The “Success Pyramid” (Part I)

How do you define what success means? I’d encourage you to take a moment to consider that. For some, they may see an image of a bright red Lamborghini, for others they may picture a rich retirement filled with financial freedom and close family. Each of us has a different vision of success. We also know that success isn’t generally a destination, it is a journey. So maybe one good way to define success is the continued realization of worthwhile and meaningful goals.

No matter how you define it, the question I’m sure most will ask is, “How do I achieve it?” The answer is both tactically easy but personally challenging. Let me explain…
Imagine a pyramid (I’m not good at putting diagrams into Facebook posts so use your imagination). At the top put the word “Success”. Move down a layer and put the work “Behaviors”. Here is our first important lesson that is obvious if you think about it, but many don’t. Your success comes directly from your behaviors. Sure, environment sometimes interferes (e.g. freak storm messes with your dream of being a corn farmer), but you can choose how you respond to those things so they are at worst a hindrance along the way.

Let’s look at an example: if you are a sales person, but you don’t call on your customers (a behavior), you are going to have limited success. The other thing we must understand is that behaviors are a choice. It is your choice to buy a green car vs. a white one. It is your choice to treat customers well, or poorly. You get the idea. How you respond to set backs is also a choice.

Step one in achieving your success is to first clearly and visually define the goal (what does success look like to you). See yourself in possession of the goal – set a definite and sure time you want to achieve it. Make it as real as you can. For example, “It is August 1st and I feel great as I turn the key of the door to my new business selling flowers and helping to brighten people’s lives.”

Here’s an interesting bit on goals: people often over estimate what they can accomplish in one year, but they often underestimate what they can accomplish in five years. Research also tells us that bigger goals are much more compelling and inspirational than small goals. Goals that are written down are much more powerful (and likely to happen) than those that are not. Finally, we know that if we surround ourselves with those who don’t support us, or even actively undermine our goals, chance of success is diminished.

Case in point, years ago I set a goal to learn how to fly small airplanes. I could clearly visualize myself flying the plane, the feeling of taking off and landing. I set a date for milestones (like passing my written exam, my first solo, etc.). But what about support of others? Some in my life were supportive, others not. I remember on multiple occasions having my wife leave me newspaper clippings of small plane crashes, for example. So yes, I did accomplish the goal, but it was harder than it had to be.

Okay, so do you have your goal defined? Good! Step two in achieving your success is going to take some brainstorming. In this step, visualize and record the behaviors you either need to start or stop to reach the goal. In my case of learning to fly, I had to stop sleeping in so I could make early morning flight lessons. I had to hire an instructor, I had to manage the costs, and I had to apply myself to learning something new. Remember, a behavior can be a one-time thing (hire instructor) or a changed way of life (get up early).
So now we’ve addressed what success means in your world and we’ve clearly defined the goal. Next, you identified the behaviors that are associated with success. But as you might guess, adopting new, or changing old behaviors is the hard part of all this! For example, I know many leaders who avoid difficult conversations with their direct reports. Having those conversations would add to the leader’s success, but they can’t see to manage the required behaviors. Why? What story have they told themselves about confrontation that is limiting their success?

Stay tuned for the next part of this in a few days! In the meantime, if you’d like direct help on this yourself, give me a call and we can discuss the tremendous advantages of having a personal coach to help on your journey!

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