I was recently talking with a colleague of mine about what it takes to truly become successful. You know, a nice, light conversation to end the week with…
It was actually a great talk, which probably could have lasted for hours had it not been late on a Friday afternoon. Our purpose was to try to figure out how much of anyone’s success comes from the mental or metaphysical side, and how much of it comes from sound practice and good ol’ fashioned “elbow grease”. Hey, we had 30 minutes to kill, and we’re both “thinkers”, so we decided to play on.
First – there is a lot of talk about how important it is to have the right attitude, and how mindset can truly cause a shift in your reality, and lead to tremendous success. I say there’s a lot of talk, and I’m definitely one of the ones talking about it! I’m a HUGE believer that positive attitude and persistent focused thought are key components to anyone’s level of success and achievement. But you know what? It’s not everything.
A lot of people believe that changing their thoughts is enough to assure them of achieving success. And while I think this is a crucial first step in putting yourself on the road to achievement, it still requires action in order for it to produce the desired results.
Napoleon Hill’s notion that “thoughts are things” seemed like a great foundation to begin the discussion with, so I jumped right in. Actually, I like the variation of this idea which Mike Dooley has really made famous in recent years that “thoughts become things”. And my beliefs are pretty much in line with these two groovy cats. So I began the conversation by talking about how I think before you ever accomplish anything, you have to see it in your mind first. It doesn’t necessarily have to be solid, like a chair, it might only be idealistic, like creating laughter, but either way, the thought needs to be there. And I think of the thought as being like a seed you would plant if you wanted to grow something. You would plant the seed and then of course it would need a few things in order to grow. Water, a little sunlight, etc. You could plant the seed and do nothing else to it…but you pretty much know the result of that. Nothing. And that’s exactly what happens when a thought is discarded or never pursued. Nothing. The dream dies. Right there in between your ears.
I’m sure that many great ideas have come to a screeching halt because they were not cultivated. Goals are not reached, targets are not hit, victory is not accomplished, and it is almost always because the process is never finished. The vision is there, the expectation is established, but that’s as far as it goes.
We have all experienced this to some degree throughout our lives. Many times we set goals, and sometimes even write them down. Hey, are you like me…do you wish you had a nickel for every great idea you’ve ever had? Well, I can tell you that if you and I had simply pursued all of those great ideas, we’d have a lot more than a big pile of nickels. Kinda makes me feel a little lazy…
A pretty good formula for achievement goes something like this:
Clearly define what your goal or objective is and how you will measure success. Then, focus on that. Give it your time and your energy. A little every day. And if you do this, you will have other thoughts and ideas which will push you in a certain direction. These thoughts or ideas are like the water and the sunlight that the original thought needs in order to grow and come to fruition. Move in that direction. In other words, instead of just imagining the end game and thinking of how cool it would be to get there…start getting there by taking some action! I heard a speaker once say that he posted a note to himself in his office which read “Do something”. And it reminded him to always be moving forward and always be doing something that would lead him to his goals.
There’s a catch here though…because just “doing something” for the sake of doing it, may not lead you anywhere either.
A great Japanese proverb sums it up like this, “vision without action is a daydream, action without vision is a nightmare”. Think about that one.
You see, you have to have the original thought before you can start the pursuit. After all, watering soil where there aren’t any seeds will only get you wet soil. So, while action is paramount to success, if it is not inspired, it may just be busy work. Think of how many people you know that are always “busy” but never get anything done. Or (this one might hurt) how many people do you know who are “busy” at their jobs but never really achieve the success they desire? In both of these cases, there is no definite purpose, just uninspired action.
So, by the time we ended our conversation the other day, my colleague and I had come to the consensus that it takes a nice mix of everything; a focused mindset, a good attitude, specific goals, and then an unwavering persistence to see those goals achieved.
That’s what I think anyway. Now I have to do something about it…