Technology of Success

I Was Awakened Underwater... by Golden Light

By Susan Ford Collins

I received a text message that severe thunderstorms were moving into our area. A moment later the sky opened and we seemed to be in the midst of a hurricane punctuated by flashes and crashes. My dog Honey was shaking. An hour later the storm had passed but the power was still off so I decided to walk Honey before it got dark. A quick jaunt around the block and we headed into my side gate and across the stepping stones in my banana jungle as we had hundreds of times before. But this time was different.

Midway across the water, my right foot suddenly slid out from under me. There must have been algae on the rain-covered surface. The next thing I remember was the thunderous sound of the back of my head cracking hard against the edge of the round concrete stepping stone.

I wasn’t aware that I had fallen in the water until my eyes opened and I saw a bright circle of golden light with glistening air bubbles rising up from my mouth to the surface. I realized in a flash that I would drown unless I could raise my head and take a breath... now! 

Knowing how hard my head hit and the sound it made, I was unsure whether my arms and legs were still working. But with one life-intending push I lifted my head out of the water and took at breath! The banana pond is 5 feet deep and the bottom and sides are sharp coral rock. How would I get out before I lost consciousness? I realized my shoe had fallen off so I rummaged around until I found it and began grappling my way out of the dark water. Once standing, I remembered I had my cell phone in a pouch around my waist. It was wet so I couldn’t call for help… besides Albert was away and completely unaware of my predicament.

When I finally got in the house, I lit a couple of candles to see how badly I was injured and figure out what to do next. I pulled off my wet clothes and touched the back of my head with my hand and was stunned to see it come back covered with blood. And, that I had “an extra kneecap” on my right shin… or so it seemed because of the rapid swelling in that area.

Was I neurologically OK? I tried talking and I could. I tried moving my arms and legs up and down and they worked. I seemed to be mentally alert and functional but I was so used to auto-dialing people that I couldn’t remember their phone numbers, and it didn’t matter because, with no power and an internet phone in the house, I had no dial tone. Now what? 

I was focused on one thing… getting to my daughter’s home 10 miles away. Margaret is a doctor and I knew she would know exactly what steps I should take. She had been my medical savior in the past so I was eager to get her input this time as well. I found Honey’s leash and made sure I had my wallet and medical cards, then climbed in my car and carefully headed south to where she lives. They had a new gate installed that afternoon so her first thought was, oh good, Mom’s here to see the gate. Then my teenage grandson met me at the door and saw blood streaming down my neck. “Are you okay?”

No. I’m not, and I began to explain why I couldn’t call from home so they could come get me (the power was off), why I couldn’t call from my cellphone either (it went in the water with me). Then someone handed me an ice pack and a blanket and Margaret came up with a plan. She would drive me to the Urgent Care Center near her home. I felt bad about sending her back to work after she had put in 10 straight exhausting days, but this was a crisis and she assured me that she wouldn’t sleep a wink if we didn’t get my injuries assessed.

When we arrived at the center, I felt safer. After filling out forms and handing them my insurance cards, we were guided back to an examining room and Margaret checked to see who the radiologist on duty was. A friend she deeply trusted so we both relaxed as the nurse took my blood pressure which is typically athletically low but had shot up to 202. The doctor came in and parted my still-wet hair so she could see where I was cut and whether I would need stitches. Yes, but first a CAT Scan of my head and a plain film of my suspected broken right leg. I kept saying, “No, I can walk fine.” But, by the looks of “that extra knee cap,” the evidence seemed to indicate otherwise. When Margaret’s colleague read the X-rays, and she looked at them too. My right leg was whole and there was no bleed in my skull. Whew!

All that remained was cleaning the wound and stapling it closed. Margaret said they look just like office staples. And they do. The bleeding stopped and they handed me a tube of antibiotic cream and told me I could take a quick shower when I got home… one of the advantages of stapling she added.

On the ride back to Margaret’s, she told me she felt much better now that the worst scenarios had been ruled out. I was blessed! I would spend the night at her home. I was exhausted and sleep sounded wonderful, but when I tried to lay my head on the pillow, a sudden new reality set in. The very place where my skull touched the pillow was the very spot where the staples were, and turning my head to either side didn’t work either. I had wrenched my neck too. It ached and pulsed. I drifted off for a couple of minutes but woke up in terror again.

I had left two candles burning in my house! I had to drive home and check! So I woke Margaret and told her I needed help turning off their alarm and finding my keys. I gathered up Honey and headed home with a clear agreement… I would call as soon as I arrived home.

