“You know, like nunchuk skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.” Napoleon Dynamite
“Just one idea can change your life.” Earl Nightingale
‚ÄúTo master one thing is to master 10,000.‚ÄĚ Musashi Miyamoto
success [s…ôkňąs…õs] (noun) – an event that accomplishes its intended purpose; the attainment of a favorable or desired outcome; the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted; an action that immediately and involuntarily results in “the pump.”
We tend to equate success with the attainment of wealth and fame, but success isn’t merely reserved for that tiny sliver of potential. When you boil it down to its very essence, success is simply an event that accomplishes its intended purpose (that’s any event for any purpose).
Today, I successfully got out of bed. I’m not rich or famous because of it it, but nevertheless, I was 100% successful in that activity. In fact, I’ve been practicing success all day long, and whether you’ve realized it or not, you too are a success MACHINE!
You see, there’s no such thing as remaining stagnant. No matter what, we are always either progressing or regressing, succeeding or not succeeding. Regardless, we are constantly practicing success¬† – either successfully or unsuccessfully (this will make sense later).
The Success Formula
If we’re talking formula’s, and we’re using the above definitions, then success only encompasses a few things:
1) a goal
2) a plan of action to achieve that goal
I know it sounds cliche, but success is as easy as 1-2-3. Sure, you’ll find people who will tell you “it’s more complicated than that,” but it’s not. If success is the attainment of a desired outcome, then you simply need to 1) identify the outcome, 1) plan a way to achieve it, and then 3) follow your plan and do the work. When you internalize the simplicity of applying success, it’s both liberating and humbling. But don’t neglect any one of the steps. Each is an integral part of the formula. With one element lacking, success is either unlikely or impossible.
Wishing VS Goal-Setting
Now a goal is different than a wish. Wishing is built upon a foundation of inaction. Setting a goal is built upon a foundation of action. Wishing for a million dollars is different than pursuing a goal of making a million dollars. Something my coach, Scott Sonnon, is fond of saying is that success is 1% preparation, and 99% perspiration (I’m paraphrasing). The hard work that gets the job done is action. Planning and preparation is a necessary part of the equation, but action is the clincher that makes or breaks your success. All the planning and preparation in the world doesn’t matter one bit if you don’t take action in the heat of the moment. On the flip side, all the action in the world won’t matter either, if it’s not aligned with your goals and executed as part of a plan to achieve them. Again, you need all three elements to succeed.
The New Perspective That Changed My Life
The great motivational speaker Earl Nightingale said, “just one idea can change your life.” For me, that one idea was an epiphany regarding the power of choice. I hate drama, so I’ll just tell you straight.
Right now, this very moment, the only thing preventing you from succeeding in any endeavor – great or trivial – is choice. On the flip side, the only thing that guarantees your success is choice. Choice is a nefarious two-sided coin. It both guarantees success, and begets inaction. And that’s the enemy: inaction. Authentic, conscious choice is both the angel and the demon. Free will is both the liberator and destroyer.
And that’s what hit me – my own free will is the only thing standing in my way from my life dreams and goals. If all I did was make a choice to take action on my dreams, goals, and desires, each moment of every day – nothing would stop me from having the success I desire. I can’t help but admit that my own free will is my greatest hindrance, and taking responsibility for my actions is the key to success.
This is quite the departure from conventional thinking. Most people are quick to point the finger at someone or something else that has prevented them from realizing success. Humans are relentless excuse-makers, and have a knack for not taking responsibility over themselves and their actions. So, there you have it – the perspective that can change everything if you choose to believe it.
Your own free will is the only thing keeping you from excellence, and right now you can choose to pursue greatness from this moment forward.
Failure = Success
Some people believe that failure is the opposite of success – and if we’re talking literally, then that’s true. Still others believe that failure is just a necessary part on the journey towards perpetual success. But there’s one thing that failure needs before it is officially labeled true “failure” – failure needs the pursuit of success. Failure isn’t even possible without first taking action.
If you don’t pursue your goals, then you will neither succeed or fail. You need to pursue success for failure to even become a possibility. While you’re not seeking success, you’re also not practicing failure – you’re practicing non-success.
With this in mind, failures should be celebrated, rather than grieved. Failure is a stark reminder that you’ve successfully taken action towards your goals. Failure also provides us with objective feedback about whether our plan of action is suitable for our desired outcome. Failure is actually an affirmation that you’re on the right track!
Again, we are never stagnant. You can either successfully achieve a carefully chosen body of your dreams, or you can successfully achieve an unhealthy, unfit, injured body – or somewhere in between. If you choose to work a sedentary job, choose not to get any exercise, and choose to eat too much junk food then you are also choosing poor health and fitness (quite successfully, I might add!).
Success is to be sought, failure is to be embraced, and inaction is to be avoided like the plague.
Make Success THE Habit For Success
Over the years, I’ve been taught about the power of habit, and how it’s important to focus on changing your habits to achieve your goals. Even further, I’ve been taught to only focus on one habit at a time, so as to avoid overloading yourself with too many changes. After all, it should only take 21 days to create a habit, right?. Well, here’s a slightly different take on the conventional wisdom. How about you stop thinking about every little habit that could help you achieve your goals? What if you started making success itself the one and only habit that you absolutely, positively rely on each day? I’ll tell you what would happen. You would start succeeding each and every day.
Like the master swordsman Musashi said, “to master one thing is to master 10,000.” In other words, master success, and you can master anything because you’ve mastered yourself.
So, here’s how you can start practicing success today:
1) Become proficient in setting effective goals (this is a skill in-and-of-itself). Make sure to provide yourself with a clear purpose so that you establish an appropriate direction and focus for achieving it. (If you’d like some recommendations for goal-setting strategies or programs, use the comments below.)
2) Become a master craftsman of planning and preparing for the achievement of your goals. Basically, you want to reverse engineer the achievement of your goals into daily action steps (and weekly, monthly, quarterly, and/or yearly milestones). Be constantly asking yourself if your daily actions are lining up with your goals.
3) Get relentless about taking action on your goals – all the time. This is the hardest part of the success formula. The minute you are confronted with a choice (especially when it’s new to you, challenging, novel or exemplary), you will face resistance to making that choice. It will be hard to make that choice, and it rarely gets easier. Arguably, the most important part of the success formula is becoming efficient at making the hard, right choice instead of the easy, wrong one. (remember it’s 99% perspiration!)
Success is a skill. It can be practiced and trained, and anyone can develop the habit of success.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
“If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.” William James
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P.S. Read part 2 of this article by clicking here, where I show you how physical transformation can be used as a catalyst for life transformation.