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The Necessary Pieces for Success

By Philip Humbert

I've always tried to write about the pursuit of "success" as a holistic, balanced concept. To me, success is that mystical, ever-changing mix of "enough" money and lots of toys, a bit of respect and recognition, good health and healthy relationships, mixed with enough meaningful work to keep me challenged without interfering with my hobbies and play-time. I think of success as a moving and very personal "target." And I like to think that, from time to time, I've had more than a few glorious glimpses of the real thing!

I prefer an incremental model for achieving big goals. Most of the "big" things I've tried to do over the years seemed to either elude me, or consume me. In trying to do "big" things, I'd get so caught-up in the work that friends, play, family time and even my health took a back seat. Not good!

On the other hand, playing small never excited me. Small tasks and little dreams always seemed like "house-keeping" or chores that I should take care of "someday when I have free time." They didn't inspire me. And I got good at procrastination.

In coaching thousands of people and organizations over the past 30 years, I've learned that success requires very specific kinds of goals, goals that are big enough to challenge the imagination, important enough to lift the spirit, and goals that have lots of small, practical stepping-stones. I've learned that quitting time Friday afternoon takes on a whole new richness if I've actually gotten something important done that week!

And in addition to the small stepping-stones, success requires slightly bigger steps that can be done this month, this summer or by my birthday. Some things can't be done by 5:00 o'clock Friday, but they can be done in six weeks or in 90 days. The story says God created the universe in six days. I'm not nearly that good, but once, back in Colorado, I learned that you actually can move a small mountain in about ten weeks, and I thought that was a pretty good start.

If you want to change your life, set goals that are big enough to excite you. Have adequate, meaningful and specific REASONS to get it done. Then, break it into do- able pieces, and get to work. Let's get something done by 5:00 o'clock Friday! And let's see really significant progress by December.

Those are the "big" keys to success that I've learned in the past few decades. I pass them along in the hope they'll serve you as well as they've served me.

And here's another piece: Success is built on optimism. Success requires an incredible, unshakeable belief that you can and will achieve your stated outcome. I'm concerned that optimism may be in short supply right now. Whether it's the economy, world chaos, or too many distractions, my friends and clients don't seem as optimistic and determined as they were a few years ago.

Whatever the reason, I've noted that the "do-ers" retain an extraordinary faith that they can and will achieve their goals. You should, too.

And lastly, success always requires a plan and follow- through. Whether the goal is personal or professional, world-changing or a simple family outing, you'll need a plan or budget, and the ability to get up in the morning, get to work, and stick-to-it all day long. I think most everyone knows that, but it bears repeating. We all get lazy, distracted or stressed and we forget. Success requires that we—not someone else or "luck" or chance but YOU—change things. You have to build something, move the furniture, change your habits, or start something!

There's no way around that part. The BIG pieces for success are a clear and compelling goal, paired with clear and compelling reasons why you MUST achieve it, and specific stepping-stones to get where you want to go. Unquenchable optimism provides the fire; a good plan and daily follow- through get you to your destination.

At least, that's what I've observed over the years. I recommend it!

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