**Focus on the first derivative.**

Remember your introductory calculus? Probably not. You were either a horny high school senior or a hung-over college freshman, so you weren't paying attention. But there in the first few chapters of your calc textbook is a hint about the secret of your life path.

In basic calculus we learned that the first derivative of a function is the "rate of change" of the value of that function with respect to another variable. In the case of your life, the other variable is time. The basic equation for how far a person gets looks like this:

R = G + LT

R is Results. It is defined as an overall measure of your capabilities, expertise, wisdom and knowledge. It is the measure of how valuable you are. It is the measure of how successful you are. When you graph your life, R is on the vertical axis.

G is Gift. It is defined as the amount of natural results you were given "at the factory". For each individual, G is a constant, but it definitely varies from person to person.

L is Learning. It is defined as the rate at which you gain (or lose) results over time.

T is Time. It is on the horizontal axis of your life graph.

As you can see above, your life success is determined by three variables, only one of which you can control.

You obviously can't control T. Time marches forward mercilessly at the same rate for everyone.

You also can't control G. The truth is that some people are just naturally smarter than you are, and that's the way it is. But G is not the sole determiner of your success. I have known some truly gifted people with boring lives, and I have also known some less-gifted folks who have become extremely successful.

You *can* make choices which affect the value of L. In fact, you do make choices which affect the value of L, every day, whether you know it or not.