But when I got there, the power was still off even though I had been told it would be back on by 9. I tried plugging in my wired phone… which involved moving my bed, bending over to pug the phone connection in tightly so the circular cover would snap closed… but there was no dial tone. I kept praying for the sound of the AC going on, or the sudden burst of light from a lamp I may have left on when the power went off. But nothing.

At daylight I walked Honey, hoping to see a neighbor so I could use his phone but no one was up and no lights were on. When I started a second loop, a friend came out of his house to pick up the paper and I waved and shouted, “I need help.” I used his cell phone to call Margaret, but she had finally fallen asleep and didn’t answer. At least I had done everything I could to keep my agreement. An hour later the power came on, and the air conditioner and the lights I had left on. And I could finally call to explain what had happened and let them that I was safe and OK.

The candles had burned out on their own, leaving a long wine-colored trail of wax on the table as evidence.

Now I could look back and rethink what had happened. I walked over to the stepping stones to figure out how I had fallen back-first into the water. And one life-saving memory kept blazing in my mind… that bright golden light-filled image of glistening bubbles coming up from my mouth as I lay there in shock in the water. The golden image that alerted me to lift my head and take a breath… now! I wondered where that golden light had come from. When I fell it was dusk and overcast and the banana pond was under a huge leafy sapodilla tree. Why wasn’t it dark when I looked up? With a chill I knew the answer… that golden light was Spirit coming to my rescue, empowering me to take action to save my life. Reminding me that I still had work to do. It wasn’t my time to leave.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

* For more on Committing to Outcome, go to Success Skill 7 in The Joy of Success or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Remembering Bucky! Earth Day 2015

By Susan Ford Collins

When I spent time with renowned world-futurist Buckminster Fuller years ago, he saw the world quite differently than other people do. He saw us living on Spaceship Earth, journeying through the universe cycle by cycle. We are Earth’s crew, he said, responsible for tending our planet and one another, for managing its resources and environment.

“Think of it. We are blessed with technology that would be indescribable to our forefathers. We have the wherewithal, the know-it-all to feed everybody, clothe everybody, and give every human on Earth a chance. We know now what we could never have known before—that we now have the option for all humanity to "make it" successfully on this planet in this lifetime.”

Buckminster Fuller 1980

It is my hope that these 10 Success Skills will empower us to make Bucky’s vision come true for each and all of us… in the days to come.

Susan Ford Collins 2015

Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller ( July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer and inventor.

Quoted from The Joy of Success: 10 Essential Skills for Getting the Success You Want

by Susan Ford Collins



THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

 $14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com


Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Would Fear Prevent Me from Achieving My Outcome?

By Susan Ford Collins

Several years ago, I bought gas at a neighborhood station and headed home. The light was green when I entered the intersection but immediately turned yellow then red. Cars in front of me stopped short. Cars on either side came at me like raging bulls. My only safe choice was to turn left, even though I had been going straight through that no-left-turn intersection for years.

The moment I turned, a siren forced me over. A red-faced policeman demanded my license as though I had just killed several people. “That really scared me! Give me a second,” I said.  But he headed off in a huff to write not just one ticket but two: illegal left turn and failure to stop on red. When he handed me those tickets I tried again to explain what happened, but he barked, “If you want to contest these tickets, I’ll see you in court.”

When the citations arrived in the mail weeks later, I started rehearsing what I would say to the judge. The traffic flow failed me. I’d been forced to turn left. At a town council meeting weeks later, I learned that the Department of Transportation was planning to reroute traffic in that intersection because so many cars were getting trapped. I felt more certain than ever that I would have both tickets dismissed.

On the appointed day, I headed to court. But the court I walked into wasn’t the one I expected. It was a pretrial hearing: “If you plead no-contest and don’t ask for a trial, we’ll make you a deal you can’t refuse.” When I told the hearing officer “my truth,” she confirmed that the intersection was a problem, reduced the fine to a bare minimum and took away the points. In that moment, her proposed deal felt good and I heard myself say, “OK, fine. I just wanted to be heard.”

But just being heard wasn’t really what I wanted because, when I read the receipt and saw the word "guilty” printed there in black and white, I felt sick at my stomach. I had failed to get the tickets dismissed. Why? Was it because I was scared and simply wanted the whole thing over? Was it because it would be my word against the word of that red-faced, overpowering policeman in court? Was I afraid the result might be something far worse?

