Why aren't YOU more successful?

Little Johny knew he'd risked all and become 'king of the beach'

Are you earning enough money? Do you have a job you love? Do you skip to work every day, racing to your desk and relish everything the coming day will throw at you?

Are you set for your retirement?

Do you have any idea how much money you are going to need once you have retired? Assuming you retire around 60 – 65, you’ll need to fund your lifestyle for another 20 YEARS, if you’re lucky.

I can hear the answer. ‘No’. You’re saying. ‘No I’m not earning what I’m worth, much less what I’d like to earn’. ‘I’m unhappy and unfulfilled in my job.’ might be your usual refrain.

I don’t believe you.

The difficult truth of the matter

I think you’re perfectly happy in the rut you’re in. In the job you’re in, and the trajectory you are currently following.

Let me put it another way. I don’t see any evidence that your unhappy, because I don’t see you doing anything about it! You come in everyday, apart from the odd sicky, and ‘phone’ another shift in. Your main objective is to get to the end of the day to that glass of wine. Your focus is to get to the end of another week so that you can relax and do the things you really like to do.

Want that promotion, that other job your company has that’s vacant right now. Or maybe your ambition is to change jobs, your current employers don’t recognise your talent, they don’t reward you for all your ‘hard’ work. One day, just when they’ll least expect it, you’ll be off. You’ll show them! You’ll get an amazing job doing… something. Something better than the one you’re doing now anyway. More money, more respect, more fulfilment.

Or you’ll finally take that plunge and start-up your own business. No more working for someone else’s benefit. No more piling profits into the company bank account, you’ll work for yourself, for you and your family, for the future and the future of your kids.

Or maybe you’re going to write that book. Or start a blog. Or take up painting. Or sculpture, or running, or going to the gym. Lose weight, give up smoking or whatever. There are so many things you ‘want’ to do.

I don’t believe you. Or at least I don’t see any evidence that these are the things you want out of life. Your life. The only one you have. The single most precious thing you have.

The motivation gap

Let’s be clear here. I really do believe you want these things. I don’t believe you want them enough. Otherwise you’d be doing something about it. Think about it. When you have to, when the motivation is there, you have surprised yourself with just what you have been able to achieve. You learned to drive, despite being terrified of being in traffic. You passed those exams, despite feeling the course was beyond you half the time. You got that job, the one you never thought you’d get. You got that boy friend or girl friend the one who was way out of your league. There are occasional flashes of your brilliance that you can recall, when you really think about it, and that gives you the genuine conviction that you can do this stuff. If only…

Somethings holding you back. Something is stopping you taking the bull by the horns and getting what you want. What you deserve in fact. Unfortunately that something is you.

More accurately, it’s probably one of two things. Fear of failure. Or worse, fear of success.

The number one reason for a failing in sales is lack of commitment 

Fear of failure: Becoming so scared of not achieving what you are setting out to do you become paralysed. Rather than just ‘doing’, you hold back, waiting for the conditions to be perfect. If you don’t commit, you can’t fail. You may even publicly commit, but if you don’t really commit in your heart of hearts, you can’t be ‘hurt’ by the failure.

Fear of success: A bit more complicated this one. The realisation that you might be as good as you think you are, and then having to adjust your expectations to the new, scary level. Not only your expectations, everyone else’s expectations too. Do well against target, really smash it, and what happens? Your target will go up! And then where will you be?

It very much easier to stick to the status quo isn’t it?

Just do it – Nike

Exactly what are you afraid of? Really think about it. Whats so bad about trying and not succeeding? Embarrassment? Do you know anyone that really cares? Theres’s a billion chinese people who don’t even know you even exist!

Well you’ll know, right?

What difference would it make if you tried and failed? Is it going to make you any less of a good person? Does it make you suddenly different on a molecular level? No, of course not. You’ll still be the same as you were, but better off, having failed, and learned something from the experience.

