And Your Reason Is?


This article is the second part in my success formula series. It is true, I really do have a formula for success and I have given it to you for free at the end of the article. Creating a formula is easy of course – following it to completion is the real challenge.

The first element in the formula is reason and I am going to encourage you to look at your reason for wanting success in the first place.

Why do you want to be successful?

It seems like an innocent enough question does it not? Almost a pointless question. I mean, really, who does not want success?

Everything in life takes energy. You cannot escape this fact. Whenever you do or think anything or engage in any interaction with the world around you, there is an exchange of energy involved.

You must take energy in to exchange for the bodily and mental essentials you need as a human and there is only so much to go around for the additional things you like to have in your lives.

Achieving success in any significant endeavour takes a lot of work and achieving the type of comprehensive success most people seek in all areas of their lives, takes a huge amount of energy applied over time. You can do it, but you will need to make sacrifices. You must focus your energy and use it primarily for the essential elements you need to achieve your successful outcome.

You need something to drive you toward your success. You need a fuel to power that drive. You cannot run a car for long without fuel, can you? You cannot survive for long as a human without food or water, can you?

Your reason for achieving success is your fuel. Your reason must be compelling enough to make you give up the nice to haves and expend your valuable energy on your success essentials. If your reason is not compelling enough your resolve will fizzle out and die. Your plan will fail.

The first step in planning for a successful outcome is to determine exactly why you are doing it in the first place.

There are two types of driver: Extrinsic and intrinsic.

External or extrinsic drivers, offering such rewards as money, fame or possessions, can be good drivers for some people but, as history has demonstrated time and again, even if they are achieved these things do not always provide the happiness or contentment which was sought. Many times, the external rewards do not prove healthy as drivers of success. Someone else always has more money, more fame or more possessions so there is no real end to it. Even if they do relatively well, compared to others, these externally driven types eventually burn out and give up. They often feel discontented and bitter. They sometimes ruin their health and emotional lives. Life is too short to waste.

Internal or intrinsic rewards tend to be far more powerful and effective drivers for success. An intrinsic driver might be as simple as feeling personally satisfied for doing a task well regardless of any thanks or monetary gain. In my experience, the most powerful intrinsic drivers are those which involve achieving success so other people benefit.

Perhaps an example might help clarify things further.

Consider which of the following two success drivers might make a middle aged, overweight and out of condition businessman start to eat a healthy diet, get fit again and then stay fit for as long as possible.

Driver 1: He wants to look good on the beach, impress others and fit into more stylish business clothing to help his career?

Driver 2: He wants to be able to play more sports and games with his children and stay healthy to help provide for them and help them as they grow toward their own middle age.

Which option would be most effective for him? Which option would drive you most effectively?

The cost of gaining extrinsic rewards is often high. If you are driven by such extrinsic rewards you might want to dig a bit deeper and see if you can find more intrinsic reasons for wanting success.

If you would like to dig deeper into what drives people, you might like to try the following books:

“Start with Why” by Simon Sinek.

“Drive” by Daniel H. Pink

I can recommend them both.

As promised, here is my formula for success – enjoy.

Success = Reason + Goal + Measure + Strategy + Knowledge + Action + Work + Feedback + Focus + Support + Attitude + Belief + X

The reason most people do not like my formula because it has a lot of component factors and it generally takes a lot of time and work to achieve real success. Many see it as old-fashioned. Nowadays, most people seem to be seeking short-cut quick-fix answers. There are plenty of guru types out there willing to supply such answers, and for a hefty fee, but their clients almost always end up disappointed and disillusioned.

My formula is indeed old-fashioned, but it has been proven to work again and again when people are prepared to do the hard yards.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. Keep an eye out for the rest of the series. Why not click on the “follow” button and subscribe to the blog to get a reminder?


The Success Formula


I have a formula for success.

It is true, I really do have a formula for success and, what is more, I am going to give it away to you today for free.

