Reply to a reader who asks about success

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Pont at Malgas, Western Cape. Photo by Chesney Bradshaw

A reader says she’s tried everything but continues to fail. She wants to know what is wrong how she can change her circumstances for the better.

It’s a difficult question to answer without knowing her specific circumstances. Knowing this would allow one to home in on areas to work on.

Success means many different things to people. Is it success in relationships? Could it mean business success? Is it success on the job? Or, is it success in a particular field?

For many years various people have tried to pin down what makes people successful. Stephen Covey, for example, looked at the quick-fix personality ethic versus the character values paradigm. Others like business person W Clement Stone helped a generation of salespeople in the depression years rise above poverty. Today, there are all sorts of success systems and formulas touted on websites, blog posts and social media.

The first thing the reader could do a self-analysis inventory. Such an inventory can be found on the Internet. The important question to ask is where you are not succeeding in life or business. Then you need to determine how to improve things. Your analysis may also show that you are barking up the wrong tree and it may be better for you to change direction and go into another field. You can’t keep banging your head against the same wall.

Some people talk about the winner’s edge. What does that mean? It’s a situation where you make small incremental changes whether in life or business and review the results. This is where a golfer who is out of the money, for instance, just because of an incorrect swing here or there, improves her game one shot at a time and eventually all the small changes accumulate and overall her game improves.

However, the winner’s edge ( Dr Dennis Waitley), requires different behaviour to the norm. You need to work hard and smart. Determination and perseverance needs to be very strong so that you don’t give up too easily. People in any endeavour whether life or business interact with other people and a pleasing personality and emotional intelligence can be a significant contributor to success.

If you look at the lives of the great men and women of the past and today, you will find extraordinary determination to succeed. I recently read about a famous British watercolourist. His work and career growth involved making thousands of drawings and watercolours sketches. He continued over a lifetime to produce works that are considered to be the greatest watercolours of all time. He was so passionate in his younger years about painting that he broke down and wept when viewing a painting of a French painter, believing that he would never be able to succeed in painting such a masterpiece. But he consistently continued to paint day in and day out until success eventually arrived.

The first step is to identify where you are not being successful – use any method you want such a self-analysis inventory, journalling, mind mapping or even discussing your situation with a trusted friend – and then following up with a plan to improve things. 

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