But many people never (or rarely) experience this high. Why is this? Why do people not use this creative equipment they were born with and make their life an orgy of fun and creating?
Based on the conversations I have had with program participants over the last 11 years, I would say much of it come from fear of failing. Since this subject comes up over and over, I thought I would devote this issue of Mind Chatter to my views on failure and achievement. I hope what I say is helpful to you.
Many people believe that high achievers know not only where they are going, but also exactly how they will get there when they begin a project -- and that these successful people travel straight through to success whenever they do something.
They seem have the magic touch. ("If only I had whatever it is they have, I might have a chance," many people say.)
This belief is half true. High achievers do know right where they are going. One of the first requirements for success is clarity and focus about where you want to go.
Studies have shown that only 2% of people, however, have this clarity and focus about what it is they really want.
Napoleon Hill in his ground-breaking book Think and Grow Rich (the most popular book ever printed after the Bible) called this clarity and focus one's "definite major purpose."
He found that when someone had a definite major purpose, many other qualities necessary for success happened naturally: focus, persistence, discipline, imagination -- and resistance to failure -- happened almost automatically.
So clarity about what you want is a key element in success. My suggestion is to write down each goal in such a way that another person could read it and know exactly what you want without asking for more information.
Where the common belief about success falls down is that successful people do not know in most cases how they are going to get to their goal.
They instead realize that if they start toward their goal with whatever resources they have (no matter how slim), the method for getting there will appear.
In fact, taking initial action, even if the action is not the best possible action, is often the only way the proper plan can be revealed.
To wait to take action until you know in advance how you are going to get there means, in most cases, you will never start, and never get there.
This means once you have a goal in mind, and have made it as specific as possible, you need to formulate some kind of plan of action, no matter how bad, and start implementing it. And this is where failure comes into play.
Here is a little-known secret of success (little-known, that is, to the unsuccessful): Success does not happen despite failure, it happens because of failure.
How could that be? I'm glad you asked, and now I'm going to tell you.
Failure is really just feedback telling you how to adjust your plan. Without it, you wouldn't know what to do. It is essential to success. You should not only expect it, you should welcome it.
Here is a bare-bones method for achieving anything:
Step 1: Know where you are. Be clear and realistic about where you are, what you have, what your circumstances are.
Step 2: Know where you want to be. Have a specific end in mind.
Step 3: Take action toward that end, based on the best plan you can come up with at the time. Don't wait, just move, act, do.
Step 4: Notice what happens.
Step 5: Readjust your plan based on the feedback from Step 4 and take more action.
Step 6: Continue to repeat Steps 4 and 5 until you have achieved your goal.
That's it. That's all it takes. But what do most people do?
They get to Step 4, and they notice that they didn't achieve their goal the first time, and they quit (a few may repeat Steps 4 and 5 a few more times before they quit).
High achievers do not feel disheartened when Step 4 does not result in immediate success. They don't expect it to. They just expect feedback, information, about what their action created. They know their plan probably is deficient. They know they need more information and that taking action is the best way to get it.
Here's another secret: you can put another step in before the first action step, and that step is to find someone else who has successfully done something like what you are trying to do, and model their behavior, their beliefs, their thoughts, their attitudes, their actions. This gives your initial action a better shot at giving you relevant feedback and saves a lot of trial and error.
But the key is to keep taking action, keep noticing what happens, and to use that information to decide what to do next.
Thomas Edison tried 10,000 different filaments before he discovered tungsten worked the best for creating an electric light bulb.
When asked if he ever felt disheartened at so many failures, he said none of his tries were failures. They were successful experiments in finding what didn't work, and that each one brought him closer to what would work!
There are kernels of great information in every "failure."
Here is how Napoleon Hill put it: "Every adversity, every failure, carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit."
Notice that he says "every" adversity and "every" failure -- not just some.
Your job, in getting to where you want to be, is to look at each action and the results it brings, and find that "seed of an equivalent or greater benefit."
When Centerpointe was about a year old, someone with a much bigger company in the same field sued us, claiming we had stolen "their" technology, and also making a number of other frivolous claims. The suit asked for one million dollars! I knew we hadn't done anything, that this person was famous for bringing frivolous lawsuits, and that they had done this only because they knew we had created a better may to use this kind of technology (the general terms of which are not owned by anyone and are in the public domain) and they had really brought the suit because they thought they could drive us out of business by suing us.
Still, I was pretty freaked out by the lawsuit. I had trouble sleeping at night. I worried I would lose everything, including my house (which actually was my only asset at the time). It was extremely stressful. It was, however, the best thing that ever happened to me -- and to Centerpointe.
Why? First, let me tell you what I did immediately after being served with the lawsuit papers. I sat down at my desk and started a list of all the "equivalent or greater benefits" I could think of that might come from the lawsuit. Within a few weeks the list had 65 items -- and every one of them came true (I wish I still had a copy of that list!).
Here's just one, though: I asked my attorney what it could potentially cost to defend the suit. His answer was that I might very well find out what people meant when they said "Don't make a Federal case out of it," and that if it went all the way to trial it could cost me $150,000 in legal fees! At the time I was making about $35,000 a year, so there was no way I could afford that. What's more, Centerpointe's entire revenue for that first year had been just $12,000!
Instead of quitting, I said to myself "Okay, what would this company look like if it was worth defending to the tune of $150,000?" Then I began to formulate in my mind a picture of a company running full page ads in national magazines, mailing out tens of thousands of pieces of mail each month to people interested in personal growth, with a staff of great people answering the phones, housed in a great facility, with terrific customer service, and being an industry leader in creating powerful and innovative personal growth programs and products.
I imagined retreats, newsletters, support services, additional products, and a lot more (all of which have happened over the years). I found the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit (in fact, I found several others, but I'll have to tell you about the others another time) in that lawsuit, and then took action based on what I found.
The lawsuit, by the way, was settled with no money involved.
So if you have dreams of creating or accomplishing something, don't wait for conditions to be perfect, or for the time when you have all the information you need.
Start with what you have, and better plans will come to you. See whatever happens not as failure, but as INFORMATION -- nothing more. Then take more action and keep going. Model other's success and never stop moving until you get there.
Successful people fail more often than unsuccessful people. They fail over and over. That's where they get the experience and wisdom they need to succeed.
Every successful person I know tells me they learned more from their failures than from their successes!
The high you get from creating something and seeing it do whatever it's supposed to do is indescribable. There's nothing like it. And, it's yours for the taking. All you need is a goal, focus, and persistence.
Keep marching toward what you want, refining your plan as you go, and you will get there. The tools and resources you need will appear when you are ready for them if you keep taking action and keep focusing on the outcome you want.
They don't always come in the time frame or the way you thought they would, but they do come.
Here is a new way to look at "failure":
I never see failure as failure, but only as the information I need to perfect my plans and tell me the next step to take.
You can have what you want. But you will have to "fail" over and over to get it -- so get busy failing!
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