To be clear about what success is must be the first step to achieving success.
So far, the best definition I have come across is: “Success is the completion of anything intended.” In other words success is finishing what you planned to do.
Even robbing a bank is a kind of success if that is what you wished to do. However, you probably did not intend to end up in prison!
The above definition of success shines a light on failure and success. Make a plan and follow it and you will have succeeded. Make a plan and do not follow it and you will have failed.
This gives a yard stick for judging every day of our lives. We can say at the end of the day “I have failed” or “I have succeeded.”
This may seem very obvious but it is amazing that only about 85% of the human race end up doing what they intended.
I asked several people what they thought success was. One person said that “Success is making loads of money.” Another said that success is “Achieving your goals”. Some one else said that success is “Fulfilling your potential”. An interesting answer was that success is “Making others jealous”.
Brian Tracy agrees with the connection between success and goals. He has said “Success is goals, and all else is commentary.” Tracy believes that people with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them.
Stuart Goldsmith in “The Midas Method” has an important section on how to set goals so that they are achieved using the full power of the subconscious mind.
Maria Nemeth gives this definition of success: “Doing what you said you would do, with ease”.
“Doing what you said you would do” is currently not achieved by the majority of the human race especially politicians! Doing it with ease is achieved by even fewer and requires making the most of the subconscious mind.
Jim Rohn argues that success is just a few simple disciplines practised daily.
The power of daily discipline is HUGE. Because the discipline is practised daily the effect is cumulative. The good practice is carried out 365 times a year with, perhaps, a few lapses.
It cannot fail to have tremendous influence. Once the discipline becomes a daily habit, it can be forgotten about until the rewards start coming in.
The writer who writes every day has written well over 300 pages by the end of the year. If he or she does not write every day they lose momentum and inspiration. If they keep up the writing (even just a few words a day) a magnet for relevant thoughts develops.
Recently a Liverpool student of American media studies applied for 600 jobs and received only one interview which he failed. He decided to write a novel. He determined to complete ten pages a day. He worked in the evenings at a dead end job to make money and then wrote until about 5 in the morning at his novel which has now become famous. It also looks like becoming a Hollywood blockbuster film.
He points out that if you write only one page a day for 100 days you can write a screen play. He wrote his novel by studying the structure of two other novels and noticing how they were structured and wrote his screenplay after studying video of films and noticing how long each scene lasted before there was a change.
I can’t remember his name or the name of his book as I just happened to hear part of his interview on television.
The practice of daily disciplines alone can change our lives totally. Another benefit of daily disciplines is that they quickly create habits and habits create character.
A great quote by Jim Ryun, the American Athlete, is as follows
“Motivation is what gets you started.
Habit is what keeps you going”
Another brilliant quote is:
“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”
The next quote says more or less the same thing:
“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” Henry David Thoreau
Many would argue that success is not about making money but about developing oneself into a person who is valuable to others.
However, this quite often will lead to making money because people will pay for value. Any one who is very good at their job can usually command whatever pay they wish.
Adam Hollioake is one of the most successful English county cricket captains. He realised what is important in life when his brother Ben was killed in a car accident in Perth Australia. Adam learned that he should be kind to people and have fun and “that’s what life is about.”
His view of success in cricket is not necessarily winning. He is not afraid to lose a cricket match. He is only concerned that his team put 100% effort into the game. He comments:
“If we do put that effort in we usually win anyway”.
Success then is putting in 100% effort whatever the results. More often than not, however, the results will be excellent.
Michael Angier has a great definition of success.
“Success is the result of steadily taking action on our most important goals. When we consistently focus our energies and our efforts upon what matters most, we can’t help but be successful”.
Angier also admires Ralph Waldo Emerson’s comments on success:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.”
What are the causes of failure and success?
William James, the great American psychologist, puts failure down to lack of faith in one self
“There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in his true self.”
Faith in one self is a huge part of success. Stuart Goldsmith in “The Midas Method” talks about two kinds of belief that are necessary for success. You must believe that you deserve to succeed and you must believe that you have the ability to succeed.
Another big cause of success is discipline.
“The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term is the indispensable prerequisite for success.” Brian Tracy
Another cause is the willingness to try to succeed even if the possibility of success is remote.
“Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see the beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead.”
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) American Writer
My computer guru, Danny believes that you should hold on to your dream in all circumstances and never let go. Grab hold of your vision with an iron fist and even if you are down on your luck and in the gutter never give up.
Danny himself has held on to a dream for 22 years. His dream is to develop the best languages translator in the world.
It does not matter if you are 72 – grab hold of your dream. Actually visualize your hand holding on to that dream. Too many people are worn down by life and give up their dreams.
Every dream is personal but the principle is the same. You are an idiot if you let go. You have to have a reason for living. Set yourself a goal and never let go until you die.
