Ten Words That Kept
Me On Track The Last 36 Years
By Gregg Gregory
September, 1973, and I was a junior attending High Point High School
in the metropolitan area of Washington, DC. From 1954-1994, my high
school only had two principals. Frank Tracy had just taken over in
the fall of 1973, and he wanted to leave his mark early on. It was a
hot September afternoon when he held his first assembly in the gym.
graduating class had 751 students, and the classes before us and
after us had about the same. This meant the assembly had over 2,300
people including teachers, administrators and staff packed tightly
into the muggy gymnasium.
Tracy began to speak, I noticed he was speaking to the students, not
at the students. Somewhere into his speech he paused and said,
“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to share with you the secret to
success. The secret to success is really quite simple and it comes
in just 10 little words. Like the Gettysburg address delivered by
President Lincoln in 1863, these are all simple words. In fact, each
word has just one syllable and two letters. It is when you string
these 10 little words in this particular order that they become the
secret to your success. I don’t mean just your success at High Point
High School; I mean your success throughout life.”
be clear; I am a 16-year-old boy, so am I really listening to what
he’s saying? What is more important? Well, Girls, Cars, Sports, and
Food just to name a few, and the day of the week and time of day
will actually determine what is most important at any given time.
is, I am not entirely sure whether I remember this speech from the
fall of 1973 or graduation for the class of 1974. Or maybe in the
fall of 1974 (my senior year) when he had the same assembly. Maybe
it was at my graduation or at the graduation for the class of 1976.
In fact, even after I graduated, many of my friends' younger
siblings heard the same words. Several years later, when I became
director of youth activities at my church, many of those kids were
graduating from High Point and subsequently heard the same words. I
then heard them again at their graduations.
I did not realize I was actually living the words until nearly 20
years after I graduated from high school. Somewhere along the line I
realized I had never had a job where I relied on a salary to pay my
bills. Every job in my adult life has either been 100 percent
commission or my own company. As a manager, I received a small
salary with the bulk of my income coming from the production of
others on the team.
Once I came
to this realization, I began to practice “living the words” on a
regular basis. I even purchased a card with the 10 little words and
sent it to Mr. Tracy.
I have had
the pleasure of speaking on a regular basis in the Washington, DC
metro area in the last decade. In a few of my workshops, I have had
High Point graduates in the class and as I begin this story they
look at their neighbor in the class and say “I know the words.” That
is the impact that Mr. Tracy, and these 10 little words had on
As I walked
through Camden Yards on Opening Day of the 1999 Baltimore Orioles
baseball season, I noticed a man coming towards me. As I looked
closer, I realized it was Mr. Tracy. I stopped him and said “Good
morning, Mr. Tracy. How are you?” He responded, “Good morning, Mr.
Gregory. I am wonderful. And how are you?” It had been nearly 24
years since I graduated and he still remembered my name.
I can truly
say these 10 little words have been my personal focus in my life,
both personal as well as professional. I guess you could say the
words have been my “True North,” and I would like to continue the
Frank Tracy tradition and share them with you now. Please write them
down and read them every morning before you begin your day.
Remember, each word has just one syllable and two letters:
If it is to
be it is up to me… It is not up to your mother, your father, your
brother, your sister, your aunt, your uncle, your cousin, your
friends, your company, your boss, or even your co-worker. It is up
to you and only you.
Read other articles and learn more about
[Contact the author for permission to republish or reuse this article.]