Gear Up for Success – Part 2

As I wrote last time, in a perfect world, you’d get all the success you deserve without any struggle. You’d do your thing. The world would reward you commensurately. Tomorrow you’d wake up and do more of the same.

But it happens we’re in a world where obstacles abound, where a great many successes require more than natural talent and acquired skills. So in addition to being good at whatever it is you want to do, it’s helpful to acquire a toolkit of coping mechanisms and positive attitudes that will aid and support your natural talent and acquired skills as you make progress toward the goals you’ve set for your work and your life.

Here are a few of the more important ones:

Look Forward

Just as “sunk costs” should not dictate current or future decisions, the past should not unduly influence who you are or will become.

It’s important to learn from the past. It‘s important to remember past mistakes so you don’t make them again. But it’s even more important to direct your talents and energies toward what’s happening now and what you can make happen more favorably in the future.

Learn and Grow

Everything you do presents an opportunity to get better. The more of these opportunities you take, the more you will enhance your natural talents and acquired skills.

You can maximize your learning and growth by reflecting on each task when you’re done with it. You benefit by asking and answering these three questions:

  • What did you do right?
  • What did you do wrong?
  • What can you do better next time?

Avoid Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude is the perverse pleasure one gets from other people’s troubles. This is a very unproductive and mean-spirited attitude that adds nothing to your own ability to produce or succeed.

It’s far better to open yourself to participating in the pleasure that other people sometimes feel, and also to recognize that other people’s joys and successes are sign-posts that such wonderful experiences are available for you, too.


Some people succeed on the very first try. But that’s rare. Most of us have to practice, and try, and then practice some more and try again. It often takes great persistence to complete the task or accomplish the goal we’re attempting.

The good news is that in many situations you can try as many times as you want. What’s important is not how many times you fail, but how many times you rebound from failure and try again. If you don’t ever give up, in a real sense you never fail.

Friend Yourself

You have many fine qualities, and other people whom you like and admire feel the same way about you. If you’re not sure about this, just ask them.

This is why you should make an effort to know and like yourself, if you don’t already, and get comfortable spending time alone to reflect on past experiences, plan new experiences, and concentrate on tasks you feel are important without having to fight off the usual interruptions.

By learning to friend yourself, you’ll find powerful and helpful emotional resources within yourself that you might not discover if you don’t take the time to look.

Reduce Your Entitlement

Another of the imperfections in this world is that you generally need to work for what you want. Accomplishments, success, and rewards rarely produce themselves. If you wait to be handed what you want, you’ll probably wait a lot longer than if you buckle down and apply your natural talents and acquired skills to earn it.

Stretch Your Time Horizon

Children want candy now. City planners are working to improve the built environment decades in the future. This shows that some results can come fairly quickly, while some take a much longer time.

In general, the farther out you are looking, planning, and working, the more likely you’ll find the right way to set things up and do the work needed to produce the results you seek.

What’s more, by stretching your time horizon to look, plan, and work for results in a more distant future, you give yourself more time to make course corrections and repair any problems that come up along the way.

In this post and my previous post, I’ve covered some effective coping mechanisms and positive attitudes to help you make progress toward your own definition of success. Feel free to let me know how well they are working for you, and what other information I can offer to further your level of productivity and success.

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