Editor's Note | Choosing Success
I've been thinking a lot about the title of this note and how it relates to all aspects of our lives. I've been assessing my progress in life and listing my successes and even a couple of failures. In the process I have come to realize that success is a choice, and failure is optional. Ponder that for a moment. We can choose to succeed, and conversely, failure is a choice — a decision we make. Success is optional — literally an 'option' for us to select. We can choose failure, or success.
I was listening to Anthony Robbins speak recently about our belief systems, and he posed a question that has kept me thinking for weeks. His question is this: "What would you attempt to do if you knew that you couldn't fail?" The obvious answer is that if you knew you couldn't fail, you'd do almost anything — and everything. So then the logical next question is, why don't we? If failure is optional, why don't we simply choose success?
If you say you'd do almost anything, then just go do it. If you set up the to the right 'rules' and habits, it's virtually impossible for you to fail. In sports, not every play scores. In fact, plays in sports are often unsuccessful. You ran a play. It didn't work. But as long as you're on the field and the time is still ticking (or your heart, for the purposes of this magazine), then you're still in the game. Keep playing, and drawing up new plays. Try something else, change your approach, and eventually you'll succeed. Remember the classic Babe Ruth quote when asked what he thought about after he'd strike out — "I think about hitting home runs."
It all sounds great, but is it practical? Is it possible to simply 'decide' to change and improve? I've had close friends say it's too simplistic, even a PhD in Sports Psychology argued with me last week that this positive stuff might work in parenting and relationships, but not for teams, business endeavors or other measurable applications. I was stunned. He couldn't be more wrong since hundreds of cases of success and marked turnarounds (individual and corporate) began with a moment of decision and positive inertia. It's called the Law of Attraction, and that law states that we eventually become what we want — what we think about. We literally attract what we want and ponder — positive and negative.
Clearly, a first step towards positive change is the desire to change, and then the visualization of achieving the success. Breaking free in any venture starts by answering the question for yourself — "If you knew you couldn't fail, what would you attempt?" Sometimes we never ask that question because we are so afraid of failure. And sometimes we don't answer it because we are afraid of success.
I feel strongly that success in any endeavor is based on the belief that the past does not equal the future. Since failure is simply persisting in doing something that doesn't work, success begins by changing your state, your physiology, and in many cases, your psychology.
What you've done your whole life— all last month, all day yesterday — doesn't matter half as much as what are you going to do now — to- day. And tomorrow. We've got to learn how to let go of the negative luggage we carry around. Set it down and move on. Simple to say, I know — but you've first got to decide to move on. You've got to link 'pleasure' with making the change. Then you've got to calculate the cost of not changing and moving on. You've got to link 'pain' with not changing. That acts as leverage to keep you moving forward towards success. Either way, it's your choice.
I hope this gets you thinking and hopefully helps you take stock of where you've been, and where you plan to be this time next year. Remember, it's impossible to fail unless we give up. Choose to succeed.