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How Do You Get What You Want in Life?

04/13/2011 08:06 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Have you ever noticed yourself saying the words, "What should I do to get what I want? I've tried everything and nothing seems to work." It seems to be an unanswerable question.

Actually, there is an answer to this question.

To begin with, there is no single "right" way to accomplish anything. What works for some people won't necessarily work for others. And what is effective today won't necessarily be effective tomorrow.

Personal Qualities Determine Success

One common technique people use to figure out how to achieve their goals is to copy the behavior of successful people. Unfortunately, more often than not, that technique doesn't work. Why?

Because successful people are successful because of who they are, not merely what they do. Obviously they do things, but their doing is a function of their being, not a function of "rules for success."

So what "are" successful people? In "Success Built to Last," by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson, a must-read book about what over 200 "enduringly successful people" have in common, the authors offer a definition of success based on what these people told them: "a life and work that brings personal fulfillment and lasting relationships and makes a difference in the world in which they live."

I like what the book's authors say about the conventional definition of success:

Folks who chase a fantastic but vain hope for fame, wealth, and power -- for its own sake -- may even achieve it, only to become miserable and pathetic people. ... [W]e think that the current definition of success is a potentially toxic prescription for your life and work. It is a description that makes you feel more like a failure than a success if it's the standard against which all meaning in your life is measured.

Let me quote a few more passages from this book that describe these enduringly successful people so that you can discover who these people are rather than what they do.

These people "insist that success may never come without a compelling personal commitment to something you care about and would be willing to do, with or without counting on wealth, fame, power, or public acceptance as an outcome."

Additionally, "[w]hat you do must matter deeply to you ... It's something that you're so passionate about that you lose all track of time when you do it. ... In fact, you could not be paid to not do it."

Another essential element is "a highly developed sense of accountability, audacity, passion, and responsible optimism. ... Steve Jobs told us in an interview back before his famous ad campaign: Enduringly successful people 'think different.'" (Emphasis added.)

Successful People Welcome Failure

One of the most important qualities of these enduringly successful people is that they "drone on endlessly about learning from their mistakes. ... Every experience teaches something. They don't use a weakness or a setback to distrust themselves. ... The question is not whether or not they won this round, but what do they do with the feedback. ... [They] find it irresistible to try, fail, improve; they try again, fail again, and get even better." (Emphasis added.)

Although these people probably worked more hours a day than most people are willing to, they were not successful because they worked harder than others or even because they knew better than others what to do. They operated out of their passion and commitment to make a difference. They didn't care what others thought. They courted failure as a way to learn what to do better the next time.

What these people have in common is an absence of the negative beliefs that would cause them to fear failure and need acceptance, personal qualities that stop most people. As the authors point out, "They just tolerate the risks, feel the fear, take the brick-bats, learn from failure, and do what matters to them anyway."

Implement What Emerges

You might still be asking, "What is their standard for deciding what to do?" With their vision and commitment as a context, their actions are driven by their answer to the question: What behavior is appropriate to further my passion? They do whatever is appropriate at the moment; that is, their behavior is a function of their vision and commitment, not something copied from others or from a list of "best practices."

They take advantage of what emerges, moment by moment. You see, when you live your passion, you are always looking for how to manifest it in the world. As opportunities emerge, act on them. Some opportunities will prove fruitful; build on them. Some won't; learn from them.

Are You Willing To Do What's Necessary?

Are you starting to get a sense that people who are successful over a long period of time are not like most people? If you really want to be like these people, here are a few tips. Are you committed enough to use them?

  1. Get rid of any negative beliefs and conditionings that impair your confidence, that have you worry about what others think, that have you act to gain "their" approval, and that have you fear failure and rejection.

  • Discover what you are passionate about. A book written by two friends of mine that should be helpful is "The Passion Test," by Janet and Chris Attwood.
  • Have your life be about living your passion and making a contribution to others. Put more of your focus on the journey than on the destination.
  • Learn how to distinguish between reality and how reality "occurs" to you, and then dissolve your occurring. Because events as such have no meaning, they can never cause any feelings, including fear, the biggest roadblock to taking action. So learning how to dissolve your "occurring" (the meaning you are giving events in reality) and deal only with unvarnished reality will enable you to banish fear from your life. (Click here for more details on "occurring.")
  • If you do all of this, who knows, you might be featured in the next edition of "Success Built to Last."

    Morty Lefkoe is the creator of The Lefkoe Method, a system for permanently eliminating limiting beliefs. For more information, go to http://recreateyourlife.com/free.

    Copyright © 2011 Morty Lefkoe

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