5 Day Personal Formation Workshop-Day2-Creating Personal Success

Creating Personal Success

Success is something you create.  People don't become and remain successful by accident or through good luck.  Do you know a happy couple who has been married a long time?  If you ask them what has made their marriage successful, I'll bet they give you a laundry list of strategies and skills they've developed over the years.  You might hear them say it's been really hard work, or that they've learned to compromise.  You'll probably hear about mutual respect and determination.  I don't think you'll hear words like easy and lucky.

The same thing is true about anyone who has been successful in business, politics or the martial arts.  Success is a combination of knowledge, skill and attitude.  A study conducted by Stanford University revealed that knowledge and skill account for 12 percent of success while attitude accounts for 88 percent!  I think those figures are staggering.  What that study tells me is that 88 percent of our lives is completely within our control - because we can shape, define and control our attitude.



Desire and Attitude: Getting what you want

No matter what age you are or where you come from, whether you were born wealthy or poor, short or tall, skinny or fat, you have desires.  Desire is a driving force behind success and happiness and it shapes your decision making and your attitude.  Over the course of your life those desires have changed based upon your experiences and your environment, but they are still powerful.


Desire causes each of us to make virtually every move.  Desire makes you act a certain way when you want someone's love and affection.  Have you ever worked extra hours because you wanted a promotion?  Do you work out or watch what you eat because you want to stay healthy?


Take a moment to think back over your life.  Can you remember starting school?  The first day was very exciting; everyone and everything was new.  Soon you began to make choices within that little environment based upon your desires.  Maybe you wanted to be Teacher's Pet or best friends with the little redhead two rows over.  Perhaps you wanted to see everyone's reaction when the Bully sat on a tack!


As time went on, desire for a place in life found you doing lots of things.  Sometimes it meant being the life of the party; other times it meant passing up social events to study for an exam.  Did you ever plan to be with one person so that you could avoid being with someone else?  Did you join the Scouts to be outdoors and away from the chores at home?  Your desires have always led you toward the things you really wanted in your life and away from things that seemed less important.



For the most part, you've followed your desires.  But it's important to note that you've mostly done the things that made you feel comfortable - you've followed the path of least resistance.  Even if you didn't know it, you developed a plan for life largely shaped by your desires and fears.

But doesn't it seem that there is always something between you and what you want?  Maybe you're $1,500 dollars away from the down payment on a new car when the roof on the house starts leaking.  And you can count on an ice cream parlor opening up between your house and the gym.  But if you have the right attitude, nothing can prevent you from getting what you want.


Think about Abraham Lincoln.  He had a persistent desire to hold political office.  Take a look at his list of failures:

  • Failed in business in 1831
  • Ran for the legislature and lost in 1832
  • Failed in business again in 1834
  • Lost his sweetheart when she died in 1835
  • Suffered a nervous breakdown in 1836
  • Lost another political race in 1838
  • Was defeated for Congress in 1843, 1846 and 1848
  • Was defeated for the Senate in 1855
  • Was defeated for the Vice presidency in 1856
  • Was defeated for the Senate a second time in 1858.

Two years later he was elected President of the United States.


Did you know that Thomas Edison had more than 1,000 failures in his quest to develop an electric light bulb?  Jonas Salk had years of failed experiments before he finally developed a vaccine for polio.



What do you truly want in life?  Take a moment now to think about it and write down your desires.  Be honest.  If you want a new boat, write it down.  If you want a better relationship with God, write that down, too.  Let me give you a word of caution, though.  If you focus on things rather than events that lead to personal fulfillment, you will end up feeling empty.  Remember what happened to the tycoons in 1923?


Now, look back over the list.  What's standing between you and your desires?  Next to each one of your desires, write down the obstacle that is preventing you from getting what you want.  Try to be really clear and focused in your answers.  For example, if you really want a new boat, don't write down that you don't make enough money if the true answer is that you lack the self-discipline to stick to a savings plan.


Finally, make a plan to overcome your obstacles for success.  Make sure the plan is reasonable.


Building Your Personal Reference Points

I happen to think that we all need people, places and points of time that allow us to get and keep our bearings.  Without these reference points we would be lost.  Right now I'd like to walk you through a self-evaluation process designed to help you focus on what's good and bad about you.


It’s a three-step process.

  1. Personal assessment
  2. Outside assessment
  3. Diagnostic


Think of it this way.  Let’s say you’ve got a really bad cough.  The first few days, you don’t think much about it.  But you’re still coughing three weeks later.  The first think you do is evaluate your general health and decide that you’ve got a problem.


What do you do once you’ve decided that you may have a problem?  You look for someone to either confirm or deny your suspicions.  You call a doctor.


Finally, once the doctor has reviewed your symptoms, he or she will order diagnostic tests looking for evidence.  You’ll need to follow the kind of process as you build your own personal reference points.


How to measure your strengths

1.         Make mental notes.  Slow things down a little.  Every day, spend a little private time with yourself.  Really think about what you do well and what is good about you.  Remember, we're all changing all the time.  So reflect on your strengths periodically, not just this one time.


2.         Ask other people what they think you do well.  Do your ideas and theirs concur?


3.         Test.  Find a measurement tool that will tell you what you want to know.  There are several tests available that measure your assets and liabilities.  You can download a test from my website:


How to measure your weaknesses

1.         Make mental notes.  Again, schedule some time for reflection.  Don't be too harsh on yourself, but be honest.


2.         Ask other people what they think are your weaknesses.  Be prepared.  You're asking for information you may not want to hear; but other people's observations can be really instructive.


3.         Test.  Find a measurement tool that will tell you what you want to know.  There are several tests available that measure your assets and liabilities.  You can download a test from my website:

How to develop a foundation for growth

1.         Take the information from the previous two steps.  Now compare the lists.  On one list make a column of the things you believe are your strengths.  Make another column of the strengths others have pointed out to you.  How do the lists compare?  Spend some time evaluating everything in both columns.  Did you put something on your list that you really just wish you could count as a strength, or was your friend overly generous in her assessment?  Once you are satisfied, make one list of your strengths.


Follow the same steps with the lists of your weaknesses.


2.         Take ownership.  You're responsible for your own feelings, attitudes and decisions.  You are free to become whatever you want.  You can do whatever you believe is possible.  The key in every situation is whether you have the self-discipline to prioritize, plan and develop projects that lead you toward success.  Write your personal prescription for success.


3.         Become accountable.  This step is critical to your personal success.  Following is a three-way partnership to help me make a plan for life and stick to it.  Here's how it works.  I have three partners in my success:  a mentor, a peer and a student.  If you will adopt a similar plan, I promise you it will change your life forever.



When you were a kid wasn't there someone you admired?  Didn't you want to grow up to be just like Mom or Dad or your basketball coach?  Of course you did, so why should things be different now that you are older.  We all need role models all through life.  Choose your mentor carefully.  It should probably be someone older because you are looking for someone who's experienced more than you have.  Your mentor needs to be a person who shares the same values and has the same perspective as you.


Your mentor's role needs to be clearly defined.  Don't just decide to try to imitate someone you idolize.  Approach the person; talk about your goals; decide if you're a good match.


Finally, make the commitment to the relationship.  Schedule regular meetings with your mentor to evaluate your goals and your progress.  Keep the lines of communication open.



Any time you try to take a critical look at yourself, it can leave you feeling pretty vulnerable.  That's why the peer relationship is so important.  Acceptance is important to everybody and sharing your struggles with an equal will help buoy your spirits.


Your peer partner should be someone you trust and who knows you well.  This person will have to brutally honest with you and must be able to tell you things that you may not want to hear.  Do you have a special friend at work, or maybe a friend you spent some time with in the military that knows you better than most other people?  Can you count on them to tell you when you're out of line or on a bad track?  That's the kind of person you need in this role.  Find someone who wants to see you succeed and grow - count on that person to help you.


Just as in the mentor relationship, it is the commitment to the relationship that is critical to success.  Schedule time with your peer partner to talk about how you’re doing.


Why do you need a student?  Because becoming a teacher completes the cycle.  When you are sharing what you have learned with a student, you continue to reassess what you have learned.  It simply makes you a better student.  Part of the success of any of the 12 step programs is that the student eventually becomes the teacher. 


