Taking Accountability for Your Success (part 1)

You – and only you – have the ultimate power to shape your world and take control of your own success. It’s very easy to make up excuses for why things may not be the way you want them to be, but consider that this mindset – the victim mindset – is a self-perpetuating killer of dreams that operates in a vicious circle and downward spiral.

In sports, people don’t expect to be successful unless they train for athletic success. A lot of time and energy are dedicated to improving and enhancing performance and this improvement comes over time, not as a spontaneous burst. To observers, the success may seem to come very easily but to the athlete in training, only they know how much hard work they had to put in to further developing their skills; only they know the investment they had to make in themselves in order for this growth and development to occur, for the improvement and success to come. And the really wise athletes know that success is always a result of a number of factors, including discipline, training, coaching, compromise, and support from others who are cheering them on.

In academics, we train for success by attending formal education classes, taking continuing education courses, studying for tests and exams, and even take special courses to help us excel in our academic work. Of course there is a small proportion of people who are just naturally brilliant and never have to work hard to achieve academic success, but the majority of people don’t fit into this category and they must commit themselves to working hard and invest time and energy into improving themselves in order to learn new things, and achieve success in their academic pursuits.

If we know from the above two scenarios that investing in oneself is a key element to achieving success, why then are so many people skeptical or reluctant to invest in themselves in this way beyond their formal education years? Do people secretly NOT want to succeed? Or is it that they think they have already learned what they need in order to achieve continual success for any chosen goal? You can never invest enough in your own personal development and success; and successful people are as open-minded as possible to investing in their own success by having a journey of lifelong learning for personal development.

Investing in yourself can take many forms. Aside from the obvious financial investment, there are many other important ways to invest in yourself that don’t involve an exchange of money. In order to be the best you possible, you have to nurture all aspects of your “genuine” self to develop in a well-rounded way. Engaging in regular physical activity helps nurture the body. Making time daily or weekly for a period of reflection or meditation can help clear the mind and clear away your stress. Actively learning something new helps to keep your mind sharp. Cooking a healthy meal can be both therapeutic and nutritionally beneficial. Spending quality time with family and friends can be uplifting. Make sure to look and think of your “self” as a complete whole and try not to nurture one side of yourself at the expense of another. Try to nurture all sides of your “self” in as balanced a way as possible.

As humans, we sometimes sink into moments of sadness, denial, and even depression. There may be elements of ourselves that we do not like so we consciously or unconsciously employ defense mechanisms to cope. For example, we try and mask the things we don’t like by neglecting them altogether or pretending that these things do not exist. We try and convince ourselves that if we don’t acknowledge these things, they will just go away or disappear on their own. When we do this, we are just fooling ourselves but the really sad part is that we are causing self-damage in the process. It’s only by confronting and accepting our genuine selves that we start to understand what we need to do and how to be in order to achieve the success and happiness we crave.

Many years ago when I was in the early days of my professional life, a mentor of mine had a model on how to look at life. He suggested our lives could be viewed as an equilateral triangle, with all sides of the triangle being the same length and all internal angles being 60 degrees. One side of the triangle represented our health. Another side of the triangle represented our public and professional selves. And the third side of the triangle represented our personal and private lives. The challenge in life was to maintain a balance among all three of these aspects so that the lengths and angles stayed the same. If any one aspect was suffering, the triangle would no longer be equilateral and one of the sides would change dimensions. To get to a positive place again, we had to take some form of action targeting the side that was off-kilter in order to get the triangle to become equilateral again. I still employ this model today and use it as an internal measure to gauge how balanced my life is instead of making excuses for why something is going wrong or why I’m not achieving the results I want. (to be continued…)

If you would like to share your leadership story with us, please email us at inquiry@coachingleaderstosuccess.com ensuring to add the words “my leadership story” in the subject line.