There’s a famous expression I read somewhere that sums it up: Fail, fail again and fail better. Or fail, and fail fast, so you can extricate yourself from the situation and revisit the solution before it becomes irretrievable. If you don’t at least try, you’ll never ever know what you could achieve.

I’m not sure I could live with that.

Do or do not do, there is no try – Yoda

And why are you worried about what might happen if you do succeed? Do you have a time machine? Can you go back to re-do your mistakes, or travel forward to head off potential problems. Of course not. Stay in the present. Its your only real choice.

The Buddhists teach that all pain is illusion brought on by desire. If you desire nothing, then you feel no pain. Everyone else needs to settle for the fact its going to hurt. You’ll try, you’ll fail, it’ll hurt. You try again, and guess what. This time you win! Then you try some more, you win some you lose some.

All the time you learn and get better. In truth, the only thing you need to care about is getting better. Get out of the results and into the process. It’s about learning and improving and getting better. Thats all there is.

Be everything you can be, by exploring everything there is to learn. Try it. Give it everything. Don’t hold back. No one lies in their death-bed wishing they’d tried less hard?

Push through the ‘flinch’. That reaction to danger. The fight or flight reflex. In his great book actually called ‘The Flinch’, Julien Smith argues that life is now so safe, in comparison to say, cave man times, our fight or flight reflex is all out of whack. It prevents us from doing every day things we have no right to fear.

Julien argues that you should feel the fear and do it anyway. The more you do it, the more you are able to do it. Becoming desensitised to your flinch, freeing yourself to take on more and bigger challenges.

What do you think? Is there a way you know of to set aside the fear? What tricks have helped you get where you are, and where you are going?

Leave a comment below, or tweet me on @radiojaja, I’d love to hear from you!

  1. Jane Ashley
    Jane Ashley says:

    Sometimes we don’t succeed because we let petty distractions take over. We get so busy with “busy work” that we don’t actually work.

  2. Clair Worsfold
    Clair Worsfold says:

    Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t…..you are right. So said Henry Ford and it’s the best quotation I ever heard. You choose your attitude at every second of every day so reach for the moon, what is the worst thing that can happen, you miss and end up in the stars (or should that be the other way round? 🙂 Speak to at least 20 people every day, belly button to belly button and ask somebody to buy from you, chances are one of them will. This is so true, if you don’t like what you are doing then change it and make something good happen. There are people who make things happen, people who watch things happen and people who wonder what happened – be the first if you want to change your life. The only person completely on your side is you.

  3. Wild Bill
    Wild Bill says:

    I’ve been blogging everyday, I’ve lost 28.8 lbs in 2 months, I’m starting a 60 day workout program tomorrow, I’ve went from $320 sales average to $722 last month. Why? Because I wake up early everyday now and choose to have a terrific day. I have my goals on my mirror and I look at and live them everyday. I’m making things happen and its showing.

    I’m here to tell you Tony is right. You gotta put up or shut up. Thanks for the kick in the a$$ Tony. Everyday I am getting better and better.

  4. craig wilson
    craig wilson says:

    Tony,
    One of the best books I have read is by a gent called Geoff Thompson called ‘Fear, the friend of exceptional people’, I used to have a major fear of public speaking i.e. presentations and I guess many of us do even though its part and parcel of the profession i’m in, Geoff’s approach is to seek out what you fear and desensitise yourself to it, and it works, he creates a tool called the fear pyramid which you build for yourself and slowly work from your least fears to your greatest, in the end you realise the only way to progress is to continually expand your comfort zone. He himself had a fear of confrontation, he ultimately was able to overcome this by becoming a doorman in Coventry (not for everyone!!). His book ‘Watch my Back’ is good too and is his life story, I met him in Edinburgh once and a humbler man you couldn’t meet.

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Hi Craig, one of the ideas in the ‘Flinch’ book is about desensitising yourself to your fears but exposure. It doesn’t seem terribly subtle, but clearly works! thanks for taking the time to comment