“Why would you give away a formula for success?” I hear you cry. “Won’t everyone muscle in on your territory once they have the secret?”

The answer is a resounding no and I am on safe ground when I say this. There is lots of room for the success of others. Some people will be successful and happy in their lives, but the fact is most people will not be successful. People will respond in many ways to this lack of success. Some people will not really care one way or another. Some people will chase one type of success and find it was not what they really wanted or needed. Some people will keep trying for success anyway and simply enjoy the adventure. Some people will try then fail then blame others for their lack of success and live lives full of anger, bitterness and regret. Unfortunately, there are more failure versions than success versions. There are no real guarantees in life.

The big problem for most people when they learn of such a formula for success is the overall amount of work which is required to solve it. Many people already know the formula or one very much like it. They may have tried and failed already. Many people give up their trial too soon. They lack the necessary elements needed to achieve success in one or more or even all of factors in the equation, but they are either unwilling or unable to address the deficit. I do not judge people of course, I merely speak from experience. I have my own life to lead and, whilst I can consider other people’s perspectives, the only one I can be truly confident and honest about is my own.

We all have a path in life. A great question to ask yourself is, “Where do I stand on my path?”

Here then is my formula for success. 12 named factors plus the mysterious factor X. Revel in its glory for a minute or two then I will explain a little further.

Success = Reason + Goal + Measure + Strategy + Knowledge + Action + Work + Feedback + Focus + Support + Attitude + Belief + X

Now, I said I had a formula for success not THE formula. There are others out there. Perhaps there are in fact no genuine formulas? This one might not work for you at all – I offered no guarantees. It is, however, correct for me, which is what ultimately counts.

I do believe it will give you a solid starting point. These are battle-proven elements of success which have been tested and refined over the ages. I have even included the mystery term X which you can use to include any other elements to make your formula special to you. For me, the term X represents fun. I like fun in my life and, for me, nothing is a true success without some fun being included in the mix.

I am planning to run a series of articles to usefully expand on the various terms in the formula and why I have deliberately chosen not to include some terms which other people feel are essential. I hope you will enjoy them and gain some benefit from them.

Until next time.

Who’s Watching You?

I recently installed a windscreen mounted camera in my car. You know, just in case there’s an incident I have some video backup.

Here’s my big caveat. I’m a big believer in anti-censorship. Despite recently publicised requests, by various public organisations, I’m not about to take any footage and submit it to authorities to then have them penalise what I consider to be the bad driving of others. It’s my subjective opinion only and it’s the thin end of a very fat wedge. I might deplore stupid behaviour by others but I must acknowledge their right to do it; behaving stupidly is their choice after all. Actual accident evidence is all I am interested in.

I tell a lie. Being only human, I might well keep and distribute video of meteor showers, unicorns, space ships, rainbows, ghosts, etc…

So, all that said, the first time I went out in the car with the camera fitted I noticed something very strange.

I noticed my own driving had improved significantly. Now I’m obviously a world-class driver and significantly above average (as we all are I’m sure) so I don’t mean the actual driving technicalities improved but I noticed I was being much more polite and courteous than normal. As I’m being totally honest here, I was also following road signage to the letter and being extra careful with my speed too.

A curious occurrence indeed and one which demanded some reflection and deeper analysis.

I examined quite a few scenarios and finally realised the answer.

Subconsciously, I’d taken on board the fact that if I had a camera watching other people drive, it stood to reason that other people might have cameras watching my driving.

In effect, I was asking myself how my driving would look to others. Would I be embarrassed if I watched the footage of my driving played back to me? Would I be happy if the world were to see the footage?

These are actually very powerful questions. If all drivers were more aware of the camera concept would driving behaviour improve? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I certainly can’t hurt in my opinion.

Interestingly, one can take this “Am I being watched?” question concept further and apply it to other behaviours.

