The Secret Formula For Success That No One Talks About
Sometimes the universe presents an unexpected detour. It takes us to places we never knew existed or invites us to explore the world with a new set of eyes.
No matter who I've worked for, the thought I wasn't living up to my potential rattled in my head like a caged animal. I'd read about people who love their careers, describing them as places filled with challenge, growth, purpose and even fun. I didn't get it. I felt like I was missing something. Huge parts of my day were spent in sheer boredom, "killing time." A sad reflection of how so many of us feel about work. I wanted a sense of purpose. I wanted a mission that fulfilled me. I wanted to not just wonder what my potential was, but to experience who I was capable of becoming. It came down to asking myself, what truly matters most to you and are you pursuing it every day?
I had no idea how to measure that question. And without measurement, there's no way of grasping what success looks like. I had never defined what success meant to me. I had never been challenged with questions to spark what my interests, dreams or hopes were. I had no idea what I wanted from life. I couldn't glance down at my arm for a cell-phone-like battery bar that would say, time for a switch up Chris, you're only operating at 60% of what you're capable of and that's all the growth you'll get in this job.
All I could go on was trusting my gut. And that was telling me that I was going through the motions. I'd seek any and all opportunities provided to me at work, but they were few and far between. I spent more time doing busy work than the actual work I was hired to do.
It's like the first year of a relationship. It's one big learning experience and a series of firsts as a couple. But once the novelty wears off, we slip into patterns that are toxic. If we don't continue to grow and communicate our needs and wants, we wither and die like a plant without water or light. Tony Robbins put it like this: if we treated our relationships like we did when we first got into them, there would be no end.
That's when I started to realize that maybe I was getting into the wrong relationships (and for the wrong reasons). I couldn't picture myself working for someone else for thirty years, squirrelling away the dreams of the life I wanted for some distant future that may or may not come. These rules of engagement were for a game I had no desire to learn or play in. But I didn't know what the hell else I could do with my life.
The universe must have been listening. I met someone who told me about a detour to a far off destination I knew nothing about. It was a path paved with challenges, obstacles and naysayers, but the desire to uncover who I'm truly capable of becoming was a reward worth the sacrifice. I could design a life I didn't need to escape from. I could live life on my own terms.
Author Aaron Thier put it in terms that let me see the two choices each of us have in deciding our future. “Life is what it is, and you either accept it or you don’t. Either you let the current sweep you out to sea, or you swim against the current as it sweeps you out to sea.”
What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. I knew that I couldn't let another day slip by with a wish my life would be different. I had to draw a line in the sand and force myself to step over. I didn't know how or when I would set out for the new destination, but my mind was made up. I would work for myself.
Every day was a baby step to learn something I didn't know before. Podcasts lit my desire to learn on fire. I let the words of those who did it before me fill my ears with stories of failure and success. The indispensable lessons they learned along the way planted seeds I'd someday harvest. Everyone kept saying in one way or another, what matters most to you? And more importantly, are you making it a priority in your life?
I first learned about Hal Elrod when I picked up his book Miracle Morning. It's gone on to be one of the best-selling books in the world. In 2016 he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a rare cancer with a 10% survival rate. That in itself is anyone's worst nightmare. But this is a guy who at the age of 20, was hit head-on by a drunk driver at 70 miles per hour. His heart stopped for 6 minutes, he broke 11 bones, and eventually woke from a coma to be told he would never walk again.
Elrod went to hell and back and continues to share his story, cancer free. Heck, the guy even ran a 52-mile ultra marathon. Yet, that's still not what stands out most for me with his story. It's his mission to wake us the hell up. He reminds us that every day you need to ask yourself, what matters most to you? But here's the critical part: don't just leave it at that, follow it up with something you can measure. Are you honouring the things that matter most to you in the way that you live your life?
When I took action on my plan, I was answering those questions with the same ferociousness that drives Elrod. He said it comes from recognizing “the moment you accept total responsibility for EVERYTHING in your life is the day you claim the power to change ANYTHING in your life.”
There was a time I read those words and didn't fully believe them. I understood what he meant, but I didn't understand their true message and power. But now I've seen what's possible when you start to take responsibility for everything in your life. I still have moments of doubt, but I can say with the same certainty that I believe the world is round that I am capable of anything I put my mind to.
"Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying somewhere you're not meant to be." I've used this quote from Mandy Hale before and for good reason. As long as you stay where you're not meant to be, a torturous and drawn-out death by paper cuts awaits you.
Fear of failure is what keeps most of us from pursuing our dreams. Fear of failing to take action on my dreams is far scarier to me. What is life without a couple of scars? They serve as reminders you are alive.
Tolstoy cracks the whip on the foolishness of our fears based on failure: "When you have doubts about what to do, just imagine that you might die at the end of that same day, and then all your doubts will disappear, and you will see clearly what your conscience tells you, and what is your true personal wish."
If you were to die at the end of the day, are you doing what you truly wish to do? Stop and let those words sink in. Read it twice if you must. Failing to answer the questions that are thrust upon us leads to a life of regret.
If it's a formula you're after, something that leads to growth far beyond your wildest dreams, let the words of former chairman and CEO of IBM, Thomas J Watson help you in the pursuit of a happy life. “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”
You do not know exactly what the future will bring. So your best bet for leading a happy, healthy, purpose-driven life and business is to make the best and most positive use of the present.