Choices and Change
In life you are faced with many choices but really when you distil it down to the essential essence you have one fundamental choice:
- to be submissive and go with the flow or
- be proactive and take control.
There is nothing else, all other choices you make throughout your life will be a subset of this fundamental choice and as you mature you will find you have a preference.
Life is all about change, change is inevitable and even if it will benefit you it is always to some extent painful because by definition you will have to stop doing something or stop working somewhere or stop being with someone. Change is about the shift from ‘being’ to ‘becoming’. Again there is one fundamental choice:
- you can support change or lead it or
- you can resist change or be subject to it
What is Success?
You might think that success is meeting a goal that you set but it’s not. You may feel that it’s meeting a goal that your manager sets but it’s not that either, at least not on its own.
Success is meeting a goal that everyone else within your circle of acquaintances, colleagues and friends thinks is worthwhile. A logical prerequisite to this is that these people know you have done it.
When we do anything, buy anything, make any change, subconsciously we seek approval from our circle of acquaintances.
- If I buy this house, car, hat will my acquaintance think its a good choice? The choice is a visible one, they will see your house or car or hat.
- If I achieve this objective I have been set at work, what will my work colleagues think of me? What will my managers think? It only works of the achievement is visible or publicised.
So success is something that comes from the acknowledgement of your achievement by others. It can manifest itself in many ways, people can pay you money for something you have done, it could be a positive press review, a rating on a league table, winning in competition or a game. The flip side of success is of course failure and on many occasions for someone to succeed someone else has to fail.
There has been a move in recent years to remove competition from school sports days with the mantra, ‘its not the winning thats important, its taking part’. What would the alternative history of the world look like if this had been successfully programmed into our ancestors? Competitiveness, the survival of the fittest is something inherent in our DNA and I believe it would be dangerous to programme it out.
Social Media and Open Data
The advent of social media has brought about a change. Now people share a lot of information publicly by default. It is also very easy for other people to share information about you. Look at FaceBook and Twitter, people share where they are, who they are in a restaurant with without a second thought. Contrast this with a few decades ago and this difference could not be more stark.
How does this new openness impact on success? Well for a start whatever you do is more much communicable. You don’t have to get an article written about you in the press or publish a book to reach a wide audience. Publication of the choices and changes you make or have had made to you are immediate.
How to Succeed in Everything
Firstly think about your preferred choice approach. A submissive approach will never result in public success so if you have a tendency for this resign yourself to the life of a follower. The lack of overt success will not worry you because your preferred choice is completely consistent with it. You will succeed by being happy and contented with what you have and people will see that and acknowledge it as being right for you, they may even be envious of your contentment.
If your choice approach is proactive then you will already have succeeded in a number of things. The positive outcomes have spurred you on and you feel in control of change. It doesn’t just happen to you.
To succeed in new things you will have to see them as worthwhile challenges and something that someone else could beat you to or do better than you. So success comes down to publicly achieving a ranked result or a change that was worthwhile.
The secret to success in everything you do comes down to being selective about what you do and you can only be selective if your choice approach is proactive. There also needs to be a way for people to find out what you have done.
The Secret of Success
We can construct a chart to illustrate the point. If on the horizontal axis we put the level of drive you have, on the right you will be proactive and one the left compliant or submissive. On the vertical axis we put the level of change desire you have, at the top we will put ‘becoming’ and at the bottom ‘been’.
We can then use the x-y chart to plot the path to success and we can also include things like good or bad luck. Take a look at the chart below. Do your own version.
X-Y Chart produced using the excellent ‘The Decision App’ available in iTunes App Store from Kein & Aber AG
4 Simple Steps to Success
- Coach yourself to be a proactive choice maker, start with small things like the menu in a restaurant
- Always court change, remember you only have one life so ‘becoming’ should be more compelling than ‘being’
- Think about the outcome, a higher score, ranking or change but it must be considered as worthwhile to others
- Make sure that there is a route for the outcome to become known, remember success does not exist in a vacuum