Then, as if to highlight my lack of persistence, as I stood staring at the word “guilty”, the bailiff came over and said, “Mam. I wouldn’t have settled my case if I were you. You would have had both tickets dismissed if you had asked for a trial.”

I couldn’t sleep, smacked in the face by how powerful fears really are. How they drown out our dreams. Whether we’re confronting a policeman or judge, the child in us goes for safety and compliance instead of our desired outcome… unless we’ve developed the 7th Success Skill which gives us the ability to hold onto our outcome and keep taking all the steps needed to get there. The next day I called the courthouse and asked for a trial date.

In the courtroom on the day of the trial, I saw that overpowering policeman sitting up front on the witness stand and my scared feelings returned. But this time, I was consciously committed to having the charges dismissed. When my case was called and the judge asked that policeman when and where the tickets had been issued, I heard him provide the wrong date. I told the judge the correct date as well as what I’d learned about traffic problems in that intersection, and joyfully heard the judge pronounce, “Not guilty. Case dismissed.”

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

* For more on how to stay on course to your desired outcomes, read Success Skill 7 in The Joy of Success: 10 Essential Skills for Getting the Success You Want.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins



Time to Create a New Tradition… Parenting Vows

By Susan Ford Collins

Infants’ capabilities are limited. They can move, fuss, cry or smile. But they can’t feed themselves, change their diapers or safely get in and out of their cribs. In this stage of life, they’re totally dependent on us to figure out what they need, to make time to meet their needs completely, and to replace ourselves appropriately when we have other responsibilities.

The choice to have children is one that impacts the rest of our lives. It requires five years of being totallyresponsible and sixteen more years of being heavily responsible, an even harder job since we’re not always there with them at that stage. And it’s demanding financially too. It takes $100,000 to $500,000 plus to pay for a child’s health and education.

Have you seen the Nyquil commercial where a man wakes up feeling awful and seems to be asking his boss for a sick day? As the view widens, we realize he’s asking for the day off... from his son who is standing up in his crib! Fun but true. In good times and bad, in sickness and health, there are no days off from parenting! With all this responsibility in mind, something seems to be missing.

It’s time to create a new tradition—Parenting Vows

We promise to love, honor and cherish when we marry. But there are no vows when we create a new life!

It’s time to initiate a new tradition—Parenting Vows—sacred vows that affirm our mutual willingness to be responsible for our children's lives. Let us vow to support their growth and future contributions forever. Then, if one of us dies or we decide to live apart, our children will truly know that the form of our relationship has changed. But our love for them hasn't.

Before that precious moment of choosing to parent, let us make a solemn promise to each other…

Repeat after me...

No matter what—no matter how much money we have or we don't have, no matter how much time we have or we don't have, no matter what happens in our lives or what doesn't happen—we will make certain that our child is supervised, safe and secure. That he or she will have the support and independence needed to develop skills and gain experience. And that—no matter what—we will parent so he or she will be able to lead our families and our society in new directions in the years to come.

We promise to manage our lives and relationships so we can meet the parenting needs of our child—whether we are living together or apart— until death do us part.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. Contact me for permission to use it.

* For more on Parenting Vows, read The Gate to Fulfillment: Beyond Personal Success, the final chapter in Our Children Are Watching: 10 Skills for Leading the Next Generation to Success.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Heads Up... Guidance May Arrive in Disguise!

By Susan Ford Collins

After graduation, my husband and I moved to Washington, D.C. where I interviewed to be a supervisor at the phone company. They asked me to roleplay a call with a customer. He couldn’t pay his bill on time and who wanted to pay it over time.

Simple enough now but, in my childhood world, people had to follow rules; exceptions were impossible. So I said, "I’m sorry. You have to get your payment in on time. There's nothing I can do.” And I was shocked when, with all my credentials and honors and having said what I was sure was the right thing, they weren't interested in hiring me.

That job rejection affected me deeply. For the first time I saw myself from the outside. I had learned about life from my parents, teachers and bosses, from their attitudes about what was possible and impossible, what could be changed and what couldn't.

Weeks later that turndown turned into a blessing. I was hired as a Research Psychologist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). After studying illness and dysfunction for a year, an idea started waking me at night. What more could we learn if we studied highly successful people (HSPs) too? What could we discover about how success is learned and passed on?

After weeks of sleepless nights, I headed into one of our prestigious weekly conferences and raised my hand. “I think that we’re only doing half the job. Instead of simply studying ill and dysfunctional people, we need to begin studying highly successful people as well. What are they doing that the rest of us are not? Are they using specific skills? If so, how can we teach "their skills" to individuals who are missing, or misusing, one or more?”

