Choosing to Succeed (Part 1 of 4)
How many times have you heard that success is a choice? We all have, and success is a choice, but if we don’t know what to do, how can we choose?
Choice – The Foundation of Achievement
Achievement is simply the result of doing the “right things” consistently over a sustained period of time. Doing the “right things” is a direct result of your personal choice. Your future is built on the choices you make, day by day, moment by moment.
It is a natural, human tendency to disregard the importance of your everyday choices. I think we minimize the importance of our choices because the consequences of those choices are delayed.
We do not experience immediate results from most of our choices. If we did, we certainly would be more selective with our choices!
Instead, we are free to make a bad or ineffective choice and feel no immediate impact, leaving us with the impression that no harm has been done.
We have all watched superstar athletes at the heights of their careers, on top of the world, suddenly make a very bad choice that later brings down everything they have worked for. We ask, “Why did they do that?”
The answer is simple: They thought they could get away with it. All of us would make better decisions if there were immediate consequences to our choices.
For example, if you immediately gained 50 pounds every time you ate a single bowl of ice cream, you would never eat another bowl of ice cream again. What’s more, ice cream companies would be out of business by tomorrow morning!
But that is not the way it works.
Here is the reality:
You eat a bowl of ice cream and nothing happens immediately. Ice cream tastes good, so you decide to eat two bowls tomorrow, three the next day, and so on. Six months later you step onto the scales and find that you have gained 50 pounds. Your response is, “Why have I gained 50 pounds? I’m shocked!”
The 50 pounds came from your daily choices about ice cream. The consequences of bad choices accumulated gradually without your noticing it. You can, of course, choose to stop eating ice cream daily, and in six months, lose the extra 50 pounds.
This is an exaggerated example of how choice is directly related to long-term results and you should never be shocked with your results because you are in complete control. You are not a victim. The quality of your life is all about your choices.
Every day you make thousands of choices. You enjoy the freedom to choose your thoughts, perspectives, actions, and associations. However, each choice you make in life has a consequence. So, by filling your days with effective choices, you build a future of beneficial consequences. What that means is this: The quality of your choices will determine the quality of your life.
The Achievement System
The foundation of any system of achievement is learning to make effective, daily choices. Surprisingly, this is a unique ability. We do not naturally possess the capacity of making consistent, effective choices! Why?
Before we answer that question, it is necessary to understand what effective choice is. Effective choice is defined as those choices that directly relate to your immediate goals.
For instance, if we continue with the ice cream example previously used, the choice of eating too much ice cream simply because it tastes good is an instinctive, ineffective choice if health and weight control is your goal.
However, the choice of limiting the excessive intake of calories from ice cream is an effective choice directly related to the goal of maximizing your health. Therefore, effective choices are goal-directed choices, not instinctive choices.
Now, back to the question first posed: Why do we NOT naturally possess the capacity to make consistent effective choices related to our achievement?
The answer is both simple and complex.
Your natural, human instincts have one goal for you: your safety. Your instincts really do not care about your goals, only about your safety and comfort. When you manage your daily activities from your natural, human instincts, your response will always be in favor of keeping you where you are. It’s natural to stay right where you are. Your brain interprets sameness or status-quo as security.
In short, your instincts are fighting AGAINST your achievement because achievement always involves CHANGE and growth, both of which are CONTRARY to sameness.
This means that you are undermining your own success and achievement naturally!
To achieve, you must first learn to intentionally manage your process of making effective choices, and that process must be systematic rather than instinctive.
This works because a systems approach to achievement bypasses your natural instincts.
Read that a few times to let the words digest.
I have worked with clients who have spent their entire lives managing achievement instinctively with sporadic results. On the other hand, I have watched overwhelming results from leaders who manage by a proven system of achievement.
My ultimate purpose is to help you understand and implement a proven system of achievement. That system begins with learning to make effective choices now, and every day. Effective choices lead to effective actions, which in turn lead to beneficial results.
If you understand this system, you can learn how to achieve!
Results can be directly traced back to a point of origin: your choices! Choice builds the foundation of your future achievement. Your first step toward achievement is learning to make effective choices on a consistent, daily basis. If there is such a thing as a secret to achievement, a significant part of that secret is being aware of the power of your choices and learning to choose effectively!
Qualifying factors of achievement
Sustained achievement usually depends upon certain qualifying factors. The following is a list of four qualifying factors, along with a question for each.
By answering each of the following questions, you can determine if you have the underlying, emotional foundation for sustained achievement.
1) Commitment to a goal — Do I have a burning desire to achieve something specific?
2) Courage to persevere — Am I willing to follow a system in developing an enhanced level of emotional courage?
3) Open-mindedness — Am I willing to be coached without being defensive?
4) Accountable for your actions — Will I choose to be accountable for my effective actions?
Looking at these qualifying factors, it is important to know this principle: There can be no achievement without these characteristics or without a willingness to develop these characteristics.
You are your own boss
I have invested over 30 years of my life in working with people in leadership positions. From my work, I have discovered that leadership skills are necessary for everyone and are not exclusively reserved for those who have been appointed to leadership positions.
The reality is that you are the CEO of your life!
You are responsible for your results. No one else can make the choices that you must make for your life. Your life today represents the cumulative impact of the choices you have made, and your future will represent the sum of your choices from today forward.
You cannot change the past, but you can dramatically impact your future.
Except in extreme cases, circumstances have played a very small role in your current life position. I know this is a hard concept for some to accept, but I have found it to be true.
The truth is that culture, environment, and circumstances can dictate your future, but only if you choose to allow it. It is still your choice!
Some believe that if circumstances were perfect, they would be able to achieve. Others wait for the right circumstances to come along. My experience with high achievers proves the opposite. High achievers have difficult circumstances, just like everyone else, but they consistently respond with positive actions rather than negative beliefs.
It is your choice to become a victim of your circumstances or to respond to your circumstances with effective actions. History is filled with stories of those who have overcome unimaginable circumstances simply by choosing to do so. Regardless of your current position in life, your future will always be determined by the quality of your choices.
If you would like to read more about this topic, click here to order The Language of Achievement.
David Byrd is an author, coach, consultant, and a developer of personal growth behaviors in pursuit of Achievement. Founder and CEO of David Byrd Consulting, LLC, he is a master of effective leadership and works closely with leaders and their organizations worldwide utilizing a system of personal management and achievement called the Next Level Achievement System™. He is a best-selling author with four published books, a sought after speaker, and leadership development consultant.
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