In a conflict situation for example, would you be pleased or appalled if your behaviour and language were to be made available to all? Do you lose your cool far too easily? Do you bully others? Do you fold too easily? Would the fact that you were being watched help you retain your cool adult demeanour and force you to adopt more effective influencing styles? I think it might.

The next time you’re standing in a long supermarket queue, a traffic jam or some other sub-optimal environment, consider how you would look on playback. Would you like a big screen telly showing your behaviour? Try to be more mindful and adopt a patient, more relaxed mindset. The queue won’t move any faster and the situation won’t change any faster but you’ll be in a much better state when it does finally improve. Give it a go.

My driving has remained greatly improved so the camera will stay put for now – for accidents and miracles only of course.


Perfectionism kills success

“Perfection does not exist. To understand this is the triumph of human intelligence; to expect to possess it is the most dangerous kind of madness.” Alfred de Musset

To get good at something you must put some work into it. To become good at being creative you must first create some things. To become a high-quality writer, you first must write something. To become a high-quality musician, you must play. Once started you must keep going so the quality improves. It’s not easy.

Unless you are a legitimate genius who can conjure fully formed high-quality work from thin air then you must acknowledge and accept the fact that success in any field of endeavour takes work. I don’t know about you but I must follow the hard work process.

The more work you put into something will lead to you creating more output. When you learn and grow based on the feedback for each output event your quality will increase. Being prolific coupled with improvement through feedback will eventually lead to success.

For inspiration to keep my productivity high I always think about one of my personal heroes, Mr Bob Dylan. Whether you like his work or not you have to accept that Bob Dylan has produced a colossal body of work. Has the work always hit the mark or met his personal standards? Probably not, but the point is he did it all anyway. In my opinion, he always grew better and more confident as a direct result of his prolific output.

Ira Glass has some wonderful views and advice on the topic and I would urge you to look at this YouTube video: Ira Glass on Creativity.

There is one sure fire killer of creative output and its name is perfection.

When you kill your output you severely, or even terminally, limit your chances of hitting your target.

Are you a perfectionist? Do you try to get things perfect before you release your work to the world? Well, I hate being the bearer of unwelcome news but here it is anyway. There is no such thing as perfect and no such state as perfection. You might as well try and catch smoke with a net. If you are trying to make something perfect you will fail. This post, for example, will never be perfect no matter how much I rewrite it. All I can reasonably do is the best work I can do then get it out there and into the world. I can do no more.

If something once created is not perfect, many people think other people will notice this and either ignore them or, possibly worse, criticise and hate them. This could not be more wrong or self-defeating for the aspiring creator of brilliance, which the poor perfectionist undoubtedly is.

Now, it is only right and proper that people strive to provide the best output they can for the intended recipients of their efforts. Notice that I said, “best output they can” and not “perfect output” because trying to get something perfect is morally laudable but ultimately completely misguided.

Here’s the thing. The perfectionist will never provide their intended recipients with anything at all because they never feel their work is perfect. It’s a vicious circle from which there is no escape. What do they fear? Is it a failure? Is it success perhaps? Do they really expect perfection in others? Do they really believe others expect it of them? There is something blocking them somewhere.

There is a law called “The Law of Diminishing Returns.” This states that beyond a certain point you get less and less improvement in something compared to the amount of effort applied to make that improvement. It will never reach 100% no matter how hard you try. Put more simply, if you get something as good as you reasonably can then more work will make only a slight difference. I’ve tried to illustrate this graphically below.

If you tend toward perfectionism be aware that the things you may see as potential defects and shortcomings won’t even be noticed by your audience. Remember, your audience is not perfect either.

If what you must give or say is valued and valuable; people will value it for its own sake and not because it is worked, edited or polished to near perfection. Pour your passion and love into your work and people will get it, value it and love it likewise.

Make things as good as you can, by any practicable and reasonable measure, then get your work out there. You can always improve it later if you want to. People will give you feedback if you just ask.

I know that I can always edit this article based on feedback but, if it is not being read by anyone because I haven’t published it, then it may as well never have been written at all.

