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The Inconvenient Truth of Success

by Ouida on March 15, 2008


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I was having a conversation with a new member of my organization the other day. He is in management training and hates it. He got started in my business because he wants out and saw an opportunity for himself. I wanted him to work on his vision statement so that we could meet and map out a business plan to turn that vision into reality.

He asked, “Can I make a million dollars in 2 years with this business.” I, frankly, told him no, but he could replace his present income in 2 years or less, get out of the job he hates, and free up enough time to go on to make a million dollars.

Monday was his “day off” so he didn’t want to meet on his day off. The first stumbling block. He was treating a potentially wealth-generating business like a job with benefits complete with time off.

To quote Jim Rohn on jobs and business: “I work fulltime on my job and part time on my fortune!” He then goes on to say “profits are better than wages. With wages you can make a living, with profits you can make a fortune!”

It only stands to reason: If your daily work does not place you on the path to success, however you define it, then your time away from work must be devoted to the task of success if you are ever going to achieve it.

We all have goals and dreams, but if we peak under the covers of many of those goals and dreams, we have attached so many conditions to achieving them, that we make our goals and dreams little more than wishes.

I will be a millionaire (as long as it doesn’t interfere with nights out with the friends or the new episodes of Survivor and as long as I don’t have to change my financial habits). I’ll get that advanced degree (as long as I don’t have to change my schedule or take out student loans.) I’ll set up that savings account (when I have money left over). I’ll get in shape (as soon as I can find the time.)

All of these conditions underscore the truth of life…so few people achieve high levels of success because success is simply inconvenient. Earl Nightingale defined success as “the progressive realization of a worthy ideal” and therein lies the rub.

Progressive means to consistently move forward. What of life’s circumstances does not have the power to halt forward progress? The illness of a family member or pet, an unexpected life event, like job loss, death disability, fire or flood. A school play, the superbowl, doing the dishes, the plumber, the TV repair man, final exams…the list goes on.

Any circumstance that has the power to halt forward progress can also become the impetus for forward progress. A dear friend of mine continued to build her organization while her child was in the hospital with a cancer diagnosis. My friend moved to the town where her child lay in specialty care and continued to build her organization. Her child is in remission and my friend has created a six-figure residual income.

Harry Chapin embodied the fear I often hear expressed in his song… “Cats in the Cradle” The story of the man who loses the thing most precocious to him, time with his family, in the pursuit of his work. What I hear most often is…I won’t do this if this takes me away from my family…I spend so little time with them as it is. But that is often the point. We spend so little time with those we love no matter what we do. More often than not, we are living the “Cat’s in the Cradle” without ever doing a thing to change our circumstances.

Which brings us back to the Inconvenient Truth about Success. In order to achieve it, progress toward it must be continuous. In order to achieve it that progress must continue through those “precious moments” away from work.

The successful person has the following characteristics

1) A vision that is rooted in the future. Understanding that success is inconvenient, the successful person is always attached to a vision that pulls him or her forward.

2) A desire to find the shortest path forward. The successful person is more likely to partner with other like-minded people. People who may have needed skill sets to keep progress forward.

3) A sense of justice and fair play. The successful person always knows that success demands her price of admission and is eager to pay it.

4) A hunger for new skills. The successful person understands that new knowledge and new skills lay on the path forward.

5) A love of the game. The successful person understands that they are playing a game and as such he or she seeks to define the rules, learn the strategies and develop a team.

The desire for success is a seductive force in our society. More air and media time is devoted to information about success than perhaps any other subject, yet, the inconvenience of it is never discussed. Leaving people to look instead for the elusive new formula for success whenever they hit a stumbling block. There are signposts along the path for those who understand success’s Inconvenient Truth. The trick is to walk the path and keep your toes pointed forward.

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