Navigating Toward Success

Very few of us are born on third base. Generally, most of us have to work hard for what we want and what we get. But unlike insects and animals that are genetically programmed with successful ways to behave, the best ways for us to steer our journeys toward success are not instinctual. We can – and too often do – get it wrong, and that’s why so many of us fail to arrive at our hoped-for destination.

Fortunately, we have the potential to upgrade our abilities, do it better, and adjust our behaviors as necessary to compensate for changing conditions or take advantage of unexpected opportunities.

Here, then, are some suggestions for managing your personal journey toward success in ways that are likely to improve your overall results:

Have Patience

One of the keys to long-term success is a readiness to keep working toward your goal(s). It’s rare that your journey will be either short or easy. More than likely, you will encounter numerous setbacks, unforeseen difficulties, longer-than-anticipated delays, and cumbersome, counter-intuitive processes.

If you succumb to temptation and foolishly quit too early, you’ll almost certainly miss out on opportunities for success in your work and your life that are just one or two more attempts away from paying off.

This is not to say you should always continue down fruitless avenues or endlessly continue with every unproductive strategy. But it does suggest that a willingness to strive over the long haul is an important element of most completed journeys to success.

Recognize What’s Outside Your Control

The world is way too big for you to control everything in it. In fact, the elements you control make up only a tiny portion of everything that’s going on in your work and your life.

Once you understand this, you won’t need much analysis to recognize that most journeys to success involve smart timing, lots of assistance from others, and at least a dash of plain old good luck.

As a result, you can expect to be overwhelmed now and again by developments that – even if you see them coming – are beyond your control.

There is no remedy for this. But because it’s true, you’ll find it helpful to lay your plans and make your decisions with a view toward obtaining a satisfactory outcome in the widest possible range of circumstances.

Don’t Be Selfish

There’s a widely-known saying about being nice to people on your way up, because you are likely to meet them again on your way back down. But even if you never fall back down from your highest level of success, there are benefits to avoiding selfish behavior on your journey.

Aside from the simple fact that you can’t know in advance who will turn out to be most helpful to you as you strive toward success, helping others on their journeys is nearly always its own reward. Generosity and kindness toward others make you feel good and generate positive energy that benefits everyone involved.

Perhaps even more important, caring about and being nice to other people generally lead to opportunities for you to gain new experiences and grow as a person. These are valuable, even if they don’t propel you directly toward what you currently perceive of as success.

Learn from Your Experiences

Although your primary intention may be to accomplish a specific task, project, or goal, the journey toward success offers many other benefits and rewards. Chief among these is the opportunity to learn from your experiences.

Most obviously, what you learn may contribute to your overall portfolio of talents, skills, and knowledge, and thus may increase your ability to accomplish what you are aiming for.

But much of what you learn may also increase your awareness and appreciation of what’s going on around you. Even better, on the basis of what you learn about people, work, and life, you may upgrade your definition of success toward something you’ll feel is more achievable and/or satisfying.

Keep the Big Picture

Working hard toward success tends to narrow your focus and distract you from people, events, and opportunities that are less directly related to your most immediate tasks, projects, and goals.

This narrow focus can limit your everyday enjoyment of all that life has to offer. It may also limit your ability to solve problems and make good choices – both of which improve when you broaden your horizons and practice lateral thinking.

Your journey toward success should include spending time and energy considering the big picture of where you are, what you are trying to accomplish, and various routes to get there. Partway along your journey, you may discover you would benefit from altering your ultimate goal(s). You may also identify some new and better pathway you hadn’t previously seen.

The simple truth is that, through patience, awareness, kindness, learning, and perspective, the person you are at the end of your journey toward success will probably be wiser and better than the person you were when you began.

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