Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or goal. Whatever our aims are, completion of these gives us a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment and happiness. We all know success is neither easy nor guaranteed, yet we are surprised when our best efforts are not rewarded with the level of success we dreamed of.
Is there a formula to guarantee success?
As it happens, for anything to flourish we must create an environment for it. For instance if we wish to grow a plant, we need to provide it a combination of sun, air, water and soil, or else the plant will perish.
Looking at it from another context, if we were to say bake a cake, we must first collect and mix all the ‘right’ ingredients (flour, milk, eggs, baking powder, sugar, essence) in the ‘right’ proportions. We then have to bake this concoction at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time.
If anyone of you (like myself) has persevered to bake the perfect cake but fallen short of expectations, then take a look at the list of ingredients I have put forth below. If you missed even a single one of them, then you found your missing Ingredient!
For any change to happen the level of our effort has to be strong. But what drives effort? As it seems the stronger our dreams the stronger are our efforts. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”.
Context: Baking a cake will take some effort. It is important to be clear on the motivation behind this effort, or why do it? Your motivation may be as simple as you wanting to eat a cake. But why chose to bake one, why not just buy one at the grocery store, which will definitely be easier and faster? Motivation is what will drive your efforts, without which your project may fail half way; losing steam.
Ingredient Number two: Hard Work
This is no secret. Success takes a lot of effort, even for those who are naturally endowed. Beethoven’s 9th symphony took him many years in the making. Leonardo Da Vinci spent four years to create his masterpiece: Mona Lisa. It took Shah Jahan ten years to build the Taj Mahal. Einstein once said, “Genius is 1% talent, and 99% hard work”.
Efforts must be consistent, persistent, proactive, and energetic to be successful. What’s more one may need to try and try again until one succeeds. Urban legend has it,that it took Thomas Edison a thousand unsuccessful attempts before he successfully created the light bulb.
Context: Baking a cake is no easy effort. If you are worried about the hard work, then go buy a cake. Baking will require a lot of work from assembling the ingredients, mixing them together, baking and then cleaning up the mess, before you are able to even enjoy the first bite. The effort will be well worth it, but be fully prepared to make it.
Ingredient Number three: Focus
The truth is hard work without focus will never yield desired results. Alexander Graham Bell said, “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
Context: Baking is all about the right proportions and timing. If while baking a cake, you get distracted and add too much of milk or too little eggs, your cake will not come out light and fluffy. Single minded focus on the work at hand, yields definite success.
Ingredient Number four: Tools & Techniques
Work Smart not just hard. Utilizing Tools and techniques not only includes utilizing the “right” ones, but also includes improving the ones you have and improvising what you don’t.
Context: You may wish to use an egg beater for instance to whip up the egg or mix the ingredients together nicely, thus saving yourself time while making sure the batter is of a perfect consistency.
Ingredient Number five : Goals
For any task to be successful, you must have SMART goals. This means your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound. Breaking goals into smaller bite size pieces is also helpful.
Context: You must know for instance what kind of a cake you want: chocolate, vanilla or carrot cake? This would drive the ingredients that you assemble as well as the method you use to bake it. You may also want to break your ultimate goal into smaller achievable goals such as making the base, making the frosting, decorating etc.
Ingredient Number six: Support group
A strong, equally determined support group can make all the difference between failure and success. Remember you don’t want false adulation, you want constructive criticism.
Context: Baking a cake is fun if you can bake with a friend. Or if you can share notes and tips with your friends. This will help both of you improve your baking skills in the long run. Agreed?
Ingredient Number seven: Effectiveness
I feel this is a very important ingredient to success. While many people work hard and persevere, few are effective. The secret to being effective is to constantly monitor results, critically assess ones failures and successes, learn from mistakes, and to continually revise and update one’s plan. “What has worked well in the past”? “What can I do better in the future”?
Context: When you bake a cake, you may want to taste the batter to make sure it is not too bland or too sweet, or frequently check the cake is not burning.
Ingredient Number eight: Pray/Believe
While luck favors those who work hard, it also helps those who believe. Prayers come a long way in helping us keep our faith during difficult times. I believe Rick Warren (spiritual author) says it best when he says, “The more you pray, the less you’ll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You’ll feel more patient and less pressured.”
Context: Before you even bake a cake, you must believe in yourself. You may never have baked a cake before, but to try it for the first time, you must have faith in your own success.
Ingredient Number nine: Set Milestone
Setting Milestones helps one check one’s progress. Create frequent check points and set deadlines. These keep us on track.
Context: You may want to create Milestones such as, buying ingredients, creating the batter, making the icing and so forth. It helps breaking a large task into manageable chunks while also making sure we are not forgetting something, or running out of time.
Ingredient Number ten: Creativity
Creative people will find new and innovative ways to doing the same things. Creativity includes thinking outside the box and constantly reinventing oneself and one’s art.
Context: This is what will make your cake stand out. Go ahead whip out a nice design with colored icing or try baking a multi-layered cake.
Ingredient Number eleven: Just Chill!
If you have done everything that you needed to do, and you have done it to the best of your ability, then just sit back and relax. Leave the rest to rest. Obsessing over something or the past only takes away from the joy of achieving it.
Also learn to celebrate smaller successes while continuing to endeavor for the big enchilada!
Oprah Winfrey has famously said, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate!”
Context: You put in all the effort to bake a cake. The cake is now ready. It’s now time to sit back and enjoy the labors of love. Go ahead take that first bite, dig into the sweetness of your cake. Feel the chocolate melt into your mouth (assuming it is a chocolate cake). This is the reward of your hard work, be proud of it. And chill!