While I stood at the bottom of the mountain, looking at all the people at the top, I wondered if I had what it took for them to get there. Every time I pushed myself to climb and then slipped or fell, it became that much harder to believe I was capable.
It’s a defeatist attitude. Like the mantra “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” it makes you think you can’t be successful unless you were born for success – or are just plain lucky. That notion is a temptation and a trap.
What people at the top have in common is a mindset that affords them the power and flexibility to have success on their terms. What this means for all of us? We can define and create that mindset for ourselves and get started toward our own mountaintop.
If we give in to attributing the success of others to factors out of our control, we lose. We assume the victim stance and retreat to the safety of mediocrity.
My well-reinforced theory as to why people do this is that they believe it relieves them of responsibility. (“If I don’t control my own accomplishments, I can’t be held accountable for my lack of effort.”)
I’ve heard thousands of excuses and watched people argue passionately in defense of their unwillingness to go for it. (“Success is for other people and I could never do what they’ve done because I don’t have their advantages.”)
The way people react to my message of hope, opportunity, and systematic success can be comical, bordering on alarming. Here is an example from a conversation I had with a woman who’d just listened to a talk I gave on the subject:
“So you mean to tell me that I can apply what you’re telling me and have success like Donald Trump?”
“I don’t know. Do you define success the same way Trump does? Do you consider him successful?”
“What do you mean? Of course he’s successful! He makes billions, has his own TV show…”
“Yes, and is that how YOU define success? Do you have to make billions and have your own TV show to be successful?”
You can see where the conversation was headed. This woman had made many assumptions regarding success. One of the big ones was that success is always the same for everyone. But to become successful, we must appreciate that success is relative.
Everyone has the right and responsibility to define success on his or her terms. What do you want your life to look like? As I quizzed the woman, she admitted that while Trump is financially wealthy and famous, she really didn’t know if he was successful by her definition. He seemed lonely and shallow.
I reminded her that we don’t really know if he is lonely or shallow because we don’t know him personally. And her job isn’t to pursue his success anyway. Her job, and ours, is to define success by our standards and go after our own version of it. Vision, purpose, belief… they are all individual exercises to begin that journey.
The woman had also assumed that success is a place – somewhere you arrive and stay. But success is not static.
We define success from where we are at this moment. While we work to reach the goals and milestones we have defined, something else happens. Our view of the world changes and our definition of success expands.
Think of it as progressive horizons. When I stand at the foot of a mountain, all I can think of is getting to the peak. From where I stand at that moment, success is defined according to what I can see.
With every step toward that goal, I gain perspective. My elevation changes and new things come into view. As I approach the summit, a new world opens up in front of me. This new perspective fuels my desire to explore and experience more.
That is the essence of life. Continual growth and exploration makes us appreciative of where we are and excited about where we can go.
In my coaching practice, I teach what I call The 7 Elements of Personal Choice. Through their repeated use, I’ve watched thousands of people joyfully climb one mountain after another because they finally understand how to create their own success and they’ve engaged their mindsets to lead the way.
Becoming successful isn’t nearly as magical or mystical as many believe. It is the result of repeated, intentional effort toward your definition of the life you want to live.
The common trait that we share with all of the truly successful people throughout history is mindset. Using our mindset, we define success, lay the groundwork for achievement, make it happen, and repeat.
[Ed. Note: PJ McClure brings clarity out of the fog of personal achievement. His clients, ranging from CEOs to amateur athletes, experience immediate and lasting breakthroughs through his exclusive teaching methods of The 7 Elements of Personal Choice. You can get a copy of his bestselling book, Flip the SWITCH: How to Turn On and Turn Up Your Mindset, free by going here.]