Have you ever recognized yourself in somebody else.  Maybe it's someone at the office, or a niece or nephew or the kid next door.  When you see someone with less experience than you do, but the potential and talent to succeed, you may have an opportunity to enter into a mentoring relationship with that person.  You can offer someone the benefit of your knowledge and practical experience.


Adopting a student also helps you in your continued growth.  A teacher needs to accumulate eight to ten times more information than he or she will disseminate.  As a teacher, you'll continue your own learning process. 

Professional Development: 10 ways to tap into your leadership potential

You’ve heard the old, trite expression “born leader." Many people in today’s business world actually ascribe to this concept and place themselves somewhere down the ladder when their deep desire is to lead. Others believe that they can only play a role in leadership if they are corporate politicians. Leadership is a skill that may be developed and executed if a businessperson will take the time to invest in his or herself. Years ago Earl Nightengale made a statement that changed many people’s lives. It went something like this:

“If you will invest one hour a day in educating yourself in your field, in three to five years you will be an expert.”

Consider a somewhat modified approach that takes Mr. Nightengale’s thoughts and applies them to leadership. You already have expertise in your industry. Start building that knowledge base each day for 45 minutes. Focus another 15 minutes on how you can develop leadership skills that will have an impact on your business and that industry.

Begin by thinking about the processes that are effective now and how technology, growth, and world market trends will impact that industry in the next 5-7 years. Try to consider approaches that other industries use that are not in use in your industry now. Review and update regularly.

Learn to Create a "Desire to Be Led"

Your approach to becoming an effective leader must possess a deliberate focus on how people want to be led-not how you want to lead. What many people in positions of authority forget is an appropriate perspective of how to execute the role. People will only allow you to lead if you consider and implement an approach that provides them with a desire to be led.

  1. Leadership should not be considered from a “top down” perspective.Instead, consider the pyramid from an inverted position. Your responsibility is to find ways to support and enhance the management, supervisory, and departmental staff’s efforts. What can you do to enhance their productive efforts?
  1. Leadership requires that many jobs be completed. There is seemingly less time for people. People are opportunities for leadership, not just interruptions. The greater the leadership role, the more you will need people. Invest in others regardless of their position or role in your long-term goal.
  1. Almost 70 years ago, Maslow told us there is a hierarchy of needs with love and esteem at the top. Leaders know that their people thrive on praise and affirmation. The soft sciences, through the development of people skills, are the keys to getting things done.
  1. Consider meeting or partnering with people who might be considered less conventional. They will help you think outside the institutional box and allow creativity, which may provide a unique marketing position for your product or service. Creativity and imagination are no longer something to be considered; they are a must for success.
  1. Decide today that you, given the opportunity, will not be a dictator in your leadership position. View your team members as stockholders. They have something to offer your organization. Ensure that the person performing each function has some input in how the task is done.
  1. Micromanagement is a sign of poor management with a lot of strings attached. People will inevitably make mistakes, but they will learn from them. Give them guidelines, based on their personality needs, and then allow them to follow through and acquire their own leadership style.
  1. Never underestimate the role of communication. The larger the organization, the greater the need for communication and the more impact the rumor mill has on morale and productivity. With your team members, consider ways to interact personally with every individual within the organization as often as possible.
  1. Never underestimate the power of your company’s corporate culture. This should be your priority. Organizational growth and performance will most often suffer from loss of the original entrepreneurial drive that made it successful. Promote the vision and reason for your company’s existence.
  1. Don’t let your personal pride get in the way of grooming successors. Finishing well is an important part of successful leadership. Mentoring can be challenging, but it's also one of the most rewarding roles of your career.
  1. Your future is coming at breakneck speed. You must learn from the past, but never focus on it. Your vision must be your preoccupation with a constant desire to reinvent yourself and your business dream.

Make the time and set aside the money you need to invest in yourself. According to Colin Rose, author of Accelerate Learning for the 21st Century, we must “master the forces of speed, complexity and uncertainty . . . to learn fast and think creatively." You can only do that if you have the knowledge, skills, and desire to lead with confidence as well as competence.

Your unique leadership skills can be developed if you invest in yourself.