I was recently asked, "What is the formula for success?" Well, there is not one way to scale a mountain; there are many ways. Similarly, there is not one path to success, but many. Choose one, stay on it, and you'll eventually reach your destination. However, since I was asked, I'll give my own formula. Only you can decide whether it's the right one for you. Even if you don't adopt it, one or two of the ideas may lead you to develop and follow your own path. Before I give my formula, I'll give you my definition of success. Success is achieving YOUR goals, whatever they may be. My formula for success can be simply stated as Resolve + Knowledge + Plan + Action + Diligence + Endurance + Prudence = Success. Now, let's look at each of the seven steps.
The moment we begin to achieve our goal is the moment we make up our mind to do so. Commitment and a resolute mind is like a woman in labor, they will give birth to our dream as long as we follow through with the other six steps. So, begin by making a wholehearted decision. This step is so important that Owen D. Young (1874 ~ 1962) said, "The purpose firm is equal to the deed."
Once we are committed to a goal, we need knowledge to help us reach it. Many people try to go into business for themselves without this step. They think all they have to do is rent retail space, open a store, put a few signs in the window, and they'll be in business. They give little or no thought to marketing research. Who and where are their competitors? Who and where are their customers? How much are their customers willing to spend? What are their expectations? What are all the expenses of doing business and what level of sales is necessary to survive? Without a thorough investigation, is it any wonder that so many businesses fail?
Some confuse information with knowledge. Knowledge is based on facts.
Information is merely something that someone says. When you get an e-mail announcing that you can earn $5,000 a month working part-time at home, you are not receiving knowledge. Instead, you are being lured into a scam by false claims. So, to succeed, you also need knowledge of the world. You have to understand that nothing in life is free. In other words, you need some common sense. You will also need the willingness to dig deeply enough to uncover all the facts.
Perhaps you've decided to become an airplane pilot. You've found out where to go, how much it costs, how to enroll, how long it takes to become qualified, what the health requirements are, and when the next sessions start. Now that you have some knowledge to work with, you make a plan. The plan is your road map to success. It shows where you are now and where you want to be. It lists all the steps, and intermediate steps, you must take to achieve your goal. After indicating the starting and completion dates of each step, you will be ready to begin.
A map is of no value if you just stand there looking at it. Unless you start your journey, you'll never reach your destination. You've picked a destination, put fuel in your vehicle, and brought your map; it is now time to turn on the ignition. That is, it is time to act. Time to begin. There is magic in action, for whenever you do what you can, you immediately can do more. Each step brings you closer to your goal. That's the secret of reaching it, simply do something each day to bring you closer to its fruition.
Doing something is not enough. Doing everything as best as we can is what is needed. Just taking action is insufficient; diligent and focused action is what it takes to succeed. As long as you are willing to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes, no one will be able to prevent you from reaching your goal.
Do not underestimate your power. You are not weak. As Thomas Carlyle (1795 ~
1881) wrote, "The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers on a single object, can accomplish something; the strongest, by dispensing his over many, may fail to accomplish anything. The drop, by continually falling, bores its passage through the hardest rock; but the hasty torrent rushes over it with tremendous uproar, and leaves no mark upon it."
Beware of using weakness as an excuse for inaction, for as John Milton (1608 ~ 1674) wrote, "To excuse our faults on the ground of our weakness is to quiet our fears at the expense of our hopes."
As we chase our dream, we will run into obstacles. That's the nature of life. Life is a bumpy road. So, put on your helmet and prepare for the worse, but continue. Perseverance prevails. Endurance is the power that will take you anywhere you wish to go. For as Marquis De Vauvenargues (1715 ~ 1747) wrote, "Those who can bear all can dare all." The power of endurance cannot be overstated. After all, you can't fail unless you quit before succeeding. So, just remember that patience is a prerequisite for success, for the only thing you can get without it is impatient.
Endurance implies faith. You may not know how you will overcome a particular problem, but you know you will. Doubt, or lack of faith, crushes one's potential success. For as the third century Indian philosopher Dandemis taught, ""If you believe a thing impossible, your despondency will make it so; but if you persevere, you will overcome every difficulty."
The roadblocks we face are not the problem. It is the inability to persevere despite them that is the problem. Here's how John Milton (1608 ~ 1674) expressed the same idea, "It is not miserable to be blind; it is miserable to be incapable of enduring blindness."
Be thankful for all obstacles, for they are your practice ground, each new victory prepares you for a greater future victory. In the end, we express our greatness not by the acts we perform, but by the endurance and fortitude that made those acts possible.
Perseverance or endurance does not mean to proceed blindly, without concern for the consequences. Prudence dictates that we maintain a balanced attitude and a measured response to a changing environment. To remain steadfast at all costs may be more a sign of stubbornness than one of perseverance. Yes, we want to remain on the road, but we must recognize that some roads are dead-ends. Sometimes, the only way to go forward is to retreat and try another route.
If a small business owner is failing because of inadequate preparation and knowledge, persistence in the face of ever-increasing losses is not praiseworthy. What such a person needs is not determination, but knowledge, common sense, and a grip on reality. Don't confuse rash, stubborn, or reckless behaviour with perseverance. Action is not enough to succeed; prudent action is what is called for.
Now that you have reviewed the formula for success, it is time to review your behaviour and actions. Are they aligned with your goals? Are they taking you where you wish to go? These are questions you need to ask yourself regularly. After all, even if you have the gas pedal pressed all the way to the floor, it's not very helpful if you're going in the wrong direction. So, once a week, take a pit stop and monitor your behaviour and progress. If you're headed in the wrong direction or need to take a detour, you'll be able to take corrective action as long as your keep your eyes on the road. Happy driving, and I hope you reach all your destinations.
© Chuck Gallozzi
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