In a long and varied career, I have spent a few decades in coaching, sales, sales management, IT, and running my own businesses.
We all know that the greater our ability to attain our full potential, the better our chances to perform to the highest level and achieve that elusive thing known as success.
So what does success mean?
A lot depends on how we measure success. For many, it will be money, power, or material possessions. For others, it will be climbing the promotional ladder and the sense of status that comes with that. There will be other individuals who will judge the success of their lives by influencing their surroundings in a much broader sense, maybe by improving the environment.
Many more people will view success through the lens of their relationships with their friends and family.
And many people will feel success in a material and spiritual sense by helping others, may be less fortunate than themselves, or who are disadvantaged in some way.
So, let's have a look at the four cornerstones that sure up a successful life, no matter what your definition of that might be.
1. A Positive Self-Image
Let's say, first of all, that our current and future success is not wholly dependent upon our intelligence, education, physical appearance, who we know or even how we look. Whilst all these things help, the most important thing is our own self-belief. We need to believe that we are worthy of and deserve success.
If we don't believe in ourselves, no one else will either.
So what is a positive self-image?
It's having a deep-rooted belief that we fully deserve success in all aspects of our life. Whether that is a relationship, work, or financial. Indeed, that we are truly, worthwhile human beings.
A trick of the mind
If we don't already feel that way, then the trick is to persuade our subconscious mind that we are already that very successful person.
We need to visualize being and feeling like the successful person that we know we can be.
Why is it so important to persuade our subconscious mind that we are already that successful person? If we don't, then whenever success is on the horizon, our subconscious mind will say ‘we don't deserve this’ and will immediately sabotage our best efforts.
People tend to feel good about themselves to the degree to which they feel they are in control of their lives, and feeling in control begins with our thoughts. Our thoughts determine our values and our feelings which in turn influence our actions.
Of course, we are unable to control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we react when things happen.
When we have developed a positive self-image, we are more likely to see a new situation or challenge as an opportunity, rather than something negative or threatening.
A person with a positive self-image will consider the future and think about how they can influence events, and a person with a negative self-image might tend to dwell on past events or incidents over which they have no control.
We become what we think about. So if we think of ourselves as successful, our ‘direction’ will be 'success'. If we think that we won't be successful, then it won't really be a surprise if we ‘fail’.
2. The Can-Do Approach
An essential ingredient to our future and ongoing success is a strong belief in our own abilities. The expectations we have especially about our outcomes or results become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, what we expect to happen, is more likely to happen.
Within physical and mental limitations, we can achieve whatever we set out to do. The thing is, we must really believe that we can do it. If we don't really believe it, our subconscious mind will start sowing the seeds of doubt.
Say, for instance, someone always wanted to play the guitar. They can do this, provided they believe in themselves. They are unlikely to achieve the same level of skill as Jimi Hendrix, but they will be able to play to a reasonable standard.
When setting out to achieve an important goal, we often have to overcome the programming that has been installed into us over our past life, often this programming happened with the best of intentions, but it can still hold us back. So taking our guitar example, our parents and our friends may have said, ‘you'll never learn guitar it’s too difficult’ or 'you just aren’t musical’ or something similar, but just because they said it, doesn't mean it's necessarily ‘true’ and more importantly, we don't have to believe it.
Natural born achievers
We are all born achievers, It's only our life experiences that dull our natural abilities and, perhaps, turn us into ‘low’ achievers.
Listen to any young child and we will hear them say ‘I can do it’, they are hard-wired to achieve and haven't yet been influenced by their environment.
In a study of 151 toddlers (age between 12 and 19 months old), it was revealed that the toddlers fell on average 17 times an hour whilst learning to walk. As children, we all attempted this particular activity hundreds of times without giving up or even thinking we couldn't do it. Thankfully, no one told us at the time that we'll never do that, or we might have given up and never learned to walk.
This programming goes on throughout our lives, and that is why it's so important to surround ourselves with positive and encouraging people.
We are influenced by the people around us. So if we associate with people who give us support and encourage us to try out new ideas and take risks, we will feel more positive and energetic.
On the other hand, if we associate with people who do not encourage us or who have a negative outlook, then we're going to find it hard to turn into a successful high achiever. We will feel like we are constantly being dragged down like we are wearing a ball and chain.
Here are some of the negative phrases we might hear: You'll never get that off the ground, the boss will never agree to that idea, It's more than my job's worth, etc. All loaded with ‘cannot do’ emotions without ever trying to achieve anything.
When things go wrong, how much easier is it to blame the government, the taxman, inflation, or our boss or spouse?
In reality, we all have much more control over our lives than we might think, especially when it comes to controlling our emotions, which will, in turn, govern our actions, which will in turn lead to better outcomes.
It's just that deciding to do something or making a decision can be very hard, and often, the easiest course of action is to blame someone else for our misfortunes.
So, if we want to be successful, we must make sure that we associate with positive people who are vital and creative and we will start acting and thinking along the same lines.
In developing a can-do approach we will find that people will want to associate with our success and achievements. So, by feeding our self-belief and by changing our thinking, we can change our life.
3. Know What We Want
So we need to believe in ourselves and our abilities to make things happen. What next?
What we need next is a very clear and defined idea of what we want to achieve. After all, if we don't know where we're going, we'll probably end up somewhere we don't want to be.
Most people, when asked what they want often say more money, a bigger house, a great car, a nice holiday, but this is not very specific, is it? When setting our personal objectives or goals we need to get down to specifics.
If our goal is financially focused, we should ask ourselves how much more money 10%, 50%? do we need to earn more than we are now?
Or if it's a house? What sort of house? How many rooms? Where is it situated? What amenities should be nearby?
Our subconscious mind needs a clear, imagined picture of our goals in great detail, or it will not be able to help us attain them. A vague thought, such as I'd like a nice house, is really no more than a wish, and until we make it more specific, that is probably, all it will remain.
So we really think hard about what we want to achieve whether on a personal level or in our work life.
4. Define Our Goals in Great Detail
There are several ways of doing this, but let's keep it simple and use the ‘SMART’ method.
If you're not familiar with the SMART method of setting goals, here's a quick recap.
- S stands for specific. Make sure we specify exactly what our goal is.
- M stands for measurable. How will we know when we've achieved our goal? What would we measure it by?
- A stands for achievable. Make sure that our goal is achievable. Having a goal of being the first man on Mars is (probably) not achievable, but doubling our income within a year is (potentially) achievable.
- R stands for Relevance. Make sure that our goal is relevant to what we want.
- T stands for Time-bound. Make sure that we stick to a time when we need to achieve that goal.
Success is often about working ‘SMARTer’ not harder.
The final element for success is to have a plan which shows in detail and outlines the steps we need to achieve our goal.
Ideally, our plan is to be written out. What are the reasons for physically writing out our plan? It starts a process of convincing our subconscious mind that we are really serious about it. When the subconscious gets fired up all sorts of connections come together.
The other reason for writing our plan is more practical.
Once we have written our plan down, it will be easier to see what parts of it are working and what parts may need adjusting. It is also easier to explain our plan and goals to others when seeking their support or help for our endeavours.
So this final element is to develop an action plan, which sets out in detail, how our goal is to be achieved. What will be required and what support might we need? How and when will the various aspects of the plan will be achieved? The plan should also consider what could go wrong and how we would react when that happens?
The main thing however is to write out the plan to reach our goal and then start working on the plan immediately. It is inevitable that we will have to adjust course, along the way, but every mistake in our plan should be used as a prompt to put us back on course, and just keep heading towards our goal.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Jerry Cornelius