Do you know how to think about success

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“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” - Winston Churchill

When you were a child, I bet you learned more about success than you remember as an adult. 

I know I did. I guess it’s kind of the reverse on the old saying, “If I only knew then what I know now.” Because (and follow me here) when we are small, each and every advance we make in learning a skill from walking to tying a shoe to speaking to hitting a ball or braiding one’s hair is filled with the rudimentary knowledge required for all of our future successes.

If I Only Know Now What I Knew Then

The picture of the ball and jacks accompanying this article is a metaphor for a way we should all think about our pursuit of success. I can still remember the first time I tried to play this “simple” game. Oh, the frustration! My tiny hands could either hold four jacks alone or the ball and two jacks. But, not four jacks and the ball. I would play for hours never getting past four. But I never gave up. And gradually, with enthusiastic persistence and application I made it to five and the ball, and then six and the ball. I can't recall if I ever managed to get all of the jacks and the ball, before I outgrew the game, but I know I never quit playing while it mattered.

And that is the biggest lesson about success we learn when we are young. When being successful at something really matters, “Never Quit!”

The Brotherhood of Success and Failure

As adults, we tend to approach tasks and goals in a finite space, usually allowing for one of two outcomes – Success or Failure. What a universe to live in! Who made up that rule?

Sure, this outcome relationship works great in a laboratory. But only if you can control all of the variables. Usually this requires vast amounts of time and money. And still it is no guarantee of Success. In fact, Failure is more often the result than Success. But that’s not a problem. That is a good thing.

Humans are organic beings. We live in a constant state of flux, adding one experience to the another gathered from countless endeavors. Some of our efforts result in modest achievements others bear unnoticeable results, while others may astonish the whole world. We don’t always learn from Success as much as we learn from Failure.

Failure is not the opposite of success. It is its brother.

I contend, that without Failure most Successes would not endure, amaze or inspire. We celebrate those who reach the pinnacle mostly because they rose over those who tried but did not succeed. Many of those who do succeed, do so because of what they have learned from others who tried but came up short. So, in a way, we can learn more from failing than we can from succeeding.

Knowledge is Power if Shared

I don’t think anyone would argue with me that knowledge is a good thing. Knowledge is the result of learning either through experience or by observation. Knowledge is an essential component in the pursuit of Success. Therefore, learning from one’s mistakes or failures is a way of acquiring knowledge. It is the way you can turn failure into success.

Unfortunately, some people turn their back on failed attempts not wishing to be associated with the aroma. When they do this, they miss out on a significant opportunity to assess their current knowledge and experience and learn from the event how to do it better. Knowledge from failure is power, but only if you share it with yourself.

Thinking Success

For the last several years, I have been moving clients and audiences away from the negative mindset associated with failure. I’m not saying you should pursue failure as a goal. Of course not. What I am saying is, failure is not the “Big Bad Wolf” we’ve been taught to fear. Failure is the learning spike that can boost your next attempt to the successful plateau of your desire.

To do this, I encourage you to stop thinking of Failure as a result. You can’t rest on Success, so stop being stymied by Failure. Confront your shortfalls. Examine what went wrong. Take the insights you discover and apply them toward changes in your strategy that will fuel your next attempt.

This process is what I call, “The Cycle of Success” that sits atop the Hierarchy of Success.

In this cycle, once you’ve observed the insights from your last attempt, you take action to achieve your intended result. After your attempt you react to the result of what you did. You reframe your action based on this knowledge and then you process it for your next attempt. Rinse and repeat.

Think of the first time you tried to make a paper airplane fly successfully. Lots of attempts and lots of changes until you got your desired result. You’ve been doing this since you were a kid.

Just like an enthusiastic child playing Jacks. With each attempt you’ll discover new ways of approaching your problem. On your journey to success you’ll gather great knowledge and experience. Much of this can and will be applied to other endeavors if fulfillment of your most precious dreams and desires.

Like Mr. Churchill said, Success is all about enthusiasm.

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To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz