Everyone wants to achieve.
In 2012, the Atlanta Falcons didn’t achieve their goal of winning The Super Bowl but they did have a successful year. The New England Patriots didn’t win the big game either but for the last decade they have been a great success story.
The Baltimore Ravens achieved their goal of winning The Super Bowl.
Success and achievement sound like the same thing but they certainly aren’t always the same thing.
You could argue that of the four teams that made it to the championship games, the teams that had a more successful season (more wins) didn’t advance to The Super Bowl.
You can be very successful at something or some aspect of life and still not achieve the most coveted victory in that part of life or business.
In this series of articles you’ll read about both success and achievement.
We all want to be good at something.
Some of us want to become good at a lot of things.
We all want to be happy and successful.
And by changing a few flawed persistent thoughts that most people hold onto…and making a few steps in the right direction…amazing things can happen.
We begin today by removing some myths and folklore about success so what matters in life becomes clear.
Behavior vs. Intention
Did you ever get a Christmas present didn’t fit? Do you remember seeing that there were no batteries in the gift for the boy and he became frustrated because he couldn’t play with his toy on Christmas morning?
Remember when the food wasn’t quite as good as you wanted it to be for the occasion. Maybe the turkey was a bit dry. But no one cared all that much. Your intention was good.
In areas of kindness and concern, intention goes a long way even if things go wrong. Intentions matter a great deal in life. All things being equal I like to hang around people whose intentions are good.
But intention is just that. It’s part of the “plan.” Most people’s “plans” are really “hopes.” I “hope things work out.”
You and I won’t make the mistake of confusing “I hope” with “here is the The Plan.”
And our intentions will be to do well. Very well.
Achievement begins with intention. Intention happens on day one.
Today it is *very* important.
Tomorrow, today’s intention rarely matters. Tomorrow it was step one in the plan. Tomorrow the intention has mostly become a small element in the success of any project. Tomorrow intention is much smaller and your behavior is much more significant.
Right here, you and I have talked a lot about observing the actual behaviors of people vs. their attitudes or their intentions. We’ve learned to watch what people do vs. what they say.
Positive Mental Attitude?
Is a Positive Mental Attitude the first Achievement Factor? “Attitude” is important in all aspects of life. And there is AN attitude that is one of the achievement factors. Attitudes are important in persuasion and influence. Attitudes matter. But if you were looking at a pie, “a positive attitude” might only make up a small portion of the factors in achievement…and frankly…it might not be in the pie. And if we look at the concept as it is considered by most people, it isn’t in the achievement pie.
You can have a “positive attitude” or a “negative attitude” but the impact of either of those attitudes on achievement will vary from person to person. A lot of people equate a good attitude with a big smile or a happy outlook on life. A sunny disposition.
These are very nice traits for people to have about life but they do nothing to generate most achievements.
Others equate a “good attitude” with a visible face of determination. Then there are those whose “good attitude” is really a focused attitude.
No matter what you think a “positive mental attitude” is, it often becomes an end in itself and that end typically leads to frustration and dissatisfaction. A Positive Mental Attitude can cause the extinction of the outcomes that the person was going to move toward. A lot of attitude related experience on generating success and failure depends on WHEN the PMA was being experienced. I’ll explain more later.
Positive thinking is different than a positive mental attitude. Positive thinking is where someone visualizes positive results with the belief they will experience those results.
Positive thinking is about talking to yourself with self-talk like, “I like myself,” “I’m a good person,” “I’m a winner.”
There is a place for this in life.
If someone is despondent then thinking, “I’m a good person,” could be a good thing.
When it comes to achievement the research is pretty clear. In most contexts it doesn’t work and certainly not the way most people wish it would.
The research shows that kids do worse in school, seeking jobs and in athletic perforance when they have visualized success.
Later we’ll get more specific and isolate the important exceptions.
People who think “positively” are more pleasant to hang out with. People who think negatively (as generally perceived by society) tend to achieve. And we’ll go deeper into this later as well. There are exceptions to both generalizations that you want to learn.
The antiquated notions of what caused success and failure were certainly often destructive to achievement. So what DOES cause achievement?
Achievement and Success
Achievement and success are both wrapped up in behavior.
I think of achievement in short term concept. Less than two years.
I think of achievement in terms of specific outcomes.
I think of success as a long term concept. Usually 5-7 years out.
I think of success in terms of more general outcomes.
You don’t have to adopt those frames, just think about them.
I remember watching a guy sit down and playing piano with his fingers moving over the keys like a bird flapping her wings. He just flew. The music was complex and beautiful. You never would have thought this guy a pianist. And he was truly brilliant.
“How the heck do you do that?”
“My Mom used to make me practice an hour every day after school.”
“For how long?”
“From the time I was 4 until I graduated high school.”
“You really wanted to do that?”
“Not at first…not for a long time. But then I did, yes. I started to love it in junior high.”
The same is true for Michael Phelps. It was true for Einstein, Edison, Jobs, Gates, Walton, Curie, Bell, Beethoven, Mozart, The Beatles. It’s the same for everyone who succeeds at anything. They lived many, many days and years with no reward for the reward came later. Success (not achievement) is about duration and excellence.
Behavior precedes Attitude in most cases and behavior tends to generate PASSION for the behavior itself.
Self Regulation: The First Factor of Achievement
Self regulation is the ability to consciously decide on a course of action in the moment and then follow that course through to completion. It is the ability to control nonconscious & biological urges and impulses. It is the skill of overcoming laziness and eliminating procrastination. It is the rejection of instant gratification in favor of something better. It is the choice of setting aside instant pleasure and satisfaction for a good opportunity or reward that is far more important and valuable in the future.
The skills of self regulation are learned.
Self regulation was once a defining characteristic of an American. It was for 300 years. And then it became a rare commodity. This one life skill which ultimately becomes a trait will change the fate of a person or a nation forever.
In order to develop the ability to self regulate, one must discipline themselves (or others) with intention and effort until the behaviors manifest and become self perpetuating…until it becomes self-discipline.
Did you go to the grocery store this week and get food?
In all likelihood someone in your home goes shopping every week. Let’s say it’s you.
You do it, you eat.
You don’t, you pay a price.
You go instead of watching TV or sleep or reading the comics.
You’ve trained your Self.
No one is going to do it for you.
If you want to eat you simply have little alternative but to go.
You intentionally manifest the behavior of getting up, getting into the car and going shopping until it becomes a habit and is something you no longer think about. It’s now as normal as anything you do. (Some people actually enjoy grocery shopping.)
You perform the target behavior, whatever it is, everyday until it becomes second nature….habit…easy…
Self regulation is a big part of what causes people to achieve.
It is in fact, all or nothing. Other factors generate achievement but without self regulation, there is no achievement. There will be no success.
Self regulation is a direct CAUSE of success and achievement.
What is the “attitude” of the person who can self regulate by decision?
“I do it everyday. I am in charge of my behavior.”
Behavioral Destiny Control = Success
That’s the attitude of achievement. “I do it everyday. I control my behavior. I decide what I want in my life. I run my life.”
Most successful people have coaches and mentors to help them along the way because some things in the equation of achievement simply meet with a lot of inertia. Those people are there to make sure you “stick to it” until you get to the point where you don’t need that extra boost each week.
There are no beliefs “attached”. There are no values “attached.” There is nothing “attached” except doing it. That’s it.
You become your behavior instead of your intentions, and by doing so become not only a better human being but an achiever,a high achiever.
Is Self Regulation the Only Factor to Achieve?
You can self regulate. You can decide what you will do and do “it” every single time.
You literally can self regulate and never do anything that matters.
Without self regulation there is no achievement. There is no success.
You can win a game without self discipline. You can’t win a Super Bowl,Tthe World Series, a Gold Medal or The World Cup without it.
That said, long term success requires all the keys. Self Regulation is best wrapped up in one word: “Until”
You simply DO whatever it is…UNTIL it is done.
Remember: self regulation has no beliefs or values attached to it. It’s just — DO UNTIL.
Over the years, a lot of people have asked some variation of, “Kevin how do you get Coffeeout every week when you have so much going on? What beliefs do you have that I can model?”
Behaviors come first.
Beliefs come from behaviors.
I’ll share both with you.
Self regulation requires perseverance. Perseverance is thus a sub factor of achievement. To persevere simply means to maintain a state of unbending and unyielding movement toward an outcome.
Perseverance and renewing genesis are the two key factors in self regulation.
Renewing genesis means beginning each day or each part of the day without having to think about “it.” You simply begin again. Yesterday you wrote pages 248-254. Today you write 255-261. It makes no difference what else is on the list.
You decided to DO “it” and then you DO it.
Decision then Do creates self trust. When you create self trust, others begin to trust you and want to be around you because you make things happen.
You never will think, “I wonder if I should X today.”
That sentence = eternal failure.
When do you find the time?
Then everything else comes next.
Renewing genesis and perseverance create self regulation which is the core factor of achievement.
Thus the self choosing, self disciplined individual.
Decision: The Second Factor of Achievement
You could argue that decision, like perseverance is a element within self regulation because it is.
But I choose to distinguish decision from self regulation because it’s very easy to “decide” and never achieve anything. Similarly it is easy to self regulate solely based on another persons decisions. A soldier in battle must self regulate or he could easily die. But in most cases, his orders (decisions) come from another person.
Nothing happens>until you DECIDE…
Decision is the starting point of self regulating behavior. Effective decision-making is a source of significant power.
Self regulation is the central factor of achievement and success.
Making good decisions is the second factor of achievement.
The decision has to be made now. And then you probably don’t make it again.
You DO, because you decided you would. You TRUST your SELF and you teach yourself that you are worthy of trust by doing what you decide to do.
I want to say this very gently: If you can’t trust your self to follow through on your own decisions…
…if you can’t TRUST your SELF to follow through, no one else will either.
You can have all the motivation and positive attitude on the planet and never move. Without decisions you fail. Those who don’t ever decide, those who never “cut off from”, they cannot achieve…much of anything…ever.
Learning to make rapid, effective decisions that you yourself trust and rely on is a crucial completely overlooked factor in success and achievement.
DECIDE, DO & UNTIL.
I don’t expect you to master self regulation or decision-making from reading to this point. How could you? It would be unreasonable to ask, and I won’t.
We’ll touch on implementation today, but you *must* have an understanding of the achievement factors before you begin to implement. The ingredients are required before popping the cake in the oven.
The Game Plan: The Third Factor of Achievement
“Oh I know all about that…”
No, please wait…you might…but please…continue reading.
Trust me. (That’s another part of achievement…)
The Game Plan…watch a football game.
The coach carries this big two-sided laminated 11 x 17 sheet of paper with him during the entire game. He covers his mouth with it when he speaks into the microphone to transmit to the quarterback what play to call. There are HUNDREDS of “plays” on that laminated sheet of paper.
They are all based upon the PRECISE SITUATION the team is in. Ahead in the game, behind in the game, the game is tied….Is it first or second down? Do they have the ball at their 20 yard line? Midfield? How about at the opponent’s 20?
The coach has already analyzed his own team. The strengths and weaknesses. The skills and deficiencies.
Then all week, they factor in the other team’s strengths, weaknesses and BEHAVIORAL TENDENCIES in any given situation.
They know that 85% of the time, the other team passes when it is 3rd and 6 yards to go and 97% of the time when they are near mid-field. That makes defending the other team a little easier.
You know what’s coming. You have watched their behavior all year and know what they do in specific situations…in every situation.
