We know what it takes to be successful. After all, success is simply a strategy, right?
- RESULT – Choose what you want to achieve (e.g. reach a GM role in 5 years)
- PATH – Know what you need to get there (leadership development plan)
- PROGRESS – Track how you’re going (next level role in 2 years)
- ACTION – Do what it takes to persist (work hard)
So why aren’t we all in the roles we want, doing what we love with a million dollars in the bank! (of course success is different for everyone).
Creating success is simple – the problem is, you’re NOT
The complexity that makes success hard comes from within, and for the most part it relates to the way our brain is structured. We are hard wired for hard times – we all have a primitive “flight or fight” instinctual response of fear and anxiety – a necessary survival mechanism that protects us in real danger. We reflexively know whether to get angry and fight or get scared and flee. Back in the caveman days, this (feeling brain) wiring kept us alive.
The trouble is, although we’re not at risk of facing saber tooth tigers anymore (our saber tooth tigers are typically things like deadlines, bosses, and budget), our “flight or fight” response kicks in regardless – because we fear the past, we fear the future, and we experience pain, stress and anxiety in the present.
The only threats we typically face now are to our ego
In our modern world we no longer need the emotion of anxiety, yet our lives are ruled by our emotions. We can’t turn fear or anxiety off – these emotions are hard wired.
So what we often do is avoid failure when we become anxious. We also avoid success. And therein lies the conflict of these emotions – on one hand we require them for basic survival, and on the other hand they keep us from having what we really want. How do we resolve the conflict?
Choose to think and do differently
The answer lies in tapping into another part of your brain – your thinking brain (neo-cortex) that houses creativity and intellect – it’s also the home of happiness. The choice of living a meaningful, purpose-focused, fulfilling life relies on your ability to build the muscles in your thinking brain. You have to work on your thinking – it’s the secret to your success.
Thinking differently relies on building a continuous weight of evidence against the feeling brain (overcoming fear, stress and anxiety) based on repetition. Here’s how:
- Know what inspires you
Your purpose comes from your thinking brain. Your ‘why’ (what it’s all for) is your inspiration. Your inspiration drives your action (motivation may be only fleeting – you don’t need it – it won’t drive what you do). Being inspired means being true to your highest values – when you are doing what is truly important you’ll be courageous, face set-back, and do whatever it takes.
If you’re struggling for inspiration, get around other people that do inspire you (e.g. mentor, colleagues).
- Reward your effort (that recognises you’re succeeding)
Create accountability around your actions (the right ones) and celebrate your action along the way. Acknowledge and appreciate you for the effort you’re putting in. You’ll always be better off failing going at it 100% as opposed to failing because of the effort you didn’t put in.
Give yourself rewards – a pat on the back or something external – it doesn’t matter what and it needs to be something that matters to you.
If you don’t know the right action to take for the results you want – find out.
- Believe you can
Choose to acknowledge the input from your external and internal worlds telling you that you can’t. Instead, choose to tell yourself that you can. Then, if you can, you must.
Be more discerning about the meaning that you make of your results (the positive and negative emotions and self-talk that is your self-certainty and confidence). Be okay with failure as long as you’ve done everything that you could have to succeed.
Fear is a response. Having courage is a decision.
Your success is your choice. How you think about what is possible will define your results in everything. The biggest challenge you can overcome is to get over you – your fears and anxieties that will hold you back – so you can get on with having the results in work and in life you want.