If I asked you to name some people whom you consider successful, you would probably repeat names that most of us would recognize. Names of millionaires, star athletes, movie stars, best selling authors, CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. And no doubt, these people are successful in their fields.
But how do you define success for you? Do you see yourself someday being among those names? Or do you believe that these people are special, “born” to be successful, extremely lucky, or they had advantages you don’t have?
There has been an argument made that many of us tend to attribute others’ success to factors that are out of our control. We believe we can’t control our accomplishments, hence we can’t be held accountable for our lack of effort to achieve high goals. Let’s face it, it’s far easier to retreat to mediocrity.
Does this mean I think we should all aspire to be the next Donald Trump or Oprah Winfrey – the next Bill Gates or Lady Gaga, in order to be able to count ourselves as successful? Of course not!
But what we do need to understand is that people with this kind of fame, all have something in common. They have a specific mindset. They are determined to achieve their goals on their own terms—and they have the flexibility to adapt as they move forward—which gives them the power to find their success. Adapting on the go—so to speak. Being able to see how they need to change with each step forward in order to keep that progress going.
The biggest mistake many of us make is that we believe success is a specific place that you reach and stay. But it’s not static—it’s ever evolving. Especially in today’s climate, it’s imperative that we stay open to change—sometimes on a daily basis.
I equate it to my backpacking experience in Yosemite National Park. Standing down in the valley (4,000 ft altitude) and looking up at Half Dome, looming another 6,000 ft above me, my goal looked overwhelmingly impossible. How could I ever believe that I would be able to complete the trek to that destination in one day?
As we gained altitude, I discovered I had a slight form of asthma, which made breathing extremely difficult in the high altitude. At times I didn’t think I could go on. But a funny thing happened. I just kept climbing…I put my head down and kept moving. And at each plateau, as I stopped to take in the view, it had changed. I could see that my goal was closer—my perspective changed with each new view. And as my perspective changed, my confidence grew. As my confidence grew, my desire to continue soared higher.
I’ll never forget that experience. The feeling of accomplishing something that seemed impossible will never leave me. I now know “what kind of stuff” I’m made of. It’s a lesson we all should learn.
Becoming successful isn’t as magical as we may want to believe. It can happen for all of us. Create your own map of accomplishments—then continually and repeatedly make an intentional effort to follow your own definition of the life you want to live—to achieve what success means for you.
You can make it happen.