to what happens in our lives.

It’s easy to smile when things are going well. It’s a breeze to continue going after your dream when all the doors are opening  for you.

But, can you smile when you’re getting rejected and feeling dejected? Can you continue to pursue your dream when no one seems to believe in it, except you?

You can. I am here to tell you that nothing can take away your smile for there is always something to be grateful for. I am here to tell you that the only person that can keep you from your dream is you.

Don’t sabotage your dream because something didn’t go right. Keep pursuing your dream. If you have to, re-adjust your plan. And definitely keep smiling.


What is one thing you can smile about that will help you stay focused on achieving your goal? Share with me in the comments below.

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A.C. Cristales is a motivational speaker, leadership consultant, and author.  He has been working with students, educators, parents and youth workers for more than 15 years. 

Posted on December 10, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Success. It's Possible! Just Bring It!

Principle 1: Do What Successful People Do

Picture this scene. You get fired from your job. The bills pile up. No one is hiring.

What do you do?

Imagine your only option being to go back home. You make the call and your parents arrive to help you move back to their place. While in your mom’s car, you reach into your pocket to find all you have is a five-dollar bill.

How do you feel?

Ashamed. Defeated. Embarrassed.

This is not how you pictured your life to turn out. Yet, sometimes things happen that completely change the trajectory of our life.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson found himself in a similar situation. Unable to fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL, he tried his luck in the CFL (Canadian Football League). However, after two months, he was cut from the league. His only option was to fly from Canada to Florida, and call his father to pick him up and bring him home.

Back home, he emptied his pocket and all he had were seven bucks.

To think that someone who only had seven dollars to their name would one day be the top grossing actor of 2013 seems unfathomable. But realize this: success is possible.

Johnson was recently interviewed by Fortune Magazine, and in that article, I found four reasons why he is successful.

When you find yourself in a pit, you only have two options: Stay in and die. Or get out and live.

Johnson didn’t stay down. He got out of his pit, worked hard and succeeded by:

Doing What Successful People Do

When Johnson was fifteen, his family was evicted from their apartment. Seeing his mother crying because she couldn’t afford to pay the rent, gave him a reason to make sure she never experienced that embarrassment again.

Johnson wasn’t a perfect fifteen-year-old kid either. He got into trouble. Yet, his mother’s suffering was a spark that made him decide he would become successful.

So, what did he do? He did what his heroes Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone did. He built his body. Eventually, his transformation and newfound focus led him to a football scholarship to the University of Miami.

Success leaves clues. If you want to succeed, model those who have already succeeded.

There is no need to reinvent the formula. Study what successful people do. Learn their habits. Discover what drives them. After doing so, apply it to your life.

There’s no point in gaining information if you are not going to do anything with it.  Education isn’t merely about learning information and facts. Education is actually derived from a Latin root word that means, “to draw out from within.”  Therefore, education is really about applying what you have learned.

It’s time to execute instead of making excuses.

It’s time to do instead of just wishing.

It’s time to become instead of simply dreaming.

What can you practice from someone you admire that will help you on your journey of success? Share with me in the comments below.

Be sure to check out Part Two of the series, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Success. It's Possible!

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A.C. Cristales is a motivational speaker, leadership consultant, and author.  He has been working with students, educators, parents and youth workers for more than 15 years. 

Posted on November 14, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

The Journey of Success, Part VI, Life is Beautiful

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. – Melody Beattie

A couple of months ago, I read Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, a memoir that centered on author, Mitch Albom, having meetings with his college professor, Morrie, during his last months of life. Morrie was a Sociology professor, who developed Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), and as much as he wanted to continue teaching, his body did not allow him to do so.

What did Morrie do now that his strength was being sapped from his body? He continued living. Even as his body was deteriorating, he wanted to make the best of his situation. He was determined not to die silent.

Imagine being unable to no longer do the things you love to do.  Imagine not being able to dress yourself or go to the bathroom by yourself. Morrie loved to dance and swim, but as Albom wrote in the memoir, ALS is like a lit candle that “melts your nerves and leaves your body a pile of wax.”

In the midst of suffering through this disease, Morrie’s spirit was never taken. His body no longer had the same strength, but his soul and heart were more alive than ever before.