There is nothing you can’t do. If you can’t swim 10 lengths without a rest, train for a few months and you will be able to swim 50 lengths.
Danny’s comments about swimming reminded me about how little is taught at school about how training can improve your abilities.
At my school in the Isle of Man, there was an annual half mile swim in the sea. I knew I would drown if I attempted this but no one ever suggested that I start training hard so that I would be capable of completing the swim.
I was just classified as someone who could not do the swim. It did not occur to me that through determined training I would be able to do what I could not previously do.
When Danny was young he was a skinny weakling. But one day he decided that this was not a good thing. He filled out and did some weight training and set up his own fitness, strength and flexibility routine.
He performs this every other day. This avoids the boredom of a daily routine. He does 200 situps, 30-50 leg raises and three or four sets of 20-30 bench presses.
He also does 2 sets of 20 or 30 squats with dumbells to develop leg power. The dumbbells avoid the danger of overbalancing with a barbell across your shoulders. There is also little likelihood that you will drop the dumbbells on children or family pets! Dumbells allow for greater control than barbells.
Danny’s advice for success is to do something. If in doubt, read a book. The worst thing you can do is sit on your backside watching TV. If you do, nothing will ever happen. He notes the hypnotic effect of TV on the spectators. Danny seldom ever watches TV.
Danny also is impressed by Arnold Schwarzenegger who has just been elected Governor of California. If Arnold wants something, he does what is necessary to get that thing. If he had to eat 50 mars bars, he would eat them. If he had to stand stark naked on his head in a field for half an hour he would.
This is an example to us all. If you have to put stamps on thousands of envelopes to send out your direct mail sales letters, you just have to do it.
The basic principle is that you have to do what is required. Some things require certain actions to achieve them and you have to do them whether you like doing them or not.
It is no good saying I want to be Governor of California but I don’t want to do any public speaking or travel on the campaign trail or be friendly to thousands of people you don’t like. You have to pick up babies and smile at people you may not like.
If you want to be rich you have to do those things which will make you rich. It’s no good saying “I don’t really want to do it.” Danny gives himself a virtual smack round the head every time he is tempted to give up on his projects.
Some people think they will make money by taking short cuts like suing people or fraud. The world would be a much better place if people just got on with doing what they had to do.
Many successful people stress the importance of action in achieving success.
Michael Masterson of the Ezine “Early to Rise” writes:”Action is the key to success, and failure to act is the reason most people will never achieve the kind of success they dream about”
Another approach to achieving success is to stay cool about it. Just get on with doing what you think is important and what you love to do.
“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” Sir David Frost
Elvis Presley gave his cousin Donna some advice to help her achieve her goals for the future. It seems good advice to me:
Donna’s best memory of Elvis was when she was 18 and she spoke to him one on one. He asked her about her plans for the future and told her she could achieve anything she wanted “so long as you have faith in God;have faith in yourself; work hard and never let anyone tell you, you can’t do something”.
Elvis himself had plenty of discouragement which he successfully ignored. The later part of his life was not too successful but as Donna commented, we should focus on what he did achieve which was amazing.
Peter Vidmar explains how he achieved success at the Olympic Games:
“There’s only two things I had to do to win the Olympic gold: Train when I wanted to, and train when I didn’t.”
This is possibly my favourite quote of all time. It sums up the essence of success and the will power and discipline necessary to achieve it. Sometimes training will be easy but sometimes it will take effort because one really does not feel like training. This is simple and beautifully easy to understand.
Another quote I like is concerned with the kind of success which depends on people liking your work or product. Don’t worry about whether they will like your work. Just do your best and leave the liking or disliking up to them.
“Success has a simple formula: ‘Do your best and people may like it'”.
Any success involves some kind of cost; usually some boring work is involved as suggested in the following quote. The word ‘drudgery’ sums this kind of work up exactly. Almost any kind of business involves marketing and marketing is the last thing many businessmen enjoy doing.
“Success is the child of drudgery and perseverance. It cannot be coaxed or bribed; pay the price and it is yours”.
Orison Swett Marden, 1850-1924.
Mike Litman comes up with golden statements frequently. Here is just one of them:
“The biggest secret of success in life is: You don’t have to get it right; you just have to get it going. Perfectionism can kill success. We never get going because we are always waiting to get everything just right. Instead, let’s get going.”
One success breeds another. Bobby Robson, now over 70, is one of Britain’s most successful managers. He should know what creates success. He recently commented about his team’s performances:
“Success breeds success”
This makes sense. Write one successful book and you will have the confidence to write another. A lady over 70 wrote a book about overcoming the pain of arthritis. It was a huge success to her total amazement and made hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not surprisingly she has now written two more books.
Success is a key goal for most people but it helps to have a clear idea of what success means to you. I hope this article will have shed some light on possible definitions of success and provided some ideas about how you can achieve your kind of success. 2500