Take your first big step in this Year of the Rooster. Happy Chinese New Year!



Hello, my friend! I’m your friend John Smagula, here to inspire, encourage, and accompany you on your journey forward.




Today is Chinese New Year, the most important holiday in the Chinese lunar calendar. We all look forward to what the Year of the Rooster may bring. This is a great opportunity to blend your dreams and drive to achieve a higher level this year.


Hollywood Lake Park, Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign, taken from Hollywood Lake Park


Last week I went to Los Angeles and hiked the Hollywood sign mountain. I met tourists from all over the world on the trail, and we all wanted to see the Hollywood sign with our own eyes. Many of the tourists I met were from China, and they were enjoying the day and taking lots of pictures. This caused me to stop and think. What is it about the Hollywood sign that we all find so inspiring?


Paramount Studio Tour Bronson Gate

Paramount Pictures Studio Tour


I think the Hollywood sign captures our imaginations. At the same time, many movies inspire us, helping us to see our own life problems from a different angle.


Here’s an example. On this trip to Los Angeles, I toured Paramount Studios and saw where Tom Cruise filmed Top Gun. Many movie critics believe this is one of his best movies. One of the key themes of the movie is striving to be Number 1. A “top gun” is “the best of the best,” someone who is the best at a particular activity.


Top Gun Special Collector's Edition

Top Gun Special Collector's Edition


In the movie, Cruise played a pilot. His most famous line from the movie is, “I feel the need, the need for speed!” He has a positive attitude along with a goal to become the absolute best, stopping at nothing to get there. Along the way, Cruise had to overcome emotional stress, take big risks, and defeat others’ ridicule. As a pilot with great talent and intuition, he persevered from start to finish, and at the end earned the honor of being Top Gun.


Temple Law School lobby

"Top Gun" spirit in the Temple Law School lobby


It wasn’t easy. In one scene, the plane broke down in a training exercise, and he and his co-pilot had to use their ejector seats to parachute down into the ocean below. The co-pilot was Cruise’s best friend, who unfortunately died in the incident. This was a huge blow to Cruise, who blame himself for the whole thing. He almost abandoned his talent as a pilot and quit the job. While at this low point, another friend told him, “You’ve got to go on…To be the best of the best means you make mistakes, and then you go on.”


Los Angeles night scene Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles night scene, taken from Griffith Observatory


Rather than let this failure be the end of his story, he picked himself up and resumed his push toward his goal, returning to aviator training. Later, in a real-life flight, he expertly maneuvered through a challenging situation, which is finally what earned him the coveted title of Top Gun. He later reflected on the rocky road to get there, acknowledging that the first crash and burn situation changed him, causing him to have better control and skill the next time he faced a difficult flight situation. He didn’t give up, but rather learned some lessons, and just kept pushing beyond his mistakes and emotional valleys.


Although this is a movie, the story reflects a very important principle: we will definitely encounter difficulties as we grow. It’s rare to live a life of smooth sailing. Therefore, as we prepare our New Year’s plan, we have to be prepared to handle challenges.


 Temple University Athletics

Temple University Athletics slogan


Today is the first day of the Year of the Rooster. What dreams or hopes do you have for this New Year? Wishful thinking is not enough. You have to take action, as actions speak louder than words. First think of your dreams, make a specific plan, and take on a standard of excellence as you carry it out. In previous blog posts, I have shared some specific methods for making personal development plans. And like Tom Cruise in the movie, when you face failure, don’t become alarmed or go to an extreme.  Analyze the situation, do an evaluation, and then apply the lessons to your life.


Hollywood Sign from Mt. Lee

Hollywood Sign, taken from Mt. Lee behind


My friend, do you want this year to be a banner year? Take action. Your dreams can come true, but you have to be determined, make a plan, take action steps every day toward your goal, and just go on when you encounter difficulties. There are no shortcuts. If you make the effort, you will have breakthroughs. Next year at this time, I really want to hear how you have become Top Gun in your field. Promise me that.


Best wishes to you in this Year of the Rooster!


Thank you for reading. See you next time.


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Hello, my friend! 我是你的朋友老桑。给你启发,激励你上进,陪伴你坚持!








据一个例子。我次在洛杉了帕拉蒙影基地。·鲁斯著名的电影Top Gun《壮志凌云》就是在里取景拍。很多影认为这影是克斯最好拍的影之一。影中表的一个很重要的主是:追求第一。Top Gun竟是the best of the best(最好中的最好),是在某一个域成秀的人的意思。


壮志凌云 汤姆克鲁斯



影里,克斯扮演的角色,他有一句典台词:I feel the need, the need for speed! (我感到一种需要,一种加速的需要!)他的性格很极,同,他有一个目,他想当第一,就一直向目标冲刺一路上,斯克服了不少情绪压力、冒了各种风险打败了很多欺他的人。他很秀,更重要的是他始终坚持,最后如愿以得到了最佳员Top Gun的荣誉


他走的路不是特别顺 他在和机副驾驶员练时机遇难落,他两位出降落伞掉到海里去了。另一位飞行员是克斯非常好的朋友,在落水程中不幸遇难牺牲。这对于斯来是一个很大的打击,以是他自己的,几乎选择放弃他始终坚持和深。在生活的低谷,他另外一个朋友了他一些指导,You’ve got to go on…To be the best of the best means you make mistakes, and then you go on (你必须坚持下去要想成精英中的精英,就是要在不断的错误中前持向前)。


个失的故事看上去会是他故事的局了,然而,他重新振作起来,重拾起原来的当第一的目标,回去继续练。到了最后关键飞行活动时,他的表现十分出色,技术娴熟, 终于获得了人人梦寐以求的Top Gun奖励。经历了大起大落后,他做了一个反思,正是第一次crash and burn(涂地)的经历改变了他,成为他第二次成功的很重要的因素。他没有放弃,而是吸取了一些教训,在错误和低谷中继续坚持前行。




Los Angeles palms Hancock Park



今天是初一,农历丁酉年的第一天。新的一年,你有什么梦想或者愿望?被动的wishful thinking(打如意算盘)远远不够,必须采取行动,行胜于言。那先想出你今年的梦想,做一个具体的规划,再用追求卓越的精神努力实现它。我在以前的博文中提到了一些做计划的技巧。跟克鲁斯一样,面对失败时,不用惊慌、不用走极端。最好是分析一下情况,做一个评估,把教训用到现在的生活中。


My friend,你想在这一年过的更加精彩吗?采取行动吧。你的梦想能实现,不过必须下决心、做一个计划、每天做些跟目标方向有关系的工作,遇到困难时just go on (继续下去)。没有捷径,只要你努力,我相信你就会有一个突破。在明年的这个时刻,我很想听你在自己领域的当Top Gun的故事。Promise me that (给我一个许诺吧)。


Best wishes to you in this Year of the Rooster! 鸡年快乐!