Morrie, a true educator, wanted the days and months leading up to his death to be the final course he ever taught. He wrote several aphorisms about accepting one’s own death and the Boston Globe published a feature story on Morrie.

The feature story in the Boston Globe prompted tremendous support for Morrie. Nightline even did a story on him. However, gaining nationwide recognition was never Morrie’s purpose. I think he just wanted to show people that even though he was dying, he still had a purpose.

I love Morrie’s transparency in detailing to Mitch how there were many mornings when he would cry and feel bad about his condition, but then he would let it go.

“You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now.”—Morrie

 Two weeks ago, I surprised my daughter at her school and had lunch with her. I can still picture her astonishment as I walked to meet her and her classmates. I had made her day. Little did she know, she had made mine as well. In the center of my uncertainty, my lunch date with my daughter was a little piece of heaven. 

The journey I am on to become a successful, full time professional speaker has not been easy. I know I keep playing the same song, but I feel I must share that with you.

The plans we sometimes make for our lives don’t always pan out. I don’t believe that is a bad thing either. I just believe that there is something greater happening behind the scenes. Regardless though, we need to realize that life will present us with tough situations. The important thing will always be how we react to them.

In the past few months:

I’ve been rejected, yet I am still needed.

I’ve been hurt, yet I still smile.

I’ve been hated, yet I am still loved.

I’ve been lied to, yet I still hold on to what’s true.

I’ve been delayed, yet I still move forward.

Every day we are alive, we have something to be grateful for. The fact that we are breathing is evidence that life is not finished with us.

Life is beautiful. Even when it rains. Even in moments of loneliness. Even in darkness. I believe that life is beautiful. We just have to find the beauty in every moment, and when we do, be grateful for it.


What are you grateful for? Share below in the comments.

Posted on October 1, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

The Journey of Success, Part IV, Homecoming

Who would have thought that a kid who spent a good amount of his time in the principal’s office as a middle school student would one day return to that same school and serve as its assistant principal?

I can still remember receiving the phone call informing me that I was being appointed assistant principal at Sam Houston Middle School.  Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I was going to get the opportunity to serve as an educational leader at the same school I once attended.

I wasn’t the best of students. Neither was I one of the worst. However, if you were to ask any of the teachers during my time there who they believed would one day come back and be a principal there, their response wouldn’t have been me.

Somehow, someway providence brought me home. I experienced a lot during my six years at Sam Houston, both personally and professionally. Yet, for some reason, at the tail end of my time there, I was no longer fulfilled.

My words didn’t express my unhappiness, but my body language did. Sure, there were times when I was excited to go to work. But more often than not, I wasn’t having fun anymore. I knew there was more inside me that was caged up and needed to be set free.

Freedom came on January 31st of this year.  Was I excited? Of course. Was I scared? No doubt. However, I made a decision to pursue my dream wholeheartedly. Therefore, sink or swim, I was determined to find out what would become of my dreams and ambitions.

If you have read the first three parts of The Journey of Success, you already know that this journey hasn’t gone quite the way I planned it to go. That is why when I returned back to Sam Houston two weeks ago to speak to the FCA group and AVID students, it was bittersweet for me.

It was sweet because I had the opportunity to impact the lives of middle school students with my message and story.  But it was bitter, because things were no longer the same.

The drive to the school was the same, the halls hadn’t changed, and many familiar faces were excited to see me, but it was different. I was home, but it didn’t feel like it.

Going into business for yourself not only takes courage, but it also takes strength. Making the decision to be an entrepreneur and basically hold destiny in your own hands is easy. The determination and dedication to pursue it through all the heartache and struggles is the difficult part.

According to Bloomberg, eight out of ten entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first eighteen months.  That is why I know making the decision to go into business is easy. However, are you strong enough to bear the weight of failure, doubt, and loneliness (just a couple of things I have struggled with)?

Other questions you must ask yourself are:

Will you stay determined when nothing seems to be working in your favor?

Will you be dedicated to finding out what is working, what is not, and then make the necessary adjustments?

Being back at Sam Houston made me question my decision to leave to start my own business. There, I had a purpose, a platform where students, teachers and parents needed me. Now, I struggle with the thought, “Am I even wanted?” Because what good is my message if I don’t have the audience to share it with?

