Success starts with you

Believe in your ability to overcome challenges


Most people have a deep desire to be successful. Some want to make a strong positive impact on the world around them. Others want to secure the financial means to acquire long dreamed-of assets. Still others want to be known and admired near and far.

Some want all of this and more.

Whatever your reason for seeking success, achieving it starts with you. You don’t have to wait for an invitation, permission to proceed, or an influential sponsor.

You do need a realistic mindset.

It’s no secret that life is difficult. This is the very first sentence in M. Scott Peck’s timeless bestseller “The Road Less Traveled.” Additionally, Peck writes, “Confronting and solving problems is a painful process which most of us attempt to avoid. And the very avoidance results in greater pain and an inability to grow both mentally and spiritually.”

Contrast this message with what many people today have come to believe, namely that life should not be difficult and if it is for you, then someone has made it that way accidentally or on purpose.

This is a tragically destructive message that far too many have come to accept.

The great news is that you don’t have to be one of those people. You can reject the notion that you are somehow not up to the challenge of life, that for some reason beyond your control you are not suited to the rough and tumble of a chaotic society.

You are.

But here’s the catch: You must act. You must decide to exert effort to go after the success you desire. You must focus your attention on what will help you move forward instead of allowing it to be scattered by a million distractions.

This itself is difficult! And that’s the point. If you truly want to enjoy success, you must begin where you are with the gifts, talents and energy at your disposal.

Start by deciding what success looks like. What does it mean to you? Don’t look at your neighbor, co-worker, sibling or significant other to figure this out. Find a quiet spot where you can be alone with your thoughts and a notebook or note-taking app. Sit still long enough to feel quiet. Then capture the thoughts, feelings and images that make you happy.

Next, of all the things you wrote down, ask yourself, “What do I want and what am I willing to do to get it?”

This is an important question because once again it grounds your desire with your willingness to exert effort. Coercing someone into giving you what you want might make you feel powerful. The adrenaline rush of winning advantage over someone certainly is heady. But at some point you will encounter someone wise to this strategy and unwilling to participate.

What then?

Finally, make up your mind to understand the world around you. Pay attention to what happens day to day. Listen to the things people say and how they say them. Notice your emotional responses as you experience different circumstances. It won’t take long to recognize what brings you down. Stay away from it. If you’re the sort of person who needs to set others straight when they behave in offensive ways, please reconsider. It’s not your job to rehabilitate the planet. Stay focused on building your path forward.

At this point you may be thinking that if you concentrate only on what pleases you, you’ll become a narrow and selfish soul indeed. But that is not the suggestion here. Pay attention to everything in order to sort for yourself what works.

The human spirit is an incredibly powerful force made weak by false messages and manipulated experiences. Keep your eyes and ears open. Have something to strive for. Keep track of what helps you move forward and what hinders your progress. At some point, you’ll need to devise methods for moving beyond barriers. Don’t worry, in time you will. And yes, it takes time. Success always does.

Start each day with the understanding that life is difficult. Recognize that you, lucky one, have all the resilience you need to meet challenge with confidence. Here’s to your success!

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Susan Marshall is an author, speaker, and Founder of Backbone Institute, LLC, whose mission is to create a stronger, more confident future one person or team at a time. Her work over nearly 30 years with leaders in public and private sector industry, non-profit agencies, and public education is dedicated to building strong leaders who in turn create successful organizations, transform school systems, and develop leaders at all levels.

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