You’ve gathered the intelligence and put it into a game plan.
The game plan is so important because it doesn’t look like a business plan.
A business plan the way we were all taught to write one, is one of the biggest wastes of paper and time I’ve ever seen.
A business plan gives you a best case scenario. It gives the bank the best case scenario. It tells you NOTHING about what is really going to happen with the business, how all situations will be managed and what plays will be called.
The business plan doesn’t assume that your advertising will fail. (It will.)
It doesn’t assume that your salespeople will have more turnover than anticipated. (You will.)
It doesn’t take into account all the random weird stuff that happens every day in business, like getting sued by the guy next door because his customer tripped on your sidewalk because his bag for his groceries was too thin….you get the idea…
A business plan is far better labeled, “a business hope”.
Am I saying a business plan is a complete and utter waste of time? Completely?!
OK….No. It takes about an hour to come up with a basic plan for a million dollar business. Worthless? No.
KEYPOINT: A Game Plan has analyzed all of the variables and has an ACTION CALLED FOR EACH SPECIFIC SITUATION.
It’s taken into account what happens when an employee steals or someone plants a story in the press about something that isn’t true about your company.
It’s not in the business plan. It’s in the Game Plan.
The Game Plan requires thought. It requires understanding Situational Management Strategy.
OK fine… a business plan is pretty much a waste of time and a waste of paper. But the bank will feel better if you have one, so you make it for them.
For YOU? A Game Plan
The person or business with a powerful Game Plan is going to achieve.
“WAIT KEVIN! The Houston Texans only won two games last year. Their coach must have had a game plan. What’s up there?”
Nothing is up there. They are achieving to their level of ability and skill. They are a new team. New players who are learning to work with each other…. and generally speaking they have a few guys with talent but the reality is that they don’t have the skills and talents to compete.
It’s a testament to their desire to win, that they even won two games.
Achieving isn’t always measured in win/loss. It’s often better measured in relative to potential.
If you have a high school team playing a professional team and the high school team somehow kept the game close, they would have achieved an enormous “victory” even in defeat.
The Game Plan can’t make up for skill, talent and self-discipline, but it sure can make a difference between winning and losing. A proven game plan can give a weaker opponent a shot at beating a stronger opponent.
Look how often in football a team is favored by 10 points and then sneaks out a victory.
The Self Confidence Balance: The Fourth Factor of Achievement
If it wasn’t the rain and the wind, it was probably a failure in overconfidence.
The great destroyer in reaching for achievement is arrogance. Overconfidence. People who are TOO confident succumb to worse problems than people with little confidence.
And self-confidence is very important to achievement. We’ll talk about that next week. Overconfidence is driving so fast you can’t control the car when random events happen. Confidence and overconfidence are two different worlds.
In football, the overconfident get injured. They get beaten because they didn’t put out 100%. They were taking it “easy.”
Overconfidence on the highway causes head on collisions. Overconfidence in sex creates babies and AIDS. Overconfidence in relationships creates broken relationships.
Overconfidence and arrogance are things you and I need to keep in check.
“There is a fine line between Chaos and Creation.”
That’s a line from Paul McCartney’s album Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard. It says a lot. Yes, I like this quote. A lot.
There is a fine line between self-confidence (an absolute necessity) and arrogance. One wins. The other loses. Overconfident people can’t make it to the Super Bowl.
Every winning team I’ve seen in sports says this about their opponents, “THEY are a talented and tough football team and we will work HARD to prepare for them.”
That is the attitude…. that is a positive mental attitude.
Goliath should never overlook David. Goliath should never underestimate David.
Achievement is the result of the RIGHT mental attitude.
“We’re going to win,” is a very risky attitude.
“We know it is going to be tough but we will play every down to the very best of our ability and I believe we can and likely will win today.”
As soon as you declare something that sounds like a fact, you better be right because your unconscious mind is listening. I’ll share with you some secrets in my next article in The Achievement Factors series.
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