What valuable work are you holding onto because it isn’t “perfect” enough for you?

Be prolific and get your work out there for everyone’s benefit.


Roger Federer gets nervous? Really?

It’s true – I saw and heard him say it in a BBC interview yesterday. Roger Federer gets nerves playing tennis. I mean seriously, the winner of seven Wimbledon men’s singles finals Roger Federer gets nervous playing at Wimbledon. He is Mr Cool. A man who never gets flustered. Who knew?

The good news is there is now hope for us all.

I don’t know about you but I get nervous all the time and I now feel a lot better about that. I sometimes forget I am not alone in having nerves before a high-pressure event or a challenging task. If Roger Federer can get nerves and still be good then so can I. The real trick of course is how to get over the nerves and use them to your advantage. Still, finding out nerves are universal is great news.

The things Roger Federer gets nervous about at Wimbledon are likely completely different to the nerves I might get in the same situation. Standing there on centre court in front of all those people, who by the way are expecting a great playing performance from me, I might well be very nervous about the fact that I have absolutely no clue about playing tennis and no demonstrable skill in any hand/eye co-ordination type sports. The walk onto the court would probably leave me winded. Seriously though, my point is that whatever situation or context generates them the nerves are real and universal. We all must accept them, use them and ultimately overcome them to move on. Once overcome they will be replaced with a whole new set of nerves appropriate to the new level. That’s how it works.

Now I’m not normally a big tennis fan but I do like to watch Wimbledon whenever I get the chance. We get great coverage here in the UK with ample time to observe the players reactions to events and their emotional response to those events. Some appear beaten before they arrive on court and others look like winners right from the off.

It’s fair to say I think that the skill difference and fitness level differences between the top players are slight at best. The real differences, which make some players champions and other players runners-up, are in the mindsets, beliefs and mental resilience levels. These combine with the high skill and fitness levels to take them to the very top of their game.

Wimbledon is a wonderful place to observe the emotional highs and lows. If you are looking to improve your emotional intelligence skills then get watching. What does a player’s body language and self-talk tell you about their chances in that match and in the sport generally?

If you can’t see Wimbledon for whatever reason then check out other sports you like but start to look for more than just technical skill – check out the EI and mental resilience too.

That’s how winning is done

I noticed today (6th July) is Sylvester “Sly” Stallone’s birthday.

Sylvester “Sly” Stallone is an interesting, inspirational and motivating character as both an actor and as a man. I grew up watching his movies. He got started the hard way and he made good. As the Rocky film series screen writer, he built a lot of his own frustrations and struggles in the movie business right into the character Rocky Balboa.

I have quoted below from Rocky VI (delivered to his son in the movie) and I have this quote pinned up on my office wall. I read it often. I know this has been shared many times online but I don’t believe another reminder will do anyone any harm.

We all get times where we doubt ourselves. We all get times when we’re overwhelmed. We all get times when we feel life has gotten the better of us. I personally spent a large portion of my early life wallowing in self-pity and blaming everyone and everything. Luckily for me I met the right people at the right time and I wised up. I took responsibility and I turned my life around. I now pay things forward and help other do the same.

Sylvester Stallone is really talking about mental and emotional resilience which is a subject dear to my heart. The ability to absorb and bounce back from negative experiences. We all have negative experiences. Some people bounce back from them and some don’t. It all comes down to the choices we make and the attitudes and beliefs we have about ourselves and lives. We all need help along the way of course. Knowing these things is only a part of the battle. It is an important part for sure and a great starting point but there are many things to learn and develop on the journey. Becoming emotionally intelligent and mentally resilient is the real challenge in everybody’s life and that’s what my work as a coach is all about – helping people get there.

This speech quote is therefore about a way down deep part of us all. I think it hits a universal emotional core and it is why I read and reread it.

I’ll let the man’s words do the talking now.