I was sure my colleagues would be excited with my idea, but instead they laughed… and laughed loudly. I was forced to make a life-changing decision on the spot. Were they right that I was wrong? That my idea was laughable? Or was I onto something BIG they just couldn’t see yet? Red-faced, I silently vowed to pursue this research on my own, trusting I would be guided.

As a girl, I understood all too well what happens when the baton of a child’s leadership gets dropped along the way. When a parent is ill, drunk, or absent and no one else steps in. I knew I was missing skills as a result. Weeks after my proposal was laughed at, I discovered I was pregnant and I felt an even more profound sense of urgency. My child is watching! I need to discover more about success so he or she can be successful.

Clear about my mission, an unexpected event occurred. My husband was offered a position that was too good to refuse so we packed up and moved our family to suburban Philadelphia. With no research opportunities available and two young daughters to mother, I accepted a teaching position in a middle school. I felt blown off course at first, however those classroom years let me share workdays and holidays with my girls and gave me time to begin shadowing gifted kids as well as highly successful adults. Through an almost incomprehensible maze created by divorce and my new responsibilities as a single mom, I was led by three questions: What is success? What skills make people successful? How can these skills be taught? But my route—filled with detours and roadblocks, starts and restarts, conflicting needs and priorities, inner guidance and divine intervention—would turn out to be similar to those HSPs would describe to me later.

Then an unanticipated opportunity presented itself. My school asked me to attend World Games at the University of Massachusetts where I met Buckminster Fuller, one of the greatest architects and innovators of our time. Seizing the opportunity, I shared my mission and asked Bucky what he thought made him successful. After suggesting a few possibilities, he said he wasn’t sure, but he applauded my “spunk” and agreed to let me spend time with him. Months later when I described the skills I had observed, he realized he had been using those skills unconsciously. Eager to know more, he introduced me to other HSPs, who introduced me to still others. Like a tree, my connections branched and multiplied. Since NIH, I have shadowed people in a wide range of fields—business people, coaches, athletes, writers, entertainers, parents, teachers, musicians, astronauts and inventors. Year after year as I studied their work strategies, leadership styles, decision-making processes, family and personal lives, the same 10 skills kept showing up. I named this skillset The Technology of Success.

Next I began designing and facilitating The Technology of Success public seminars. Group after group, the process flowed naturally from Skill 1 to Skill 10. Some participants knew a few skills. Others knew them all but were using them incorrectly. After the seminar, companies started calling me. They were noticing significant improvements in the attitudes and performances of employees who attended my seminar. Top corporations—American Express, Florida Power & Light, Ryder System, The Upjohn Company, Dow Chemical, Kimberly-Clark and CNN—invited me to teach The Technology of Success in-house.

Most of the participants in my corporate seminars were also parents, and many of the questions they asked me on breaks were about their leadership role as parents. Teaching these skills in the workplace was extremely valuable but not nearly as life-changing as teaching parents how to use these skills at home, then helping teachers reinforce them in school so our next generation can bring them full-blown into our workplaces and communities. Into their own families.

One morning I had a call from a director at The Upjohn Company who invited me to speak at their regional sales conference. We chatted for a few minutes about agenda and details. Then he said he had something special to tell me. "We will be honoring your daughter Margaret as our top sales rep that day. When we told her she'd won, we asked what her secret was. She said it was the 10 Success Skills you taught her as a girl and you're teaching in businesses around the world. We want you to share “Margaret’s skills” with the rest of our sales team. There's just one thing! We don't want them to know you're Margaret’s mother until it's over. We want them to hear you for the professional you are." I chuckled but gladly agreed.

I flew into Washington, D.C. Arriving at the hotel, I mingled with participants, not stopping when I passed my daughter in the lobby, not chatting when she stood beside me in the lunchline. At the end of the day, I was standing in a knot of question-askers and hand-shakers when concluding remarks began. "Our award-winner Margaret Collins has an announcement to make.” She stood up slowly and pointed her finger straight at me, "That's my mom!"

The room fell silent for a moment, then in one voice the group roared, “No fair, Margaret—no wonder you won!” Although Margaret’s colleagues shouted those words with good-natured laughter, their “complaint” troubled me. Shouldn’t every child have parents who can teach them all 10 Success Skills? Shouldn’t every child have parents who live these skills every day, not just enjoying their own dreams but leading the way so their children can enjoy theirs?