Creating true success means giving up our preconceived (and limiting) notions of success and failure
Are you an expert at anticipating and avoiding obstacles, problems, and potential risks in business and life? This ‘talent’ may actually be the exact thing that is holding you back from being truly successful!
It’s really not your fault; we are taught that this is the optimal way to function. Most business advice tells you that when you have a goal, you must plan for all potential outcomes you might face. The logic goes that by anticipating all the possible failure scenarios correctly, you’ll avoid the pitfalls. However, one of the most valuable things I learned in my training as a trade negotiator was that if you only ever prepare for the worst-case scenarios, you will never achieve the best-case scenarios.
Success has nothing to do with mitigating failure and problems, and everything to do with taking actions to create greater possibilities in every moment.
This starts with cultivating a totally different outlook on success and failure. This may be quite a challenge for those of us who’ve learned to deal with life and business by continually looking ahead for the next sign of danger, but the good news is that with a little practice and some simple tools, you can have a lot more ease on your path to success.
Here are 3 of the biggest ways we set ourselves up for failure:
1. Anticipating the Worst
Predicting problems? Congratulations, you’ll create them. Maybe you think anticipating or visualizing positive outcomes is a great idea, except that doesn’t work either. Anytime you try to anticipate anything — good or bad — you are still running your brain in circles trying to figure things out and define what should or shouldn’t be happening. Instead, you need to get your head entirely out of the way.
How to do this? Start asking more questions. Questions put you in curiosity and wonder mode. It takes you beyond the limits of your mind and imagination, which is where the fun really starts!
To replace worry with wonder, these are three questions I love asking whenever I catch myself thinking about what should happen, what might happen, or what won’t happen:
- What are the infinite possibilities that I haven’t considered?
- What would it take for this to work out greater than I can possibly imagine?
- What else is possible?
Notice that with these questions, you are not defining what your outcome will be. Instead, the door is opened for any number of outcomes and scenarios to occur, all with a sense of curiosity rather than concern.
2. Achieving the ‘Right’ Goals
Too often, we decide that if we get A, it will equal B which will lead to success. A big case in point is money. How many times have you or the people around you said, “If I have this much money, I’ll be happier,” only to realize later that having more money just means you have more money, not more happiness?
To be successful, try to become clear on what is truly valuable to you.
Then you can take whatever action is required to achieve that — even if those actions seem atypical to others (or even you!). Here are three steps to gain clarity about your current goals:
- For each goal, ask: “What have I decided achieving this goal would give me or create for me?” For example, your goal may be to grow your business by 20% next year. Why is that your goal? What have you decided that would give you? More money? Happiness? Greater influence? Freedom? Is there a goal underneath you surface goal that you haven’t acknowledged?
- Let go of details and see the bigger picture of your life. What do you truly desire? To change the world? Create more money? Increase enjoyment of running your business? Planning for success is acknowledging what you truly want and doing whatever is required to get there. If your actual desire is to influence innovation in your industry, will growing your business 20% really create that? Or is it just one possibility amongst a multitude of opportunities, people, and choices that you could engage with to achieve your greater goal, if you were willing to step back and consider all the possibilities available to you?
- Rather than picture your success, get a sense of what it would be like to be successful. As a successful person, how would you like to wake up each day? Joyful and excited about the day ahead? Would your life involve travel? Would you talk to a lot of people or enjoy thriving on your own? Would you do the same thing each day, or have different things going on all the time? How much money would you make each year? Get a tangible sense of what success would be and feel like to you and let that be your barometer to guide your choices. Forget about all the ‘perfect pictures’ of success; those pictures are external ideals learned from others and are most likely not even relevant to you!
3. Judging Problems and Setbacks
Even when you are clear about what you want in life, you can encounter challenges and obstacles. One motto I have learned to live by is this:
Problems are possibilities in disguise.
Unexpected setbacks and perceived problems can trigger us to fall back into bad habits: anticipating the worst, trying to control outcomes, assuming failure has occurred. Instead, when challenges arise, ask yourself these questions:
- What is right about this that I am not getting?
- If I didn’t judge this as a problem, what possibility would it actually be?
Rather than immediately presuming you have a problem, look for the possibility. Don’t judge the situation, or yourself. Ask questions and reignite your wonder! If you do this, you will keep your attention and energy focused on moving forward and creating more with far more ease, no matter what.
Creating true success in our lives entails re-training ourselves to give up definitions of success and failure, so that instead of looking for what can go wrong or trying to get it right, we are free to choose what will actually work for us. To do this effectively, you have to realize that whatever you seek, you will find. Seeking possibilities leads to success. Seeking problems (or the problems to avoid) does not. What is the difference between a possibility and a problem? You and your point of view!
You may also enjoy reading The Importance of Intention to Create Freedom and Aliveness by Carter Miles