“Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.” ~ Oscar Wilde
A perfectly aligned set of circumstances is more often the exception than the rule. Resources are frequently insufficient, tools are disorganized, agreements are not set and objections stand in the way no matter what you undertake, so one of the keys to success is learning to bring order out of the chaos, methodically, efficiently and with all the heart you can summon.
A green horse, for example, comes to the rider not as a perfectly balanced, collected and fit specimen, but with physical imbalances and mental immaturity. The rider must construct, step by step, the control necessary to gather its forces in a way that counteracts the unevenness that come as a result of its physical conformation. Just like human beings, no two horses are physically alike and the rider must take great care to progressively build a container for the forces which will be imposed upon the weight of the horse as the training progresses and the demands increase.
When the physical imbalances and resistances are dealt with, they do not develop into mental ones. If, however, the rider out of ignorance whether it be willful or from a lack of experience fails to bring his horse to a better balance yet continues to increase his demands, the horse will quickly learn to take advantage of the loopholes in the pattern of control provided by the rider. Not only do the holes show up later when pressure is added and the back doors are not closed, but the physical resistances then become mental or moral in nature, further complicating the rider’s task. I am convinced that 99% of all horse problems are caused by riders who fail to properly set a foundation in early gymnastic training, that is, they fail to master the basics before moving on to the intermediate and advanced work.
The same is true in sales, or any other function within a company for that matter. Many new sales people, for instance, channel energy that should be trained upon the fundamentals into grand ideas that they believe will allow them to shorten the time from start-up to success. They decide, for instance, not to make a fixed number of prospecting calls every day (usually out of a lack of self-discipline that is fueled by the fear of rejection), and rely instead on the notion that they will land the “big deal” with the whale they happened to sail by the other day. Paying steady attention to the fundamentals reinforces your foundation and you need a strong foundation to support the weight of success.
You’ve no doubt heard stories of a young actor or musician who was propelled into stardom without sufficient time to prepare for the pressure of that success. What usually happens? Disaster. Or you might have seen what happens to many people who finally win the lottery. They go broke the next year after a big blowout. Success requires a foundation upon which it can rest, for as with horses, adding energy to a poorly contained system invariably causes leaks that, under greater pressure, rupture the entire container.
Success, in this sense, is optional. You can do the work, create the conditions necessary to breed success and succeed. Or you can try it your way, sacrificing integrity for expediency. The latter approach can at times give the appearance of working in the short-term, but only the former stands the test of time, especially when the going gets rough or the pressure is on.
The choice is yours.
12 thoughts on “Success is Optional”
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I think a lot of times in our society we are hoodwinked by the folk-tale story of overnight success. You hear that “Subject A” made it big overnight, and that’s all you hear. What they almost never tell you, but you can confirm upon digging, is that the overnight success happened after many years of foundation building obscurity. I bet it is funny to be one of the subjects of these success stories, thinking “I didn’t really start doing this last night!” Very rarely can you have success without building the foundation. If you can, you probably have already built the foundation in some other way and you might not even have known it.
Very practical and useful info, thank you.
Wow this is a great foundation for parenting, along with so many other applications. Thank you!
I hadn’t thought of that application but I’m sure it would translate. Thanks!
I appreciate how you always outline the choice we have, for there is a choice (“hallelujah!”). I love this post!
This post reminds of the critical importance to ‘set the stage’, so to speak, for one to have success. What that would be depends on the circumstance, but it always falls on the basics and fundamentals. I’ve already thought about one major important thing I’m going to do Monday morning at work about my own personal workspace that I am eager to work on!
While the fundamentals may not be as glamorous – we sometimes like the taste of the icing more than the cake – it is impossible to have enduring success which is what we really are after if the basics are not attended to properly. These are our core mission statements, our core philosophies about life, the attitudes we bring to bear on our work, the expansiveness and comprehensiveness of our vision — all of these result from the fundamentals.
It’s inspiring to know that success is manufactured; it’s not really about luck at all, it’s built on conditions many of which are certainly under our control.
Have a great weekend!
I’m glad to see these considerations being translated into daily application. Excellent! Tell me how it goes…
I’ve watched people spend years looking for the magic bullet that was going to give them overnight success. The scheme, product, connection or now technology that would put them instantly in front of the pack. All the while time was passing, along with a few solid opportunities that would have afforded them all the results they were seeking had they stayed with it and done the day to day work. There is no shorting the work part but if the focus is on what you’re building, the value to the market place, community and family, the same years pass but now you have something that in turn sustains what you love. Enjoy the process it’s also our lives. Great post!
I have very little personal experience with horses, the occasional trail ride as a kid, but your analogy of a successful business needing the foundation just as a well trained horse was great. There is a weight that comes with success. How to handle the additional income, how to invest, where to invest for future growth, the tax implications; each carries new pressures. A foundation methodically built with a basic infastructure that can be added too is the easiest road to a lasting success…but it’s usually not the shortest route. I ascribe to the notion that anything worth having is worth working for!