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Renew Your Dreams, Create Authentic Success

Updated on March 21, 2013

Authentic Success: On Your Own Terms

Revive Your Dreams, Renew Yourself, Create What You Long For

"Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born." — Dale E. Turner

Even though we're not always conscious of it, we do what would comprise authentic success for ourself. We do know what we want, and who we want to be. Abraham Maslow said that we long to be “that which we glimpse in our most perfect moments.”

We've all had glimpses of the potential perceived in those moments. But, too often, we're afraid to stretch for that authentic success. So we fail to live up to that potential. As the years pass and we fail to act on what we think we could be, the glimpses fade. Instead of filling us with hope, our fantasies of success often trigger doubts, regret, and fear. In the success of others, we recognize our own failed potential.

We wonder, "Why can’t I have the life and work that I long for? Why can't I succeed on my terms? Why can't I create authentic success?"

A Recipe for Mediocrity

Succeeding on your own terms is about creating what truly matters to you. However, most of us do not consciously know how to create what we want. So, instead we habitually react or respond to circumstances.

We focus our precious life energy on trying to solve pressing problems. We succeed at things we think we “should” succeed at. We let other people and their success principles guide us. But, because many of those principles don’t work in these rapidly changing times, they don't help. Although they may lead to a version of success, it is rarely authentic success.

At best, for example, conventional career planning is an out-dated form of personal strategic planning. You assess resources, note problems and weaknesses, set “realistic” goals, and then, possibly, take action. You fit your goals to what you know you can do, and afford.

It sounds reasonable, but it doesn't work.

Strategic planning, success experts tell us, is usually neither. As this kind of strategy bloomed in the late 20thC, success became elusive. Learning community guru Peter Senge says that setting goals to fit with your capacity has caused many business—and individuals—to fail. Fitting your goals to current capacity and resources is a recipe for mediocrity.

When you fit your goals to what you have, and what you can do now, you limit yourself. You cut yourself off from the potential revealed in those perfect moment glimpses. So you settle for less. You set realistic goals. But they don't motivate you. You set your goals lower. Through this process Senge calls "the eroding goal syndrome, your goals dwindle away, perhaps to nothing. Authentic success eludes you.

Stretch: Revive Your Dreams; Renew Your Potential

To renew yourself, you have to renew and rejuvenate your dreams. You have to revive the visions of yourself that you glimpsed in your most perfect moments.

Remember the old saying, “Set no small goals for they lack the power to stir our souls.” It's true. Small, "fit" goals do not engage and excite us. They do not move us to action, learning, and results. Successful goal-setters don't fit; they stretch for what truly matters—in spite of capacity.

In the words of consultant Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, those who create real and lasting success set BHAGS (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). They create a “chasm” between their vision and their current capacity. Creating stretch between vision and reality is one of most important tasks success seekers can undertake. This kind of stretch underlies the process of creating.

“Creators,” my mentor Robert Fritz says, “are sometimes conventional, but more often inventional.” They know what they want. They know what they have. And they know how to bridge the gap between the two.

How? Simple, he says, “They invent it. They make it up!”

Authentic Success: Creating What Truly Matters to You

There's no forumula for success, but there is a form in which the success you create is most likely to be the authentic success that you long for. The following steps comprise that form.

Step 1: Craft a Vision of Your Desired Result

All creators begin with a vision — a clear, compelling picture of a result they want to create. Take those glimpses from your most perfect moments, and make them shine with clarity. Flesh them out. Make them concrete. Make them so engaging that when you read them out loud, you get goosebumps!

Your visions don't have to be perfect; they just have to be clear enough that you'd recognize a result when you create it. And you don’t even have to believe the result is possible, or have to have all the skills or resources when you start. You just have to have the desire, and the vision, to start.

So, do not fit your goals to reality: stretch. In fact, the bigger the gap between your goal and current reality, the more energy you'll generate for creating. And the greater chance you'll have of creating authentic success.

