I am always fascinated by how people choose to respond to various situations. Quite often, an individual's response gives me a clue about who the person really is, and what that person thinks about himself or herself.
I was quite interested in the response that I received concerning the "success stories" column in the Pinnacle Perspective ([http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com/newsletter.htm]). For the past few weeks, I have made it a point to ask each new subscriber to send me his or her own personal success story. I also posted a notice in the previous edition of the newsletter asking for people to send me success stories. I received quite a few responses, but they all seemed to indicate that the writer did not think of himself or herself as "successful."
These responses reminded me that many people view success as something that will occur in the future. It is something that will be bestowed upon them after reaching their ultimate goal. Such a definition of success is self-defeating. It requires that a person postpone a positive definition of the self for years and sometimes decades.
If you think that you are someone who will be successful at some time in the future, then by necessity a small part of you must think that you are unsuccessful at this time. This is not true! The way that you should view success is as a process that you engage in throughout your life, not as a singular outcome that will happen in the future. That process is the road of success that you travel upon while climbing toward your Personal Pinnacle of Success.* Allow me to point out a few aspects of success and being successful which will reinforce the notion that success is a life pattern rather than an outcome of achieving a singular goal:
In actuality, you are successful at this very moment. If you examine your life history, you will be able to identify many moments during which you felt successful. Each of these moments were what I refer to as "experiences of success" or "successful experiences." Additionally, each of these moments adds to sum of the successes that you experience during your lifetime.
Your definition of what it means to be successful will change over time. With each successful experience, there will come an adjustment of your definition of success. Most successful people will set a new, and higher, goal for themselves immediately after achieving a previously desired goal. You may sometimes forget how successful you have become because you have lost sight of all of your past experiences of success.
Becoming successful is a gradual process. Each new successful experience in your life increases the total of your successful experiences. It is easy to forget how far you have traveled along the road toward your Personal Pinnacle of Success* unless you take the time to write a performance evaluation for yourself that encompasses the past five to ten years. This exercise is well worth the time and effort because it will help you to see the success that you have experienced, and thereby enhance your confidence level and the probability of experiencing future successes. It will also help you to develop a list of achievable goals for the next five to ten years of your life.
Your next successful experience is often hiding just behind the roadblock that you think stands before you at this moment. Developing creative strategies to solve a current problem will often result in an avalanche of positive unintended consequences. Some of the best ideas in human history have been developed in the face of adversity.
Your next successful experience may also result from assuming a flexible or adaptive stance in response to a roadblock. As the old saying goes, "When life gives you lemons, you must make lemonade!"
You must begin to intrinsically think of yourself as a success in order to become more successful in the future. If you adopt a mindset that you cannot achieve something or are ultimately doomed to failure, you will fail. If you decide that you will find some how or some way to achieve your goals, then you will move forward in your life and experience a large number of successes.
The pattern of success in your life directly results from your own dogged determination and will to overcome any obstacle. Time Magazine's recent article about exceptional students** noted that a key quality of many talented students is persistence. They set high goals for themselves. They keep working at a project until they are satisfied with the results. Their drive inevitably propels them toward a future filled with successful experiences. Those same qualities are clearly visible in most successful adults.
Successful experiences will occur in different areas of your life at different times in your life. So many people limit their definition of success to the area of work. As I noted in "The Personal Pinnacle of Success: Defining Success and Climbing the Mountain on Your Own Terms", there are five key areas in your life. If you develop each area fully, you will have successful experiences in each area. However, it is unlikely that you will be highly successful in each area at the same time. Therefore, when you feel that you are not making progress in one area at the break neck speed that you desire, consider the progress that you are making in other areas. Allow yourself to savor successful experiences in each area of your life, rather than over-focusing on your career.
Success comes to those who seek it. Your future experience of success is, in part, determined by the road map that you develop. If you travel through life without an action plan, it is almost assured that you will experience frustration and a sense of failure. In order to achieve the success that you desire, you must determine where it is that you want to go and how you will get there.
Success is a pattern in your life rather than an outcome of it. If success was determined merely by reaching a single goal, then why would you continue on in life after you have reached that goal? Living a full and successful life is a process of setting, achieving, and setting new goals in each of the five key areas of life. In that you can never achieve perfection in any area of life, there will always be something to work on, something new to achieve, and new experiences to enjoy!
Today is the day to begin viewing yourself as a successful person. Consider your past experiences of success. Savor your present successful experiences. Develop a plan to expand your life to include more success in the days to come. The challenge for every human being is to make the most of the time that has been granted to him or her. There will never be another opportunity to rewind your life and experience it again. You cannot correct past mistakes or opportunities that have been lost, but you can decide to use them as stepping stones to future successes. You can also make the decision that you will begin to view yourself as a successful person. You can also challenge yourself to live a full, satisfying, and exciting life in the years to come.
* Please refer to my article: "The Personal Pinnacle of Success: Defining Success and Climbing the Mountain on Your Own Terms" at http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com/personal1.htm
** Wallis, Claudia (1998). "Their Eight Secrets of Success." Time Magazine Vol. 152, No. 16. pp. 80-86.
About the Author
Dr. Rempel has a Ph.D. from USC in Sociology and is a licensed marriage, family, and child therapist in the state of California. Her website, http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com, includes more than 200 bingo games and concentration sets for all occasions, as well as a bevy of motivational articles. She is happily married and has 3 wonderful children.