What does it take to be successful? What is success? How can I get there?
The best answer to the question of what is success is from Og Mandino: ” Success is meeting your goals.”
The answer to what it takes to be successful and how to get there is a bit longer: Success happens at that special intersection of passion, commitment, talent and persistence. Think of those four as separate paths that flow into one path – one powerful path that leads to success – in it’s infinite variety.. It’s a special place, that path.
That special path is different for each of us. It has to be – everyone of us is so special and different in every one of those four requirements. But we all have the capacity to arrive at our own intersection – again and again. What an exciting thought – that each of us can combine and align our special attributes in such a way to be successful – as we choose to define success.
It’s sad that so many people have had experiences that have taught them to be safe, to stay on the sidelines and watch, to hold their passions and commitments in check, to see how the wind blows. What an enormous waste of resources,on a personal level and on every other level. Those are the people that are the subject of Henry David Thoreau’s statement: ” The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The idea that there is the potential to exceed anything yet accomplished through a process of self discovery, discipline, commitment and passion is really exciting – and scary. What’s really scary is that it lies within each of our capabilities to grow and reach that intersection and do it again and again in our lives. We can do it at any age, under any circumstance, at any stage – and it’s not magic, it’s not a silver bullet, it’s not limited in any way.
Let’s walk down each of these four paths and see how we can get them to join together to create a level of success greater than any yet experienced.
Passion is the first path for a reason. It’s the emotion that leads to commitment. It’s the feeling that comes from the heart and provides us with the strength to dedicate ourselves to people, places, things, ideas, processes. It’s often the most difficult path to find, but once found, it can be the most sustaining and exciting. Passion is excitement, passion is enthusiasm. It’s curiosity, it’s wanting to share, it’s that spark that lights the fire that leads to commitment. The path of passion runs very close to the path of commitment – their intersection is vital to creating the foundation for success.
Commitment comes in many forms. The qualities of commitment that we are looking for start with positiveness; the conviction that we are committing to a worthy cause; the belief that what we commit to will result in a positive outcome, and will improve our life and the lives of others. There is no place on our path for negative, destructive commitment. Positive commitment sustains, negative commitment corrodes and destroys. Commitment requires that special feeling of being part of something bigger than self. If there is a single tipping point on the path to success, it is when that feeling of total commitment occurs – when, as Goethe wrote:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans: That at the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves, too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
Talent is the path where the rubber meets the road – where things can be done – where action to create success occurs. The belief that anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it may be true at one level, but at the practical level of creating success, it hinders more than it helps. An example: without good eye hand coordination and excellent depth perception, no one is going to be a major league baseball player – nobody. They don’t have a piece of the puzzle – the talent – that is critical to success. If they persist in trying to a be a major league ball player, they’re wasting their time. Some people learn that lesson the hard way. “Experience may be the best teacher, but only fools can learn by no other” is a harsh reality. Others find out what they are good at, and pursue success from that more powerful place. You can have a passion for and a commitment to baseball, you can manifest that passion and commitment as a spectator, as a sportscaster, as a grounds keeper, as a General Manager or a players agent, or as an employee of the team, but as a player – not. The talent has to be there to be successful.
The good news – and it is really good news – is that talent requirements can be identified, talents already present can be identified, and, in many cases, talents that need to be developed can be – it’s exciting. Even more exciting is discovering a passion and a commitment that fits with your unique blend of talents – now that’s special. Whether it’s through experience, failures, successes, self discovery, or tools to help define requirements and capabilities, this is where the engine of success resides – in the talent to drive that passion and commitment.
And then Persistence, the centerline that keeps the forces generated in the paths of Passion, Commitment and Talent moving toward success. I have a framed saying from Ralph Waldo Emerson that I keep within eyesight . It’s a powerful message:
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Passion, leading to Commitment, fueled by Talent, and Directed by Persistence – the formula for success. And in this time of uncertainty and bad news, it’s so important to find or rediscover our passions and commit or recommit to them, develop the talent – the skills and abilities and motivators we need to make them happen – and then persist in meeting our goals.
That’s the package. Now’s the time. It’s not easy – but it’s worth it – in so many ways. Have a great 2009, and the best of success to you.