Step 2: Ground Vision in Current Reality

Although successful action is driven by vision, you must be careful to ground it in an honest assessment of current reality. Be objective about reality. Making things better than they are, or worse, distorts reality. It makes your base less solid.

Describe reality, don’t judge it! Doing so will give you a solid platform, and generate you more power for action. Much of that power will come from dynamic, creative tension.

Step 3: Set Up, Hold, and Use Creative Tension

Creative tension comes from holding vision and reality in mind at the same time. Creative tension produces excitement, anticipation, a desire to act, and a strong tendency toward movement.

Creative tension is the engine of creativity, the source of success. Creative tension arises out of the gap between what you want and what you have. It sets up a magnetic pull, an attraction.

Your challenge is to use that tension to move your actions toward desired results. Vision is important, but creative tension generates the power to create. Resolving creative tension through action-learning is how creators "make it up!"

Step 4. Take Action. Create and adjust, create and adjust …

If creating is anything, it is a learning process. Working within the structure—the possibility field—of creative tension, take action, learn from your results, make adjustments, and gradually shape the completed result that you long for.

This will take plenty of practice and persistence. But the sooner you make your first 5000 mistakes, the sooner you'll learn to create. In creating, there is no failure, just feedback!

So as they say in high tech innovation, "Fail fast, learn lots, succeed sooner!"

Step 5: When Reality Matches Your Vision, Stop. Celebrate!

Creators know when a creation is finished. When current reality matches your vision, stop: you're done. They also know how to use the energy of completion—and celebration—to move on to their next creation. When Picasso was asked what was his favorite painting, he quickly replied, "My next one!"

Succeeding On Your Own Terms

Every time, you catch a glimpse of what you truly want to create, or be, use this five-step process. Each time you do, you'll renew and rejuvenate your dreams, and yourself—and increase your chances of creating authentic success.

To succeed on your terms, stretch, don't fit. Clearly specify and articulate the results you most want. Clarify reality. Then bridge the gap between vision and reality with persistent, creative action, learning, and more action.

When I first suggest this approach to clients, some are initially skeptical.

“It sounds like a lot of work,” they say.

But, once they grasp the power of the creative process to produce outstanding results with limited resources, they admit, “Well, the approach I use now doesn’t generate the results I want. Maybe this can help me become what I’ve always imagined I could be.”

In most cases, they’re right.

So, take time to tune into to those glimpses of your most perfect moments. Revive the dreams hidden in them. Renew your commitment to what really matters. Doing so will not only rejuvenate your dreams; it'll renew you, too. And success on your own terms—authentic success— will become a real possibility!


Bruce is the author of Simplicity and Success, THRIVE! and The ABCs of Emotional Mastery.

For more of his writing, please visit his HubPages Profile.


Renew Your Dreams, Create Authentic Success

Available on Amazon, or my website.
Available on Amazon, or my website.


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    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Hey, Joe. Always glad to help. Good luck with the Personal Reno. I'm sure we'll hear all about it in a hub, if it works. Just kidding. But hey, I'm a personal coach, and helping folks organize their life and work around what truly matters to them is what I do. Feel free to take advantage of my free 45 minute consult. Details on my website via profile.


    • rockinjoe profile image

      Joseph Addams 9 years ago from Standing right behind you!

      Thanks for the tips, Bruce. Sounds like a plan to me. I'm in the process of some major personal renovation, so your outline is going to help me out tremenously.

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      YW, Melanie. THanks for your support!

    • profile image

      Melanie 9 years ago

      Thanks Again Bruce !

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      THanks, Kathy. Great quote!

    • profile image

      Kathy Lunzman 9 years ago

      It reminds me of Neo in 'Matrix I' - learning to jump!

      Following is a quote that I found on the back of a gallery exhibition around 25 years ago:

      "The adventurous state of mind is a high house-

      To enjoy life the adventurous state of mind must be

      grasped and maintained.

      The essential feature of adventure is that it is a

      going forward into unknown territory.