“Somewhere along the line things changed – you stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good and when things got hard you started looking for something to blame – like a big shadow.

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.

But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you!

You’re better than that!”


Expensive people issues – ignoring them is costing you real money

Burning money

One of your key managers has become a bit pre-occupied and distant lately. Nothing you can point to directly but something has changed and their performance is not what it was.

It is the small indications you have noticed the most. They eat alone or go out for lunch. They do not make small talk. Laughter has been replaced by silence and occasionally even an out of character snap back.

You do not know why any of this is happening of course because you have not asked them and well, based on your experience with them, they would be unlikely to tell you anything anyway. It is probably a phase and will all blow over in time. Besides you have a business to run and targets to meet. Messy people issues are for HR to deal with.

Most managers will readily acknowledge the all too common scenario above. There are many variants and degrees of severity but essentially the situation boils down to a key worker having some sort of issue and their performance suffering.

Perhaps you are part of a large organisation and the effects are not huge in relation to the rest of the staff. Perhaps the person in question is in a role which impacts few others in the organisation and has no impact on the customer experience. Perhaps.

However, what if you are a smaller business and that person represents a major percentage of your staff? What if they are your key salesperson or an agent who interacts directly with your customers? What if that person manages a key department and the reduced performance and poor attitude filters down? What if that person is you and you are the CEO? What if indeed.

Even if you set aside or forget the basic human right whereby the employee should be helped to feel better on ethical grounds, try applying an actual pounds and pence costing to the results of the poor performance in terms of wasted wages and lost opportunity. Try a modest five or ten percent reduction and factor this into relevant organisational scenarios in your business and you’ll soon see some uncomfortable figures developing. These numbers represent money you are losing which should really be on your bottom line.

In my experience these issues rarely if ever fix themselves. If things worsen for this person you are looking down the barrel of more disruption, stress related illness, sickness and even the employee leaving altogether; potentially with the all too common legal repercussions which can follow.

People who are wrapped up in a personal issue are generally stuck there. They cannot see a way out because everything looks black. If they could see a solution to a superficial problem there would be no issue in the first place, just an exercise in prioritising and resource marshalling.

People who are stuck need a resource outside of themselves to get unstuck. As a good manager, you are duty bound to take positive steps once you know there is an issue. Some managers are great at being this much-needed resource but sadly they are in the minority. Many managers lack the skills and empathy to address the situation properly and, even though they may have the best of intentions, when they take a, “come on chin-up, it’ll be alright” or a “pull yourself together” approach this can often make the situation worse.

Even talking to someone at work at all can be a no-go area for the person with the issue because whether it is a work-related problem or a personal one there are a host of reasons they may not feel comfortable discussing it. They might not want to risk exposing their perceived weakness or failure any further. Their boss may in fact be the cause of the issue. They may fear a lack of confidentiality, even from an internal company coach or counsellor.

What then is the solution when you have someone who is stuck, suffering and costing your organisation money? You cannot simply ignore them and, unless you are a skilled and experienced coach who has the full trust of their staff, you are unlikely to help them effectively yourself. Internal coaching often doesn’t work due either for a variety of reasons already mentioned.

I would recommend a high-quality external coach be brought in or made available. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I may be a little biased here but my bias comes from a place of love. I am a high-quality coach and much of my work centres on this very type of personnel issue. I and other quality coaches provide the mental and emotional space, the deep dive questioning, positively challenging environment and full confidentiality which people need to open up fully and discuss, sometimes for the first time, any and all issues which are holding them back. It can and frequently does work wonders.

When these people get back on track they often bounce back better than ever and the positive ripples can spread far and wide within the organisation. Whichever coach you do choose, make sure the chemistry is right and check that coaching is indeed the best option. A modest outlay in quality coaching at the right time can realise a massive return on your investment and it can add real value to your bottom line.

Don’t ignore those messy people issues. Tackle them early and engage them effectively.

Invest in some high quality external coaching support and you will be amazed.