continuation: (link to Achieving Success: Part II.b)
Last time: we discussed the development of a goal plan and the need of discipline to achieve your plan. Discipline is supported by hope and motivation – part of our discussion now.
How to Become . . . Say . . .
The President of the United States
Sustaining Hope: Evaluating Our Failures
Hope is an “energetic force” that prompts us to action. If we lose hope in our efforts or our goals, we will fail to act upon the tasks that are needed for success. We need to understand how to measure and recognize failure to sustain hope. Not everyone is going to achieve their goals. Does this mean that we are all failures? If our chances of succeeding are slim, then why expend the time and energy to achieve a goal?
Failure often dictates whether a goal will be attempted. The likely chance of failure, or the fear of failure, can weaken our internal strength to expense the time, energy and effort to achieve a goal. Hope is the force that prompts us to action, even when the odds of failure are great. The more we hope for, the more likely we will attempt a goal despite the overwhelming odds of obtaining success.
We can sustain hope by understanding how we evaluate our failures. The world thrives on being the best. It is not being #2 that counts; it is the person who is #1 that basks in the honor of praise, wealth and glory. Those who fail to achieve #1 are analyzed, ignored and sometimes poked fun at in business, school, politics, academe and other facets of life. Nobody strives to become #2. Our egotistic world forces us to seek the highest levels of status, wealth and fame.
The fallacy behind this thinking is that every #1 achiever accomplishes his feats by first failing. Take an Olympic runner for example. When that person first took to the track field at a young age, was he or she the #1 runner in the world? Absolutely not! He may have been #10,000 at the time. But after each practice run, after each early morning exercise, after each training session — or, in better terms, after each “failure” to set the world record with each run — the runner consistently adds to hope the power to try again and again. Eventually, the runner slowly inches himself closer to being #1 in the world after a thousand or more failures. That is the beauty of failing. It pushes us to try harder until what we accomplish the goals we are seeking. Learning from our failures gives us the hope to keep on trying.
You must look upon your “failures” as a learning assessment. Failure allows us to evaluate how we performed and to undertake changes that will help us achieve in the next round. Failure is our evaluation to try again . . . but this time, to try again by using better tactics to achieve the necessary tasks to a goal.
Allow us to switch the word failure for the term analytical evaluation. Much like running a business, we will make analytical evaluations to review our weaknesses in order to increase our strengths. Business managers for example are constantly performing analytical evaluations to increase profits, cut expenses, and expand markets. Business managers wouldn’t call it failure and quit when business slows down. They instead evaluate ways to halt the decline in profits and increase the company’s position. You likewise will make analytical evaluations to assess your weaknesses and increase your chances for success.
So we will change the word “failure” for “analytical evaluation.” Each time you fail to achieve a goal or task, you will evaluate your reasons for failure and make changes so that you can achieve your goals on the next try. These evaluations sustain our hope. Failing to achieve on the first, second, or nth time does not class ourselves as ” . . . can’t doers.” Instead, we judge ourselves as someone who slipped or missed an opportunity. We are goal-achievers who are willing to step up to the plate and try again.
People Who Fail
There are people who truly fail, however. Failure is when we fail to achieve our goals because of the following reasons:
1) Failure comes when we quit pursuing our goals because of lack of discipline or fear.
Every successful achievement is supported by physical and mental disciplines that produce a specific action. We can refer to discipline by using the simple phrase, ” . . . do it.” If your goal is to become physically fit, ” . . . do it,” by exercising 30 minutes each day. If your goal is to learn Japanese, ” . . . do it,” by speaking Japanese. Whatever the goal, the magic words for success is “. . . do it.”
But how do you develop the ” . . . do it” mentality? On paper, ” . . . do it” sounds pretty easy. But in reality we often lack the training and strength to conquer certain tasks. Too often people plan a goal or character change the night before and — presto–they expect to change their personality by the next morning. What they fail to consider is the required discipline to make the change. This explains why millions fail to keep their year-end resolutions year after year.
Developing the discipline to achieve certain tasks requires consistent training. Building your discipline begins slowly by overcoming a physical or mental weakness. Once you have conquered that weakness, you can use the acquired strength and experience to overcome another weakness. We will discuss the building blocks of discipline in later chapters. For now, quitting because you lack discipline is a measurement of failure and loss of hope.
Another reason why many people fail to achieve their goals is because of fear. We quit because we fear the unknown . . . we fear making the sacrifices . . . we fear what people might think of us.
Fear is an emotion of alarm and agitation that arises when we leave our comfort zone. It often comes when we attempt to make changes in our lives. Most behavior is learned behavior. Things we do, like tying our shoes and the way we interact socially, are habits we’ve developed throughout our lives. These habits become the blueprints of our unique character. It’s only natural to fear when we change our habits and character.
Remember your first day in elementary school? There you stood with your father or mother, fighting the apprehensiveness of leaving home. The fear rolling in your stomach was discomforting. Nonetheless, it was something that you had to overcome. You probably had similar fears when you tried out for the ball team, made your first solo trip out of town, went away to college, conducted your first job interview, vowed yourself in marriage, started a family business or approached a complete stranger to solicit their financial support for your upcoming election. Most all goals — big and small — begin with some fear that you have to face and overcome.
2) Failure comes when we blame society (or our environment) for our lack of success.
Sometimes individuals who fail to achieve their goals or objectives will blame others for their failures. They blame the environment they live under, the color of their skin, their lack of political representation in government circles, etc. You are probably familiar with these statements: “If I were rich, I could . . . if it weren’t for government regulations . . . if I were physically beautiful . . . if my family name was better known . . . if I were not so fat I could . . . if I were a minority, I could . . .” Blaming others for your lack of success is simply failure.
There’s no doubt that many of us face impossible odds. African-Americans have a more difficult path to climb in business than Anglo-Americans. But does being African-American make it impossible? Equality certainly doesn’t exist in our society. Countless inequities make it easier for some people to achieve success over others. Some people are born rich, intelligent, in the right families, athletic, beautiful, personable, multi-talented, etc. — all inherent advantages that make success easier to achieve. But being raised in less fortunate circumstances is not a valid reason why you shouldn’t succeed. Surely we can identify people who had it easy. But these same people are dwarfed by thousands of others who achieve similar feats against impossible odds. Blaming society for our lack of success is tantamount to someone who quits because of fear. Successful people believe in themselves. They will work hard to overcome the inequities that hinder their progress.
In summary, we define hope as an energetic force that prompts us to action. We sustain hope by learning from our failures. We make an analytical evaluation to understand why we failed, and then we work to overcome our reason for failing. Real failure, on the other hand, is when we fail to achieve our goals because of fear, lack of discipline, or when we blame others for the lack of our success.
Next time, let’s discuss building motivation: go to part II:d
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