Eighty percent of people who start businesses do not make it. That’s not a comforting statistic considering how I have attempted several things in my business that have failed. Yet like a bop bag, I get back up.

 I am determined. I am dedicated. I cannot quit. Neither can you. You did the easy part making a decision to achieve a goal.  Now, I challenge you to stay dedicated and determined to achieve it. Your goal is worth it.

What do you do to stay determined and dedicated to your goal? Share your comment below.


©2014, A.C. Cristales, Cristales Leadership Group

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

The Whole Picture

It’s been three months since I took one of the greatest leaps of faith ever in my life.  I was speaking with a friend of mine a week ago, and she asked me how I felt about leaving a steady, secure career. My response to her was that, although I am doing all I can to survive on the finances that I have, which at times lead to stressful days, I am ecstatic I made the leap. I now have a liberty that money can never buy.

With this liberty, however, comes great responsibility. I’ve been freed from a career that wasn’t fulfilling me any longer, yet that doesn’t mean that I can just sit around doing nothing. I have to work. Correction. I MUST work. I left my career not having any sort of steady income in place, but what I did and do have is my dream.

Dreams don’t pay bills though. Therefore, my only option is work. Work on what I strongly believe is my destiny in life, which is to impact the world. High aspirations, I know, but if we’re reaching for something we can easily grab, is there really joy in that? Sure, when we get something we want, we’re happy. Yet, if it was easy for us to attain, that happiness quickly fades.

What I am referring to is reaching for something everyone and every thing in the world says it’s impossible to attain, YET you. You know deep down inside that what you are reaching for, you will one day get if…

There is an “if.” The “if” is “if you work for it.” Most of us like to believe that once a dream is conceived in our minds, BAM, we get it. Not so. Others like to believe that simply taking a couple of steps after your dream will get it fulfilled. Not quite.

You will encounter detours, obstacles, and rejections. You will cry, question and doubt yourself AND your work. You will want to quit.

These past three months I’ve traveled a bit, nationally and internationally, and have had the privilege to empower over one thousand students. Last week, I was on the news (for something good!) and received some great exposure.  Great things, but that’s not the whole picture. Don’t just look at my successes. Look at my struggles. For my struggles legitimize my success. The whole picture of success includes the valleys, the climb, the falls and the peaks.

You can accomplish your dreams, “IF.” I’ll let one of the greatest motivational speakers, Les Brown explain to you what I mean: (emphasis added)

If you want a thing bad enough to go out and fight for it, to work day and night for it, to give up your time, your peace and sleep for it… if all that you dream and scheme is about it, and life seems useless and worthless without it… if you gladly sweat for it and fret for it and plan for it and lose all your terror of the opposition for it…if you simply go after that thing that you want with all your capacity, strength and sagacity, faith hope and confidence and stern pertinacity…if neither cold, poverty, famine, nor gout, sickness nor pain, of body and brain, can keep you away from the thing that you want…if dogged and grim you beseech and beset it,
with the help of God, YOU WILL GET IT!”

Posted on May 8, 2014 and filed under Blogs.


Momentum is defined as the strength or force that allows something to continue or to grow stronger or faster as time passes. 

Momentum is the word that pops in my head each time I finish a speech. Since January 17, 2014, I have had the privilege to speak to 32 groups of students with audiences ranging from 15 to 250 students. Also, the first week of March, I spoke to 50 law enforcement officers from Central America. 

By estimate, I have spoken to at least 1,000 people in the past two months. It may not seem much to others, but I am building momentum.

There is strength and confidence being built every time I finish a talk that will prepare me for the day when I speak to audiences in the thousands. It’s coming! I believe and know that.

More importantly, my purpose is being fulfilled. If one student or anyone in the audience is empowered by my message, then my job is being done.

So, I ask you, what are you doing to build momentum? What are you continuously doing that is making you stronger or better, and that will ultimately lead you to where you want to be?

Looking for a new job? Are you sharpening your interview skills? 

Desiring to lose weight? Do you have a plan of how you will lose it?

Wanting to do better at work or school? What is stopping you?

Have a goal? What’s your plan to achieve it?

It’s the little actions that matter. Don’t be derailed by small gains. Celebrate them and keep moving forward. Remember, every little step forward is a step closer to where you want to be.

Cheering you on!


— William James
Posted on March 30, 2014 and filed under Blogs.