The Secret of My Success

By Ed O'Reilly on 20 December 2007 (Updated 10 May 2009) 11 comments
Photo: Success

Why is it that a few people “get all the breaks” while most seem to be starring in their own version of “Groundhog Day” for the better part of their lives: renting themselves out by the hour, everyday, for enough to pay the bills, buy a few distractions from the dull throb of frustration and spend their time away from work trying to forget what they did all day?

Karma? Luck? A silver spoon? The hand they’re dealt?

I’ve written about the vanity underlying the messages in "The Secret" as well as the vacuum of materialism . Here, though, I want to present some basic steps that anyone can follow to realize their own definition of success.

When I was little, my dad was always saying things like, “A winner never quits and a quitter never wins,” and he would often quote Robert Schuller:

When faced with a mountain, I will not quit
I'll keep on striving until I climb over,
Find a path through, tunnel underneath,
Or simply stay and turn my mountain into a gold mine.
I will not quit.

As a child I didn’t grasp the enormity of these simple passages; but as an adult having to constantly adjust to change, I now realize that there are some not-so-secret ideas that are the keys to true success:

Know Exactly What You Want

Ask most people, “What do you really want in life?” (and I do this often), the answers are generally vague and what I’d call “safe”: “I want to be happy”, “I want a lot of money” or “I just get through the day.”

But what is happiness? How much is a lot of money? After you “get through the day” for enough years ... then what? Few are very specific to confidently assert exactly what is their driving passion. When I finally sat down to do this, it was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated and, to be honest, I’m always refining.

So, for example, you want a beautiful house. What kind of house is it? What color is it? How many levels does it have? Corner house or middle of the block? Carpeting or hardwood?

Bottom Line: Knowing exactly what you want is the only way to actually get it. Be specific.

Make the Plan and Write It Down

How will you get what you want in life? Whether it’s material comfort, a mate or true enlightenment you’ll need a map for getting from where you are now to where you want to be. It may seem obvious after you read it, but many people never take control of their own fate: they wait for someone to reward them with approval and recognition or, sometimes, with money.

Part of the map to reaching your goals is to do what you do best. Think back over time, make a list and don’t skip over the things that you think might be insignificant; what’s unique about you might be the key to your personal treasure.

Bottom Line: Journal what you want, including how and when you will achieve it. Write in the first-person present tense and use positive language.

 

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Form the Group

Do you sometimes feel like the same person keeps appearing in various incarnations throughout your life, moving on from one relationship (friend, family, coworker, etc.) only to find that the next one seems like déjà vu all over again?

The people you associate with – particularly those closest to you – are, essentially, reflections of how you see yourself (and vice versa). When you are determined to achieve a goal you’ve set for yourself, you naturally tend to associate with people who will help you achieve this goal.

Keep in mind that the people you attract depends on your goal, and if your goal is one that is negative (i.e. harmful to yourself or others), so will be your associations.

Bottom Line: The people you choose – and who choose you – will be your Mastermind Group. You will collaborate on achieving common goals, sharing mutual desire and support.

Keep the Faith

I read about a guy who left his home in the Midwest to seek fame in Hollywood. He got work as a limo driver, a mover and the guy in a chicken suit who handed out flyers on the street for a restaurant. Undeterred by these jobs that were unrelated to his goal, he remained persistent in his desire to become an actor. He could have given up because the competition was too great or that he didn’t find fame and fortune right away.

So I wonder what Brad Pitt thinks about now when he remembers his beginnings.

Whatever you tell yourself about yourself is true; you are what you think you are, and life has given you what you’ve asked for. If you’re not satisfied with it, follow these steps to reach a new goal. And believe you will achieve it.

Bottom Line: The faith you have in yourself, and a strong degree of persistence, can determine when (or if) you reach your goal (see above quote from Dr. Schuller).

Some things to keep in mind as you are now on the road to success:

  • Don’t wait for the “right time” to start; the right time is now;
  • There will always be competition;
  • There will be failure, but they are merely temporary setbacks. You are still moving forward because you are persistent;
  • Some people might tell you, “You’ll never make it.” When you look back, you’ll see that those people are still exactly where you last saw them.

Reach for the stars; you just might get the moon.

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Guest's picture
Naomi

I've been reading several things about the Law of Attraction lately and am working my way through Think and Grow Rich right now. While they are both mainly focused on material gains, I think a lot can be applied to success in life in general once you look past the hype. In love, relationships, having a fulfilling career, etc.

Anyhow, what I really think it all boils down to is attitude. Some people just stay stuck and other people look for new opportunities and take risks without giving up. So many people say, "Oh, I'm so unhappy with my job" or whatever it is, but don't do anything to change it because they feel scared or unmotivated, or whatever. Of course you get stuck in the same situation with that kind of attitude.

You never know what may happen unless you take the plunge. You just might be successful. And if the worst thing that happens is failure, it's not the worst thing in the world. You just learn from it and try something else.