      The joy of adventure is unaccountable.

      This is the attractiveness of artwork. It is adventurous,

      strenuous and joyful."

      -Agnes Martin

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Absolutely, Tom! I find with many of my life coaching clients that, at first, they are reluctant to set "stretch" goals. But as they work with the process, create small practice results, and get the dynamics wired into their muscles, they gain both competence and confidence. That gives them momentum, and then their goals/results begin to grow. Often they end up creating things they, and others, thought were impossible for them.

      And it's not magic: it's skills, structure, and focused practice!


    • profile image

      Tom 9 years ago

      Wow!! These words jumped off the paper. "Fitting your goals to current capacity and resources is a recipe for mediocrity...When you fit your goals to what you have, and what you can do now, you limit yourself." I've read Senge's books and articles in the past, but he's always included so much that I lost the gems in the gravel and sand. Thanks for exposing this shiny gemstone. His warning is one of the keys I've been seeking for my personal and professiona life. Why do I settle for mediocrity? Is it my fate? Well, it certainly is if I can only stretch as far as my current state allows me. I can't cook an exquisite meal with a mediocre recipe.

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Great comment, Dustin. One trick to visualizing powerfully is to write out a vision, then stand up and read it out loud. This enables you to grasp it visually, aurally, and kinesthetically. When your vision is clear and you do this, you get goosebumps. Or the hair on the back of your neck stands up. Or you even get choked up with emotion, and feeling like crying tears of joy. Now, that's a powerful vision.

    • dswigart profile image

      dswigart 9 years ago from Springfield, Ohio

      This was very good Bruce, I really enjoyed it. Each of us have our own definitions of success, and we should never let go of our dreams. We must keep them alive and take action towards them. We get caught up with "busy work" that makes us beileve we are getting closer to our goals, when in fact we are getting comfortable and complacent moving further away from them.

      We all have subconscious expectations and we each have different lenses through which we see the world. I believe that when we experience something that doesn't meet our expectations, we react negatively creating even more problems for ourselves.

      This may sound funny a little but I daydream and visually "see" the person that I want to become. I've done this on many occassions, including a time right before I was asked to present in front of the entire mortgage division at my bank, this included the president. I had a vision that I was doing this and delivered a phenomenal speech ending with a standing ovation.

      Well shortly after this, approximately 2 months later, I was asked to speak, I delivered, and it ended in a standing ovation. So visualizing really works. I had confidence in myself. I'd never spoken in front of more than 10 people before that. There was over 100 there that day.

      The Japanese call it Kaizen, continuous improvement. I believe if we live our lives existing in each moment as a student of our environments, minds, careers, dreams, etc, we can all be the people we want to be. But you know its simple but its hard. It takes effort and it takes time. I overwhelming believe that its neverending. I have a quote that I wrote myself it goes like this: "Failure cannot compete with persistence, it buckles under the pressure of sustained effort."


    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Thanks, Tom. Much appreciated.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 9 years ago from United States

      Excellent. Thank you

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Just about the best advice anyone has giving me is, "Don't should on yourself, other people, situations, or reality-as-it-is." Sounds like stretching is good for you, lori. I'm pulling for you.

      And thanks Latrelle, but we need more than vision. We need that vision grounded in reality so we can generate the energy of creative tension and take the action needed to bring the vision into reality. I know you know that, I just wanted to say it again. ;-)

    • profile image

      Latrelle Ross 9 years ago

      Another great hub Bruce. It's never too late ~ all we need is a vision. Thanks :)

    • lori763 profile image

      lori763 9 years ago from SWFL

      Very interesting. It seems that after a life time (so far) of listening to "shoulds" that I have finally stumbled upon just what you are saying. I am "stretching" by writing and producing my own self help CDs. The first are packaged for helping veteran families coping with PTSD.

      Basically, I am going with my "gut" and it is a pretty cool (although sometimes I wonder) experience.

      Thanks for writing this.