What would you be doing if you knew you couldn’t fail? This profound and thought-provoking question was recently asked me by my dear friend Stephanie. So what would you do this year if you knew you would succeed no matter what? Imagine all the possibilities: would you invent a new life-saving procedure? Apply for that executive position you’ve been wanting? Create and publish – a song, a novel, a play? Really, the prospects are limitless.
But in order to fully understand success, we must first look at failure. What really is failure? We all have different definitions of failure, simply because we have different values and life experiences. A failure to one person might simply be a great learning experience for someone else. History is filled with great people who “failed” many times before they met with phenomenal success.
One such person in our recent history is Walt Disney, one of the most creative geniuses of the 20th century. I have a favorite quote by him that I keep where I can see it often: “It’s kinda fun to do the impossible.” In his earlier years, Disney was once fired from a newspaper because he was told he lacked creativity. Trying to persevere, he formed his first animation company, calling it Laugh-O-Gram Films. He managed to raise $15,000 for the company but eventually was forced to close it down. Desperate and out of money, Disney found his way to Hollywood and faced even more criticism and failure until finally, his first few classic films started to skyrocket in popularity.
I would suggest we look at failure as mere obstacles, and obstacles are there to be overcome. With everything that doesn’t work out, we have learned something valuable. With that mindset, I would submit that the only way to truly fail is to never get off the couch and try. So as long as we are trying, we are learning – we are succeeding.
Once you are out of the fear of failure and into the joy of success, how do you make great things happen? First, assess your gifts, talents, and interests and make a plan. Most are familiar with Steven R Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Here are the highlights of his formula for success:
- Be proactive. Life doesn’t just “happen”. You create it, whether you realize that or not, so take responsibility for your life, your choices.
- Begin with the end in mind. All things are created twice – once in the mind, and then in the physical realm. This requires imagination, and also honesty – are you really who you want to be? Are you doing what you really want to do? If no to these questions, then you have some soul-searching to do. Create your own destiny and secure the future you envision.
- Put first things first. Pretty self -explanatory, but easier said than done. Spend some time prioritizing things in your life. You’ll know when you get it right – good things will start happening.
- Think win-win. Basically, it’s the attitude of seeing things as cooperative, not competitive. I love this one, and I’ll write a future article on this alone. To me, it’s all about living in abundance – no comparing, but knowing that success is one of those things that is enough to go around.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood. We see life through our own eyes, but when we can see it from another’s perspective, we can see a bigger, more complete picture. Now we are better able to make successful choices.
- Synergize. Who can help you with your goals? Let other people assist you – people who are expert at what they do.
- Sharpen the saw. You are your own greatest asset. Therefore it is imperative that you take care of you. Renew yourself often.
When looking at the New Year through the lenses of Success, what are we going to do differently? You were not put on this earth to hide – you were put here to succeed. Now go do the impossible, and have fun.