Guest's picture
Naomi

I've been reading several things about the Law of Attraction lately and am working my way through Think and Grow Rich right now. While they are both mainly focused on material gains, I think a lot can be applied to success in life in general once you look past the hype. In love, relationships, having a fulfilling career, etc.

Anyhow, what I really think it all boils down to is attitude. Some people just stay stuck and other people look for new opportunities and take risks without giving up. So many people say, "Oh, I'm so unhappy with my job" or whatever it is, but don't do anything to change it because they feel scared or unmotivated, or whatever. Of course you get stuck in the same situation with that kind of attitude.

You never know what may happen unless you take the plunge. You just might be successful. And if the worst thing that happens is failure, it's not the worst thing in the world. You just learn from it and try something else.

Guest's picture
Naomi

I've been reading several things about the Law of Attraction lately and am working my way through Think and Grow Rich right now. While they are both mainly focused on material gains, I think a lot can be applied to success in life in general once you look past the hype. In love, relationships, having a fulfilling career, etc.

Anyhow, what I really think it all boils down to is attitude. Some people just stay stuck and other people look for new opportunities and take risks without giving up. So many people say, "Oh, I'm so unhappy with my job" or whatever it is, but don't do anything to change it because they feel scared or unmotivated, or whatever. Of course you get stuck in the same situation with that kind of attitude.

You never know what may happen unless you take the plunge. You just might be successful. And if the worst thing that happens is failure, it's not the worst thing in the world. You just learn from it and try something else.

Guest's picture
Naomi

Oops, I didn't mean to comment 3 times. I was having problems with the captcha. Sometimes it shows up and sometimes it doesn't. Sorry guys!

Ed O'Reilly's picture

That's OK :) I appreciate your comments and I agree: the phenomenal popularity of some of the current best-selling books, CDs, DVDs and eBooks says something about the current zeitgeist, addressing what many people seem to think is important: making more money with less effort. But how will they attain it, when do they know they have enough and what will they do after they spend it?

Money and material gain only have meaning that people assign to it; it's not necessarily a measure of success. Real success is more about finding out what's important to you and going for it. Money can buy some things, but it isn't really a substitute for a sense of self-worth.

Guest's picture
Winston

I read about a study once that I found very interesting. I can't find a link right now but it went something like this: The participants were asked if they considered themselves a lucky person or an unlucky person. Then they were given a task: count all the photos in today's newspaper. But the newspapers supplied were specially prepared and had a full-page "ad" on page 3 that said in huge letters, "Stop counting now. There are 45 photos." For the most part, people who identified themselves as having "good luck" spotted this and stopped counting, while the people who identified themselves as having "bad luck" didn't. The conclusion was that "good luck" has a lot to do with always watching for opportunities that come your way.

Guest's picture
Winston

I read about a study once that I found very interesting. I can't find a link right now but it went something like this: The participants were asked if they considered themselves a lucky person or an unlucky person. Then they were given a task: count all the photos in today's newspaper. But the newspapers supplied were specially prepared and had a full-page "ad" on page 3 that said in huge letters, "Stop counting now. There are 45 photos." For the most part, people who identified themselves as having "good luck" spotted this and stopped counting, while the people who identified themselves as having "bad luck" didn't. The conclusion was that "good luck" has a lot to do with always watching for opportunities that come your way.

Guest's picture
Winston

The commenting/captcha system is doing some strange things.

Guest's picture
ryan

i would just like to commend you on this article. it is excellent. i dont believe in the gimmick of the secret. i think it is just a nice story to tell people that might motivate them to get off their butt and be/act positive in the direction they want their life to go.

the action/thoughts do not attract success in my opinion. no action causes no success. any positive thought or action thus increases your chances of success.

but nonetheless, a very insightful article. i try to live by the same mantras.

one i particularly use “It has to start some place, it has to start some time. What better place than here, what better time than now?”

and then i just get up and start whatever i need to.

Guest's picture
Pleasantly Surprised

I am currently learning a powerful lesson: I was never able to bring myself to even answer all those supposed thought-provoking questions, like 'what are your goals?', or 'where do you want to be in x years?'. I was always afraid to limit or jinx myself by my answer (a committmentphobe?!). About 10 days ago I decided in exasperation to just come up with MY OWN money to go back to school, despite raising a child on my own after divorce (and no, apparently I don't qualify for all kinds of assistance!). I have opened my eyes each day to any legal opportunity I can see to make extra money over the next 6 months, and found, to my surprise, that I am applying for jobs I never deemed myself worthy of even applying for before - and being offered them!! Fear of rejection is no longer an issue: it's not personal. And every day brings me fresh energy to get up and try again until my 6 months of saving are up (for now). Best thing the Hope-in-Hell-Scholarship application did for me was to turn me down! After 6 months, who knows, maybe I'll decide to be an entrepreneur or investor, rather than a student. Hmmm.

Guest's picture
fn

I'm a big believer in writing down goals, especially financial ones.

It gives a visual map to a seamingly unrealistic dream. If I hadn't written down the net worth I wanted us to achieve each year, I wouldn't have had the staying power to get where we are today.