Every day you delay is one less day of success and happiness.

Poor little February, shortest month in the year, it's so short it has to borrow a day every four years. Few things germinate in February because the days are short and the temperature cold. If February were only measured by days on a calendar, it would be insignificant. However, in it we celebrate Valentine's Day and the birth of two presidents. February, like people, should be measured by what's inside.

As adolescents we focus on the superficial: height, weight, hair color and body image. Some hide their best traits, such as a sense of humor, intelligence or musical ability, to blend in with the crowd. However, the youth who acknowledge their differences and develop their talents tend to achieve more in life. At least they achieve more earlier in life, because they have more practice.

There is still hope for those of us, who like February, are late bloomers. We may have fewer days to work with, but if we are efficient with our time, we can still make great achievements.

My problem in high school was laziness. I was smart enough, but would rather watch TV than do homework. I never wrote much because I was embarrassed by my spelling and didn't want to take time to look up words. My first book wasn't published until 1998, which was 22 years after I graduated from high school. Upon the release of "The Family Business," I began a speaking career to promote the book. As a teenager, I had excelled in speech tournaments. Public speaking was truly my first love and now I was receiving thousands of dollars to do it professionally.

My public persona as a business expert made me feel guilty enough to return to school and earn a master's degree in business administration. I had to study in the evenings, but I was finished in 15 months. Because I developed a habit of working at the computer in the evenings, it was easier to budget the time and write my first novel, "Dead Gold."

By the time I finished my third book, "Best Practices of High Performance Entrepreneurs," I felt comfortable enough with my writing to submit columns to the newspaper. It still surprises me when someone recognizes me as a local columnist, especially those who do not own a business, because I realize my content has limited appeal.

To those of you who feel smaller than your peers or think that life has passed you by, stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it. Try out for a play, write a book, buy a business, join a gym, go back to school. Every day you delay is one less day of success and happiness.

-- Russ Allred, MBA, is a business consultant and author with Sunbelt Business Brokers & Advisors. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.